June 1, 2015 — Quinnipiac University just released a new poll (May 19-26; 1,711 registered U.S. voters; 679 likely Republican primary voters; 748 likely Democratic nomination system participants) that clearly reveals the closeness and fluidity of the Republican presidential contest. No less than five candidates are tied for first place, and the entire field of 16 tested individuals fall within 10 points of one another.
Though this is a small-sample national survey and not reflective of the state-based system in which candidates participate to win a presidential nomination, the data still has value because it suggests that no potential contender is summarily eliminated.
Jointly in top position with just 10 percent preference apiece are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (now also residing in the Sunshine State), ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Just three and four points behind them are Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (seven percent), and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (six percent). Continue reading >
May 29, 2015 — The Senate majority will again be up for grabs next year, and the important Pennsylvania race is putting Democratic Party leaders in a precarious position. With the Keystone State voting history of favoring Democrats in presidential election years -– the last Republican presidential nominee to win the state was George H.W. Bush back in 1988 –- failing to convert the Pennsylvania Senate seat could well dampen any hopes the party has of recapturing the majority they lost in 2014.
Despite holding winning 2010 Republican candidate Pat Toomey to a 51-49 percent margin, Democratic leaders are open in their desire for a different 2016 nominee than former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). But, two new occurrences only deepen the hole they seem to be digging for themselves.
Wednesday, their top recruiting prospect, Montgomery County Commission chairman Josh Shapiro announced he would not be running for the Senate, saying that he “didn’t want to come Washington or be a legislator.” On top of that, a new Public Policy Polling survey (May 21-24; 799 registered Pennsylvania voters) finds Sestak doing best against Toomey among six Democrats tested, trailing him only 42-38 percent. Continue reading >
May 28, 2015 — A surprising story broke in Arizona Tuesday. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) announced that she will forego her re-election bid and instead challenge Sen. John McCain (R) next year. The congresswoman was included on most “possible candidate” lists, but was not viewed as someone overtly planning to make the jump into the statewide contest. Her move, however, may be a precursor to another decision that will soon enter the public domain.
With McCain’s approval numbers dropping into the dangerously low category (36:51 percent favorable to unfavorable according to Public Policy Polling), Kirkpatrick’s move is not without political reason. The latest PPP survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters) finds her trailing the senator only 36-42 percent, certainly suggesting that such a general election pairing would yield a competitive contest.
But, the driving force behind Kirkpatrick may not be McCain’s perceived vulnerability. Rather, since the US Supreme Court is poised to soon render a decision on the Arizona redistricting challenge, it may be this issue that is actually motivating Kirkpatrick to move forward.
The Arizona Republicans are challenging the state’s congressional map on the grounds that the US Constitution only gives federal redistricting power to state legislatures. Before the 2000 reapportionment, voters adopted a ballot proposition that created a redistricting commission empowered to draw congressional and state legislative lines. The crux of the suit argues that a citizens’ commission has no authority to draw congressional lines. Continue reading >
May 15, 2015 — One place where the early campaign has gone poorly for Senate Democrats is Pennsylvania. With state and national party leaders in an open feud with former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), the 2010 Senate nominee who held Republican Pat Toomey to a 51-49 percent victory, the race has the potential to spin out of control.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party leaders and those from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in Washington are attempting to recruit Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro to oppose Sestak. In addition, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D) has announced his candidacy. Pawlowski entered the 2014 gubernatorial race but didn’t fare well, and dropped his bid even before the candidate filing deadline expired.
A new Harper Polling survey (May 6-7; 503 registered Pennsylvania voters) adds to the Democrats’ problems, as Sen. Toomey appears to be in strong shape at the beginning of the race. Harper finds his personal favorability index to be a strong 54:32 percent positive to negative. Continue reading >
May 11, 2015 — The University of New Hampshire is routinely among the most unreliable of public polling entities, and the institution’s new release in partnership with WMUR-TV in Manchester is no exception to that characterization. The poll is attracting attention because it is the first one in months to project former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as leading his fellow Republican competitors in any early voting state.
The survey, conducted during the very long sampling period of April 24 – May 3, interviewed only 293 “likely GOP primary voters.” The 10-day questioning period is seven days longer than the optimum timetable, and the sample size is only half as large as what one would typically see in a state the size of New Hampshire.
The pollsters will argue that because they are testing only likely Republican primary voters, the sample size will be smaller than a poll studying the entire electorate. While this is true, not even reaching 300 people taints the results with a very high error factor. By the pollsters’ own admission, the error rate in this study is greater than plus or minus 5.7 percent, which means the results could vary by as much as 10 points per individual. Continue reading >