5.05.2008

Week-end polls: Democrats up big in NYT poll; are Sens. Dole and Cornyn vulnerable?

After a quite Sunday in which I chose to only reflect on the victory of Don Cazayoux, it is time to delve right back in the Democratic primaries; after all, polls in Indiana and North Carolina open in 24 hours. We are likely to receive a deluge of polls from the May 6th states today, so let me get Sunday's polls out of the way before the political day starts, starting with Zogby's latest round of tracking polls:

  • Zogby continues to find the two upcoming primaries to be remarkably stable. In North Carolina, Obama is now ahead by 8%, 48% to 40% -- a one percent tightening in the past 24 hours.
  • In Indiana, Zogby has Obama narrowly ahead once again, 44% to 42%. Zogby is the only institute to find Clinton trailing at this point.
  • Clinton only leads 46% to 39% among white voters with 15% undecided; her margin among white voters in other polls is much larger, suggesting that a significant portion of these undecided voters could be a reservoir of votes for her. Whether they go to the polls as they did in Pennsylvania or stay at home will determine Tuesday's results.
Clinton is managing to hold on to a single-digit margin in North Carolina -- a gap that is confirmed by most other polls that have been released over the past week; that would do her no good, however, if she cannot prevail in Indiana. Keep in mind that most of the latest polls we have seen from both of these states were taken during or in the immediate aftermath of Wright's second round of appearances and of Obama's denouncing his former pastor. Whether these events are continuing to impact voters or whether they have already faded will determine whether last week's polls (which were moving towards Clinton) will remain relevant today and tomorrow. If they do not, Clinton could be in trouble as expectations have shifted due to last week's good polling results. For now, the only indication we have is that Obama has retaken the lead he had lost on April 27th in Gallup's tracking poll.

Meanwhile, New York Times/CBS released its second poll in two weeks and found both Democrats expanding their general election lead to stunning margins:

  • Obama leads McCain 52% to 41% while Clinton is ahead 53% to 41%.
  • 60% of all voters and 68% of Democratic primary voters approve of the way Obama handled the Wright situation; 9% of Democrats said that Wright would "matter a great deal" to them should Obama become the nominee.
While Democrats are more used to leading than trailing over the past few months, such a comfortable margin is certainly not in line with the conventional wisdom -- nor is it confirmed by other polls taken in the past few weeks. Democrats will understandably take the survey as a morale booster but until other polls suggest that the Democratic nominee has emerged with a clear edge keep in mind rules about margins of error and statistical variations.

Finally, three very interesting Senate polls to reoprt this morning:

  • First, SUSA polled the Minnesota Senate race and found Norm Coleman maintaining a double-digit lead against Al Franken, 52% to 42%.
  • Second, a Research 2000 poll in North Carolina finds Elizabeth Dole struggling to open a lead against both her Democratic rivals; she is ahead 48% to 41% against Kay Hagan and 47% to 37% against Jim Neal. The Democratic primary is Tuesday.
  • Third, Rasmussen published a stunning survey of the Texas Senate race, finding Senator John Cornyn leading his challenger Rick Noriega 47% to 43% only.
After a series of poll in mid-February showed a toss-up race in Minnesota, Rasmussen and SUSA have recently found Coleman to be back in a comfortable lead over the past two months. This is paradoxically also the time in which Franken pretty much secured his party's nomination. Note that there are some weird crosstabs in this poll: Coleman gets 99% of the GOP vote (which seems an unlikely proposition) and Franken gets 67% of the Demoratic vote, leaving him far behind despite a 24% lead among independents.

It is surprising to see Elizabeth Dole kept under 50% and in single-digits while Coleman enjoys a double-digit margin in a high-profile race against a well-funded opponent. Polls have disagreed on how vulnerable Dole is to a challenge this fall but Democrats have to be frustrated that they did not do a better recruitment operation here, as all the candidates that could have made the race really competitive declined to run. We shall know more about what to expect from this race once Democrats select their nominee tomorrow.

As for Texas, the Cornyn-Noriega race is considered a sleeper by Democratic activists but even they would recognize that it is at best a second tier race right now. There is little confirmation besides this poll that the incumbent is this vulnerable (more than Coleman and Dole, according to this wave of poll); previous surveys have found Cornyn leading by double-digits without beign able to open up a commanding lead. If Democrats manage to just make one of either North Carolina or Texas competitive, it would already be a huge and unexpected accomplishment.

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20 Comments:

  • Insider Advantage has Obama's lead down to 3 in NC. Suffolk has Clinton's lead at 6 in Ind. USA/Gallup has Hillary leading by 7 in the nomination. It seems that Obama has not recovered and is still losing ground. The blatantly dishonest ads on the gas tax holiday will definitely not help. Clinton's plan may die on the floor because it's tied to windfall profit taxes, but Obama lying about it is worse. Obama's plans never had any compensation for lost revenues. Clinton does. This gas tax holiday is popular and will haunt Obama through the GE now just like Wright.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 07:49  

  • Anon - Insider Advantage had Clinton leading by 2% in NC so their latest poll is actually a reversal for Clinton.

    Interesting that the majority (60+%) of all voters and Dems have said Obama has done enough on the Wright issue. Also reinforced by Obama retaking the lead in the tracking Gallup polls.

    I am very surprised by the large leads both Clinton and Obama have agianst McCain - shows both are electable. Now we know why Clinton is willing to go to such lengths to get the nomination - it is still worth something even if she alienates people.

    I am not surprised Dole is weak. It was a a rare but major recruitment failure of Schumer to not get anyone to compete against Dole. Hagen or Neal may be able to pick her off but it will be much harder than having a more well known and established figure (such as Governor Easley). Dole is not well regarded in NC and has done very little. I am surprised she is standing again since she is old, in the minority and failed completely in 2006 running the Republican senate campaign. It does bode well for either of the leading Dems that Dole is less than 10% ahead at this stage. They could still do a Jim Webb and pull it off.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 05 May, 2008 08:03  

  • Done enough translates into please no more already. Whatever damage can be done for now is done. It doesn't mean Wright won't pop up again and again. Obama shouldn't have looked so pained and certainly shouldn't have stuck his tongue in his cheek while "denouncing" Wright. A large percentage thinks he only did it for political posturing. Gallup's polling was a statistical tie yesterday (their words) so let's see today what Rasmussen has. Insider Advantage might be favoring Hillary but Zogby is definitely on Obama's side. Zogby might be accurate on the day of the election, but in the run up it seems they're way off. I've been critical of Zogby all along.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 08:23  

  • "Note that there are some weird crosstabs in this poll: Coleman gets 99% of the GOP vote (which seems an unlikely proposition) and Franken gets 67% of the Demoratic vote, leaving him far behind despite a 24% lead among independents."

    Okay... I just don't believe those numbers. Something is not right here.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 05 May, 2008 09:31  

  • Rasmussen has a starkly different take on which Democrat has the edge on McCain. The good news for Hillary is that a little while ago on CNN Obama conceded on seating the Fl. and Mi. delegates and that they should count. It remains to be seen whether this caving in to popular moral and ethical judgment will hurt or help Obama. For me at least it removes a major impediment to my giving him support.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 10:10  

  • check out the INsider Advantage crosstabs. What do you see?

    By Blogger Mark, At 05 May, 2008 10:19  

  • The good news for Hillary is that a little while ago on CNN Obama conceded on seating the Fl. and Mi. delegates and that they should count.

    There was never any doubt that the delegations will be seated. The question is whether they'll be seated in a way that will change the outcome.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 05 May, 2008 11:25  

  • dsimon- you're backpeddling. Seating was the issue and whether their votes count is no longer. Regardless of what the outcome, the Obama campaign no longer holds to the unteneble position that they don't count or that they don't matter. They will be seated and they will count. The only issue now is whether Edwards will forfeit his share of the uncommitted to Obama or whether he gives it to Clinton.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 12:05  

  • Seating was the issue and whether their votes count is no longer. Regardless of what the outcome, the Obama campaign no longer holds to the unteneble position that they don't count or that they don't matter. They will be seated and they will count.

    I can't answer for the Obama campaign. But I've always held the position that they will be seated--just in a way that doesn't change what the outcome would otherwise have been. Whether that qualifies as a way that "counts" depends on how one looks at it.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 05 May, 2008 12:26  

  • dsimon-Seating in a way that doesn't change what the outcome may have been by excluding them is excluding them. It doesn't pass the smell test. Either the voters count or they don't. The majority of Americans including Clinton,Dean, and now finally Obama want the voters' will to count. The outcome is that Obama will not lead in the pledged delegate count and must rely upon superdelegates to overturn it. I'm sure you have no problem with superdelegates overturning the pledged delegate winner. Is it somehow ethical to shift the delegates to a candidate whom the voters did not pick? How is that democratic?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 13:12  

  • I haven't seen this CNN report but I'm guessing that Obama is pretty confindent that the seating of the FL and MI delegations won't change the outcome (i.e. the newly restored pledged delegats wouldn't lead to Clinton overturning Obama's PD lead). I wonder if some of the neutral SDs in FL and especially MI will be willing to thank Obama with a SD vote...

    In the Senate races, while Franken is definitely weakening, I agree that he hasn't weakened as much as SUSA says because of the cross tabs you sight. The main reason that Franken has weakend is because of a local controversy over him not paying overdue taxes and Coleman is hammering him for this and getting political benefit for it. It will take more for Coleman to stop Fraken for good but it definitly makes him the favorite in this race.

    On NC and TX, more polls are needed to comfirm these results but if so it will be great news for the Democrats. In NC and TX the main weaknesses of the Democratic candiates is lack of name recognition and money, if Noreiga and the NC dems are this close to the GOP, then I expect that Senate Democrats will pour lots of money into their camapigns, thanks to the money advantage that Democrats have (at least for U.S. Congress, the DNC is during horrible by comparisoin)
    At the same time, Senate Dems will probably give little money to Franken despite it being a top tier race, as Franken is well known and has no money problems and the weaknesses that he has stem from himself.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 05 May, 2008 13:24  

  • It wasn't a CNN report it was Obama himself stating this to John Roberts this morning. When pressed if he could see any way to proceed to the nomination without Fl. and Mi. he wouldn't answer. Last I heard the count would put Hillary up by something like 55. I'm sure you guys are counting much more closely though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 13:32  

  • Seating in a way that doesn't change what the outcome may have been by excluding them is excluding them. It doesn't pass the smell test. Either the voters count or they don't. The majority of Americans including Clinton,Dean, and now finally Obama want the voters' will to count.

    If you can find a source that says that the delegates will be seated as is, or in a way that might affect the outcome, or one pertaining specifically to Dean that says so, let me know.

    I'm sure you have no problem with superdelegates overturning the pledged delegate winner.

    First, why do you assume what I think? Second, I have always said that superdelegates should support the pledged delegate winner, regardless of who it turns out to be.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 05 May, 2008 13:52  

  • dsimnon-Dean has stated himself that those votes count. To alter the ratio of delegates to favor one candidate or the other is fundamentally unfair. As to your assertion that I assumed what you think, it's called sarcasm. You've made it quite clear you oppose the rules regarding the superdelegates and would tell them to vote your way to suit your bias. Luckily you don't have a say in the matter. Regardless of who gets the lead in pledged delegates, the supers can pick the strongest candidate this summer. I think it will be Clinton, obviously you disagree. We'll see.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 May, 2008 14:43  

  • Dean has stated himself that those votes count.

    I'm looking for a cite online, and I can't find one. He said on May 1 on The Daily Show that the states would be seated, but he said you have to be "fair to the campaigns" and he said nothing about seating them as is. Also, votes can "count" with delegates given half-votes as a sanction. Dean said Florida and Michigan broke the rules, and that's why they lost their delegates. As I've written before, without sanctions there will be even more chaos next time around.

    So again, can you provide a cite?

    To alter the ratio of delegates to favor one candidate or the other is fundamentally unfair.

    Some would say that it's unfair to count the results of an election which the party said wasn't going to count, the voters thought wasn't going to count, only one major candidate's name was on the ballot, and even she said it wasn't going to count. Just "counting" Michigan would result in everyone except Clinton getting zero pledged delegates. I doubt many people think that result realistically represents the will of Michigan voters--even if no sanction were included.

    You've made it quite clear you oppose the rules regarding the superdelegates and would tell them to vote your way to suit your bias.

    I have always said I think superdelegates should follow the pledged delegate count. It would be helpful if you found a cite that says otherwise instead of assuming what I think.

    And why the personal vitriol? It's not about me; it's about the issues. Let's keep the discussion there.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 05 May, 2008 15:07  

  • while Franken is definitely weakening, I agree that he hasn't weakened as much as SUSA says because of the cross tabs you sight.

    What are these mysterious "crosstabs" from which you and Mark discern enlightenment? (Hey, I'm just trying to figure out what you're discussing!)

    By Blogger dsimon, At 05 May, 2008 15:26  

  • dsimon look at Taniel's orginal post he talks about crosstabs showing Coleman nearly every GOP vote (99%) and Franken only getting 67% of Dem vote and losing by double digits despite carrying independents by 24 points, seems a little dubious. Coleman will probably hold more GOP than Franken will hold Democrats as the GOP is more ideologically homegenous (very few liberal GOP while a good size of conservative Dems) but realistically not to the point that SUSA polls shows, I mean Franken hasn't collasped THAT much.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 05 May, 2008 15:35  

  • Ive been telling you people that Texas may be in play, Hispanics are feed up with the Hate from the GOP, and while Obama is not as strong with our group as Hillary, with a little hard work and a strong campaign that can be easily fixed.

    By Blogger Javier, At 05 May, 2008 16:28  

  • Javier, I'm guessing that your view that Texas may be in play is based on the Rammusen poll released today that has McCain only beating Obama by 5 points and Clinton by 6. I do think that especially for Obama that a competive Texas would be great news for him because it would make up for his extreme weakness in Florida. We do have to see if other polls also so this trend, but if Obama is able to increase his Democratic vote in texas and remain competive among independnts, Texas could defintely in play. I don't think that Clinton could increase the Democrat margin in conservative texas any more than she had now and its unlikely independets would go for the Clinton but she is stronger in the more "traditional" big battle ground states like Florida and Ohio.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 05 May, 2008 18:22  

  • Does Franken have problems with working-class voters? That would explain a lot of Franken's recent difficulties. And hasn't Coleman been running a lot of ads lately?
    And Franken's tax scandals aren't helping.

    Many of the crosstabs in the SUSA have totals that don't add to 100%.
    But I do think this will not be a pickup for the Democrats, as I have ranked Alaska ahead of Minnesota as a pickup opprotunity.

    Hagen vs. Dole might be more competitive than anyone thinks, though Dole starts as the clear favorite. In Texas, it takes so much money, it's hard to visualize how Noriega can keep up.

    By Anonymous mikeel, At 05 May, 2008 22:11  

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