Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Obama Effect

Democrats are going to have to think really carefully about how they deploy Barack Obama for campaigning this fall. Polls we've conducted nationally and in several different states over the last few weeks have found that a candidate being endorsed by Obama is much more likely to elicit a negative response from Republican voters than a positive one from Democrats.

PPP's most recent national survey found that while Obama had a positive approval rating at 48/47, only 33% of voters were more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by him while 48% said support from Obama would make them less likely to vote for someone. That's because only 64% of voters who approve of the President say his endorsement would make them more inclined to vote for a candidate, but 91% who disapprove say Obama's support makes it less likely they would vote for one of his preferred candidates.

To put into perspective the perils of having Obama out on the campaign trail, consider the numbers in his home state of Illinois. Even there just 26% of voters say they'd be more inclined to back an Obama endorsed candidate while 40% say his support would be more likely to turn them against a candidate. It's another example where the intensity of feeling about Obama is much stronger on the GOP side- 80% of Republicans say they're less likely to vote for someone with the President's support while only 49% of Democrats say they're more likely to. If Obama's support isn't a net positive in Illinois it's hard to know where he should be deployed.

Whether Cal Cunningham or Elaine Marshall wins the Democratic Senate runoff in North Carolina next week neither is likely to get much benefit from Obama campaigning for them. 47% of voters in the state say they'd be less inclined to vote for someone he supported to only 30% who say his support would have a positive impact on their vote.


DBL said...

The problem with your survey is that you included everyone in your question. You should only ask people who might consider voting Democratic. (e.g. Democrats and independents) Obama's endorsement can't lower a 0% chance.

herbs814 said...

Obama will be as toxic to Democrats in November as he was in NJ, VA, and MA.

Democrats have no idea how much the nation detests their policies and how eager America is to run them out of office.

Rasmus said...

And what are the crosstabs on the effect on undecided voters in the NC races? Because well, who cares if the chance that a tea partier votes for Marshall decreases from .0000001% to .0000000000001%?

Anonymous said...

Ya ya, who would have believed that there will come a time that Dems will be ashamed of their President Obama.

Anonymous said...

How stupid can Etheridge be????? New Civitas poll has total unknown Ellmers (R) edging (within margin of error) Rep. Etheridge (D) 39-38. Any comments, Tom? I know that Civitas is conservative but a 30-pt lead as he usually got elected can't be made into a 1-pt deficit even if you spin the poll.

Dustin Ingalls said...

DBL: Obama's presence on the campaign trail doesn't occur in a vacuum. If he could keep it a secret that he stumps for a Democrat to everyone but Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, the party would be deploying him all over the country 24/7. But while you're right that most of those who answered "less likely" probably wouldn't vote for a Democrat anyway, coverage of his visits in local news could provide opportunities for the Republican opponents to rally their base and motivate them to come out to the polls, as well as to raise money for GOTV. So the White House and DNC have to figure out how, where, and when to deploy him so that his rallying of the Democratic base will outweigh the GOP counterweight in terms of persuaded votes and campaign contributions. He may continue to do mostly fundraisers, which are usually closed to the press, and robocalls, which are sent to targeted voters. The Catch-22 is that Democrats need to be motivated, and he does it more than just about anyone else, but Republicans don't need to be pushed any more to the polls. So depending on local conditions and how the national mood and his job performance numbers do in the coming months, we'll see how and where he's used.

DBLasdon said...

I'm skeptical that Obama campaigning in an area would generate donations and help get out the vote. As your polls have showed many Republicans assume their Democratic congressman voted for HCR when he didn't. I think you'd get at least 40% of Republicans saying Obama made a campaign appearance even if he didn't.

I know this is contrary to the current narrative but much of the opposition to Obama is based on what people think he stands for, (he's a socialist!), not the man himself.

Obama may not have helped Corzine, Deeds, and Coakley, but I doubt his appearances hurt them either. Since he didn't help they may need to rethink how he does his appearances. Perhaps a big rally a few days before the election isn't the way to go.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"I know this is contrary to the current narrative but much of the opposition to Obama is based on what people think he stands for, (he's a socialist!), not the man himself."

That's definitely true. Democrats just have to be careful because anger and anybody-but attitudes tend to motivate voters more than positive feelings FOR a candidate.

herbs814 said...

"Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who was endorsed by President Obama, or would it not make a difference?"
More likely...... 33%
Less likely ..... 48%

This may be even more valid a question than the standard job approval rating.

The 58% of Democrats, 63% of liberals, 40% of moderates, and 70% of blacks that would value Obama's endorsement all seem underwhelming.

Meanwhile, the breadth of groups that would be less likely to support an Obama endorsee is remarkable.

A plurality of women and a majority of men would be less likely to support a candidate endorsed by Obama.

A majority of independents say they would be less likely to support a candidate endorsed by Obama, by margins greater than 2 to 1.

A plurality of Hispanics would be less likely... a majority of "other" says less likely. The 13% of blacks saying less likely is surprisingly high.

A plurality of all age groups say less likely (and among 30-45 and 65+ it's a majority).

The possibilities of Obama helping his party seem to be getting even smaller by the month.

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