Category Archives: Governor

Virginia Race Tightens

A brand new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 9-15; 1,005 registered Virginia voters) shows Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli closing the gap between he and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in the state’s gubernatorial race. According to the Q-Poll results, McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 44-41 percent, a spread now within the polling margin of error. Previous studies from Quinnipiac and a myriad of other pollsters were consistently projecting McAuliffe to be holding a five to seven-point lead during the past month.

Though the trend suggests the momentum may be shifting back to Cuccinelli after going McAuliffe’s way for a considerable period of time, there is a major point of concern for the Republican political forces. Despite Cuccinelli pulling to within three points on the ballot test, his ability to personally connect with voters is poor.

Cuccinelli’s favorability index is an alarming 34:51 percent favorable to unfavorable. McAuliffe’s rating is better, but not stellar. His score is an even 38:38 percent.

There is a two-fold explanation for the Republican’s severely upside down rating. Most acutely, the sampling universe does not believe that Cuccinelli understands their problems. By a margin of 35:56 percent, the respondents believe that the Republican nominee does not understand problems of “people like me.”

Additionally, almost an outright majority of the sample does not believe Cuccinelli is “honest and trustworthy.” In answer to this particular question, the ratio is 39:49 percent with the higher number representing those who do not agree that the attorney general is honest and trustworthy.

The answers to both of these questions highlight a very serious image problem that the Cuccinelli team will have to correct if their candidate is to remain competitive.

McAuliffe does not score particularly well on these questions either, but he is stronger than Cuccinelli. He, too, is upside-down in regard to whether people believe he understands their problems, but is closer to parity than Cuccinelli. By a margin of 40:44 percent, the respondents don’t believe McAuliffe understands their problems. The Democrat, too, sees a higher number of people viewing him as not being particularly honest and trustworthy, but again his rating is not as negative as his Republican opponent’s. McAuliffe’s tally on this question is 39:42 percent.
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Daley Out in Illinois; Brown Improves in NH

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

Illinois

As quick and surprising as former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s entry was into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, so too is his exit. Daley, also a former White House chief of staff to President Obama, had been challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Quinn assumed office when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced to prison and then won a razor-thin one point victory in the regular election against Republican Bill Brady back in 2010.

With Quinn’s approval numbers lagging and the state facing serious financial difficulty, Daley launched his effort to deny the governor renomination in April when he formed an exploratory committee. But now the former cabinet secretary and son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley says he cannot “commit to what the voters may need,” meaning that he does not feel up to serving at least five and potentially nine years (counting the campaign time) in order to get the state “on the right track.”

The decision is good news for at least two people, Gov. Quinn and the eventual Republican nominee. Quinn will now likely avoid a serious primary contest that could heavily damage him for the general election. Early polling showed both he and Daley in the high 30s percentile. Obviously, an incumbent failing to break even 40 percent among members of his own party is a clear sign of inherent political weakness.

Despite abandoning his campaign, Daley reiterated that he believes he could win the race and that Quinn will lose his re-election, asking for “forgiveness” for being honest. Through the last financial disclosure report in June, Daley had raised over $800,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. He says he will conduct an audit of his committee and return contribution money that was not  Continue reading >

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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