Archive for the 'MI-Sen' Category

Monday polls: It’s tight in MI, VA and OH; Dems lead in CO; Zogby updates online polls

Four presidential polls today, all states (OH, VA, MI and CO) that are crucial to election, and their results reflect the overall state of the race: too close to call. In addition, Zogby conducted 10 new online/interactive polls to update its July numbers. As usual, I will list these online polls here but I will not include them in my polling page as their methodology remains suspicious. As you will see below, Barr receives high numbers in all these polls (at least 5% in 9 out of 10, at least 8% in 4), raising questions as to who is part of this “online panel.”

  • In Ohio (polling history), a poll released by the Columbus Dispatch finds McCain up 1% - 42% to 41%. Obama leads among independents, but only gets half of Clinton supporters. The poll was conducted via mail (as usual for the Columbus Dispatch), and as usual this is sure to spark controversy.
  • In Michigan (polling history), an EPIC-MRA poll finds the same results as mid-July: Obama leads 43% to 41%. The favorability ratings of both men was down, 49% for Obama and 52% for McCain.
  • In Virginia (polling history), a PPP poll shows Obama up 47% to 45%, here again within the margin of error. He led by the same margin last month.
  • In Colorado (polling history), Obama is out of the margin of error in a Suffolk poll. He leads 44% to 39%, 2% each for Nader and Barr. Without leaners, Obama leads by 8%.
  • As for Zogby, he provides good news for… Bob Barr in this release: Obama leads by 6% in Colorado (Barr gets 8%), 9% in Michigan, New Mexico and Pennsylvania (Barr gets 5% in al 3 states); 5% in Ohio (Barr gets 8%); 8% in North Carolina; 2% in Virginia and 1% in Nevada (Barr gets 10% in the latter). McCain is up 4% in New Hampshire (Barr gets 11%) and 3% in Florida.

Despite a number of polls showing McCain improving his positions in Colorado, that state remains the second best hope for a pick-up (after Iowa). But its 9 electoral votes would not get Obama anywhere if he were to lose Michigan, a Kerry state that has remains one of the tightest states in the country - and one Republicans are determined to contest. The latest poll had Obama leading by 7%, but that was certainly the higher end of Obama’s lead here. As for Virginia and Ohio, they are among the ultimate toss-up of this election, and picking up either while saving Michigan could virtually guarantee Obama a victory.

Before going on to the day’s congressional polling, let’s take a look at Joe Klein’s post on a focus group of 21 (truly) undecided voters, conducted by Frank Luntz. Of course, it’s not clear whether these independent voters will matter as much this year, since the key to the election is more likely to be Obama’s strength among registered Democrats. Yet, the focus group does contain a few interesting findings:

  1. No surprises as to why these voters were undecideds, as they were torn between their reluctance to vote for another Republican and Obama’s inexperience. More surprising (though not for former Clinton supporters and for McCain voters) is that these voters distrusted Obama’s rhetoric and his ability to energize a crowd. “At least one member of the focus group compared [the big chanting crowds] to a Nazi rally,” writes Klein - and others (who are not McCain supporters) demanded that Obama give them more specifics in his speeches. As I have said before, this is why the Obama campaign’s decision to move his acceptance speech to a football stadium could backfire, transforming the night into just another speech in the series he delivered in the spring.
  2. The focus group responded more to more hard-hitting, more character-centric negative ads. This would be an argument for Obma dialing up his attacks - and their reaction gives us an explanation as to why the race tightened over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, in down the ballot polls:

  • In KS-02, SUSA has Nancy Boyda leading Lynn Jenkins but the race is tight - 50% to 43%. In a Republican district, Boyda survives with strong support from Democrats, 22% of Republicans and a 9% lead among independents. Bush defeated Kerry by 20% in this district, SUSA finds McCain leading by 13%.
  • In a Suffolk poll from Colorado’s Senate race (polling history), Mark Udall leads Bob Schaffer 39% to 31%, with 4% for the Constitution Party, 2% for the Green Party and a high 22% undecided.
  • In another poll from Colorado, Mason Dixon finds Udall up 47% to 37%, with 3% for the Green Party’s Bob Kinsey.
  • In the Virginia Senate race, Mark Warner dominates in PPP, leading Gilmore 55% to 32%.
  • In the Texas Senate race, the situation remains stable in Rasmussen: Sen. Cornyn is under 50% (thus vulnerable) but continues to dominate Rick Noriega, 48% to 37%. Cornyn does jump up to a stronger lead with leaners, 52% to 38%.
  • No surprise in Michigan’s Senate race, where EPIC-MRA finds Sen. Levin crushing his challenger 59% to 27%.

The House race in KS-02 is sure to be one of the most heated in the nation. Nancy Boyda refusing the DCCC’s help ensures that the GOP will keep attacking her, knowing that she will be on her own to defend herself. The key to Boyda’s election will be solid numbers among independents and a good cross-over from Republicans - something Jenkins’s victory complicated since she was the more moderate Republican. The determining factor here could be whether more conservative Republicans skip the House race.

The Colorado Senate race, meanwhile, seems to be back where it was earlier in the summer, before Udall’s advantage shrank in a series of polls. Democrats have long been convinced that Udall would open a comfortable lead and never look back and he finally did so in June and again now. For Republicans, the variation in Udall’s numbers suggests he is weaker than Democrats believe; GOP-leaning independent groups advertising in the state are looking to make the most of his vulnerabilities.

Monday polls: Obama ahead in CO, IA, OR; Smith, Warner and M. Udall lead Senate races

This has been a good polling day, as almost every survey that was been released (especially on the presidential side) came from a crucial battleground state:

  • In Virginia (polling history), SUSA has the two candidates locked in a toss-up, with McCain at 48% compared to Obama’s 47%. McCain leads among whites by 19% - which means Obama is improving on Kerry’s showing by 5%.
  • In Iowa, Obama is narrowly ahead in Rasmussen’s latest poll, 46% to 41% (49% to 44% with leaners). Last month, Obama was ahead by 9%.
  • In Oregon (polling history), Obama holds on to a solid lead in Rasmussen, 47% to 37% (52% to 42% with leaners). He led by 9% last month.
  • A national poll released by YouPoll/The Economist has Obama leading 42% to 39% - the same margin he led by in July.

All four of the state polls come from crucial battleground and confirm what we have known from some time (apart from Ohio and Florida polls, surveys have been quite consistent over the past few months!). Obama seems to be safer than past Democratic nominees in Oregon, but also in Iowa: The only poll in which McCain ever led Obama in this 2004 Bush state was a survey released in… January 2007, and even then the Republican was only ahead by 1%. While this latest poll has a slightly tightening margin, Obama’s superior ground game in Iowa (inherited from the caucuses) should boost his total by several points.

Until July 24th, Colorado shared Iowa’s distinction as a red state in which McCain had never led. But Obama’s narrow lead in this state has been consistent, with the Democrat holding an advantage hovering around the margin of error. PPP’s latest poll is just further confirmation of that trend. But consider how close Obama would get with just IA and CO - just one EV away from a tie, making every other state must-wins for the McCain campaign, especially large ones like Virginia which seems to have become the ultimate battleground of 2008. Consider that there hasn’t been a single Virginia poll with either candidate leading by more than 2% since Obama wrapped up the nomination.

Meanwhile, we got three important down-the-ballot polls:

  • In the Oregon Senate race (polling history), the July Rasmussen poll was the first (and so far only) poll to find Merkley ahead. This month, Rasmussen finds Smith with the lead, 47% to 39%. With leaners, the margin is 50% to 44%. Merkley’s weak point is the Democratic vote, as he only gets 69% of the vote.
  • In the Colorado Senate race (polling history), it is PPP’s turn to find a slightly tightening race, with Rep. Udall leading former Rep. Schaffer 47% to 41% - down from a 9% lead last month.
  • In Missouri, meanwhile, Rasmussen released its first poll since Kenny Hulshof won the Republican primary: There is no primary bounce for the GOP congressman, who trails Attorney General Jay Nixon 51% to 39% - up one point since the July poll.
  • In Virginia, no surprises in the Senate race as Mark Warner is marching towards a sure pick-up, leading 58% to 34% against Jim Gilmore in SUSA’s poll.
  • Rasmussen also released two less important Senate polls, finding Democratic Sens Harkin and Levin comfortably beating their Republican challengers in Iowa and Michigan.

PPP is the third institute in a row to find Udall losing ground in the Colorado Senate race (after Rasmussen and Quinnipiac) but the election leans towards the Democrat. In fact, the contest has been tight for much of the past year, with Udall opening a slight lead only late this spring. Given that this is an open seat in a swing state in a Democratic year, Udall was expected to have a more comfortable lead - but his advantage is at least consistent.

In Oregon, Gordon Smith has been running an aggressive ad campaign seeking to highlight his moderate credentials and win the support of Democrats and independents. This is the second poll in a row (after SUSA’s poll last week) to find Merkley’s numbers low among Democrats and suggesting Smith’s strategy is working. Merkley has been unable to respond as much as he should as his financial situation is weak (though the DSCC is getting involved). Note, however, that we should not take Rasmussen’s poll as a sign of a bounce in Merkley’s direction as that July poll was somewhat of an outlier.

Beyond the stakes of controlling Missouri’s gubernatorial mansion (which will also matter at the federal level, since Missouri is projected to lose a House seat in the 2010 census and the Governor will have a say in the redistricting process), I believe the state of the Nixon-Hulshof race will also tell us a lot about the presidential election. This is an open seat with two solid candidates. And while it is true that Nixon started campaigning years ago, that alone does not explain the large lead he has opened against Hulshof. That a Democratic non-incumbent is leading by double-digit in this red-leaning state confirms how dismal the environment is for the state GOP and that is sure to have an impact on the Obama-McCain contest.

Polls: Obama up 9 in Quinnipiac, 8 in WaPo, 6 in NYT; Landrieu, Udall lead GOP opponents

After yesterday’s flurry of state polls, the main presidential survey of the day comes from Quinnipiac’s national numbers: Obama leads 50% to McCain’s 41% based on a 19% advantage among women and a 94% to 1% lead among African-Americans. This is a larger lead than we have seen in the past few national polls.While McCain isn’t expected to do well among black voters, getting an abysmal 1% would be a catastrophe for him in a number of states.

[Update: Two new national polls were released late afternoon:

  • Washington Post/ABC: Obama leads 50% to 42% among registered voters. Among all adults, Obama leads by 12%; among likely voters, he is up 49% to 46%. The poll identifies Obama's weakness as foreign affairs, as 63% of voters think McCain has a better knowledge of world affairs, versus 26% for Obama. They also trust McCain more to handle a major crisis.
  • New York Times/CBS: Obama leads 45% to 39%. This poll explored racial differences in public opinion, finding for instance that only 34% of whites think race relations are in bad shape, versus 60% of blacks. And the poll finds that only 30% and 24% of whites have a favorable opinion of Barack and of Michelle.]

A key finding in the Quinnipiac poll is that Obama and McCain have the same lead among registered Democrats and registered Republicans, respectively. Among independents, the two are tied at 44%. Yet, Obama has a large lead. What does that tell us? What I have been saying quite often by now: The shifts in partisan identification means that all Obama needs to do is secure his Democratic base and not fall too far behind among independents — a key difference with 2004 and the reason moving to the center seems to me like a strategic blunder.

Quinnipiac also finds that Obama leads 57% to 35% in blue states (those that voted for Kerry by more than 5% in 2004) though McCain is only up 47% to 44% in red states. In states in which the election was within 5% four years ago, Obama crushes his rival 50% to 39%. This confirms what we have been seeing over the past few weeks at the state level: the epicenter of the electoral college battle is moving in red territory, with marginally blue states looking solid for Obama and marginally red states looking like true battlegrounds.

Case-in-point in today’s PPP poll from South Carolina, one of the most solidly red states of the South:

  • McCain leads Obama 45% to 39%, with 5% for Bob Barr. Obama’s lead among black voters is 77% to 10% and he can expect to increase that share.

Yes, summer polls are probably overstating Barr’s support, making McCain look weaker than he ought to be. But there is no question that a single-digit lead in South Carolina is disturbing news for the Republican. After all, while Demcrats entertain hopes of flipping VA, NC and perhaps even GA and (some dream) MS, South Carolina just seems to be even more out-of-reach. Can Obama’s campaign force McCain to be this much on the defensive?

Also note a fun Rasmussen poll that was released today that pits Obama and McCain against others. While Obama leads McCain by only 2%, he would lead Bush 54% to 34%, which is not surprising but still shocking. He also leads Romney by 8% and Huckabee by 11%. As for McCain, he would fare more poorly against other Dems: Clinton leads by 8% and Gore by 7%.

The day’s other polls come from congressional and gubernatorial races:

  • In the Colorado Senate race, PPP found Mark Udall leading Bob Schaffer 47% to 38%.
  • In the Louisiana Senate race, Rasmussen shows Mary Landrieu with a narrow lead over John Kennedy, 51% to 45%. That’s an improvement for Landrieu over last month, when she was ahead 47% to 44%.
  • In Missouri’s gubernatorial race, Jay Nixon shows no sign of weakening as he leads his Republican competitors 52% to 35% (against Hulshof) and 53% to 34% (against Steelman).
  • And in Washington’s gubernatorial race, Rasmussen finds incumbent Christine Gregoire leading Dino Rossi 49% to 43%.
  • Update: As a commenter amicably points out, the Rossi campaign released an internal poll conducted by Moore Information that has the two candidates tied at 45%.
  • And in Michigan’s uncompetitive Senate race, Carl Levin still crushes his opponent. In South Carolina, Lindsay Graham is 22% ahead of his opponent, a “Democrat” who seems to be much more of a Republican (literally).

None of these results are surprising: In Colorado, Udall has pulled ahead and other institutes have found him leading by the same 9-10% margin. Louisiana’s race promises to remain tight to the end but Landrieu remains ahead — albeit by consistently narrow margins. The most recent poll, for instance, found her down to a 6% lead, the same result as Rasmussen. Democrats should at least be reassured that Kennedy is not an unknown and thus should has less room to grow than the average challenger.

As for the gubernatorial races, Nixon is now regularly ahead by very significant margins because of a combination of an intense GOP primary and of the Democratic fundamentals of the year that make open seats that ought to be toss-up lean blue from the get-go. And Washington’s race remains tight: not much has changed since 2004 but Gregoire’s party identification and the power of incumbency give Gregoire an advantage.

Finally, two House polls were released yesterday — but they were both internal polls, so take them with a grain of salt:

  • In PA-03, an internal poll for the Democratic candidate Kathy Dahlkemper shows her leading incumbent Phil English 41% to 40%.
  • In OH-16, an internal poll for the Republican candidate Kirk Schuring finds him leading Democrat John Boccieri 40% to 34%.

Both set of numbers go against the conventional wisdom. While Rep. English is believed to be vulnerable in a swing district, his district is rarely included in the top tier of House races. If Dahlkemper has already fored English in a toss-up, it could be the beginning of the end for House Republicans. As for OH-16, this open seat is generally believed to be leaning Democratic: It is a tight district and Boccieri is one of the Republican’s top recruits. The fact that undecideds have not been pushed that much helps Schuring here and is the mark of the poll having been taken for his campaign: The Democrats’ strength in 2006 was that a large number of independents were behaving as Democrats, an effect that is muted when a poll keeps such a large number of undecideds .

Tuesday polls: Stunning toss-up in Indiana, as Obama leads in MI and CO’s Udall continues to inch ahead (Updated with new LA Times poll!)

A temporary move over to this blogspot address as Blogger is screwing up (as happens way too often). No need to refresh bookmarks, though this means that internal links are broken for now.

Update: Well, well, well, that Newsweek poll has company! A new LA Times/Bloomberg poll finds a 12% lead for Obama, 49% to 37%. In a four-way race including Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, Obama is ahead 48% to 33%. The key, once again, is the poll’s partisan breakdown: 39% of voters identify themselves as Democrats versus only 22% as Republicans. That is simply too big a difference for McCain to hope to survive.

Original post: After yesterday’s wave of good poll news for Obama that showed the Democrat gaining in swing states like New Hampshire and in traditionally red state like Alaska, today’s shocker comes in the form of a SUSA poll from Indiana — not the first state you think of when you wonder where the next exciting presidential poll will come from:

  • In a state in which George Bush crushed Al Gore and John Kerry, SUSA finds a toss-up race, with Obama edging out McCain 48% to 47%.
  • No surprise as to the reason: There is a 16% swing from the partisan breakdown of 2004. That year, 46% of voters were Republicans and 32% were Democrats. In this poll, 38% of respondents identify themselves as Democrats and 36% as Republicans.

It is increasingly evident how big an obstacle to McCain’s election this shift in partisan breakdown, about which I have written numerous times before, has become. It is what explains Obama’s 15% lead i a recent Newsweek poll, and what also accounts for Obama’s gains in a number of red states like Indiana. Keep in mind that the Illinois Senator has chosen to run his first ad of the general election in this state which should not be dismissed: While it doesn’t cost him that much to run ads in similarly red Montana and Nebraska, Indiana does have an expensive media market (Indianapolis) and the Obama campaign has to be at least somewhat confident that they can tighten the race here and force McCain to play defense.

The day’s second good news for Obama comes from Michigan:

  • PPP finds Obama to be ahead 47% to 38%, with 78% of Democrats supporting him versus 74% of Republicans supporting McCain.

This will not come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog who know that I tend to view Michigan as more dangerous for Obama than Pennsylvania, but this is the biggest lead Obama has ever posted in a Michigan poll. The state is likely to remain competitive to the end, just as it did in the past two elections, but it would be a huge boost to Obama if the state at least comes back to its Democratic leanings. We will have to wait for confirmation from other polls to see whether PPP marks Michigan’s return to its more traditional role of a lean-blue state or whether it overstates Obama’s support.

The third and last presidential poll of the day comes from New Mexico:

  • Obama narrowly leads McCain 49% to 46% in the latest SUSA poll, based on a 54% gender gap and the support of 63% of Hispanics. The two were tied at 44% last month.

Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll of the race found an 8% lead for Obama, in what is one of two Gore states to have switched over to Bush in 2004. Polls here remain tight, though Democrats are hoping that claiming an early edge New Mexico and Iowa will put them within striking distance of the White House (6 evs) before contesting more difficult red states. The fact remains that while Obama is putting states like Indiana and Alaska in play he has not been able to open a consistent and clear lead in states that ought to swing to his side more easily if he has a national advantage. And that’s what keeps this race so suspenseful.

Finally, four down-the-ballot polls:

  • In Colorado’s senatorial race, Democrat Tom Udall has opened a 9% lead (46-37) against Republican Bob Schaffer according to an internal poll released by the DSCC.
  • In Indiana’s gubernatorial race, Gov. Daniels leads Democratic challenger Long Thompson 50% to 45% (in the SUSA poll).
  • In Nebraska’s senatorial race, former Gov. Mike Johanns crushes Scott kleeb 60% to 33% in Rasmussen’s latest poll. He ld 55% to 40% last month. Johanns’s favorability rating stands at 63%, versus 50% for Kleeb.
  • Finally, PPP accompanied its presidential poll with the uninteresting finding that Carl Levin is leading 54% to 32% in his uninteresting match-up against Republican Jack Hoogendyck.

Long Thompson was unexplicably trailing big in the last 2 polls of the race, though this survey is a return to what we have seen most of the year: Mitch Daniels is a vulnerable incumbent though he has somewhat recovered in the past year, making this race unpredictable. As for the Nebraska race, it remains the Democrat’s big disappointment of the year as Bob Kerrey’s running would have made this one of the hottest pick-up opportunities of the year rather than a blowout which Kleeb has little chance of tightening. In fact, the Democrat himself probably views this as a resume-boosting name ID-enhancing run.

As for the Colorado poll, it is an internal survey but this is the second poll after Rasmussen’s that shows Udall extending his lead a bit. Democrats have long been hoping that Udall will repeat the gubernatorial scenario of Gov. Ritter in 2006, when the Democrat unexpectedly opened a huge lead in what was expected to be a close open seat race and he never looked back. The environment is still as bad for the GOP and the state has only trended more blue in the past two years but Udall has been unable to inch ahead of Schaffer. If these latest polls are confirmed, however, it will be a very positive development for Democrats.

Senate: NRSC’s move towards giving up VA and NM, plus a variety of polls

Senator Ensign, the chairman of the NRSC, has been setting a lot of expectations lately. After declaring that his goal for the year was to prevent the Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof majority (and thus limit the loss to eight seats), Ensign has now shifted to a wiser refrain: It will be good news, he explained, if the GOP only loses three seats in November. But at this same lunch with reporters, Ensign made some news by taking the first step towards giving up on Virginia and New Mexico. “You don’t waste money on races that don’t need it or you can’t win,” he said.

An NRSC decision that a race should no longer merits investments would go a long way towards sealing a seat’s fate, for both Steve Pearce and Jim Gilmore will need the help of the national party to keep up with the momentum that is carrying their Democratic opponents. In 2006, the NRSC’s decision to pull out of Ohio effectively handed the election to Sharrod Brown who coasted to an unexpectedly easy victory over the incumbent Republican.

Another interesting tidbit in Ensign’s comments is his list of the 10 most competitive races. Ensign includes North Carolina and Maine and does not even make a stab at spin by putting in New Jersey (though Collins is polling better than Lautenberg at this point). Yet, there is no sign of Mississippi! Despite the fact that (1) Ronnie Musgrove has been leading Senator Wicker in a number of polls, (2) despite predictions of increased black turnout, (3) despite the fact that party affiliations will not be printed on the ballot and (4) despite Travis Childers’s victory in MS-01 last month, Mississippi continues to be treated as a long shot by most analysts. This attitude is indeed not exclusive to Ensign. Even Chuck Schumer rated MS a third-tier race in a recent interview. What more does Musgrove need to do to prove that this Southern special election is among the hottest races of the country?

Meanwhile, 5 new Senate polls were released in the past two days, only two of which concern competitive races. Here are these polls, in the order in which the contests are ordered in my latest Senate rankings:

  • In Minnesota, Norm Coleman edges out Al Franken 48% to 45%, a similar margin than his 2% lead last month.
  • Rasmussen also polled a three way match-up including former Governor Jesse Ventura. Coleman leads 39% to 32% to Franken and 24% to Ventura, who (as is expected) takes votes from the challenger.
  • In Oregon, Jeff Merkley got no bounce from his primary victory as he now trails incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith 47% to 38% in the latest Rasmussen poll. Last month, Smith was ahead by 3% — though Democrats ought to be satisfied that they are keeping Smith under 50%.
  • In Kansas, Cooper & Secrest Associates released a poll of the Senate race that is the third consecutive survey showing Pat Roberts leading his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Slattery, by 12% and the first one in which he dips under the 50% mark, leading 48% to 36%.
  • In Iowa, Senator Harkin is leading challenger Christopher Reed 53% to 37% and posting a favorability rating of 59% in a new Rasmussen survey.
  • In Michigan, finally, no surprises in the latest Rasmussen poll that has Senator Carl Levin leading challenger Jack Hoogendyk 55% to 30%. Hoogendyk is largely unknown but Levin has a strong favorability rating, making him an unlikely target.

Of these 5 races, Minnesota and Oregon are the two interesting ones. Despite the repeated polls showing some potential for Slattery and despite the GOP’s (thwarted) determination early this cycle to field a credible challenger to Harkin, these two races have a long way to go before joining the list of competitive races, though the DSCC might hope that Kansas Democrats will be more enthused than usual if Governor Sebelius is tapped on Obama’s ticket.

In Minnesota, despite the media firestorm that has recently been surrounding Al Franken years as a comedian and the unexpected difficulties that popped up on his way to the DFL’s endorsement, the Democratic challenger is holding strong, suggesting that the race remains a referendum on the incumbent and on the Republican Party. With Minnesota showing signs of moving back to its solidly Democratic roots, Coleman will remain endangered and he should worry if he could not open up a bigger margin after such a favorable month of press coverage. As for the Jesse Ventura question, the former Governor has declared that he will make up his mind at the last minute. The filing deadline is mid-July so we will have to wait a few more weeks to see whether Ventura will wreak havoc in this senatorial race.

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