Category Archives: Governor

West Virginia Numbers; Ilinois Developments

For an open Senate race in a cycle where the majority is up for grabs, the West Virginia effort to replace the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) has attracted little attention. This is largely due to the fact that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) is the only major announced candidate from either party. Considering how political events have unfolded here to date, the Mountaineer State contest appears to be the best Republican conversion opportunity in the country.

The biggest Democratic name who could still become a Senate candidate is Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. She has yet to enter the campaign, but is reportedly at the top of national Democratic recruitment lists for the state.

Testing a hypothetical Capito-Tennant pairing, R.L. Repass & Partners, a Charleston-based survey research organization, went into the field (Aug. 15-22; 400 registered West Virginia voters) and found a potentially close political battle. According to the results, Capito would lead Tennant only 45-40 percent, but certain methodology points need addressing and explaining.

First, the eight-day polling period is much longer than normal and tends to weaken reliability. Most pollsters attempt to complete the questioning process within three days.

Second, the sample size of 400 is slightly low for a statewide campaign, understanding that West Virginia is a small state. This, too, decreases reliability.

Third, according to local analysts, 53 percent of the polling sample self-identifies as college graduates, yet only 17 percent of the actual residents fit into that category using the 2010 US Census figures as the benchmark source.

Similarly, 54 percent of the polling respondents reported an annual income of greater than $50,000, while only 26 percent of statewide residents fall into that category.

How the skewing affects the ballot test remains to be seen. In the past two cycles, Republicans have fared poorly with college-educated voters so, at least on face value, such a skew probably improves Democrat Tennant’s polling standing. Likewise, when examining West Virginia voting behavior since 2000, skewing with a higher income sample also probably helps the Democrat candidate.
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Two Reeling Governors: Maine, Illinois

LePage-Quinn

A pair of recent political polls confirm that Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Illinois chief executive Pat Quinn (D) are in tenuous re-election position, meaning losing is a distinct possibility for each. Both face major tests from several opponents and, according to Public Policy Polling (ME) and We Ask America (IL), the challengers either today have, or likely could soon possess, the upper hand.

Maine

PPP surveyed the Maine electorate (Aug. 23-25; 953 registered Maine voters) and determined that recently announced gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) is leading Gov. LePage 39-35 percent, with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler drawing 18 percent. Back in 2010, LePage defeated Cutler 38-36 percent, with Democrat Libby Mitchell only securing 19 percent of the vote. Since the governor has never topped 40 percent in any election or poll, the three-way configuration does give him hope of winning a second term. And, with a job approval index of 39:56 percent, being only four points behind in a survey conducted on the heels of his main opponent’s announcement tour certainly suggests the governor retains at least a rocky path to victory.

But, the news is not all favorable for Michaud. Considering that the congressman’s personal favorability index is a strong 53:30 percent, almost opposite that of LePage, it is surprising that his lead is only four points. Combining the elements of taking a poll just after his post-announcement tour, and brandishing a favorability rating that is net 40 points better than the incumbent’s suggests that Michaud still has much work to do if he is to unseat LePage. Additionally, as he did during the last election, Cutler is transforming into a viable wild-card candidate. Overcoming a 21-point deficit this early in the campaign cycle is a difficult, but not insurmountable task.
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The Tancredo Rebound

Tom Tancredo

Tom Tancredo

Earlier this year when former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo announced that he would challenge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in 2014, few expected much of a contest. After all, Hickenlooper, a popular Denver mayor back in 2010, won the governorship with ease even in a Republican landslide year (51-36 percent over Tancredo who ran on the American Constitution Party ballot line). But Quinnipiac University, now for the second time in the last three months, forecasts a race that is surprisingly close.

According to the new Q-Poll (Aug. 15-21; 1,184 registered Colorado voters) Gov. Hickenlooper leads Tancredo only 46-45 percent, an almost identical result to what they found in their June survey (42-41 percent, Hickenlooper over Tancredo). Furthermore, the governor is upside-down with respect to the respondents’ opinion about whether he deserves re-election. Forty-five percent of those sampled believe he should win a second term; 48 percent do not.

Several things are occurring here. First, clearly Hickenlooper’s personal popularity is suffering, to which his job approval rating of 48:44 percent positive to negative attests. Second, a relatively severe gender gap exists. Women give the governor positive reviews, but men view him in the exact opposite context. Third, Hickenlooper holds decidedly unfavorable ratings, and overwhelmingly so from men, regarding his highly publicized actions pertaining to the death penalty and gun control.

Women support the governor over Tancredo by a 53-37 percent margin, but the male preference is much different. The latter group backs the Republican challenger in double-digits, 53-39 percent. In terms of personal approval, females have a positive opinion of the governor (54:35 percent), but men disapprove of him (44:50 percent).
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Analyzing the Numbers in Virginia Governor’s Race

cuccinelli-mccauliffe

Yesterday, Quinnipiac University released their new Virginia poll (Aug. 14-19; 1,129 likely Virginia voters), which projects former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to be leading Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) 48-42 percent on the ballot test. This poll actually shows an increase in support for both candidates over their two previous Old Dominion surveys. In July, the Q-Poll gave McAuliffe a 43-39 percent edge, and the May study returned an almost identical 43-38 percent result.

Though the spread between the current numbers is the largest of the campaign according to this pollster, the number of self-identified Republicans (23 percent) and Democrats (30 percent) are the lowest to date. Those describing themselves as Independents or unaffiliated topped 39 percent, the largest number in comparison to the previous surveys.

Curiously, though Cuccinelli has a two point (44-42 percent) preference among Independents, he’s still trailing. He scores a 90-6 percent tally from Republicans, but gets buried 1-92 percent within the Democrat segment.

The Negatives

The way this campaign is going, with both candidates heading toward negative approval ratings – in this survey, Cuccinelli scored a 35:41 percent positive to negative on the personal approval index; McAuliffe 34:33 percent – it is likely that the overall turnout will be depressed. Large numbers of voters expressing continued disapproval of their political choices tend to lead to low turnouts on Election Day. Considering this is an odd-numbered election, which always features a low voter participation rate, 2013 could see one of the lowest-ever turnouts if the current campaign tone continues. As the heat of the contest grows more intense, the tone will likely worsen and not lighten.

Polling this race is difficult because the potentially record low turnout will be a critical determining factor. Virginia Republicans tend to run better in lower  Continue reading >

Louisiana Data Conflict; Kasich Down in Ohio

Two days ago, a pair of polls were released into the public domain projecting that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) is faring well against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). Yesterday, Public Policy Polling publicized a counter-study showing the senator to be in much better political shape, thus calling the Republican data into question. Why the stark difference? We’ll explain shortly.

The two Republican polls were conducted by OnMessage for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Harper Polling for a conservative website. The OnMessage data (Aug. 12-15; 800 registered Louisiana voters) gave Sen. Landrieu only a 45-41 percent advantage over Rep. Cassidy. HP (Aug. 14-15; 596 registered Louisiana voters) found even better results for the Baton Rouge congressman, actually placing him ahead of the incumbent on a 47-45 percent count.

The PPP data (Aug. 16-19; 721 registered Louisiana voters) forecasts quite a different take. According to these results, Sen. Landrieu has a comfortable lead over Rep. Cassidy, 50-40 percent, when the two are paired in a hypothetical post-primary December 2014 run-off election.

Seeing Democratic and Republican pollsters surveying the same race at the same time but arriving at drastically different conclusions happened relatively frequently during the last election cycle. Particularly in the presidential campaign, we often saw the Republican data placing GOP nominee Mitt Romney in much better position against President Obama than was actually the case.

The chief reason for the past projection disparity was the turnout screening mechanism used in qualifying those who constituted the various sampling universes, and such is undoubtedly the case with these conflicting Louisiana numbers.

In the presidential year, the Democratic pollsters were much closer to accurately forecasting the participation model in what will prove to be the higher turnout year of 2012. Now heading into the mid-term cycle, where voting participation is always lower than in presidential elections, it may be the GOP numbers that yield the more accurate prediction.

As we know, who turns out always determines an election winner, and no one suggests that election year 2014 will be any exception to that rule. Defining the most  Continue reading >

Camp Says No in Michigan; Brown for President?

Michigan

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4), after flirting with running for his state’s open Senate seat, again says that he will remain in his current position so he can continue leading his committee’s tax relief efforts.

Back in March, when veteran US Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek a seventh term next year, Camp immediately declined to run statewide. Last month, however, the congressman appeared to come full circle by publicly indicating that he was reconsidering his previous decision to remain in the House.

His move gave national and local Republicans reason to begin upgrading their chances to defeat Detroit Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), who already appears to be the Democrats’ consensus candidate. Virtually all political analysts gave Camp higher marks as a Michigan Senate candidate than ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), partly due to his ability to amass funds as Ways & Means Committee chairman.

Now, Camp has yet again re-reconsidered his position and invokes his initial decision to forgo a statewide run. He again said, over the weekend, that he wants to remain in his current position to concentrate on tax relief legislation. The northern Michigan representative will continue to chair the committee until the end of this current Congress. Under party rules, his allotted service will then end.

The Republicans need six seats to wrest Senate control away from the Democrats, and the open Michigan contest is an important one if they are to achieve such a goal.

Today, it appears highly likely that GOP candidates will capture open Democratic seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, leaving them with three more conversion victories to obtain, assuming the three aforementioned states do come through. Realistically, even with Michigan included as a target, there are only six more seats where competition is likely to occur, assuming the GOP holds their own potentially vulnerable positions in Georgia and Kentucky. A lesser Michigan Republican challenge obviously reduces their chances of gaining the majority.

Brown in Iowa
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Three States, Three Different Approaches

Pennsylvania

A major political decision announced just yesterday will help a Pennsylvania freshman Republican congressman. In November, businessman Keith Rothfus (R) unseated incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D) in the newly drawn 12th Congressional District.

Critz was originally paired with then-Rep. Jason Altmire (D) in the one district after PA lost a seat in reapportionment. The sophomore congressman prevailed over Altmire in a close, hard-fought contest, but then Critz went on to lose the general election to Rothfus 48-52 percent, despite President Obama again carrying Pennsylvania.

Since the election, it was assumed that Critz would seek a re-match with congressman Rothfus in an attempt to regain his lost position. Critz, however, has decided on a different political direction. Instead of again running for Congress, the ex-member will now run for lieutenant governor. With the Democrats appearing well positioned to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett (R), riding on a ticket with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee could allow Critz to sail back into office.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for lieutenant governor run independently in the primary but, once nominated, are paired with the gubernatorial nominee on a general election ticket. The leading Democratic gubernatorial contender is Critz’s former congressional colleague, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13). As a political team, the two would strike a balance between the dominant liberal wing of the Democratic Party and its more moderate faction.

Maine

With the polls showing that Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) would defeat Gov. Paul LePage (R) even in a three-way match with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler, the congressman will officially announce his gubernatorial campaign later today. Earlier, Michaud had formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee.

While Michaud’s prospects appear strong in the governor’s contest, the battle for his open House seat could reflect a different complexion. Though the Democrats will be viewed as likely winners early in the race, a strong Republican candidate could become highly competitive in an inland western  Continue reading >