Archive for the '2012-Poll' Category

Poll watch: Dems holds edge in Hawaii, GOP leads Senate races in MO, PA and AR

I have avoided spending much talk about the 2012 presidential race, but two new polls released by Fox News and PPP are worth mentioning since they offer quite contrasting takes on the state of Barack Obama’s standing with the electorate - and thus say a lot about the fact that we still have a lot to learn about what the 2010 landscape will look like and also how it will affect 2012. First, Fox has Obama crushing the 3 Republicans that are matched-up against him: 47% against Mitt Romney, 55% to 31% against Sarah Palin and 53% to 29% against Newt Gingrich. PPP, however, has Obama leading David Petraeus 44% to 34%, Palin 49% to 41%, Romney 44% to 42% - but trailing Mike Huckabee 45% to 44%.

I believe PPP’s survey marks the first time Obama has trailed a match-up since early September 2008 - yet another sign of how much the landscape has shifted in recent months. Yet, Fox News’s numbers leave nothing to be desired for the president - and it is striking that both surveys find that it would be a very bad idea for the GOP to nominate Palin.

Meanwhile, a number of important down-ballot polls were released this week. Our first look at HI-01’s special election and at Hawaii’s gubernatorial election, find that Democrats are leading both, while the first Georgia poll since former Governor Roy Barnes announced he wanted his old job back shows that Democrats have a great shot at regaining a Southern governorship. Yet, the news is mostly news for Republicans, as Democratic incumbents trail in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and IN-09. Perhaps the best news for the GOP is that Robin Carnahan has fallen behind for the first time in Missouri’s Senate race.


HI-01: Mason Dixon polled the soon-to-be-called special election in HI-01, which Neil Abercrombie is resigning from. Despite the district’s blue bent, Republicans are optimistic about this opportunity for two reasons. First, They believe Charles Djou is a top-tier candidate; second, they’re hoping that the fact that the special election will have no primary can help them pick-up the seat since 2 Democratic candidates will be splitting their party’s vote. Mason Dixon finds neither reason is justified: Djou receives a low 17%, far behind both Democratic candidates - Ed Case is at 35% while Colleen Hanabusa is at 25%. Looks like HI-01 is blue enough that it can accommodate two Democrats without handing itself over to a Republican. But can it accommodate three? Democrats today received the troubling news that state Senator Will Espero was forming an exploratory committee to join the race. If he manages to gain some traction, it would mean that the Democratic vote would split in three, strengthening Djou’s chances of pulling an upset.

NY-01: Rep. Tom Bishop hasn’t faced a competitive race since he won a tough open seat in 2002, but the GOP’s confidence that it can unseat him in 2010 will be boosted by a new SUSA poll showing the incumbent barely holding on 47% to 45% against challenger Randy Altschuler, a businessman with deep pockets. But here’s the deal: Swing State Project noticed that SUSA’s samples include an absurdly low number of 18-34 year olds - just 1% in this survey! In 2008, 17% of the electorate was made up of 18-29 year olds; sure, turnout among young voters will drop a lot next year, but it certainly won’t fall as low as 1% - it stood at 12% in the 2006 midterms, and that’s the 18-29 rather than the 18-34 year-old group we’re talking about. This skew is bound to have major consequences on what the results look like.

IN-09: The fourth survey in the series of FiredogLake/SUSA polls tested Rep. Baron Hill, and I can’t say I expected the Democrat to trail 49% to 41% against Mike Sodrel, who he’s running against for the 5th straight time. If the survey is confirmed (I never have had reason to doubt SUSA, and the sample’s age breakdown is less problematic than it was in the NY-01 poll), it would guarantee that the cycle will be very tough for Democrats: Hill just crushed him by 20% in 2008, and I recently wrote I found it highly unlikely that Sodrel was the GOP’s best bet. Hill is the third Democratic incumbent SUSA found trailing outside of the MoE in the space of two weeks.


Missouri: In what is one of the clearest polling signs yet that the midterm landscape has dramatically shifted in the GOP’s favor, the Democratic decline is now even affecting Robin Carnahan. Throughout the fall, I had marveled that she was one of the party’s only candidates nationally who had managed to remain stable - but Rasmussen’s latest poll has Roy Blunt leading 49% to 43%. Not only is this the first Rasmussen survey in which Blunt is ahead (Carnahan led by 2% last month), but it is also one of the first polls taken of this race that has one of the candidates’ leading outside of the margin of error. Sure, on paper Missouri is much more certain to be a Republican hold than OH or NH if the environment favors the party, but Carnahan is undoubtedly one of the cycle’s strongest Democratic recruits; if even she has fallen behind 6%, how are Jack Conway or Paul Hodes supposed to remain competitive?

North Carolina: PPP’s first poll of the year shows the same result it found throughout 2009: Senator Richard Burr inspires little passion among his constituents (his approval rating is an unimpressive 36/33, with 31% saying they have no opinion), he is stuck well under 50% of the vote and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall comes closest. Burr leads 44% to 37% against her, 45% to 36% against Cal Cunningham and 46% to 34% against Kenneth Lewis. The good news for the Republican is that his numbers are slightly better than they were last month, as Marshall then only trailed by 5%. But the good news for Democrats is that this is the first time Marshall performs better than a generic Democrat (who is behind 9%). Burr is undoubtedly the cycle’s most (only?) vulnerable Republican incumbent.

Pennsylvania: Rasmussen’s latest poll finds Pat Toomey expanding the leads he had built in the fall and continue to dominate both Arlen Specter (49% to 40%) and Joe Sestak (43% to 35%). While the two Democrats’ margins are similar, it is far more worrisome for an entrenched senator to trail by 9% (a deficit from which few such incumbents can recover) than for a candidate with no statewide profile to do so. As such, Democrats’ best bet to defeat Toomey remains getting rid of Specter - but here lies the party’s problem: Sestak’s primary momentum appears to have completely stalled. Specter now has a 53% to 31% lead, the largest he has received yet in a Rasmussen poll; back in the summer, I would have said this margin is encouraging for the challenger but now that we are 5 months away from Election Day Sestak’s lack of progress is more consequential.

Arkansas: Yet another rough poll for Blanche Lincoln, this time from Mason-Dixon. Not only does the conservative Democrat trail state Senator Gilbert Baker 43% to 39% and her 2004 opponent Jim Holt 43% to 37%, but she can barely manage leads against a series of low-profile Republicans: she’s up 40-39 against Curtis Coleman, 41-38 against Conrad Reynolds, 43-38 against Kim Hendren and 41-38 against Tom Cox. Sure, Mason Dixon’s numbers aren’t quite as brutal for Lincoln as its Nevada polls have been for Reid, but the fact that a two-term incumbent fails to break out of the low 40s obviously a bad sign - one that is sure to fuel speculation that Democrats might try to push Lincoln out; but the poll also suggests that the best way to do that would be convincing her to retire, since she does have a 52% to 34% lead in a potential match-up against Lieutenant Governor Brian Halter. Sure, that’s no insurmountable margin when we’re talking about a primary race, but it’s not like Halter is an unknown figure.


Georgia: Here’s one Republican-held seat Democrats have an excellent chance of picking-up! Rasmussen’s poll of the general election has former Governor Ray Barnes performing stronger than Georgia Democrats have grown to expect against a trio of Republicans. John Oxendine is narrowly up 44-42 while Rep. Nathan Deal and SoS Karen Handel are both down 43-42. On the other hand, these Republicans lead by margins ranging from 18% to 12% against Attorney General Baker. This is the very first survey of the state taken since Barnes jumped in the race in June 2009. While the dearth of polling has made us forget that the former Governor’s entry in the race is one of Democrats’ best recruitment coups of the cycle, this survey leaves little doubt that Barnes could help his party regain a footing in the South.

Hawaii: Mason Dixon released the very first poll we have seen of this state, and it suggest Republicans have a better shot than I expected to defend the governorship. While both Democratic candidates are clearly ahead, Lieutenant Governor Aiona does manage to stay in contact: he trail 43% to 34% against Rep. Neil Abercrombie, 41% to 35% against Honolulu Mayor Hannemann. The state holds very late primaries (on September 18th), so it will be quite a while before the Aiona has to worry about Democrats turning their fire on him.

California: General Jerry Brown remains favored to regain his old job back, but he cannot take the general election for granted. The latest Field Poll has Meg Whitman cutting her deficit by half to trail 46% to 36%. Given that her name recognition is about half of Brown’s she has room to grow, and it’s not like Democrats can hope for Whitman to be tripped up in her primary: she has opened a huge 45-17 lead Steve Poizner, who faces a 48% to 31% deficit against Brown. Rasmussen also tested this race and it found Brown leading Whitman by a much smaller margin (43% to 39%), though he is ahead of Poizner by 10%; strangely, the poll also has Senator Diane Feinstein, arguably the state’s most towering political figure, lead Whitman only 43-42. (The poll’s trendline is actually positive for Democrats, since Brown and Whitman were tied in November.) Even though Rasmussen’s numbers are out-of-line with other pollsters’ results, there is little doubt that Brown shouldn’t be considered a shoo-in.

Texas: For the first time, Rasmussen tested this race’s general election, which vindicated conventional wisdom. While Houston Mayor Bill White, has a shot at an upset, he does face an uphill climb - and his chances probably depend on the outcome of the Republican primary. While Perry leads White 50% to 40%, Hutchison is ahead by a larger 52% to 37%, which confirms that White’s potential would be greater if he were to face the incumbent. Interestingly, White has a slight lead when matched-up against libertarian Debra Medina 44% to 38%, suggesting Texas voters are willing not to automatically back the Republican.

Colorado: I covered the Senate half of Research 2000’s Colorado poll earlier this week, but they also released gubernatorial numbers that confirm not only that the race will be competitive but also that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is the strongest of the Democrats who were mentioned as replacements for the retiring Ritter: While Hickenlooper ties probable GOP nominee Scott McInnis at 43%, McInnis has a 2% lead against Ken Salazar (a striking result given Salazar’s statewide profile), a 5% lead over Andrew Romanoff and an 8% lead over Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Here’s further good news for Hickenlooper: Twice as many Democrats as Republicans were undecided in the poll, suggesting he has more room to grow, and he has a slight lead among independents, which is more than can be said of other Democrats across the country.

Maryland: We still have little information on whether former Governor Bob Ehrlich will challenge incumbent Marty O’Malley, but if he does he will start with a 48% to 39% deficit according to a new poll by GOP firm Gonzalez Research; Ehlrich is undoubtedly the only Republican who’d make this race worth watching. The poll also delivers useful confirmation that Barbara Mikulski is one senator Democrats do not have to worry about, since her approval rating stands at 64% to 23%

Still more: McCollum leads Sink, Beauprez tops Bennett - but at least Obama crushes Palin

Against 3 Republicans, Bennet is stuck under 40%

Democrats are trailing in yet another Senate poll - and this time the survey was not released by Rasmussen. PPP’s latest look at Michael Bennet’s prospect finds the Colorado Senator narrowly trailing former Rep. Bob Beauprez 42% to 39%. Bennet posts small leads against lesser-known rivals: 39% to 35% against DA Ken Buck and 38% to 33% against councilman Ryan Frazier.

Needless to say, for an incumbent to be under the 40% mark - let alone to trail - is highly worrisome. Yes, Bennet is no ordinary incumbent: He was appointed to the seat in December, has never faced voters and is thus not very well known in Colorado - a situation that has many insisting that he is bound to increase his support as voters get more familiar with him and come to think of him as their Senator. Yet, Bennet’s numbers have been declining with time rather than improving: In April, PPP found Beauprez holding a 1% lead. Furthermore, Bennet’s approval rating has gone from 34-41 to 31-38.

In many ways, Bennet’s situation is reminiscent of Burr’s, which PPP tested last week: Both are not very well defined among the electorate and that makes them both highly vulnerable. Indeed, their low name recognition means they have room to grow - but it also means that the opposition’s attacks will be more effective than is typically the case against more entrenched incumbents. It also makes Bennet’s fate that much more tied in to the national environment - and we won’t really know where the winds are blowing for many more months.

Yet, neither has yet drawn top-tier opposition. Even if Beauprez does jump in the race, he’ll have to show he can overcome the stain of his 17% statewide loss in the 2006 Governor’s race; with Frazier and Buck both little-known, the GOP is still looking for another candidate. And a new name has just popped up: former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton is reportedly considering the race. Bill Owens’s running mate from 2002 to 2006, Norton has also presided over the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. While she might be a candidate worth recruiting, there is no reason for Bennet to start trembling: Norton has never ran for office on her own name and her time in the public spotlight was relatively short.

McCollum leads Sink, but it’s a Chamber poll

The poll was taken by a Republican pollster for Florida’s Chamber of Commerce; it contains no crosstabs or internal data. But since it tested a major 2010 race about which we have seen no data for months, I will post a few lines about it here: In the state’s Governor’s race, the survey finds Republican Bill McCollum leading Alex Sink 43% to 34%.

This is McCollum’s largest lead yet, but his advantage should not be overstated: At 43%, his level of support is roughly equal to that of other recent polls - whether Mason Dixon or Rasmussen. Furthermore, the two surveys that have tested this race with the largest sample sizes have found quite different results: Strategic Vision had McCollum up 2% while Quinnipiac had Sink leading by 4%. Add to that the fact that this polls should be taken with a grain of salt, and there is no reason for Democrats to be alarmed about this race.

At the moment, the biggest worry Florida Democrats should be thinking about has little to do with McCollum or with Sink - after all, the latter isn’t yet well-known enough for these early polls to reflect that accurate a picture. Rather, it’s Charlie Crist’s presence at the top of the ballot that could be a major headache for Democratic prospects in the Governor’s race: Crist’s approval rating in this poll is 67%, and while that is on the high-end of what surveys have found, his Senate coattails could help boost McCollum’s gubernatorial numbers.

Palin has nowhere to go in 2012 general election

Unsurprisingly, Marist’s latest poll of the 2012 race finds a muddied Republican field: Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabe are all within 2% of each other, from 21% to 19%. The GOP nomination will be anyone’s game, there will be many more competitors than these and there’s little point in analyzing the dynamics of this primary before we’re done with the 2010 midterms.

But Marist’s decision to test Obama against Sarah Palin leads to quite an important finding - one that will not surprise most of you but that is still significant to see in poll-form: The former Alaska Governor might have a shot at the Republican nomination, but she has nowhere to go in the general election. Obama crushes her 56% to 33%, winning 92% of the Democratic vote, 20% of the Republican vote and 62% of the Hispanic vote; he leads by 15% among independents and 9% in the South.

In a country that has yielded single-digit margins in every election since 1984, that’s as big a lead as you will see in a presidential trial heat.

The bottom line is that post-resignation Palin attracts nobody but the most hardcore Republican base - those voters who would never consider doing anything else than voting for the GOP nominee. And it’s going to be extremely difficult for Palin to broaden her appeal: While most presidential candidates have an opportunity to introduce themselves to the public at large, voters have a fixed and very defined view of Palin - more so than for any other national figure save Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And that leaves Palin with nowhere to go beyond the conservative base.

After week of GOP-friendly surveys, here are two polls that should please Democrats

Republicans have had a lot of electoral polls to celebrate this week - whether confirmation that Charlie Crist is favored to win Florida’s Senate race, PPP’s finding that the GOP has the upper-hand in Oklahoma, Harry Reid’s unpopularity, McDonnell’s Virginia strength and Christie’s continued lead in New Jersey. Well, two other polls that fell by the wayside this week have better news for Democrats.

It’s never to early to test 2012

Those political junkies who already need to know how things are shaking up in the next presidential race can thank PPP for offering regular national surveys. Their latest installment shows that Barack Obama is in a solid position.

For one, his approval rating remains strong: 55% approve of his performance, versus 38%. What I find most interesting is that Obama does not have that much lower to go among Republicans, only 19% of whom approve of his performance. Compare this to the situation Bush was in during his first term: A Marist poll taken in February 2o03 found him posting a similar approval rating overall (56-34) but in that survey 31% of Democrats approved of his performance.

Unlike what Marist’s 2003 poll found, those who are most likely to oppose Obama have already turned against him and his popularity could prove more stable than some expect.

Obama also leads all four Republicans who were tested by double-digits. For the second consecutive month, Mike Huckabee comes closest to Obama, but he still trails 52% to 39%; next is Newt Gingrich, 53% to 36%; Mitt Romney trails 53% to 35% while Sarah Palin faces the largest deficit, 56% to 37%.

It is a testament to Palin’s polarizing nature that she gets a higher percentage than Gingrich or Romney but nonetheless trails Obama by a larger margin. Fewer voters are undecided in the match-up involving the Alaska Governor, just as fewer respondents say they are not sure what they think about her (9%, versus 23%-24% for Gingrich, Palin and Romney) - and that is not to her benefit.

What is especially fascinating is that there seems to be a significant share of Republicans voters who seem repelled by Palin: Against Huckabee and Gingrich, Obama receives 15% and 16% of the GOP vote, respectively; against Palin, he receives a whooping 27%! In other words, there are Republicans who do not approve of Obama’s performance but who dislike the Alaska Governor so much that they are ready to back the President instead of voting for her.

The news does not improve for the GOP contenders once we consider their favorability ratings. Only Huckabee can say he is popular (44% to 32%) while Romney can at least point to a net positive (40% to 36%); but Palin remains unpopular (42% to 50%) while Gingrich is downright unelectable. His rating (30% to 47%) is truly dismal, made all the worst by his pathetic result among independents (27% to 53%); that’s Bush territory.

Sure, it is debatable whether these four Republicans would be the strongest competitors against Obama in the first place - two are very unpopular among independents, another failed to capture voters’ imagination in 2008 - but they are the only ones who can be tested for meaningful results because they are the only ones who have national name recognition: Tim Pawlenty’s fans can argue that he would be a more electable contender but voters nationwide do not know him enough (for now) for a match-up with Obama to bring valuable information.

Nevada: Gibbons is heading out of the door

Few incumbents become so unpopular that their re-election becomes inconceivable. One one who has reached such status is New York’s David Paterson - as has been evidenced by countless polls over the past few months. Another is Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, whose dreadful political situation I evoked here.

Gibbons has not yet announced whether he would seek a second term in 2010, but this Mason Dixon poll suggests he would face an uphill battle, to say the least: Only 17% of voters approve of his performance, versus 52% who disapprove. (If Gingrich is in Bush territory, Gibbons is in Cheney’s.) Only 10% say they would vote to re-elect Gibbons, while a stunning 54% say they will “definitely vote to replace” him and 30% say they would consider an alternative.

As a matter of comparison, Harry Reid’s numbers in this same poll also look worrisome (as I wrote about two days ago) but they look solid compared to Gibbons 35% of Nevadans said they will definitely vote to re-elect him and 45% say they want to replace him.

If that is not enough to demonstrate the extent of Gibbons’s vulnerability, consider that Reid has no declared opponent - and no credible challenger is waiting in the wings - while the Governor is sure to face top-tier opposition from both parties: former state Senator Joe Hek is already challenging him in the Republican party while a number of top Democrats, for instance House Speaker Barbara Buckley and Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, are reportedly looking at the race.

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