Friday, July 9, 2010

Looking at Boxer's Situation

There's no doubt Barbara Boxer's in some serious trouble for reelection. But looking inside the numbers on the California Senate race there are some indications that Boxer should survive:

-Our late May poll of the race, which like this week's Field Poll found a 3 point Boxer advantage, found Carly Fiorina leading Boxer 88-4 with folks who voted for John McCain in 2008. That's the largest lead among McCain voters we've found for any Senate or Gubernatorial candidate in the country over the last 4 months and it's an indication that Fiorina really has no room for improvement with her base. She's already got it completely locked up and she's still trailing, albeit by a small amount.

That means Fiorina's going to have to win over a bunch of Obama voters to knock off Boxer but so far she's shown very little appeal to them. On that poll only 4% of Obama voters had a favorable opinion of her to 42% who saw her unfavorably. That's quite a contrast from, for instance, Scott Brown who was seen favorably by 28% of Obama voters right before to his upset win in Massachusetts to 61% who saw him unfavorably.

-Yes, Barbara Boxer is not very personally popular. We found her disapproval at 46% to only 37% approval. But it's important to note that just because voters don't approve of you doesn't mean they won't vote for you. Boxer is currently getting 20% of the vote from people who don't approve of her. 92% of those folks voted for Barack Obama and 3% voted for John McCain and literally 0% of the 43 people in that category who we polled in California in late May had a positive opinion of Fiorina. There are a fair number of folks who don't like Boxer but aren't open to voting for a Republican either.

Last year Jon Corzine's final percentage of the vote was 11 points higher than his approval rating in our polling and a similar dynamic may put Boxer over the top this time.

I don't think Boxer will win by much- certainly don't expect to see her with a double digit margin- but I just don't think Fiorina has that much room to grow and because of that I expect she'll end up hanging on.


DBL said...

Fiorina had 10% of the Obama voters, a decent number. 14% of Obama voters are undecided. When there's an established incumbent like Boxer, everybody knows her. If you're going to vote for her you know that already. She got 7 million votes in 2004. People are undecided because they likely don't know enough about or aren't sure about Fiorina.

Obama won California by 23.5 points. Your electorate has Obama with a +20. Will it be that high? You have an option of "someone else/don't remember." I assume this includes "didn't vote." The electorate changes. Many potential Fiorina voters may have stayed home in 2008. That may explain Fiorina's huge 56-15 lead with these people.

Your electorate is 46% Democratic. California has never had an election that was 46% Democratic. In the last three elections it was 40%, 41%, and 42%. It seems unlikely it'll jump to 46%.

Fiorina leads independents by 10 in your poll. Independents will be a good chunk of the electorate this year. If Fiorina wins independents by 10, she'll win the election. She needs to stay within low single digits with independents, especially if Fiorina takes 10% of the Democrats.

wt said...

I think this is one of the races where turnout is most key. The higher the better for Boxer.

If Dem-leaning independents or traditionally Democratic voters stay home, Fiorina has at least a 50-50 shot at taking out Boxer.

Christian Liberty said...

Democrats' far-left, race-based pandering on immigration only turns independents to vote Republican.

With a midterm, middle-class electorate and independents leaning Republican, Fiorina is in good shape to become senator... and Whitman is in good shape to become governor.

Only 2 of the last 5 governors of California were Democrats; one last Gray Davis, who left office with an approval rating in the 20s. Californians are quite ready and willing to support Republicans.

Dustin Ingalls said...

Fiorina's in the middle of the pack when it comes to Republicans getting a share of the self-reported Obama vote. 11 Republicans we've polled in Senate and governor's races this year get higher proportions of the Obama vote, and 12 get lower.

She is also right in the middle of the pack in terms of leads or deficits with independents. She is tied with Rand Paul, with 11 Republicans both above and below them. The average Republican leads by almost 9 points.

DBL said...

Dustin, is your point is that Fiorina isn't an outlier for getting Democrats and independents? If she were at the bottom, then we'd likely expect her to gain. If she were at the top, then we'd expect her to drop. If Fiorina does win indies by 10% and picks up 10% of Democrats Boxer is in big trouble.

Young Democrats in California just aren't enthusiastic about Boxer of Jerry Brown. Meg Wittman should help Fiorina, as her enormous spending should get a high percentage of Republicans to the polls.

I think this race will poll within 3 points each way all the way to November.

Dustin Ingalls said...

My point is that her leading by 10 among independents isn't unusual. Republicans generally are leading among independents in the races we've polled. That's the nature of this year's beast. Yet she's still down. And she's also not getting an unusually high % of the Obama vote. She's not bad in either category--just average among her Republican peers. And from the crosstabs Tom describes, it doesn't look like she has room to grow among Obama voters. To beat Boxer, she either has to hope for really depressed Dem turnout and boosted GOP turnout, and/or a sea change in opinion. It'll be somewhat close, yeah, but if the over/under's the 3 points we and Field currently have her leading by, you'd be a fool to bet under.

Anonymous said...

Being relatively new to polling, polling numbers and the methodology used to ascertain those numbers, I have a question that your answer will hopefully help me to better understand a few things that I am otherwise in the dark about.
When polling, does PPP and other pollsters weight the respondent's "more enthusiastic" numbers being reported by several of the other pollsters?
As an example, Gallup reported on 6/21 that their poll revealed that by a 59% to 44% margin (+15%), Republican voters were "more enthusiastic" to vote in this year's elections, compared to Democrat voters and those that considered as being "less likely" to vote, also favored the Repulican voters, 39% to 56% (-17%.
In a similar poll, reported by Pew on 7/1, 56% of Republican voters stated that they were "more enthusiastic" about voting in this years elections, versus 42% of the Democratic voters being polled; representing a 14% differential, also favoring the Republicans. In that same poll, 77% of Republican voters said that they were "absolutely certain to vote" this year, while 62% of Democratic voters saying the same; for a Republican advantage of 15%.
In yet another Gallup poll, reported on 7/7, Republican candidates were voter preferred in a "generic Congressional survey" over Democratic candidates, by a scant 46%-44% (+2%) margin.
All of which suggest to me that, while Democratic candidates are "generically" competitive with their Republican counterparts, amongst the general population, actual voter turnout, therefore final voting numbers, are going to heavily favor the Republican candidates; and to a much greater degree than what the current polls are otherwise reporting? If true, then wouldn"t it be reasonable to conclude that a 3% to 5% (if not more) Republican gain (from current polling numbers) be in order?
Just wondering.
Your response to this issue would be greatly appreciated.

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