Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Going deep on the Republicans

Our monthly look at the 2012 Republican Presidential field for November finds the same thing it it does every month- a very close four way race. This time around it's Sarah Palin at 21%, Newt Gingrich at 19%, Mitt Romney at 18%, and Mike Huckabee at 16%. Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty lead the second tier with 5% each, followed by John Thune at 3% and Mitch Daniels at 2%.

More interesting is something a little different we did this month, asking likely primary voters who their second choices would be. Here's what we found:

-If Newt Gingrich doesn't run the biggest beneficiary would be Mike Huckabee. 31% of Gingrich supporters say Huck is their second choice, followed by 27% who say it's Mitt Romney and 19% who say it's Sarah Palin.

-If Mike Huckabee doesn't run the biggest beneficiary would be Sarah Palin. 34% of Huckabee supporters say Palin is the second choice, with Gingrich and Romney well back at 19% and 17% respectively.

-If Sarah Palin doesn't run the biggest beneficiary would be Mike Huckabee. 24% of Palin supporters say he is their second choice, followed by 20% who say Gingrich and 12% who say Romney.

-If Mitt Romney doesn't run the biggest beneficiary, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, would be Sarah Palin. 27% of Romney supporters say she is their second choice, followed by 23% who say Huckabee and 14% who say Gingrich.

It should be noted on all of these numbers that the margin of error is relatively high.

The other interesting finding on this poll is that even voters who currently support one candidate in the GOP field tend to view the other ones favorably as well:

-Huckabee voters give Palin a 64/27 favorability, Gingrich a 53/23 one, and Romney a 59/26 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +33.

-Palin voters give Huckabee a 52/19 favorability, Gingrich a 42/38 one, and Romney a 40/35 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +14.

-Gingrich voters give Huckabee a 78/11 favorability, Palin a 67/14 one, and Romney a 61/26 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +52.

-Romney voters give Huckabee a 46/25 favorability, Palin a 46/36 one, and Gingrich a 41/42 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +10.

The Gingrich and Huckabee voters are going to be fine if someone else gets nominated. They're pretty happy with all the other candidates. The Romney folks perhaps are a greater concern for Republicans because some of them might actually vote for Obama if a Gingrich or Palin gets nominated. The Palin folks aren't all that big on the other candidates either- the chances of them voting for Obama seem quite slim but might they sit home or throw some of their votes to a conservative third party candidate if Romney wins the nomination? All of those things will be interesting to watch.

Full results here

Republicans want Steele out

If the Republican base has any influence over it Michael Steele's days as the boss at the RNC will be coming to an end soon. More than 2/3rds of Republican voters across the country who have an opinion about it would like to see Steele replaced.

47% of Republicans want Steele out, 30% have no opinion, and just 23% want him to stay. This represents a loss of support for him since the summer. A July PPP poll found that 28% of Republicans wanted Steele to leave the RNC, 27% wanted him to stay, and 55% had no opinion. Despite the party's successes at the polls earlier this month there's been a 19 point movement in favor of Steele's departure and a 4 point decline in the percentage of Republicans who would like to see Steele stick around.

The sentiment in favor of replacing Steele is pretty steady across the ideological spectrum of the GOP. 49% of moderates and 46% of conservatives alike want him out, as do supporters of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee.

If the Republican insiders bear any resemblance to the Republican base Steele's exit is probably only a matter of time.

Full results here

NC voters opposed to early childhood cuts

North Carolina voters have a clear message for the Republican Legislative majorities they put into office earlier this month: don't touch early childhood education. 56% of voters in the state say they're opposed to cuts of early childhood funding, compared to only 25% who are supportive of it. And there could be a price to pay at the polls for those legislators who do target that area- 50% of voters in the state say they'd be less likely to vote for someone in the future who cut early childhood funding compared to only 29% who say that would make them more inclined to support someone.

There's a bipartisan consensus against cutting early childhood monies. Democrats (68/21) and independents (59/21) are both strongly opposed to cuts on that front and Republicans are as well, although by a more narrow margin (39/33).

The numbers with independents might be most reflective of the difficulties the GOP will face now that it's in control. Those voters overwhelmingly supported Republican legislative candidates this year and were the main reason the majorities flipped in the Senate and House. They respond very negatively to the specter of early childhood cuts, with 58% saying they'd be less likely to vote for a legislator who supported them in the future and only 17% saying they'd consider that a plus. If Republicans go there they're at pretty serious risk of quickly antagonizing the voters who put them in power in the first place.

This is just one of the tough choices that may make the GOP realize it was a lot easier to be in the minority.

Full results here

Monday, November 29, 2010

McCrory leads Perdue in rematch

PPP's first poll of the 2012 Governor's race in North Carolina finds Pat McCrory well ahead of Bev Perdue in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 contest, 49-37. Perdue also trails NC GOP chair Tom Fetzer in a possible contest, although only by a 42-40 margin.

Part of the reason for Perdue's dicey early standing is her continued poor approval ratings. Only 33% of voters in the state approve of the job she's doing while 49% disapprove. But the other part is that Pat McCrory is a pretty well liked politician. Although a lot of folks have already forgotten who he is- 45% of voters in the state have no opinion of him- those who do remember him from 2 years ago generally look upon him fondly. 34% have a favorable view of him to only 20% with a negative one. Republicans (49/11 spread) and independents (34/18) are pretty overwhelmingly positive toward him and even with Democrats there are almost as many- 24%- with a positive opinion of him as there are- 27% with a negative one.

McCrory leads Perdue 58-27 with independents. By comparison PPP's final 2008 poll found him up just 7 points on Perdue with them. McCrory is also getting 25% of Democrats, compared to 17% we found him with on our final 2008 poll. And McCrory also does a good job of keeping Republicans in line- Perdue gets only 5% of the GOP vote at this point in time, compared to 10% she was receiving at the end of the last election.

There's not a lot of doubt that McCrory would defeat Perdue if the election was held today. But of course it's not. Earlier this month the Governor of Arizona, who had trailed by a good deal in polling throughout much of 2009, and the Governor of Illinois, who trailed by a good deal in polling throughout pretty much all of 2010, were both reelected. Perdue has a lot of work to do with Democrats and independents between now and November of 2012, but it's not impossible for someone in her current position to win reelection.

The most interesting thing about Fetzer's numbers might be that as many press conferences as he held this year, 70% of voters across the state don't know who he is. And when you get outside the Triangle that number rises closer to 80%. Democrats dislike Fetzer more strongly (8/27) than Republicans like him (16/9). Independents have a dim view of Fetzer as well at 9/16. Given McCrory's strength Fetzer's electoral prospects in 2012 might look brighter in a race for Lieutenant Governor than the big office.

Full results here

Obama leads all Republicans

Americans are pretty evenly divided on whether they'd rather have four more years of Barack Obama or replace him with a Republican in 2012, with 48% going for Obama and 47% with a generic Republican. But with the exception of Mitt Romney none of the actual top tier Republican candidates poll as well against the President as the hypothetical one.

Obama leads Romney 47-46, matching his generic ballot lead. Obama's lead expands to 48-45 over Mike Huckabee, 49-43 over Newt Gingrich, 51-42 over Sarah Palin, and 48-37 over Marco Rubio who PPP followers voted in as this month's 'wild card' candidate.

Obama's not getting any more popular- as has been the case on every PPP national poll since the spring more voters disapprove than approve of the job he's doing. This month it's 47% approving and 50% disapproving. But they don't care for any of the leading Republicans either. Huckabee's favorability comes out best at a net -1 (39/40). He's followed by Romney at -6 (36/42), Palin at -17 (38/55), and Gingrich at -20 (33/53). The fact that every leading Presidential candidate is viewed dimly by the American public is pretty reflective of the continuing high level of dissatisfaction with politicians in the country.

Obama does the same with Democrats against all of the top 4 Republicans, getting 83-84%. There are big differences with Republicans though. Romney and Huckabee each get 87% of the GOP vote, but Gingrich gets only just 81% and Palin's even lower at 79%. There's a small but meaningful group of Republicans who are very hesitant to commit to supporting Gingrich or Palin even if they end up with the party nomination. There's also a wide divide with independents depending on whether the GOP nominee is Palin or one of the others. Obama ties Romney with them and leads Huckabee and Gingrich by only 2 and 3 points respectively with them, but against Palin his advantage expands to 12 points.

Bottom line- Obama is weak but for now the Republicans are even weaker. There's a long way to go.

Full results here

Americans not impressed with Bloomberg

Massive amounts of attention have been given over the last few years to a possible Michael Bloomberg Presidential run in 2012. And a new PPP poll finds that he is indeed a unifier- Democrats, Republicans, and independents all don't like him.

Only 19% of Americans expressed a favorable opinion of Bloomberg on our most recent national poll while 38% said they see him unfavorably. That -19 favorability spread makes him more unpopular than Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and even Sarah Palin and places him slightly ahead of only Newt Gingrich. Republicans are the most negative toward him, giving him a 12/48 favorability. Independents weigh in at 19/37, and only Democrats even come close to rating him positively with 24% saying they have a favorable opinion of him to 30% with a negative one.

Tested in a hypothetical three way contest with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Bloomberg registers at only 11% with Obama getting 44% and Romney 38%. Bloomberg does decently with independents, getting 22%. But he has very little appeal to partisans- only 6% of Democrats say they would vote for him, less even than Romney's 8%, and just 9% of Republicans say he'd receive their support.

It does appear at this point that Bloomberg would hurt Republicans (or at least Romney) more than he'd hurt Obama. Asked who they would support in a head to head between Obama and Romney, 50% of Bloomberg's supporters say Romney to only 21% for Obama. As a result that gives Obama a 6 point lead in a three way with Romney when it's only a single point in a head to head. Obama's approval rating with the Bloomberg voters is just 22%. Bloomberg seems to be drawing support from voters who don't much care either for Obama or for the GOP- and that's a group that skewed strongly toward the Republicans in this year's election.

Obviously the millions Bloomberg would throw at a Presidential bid could make a big difference in how he's perceived- but as we saw with Meg Whitman this year it's also possible endless spending wouldn't change his image much at all. At this point it doesn't look like he would be a serious player in 2012.

Full results here

Palin not seen as electable

Sarah Palin might think she could get elected President in 2012, but few Americans agree. Only 28% of voters in the country think that Palin is capable of defeating Barack Obama while 60% think she is not and 12% aren't sure.

What might be most troubling for Palin within those numbers is that less than half of Republicans think she's capable of beating Obama- 48% think she would be able to, 37% think she would not be able to, and 15% have no opinion. Republicans continue overwhelmingly to like Palin- 67% have a favorable opinion of her- but a pretty large number of them have serious electability concerns about her.

Many GOP voters who admire Palin may be left having to decide whether it's more important to them to defeat Barack Obama or to help advance her political career and that may prove to be too high a hurdle for her to overcome.

At the same time these numbers also suggest a risk of complacency for Democrats if Palin were to win the 2012 nomination. 82% of them say they think Palin's incapable of beating Obama to just 12% who think she could. Palin trails Obama by 9 points in a hypothetical contest right now. That's a lot of ground to make up in the next two years but if voters continue to be unhappy with the state of the economy and Democrats take an Obama/Palin match up for granted something unexpected could happen. If Palin does win the nomination Obama will need to find a way to convince his troops to work as hard as they did in 2008 anyway and not leave anything to chance.

Full results here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Burris' Prospects

Roland Burris is the latest name being bandied about as a possible Chicago Mayoral candidate but our most recent Illinois poll suggests he wouldn't be a formidable candidate there. 35% of voters in the city approved of the job he was doing as a Senator while 37% disapproved.

Certainly those are a lot better than his overall statewide numbers where only 18% of voters approved of him and 57% disapproved. But those are still pretty bad for a sitting Democratic Senator in an overwhelmingly Democratic city. For sake of comparison Dick Durbin's approval in the city was a 62/28 spread.

My guess is that Burris' best possible outcome as a Mayoral candidate would be making a runoff and getting blown out in it.

Taking Suggestions...

We're obviously not going to do any polls over Thanksgiving Weekend- you can look forward to the rest of our national and North Carolina surveys to get your poll fix at the start of next week. We will go in the field Monday night though in a couple of states so my questions are what states should we do and what match ups should we poll? At this point I want to focus on states where we can look at a Senate and/or Gubernatorial race in addition to the Presidential contest. When we run out of states with other interesting contests we'll start doing President only polls.

So tell us what states you want to see a poll in and what we should be looking at within those states...and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

NC looks like it would be competitive again

Barack Obama isn't all that popular in North Carolina...but neither are most of the leading Republican Presidential contenders for 2012. Because of that if the election was held today Obama would be right in contention to win the state again when he comes up for reelection.

Obama's approval rating in the state is 45%, with 51% of voters disapproving. That makes him a lot more popular than Sarah Palin (36/55 favorability spread), a little more popular than Newt Gingrich (34/43), and about the same as Mitt Romney (33/38). The only one of the Republicans who gets significantly better reviews from North Carolina voters than Obama is Mike Huckabee, who 44% in the state have a positive opinion of to just 31% with a negative one.

Huckabee is also the only one of the Republicans who Obama trails in a hypothetical reelection contest. The former Arkansas Governor edges him 48-44. Huckabee does the best job both of unifying Republican voters (87% support from them) and earning crossover support from Democratic voters (winning over 21% of them.)

Beyond Huckabee though Obama does about the same or even better than he did against John McCain against the rest of the Republican contenders. He holds Mitt Romney to a 44-44 draw, has the slightest of edges over Newt Gingrich at 46-45, and leads Sarah Palin by a 48-43 spread.

Obama trails by 4-13 points with independents in all four of the match ups but that's really not bad given that most Democrats in competitive races across the state this year lost those folks by about a 2:1 margin. The bigger problem for Obama might be that he's polling in the low to mid 70s with Democrats against all of the Republicans except for Palin, an indication that he still has some work to do with conservative Democrats between now and 2012.

Still in the big picture these are good numbers for Obama. Some were quick to look at the 2010 results in North Carolina and say Obama would have no chance to win here again in 2012 but the reality is that a huge part of the Republican victories was Democrats staying at home and that's not likely to happen again the next time around. If Republicans can't get a better candidate than Palin, Romney, or Gingrich and the Obama wave voters from 2008 get reenergized he has at least a 50/50 chance of starting a Democratic winning streak at the Presidential level in North Carolina.

Full results here

Not much of a mandate...

If you need any more proof that Republicans retaking control of the House earlier this month wasn't much of a mandate consider this: 55% of Americans think House Republicans should replace the leaders they've had for the last couple years to only 27% who believe they should keep their positions with the ascent to the majority.

Independents were integral to the big Republican gains earlier this month and they in particular think it's time for the GOP to clean house- only 20% of them think the party should keep its current leadership in the House while 57% think it should be replaced. The results of last week's leadership elections made it clear Republicans don't plan any change of course and that's a big part of why Democrats could conceivably take the House right back in 2012- the GOP may need to change its act to keep the support of these independents but it doesn't appear to have any interest in doing so.

Democrats predictably think the Republicans should clean house, by a 67/17 margin. What might be more surprising is the continuing dissension within the GOP ranks- only 43% of Republican voters think the party should keep its leaders while 40% think they should be replaced. There had been some thought that winning would heal all wounds but that's clearly not the case- much of the GOP rank and file still wants to see a change in the party's Washington leadership.

One of the most interesting shows to watch for the next two years is going to be whether the Republicans in the House can find a way to keep their party base happy without completely losing the support they received from independents this year.

Full results here

Decline your health care, say GOP voters

Most Americans think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they're in office. Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.

Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.

This is an issue where Democrats really have the opportunity to create tension between the newly elected officials and the Tea Partiers who put them there by highlighting the disconnect between the freshmen Republicans' rhetoric and their actions. Their base clearly expects them to act in a way consistent with their stated opposition to government provided health care but given Andy Harris' recent outburst about his care not starting quickly enough it's not clear the new electeds are getting the message. If Tea Party activists continue to get let down by the Republicans they elect it increases the possibility for them to shift their energies toward third party conservative candidacies in 2012.

Full results here

Perils of having it both ways...

One of the most interesting findings on our Montana poll was Max Baucus' extremely low level of popularity in the state. Only 38% of voters expressed support for his job performance while 53% disapproved. At this point pretty much all of his support from Republicans has evaporated with only 13% approving of him and although his numbers with Democrats aren't bad at 70/21, they're not nearly as strong as Jon Tester's which are 87/6.

Baucus' plight is similar to that of a number of other Senators who tried to have it both ways on health care, watering down the bill but still voting for it in the end. Blanche Lincoln's stance, among other issue positions, alienated her base so much that she nearly lost her party's nomination. And it certainly didn't help her to win Republican votes in the fall, leading to her overwhelming defeat in November. Joe Lieberman's actions on health care have helped to put him in a most unusual position- his approval rating is under 50% with Democrats, Republicans, and independents, one of very few Senators who's managed to pull off that trio. And on the other side of the aisle Olympia Snowe's vote for the health care bill at one point in committee, even though she voted against it in the end, infuriated the Republican base in the state and has many folks hankering for a primary challenge against her.

Voters may in general support moderation from their politicians but this particular issue had partisans on both sides so fired up that folks who didn't either completely support the health care bill with a public option or oppose it no matter what simply aggravated both sides of the political spectrum.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Slight GOP lean for Montana Governor

Brian Schweitzer is one of the most popular Governors in the country but at this very early stage voters in Montana are still leaning toward voting for a Republican to replace him when he leaves office after 2012.

Schweitzer has a 55% approval rating with only 33% of voters in the state unhappy with his job performance. That ranks him 4th in popularity out of more than 30 Governors PPP has polled on across the country this year behind only Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Mike Beebe of Arkansas. Schweitzer is universally well liked by Democrats in the state at an 86/6 approval spread, very popular with independents particularly for a Democrat in this political climate at 58/29, and has an unusual amount of crossover support from Republicans with 28% approving of him and only a slight majority at 55% disapproving.

Despite Schweitzer's unusual popularity, voters in the state support a generic Republican for Governor in 2012 by a 49-39 margin. In a hypothetical match up former GOP Congressman Rick Hill, who's announced his candidacy, leads Attorney General Steve Bullock, who's thought to be a possible Democratic candidate, by a 41-31 margin. It's no coincidence that the margins on the generic and named match ups are nearly identical- Hill and Bullock are both pretty unknown in the state right now. 65% of voters say they don't know enough about Hill to have formed an impression and 64% say the same when it comes to Bullock.

Because the candidates themselves aren't real well known these early numbers are largely a function of Montana's Republican party identification advantage- Republicans are saying they'll vote for Republicans, Democrats are saying they'll vote for Democrats, and independents are splitting pretty evenly. If there's a real takeaway from these numbers it's that the primary contests for the race should be pretty wide open with none of the perceived leading contenders all that well known.

Full results here

NC support special session on redistricting

Democrats, Republicans, and independents in North Carolina don't all agree on much these days but there is one thing: they all think the state would be better served by an independent commission in charge of redistricting than continuing to have the Legislature draw up the lines.

49% of voters in the state think an independent commission is the way to go compared to only 21% who want legislators to continue doing it. 30% express no opinion one way or the other. The desire to reduce the influence of politics in redistricting is held by Democrats by a 47/24 margin and by Republicans by a 41/20 margin. The most overwhelming support for such a measure comes from independents, who favor it 69/15.

Phil Berger has historically supported an independent commission but now says there won't be time to create one in 2011 when Republicans will take control of the legislature. A plurality of voters in the state support a solution to Berger's concern about timing- having a special session of the legislature before the end of this year to create the commission and get the process rolling. 40% of voters in the state say they'd support calling the legislators back to deal with the issue to only 27% who are opposed and 33% who don't offer an opinion one way or the other. Democrats (44/24) and independents (46/29) are both pretty strongly in support of that action while Republicans divide evenly (31/31) on it.

North Carolinians want an independent redistricting commission and they're open to taking some unusual steps to get one in place before the next round of line drawing- December could be a whole lot more interesting on the political calendar this year than it usually is.

Full results here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Virginia Republicans want Allen

Virginia Republicans overwhelmingly want George Allen to be their candidate for the Senate in 2012. 46% say he'd be their pick with the second (and unlikely) choice of Eric Cantor falling all the way back at 18%. 16% would like Ken Cuccinelli and then there's very little support for the remaining options given- 4% for Bill Bolling and Tom Davis and only 2% for Bob Marshall.

The desire for Allen to be the nominee spans the ideological divisions of Virginia Republicans. Conservatives want him by a 47-18 margin over Cantor and moderates do as well by a 43-20 spread. Allen performed the best of the Republicans tested against Jim Webb and Tim Kaine in polling we released yesterday so this appears to be one case where the candidate the GOP base wants the most is also their most electable possibility.

The preferences of Republican voters when it comes to their 2012 nominee for President, as they are everywhere, are pretty jumbled up. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich lead the pack with 21% and 20% respectively with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney only a little further back at 17% and 15% each. Ron Paul leads the second tier of candidates with 7%, followed by Tim Pawlenty at 5%, Mitch Daniels at 3%, and John Thune at 2%.

The top tier of GOP hopefuls are pretty well liked across the board by the party base. Huckabee is the most popular with a net +54 favorability rating (72/18), followed by Palin at +46 (70/24), Gingrich at +44 (64/20) and Romney at +41 (63/22).

Huckabee's strength is with female voters with whom he breaks away from the field at least a little bit at 24% with Gingrich at 20%, Romney at 16%, and Palin at 15%. That gives him the small overall advantage despite trailing Gingrich with men. There is some ideological division in the Virginia numbers- Gingrich leads Huckabee by a point with conservatives but Huckabee is up 6 points on him with moderates, giving him the overall lead

It's too tight in Virginia to take a lot away from these numbers but they do provide continuing evidence that Romney is the weakest of the candidates in the South outside of Florida, although not by a huge margin, and that Gingrich and Huckabee splitting support in the region could end up keeping either of them from winning the nomination.

Full results here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Obama slips in Montana

Barack Obama is pretty unpopular in Montana and may have lost out on his best chance to win the state in 2008- unless the Republicans end up nominating Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich.

Obama came within 3 points of victory in Montana the last time around but now only 41% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing while 54% disapprove. It's a Republican state to begin with and beyond that Republican voters are much more unified in their disapproval of Obama (94%) than Democrats are in their favor of him (84%). He's lost more support than he's gained since falling just short in the 2008 election.

Because of Obama's diminished popularity two Republicans- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee- lead him by much larger margins in hypothetical match ups than what John McCain attained in the state. Romney has a 50-39 advantage over Obama and Huckabee leads him 51-41. Montana doesn't look like it would be a swing state right now with either of them as the GOP nominee.

Things look a lot more interesting though if Palin or Gingrich were to get the nod. Palin leads Obama only 47-45 and Gingrich's advantage over the President is just 46-44. Most striking is the numbers with independents if one of them was to be nominee. Obama leads Palin by 18 points with them at 52-34 and Gingrich by 17 points with them at 49-32. Not exactly the kind of numbers you would expect to see in a conservative state.

Only Huckabee out of the Republican candidates is viewed particularly favorably in Montana. 46% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 35% with a negative one. Romney comes close to breaking even at 38/39. The rest of the field meanwhile is pretty unpopular- Palin's favorability breakdown is 44/50 and Gingrich's is 34/47. These poor reviews for the GOP front runners in a state that's been largely a Republican stronghold at the Presidential level are emblematic of the weakness of this potential candidate field.

Obama's lost some ground in Montana and 2008 was probably his best opportunity to win the state but if he gets one of the weaker Republicans as his opponent the next time around he may have a chance there again.

Full results here

Webb, Kaine lead Allen

Jim Webb appears to be in decent position for reelection, if he doesn't run again Tim Kaine would be an able substitute, and at this early stage George Allen is clearly the strongest potential candidate on the GOP side. Those are the takeaways from PPP's first full scale poll of the 2012 Virginia Senate race.

Webb leads Allen 49-45 in a hypothetical contest, a margin slightly better than what he earned in his upset victory over Allen in 2006. Webb leads Allen 49-44 with independents and wins over slightly more Republicans (9%) than Allen does Democrats (6%). There's been a lot of speculation in recent days about whether Webb might decline to seek a second term. We found that if Kaine was the Democratic nominee instead of Webb he would actually do slightly better, leading Allen 50-44.

Voters are pretty mixed in their feelings about all three in the trio of Webb, Kaine, and Allen. Webb has a 43/37 approval rating, not bad but not stellar either. Kaine's favorability rating is 43/40 and Allen's is 40/41.

Allen looks like he would be a much more formidable opponent at this point than either of Virginia's down ballot statewide office holders, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli trails Webb 49-39 and Kaine 50-39 in possible contests, while Bolling trails Webb 49-38 and Kaine 48-41 in head to heads. For Bolling a large part of the problem is anonymity- 55% of voters in the state say they don't know enough about him to have an opinion positive or negative. For Cuccinelli the problem is more that voters don't like him- 39% have an unfavorable opinion of him while only 31% have a favorable one and independents split against him by a 28/42 margin.

We also looked at Tom Perriello as a possible Webb alternative. He trailed Allen 47-42 and Bolling 42-41 but led Cuccinelli 44-41 in hypothetical matches.

Some other thoughts on the numbers:

-Clearly Allen is not 'unelectable' in the future but he also doesn't have very much appeal to Democrats so he could struggle if Virginia moves away from the Republican friendly electorate it saw in 2009 and 2010- which it almost definitely will move away from with Obama back on the ticket.

-70% name recognition, like Cuccinelli has, is pretty darn high for an Attorney General. The last one we polled on- North Carolina's Roy Cooper- has been in office for 9 years longer and only had 50% name recognition. The negative slant in Cuccinelli's numbers suggests though that he's made himself notorious more than anything else.

Obviously 2012 is a long way off but it looks like Democrats have a good chance at changing the bad direction they've been on in the state over the last couple years and holding onto this Senate seat.

Full results here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mixed News for Tester

Jon Tester's one of the more popular Senators in the country and it looks like it's going to take a strong Republican to defeat him in 2012- but if Congressman Denny Rehberg or former Governor Marc Racicot does run the GOP lean of the state is going to make Tester's path to reelection difficult.

50% of Montana voters approve of the job Tester's doing to only 40% who disapprove. He meets with near universal popularity within his own party at an 87/6 approval spread and is also quite well liked by independents at 54/34. Tester's +10 net approval ranks him 7th out of 19 Senators up for reelection in 2012 that PPP has polled on since the beginning of August.

If Tester's 2012 opponent is one of the folks who have expressed the most interest in running so far- Steve Daines or Neil Livingstone- he will start out in a solid position. He leads Daines 48-37 and Livingstone 46-35 in hypothetical contests. Most notably he has an advantage of 30 points or greater among independents against each of them. Daines and Livingstone's numbers would likely improve with time of course- right now Daines is an unknown quantity to 76% of voters in the state and 85% say they know nothing about Livingstone.

If Rehberg or Racicot gets into the race though Tester's path would become a lot tougher. Rehberg seems the more likely foe and he's popular in the state with 49% of voters viewing him favorably to 37% with an unfavorable opinion. He leads Tester 48-46 in a hypothetical contest. Tester actually leads Rehberg by 10 points with independents and wins over 8% of Republicans while Rehberg takes only 6% of Democrats. But there are a whole lot more Republicans in Montana than Democrats and that fact gives Rehberg the overall lead.

More of a stretch as a possible 2012 Tester foe, but the strongest of the bunch, is former Governor Marc Racicot. His net favorability is +19 with 45% of voters seeing him favorably to only 26% with a negative opinion. Racicot leads Tester 49-42 in a possible contest. Racicot's made a lot of money in the private sector as a lobbyist since leaving office 10 years ago but if he was interested in a Senate contest Dan Coats' success in Indiana this year from a similar background is a model for him.

Ultimately the outcome of the Montana Senate race could come down to this: is Rehberg willing to give up what looks more and more like a House seat for life to run against a popular Senate incumbent in a race that would start out pretty much at even odds? He's got plenty of time yet to make that decision.

One thing's clear: he may have just sneaked by against an ethically challenged incumbent in a strongly Democratic year in his first election but that doesn't mean Tester's going to be a push over the second time around.

Full results here

Obama looking solid in Virginia

Barack Obama was the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win Virginia in a generation in 2008 and a new PPP survey finds that with the most mentioned possible 2012 GOP hopefuls viewed dimly in the state he'd probably do it again if he had to stand for election today.

Obama leads Mitt Romney (48-43) and Mike Huckabee (49-44) each by 5 points in hypothetical contests, a margin similar to his victory over John McCain in the state. If the Republican nominee was either Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin Obama's lead widens to 11 points, by spreads of 52-41 and 51-40 respectively.

Obama has pretty good approval numbers in the state with 50% of voters giving him good marks to 45% who disapprove. His numbers certainly compare well to the favorability numbers of the top GOP contenders. Only Huckabee, at 40/40, can even break even on that front. The rest of the crowd has pretty negative numbers with Mitt Romney at -13 (33/46), Newt Gingrich at -21 (32/53), and Sarah Palin at -23 (35/58).

These strong numbers for Obama may seem surprising after 2 good Republican years in Virginia but they're a reminder that a huge part of that GOP success was Democratic voters staying home. The 2009 Virginia exit poll showed those who voted had supported John McCain by 8 points in 2008, a huge contrast to Obama's actual 6 point victory in the state. That 14 point enthusiasm gap is twice what was seen at the national level in this year's election where there was only a 7 point gap between who showed up this year and the popular vote in 2008. So Democratic performance in Virginia, more so than most places, has a lot of room to improve in 2012 just by people showing back up.

Going inside the numbers Obama pretty much breaks even with independents against Romney and Huckabee and then leads Gingrich by 8 points and Palin by 17 with them. He also benefits from getting more than 90% of the Democratic vote against all 4 of the Republicans, while they each get just 79-85% of the GOP vote.

It's obviously way early but these numbers make it clear Republicans in Virginia can't put up just anyone and expect to start winning the state again at the Presidential level.

Full results here

Wrapping up the 2012 GOP polls

The 18 state level polls we released over the last week on the 2012 GOP nomination contest confirmed what we already knew- this thing is about as wide open as it could be.

Averaged across the states we looked at Mitt Romney gets 19.5%, Sarah Palin gets 17.9%, Mike Huckabee gets 17.1%, and Newt Gingrich gets 15.7%. That's about as close as it could be among the front runners, and the fact that the biggest winner with 19.6% was someone else/undecided makes it clear that there's plenty of room for someone outside the current top tier of potential candidates to become the GOP standard bearer.

In only 3 of the states we looked at did anyone manage to post a double digit lead- that was Romney in Connecticut, Nevada, and New Hampshire. In just 2 of them did one of the contenders manage to crack 30%- Romney in Nevada and New Hampshire. All of those things taken together point to a Republican nomination fight that is very unpredictable.

A couple other takeaways:

-The interest in a John Thune 2012 bid is pretty clearly confined to inside the Beltway- he averaged less than 1% across these 18 polls. He never got a level of support higher than 2% and the number of states where he got that- 5- was smaller than the number of states where he registered at 0%- 6. He will almost literally have risen from nothing if he somehow snags his party's nomination.

-Tim Pawlenty hurts Mitt Romney. The three states where Pawlenty had his highest levels of support were also the three where Romney had his lowest level of support. In Minnesota where Pawlenty got 19% Romney was at just 11%, in Wisconsin where Pawlenty got 8% Romney only got 12%, and in Illinois where Pawlenty got 8% Romney also got only 11%. Romney already struggles in the South (other than Florida) and it looks like the Midwest could pose trouble for him as well. I'll be interested when we start polling Iowa to see if Pawlenty hurts Romney there as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Previewing Montana and Virginia

We kicked off our 2012 cycle polling over the weekend with surveys in Virginia and Montana. Tomorrow we'll have have Montana Senate and Virginia President numbers, Wednesday we'll have have Virginia Senate and Montana President numbers, Thursday we'll look at who Republicans in those states would most like to have as their Senate and Presidential candidates, and then Friday we'll look at the Montana Governor's race.

A lot of things we found were different between the two states but one thing that was the same may have been the most interesting- two very clear tiers of electability within the ranks of the Republican front runners.

In Virginia both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee had the exact same margin against Barack Obama. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin had the same margin as well- but it was 6 points worse than the margin for Romney and Huckabee. In Montana it was an even greater disparity. Just like in Virginia Gingrich and Palin posted the same margin against Obama- there Huckabee does 8 points better than the Gingrich/Palin duo and Romney does 9 points better.

Things will change a ton over the next year but for now it looks like GOP prospects against Obama are massively better with Huckabee or Romney than with Gingrich or Palin.

Ranking the Popularity of the Appointed Senators

As Ted Kaufman leaves office today he does so with a special distinction in our polling: the most popular of the appointed Senators who did not not seek election this year.

When we last polled Delaware in mid-September Kaufman's approval rating was a very respectable 38/33 spread, certainly ranking him above average for a Senator in this political climate.

All the rest of the appointed Senators posted negative approval numbers. For Carte Goodwin and George LeMieux the main response to their service was ambivalence. 61% of voters on our final West Virginia poll expressed no opinion about Goodwin with those who did have one breaking down 17% favorably and 22% unfavorably. LeMieux similarly made no impression on 61% of voters but the ones who did express an opinion about him were quite negative with only 11% approving of him and 28% disapproving.

LeMieux is frequently mentioned as a possible challenger to Bill Nelson in 2012 but I can't imagine he's going to be able to do much field clearing. Even with Republican voters his reviews are pretty negative at 14% approving and 24% disapproving. His year of free media simply has not done much to help him build up a positive image with Florida voters. He doesn't look formidable at all.

Bringing up the basement by a wide margin among the appointed Senators is Roland Burris who 57% of voters disapprove of with only 18% approving. The circumstances under which Burris was appointed made him unpopular from the start- he posted a 17/62 approval spread in April of 2009 shortly after being elected- and he never improved on those numbers.

Taking suggestions...

On deck for this weekend are our monthly national (which we skipped in October) and North Carolina polls.

For the national poll we always test Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney against Barack Obama and then we always do a bonus Republican. The only 'rule' as far as the bonus Republican goes is that it has to be someone we haven't tested in the last six months, which rules out Glenn Beck, Chris Christie, Jan Brewer, and Ron Paul. Beyond that we are open to your suggestions. We'll take nominations for the next 24 hours and then put it to a vote.

We are also always soliciting good question suggestions so if there's something you think should be asked on a national survey then fire away!

In North Carolina we're going to start up looking at the 2012 contest for Governor- we're definitely going to test Pat McCrory and Tom Fetzer- any other Republicans you think we should be throwing in the mix? And just like with the national poll, suggestions for other good questions are much appreciated as well.

Thanks as always for all the good ideas.

The rest of the 2012 polls...

PPP's final six state level 2012 GOP primary surveys, conducted right before this month's election, find Mitt Romney strong in another key early state, Sarah Palin weak at home, and Newt Gingrich's only first place finish out of the 18 states we polled.

Iowa and South Carolina were not among the states we included in these polls but the other key early states of New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada were and they all found the same leader: Mitt Romney. In Nevada Romney is well out ahead of the pack with 34% to 21% for Gingrich, 16% for Palin, and only 11% for Mike Huckabee. He's doing equally well across the ideological spectrum there, getting 35% of conservatives and 34% of moderates. The state provided one of Romney's most important early victories the last time around and it looks as though it could do so again.

In Alaska the big story is Sarah Palin's strength- or more precisely lack thereof- only 15% of her home state Republicans say she's their pick to be President, putting her behind Huckabee at 17% and Gingrich and Romney at 16%. When you see that lack of support for Palin in the state Joe Miller's apparent loss in the state's Senate election begins to look more and more understandable. It's clear at this point that Palin is a lot more popular in the rest of the country than she is in her home state.

Newt Gingrich's one and only lead in this round of 18 polls comes from North Carolina where he gets 23% to 19% for Huckabee and Palin and 14% for Romney. Meanwhile Huckabee matches his largest lead in any individual state in Kentucky where he gets 26% to 19% for Palin, 17% for Gingrich, and 13% for Romney. Gingrich and Huckabee splitting these two states is somewhat emblematic of the fact that for either to win the GOP nomination may take the other not running since a strong across the board performance in the South would be vital for both of their chances.

In both of the remaining states- Ohio and Washington- Palin is narrowly at the head of a very closely bunched field. In Ohio she has 20% to 19% for Gingrich, 17% for Huckabee, and 14% for Romney. In Washington everyone's even closer together with Palin at 19%, Romney at 18%, Huckabee at 17%, and Gingrich at 15%.

For these 18 states as a whole Palin led in 6, Romney led in 6, Huckabee in 4, and Gingrich and Pawlenty each in one.

Full results here

Friday, November 12, 2010

Palin no 'Mama Grizzly' herself--and don't expect her to close gender gap in 2012

Sarah Palin made a lot of noise endorsing "Mama Grizzlies" -- conservative Republican women candidates -- in the 2010 elections. And Democrats, who typically are the beneficiaries of a gender gap in which women favor them and men Republicans, did considerably worse with Palin's gender in this year's contests than in 2008 and other years, as more women were attracted to the GOP along with their male counterparts. But don't expect that trend to not reverse to normal in 2012 -- even at a low now, Obama is benefiting from a gender gap as high as 24 points in the generic re-elect figures we have been releasing this week.

If Palin is the Republicans' standard bearer in two years, the intuition is that, as the first female major-party nominee, she would help bolster Republicans' gains with women from 2010, but not so fast. The GOP may actually do better with the fairer sex if they nominated one of her male competitors.

A trend we have been noticing in our early Obama/GOP matchups at the national level is that Palin consistently performs worse with all female voters against Obama than both Mike Huckabee -- the strongest with women nationally -- and Mitt Romney, and not much better than Newt Gingrich. Because of this, Huckabee and Romney almost always do best overall against Obama.

Don't anticipate Palin's "Mama Grizzly" voters coming to her rescue in the primaries either. Huckabee and Romney almost routinely also beat Palin with Republican women. In our recent California poll, so did Gingrich, with Palin in fourth -- in fact, the only thing holding her in second place there is that she wins men with almost a quarter of the male vote. Such is her current strength with men and weakness with women that the only six states where she won the women vote are ones she also won overall -- so the key for her in winning the primaries may be actually persuading women, not turning them out to the polls.

All the results from the final set of six states will be released next week, but here's a chart of how Palin did with women in the Republican primary matchups in our 18 final 2010 polls, compared to how she did with men:

StateWomen %PlaceMen %Place
Colorado16Tied 2nd173rd
Nevada12Tied 3rd202nd
New Hampshire8Tied 3rd12Tied 2nd
North Carolina202nd182nd
West Virginia232nd281st

On average, Palin does only 2 points better with men than women, and she averages 2nd place in both genders, but Romney and Huckabee tend to be strong with both men and women, and sometimes considerably stronger than Palin, so her weakness with her own gender is more glaring when it comes to tallying the final results.

Ironically, and luckily for her, men outnumber women in the GOP primary electorate. But one could also argue that this could be a high point for Palin for two reasons:
  1. She is the most visible and well known candidate of the eight tested, and as the campaign begins in earnest next spring, the others will no doubt catch up on the name recognition front.
  2. These polls were conducted with the 2010 electorate that drew out so many of the Tea Party supporters that she worked hard to make her base. Whether they dominate a presidential-year primary electorate is an open question.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some good signs for Palin

PPP's newest batch of 2012 Republican primary polls conducted right before last week's election finds Mitt Romney ahead in the critical early state of Florida, Tim Pawlenty surprisingly weak in his home state of Minnesota, and Sarah Palin posting leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine.

The most important state to the nomination process on this list is Florida and there Romney's ahead with 28% to 22% for Palin and 15% for Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. It should be noted that although Romney does have the lead, it's a much less lofty one than what he posted in a March PPP poll of the state when he had 44%. The only other candidates included in that poll were Palin and Huckabee and we're finding more and more as we do these polls that when new folks are added into the mix it tends to hurt Romney more than anyone else. His support is less solid than Palin's and Huckabee's so even though he looks like a very nominal front runner at this point, he's also the candidate most likely to see his support collapse as things heat up.

Tim Pawlenty leads the field in his home state of Minnesota but his performance is surprisingly weak. He gets 19% with Palin right on his heels at 18%, Huckabee at 14%, and Gingrich and Romney each getting 11%. These numbers are reflective of the overall trouble we found for Pawlenty at home in our final preelection poll of the state- his approval rating was under water and voters overwhelmingly said they didn't think he should run for President. Partially because of Pawlenty's declining popularity Democrats seem to have picked up the Governor's office there in an otherwise awful year for the party. Palin actually leads Pawlenty 20-18 with conservatives but the Governor leads overall thanks to a 27-10 advantage with moderates. It is no coincidence that Romney is in the basement in this state- we've found several places now that where Pawlenty is unusually strong the victim seems to be Romney because of a greater split in the vote among GOP centrists.

Palin holds small leads in the remaining states. Most noteworthy is her strength in Texas and West Virginia, which suggests a bid from her could really hurt Mike Huckabee in the South. In Texas she gets 22% to 20% for Huckabee and 15% for both Gingrich and Romney. In West Virginia she's at 25% to 22% for Huckabee and again 15% for both Gingrich and Romney. These margins are obviously very close but they nevertheless pose trouble for Huckabee and perhaps even more so Gingrich if she ends up making a bad because strength in the South would be vital to either of their prospects.

Romney may not have a complete strangle hold on New England- Palin gets 23% in Maine to 18% for Romney, 16% for Huckabee, and 14% for Gingrich. Those numbers should give folks who think there's no chance Maine Republicans would nominate someone far right against Olympia Snowe in 2012 second thoughts. And finally Palin gets 18% in Wisconsin to 15% for Huckabee, 14% for Gingrich, and 12% for Romney. Pawlenty has his best non-Minnesota performance so far at 8%, not surprising given that it's right next door. And Pawlenty's unusually strong Wisconsin number helps to explain Romney's unusually weak Wisconsin number.

We've now released these polls in 12 states- Romney has led in 5 (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire), Palin in 4 (Maine, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin), Huckabee in 2 (Illinois, Pennsylvania), and Pawlenty in 1 (Minnesota.) We'll have the final batch of six polls (Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington) out early next week.

Full results here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beshear posts early lead

Steve Beshear has unusually strong approval numbers for an incumbent Governor and looks favored to win reelection next year at this very early stage. He's up 44-35 on David Williams and 45-26 on Phil Moffett in PPP's newest look at the race.

48% of voters in Kentucky approve of the job Beshear's doing to 34% who disapprove. Beshear's on positive ground with independents at 47/31, unusually good numbers for a Democrat at a time when those folks are tending to lean strongly toward the GOP. Beshear also has a 27% approval rating with Republicans. That may not sound like much but it's an unusual level of crossover support these days when most Democratic politicians are in single digits with Republican voters.

In his match up with Williams Beshear has a 13 point lead with independents, and is picking up 15% of the Republican vote while losing only 16% of the Democratic vote. Kentucky has some of the most conservative Democrats in the country and a lot of them tend to vote Republican, including as recently as last week for Rand Paul. So if Beshear can continue to not bleed any more Democrats than he gains Republicans he's going to be in a very solid position.

Beshear does better against Moffett largely because more Republicans report being undecided in that scenario. 34% say they don't know who they'd vote for compared to only 21% in a Beshear/Williams match up.

There is a long way to go until November of 2011, and Beshear is polling under 50%. But looking back at all of the polling PPP did in 2009 for 2010 races there is only one race- the one for Governor in Arizona- where a candidate who led by this much at some point in 2009 ended up losing the election in 2010. So the odds are certainly with Beshear.

Full results here

Mixed Messages in Ensign Primary Numbers

John Ensign could be vulnerable in a primary in 2012 but he actually has pretty solid approval numbers with Republican voters, suggesting that it would take a strong foe for him to be denied renomination.

64% of GOP primary voters in Nevada approve of Ensign's job performance to only 23% who disapprove. He's particularly strong with conservative voters who give him a 71/16 approval spread. That means any challenge to him is much more likely to succeed on ethical grounds than ideological ones- voters on the right flank of his party are a lot more comfortable with him than centrists.

Despite his relatively strong approval numbers he's held under 50% in a hypothetical primary campaign against Congressman Dean Heller. Ensign leads but only by a 45-37 margin. That may be more a reflection of Heller's remarkable popularity than a particular desire to replace Ensign- 56% of primary voters view Heller favorably to only 8% with a negative opinion- there aren't a lot of politicians you see these days with a 7:1 favorability rating even if it is just within their own party.

What may be particularly fortuitous for Ensign is that with voters who know Heller- whether they have a positive opinion or a negative one- Heller holds a 53-37 advantage. That could bode poorly for Ensign if Heller enters the race and starts catching up on the name recognition front.

The bottom line: Heller certainly could beat Ensign but it wouldn't be a slam dunk and he has to decide if he's willing to give up a relatively safe House seat to try for that.

Ensign does better against another potential primary challenger, Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki, leading him by a much wider 55-27 margin. Like Heller, Krolicki has solid favorability numbers at a 45/9 spread. But 46% of Republican primary voters don't know enough about him to have formed an opinion and that anonymity is holding down his overall numbers. Krolicki might have less to lose in a possible campaign than Heller though since he's not up for reelection in his current office until 2014 now.

I would not take it for granted that Ensign is dead in the water for reelection, either in the primary or general. He certainly might lose but there are a lot of other Senators without his personal baggage who have far worse approval numbers and David Vitter's resounding reelection in Louisiana last week showed voters are willing to put that stuff aside if they feel one of their officials is otherwise doing a good job. It'll be interesting to watch.

Full results here

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And the GOP primary numbers...

PPP numbers looking ahead to the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination contest in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania find Mitt Romney looking strong in New England and the West and Mike Huckabee with a slight edge in the Midwest.

In the critical early state of New Hampshire Romney continues to hold a dominant polling advantage, with 40% to 13% for Huckabee and 10% each for Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. If Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, or John Thune somehow emerges as the winner in New Hampshire they'll be able to truthfully say they started out with nothing- they poll at 4%, 3%, 1%, and 1% respectively.

If Romney really does run he puts the New Hampshire primary at some risk of being irrelevant. If he continues to post huge leads in the polls there other top contenders could end up just writing it off and focusing their efforts on states like Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida that could have more competitive contests.

Romney has a wide lead with both moderates and conservatives in New Hampshire and the same is true for him in Connecticut where he has 28% to 15% for Huckabee, 14% for Gingrich, and 11% for Palin. He looks to have a strong home court advantage in Massachusetts' neighboring states.

In California and Colorado Romney's leads are much narrower and speak to what might have to be his path to the nomination: breaking even with conservatives and cleaning up with moderates. In California he has 25% to 18% for Palin and 15% for Gingrich and Huckabee. He and Palin are actually tied with conservatives at 24% each. But with moderates Romney leads her by a whooping 30-2 margin, giving him the 7 point overall advantage. It's a similar story in Colorado. Overall there Romney's at 22% with Gingrich and Palin tied at 17% and Huckabee back at 14%. With conservatives there it's basically a three way tie with Romney and Gingrich each at 20% and Palin getting 19%. But Romney gets 27% of moderates with Gingrich and Palin both in single digits and that gives him the overall lead.

In Pennsylvania and Illinois it's Huckabee holding a small lead and the results in Illinois are particularly interesting. There Huckabee's at 18%, Gingrich at 17%, Palin at 14%, and Romney all the way back at 12%. An interesting explanation for Romney's poor showing in Illinois is that Tim Pawlenty (7%) and Mitch Daniels (6%) register higher than they do elsewhere. The two of them are particularly strong with Romney's otherwise strong core of moderate voters, getting a total of 18% of the GOP centrist vote between the two of them. It'll be interesting to see, if they do end up running, if they hurt Romney.

Huckabee's lead is wider in Pennsylvania, where he gets 23% to 16% for Palin and Romney and 15% for Gingrich. We'll total it all up when we're done releasing all 18 of these polls but for now it's Romney 4 Huckabee 2 Gingrich 0 Palin 0.

Full results here

Obama's Reelect

On our final round of 18 polls conducted before last week's election we asked folks in every state included whether they would prefer Barack Obama or a generic Republican in 2012, and we asked folks who identified themselves as regular Republican primary voters who they would like to see as their party's 2012 nominee. We're going to be rolling those results out in groups of 6 starting today with Colorado, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

2010 voters in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania all say they'd prefer a generic Republican to Obama in 2012. In Colorado it's a close 45/50 spread, in New Hampshire it's 40/54, and in Pennsylvania it's 42/52. Those troublesome numbers for the President speak to two things. First, he obviously needs to get his supporters who dropped off in 2010 back to the polls in 2012...in all three of these states the electorate this year was a good deal more Republican than in 2008. Second and perhaps more worrisome for Obama though it speaks to the reality that he has picked up virtually no support since taking office, while he has lost a decent amount of it.

In Pennsylvania 11% of 2008 Obama voters say they're inclined to vote Republican next time while only 2% who voted for McCain say they would now vote for Obama. Similarly in New Hampshire 11% of Obama voters are leaning toward supporting a GOP candidate next time to just 4% of McCain voters he's converted to his side. And in Colorado it's 12% who supported Obama the first time around who are now looking more toward the Republicans and only 5% of McCain voters who say Obama's won them over.

Based on last week's results the state out of this group that might be most worrisome for Obama is New Hampshire, where his numbers have fallen precipitously and the Republican Senate candidate won by greater than 20 points. Even though Obama's numbers in Colorado don't look good voters there sent a strong message looking toward 2012 that they're willing to vote for a Democrat they're not enamored with if the Republican alternative goes too far to the right. It seems safe to say Sarah Palin would not defeat Obama in Colorado. Pennsylvania falls in between New Hampshire and Colorado in how big of a concern it should be for Obama moving forward...it did end up going Republican but by a relatively tight margin given how bad this political climate is for Democrats.

In the traditionally blue states of California, Connecticut, and Illinois voters said they preferred Obama to a generic Republican by margins of 51/44, 50/42, and 49/45 respectively. If he's above water in those states with the 2010 electorate at a low time for his Presidency he shouldn't be at much risk of losing them in 2012. Things would have to get much worse for him than they already are (and they're pretty bad) for him to even up with Jimmy Carter reelection kinds of electoral votes.

Full results here

Monday, November 8, 2010

Coming Up

We've had a bit of a slow week getting back into the swing of things here after the election but we're ready to get going again here.

There's a ton of data from our final round of elections polls that we'll be getting out in the next couple weeks- we have 2011 Kentucky Governor numbers, Manchin v. Capito numbers, 2012 Nevada GOP Senate primary numbers, and then for all 18 states we have 2012 GOP Presidential primary numbers and generic Obama reelect numbers. We'll start putting out the latter tomorrow- New Hampshire, California, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

We're going to get started with our 2012 polling this weekend in Virginia and Montana. The next 6 months or so are when crowdsourcing is really important to our work. We don't know who all the candidates will be in these races yet so it's the time when we test stuff and see how it comes out. So please give us your suggestions on match ups to test for Virginia Senate and Montana Senate and Governor, as well as other things we should ask in those states.

We had a great cycle in 2010 and we're ready to get the 2012 one under way!

The 2012 Senate Class

There were a ton of competitive Senate races in 2010 and the playing field could be even wider in 2012. Since the beginning of August PPP has polled on the approval ratings of 18 Senators who are up for reelection next time around. 9 of the 18 have an approval spread somewhere that's between +10 and -10, indicating the kind of ambiguous feelings toward an incumbent that can lead to a competitive race.

The three least popular and conceivably most vulnerable Senators up next time that we've polled on are Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, and Debbie Stabenow. Lieberman has now reached the point where neither Democrats nor Republicans are particularly inclined to reelect him. He was able to win reelection in a three way race in 2006 by becoming the de facto Republican candidate- if he can't achieve that status again this time his career may be over. Missouri was extremely brutal for Democrats this year and McCaskill has not built up a lot in the way of crossover support from Republicans and independents during her first term in the Senate. Stabenow's approval numbers with this year's electorate are partially a reflection of the fact that the enthusiasm gap in Michigan was particularly large- but still indicative of trouble ahead if she draws a strong opponent.

In an unusual twist the most popular Senator on the list might be in trouble as well. Olympia Snowe has the strongest overall approval numbers but we've found in several polls a desire from the Republican base in Maine for a more conservative alternative to her. Her numbers with GOP voters are a lot weaker than Mike Castle's or Lisa Murkowski's were six months out from their primary defeats. Others near the top of the list are Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Bingaman.

Here's the full rundown. Obviously we'll be going far beyond approval numbers on these folks in the coming months to sort out who's in trouble and who's not:




Olympia Snowe



Amy Klobuchar



Jeff Bingaman



Daniel Akaka



Dianne Feinstein



Kay Bailey Hutchison



Tom Carper



Jon Kyl



Kirsten Gillibrand



Maria Cantwell



Bill Nelson



Herb Kohl



Bob Casey



John Ensign



Sherrod Brown



Debbie Stabenow



Claire McCaskill



Joe Lieberman



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