SUSA comes out with 7 general election polls: Dems strong in VA and KY, and McCain as solid as always

Everyone obsessively tries to compare the electability of the different Democratic candidates, which I've tried to argue over and over again is an absurd exercise because there is no coherent data. There are dozens of polls showing Hillary more competitive than Obama and vice-versa. The one thing that holds consistently is Clinton running better in the South/deep red states. Why is no one talking about electability in the GOP race? The data here is very consistent: McCain is the best Republican to save the GOP from an electoral disaster. That may not be true down the line, but since we're basing ourselves on current perception and current polls, most of them remarkably show McCain running stronger than the other GOPers.

Today's massive SUSA poll release is an ideal example. Apparently looking to release as many polls as is humanly possible before Christmas, SUSA came out with seven general election polls last night and this morning. The main lessons: Democrats (almost) sweep Virginia, remain competitive in Kentucky, but Obama would have trouble holding New York or Massachusetts against McCain or Giuliani, and McCain is (by far) the most competitive general election candidate.

First up then, Virginia -- which is probably the most interesting poll:

  • Hillary Clinton demolishes all GOPers: 52% to 42%, Romney 53% to 40%, Huckabee 54% to 40%. McCain keeps it a toss-up, 48-46.
  • It's closer with Obama, who beats Rudy 48-45, Romney 50-43 and Huckabee 51-42. But McCain comes out on top 50-44.
This confirms previous polls that have had Democrats leading in Virginia, and it is a marked improvement from SUSA's last poll from the state. Remember: No Democrat has won Virginia since 1964 -- though Kerry held Bush to 9% in 2004. And the state has 13 EVs. If Democrats get it and a state like Iowa, they wouldn't even need to win Florida or Ohio.

The second state which has had Democrats strong throughout the fall -- and surprisingly so, is Kentucky:

  • McCain is the only candidate to beat Clinton, 50% to 44%.
  • Clinton comes out on top against Giuliani 47-45, Romney 48-44 and Huckabee 47-46.
  • Obama, however, is demolished by all Republicans: 50-40 against Rudy, 46-40 against Romney, 51-38 against Huck, and 53-35 against McCain.
Kentucky has been one of the states that has the most consistently shown a blue drift in presidential polls over the past few months -- in a state Bush won by 20 points in 2004. The previous poll from SUSA had Democrats a tiny bit stronger, but this survey can in no way be consider an outlier: Obama might be weak here, but Clinton's competitiveness shows Democrats have a huge opening here.

A lot of this is due to the local situation in Kentucky, which is more toxic for the GOP than in other places due to the ethical trouble the state party was in that led to the ouster last month of Governor Fletcher. However stunning it might be, Republicans will have to prepare for Kentucky and its eight electoral votes emerging as a very unlikely battleground state in 2008. (In case you're wondering, Kentucky and Virginia together would give Democrats a victory,if combined with all the Kerry states).

SUSA then has polls from three of the most reliable blue states in the country -- NY, CA and MA:

  • In California, Democrats never tremble and have some massive leads. Clinton demolishes Rudy 58-36 and even McCain 57 to 38. Obamais a bit weaker but he stays within double-digits: McCain holds him 52-39, but Obama gets 56-36 against Giuliani.

  • New York is a bit more interesting: Rudy Giuliani gets Clinton down to... 55% (to 40%) and locks Obama in a toss-up in his home state (48% to 46%). McCain is also very competitive against Obama: 47% to 43%, but stands no chance against Clinton: 57% to 37%.
  • The Democrats demolish the two other GOPers: Clinton hits 60% and 59% against Romney and Huckabee, while Obama beats them both 54-36.

  • Finally Massachusetts, where Clinton crushes Rudy 57-37, Romney 60-34, and Huck 63-30, but beats McCain only 53-43.
  • Obama stays on top but sometimes with difficulty: He crushes Romney 55-36, Huck 60-28, but it's only 50-41 against Giuliani... and a 47-45 toss-up with McCain.
Don't forget that Massachusetts is the state of which Romney was governor -- so he has no excuse for his stunning weakness there. Clearly, McCain has the potential to put very blue states in play, which is supposed to be Rudy's central campaign argument. Why is no one pointing out how BS Rudy's electability appeal is when McCain does as well as him in New York -- Rudy's home state -- and up stages him in Massachusetts? It goes without saying, naturally, that no Democrat will be elected in 2008 without carrying New York (and certainly also Massachusetts). So however much Democrats stay in a great position now, they should be afraid of McCain.

And SUSA closes it off with two polls from red states: Alabama and Kansas. The previous polls from these states by SUSA had Clinton very very competitive in states that Bush won more than overwhelmingly. Democrats today stay competitive: the GOP has the upper-hand, but remember how less than red than normal these states are performing (Bush won Kansas with 62%

  • First up, Alabama, where Clinton holds all GOPers to single-digits: 49% to 42% against Rudy, 49-44 versus Huck and 50-43 versus McCain. She forces Romney into a toss-up 46-45.
  • Republicans perform better against Obama, who holds Romney in single digits 48-39 but is then crushed by the the three others -- 54-36 by McCain and 52-36 by Giuliani.

  • In Kansas, Giuliani leads Clinton 51-39 and Obama 52-38. McCain does better, 58-35 against Clinton and 56-36 against Obama. Huckabee leads a bit more weakly, but it is Romney who has trouble: ahead of Clinton 49-43 and of Obama 44-43.
Democrats did better in last month's SUSA poll where they led four out of eight match-ups, but the bottom line is that McCain is the only candidate not massively under=performing on his party's strength.

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  • If the Republicans lose either Kentucky or Virginia, they will be in serious trouble. I still feel that the generic Republican will beat the generic Democrat in both states.

    By Anonymous Southern Slav, At 21 December, 2007 17:17  

  • Ditto that last remark. The Republicans are really in danger if they lose either of these states. Republicans stand to lose Iowa, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia during this election. There are some states, such as Oklahoma, where the spread might be in single digits. The Republicans need to excite the base.

    By Anonymous Independent Voice, At 21 December, 2007 18:31  

  • And again Clinton does the best. All this talk about her not being electable just doesn't show up in the polls.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 22 December, 2007 03:29  

  • Ditto. Every right-wing book slam about her high "negatives" and the "electability factor" are just not showing through in polls. Even Rasmussen, which somehow manages to find more undecided voters than practically any other pollster, shows her either winning or extremely competitive where a DEM should not be according to traditional thinking. There is not one single blue state that is more in danger of falling this time than in 2004, but there is a veritable slew of red and battleground states that are all moving more blue than red, and this must be of great concern for the GOP.

    Of course, the more reliable numbers will come out after the conventions, but I suspect a two way race with HRC winning in the popular vote by between 52-53%, which translates to roughly 360-380 EV, depending.

    By Blogger Mark, At 26 December, 2007 09:25  

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