Category Archives: Polls

Does Money Matter in Presidential Campaigns?

While presidential candidate Herman Cain is vaulting up the polling charts – the latest Rasmussen Reports poll (Oct. 14-15; 1,000 likely voters) actually puts him ahead of President Obama 43-41 percent – his campaign is lagging behind in spendable resources. According to the just-filed FEC financial disclosure reports, the retired business executive only has $1.34 million cash-on-hand with $675,000 in debt. This contrasts with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s $16.46 million and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s $15.08 million. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) is next with $3.67 million in the bank.

It is often said that political money is least important in a presidential race because of the extensive earned media coverage the candidates receive. This is true to a point, but Cain’s financial shortcomings, should they continue, might be felt in places like Iowa, the site of the nation’s first delegate selection event. The fact that the campaigns must convince their supporters to attend an actual political meeting instead of just going to vote, means a stronger organization requirement is necessary.

Immediately after Iowa, the campaigns will pivot to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida, all within the month of January. Feeding such a mobile political machine will be expensive, so Cain will need to command greater resources if he is to fulfill his current standing. Failing to produce in the early states will be seriously problematic for Mr. Cain, since the expectation level surrounding his campaign has grown exponentially.

A Polling Trifecta

An interesting set of three presidential polls was just released: a national survey testing the Republican candidates, which reveals a new leader and a surprise mover, and two key state general election studies that show President Obama barely clinging to a lead in two places that he carried comfortably back in 2008.

Fox News, contracting with both Democratic and Republican polling firms, which seem to have conducted a more methodologically sound survey than others emanating from the network in the recent past, shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney recapturing the lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The big mover, however, was retired businessman Herman Cain, who catapulted himself into a strong third position.

The pollsters, Anderson Robbins (D) and Shaw & Company (R), went into the field during the Sept. 25-27 period and questioned 925 registered voters. The error factor is plus or minus 3 percentage points 95 percent of the time. Of the group, 363 individuals are Republican primary voters. The results show that Gov. Perry took a hit from his poor debate performance before the Presidency 5 straw poll in Florida, and his lackluster showing at the event itself. Though Romney only gained one percentage point from the last Fox News poll, he secures first place with just 23 percent of the vote. Perry is next with 19 percent, dropping a full 10 points when compared with the Fox Aug. 29-31 survey. Cain captures a solid 17 percent, making him now a close third nationally, at least according to this particular poll. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the other significant mover. He grew from 3 percent to 11 percent during the interval between the two Fox polls.

These results are not particularly surprising. Perry has taken a media beating since the Presidency 5 debate and straw poll, so it was expected that he would fall to a diminished position in the ensuing national polls. Though Romney is leading, he continues to record stagnant numbers and still cannot break out of the low 20s. Considering he is the best known of all the Republican candidates, a standing of this level should not be seen as particularly encouraging.

The Cain numbers are interesting, and reflect that he’s receiving more positive exposure before a public that is clearly looking for a new option, but this result could also be short-lived. Next month’s polling data will show if Mr. Cain has staying power or if his current standing is simply an anomaly.

Turning to the two large-sample Quinnipiac University general election polls taken in Ohio (Sept. 20-26; 1,301 registered Ohio voters) and Pennsylvania (Sept. 21-26; 1,370 registered Pennsylvania voters), it appears that Gov. Perry is not the only candidate who is seeing his fortunes decline. Mr. Obama, who scored a 51-47 percent victory in the Buckeye State and a 54-44 percent triumph in neighboring Pennsylvania three years ago, fares considerably worse today against both Romney and Perry.

In Ohio, the President can manage only a 44-42 percent edge over Romney and a similar 44-41 percent advantage when matched up against Perry. Mr. Obama’s Ohio standing is reflective of his poor job approval rating, according to these Q-Poll results. By a margin of 42:53 percent, the Buckeye State respondents disapprove of the job he is doing in the White House. Potentially an even worse ratio from his perspective, only 43 percent of those surveyed believe the President deserves re-election, while a majority 51 percent say he does not.

The Pennsylvania numbers are strikingly similar to those found in Ohio. There, the President maintains an almost identical 45-43 percent spread against Mr. Romney, but does slightly better when matched with Perry, leading him 46-40 percent. Perhaps most surprising of all, Mr. Obama can only manage a three-point, 45-42 percent margin against defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his seat in 2006 by more than 17 percentage points.

As in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s job approval numbers in this critical political state are poor. The Pennsylvania respondents, by a margin of 43:54 percent, disapprove of his performance as President. And, his re-elect score is also similar to that found in Ohio. Among Keystone State voters, 44 percent say he deserves another term in office, while, again, a majority 51 percent of those sampled say he does not.

With all of the major candidates now seemingly on a bit of a downward spiral, the election of 2012 can be counted upon to be highly unpredictable as it moves forward.

Race in New York’s 9th Tightens

Immediately after the Republicans began citing a McLaughlin Associates poll that showed GOP congressional special election nominee Bob Turner and Democratic standard bearer David Weprin tied at 42 percent for the upcoming Sept. 13 vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released different — and potentially suspect — numbers. The Global Strategy Group (Aug. 30-31; 400 likely NY-9 special election voters), polling for the DCCC, projects Weprin to be leading 47-39 percent. Though an 8-point spread is beyond the polling margin of error, several things must be considered to possibly give us a more accurate depiction of what is happening in this Brooklyn-Queens New York City campaign, one in which the Democratic nominee should win easily.

First, Global Stategy’s error factor for this particular poll is 4.9 percent, unusually high for a 400-sample survey in a congressional district. An error number well under 4 percent is more typical. Second, the poll actually shows more weakness for Weprin than strength. Though it projects him to be ahead, his 8-point advantage is substantially below the generic Democratic figure (46-32 percent) for the 9th CD. Third, Republican Turner’s favorability index, 40:26 percent, is surprisingly higher than Democrat Weprin’s: 35:24 percent. Taken in its entirety, the universe of recent polling suggests that this race may end in close fashion.

Mr. Turner is a retired broadcasting executive and the 2010 GOP congressional nominee (lost 37-57 percent). Mr. Weprin is a freshman Democratic state assemblyman. He was twice elected to the New York City Council, serving as the body’s Finance Committee chairman. His father, Saul Weprin, is a former state Assembly Speaker. The seat is vacant due to the highly publicized resignation of ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9).
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Obama’s Job Approval: A Cause for Concern

Presidential job approval ratings can fluctuate widely based on a rather wide variety of factors. Among these are the status of the economy, whether the U.S. is at peace or war, the presence of real or suspected scandal, etc.

While President Barack Obama’s administration has been free of any significant scandal, the U.S. is currently engaged in somewhere between two and three wars, and is suffering from a painfully slow-growing economy and a 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

While the President’s approval rating has generally fluctuated in a relatively narrow band that has ranged from the mid-50s to the mid-40s for the last two years, the trend in recent weeks has become troubling for Democrats seeking office in 2012.

Yesterday’s daily Gallup presidential approval tracking poll shows Obama’s job approval rating now slipping to 39 percent. The Gallup poll takes a rolling three-day average of opinions expressed by 1,500 adults nationally. The margin of error in the survey is +/- three percent.

While Obama continues to receive broad support from African-Americans, his approval rating among Hispanics and whites has lingered at record lows in the past two weeks. Gallup noted that Obama’s approval rating among postgraduates and high-income Americans has seen a particularly steep decline since the late May-early June time period, which was the last time his average weekly job approval rating registered at least 50 percent.

At this stage of his presidency, Obama’s standing with Americans doesn’t compare very favorably with other post-WW II presidents. At the 940 days in office mark (Aug 20), here is how Obama compares to the other Presidents, since Harry S. Truman when polling of this type began:

  • Obama                  40%    Standing for re-election in 2012
  • Truman                54%    Re-elected in 1948
  • Eisenhower        71%    Re-elected in 1956
  • Kennedy              62%    Assassinated in 1963
  • Johnson              48%    Did not seek re-election in 1968
  • Nixon                   49%    Re-elected in 1972
  • Ford                      53%    Defeated for election 1976 (polled at 857 days in office)
  • Carter                   32%    Defeated for re-election in 1980
  • Reagan                 43%    Re-elected in 1984
  • Bush, G.H.W.    59%    Defeated for re-election in 1992
  • Clinton                 46%    Re-elected in 1996
  • Bush, G.W.         59%    Re-elected in 2004

Only Jimmy Carter fared worse than President Obama at this point in the term. The average for the 12 presidents after 940 days in office (857 for Ford) is 47.8%. Thus, Obama is almost eight percentage points below average at this point in time.

The low approval numbers do not mean that the President is doomed to lose his re-election campaign. History shows us that Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton were all below 50% approval but went on to win impressive re-election victories. In fact, historic landslides were even recorded for Nixon and Reagan. Conversely, two Presidents with some of the highest approval ratings, George H.W. and George W. Bush, both registering a strong 59% positive ranking at this commensurate time during their terms in office, did not fare as well in their re-election campaigns. As we know, George H.W. Bush was defeated for a second term, and his son won a close battle against a below average Democratic candidate.

While President Obama can certainly rebound and win a second term in office at the end of next year, the low approval ratings must be a cause for concern in his campaign camp. Watch for the President to make significant moves to improve his standing in the coming weeks.
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New Poll Confirms Big Perry Lead

Last week, Public Policy Polling (Aug. 18-21; 663 “usual” GOP primary voters) gave newly announced presidential candidate Rick Perry a substantial 33-20-16 percent lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6). All other candidates scored only in the single-digit percentile. This week, the Opinion Research Council, polling for CNN (Aug. 24-25; 1,017 adults; 927 registered voters; 467 Republican primary voters), confirmed those results in almost identical fashion.

According to the new ORC/CNN data, Perry’s lead for the GOP nomination is 32-18-12 percent over Romney and Bachmann, respectively. Both the PPP and ORC/CNN studies are small-sample polls and carry high error factors, thus the exactness of the two conclusions becomes even more significant. Perry gained 14 points from the ORC/CNN’s early August survey (Aug. 5-8); Romney dropped five, and Bachmann increased her standing by three percentage points.

The ORC/CNN poll then included both former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, both of whom could still conceivably become candidates, in their secondary presidential preference question. With the additions, Perry’s lead drops to 27 percent, Romney falls to 14 percent, and Palin places third with 10 percent. Bachman dips to 9 percent, which is the same number as Giuliani posts. It remains to be seen if the Perry juggernaut is long-standing, or just a bounce from his long-awaited and highly anticipated announcement speech.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.