Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reflecting on PA-12

My biggest takeaway from the surprising outcome in PA-12 last night, besides the fact that Mark Critz and the DCCC did an amazing job? There's a limit to just how unpopular Republicans can be and still hope to make gains everywhere this fall.

Barack Obama's mid-30s approval rating in the district got more ink, but the number that may have ended up being even more relevant to last night's outcome was the putrid 22% approval rating for Congressional Republicans with 60% disapproving of them. Given that our final survey overestimated GOP performance in the district it's entirely possible that actual support for the Republican leadership in Washington is under 20%.

Critz successfully separated voters' feelings about him from their unfavorable feelings toward his party's standard bearer. The results suggest that Burns was not successful enough in separating himself from his unpopular national party.

One other key finding on our PA-12 poll- only 28% of voters in the district thought Republicans did a good job running the country while George W. Bush was President. 63% think they did not. That -35 spread is 15 points worse than the -20 spread we found for Obama's approval in the district.

Voters in PA-12 are not real thrilled with how Democrats are running the country right now. But they have an even dimmer view of the Republicans, and until the party can present itself as a more appealing alternative it may not be able to make gains to the extent you would expect in this political climate.

19 comments:

wt said...

Dead-on analysis. We can grab the marginal districts, but to get a wave there has to be something to attract voters to the GOP more than dissatisfaction with the Dems and the President.

This could be the thing that lets the GOP regroup for November.

Anonymous said...

Tim Burns must be a pretty awful candidate if he managed to take an election that was a gimme lose it by 8 points. Nancy Pelosi and Obama are hated there

Yeggo said...

On the money, Tom. And forget how good or bad the candidates are - I think there's a bigger story here. The GOP, for whatever reason, is building a bubble, and has convinced not only themselves, but their followers, that a takeover of Congress is a likelihood.

What happens if that doesn't come to pass? How do you explained to a ticked-off, already fractured base that you couldn't oust the "Democrat Socialist" party?

http://bit.ly/befVVJ

Christian Liberty said...

The key takeaway is that Democrats must run hard to the right to even sneak out tight margins in districts in which they have superior numbers. Democrats must run away from the national party or they will lose many, many, many seats in November.

Christian Liberty said...

There are 60 Democrat-held districts that are more competitive, more vulnerable than the PA-12 (measured by Cook PVI). There are many more opportunities in November. Many more Democrats that must run away from Obama and Pelosi to save their careers.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"The key takeaway is that Democrats must run hard to the right to even sneak out tight margins in districts in which they have superior numbers. Democrats must run away from the national party or they will lose many, many, many seats in November."

Tight margins? Critz won by 8 when all the polls had the race essentially tied.

And how did Critz run "hard to the right"? He's pro-life? Is that all you've got? I mean, he had Bill Clinton campaigning for him, not Rush Limbaugh or Ron Paul.

AuntPittypat said...

I wonder how much influence Bill Clinton's rally had there? If I remember correctly, counties in that area of PA in the 2008 Dem primary voted in the 75 to 90 percent range for Hillary.

It may be that Critz ran so far to the right and that, coupled with a visit from the Conservative/Moderate Democrats' favorite Big Dog, sealed the deal.

Obama's backing and robocalls certainly did nothing for Benedict Arlen except in Philly.

Revelations said...

@Christian Liberty

1. The dems don't have to move to the right because the Republican's moved to the far right leaving the middle wide open. All they have to do is prove to the independent voters that the Republican's are no where close to the middle and they will do well.

2. McCain won PA-12 in 2008. For the Dems to win by that margin is a big deal in an off cycle election and with a unmotivated base.

I suspect November may be a surprise to both parties but especially to incumbents...

Christian Liberty said...

More signs Tuesday was a strong pro-Republican election day

"The Democratic theory that voter anger would fade or burn out once health care was passed was wrong-headed and was undermined Tuesday. That anger remains and likely will persist through the November elections.

Republican intensity also continues: The Democratic turnout in Kentucky declined 8% from the last midterm, while GOP turnout rose 27%.

In Arkansas, the hot Democratic Senate primary produced a 15% increase in turnout from four years ago—but the GOP turnout more than doubled, up 122%.

Even though Pennsylvania Republicans didn't have serious statewide primary fights while the Democrats battled over both Senate and gubernatorial nominations, Republican turnout was up 46% over the last midterm, while Democratic turnout rose 41%."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703691804575254652185973976.html

Ranjit said...

Folks,

Don't forget the turn out of democrats for the senate primary and governor race. You need to add that factor with pro gun, pro life, against healthcare, against pelosi and reid factors to the equation. Also, Burns was fighting against 2 races. He also had to fight his own party for the primary. It all takes the toll. But in November, there will be a united party with a national platform to run against the democrats

Christian Liberty said...

Critz squeaked out his underwhelming margin (way below the 62-29% registration advantage) by running to the RIGHT of the Republican. Not only did he run as pro-life and pro-gun, but he also opposed tax increases (and attacked Burns for supporting a sales tax).

Kevin said...

The bottom line is that Washington and the Media tried to play up this race and the NRCC helped do that with unrealistic expectations.

The district is 62% democrat and 31% republican.

The Republicans never had a shot here. I know Obama lost here by 900 votes, but that has a lot to do with his being viewed anti-military and unfortunately his color in some instances.

Republicans had no shot here.

Anonymous said...

Dustin Ingalls,
What is it Dustin - don't like the message - or is it the messenger? Your response to the comments made by Christain Liberty clearly reflects someone running and hiding from reality. Say denial? Maybe - just maybe you need to accept the facts and get over em. Ya think?

DBL said...

Critz embraced the tea party platform of lower taxes, less spending, no Obamacare, no cap and trade. How did he get Bill Clinton to campaign for him?

He also got a lower percentage of the vote than Murtha ever did. Considering that he, like Murtha, is one of them, while Obama is not, that's a far better comparison.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"What is it Dustin - don't like the message - or is it the messenger? Your response to the comments made by Christain Liberty clearly reflects someone running and hiding from reality. Say denial? Maybe - just maybe you need to accept the facts and get over em. Ya think?"

If Christian Liberty's views and "facts" represent reality, then apparently everyone else on earth is in another dimension.

Anonymous said...

The results in PA-12 said to me that Dems won't lose all conservadems if they run as pro-life, pro-gun and anti-hcr, but will lose all conservadems if candidate/congressman is liberal, voted for hcr. Certainly Rs don't have so much momentum, but Critz won by running to the right.

Anonymous said...

Tom, after PPP screwed terribly their second House special in a row, you gotta check your screens or something.

Anonymous said...

My lesson from PA-12 is that for some conservadems that are discusted with their president still can't part ways with their party if they get a bone in a conservadem candidate.

Christian Liberty said...

Registered Democrats were 62% of registered voters, but Critz got only 53%. (9 points below expectations)

Registered Democrats comprised 64% of the primary day turnout, but the Critz got only 53% of the vote. (11 points below expectations.)

A most underwhelming squeaker, carried by turnout and registration advantages, not by any significant cross-party or independent support.

If anything, this makes the case for a Republican house even stronger. If Democrats run 9 to 11 points behind registration and turnout shares, a 40 seat Republican gain would be a piece of cake.

 
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