5.09.2008

Friday polls: Obama suffers WV blues, Cornyn struggles again

3 days after North Carolina and Indiana, Hillary Clinton is showing no sign of withdrawing from the race; no matter how low her chances to get the nomination (and Rasmussen has just announced that he will soon cease his tracking poll of the Democratic nomination race!), this means that we should pay attention to the upcoming primaries again. If Obama performs disastrously, it would put him on the defensive again in the final weeks of May, perhaps buying Clinton the time she needs to continue to June 3rd and embarrass the Illinois Senator.

This applies to Kentucky, of course, but also to West Virginia which votes in 4 days:

  • A new ARG poll shows Clinton leading 66% to 23%. Obama fails to get 20% among white voters.
  • An Orion Strategies poll with too large a margin an error finds a similar margin, with Clinton leading 63% to 23%.
We have long known that Obama's worst region was the Appalachians, as he lost by similar voting margins in the counties of Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina that border Kentucky and West Virginia; given the demographic determination of these elections, it doesn't appear there is much Obama will be able to do to avoid this large a defeat (to put things in perspective, only Arkansas has voted for Clinton by a bigger margin).

Meanwhile, we got a series of general election polls in the past two days. Keep those numbers in mind for they will serve to determine whether Obama gets a bump from his being proclaimed the presumptive nominee in the coming days and weeks:

  • In Rasmussen's tracking, Obama leads McCain 47% to 44% (the first time he has led for consecutive days for two months) and Clinton leads 48% to 43%. In Gallup, Obama leads McCain by 1% and Clinton leads by 2%.
  • UPDATE: How frustrating must today's Gallup numbers be for Hillary Clinton. Not only does Obama fail to pull away despite this being the third day after NC and IN, but Clinton has suddenly jumped up to a 48% to 44% lead against McCain (which I believe might be her biggest lead ever in Gallup tracking) while Obama leads 46% to 45%.
  • A Rasmussen poll in Missouri, however, has McCain leading both Democrats. He has a 48% to 41% lead against Obama and 45% to 43% against Clinton. Last month, he led Obama by 12% and Clinton by 9% so this is actually quite an improvement for Democrats. Obama's favorability rating is only at 46% -- equal to Clinton's and much lower than McCain's.
  • In Georgia, Rasmussen finds McCain comfortably leading both Democrats, 53% to 39% against Obama and 48% to 37% against Clinton.
  • In Rasmussen's Wisconsin poll, McCain leads yet again -- this time in a blue state -- beating both Democrats 47% to 43%. This is a big boost for Clinton who led by 11% at the end of March. Obama's favorability rating -- at 51% -- is lower than McCain's (58%). Note that McCain's "very favorable" rating is much lower (only 14%), suggesting that his support is soft.
  • A Research 2000 poll from Texas, meanwhile, does not confirm how tight Rasmussen had found the race last week (both Democrats within single-digits) but the race is not as much of a blowout as in past cycles: McCain leads Obama 52% to 39% and Clinton 53% to 38%.
  • Finally, Hotline published its latest national poll and finds Clinton leading McCain 46% to 43% and Obama ahead 47% to 43%. McCain leads both Democrats by double-digits among independents, a troubling sign, but both Democrats have markedly improved their showing since the end of March when they both trailed. Proving how much McCain overperforms, Democrats lead the generic presidential ballot by 14% (15% among independens).
Democrats were used to leading Republican candidates in a whole list of red states back in 2007... until John McCain became the nominee. Trailing in both Wisconsin and Missouri is not a good place to start for Democrats considering they are supposed to be the heavy favorites to win this year's election. The question then is how these numbers will evolve in the coming weeks. Will Obama's becoming the presumptive nominee and the media's round of celebration boost his numbers, in a traditional post-victory popularity boost? Will Clinton's staying in the race blunt the impact of that?

Finally, a few very interesting down-the-ballot polls:

  • Research 2000 polled the Texas Senate race and found a 47% to 43% lead for Senator Cornyn versus state Senator Noriega. Back in September, Cornyn was leading by 16%.
  • This is the same margin of a Rasmussen poll released a few days ago.
  • Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is opening a large lead against both his Republican rivals for the open gubernatorial race. He is leading state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and congressman Kenny Hulshof 51% to 35%.
Both of these polls are great news for Democrats. Missouri is the most vulnerable gubernatorial seat and Nixon has basically been running since 2004. Governor Blunt's surprise retirement actually gave the GOP a bit more hope but it looks like Nixon could put this away quickly. As for Texas, the fact that two polls within one week show this tight a race is truly shocking and suggests that we were wrong to completely overlook this state in assessments of this year's Senate picture. Noriega always had the potential to make the race competitive but TX-Sen was a second-to-third tier race at best: Too big and conservative a state, too well-funded an incumbent, not a well-known enough challenger. We shall know in the coming weeks if the DSCC can count on expanding the map to the Lone Star State.

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12 Comments:

  • It does seem that Clinton is determined to stay in an embrass Obama.

    But if she pulled out and did the right thing it would still nt be good for Obama to lose WV and KT by 40%. There is a precedent for this, Paul Tsongas pulled ou tin 1992 and Bill Clinton was the presumptive nominee and in CT he lost which was embaressing but not fatal since he won in November 1992.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 09 May, 2008 13:36  

  • Ok I'm going to give my two cents on each of the issue you put foward Taniel.

    West Virginia Primary: You are probably right; with the attitudes of Clinton supporters being so negative of Obama, and that KY and WV basically whole states of the most pro-Clinton areas in places like OH, SC, and PA, Clinton supporters would probably vote against Obama based on their despise of him alone, probably good that she is still in the race at this point to avoid someting embarrssing.

    On the GE polls: Missouri is considered to be a traditional swing state, but it has been leaning GOP in recent cycles. It is a dissapointment that Obama and Clinton are losing now in the state but the fact is that damage has been done by the nasty primary. They may be able to put it back again.

    Georgia is no suprise

    Wisconsin is NOT a blue state: in 2004 I believe it was the closest state in election %wise (I think NM was closer based on actual votes). With Obama and Clinton being bloodied up, it is natural that McCain, out of the chaos would be ahead. That his support is soft is proof that this state will go either way, and Dems can afford to lose this small state if they can make up for it elsewhere (like Iowa)

    Texas: Seems to be some conflicting information, R2000 seeing it as a comfortable GOP win, while Rammuseen sees it as a only modest win. Unless polls show Dems consistenly in single digits, there is little chance Dems will spend much money here, which is a big blow to Obama especially because he is weaker than Clinton in big swing states like Florida and Ohio.

    I would say that Obama will NOT get a "unity" boost in the polls until Clinton ends her campaign and endorses Obama. Yeah, he may be on the verge of being the presumptive nominee, but any talk of unity is foolish because Clinton supporters are in general more loyal to her than to the Democratic Party. Clinton can't stop Obama from being the nominee, but she CAN stop him from winning the GE by consistenly making him out to be unelectable and and ill-suited to court her supporters. Tbis is why it is foolish for Obama to declare victory in May 20th, because that will only agitate Clinton's supporters who will need in the fall.

    Down ballot races

    The Texas senate polls are great new for Democrats. With Franken weakening in MN, having Noriega suddenly gain strength is awsome news, especially since Noriega main weakness in Texas right now is name recongition, compared to Franken whos has weakned over a tax scandal.

    Missouri, seems like Nixon being the nominee years in advance is helping him immensly. I do predict that it will get much closer once the Republicans choose a nominee.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 09 May, 2008 14:02  

  • As I have said here for some time Texas is the sleeper in the senate races. The Democratic Primary there gave a lot of good publicity to Noriega as he won the race for Democratic nominee that day.
    He has a great bio and a hispanic name and I expect this race to continue to move up to just under tier one by the end of summer. If he can close the fundraising gap he will be a tough opponent for Cornyne.

    By Anonymous fritz, At 09 May, 2008 15:27  

  • It is well documented that in some states white, working class voters prefer Clinton to Obama. There will be many reasons why this is the case, but we need to remember that people choosing between two options does not mean they like one and dislike the other. It merely means they prefer one over the other.

    For example I would prefer an Aston Martin to a Porche but if a Porsche is the only option I would still be very happy. Now in the GE if McCain equalled a Kia then a Porsche OR Aston Martin would be acceptable to me. i.e. Democratic voters will see the clear policy contrasts between McCain and Obama and most will come back "home"

    By Anonymous Tom, At 09 May, 2008 15:47  

  • If Obama claims victory before Fl. and Mi. are counted, he can kiss the GE good-bye. No one except die-hard Obama fans see that as a legitimate win. The press and the pundits aren't voting in November. This issue that hangs out there is the largest black mark against Obama there is. If Hillary pulls out or is defeated on that basis, a large number of registered Democrats will revolt. Unity is depending on counting every vote fairly. Sorry if poor Barackian is embarrassed, but he really should be ashamed. When the party abandons one of it's most important principls, it abandons its members.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 May, 2008 15:49  

  • If Obama claims victory before Fl. and Mi. are counted, he can kiss the GE good-bye. No one except die-hard Obama fans see that as a legitimate win. The press and the pundits aren't voting in November. This issue that hangs out there is the largest black mark against Obama there is. If Hillary pulls out or is defeated on that basis, a large number of registered Democrats will revolt. Unity is depending on counting every vote fairly. Sorry if poor Barackian is embarrassed, but he really should be ashamed. When the party abandons one of it's most important principls, it abandons its members.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 May, 2008 15:49  

  • If Obama claims victory before Fl. and Mi. are counted, he can kiss the GE good-bye. No one except die-hard Obama fans see that as a legitimate win.

    I don't see how the Michigan election can be seen as a legitimate vote, especially when tens of thousands of Democrats and who-knows-how-many eligible independents voted in the Republican primary, thereby (further) skewing the Democratic primary results (who knows how many supporters of other candidates stayed home because their candidates were not on the ballot).

    When the party abandons one of it's most important principls, it abandons its members.

    I'd say having a valid vote before counting it is a pretty important principle. I'd also say respecting all the other voters in other states that would have liked to go early but respected party rules is also an important principle. And I think trying to avoid even worse chaos next time if sanctions are not imposed this time is another important principle.

    MI and FL will get seated. But not without some penalty; after all, the Republicans imposed a penalty, and we don't hear cries of unfairness about it from them.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 09 May, 2008 16:16  

  • Bad analogy. The republicans are winner take all, so no amount of reduction of delegates alters the outcome. The Obama campaign seeks to alter the ratio to their gain. Avoiding chaos is not a principle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 May, 2008 16:42  

  • The republicans are winner take all, so no amount of reduction of delegates alters the outcome.

    Sure it does. The winner of Michigan got only half the delegates that he otherwise would have gotten. When some candidates are winning some states and other candidates are winning others, it matters.

    The Obama campaign seeks to alter the ratio to their gain.

    One could say the same thing about the Clinton campaign. The Michigan vote excludes the Democrats and independents who voted in the Republican primary. It's possible that those voters leaned Obama, skewing the Democratic primary result in Clinton's favor. (Never mind that the Clinton campaign counts zero popular votes for Obama in Michigan, which surely does not reflect voter sentiment.)

    Avoiding chaos is not a principle.

    If chaos would be bad for the party, then it's one principle to be considered, among others. It seems to me that the chaos this time has not been helpful. Without sanctions, what would prevent it from being worse next time?

    By Blogger dsimon, At 09 May, 2008 17:11  

  • ...and I'd still like to see an explanation as to how the Michigan vote can be considered valid given the conditions under which it was conducted (voters thought it wasn't going to matter, many eligible voters voted in the Republican primary, voters may have stayed home because their candidates names weren't on the ballot at the request of the party, and Clinton said back in October that it wasn't going to count). Counting the results of an invalid election would seem to me to violate an important principle.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 09 May, 2008 17:25  

  • An election is not "invalid" because of a dispute about delegates. People who voted in the republican primary are not eligible to vote in both. Edwards can come out and declare for Obama so he can claim the uncommitted. No voter was told to stay home. Chaos still does not a principle make. No reasonable person will consider it fair that one candidate benefits from a rule that was inherently unfair. There's just no way around it. Obama has to accept the mistake of pulling his name to spite Mi. voters and take his knocks. As soon as he does he'll clear the way for that flood of supers. Al Gore took the high road in 2000 and dropped out. He didn't even get anything other than ruining Bush's legacy. Obama will get the presidency. Or he will coninue to fight a losing battle until he hands the WH to McCain. That is if the supers don't take the nomination away from him for being so greedy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 May, 2008 19:34  

  • An election is not "invalid" because of a dispute about delegates.

    I didn't say it was. I said it was invalid because the conditions under which it was held led to a vote that was not representative of the will of eligible Michigan voters.

    People who voted in the republican primary are not eligible to vote in both.

    But that's not the point. The purpose of an election is to gather a fairly close approximation of the will of the eligible electorate. In Michigan, large portions of the electorate were told that the vote would not matter, and either voted in the Republican primary which did matter or stayed home. I do not see how the outcome which was likely skewed by those circumstances can be considered a valid estimate of the will of the electorate.

    Moreover, if the actual vote is to be respected, all major candidates get zero votes except Clinton. Does anyone really think that outcome is anywhere near representative of what the Michigan voters wanted?

    Obama has to accept the mistake of pulling his name to spite Mi. voters and take his knocks.

    All major candidates did so except one, at the party's request. And Clinton left hers on not out of solidarity for the rights of Michigan Democrats, but to make the way easier for her in the state in November when she assumed she would be the nominee. The Clinton campaign was all for sanctions against Michigan and Florida until it turned out she needed their votes. Please see the Slate article on this subject, "Fair-Weather Wolverine."
    http://www.slate.com/id/2188985/

    If a state voted early in the general election to get more attention (say, a non-battleground state that always gets ignored such as CA or NY), there would be no question about not counting the result, even if the outcome were representative of the will of the citizens in that state. In Michigan, not only was it early, I find it hard to believe that it was representative.

    Chaos still does not a principle make.

    Then why bother having "Election Day" for the general election? There are rules in place to prevent chaos, and most people don't have a problem with that.

    So I have yet to hear arguments showing (1) that the Michigan vote was representative or fairly contested or (2) how there won't be even worse problems next time around if there are no sanctions for voting early. I won't bring up those points again, since they've gone unanswered repeatedly.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 09 May, 2008 23:19  

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