Gubernatorial polls: AL and FL are up for grabs, NJ’s Christie is once again at 50%

Alabama is up for grabs

PPP released what I believe is the first poll of Alabama’s gubernatorial race, finding a wide open contest with 6 of 8 match-ups within 4%:

  • The early front-runner looks to be former state Senator Bradley Byrne, who is ahead of Rep. Artur Davis 39% to 35% and of Agriculture Commissioner Sparks 41% to 27%.
  • Davis leads three other Republicans, albeit narrowly: 37% to 35% against businessman Tim James, 41% to 38% against former Justice Roy Moore and 39% to 31% against Treasurer Kay Ivey.
  • Sparks leads Ivey 33% to 29% but he ties James at 32% and ties Moore 38% to 36%.

While these result make Sparks look bad, the main reason Davis is polling better than his Democratic rival is that far more African-American respondents are undecided in match-ups involving Sparks than Davis (43% to 23%). Sure, Davis might inspire higher African-American turnout but Sparks would be sure to receive far more support among black voters than he does in this poll once the campaign gets going so we shouldn’t read too much in this poll in terms of Democratic electability.

A similar phenomenon explains some of Ivey’s weakness - far more Republican than Democrats are undecided in match-ups that involve her - but not all of it: she also performs worse than other GOP candidates among independents and Democrats. As such, Ivey seems to be the one candidate that the poll suggest would face electability issues; the controversy over her handling of the state tuition program might have left in too weak a position.

If the poll is bad news for Ivey, it is very encouraging for two contenders whose electability is sometimes under question. As an African-American, Davis will have to overcome Alabama’s racial history and hold his own among white voters to be elected; this survey does not suggest he will have any problem doing so. As for Moore, his profile as a far-right crusader could give Democrats an opening; yet, this poll find that he would be very competitive and that he posts good numbers among independents and Democratic respondents.

In New Jersey, a second poll finds Christie at 50%

A week after Rasmussen had Chris Christie ahead 51% to 38% in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, it’s Quinnipiac’s turn to find the Republican enjoying a post-primary bounce: Their new poll has Christie leading Governor Jon Corzine 50% to 40%, an improvement over the 7% lead he had last month.

Corzine keeps a hold on the Democratic vote (73% to 19%) but that is not enough to overcome his massive deficit among independents, who have decisively turned against the Governor (56% to 32%). Corzine’s approval rating has dropped to 36% with 56% disapproving; that’s significantly worse than May’s 38-53 rating.

Given how catastrophic it is for any incumbent to see his challenger at the 50% mark, it’s a testament to Jon Corzine’s weakness that polls finding just that already feel like routine! And it’s hard to see how he could possibly recover: With his approval rating is stuck under 40%, independents are simply not willing to consider re-electing their Governor.

Speaking of Northeastern Democratic Governors who are remarkably unpopular, a new poll of New York finds no improvement whatsoever for David Paterson. Only 21% have a favorable opinion of their Governor; while the survey did not test direct match-ups, it’s hard to see Paterson have any shot of winning a competitive race with such numbers. The poll also finds that 46% of New Yorkers favor same-sex marriage.

Florida: Quinnipiac confirms conventional wisdom

Quinnipiac released twin surveys testing the gubernatorial and senatorial races and confirmed what earlier polls - Mason Dixon and Strategic Vision - had found. In the gubernatorial race, Alex Sink leads 38% to 34% against Bill McCollum - a small lead that is nonetheless significant as I believe this is the first survey to find her with an edge of any kind.

As other surveys have found, Sink’s name recognition is far lower (66% have no opinion of of her, versus 46% who said that about him); that makes her small edge that much more impressive, especially given McCollum’s solid approval rating (51% to 16% compared to 39% to 17% for Sink). A key to the race will be how voters get to know of Sink: Will the Democrat be able to define herself first or will Republicans manage to do that for her?

In the Senate race, Quinnipiac did not test general election match-ups, but it did find Crist crushing Marco Rubio 54% to 23% in the Republican primary. Yes, Rubio and Kendrick Meek will have a chance to grow their numbers as they introduce themselves - 73% have no opinion of Rubio, 80% of Meek - but that won’t be enough to overcome Crist’s formidable approval rating: 62% approve of his performance, including 59% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans (not exactly what I’d call conservative discontent).

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