Friday, May 14, 2010

Halter and Sestak's Success

If Joe Sestak and Bill Halter win their primaries on Tuesday night there's going to be a lot of media temptation to declare it a huge night for the party's left...but is that really what's going on in those races?

Unfortunately the Pennsylvania and Arkansas primary polls have been short on crosstabs by ideological identification. But there have been some signs that's not really what's driving Sestak and Halter's momentum.

Let's look at Quinnipiac's polls for example. In early April when Arlen Specter led Sestak 53-32, 35% of the voters they surveyed said they saw Specter as the more 'consistently liberal' candidate. On Quinnipiac's most recent poll the Specter lead was all the way down to 44-42. But that 35% of voters identifying Specter as more 'consistently liberal' was unchanged. There was a 19 point reduction in Specter's lead over that period of time, but no change in voter perception of his ideology.

That makes me question an interpretation of a potential Sestak victory as the Democratic left pushing Specter out of office. It seems more like an anti-incumbent/desire for a new face thing than an ideological one.

I haven't seen any polling data by ideology in the Arkansas race, but when we last polled the state in February Blanche Lincoln's numbers within her party were actually their best with liberals. They gave her a 57/28 approval spread to 50/34 with moderates and 46/44 with conservatives. Those numbers suggest that if Halter wins or sends the race to a runoff it'll probably have just as much do with him pulling conservative and moderate Democrats away from Lincoln as liberal ones.

I hope some of the final polls in these races will release results by ideology, because I'm just not sure based on the data I've seen that the closeness in these races is due to backlash from liberal voters.

7 comments:

Christian Liberty said...

It wouldn't be surprising that leftists mistakenly assume that the electorate is more left-wing than reality would support.

George Templeton said...

So do you believe its rank and file Democrats that are disappointed that President Obama's agenda hasn't advanced as far as they wanted or in the matter they wanted and are taking it out on these two senators in the Primary?

wt said...

Two victories, though, would at least demonstrate the strength of the online far left, which has militantly opposed Lincoln, and to a lesser degree, Specter.

The voters may be moderate, but the candidates -- Halter in particular -- are being pushed by the Kos kids and their ilk.

DBL said...

A Halter victory would have to be partially attributed to the special interests (unions, Moveon) spending ridiculous sums of money to get him elected.

Aron said...

Muhlenberg released the following crosstabs from today's poll in which Specter leads Sestak by two percentage points, 45-43%:

Voter Ideology and the Senate Race

Very Liberal (10%)

Specter 48%
Sestak 43%

Somewhat Liberal (30%)

Specter 48%
Sestak 42%

Moderate (38%)

Specter 46%
Sestak 41%

Somewhat Conservative (15%)

Sestak 47%
Specter 33%

Very Conservative (5%)

Sestak 46%
Specter 46%

Anonymous said...

In Arkansas, the only question is whether there will be a run-off. There is no way that Halter beats Lincoln. Revelations that Halter outsourced an entire software development department to India, rather than hiring local Arkansas workers, has destroyed his chances. Being linked to outsourcing is really toxic right now in politics.

Christian Liberty said...

The winners of Republican primaries, even when more conservative, are fully within the mainstream. Meanwhile, the left is pushing candidates further and further out of the mainstream. Republican candidates will be stronger; Democrat candidates will be more radical and ridiculous.

"This lurch toward liberal priorities coincides with polls showing that the electorate— particularly independents—has shifted significantly to the right since Mr. Obama took office. While some Republican primaries are proving bloody, most are turning out candidates largely in tune with today's public frustration with Washington.

The Democratic primaries, by contrast, are generating nominees who are embracing, or even going beyond, the president's unpopular agenda. This is the feud that may have the bigger consequences for this fall's midterms."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704635204575242292247966322.html

 
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