Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jon Huntsman's Supporter

As I tweeted earlier today one Iowa Republican on the poll we will release tomorrow said they would vote for Jon Huntsman if the election was today- not 1% but one respondent, period.

Here are some facts about Huntsman's supporter:

-He is 'not sure' when it comes to Barack Obama's job performance- doesn't approve or disapprove. He reports having voted for Obama in 2008.

-Huntsman is the only potential Republican candidate he has a favorable opinion of. He expresses 'no opinion' about Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Buddy Roemer, Rick Perry, Fred Karger, Paul Ryan, and Gary Johnson. He has an unfavorable opinion of Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.

-When it comes to the general election he would vote for Romney over Obama, but he would vote for Obama if the GOP nominee was Palin or Cain. He's undecided about match ups between Obama and Gingrich or Pawlenty.

-He does not consider himself to be a member of the Tea Party, and thinks Obama was born in the United States. He describes himself as 'somewhat conservative,' is between the ages of 46 and 65 and lives in the northeastern part of the state.

I imagine that's everything you could care to know about the one Jon Huntsman supporter we found in Iowa.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Feingold, Baldwin the Dem choices in Wisconsin

Russ Feingold will probably be able to clear the Democratic field for Senate in Wisconsin if he wants to run again. If he doesn't Tammy Baldwin is the first choice of Democratic voters in the state to replace Herb Kohl.

70% of Wisconsin Democrats say Feingold would be their top choice as a candidate to 12% for Tammy Baldwin, 5% for Jon Erpenbach, 4% for Ron Kind, 3% for Steve Kagen, 2% for Gwen Moore, and 1% each for Kathleen Falk and Barbara Lawton. There's really not much else to say about that. Feingold wants the nomination, it's his.

The numbers about who people want if Feingold is taken out of the mix are more interesting. Then Baldwin leads with 30% to 17% for Kagen, 16% for Kind, 13% for Erpenbach, 6% for Moore, 4% for Falk, and 3% for Lawton.

What's interesting about the preference for Baldwin is that it comes from across the ideological spectrum. She is strongest with voters calling themselves 'very liberal,' garnering 45% to 18% for Erpenbach and 14% for Kind. But she's also up with 'somewhat liberal' ones at 32% to 16% for Kagen, 15% for Kind, and 14% for Erpenbach and even by a narrow margin with moderates where she gets 23% to 22% for Kagen, 16% for Kind, and 11% for Erpenbach. There's been a lot of question about whether she's a viable candidates with folks beyond the far left and these numbers would seem to suggest the answer is yes. Baldwin will start out as the favorite if Feingold doesn't run.

Full results here

Trouble for Thompson, Romney and Palin lead in Wisconsin

If Tommy Thompson decides to run for the Senate next year in Wisconsin he can't take receiving his party's nomination for granted. Although Thompson is quite popular with Republican primary voters in the state, with 69% of them rating him favorably to 19% with an unfavorable opinion, those same GOP partisans are pretty evenly divided on whether they'd like him to be their party's Senate candidate. 46% say they'd like Thompson to be the nominee to 45% who would prefer someone else. Thompson has the same issue we've often seen for Sarah Palin- Republicans like him but that doesn't necessarily extend to their wanting him to be the candidate.

Thompson's issues are coming with the right flank of his party. Moderates (by a 48/43 margin) and 'somewhat conservative' voters (by a 47/46 margin) hope that he'll be their Senate candidate. But 46% of 'very conservative' Republican partisans want it to be someone else compared to 42% who support Thompson.

My sense is that these numbers are probably somewhat of a high water mark for Thompson. Almost all voters in the state know him already and his support has nowhere to go but down. Thompson's not starting out in a position as strong as other establishment Republicans like Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle did last year and they ended up losing anyway. If he gets in a one on one primary contest with a serious candidate who can run to his right, he will probably lose.

What would help him though is a divided opposition. Given a choice of 8 potential Senate candidates for next year, 36% of Wisconsin Republicans pick Thompson. He's followed by Mark Neumann at 22%, JB Van Hollen at 9%, Jeff Fitzgerald at 8%, Rebecca Kleefisch at 7%, Scott Fitzgerald at 5%, and Reince Priebus at 4%. Obviously not all of those folks will end up running but if 2 of them ran rather than just 1 it could split the anti-Thompson vote and let him win the nomination with less than 50%. It'll be interesting to see how the field unfolds but a Thompson win is far from inevitable.

Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin are basically tied for President in the state at 17% and 16% respectively. The candidates next door finish third and fourth with Tim Pawlenty at 12% and Michele Bachmann at 11%. Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are in a three way tie for 5th (sounds like something Joe Lieberman would get excited about) at 10%, and Jon Huntsman's in the basement at just 2%.

Gingrich's favorability is a 28/49 spread, more evidence that his image with Republican voters has pretty much been destroyed in the last few weeks. This is one of three GOP primary polls we'll release today showing that Cain is in double digits- he's clearly reached the point where he has to be taken seriously.

Full results here

Blackwell, Romney favored in Ohio

If Ken Blackwell decides to run for the Republican Senate nomination in Ohio next year he's going to be very difficult to beat in a primary. In the most likely current configuration of candidates Blackwell gets 49% to 16% for Josh Mandel and just 4% for Kevin Coughlin. 31% of voters say they're undecided.

You can explain some of that by Blackwell's name recognition. 61% of Republican primary voters know enough about him to have an opinion compared to just 24% for Mandel and 14% for Coughlin. That's not the whole story though- GOP voters don't just know Blackwell, they also really like him. His favorability is 42/19. And even with the 24% of voters that do know who Mandel is, Blackwell has a 36-29 advantage. And with the 14% who know Coughlin Blackwell gets 51% to 24% for Mandel and 13% for Coughlin. Those numbers suggest Blackwell will be working from a position of strength even as his opponents do become better known.

Blackwell polls well because he's the darling of the far right in the state. With moderate Republicans he leads Mandel only 28-20. But as you go across the ideological spectrum that leads increases, to 48-15 with 'somewhat conservative' voters and all the way to 62-17 with 'very conservative' ones. If this race develops as a choice between a conservative Blackwell and a more moderate Mandel, well, we know how that generally worked out in Republican primaries last year.

We also asked a broader Republican primary question including these three candidates and also Mary Taylor and Jim Jordan who have been discussed at various points as folks who could potentially throw their hats in the ring. Blackwell gets 40% in that configuration to 12% for Jordan, 9% for Mandel, 7% for Taylor, and 4% for Coughlin.

Our Presidential numbers in the state confirm Mitt Romney's rise to the top with Mike Huckabee out of the race, as well as the surge of Herman Cain. Romney's getting 21% to 16% for Sarah Palin, 12% each for Cain and Newt Gingrich, 10% for Michele Bachmann, 9% for Ron Paul, 5% for Tim Pawlenty, and 1% for Jon Huntsman.

Romney's ahead in Ohio because he has a broad lead with voters describing themselves as 'somewhat conservative,' getting 27% with Gingrich coming in second at 14%. He's also ahead with moderates at 22% to Palin's 18%. Voters falling into the 'very conservative' camp continue to be a problem for him though. His favorability with them is a +37 spread at 61/24. That puts him a whooping 33 points below Palin's standing with that same group, which is a +70 spread at 83/13.

Palin leads the horse race with those voters at 20% with Michele Bachmann at 15%, and Romney tying Cain for third at 13%. Maybe voters on the far right will split their votes enough that their lack of support doesn't cost Romney the nomination but for now they look like they could be a big problem.

Full results here

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wisconsin looks good for Obama

In 2000 and 2004 Wisconsin was one of the most closely contested battleground states in the country. In 2008 Barack Obama won it in a blowout. Right now it looks like the 2012 race in the state will shape up more like 2008 than 2000 or 2004.

Obama leads Mitt Romney by 12 points at 51-39, Newt Gingrich by 18 points at 53-35, and Sarah Palin by 19 points at 55-36 in the state.

Part of Obama's strength is that he is decently popular in the state. 52% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 44% who disapprove. Although his reviews are almost completely polarized along party lines, he does have slightly more Republicans (11%) who approve of the job he's doing than Democrats (8%) who disapprove. That's usually the other way around. He's also on positive ground with independents at 50/43.

Obama does appear to have received a bit of a bounce in Wisconsin in recent weeks. When we polled the state in February his approval was a net +4 spread at 49/45, so he's improved by 4 points on that front. And while his lead over Palin is unchanged from then, his advantage over Gingrich has improved by 6 points and against Romney it's up by 2.

Obama's approval numbers in the state are solid but the size of his leads over the various Republican candidates may have more to do with their unpopularity than his appeal. Romney's favorability spread in the state is 29/49 and that makes him the comparatively popular one. Palin's at 32/63 and Gingrich at 15/67. Gingrich's numbers are particularly noteworthy because even among Republicans just 29% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. That mirrors numbers we released this morning showing a plurality of GOP voters nationally have an unfavorable opinion of him as well.

Gingrich's numbers may be particularly bad in Wisconsin because of his recent spat with Paul Ryan who's an absolutely adored figure with GOP voters in the state. 77% have a favorable opinion of him to 12% with a negative one. Ryan would actually poll the strongest of the Republicans we tested against Obama in the state too, trailing the President by a 50-43 margin, 5 points closer than Romney.

Despite his comparatively decent numbers against Obama, Ryan's image in the state has gone in the wrong direction as his national profile has increased over the course of the last six months. When we polled on Ryan in December his favorability was a positive 38/30 spread. Now it's a negative 41/46 spread. That's a 13 point net shift in the wrong direction for him over the last five months. He's up up 10 points with Republicans from +55 (61/6) to +65 (77/12). But that's more than outweighed by his being down 34 points with Democrats from -35 (16/51) to -69 (10/79). And he's down 9 points with independents from +10 (39/29) to +1 (43/42). Ryan's prudent not to run for the state's open seat given his decline in popularity on the home front.

Plenty of time for it to change, but Wisconsin's looking like a solid Obama state in 2012 for now.

Full results here

Electoral Consequences of the Rapture

Voters nationally are evenly divided on Barack Obama's job performance at 48% approving and 48% disapproving. Despite the mixed feelings toward him he leads Mitt Romney by 7 at 49-42, Newt Gingrich by 14 at 51-37, and Sarah Palin by 17 at 54-37 in hypothetical match ups. That's because even if voters are ambivalent about him, they don't like the Republican alternatives. Romney's favorability is 35/48, Palin's is 30/63, and Gingrich's is a remarkably bad 19/64.

All of these numbers are pretty much par for the course in our national Presidential polling this year except for one thing: Gingrich has completely tanked with Republican voters, providing real confirmation that his campaign rollout has been a total disaster. Only 38% of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of him and there are now more, at 45%, with an unfavorable one. I doubt anyone has ever been nominated for President who ever had negative favorability numbers within their own party less than a year out from the primary season.

That's the serious stuff and we did a national President poll two weeks ago and we'll do another one in two weeks. The real reason we did this extra one is to figure out how big of a political game changer the rapture would be.

First off- no one really believed the Rapture was going to happen last weekend, or at least they won't admit it. Just 2% of voters say they thought that was coming on Saturday to 98% who say they did not. It's really close to impossible to ask a question on a poll that only 2% of people say yes to. A national poll we did in September 2009 found that 10% of voters thought Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ, or at least said they thought so. That 2% number is remarkably low.

11% of voters though think the Rapture will occur in their lifetimes, even if it didn't happen last weekend. 66% think it will not happen and 23% are unsure. If the true believers who think the Rapture will happen in their lifetime are correct- and they're the ones who had the strongest enough faith to get taken up into heaven- then that's going to be worth a 2-5 point boost to Obama's reelection prospects. That's because while only 6% of independents and 10% of Democrats think the Rapture will happen during their lifetime, 16% of Republicans do. We always talk about demographic change helping Democrats with the rise of the Hispanic vote, but if the Rapture occurs it would be an even more immediate boost to Democratic electoral prospects.

Obama's lead over Romney is 7 points with all voters, but if you take out the ones who think the Rapture will occur in their lifetime his advantage increases to 9 points. That's because the Rapture voters support Romney by a 49-35 margin. Against Gingrich Obama's 14 point lead overall becomes a 17 point one if you take out take the 'Rapturers' because they support Gingrich 50-37. And Obama's 17 point lead over Palin becomes a 22 point spread without those voters because they support Palin 54-37.

Palin is the only person we tested on this poll who is actually popular with people who think the Rapture is going to happen. She has a 53/38 favorability with them, compared to 33/41 for Romney, 26/48 for Gingrich, and a 31/58 approval for Obama. Palin's problem is that her favorability with everyone who doesn't think the Rapture will happen is 27/66.

While few voters think the Rapture is coming, they're pretty darn confident that they're going up to Heaven if it does. 66% think they would be taken up to only 13% who think they'd be stuck down here and 21% who are unsure. It would really change the political landscape if everyone who thought they were going to be Raptured was correct. With the 34% of voters remaining here on earth Obama leads Romney 53-35, Gingrich 56-31, and Palin 61-26. You're talking a blowout of epic proportions next year with the third of voters that would remain.

Of course that's assuming Obama would still be here if the Rapture happened. We gave poll respondents an opportunity to play God and give us their opinions about whether Obama and Palin would be taken up if indeed the Rapture occurred. 44% of voters think he would be, 26% think he would not, and 30% are unsure. So if these voters are right there's a pretty good chance he wouldn't be around to enjoy the easy reelection the post-Rapture electorate would provide for him anyway. Obama can't even get any credit from Republicans for the after life. Just 23% of them think he would go up in the Rapture to 42% who think he would not. Voters are more divided about Palin's Rapture chances- 35% think she would go up, 32% think she would stay down, and 34% are not sure.

I know everyone was wondering last weekend what the electoral ramifications of the Rapture would be, so there, we told you. And we'll have Republican primary numbers delving into the same issues tomorrow.

Full results here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Question Suggestions

The winners of our vote on where to poll this weekend were Iowa and Minnesota.

The Iowa poll obviously will be taken up mostly with questions about the Republican primary. Beyond the horse race stuff and favorabilities are there any questions you think we should ask of GOP primary voters that might help illuminate who they're leaning toward and why?

We'll also obviously do general election match ups for President and if you have any other Iowa question ideas send those our way as well.

In Minnesota who would you like to see us test against Amy Klobuchar? Obviously we will take a look at Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann for the general election for President as well as the primary. Any other question ideas for Minnesota?

Thanks as always for the suggestions.

Checking in on John Kasich

-John Kasich, already unpopular in Ohio when PPP polled the state in March, has seen his numbers continue to head even further in the wrong direction and is now tied with Florida Governor Rick Scott as the least popular Governor in the country out of 38 that we have polled on. Just 33% of voters in the state now approve of Kasich to 56% who disapprove. In March it was a 35/54 spread. Kasich's numbers are basically identical to where they were then with independents, and he's actually ticked up a little bit with Democrats. What's really plunging him is that Republicans aren't even all that enthused about him anymore- he's gone from a +53 (71/18) spread with them in March to now +30 (58/28) with them in May. That 23 point decline within his own party is largely responsible for his overall drop.

-Ohio voters are having some serious, serious buyer's remorse about voting for Kasich. They now say if they could do it over again they'd vote for Ted Strickland by a 25 point margin over Kasich, 59/34. Our final poll before the election last fall, which hit the results on the head, found Kasich winning independents by 18 points. Now they say they would vote for Strickland by 16. And while only 9% of Republicans crossed party lines to support Strickland last year, now 26% say they would if they had the chance to do it over again.

-Kasich and his first term Republican brethren across the Midwest may be the best thing that's ever happened to Barack Obama's reelection chances. Obama's numbers are middling in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa to name a few. But in all of those places he's at least more popular than Kasich, Tom Corbett, Rick Snyder, and Terry Branstad. You have a situation where people voted Republican last year and are quite unhappy with the results and that might keep them from voting Republican again next year whether they're enthralled with Obama or not. That series of Midwestern losses last year may end up actually enhancing Obama's chances for another term.

-The furor over Senate Bill 5 was one of the main events precipitating Kasich's decline and voters in the state continue to strongly favor repealing it. Only 35% say they would choose to keep the law, compared to 55% who say they would scrap it. In March 54% said they would repeal to 31% who preferred keeping it so those numbers are basically unchanged. Democrats (78%) are much more into getting rid of SB 5 than Republicans (59%) are into keeping it and independents split against it by a 52/40 margin as well. 45% of voters want to take things a step further and guarantee the right to collective bargaining in the state constitution, compared to 32% who say they would be opposed to such an amendment.

Full results here

Walker's numbers continue to get worse

Scott Walker's popularity has continued to decline over the last three months and Wisconsin voters now say they would vote to recall him if there was an election today. They also say they would pick either Russ Feingold or Tom Barrett over Walker in a head to head match up.

43% of voters now approve of the job Walker is doing to 54% who disapprove. When PPP polled the state in late February it was 46% of voters approving to 52% disapproval. Walker's numbers now are virtually identical to where they were before with Democrats and Republicans but with independents he's seen his popularity continue to decline from a 45/53 approval spread to a 40/56 one.

Voters split evenly in February at 48% on the question of recalling Walker but now the needle has moved towards bare majority support for removing him early from office. 50% say they would support a recall to 47% who are opposed. That Walker's disapproval is 54% but the support for recall is only 50% shows there are still some voters who dislike him but wouldn't go so far as to support removing him from office, but there aren't many.

Although voters are pretty evenly divided on whether they would support a recall there's less doubt about who they would vote for if there actually was a recall election. They say they would pick Feingold over Walker by a 52-42 margin and Barrett over him by a 50-43 spread. In both of those match ups Democrats are more committed to replacing Walker than Republicans are to keeping him, and independents go on the side of swapping him out for Feingold or Barrett as well.

It's impossible to say whether Democrats will be able to sustain this strong anti-Walker sentiment all the way through the time a recall election would actually be held. But it bodes well for them that as Wisconsin has left the headlines, at least nationally, Walker's numbers have just continued to get worse at home. And they have two potential replacements in Feingold (51/38 favorability) and Barrett (41/34) who are pretty well known and decently well liked on a statewide basis.

The way these numbers are shaking out in Wisconsin reflects what we're seeing a lot of places. Independents are moving back toward the Democrats after being strongly supportive of Republicans last year. And Democrats are more unified than Republicans in many places right now, a contrast to last year where a decent number of Democratic voters supported Republicans with almost voters coming back in the other direction.

And the implications of this finding are probably limited for the upcoming State Senate recall elections but by a 50-42 margin voters in the state would rather have the Democrats in control of that body than the Republicans.

Full results here

North Carolina looking good for Obama

It continues to look like North Carolina will move up the list of swing states in 2012. The state was hotly contested in 2008 but ultimately not very important to the outcome of the Presidential contest- winning it was icing on top of a cake that Barack Obama was going to be eating either way. We've been finding over the course of our polling this year though that Obama is holding up better in North Carolina than he is in more traditional swing states that he won by wider margins in 2008, places like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. It's looking conceivable that he could actually perform better in North Carolina than in those places and that increases the likelihood that the state could be a key part of Obama's path to 270 electoral votes and not just the difference between winning 350 and winning 365.

PPP's first poll in the state since the death of Osama bin Laden finds 50% of North Carolinians approving of Obama to 46% who disapprove. This is the first time we've found Obama hitting the 50% approval mark there since June of 2009. It's a given that Obama has maintained strong support from African Americans so the key to his high water mark is that his 37% approval with white voters matches the 37% of their votes we found him winning on our last poll in 2008.

Most states throughout the country Obama has seen serious slippage with white voters but here and also in Virginia where we polled a couple weeks ago and where the President has looked consistently strong he's holding onto the white support he got last time around. That could mean Virginia and North Carolina become the new Florida and Ohio as the states Obama needs to put him over the finish line.

If there's an individual state where the decision of Mike Huckabee not to run next year hurts Republicans the most it might be North Carolina. PPP has now polled general election match ups for the Presidential race in the state 7 months in a row. Huckabee is the only Republican who has ever led Obama in one of those match ups, and he polled the best of the GOP folks in a head to head with the President 6 out of those 7 months. On this most recent poll, conducted the weekend Huckabee announced he wasn't running, he trailed Obama by just a single point at 47-46.

All of the other Republicans did worse with Mitt Romney down 46-43, Newt Gingrich at a 50-42 deficit, Sarah Palin trailing 52-40, and the since departed Donald Trump with the biggest gap at 52-35. Huckabee has generally polled 2-3 points better than Romney in North Carolina. Usually you would say that difference is pretty negligible but in a state that Obama won by less than 1% in 2008 it really could mean the difference between winning and losing.

North Carolinians were split evenly in their feelings about Huckabee with 40% rating him favorably and 40% negatively. The remaining Republicans in the field are unpopular in the state. Romney's favorability is 30/43, Gingrich's 28/54, and Palin's 32/59. Their lack of appeal would give Obama a chance to win the state again even if his own numbers were middling. The fact that he is decently popular on top of their unpopularity makes him the favorite, albeit nominally, to win the state again next year. Gingrich and Palin are probably beyond rehabilitation so if the GOP wants to win the state next year either Romney's going to have to improve his image or a currently lesser known candidate's going to have to rise up from the back of the pack. There's no doubt North Carolina's going to be on the board again in 2012.

Full results here

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NY-26 does mean something

There's going to be a lot of debate about whether Kathy Hochul's victory tonight means anything moving forward or not. I think it does. I think it is the first step toward the very real possibility that Democrats take the House back next year. Our national polling has been suggested that for almost three months now and this is the first tangible on the ground evidence backing that up.

Congressional Republicans are extremely unpopular and voters think they're doing an even worse job than the Democrats they put out of office six months ago. That was true in NY-26 and that's true nationally. Last month we found nationally that 43% of voters thought House Republicans were doing a worse job than the Democrats did while in the majority to only 36% who felt they were an improvement. Even in NY-26, which voted 13 points more Republican than the country as a whole in 2008, 38% of voters think the Republicans are doing a worse job than the Democrats to only 34% who think they're an improvement. You can talk about Jack Davis all you want but the reality is that if voters thought House Republicans were bringing the improvement they hoped for when they went to vote last November Jane Corwin would have won tonight

Another potential lesson learned from tonight- House Democratic candidates may be able to run against John Boehner next year in the same vein that House Republicans ran against Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi last year. Boehner's approval rating nationally is a 25/42 spread and even in this traditionally Republican district it's a 28/45 spread. Barack Obama's not popular in this district either, don't get me wrong- his approval is a 42/51 breakdown. But it's remarkable that his net approval is 8 points better than Boehner's in a district that John McCain won by 6 points in 2008. Again you can talk about Jack Davis all day but if John Boehner was more popular than Barack Obama in this district, as you would certainly have expected the case to be, then Jane Corwin would have won tonight.

So you may say all that's fine but it's just one district. But NY-26's results are not occurring in a vacuum. Democrats had a 7 point lead at 47-40 on our last look at the national generic Congressional ballot. And Democrats have led the generic Congressional ballot on 7 consecutive national polls we've asked about it on going back to mid-February. Voters shifted sharply back toward the Democrats after just a couple months of Republican control of the House.

It is just one district and tonight's victory doesn't mean Democrats will take back the House next year. But if voters didn't get so disappointed in the Republicans so quickly, if they didn't dislike John Boehner so much, and if they hadn't started moving back toward the Democrats so fast after January then tonight's election would not have turned out the way it did. Don't read too much into it- but don't call it meaningless either.

Time for another vote...

Time for another poll vote, the options for where we go this weekend are:

-Iowa. Definitely worth a new GOP poll there in the brand new post-Huckabee and Trump world. Pretty sure Romney will be ahead but who else is gaining ground there?

-Massachusetts. Been nearly 6 months since we did a public poll in the state...things are getting worse for Republicans nationally, is the same true for Scott Brown?

-Minnesota. Amy Klobuchar has an opponent now so worth looking to see if she's as solid as she was at the end of last year...also curious whether Republicans in the state are more supportive of Bachmann or Pawlenty, although I think I know the answer...and whether Midwestern voters only dislike their new Republican Governors or if that extends to Democrats like Mark Dayton too.

-Montana. Closely contested Senate seat, open seats for House and Governor, one of few states where Obama lost in 2008 but could potentially win in 2012...there's a lot to work with in Montana.

-New Mexico. This state is becoming like Connecticut earlier in the year- we include it in every one of our votes and it never wins. No harm in keeping it in there though, especially now that we know there will be competitive primary contests for both parties in the effort to replace Jeff Bingaman.

-South Carolina. The only one of the major early Republican contests we haven't polled on in the last couple months...with Huckabee out and Gingrich imploding does Romney now lead in all four of the Iowa/New Hampshire/Nevada/South Carolina early contests? Certainly interested to find out.

Voting's open until roughly 5 PM Wednesday and as always don't stuff the ballot box.

Washington says no thanks to Kucinich

-There's been a lot of discussion about the possibility of Dennis Kucinich moving to Washington and running for office there next year but there's just one little problem- voters there don't want him to, not even Democrats. Part of that's because he's not popular in the state with only 19% of voters rating him favorable to 28% with a negative opinion of him. But the numbers on a potential candidacy for him are worse than the favorability spread- only 12% think he should seek office in the state next year to 39% opposed to the concept.

Even among Democrats, who like Kucinich by a 33/19 margin, just 22% think he should run there next year to 35% who dissent. It really doesn't matter whether Kucinich moves to Washington or not, he's not going to get elected there next year.

-Someone else who's not going to get elected in Washington, next year or probably ever? That would be Dino Rossi. 58% of voters in the state say he should not seek office again in the future to only 32% who think he should put his name in the hat again. 64% of Republicans say they'd like him to make another bid, but Democrats are a lot stronger in their opposition to the concept at 88% and independents split 56/33 against another Rossi bid as well. You could say he's worn out his welcome but his losing streak makes it clear he wasn't that welcome in the first place.

-By a 47/46 margin Washington voters continue to say that they oppose President Obama's health care plan from last year. This is the first time in eons we've polled on health care but we did here because Republican Attorney General and likely 2012 Gubernatorial nominee Rob McKenna joined in the federal health care lawsuit last year. There's been some thought that action could really hurt his prospects next year but these numbers suggest that's not the case- his actions on health care probably won't really help or hinder him given how closely divided the state's voters are on the issue.

-Washington voters narrowly think same sex marriage should be legal, by a 48/46 margin. As everywhere this is very much a generational issue. Voters under 30 are strongly supportive of gay marriage at 57/39 while senior citizens are opposed to it by a 49/39 spread. Middle aged voters fall in between but slightly on the side of gay marriage being legal. The divide along age lines means support for gay marriage in the state will just keep on continuing to grow.

-Finally Patty Murray's approval numbers in the wake of her reelection are far better than we ever found them last year. 50% of voters approve of her to 42% who disapprove.

Full results here

Feingold would be favorite

If Russ Feingold wants to return to the Senate he'll start out as a strong front runner. He has good favorability numbers and leads four potential Republicans opponents by double digits.

51% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Feingold to 38% with an unfavorable one. He's on positive ground with independents at 50/37 and almost twice as many Republicans (15%) like him as Democrats (8%) dislike him. These numbers are a pretty clear indication that his loss last year had less to do with him than it did with the national political climate and poor Democratic turnout in the state. Things are moving back toward the Democrats nationally and that's particularly the case in Wisconsin where Scott Walker has quickly become quite unpopular.

In hypothetical contests Feingold leads Tommy Thompson 52-42, Mark Neumann 53-41, JB Van Hollen 53-38, and Jeff Fitzgerald 54-39. He wins independents by at least 9 points in all of the match ups and takes more than 90% of the Democratic vote while keeping the Republican candidates in the 80s within their own parties.

Thompson polls the best on the Republican side at this point, but he doesn't exactly look like a juggernaut candidate. 42% of voters have a favorable opinion of him and an equal 42% have a negative one. He would start out well behind Feingold and against the rest of the Democrats we tested he would basically find himself in a toss up situation- he ties Ron Kind at 44%, has a 1 point lead over Tammy Baldwin at 45-44, and has a 3 point lead over Steve Kagen at 45-42. Primary numbers we will release later in the week show that Republicans aren't exactly dying for Thompson to be their nominee and that he could have a tough time in a primary if he had a strong opponent.

Democrats lead all 9 of the potential match ups we tested that involve neither Feingold nor Thompson. Baldwin does the next best of the Democrats after Feingold. She leads Neumann by 5 at 46-41, Van Hollen by 7 at 46-39, and Fitzgerald by 11 at 48-37. Next best is Kind who leads Neumann by 4 at 44-40, Van Hollen by 6 at 44-38, and Fitzgerald by 8 at 45-37. And the weakest of the Dems is Kagen who leads Neumann by only 1 at 42-41, and Van Hollen and Fitzgerald by identical 5 point margins at 43-38.

To break that all down in the simplest form possible at this point:

-If Feingold runs, he's a strong favorite.
-If Feingold doesn't run and Thompson does, it's a toss up.
-If neither Feingold nor Thompson runs, Democrats start out with a slight advantage.

Here are how the Democrats stack up for the general election in tabular form:


Average Lead over Republicans

Russ Feingold


Tammy Baldwin


Ron Kind


Steve Kagen


And here's how the Republicans stack up:


Average Deficit to Democrats

Tommy Thompson


Mark Neumann


JB Van Hollen


Jeff Fitzgerald


We'll have to see how the field shapes up in the next few months but at this point Democrats certainly look to be favored to hold onto the seat.

Full results here

Obama unpopular but leads in Ohio

Our newest poll in Ohio epitomizes the current state of the Presidential race. Barack Obama's not really all that popular. But he's in a good position for reelection right now because the Republican field is even more unpopular. It means that Obama's current horse race leads are tenuous if the GOP does end up with a candidate who sets the world on fire, but it's far from inevitable that's going to happen.

Obama's numbers are under water in Ohio- 46% of voters approve of him to 49% who disapprove. Independents split again him by a 37/55 margin and and he's losing the support of a lot more Democrats (19% disapprove) than he is picking up support across party lines from Republicans (only 11% approve.) Obama's numbers in Ohio are actually a little bit worse than when we polled there in March and found him on narrowly positive ground at 47/46, suggesting that any bin Laden bounce he may have received there has quickly dissipated.

Despite his upside down approval numbers Obama leads the top three Republicans currently running or in the picture for the Presidential race by margins equal to or greater than what he won in the state against John McCain in 2008. Against Mitt Romney he's up by 4 points at 46-42, equivalent to his victory last time around. In a match up versus Newt Gingrich his margin expands to 9 points at 49-40 and he has a 10 point edge on Sarah Palin at 50-40.

Obama manages those early leads because even if voters don't like him, they like his potential Republican foes even less. 11% more voters have an unfavorable opinion of Romney at 43% than have a positive one of him at 32%. That puts him in much better standing than Palin who stands at -24 (34/58) and Gingrich who's at -37 (22/59). Independents dislike all three of the Republicans just as they dislike Obama and the GOP contenders are all more reviled across party lines than they are liked in their own, again, just like Obama. If the 2008 election was about hope and change the 2012 election may be more about who do you hate less.

Romney's favorability numbers are basically identical to what they were the last time we polled Ohio. Palin's actually doing 6 points better in the horse race against Obama and has seen her net favorability improve 4 points relative to our last poll, evidence that staying out of the spotlight may be helping her image at least a little bit. These numbers are further indication that Gingrich's candidacy launch has been an utter disaster. His +9 standing with Republicans (41/32) is down 11 points from +20 (47/27) on our previous poll. His fall here is not as a cataclysmic with Republican voters as it is in Wisconsin where we'll have numbers later this week but it's still pretty darn bad.

Just as a what the heck we tested Rob Portman on this poll against Obama- you never know if a swing state Senator elected by a wide margin would start looking enticing over the summer as the weakness of the GOP field becomes more and more apparent. But Portman actually does just as bad as Palin, trailing by 10 points at 48-38, and has negative approval numbers for his Senate performance at 28/33. Those numbers suggest he probably wouldn't be all that helpful as a potential running mate, much less as an actual nominee.

Obama's poor numbers in the state still make Ohio a definite toss up even if he has decent leads there right now- but voters in the state are sending a message that they're willing to vote for Obama again even if they don't much care for him if the Republicans can't come up with a more serviceable candidate.

Full results here

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hochul continues to lead in NY-26

Democrat Kathy Hochul continues to appear poised for an upset victory in Tuesday's special election for Congress in New York's 26th Congressional District. She is polling at 42% to 36% for Republican nominee Jane Corwin and 13% for Tea Party candidate Jack Davis.

Since a PPP poll of the race two weeks ago Hochul has gained 7 points of support and Corwin has gained 5 while Davis has dropped by 11. It appears that Hochul has done a good job of staying above the fray as the campaign has taken on an increasingly negative tenor in its final days. Hochul's favorability is a +14 spread at 51/37, up 8 points from the previous poll when it was +6 at 46/40. Corwin meanwhile has seen a 15 decline in her net favorability. She was already unpopular at -3 (39/42) on our previous poll but that is now much worse at -18 (34/52). Davis has seen the biggest decline in his image though. Voters were evenly split 43/43 in their assessments of him two weeks ago. Now his favorability spread is a horrid -39 with only 23% of voters rating him positively and 62% with a negative opinion.

Davis' presence in the race is certainly a key reason Hochul finds herself in such a strong position. He is winning 16% of the Republican vote while getting only 8% of Democrats. Still it would be unfair to Hochul to say Davis is the only reason she might pull the upset- she is showing a good amount of crossover support, getting 16% of Republicans to Corwin's 11% of Democrats. And she's also up 36-34 with independents. There were not very many House races in 2010 where the Democratic candidate won 16% of Republican voters and the independents.

There's still reason though to think Corwin could pull this race out. By a 41-39 margin voters in the district would like their new member of Congress to caucus with the Republicans rather than the Democrats in the House. Those planning to vote for Davis hold that sentiment by an even wider margin at 48-20. Davis' support has been plummeting and if that trend continues and conservatives who don't really like Corwin hold their nose and end up voting for her anyway she still has a chance to win a narrow victory.

Beyond Jack Davis, here are some of the key reasons Hochul is in the lead:

-Voters in the district are way down on the new Republican majority and actually think things are worse now than when Democrats were in charge of the House. Congressional Republicans have just a 26% approval rating with voters in this district to 59% who disapprove. Only a bare majority of GOP voters (50%) think their party's doing a good job in control while Democrats (84%) are pretty unanimous in panning the new Republican majority and independents split against it by a 19/64 margin as well. Only 34% of voters think the new GOP majority is doing a better job than the Democrats did to 38% who think they're doing worse and 27% who think things are the same. NY-26 reflects the deep dissatisfaction we're seeing nationally with the new GOP House.

-Barack Obama's not popular in the district...but John Boehner is even less popular. Obama's approval is a -9 spread at 42/51 but Boehner's is -17 at 28/45. Democrats did terrible last year because all voter dissatisfaction was directed toward them but now even in Republican districts Boehner's more unpopular than Obama- the Speaker could prove to be a good foil for the President and Democratic House candidates across the country next year as he seeks reelection and they try to win back the majority.

-The enthusiasm gap and Democratic turnout issues that were such a huge problem for the party last year may prove to be a thing of the past. Last year we frequently found that the likely electorate for various elections was 10 points or more Republican friendly than it had been in 2008. That trend is turned on its head with the folks we interviewed who said they were likely to vote this weekend- they self report having voted for Barack Obama by 5 points in 2008 when he actually lost the district by 6 points. That points to Democratic voters being far more fired up to go out and vote in this election than GOP ones and also suggests that some Republicans voters disgusted by the level of negativity between Corwin and Davis may just be planning to stay home on Tuesday.

A Hochul win is by no means certain- the race remains very close, special elections are tricky to poll, and three way races are even trickier to poll. But the fact that we're even talking about this race is a reflection of how far out of favor the new GOP House majority already is with the voting public.

Full results here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama safe in Washington

It doesn't look like Washington is going to be in the swing state column this coming election cycle- Barack Obama has solid approval numbers in the state and leads all of his potential Republican opponents by double digits.

52% of voters in the state approve of the job Obama is doing to 43% who disapprove. It's a rare place where there are more Republicans (11%) who approve of the job Obama's doing than there are Democrats (5%) who disapprove. That allows Obama to overcome the fact that he is on slightly negative ground with independents at 44% approving to 47% who think he's doing a poor job.

With a 9 point positive approval spread Obama would be favored to win Washington handily again on his own merits. What makes him even stronger is the incredible weakness of the Republican field in the state. Mitt Romney is the most 'popular' of the Republicans we tested who are still in the picture but only 34% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 47% with a negative one. Newt Gingrich breaks down at 26/59 and Sarah Palin is at 29/65.

Because all of the potential GOP nominees are so unpopular Obama leads them by wider margins than his own approval spread. He's up 11 points on Romney at 51-40, 18 on Gingrich at 54-36, and 23 on Palin at 57-34. Republicans wouldn't have been any better off with Mike Huckabee who trailed 53-39 on this poll and Donald Trump who trailed 58-31, both of whom announced they wouldn't run after the survey had already been conducted.

Republicans aren't likely to actually win Washington next year but Romney's numbers against Obama can be considered somewhat encouraging. John McCain lost the state by 17 points in 2008 so for Romney to be outrunning that performance by 6 points just a couple weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden bodes well for his potential to make it competitive nationally.

Full results here

Perdue within 7 of McCrory

The biggest beneficiary of the growing unpopularity of North Carolina's Legislative Republicans? It might be Governor Bev Perdue. Despite continuing to have only a 35% approval rating, with 49% of voters disapproving of her, Perdue has pulled this month within 7 points of Pat McCrory in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 match up. That makes the first time in four polls that Perdue's found herself within single digits of her former and likely future foe.

Perdue trails McCrory 46-39. The main reason for her improvement is the general trend in North Carolina of independents turning away from the GOP. Perdue has a 41-37 deficit with independents now, but that's a far cry from the 49-30 spread she was behind by a month ago. Perdue could get reelected next year if she loses independent voters by only 4 points. Her bigger problem continues to be a lack of support from her party base. While 78% of Republicans are committed to voting for McCrory, only 63% of Democrats will say the same for Perdue. She needs her party behind her to a greater extent than that to get reelected.

One thing that's very interesting digging inside of the Perdue/McCrory numbers is that Perdue's 23 point deficit with white voters right now is almost identical to the 22 point margin we found her losing them by in 2008. The big difference is that she's only up 63-20 with black voters, where we found her winning them 90-9 the last time around.

It's not that we found some conservative crop of black voters- Barack Obama's running 28 points ahead against Mitt Romney with black voters of where Perdue is against McCrory. So she does have some work to do there but still when push comes to shove black voters generally end up overwhelmingly supporting Democratic candidates and if that happens for Perdue again next year she starts looking more like she's 50/50 for reelection than favored to lose as the conventional wisdom is now.

Legislative Republicans are proving to be a good foil for Perdue. In February voters said they trusted them more than her to run the state by a 44-37 margin and Perdue trailed McCrory by a 12 point margin. Now that question has basically gone even with voters saying they trust the GOP legislature more by only a 41-40 spread and it's no coincidence that she's also pulling closer for reelection. The new majorities seem to be dragging McCrory down a little bit and it's going to be interesting to see what, if anything, he does to differentiate himself from them. Their actions could hurt the moderate image McCrory has cultivated that makes him such a formidable candidate.

Full results here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ohio and Wisconsin Question Suggestions

The winners of our vote on where to poll this weekend were Ohio and Wisconsin. So:

-Who would you like to see us poll for the Senate in Wisconsin? I know the possibilities are endless but we're probably going to try to keep it 3 names, maybe 4 per side.

-In Ohio it's probably a given that we'll test Josh Mandel and Ken Blackwell against Sherrod Brown. Anyone else we should look at?

Obviously we'll ask all the standard Presidential questions in both states. Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman are going to get the permanent spots Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump had in our primary horse race questions. We're not going to vault someone to be automatically included in all of our general election match ups yet- we'll see who else starts consistently polling at double digits in our primary polling and then consider adding other folks alongside Romney, Gingrich, and Palin to be tested against Obama in every state.

Any other question suggestions for those two states?

WA-Gov looks like a toss up

The race to be the next Governor of Washington- assuming Christine Gregoire retires- looks like a toss up. Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna leads Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee 40-38 in PPP's first look at the match up, but with 23% of Democrats undecided compared to only 13% of Republicans Inslee would likely make up that small deficit pretty fast once he got into a statewide campaign.

McKenna and Inslee are both relatively unknown but have good numbers with the voters who are familiar with them. McKenna's early advantage is probably attributable to higher name recognition- 60% of voters know enough about him to have formed an opinion compared to 51% for Inslee. McKenna's favorability is a +8 spread (34/26) and Inslee's is a +9 spread (30/21). Independents like both of the candidates although McKenna (41/22) a little bit more so than Inslee (29/23).

McKenna is overcoming Democrats' natural advantage in the state right now because he's up by 11 points with independents (41-30) and because he has 79% of Republicans behind him right now to 68% of Democrats who are with Inslee. McKenna's not actually winning over very many Democrats but a lot more of them are undecided- if they 'come home' in the way that you would expect you're looking at a tie race.

There's no doubt Democratic prospects for holding onto this office would be better with Inslee as the candidate than if Gregoire sought a third term. She continues to be unpopular with only 38% of voters approving of her to 48% who disapprove. She would trail McKenna 49-40 in a head to head, including a 26 point deficit with independents.

Republicans would likewise be better off with McKenna than Congressman Dave Reichert, who's also been speculated about as a possible candidate. Only 25% of voters have a favorable opinion of Reichert to 36% with an unfavorable one, and he would start out 6 points behind Inslee in a hypothetical contest at 42-36. In the highly unlikely instance of a match up between the unpopular Gregoire and the unpopular Reichert, Gregoire would have a 45-41 advantage.

Senate numbers we released yesterday showed that Maria Cantwell's not in much trouble and President numbers we'll likely release tomorrow will show that Barack Obama doesn't have much to worry about in Washington either- the action is definitely going to be in the Governor's race next year.

Full results here

Dems take NC generic ballot lead

North Carolina voters are continuing to side with Democrats instead of Republicans on most of the key issues being debated in the General Assembly. That could mean GOP control of the legislature proves to be short lived- Democrats have now retaken the lead on the generic ballot in the state, quite a contrast to where the numbers on that question stood throughout most of 2010.

We asked about 3 of the big debates going on right now on this poll:

-Asked whether it's more important to minimize cuts to education or let the temporary sales tax increase expire, 55% of voters side with education while only 32% think it's more important to return the tax to its previous level. That sentiment is actually held most strongly by independents, 60-26. Democrats feel that way 57-30 and even Republicans do by a 49-37 margin. This is an issue where GOP leaders in the legislature are working against the interests of their own base.

-Asked whether the General Assembly should or should not have an up or down vote on extending unemployment benefits 55% of voters said there should be a stand alone vote to only 20% opposed to that concept. This is another issue where the opposition to legislative Republicans' current tack cuts across party lines- Democrats by a 56/17 margin, Republicans by a 54/22 one, and independents by a 53/23 one all think the issue should be brought to a vote in its own accord.

-Only 35% of voters support chopping a week off of the early voting period to 44% who are opposed. Republicans do support this initiative by a 45/37 margin, but Democrats oppose it 49/29 and independents do as well by a similar 46/28 spread.

Since voters don't like most of what the Republican majority is trying to do, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Democrats have now taken a 45-43 lead on the generic legislative ballot. Republicans led by 11 points on that measure right before the election last November and had a 46-42 lead on it as recently as February. But independents have been moving away from the GOP since that time- they still have a 37-33 lead with them but that's down quite a bit from 41-29 in February and with the large Democratic registration advantage in the state Republicans need to win by a bigger margin than that with independents if they want to win overall.

Beyond that is also a small but meaningful group of Republican voters abandoning their party as it goes far to the right- in February only 1% of GOP partisans said they would vote Democratic for the legislature but that figure is now up to 6%.

The political landscape in North Carolina has seen a pretty fundamental shift in the last six months.

Full results here
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