Wednesday, August 31, 2011

North Carolina and West Virginia Question Suggestions

West Virginia won our vote on where to poll this week, to go along with our regularly scheduled North Carolina poll. Obviously we'll look at both states' Presidential and Gubernatorial contests, as well as the Senate race in West Virginia. Anything else we should ask about in those states?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poll vote time!

We're due for our monthly North Carolina poll this week and we'll do one other state poll. Your choices are:

-Connecticut. Haven't polled the state since March and with Chris Shays' entry into the Senate race, interested to see if this one should be added to the list of seats Democrats really need to worry about.

-Florida. Always worth looking at the Presidential race there and interested in seeing if the Perry surge is extending to that state. Perry wins there and it could be close to game over if he's already won Iowa and South Carolina.

-Missouri. Interested to see just how bad Peter Kinder's doing and what kind of shape Republican alternatives would be in, as well as how Claire McCaskill's holding up in these times of record low approval numbers for Barack Obama.

-New Hampshire. Given the amazing numbers Rick Perry's putting up nationally right now I have to think he's gained a good bit of ground on Mitt Romney even in the Granite that firewall starting to collapse?

-West Virginia. Clearly the most competitive Gubernatorial race in the country this year and Joe Manchin's another Democratic Senator up next year who may or may not be vulnerable.

Voting's open for the next 24 hours, don't cheat.

Obama keeps hitting record lows

In our national polling for Daily Kos Barack Obama has hit a record low approval rating 3 weeks in a row now. He's gone from 43/53 to 42/53 to now 42/54 in our poll this week.

What might be most noteworthy is this week's poll is how bad Obama's numbers are with a few key and usually dependable Democratic constituencies. He's under water in union households at 44/47. He's also under water with voters under 30 at 45/48. The Northeast tends to a pretty dependable region for Democrats but Obama's under water there at 47/49. Obama's usually been able to hold his ground with female voters but he's under water with them too at 45/49. And even with African Americans his approval rating's down to 76%, about as low as we've ever found it.

I wrote a blog post last week about how Democratic enthusiasm was at a year long low. Now it's at a lower year long low with only 47% of the party's voters 'very excited' about voting this year compared to 58% of Republicans.

There is perhaps one piece of good news for Obama these days and that's the surge of Rick Perry, who our polling suggests is not as strong a general election candidate as Mitt Romney. Perry fared 6 points worse than Romney against Obama in our national poll last week and does 7 points worse on South Carolina numbers we're releasing tomorrow. Obama trails a generic opponent 48-44 on our national poll this week, including 51-37 with independents. He has to hope Perry proves to be something worse than generic. And although Perry's off to a good start with Republicans, Democrats and independents don't think much of him. So that's possible.

Beshear up big, could have down ballot implications

It doesn't look like there's going to be much to see in the Kentucky Governor's race this year. Incumbent Steve Beshear leads by 27 points right now with 55% to 28% for Republican David Williams and 10% Gatewood Galbraith.

More than anything else this is because Williams is one of the worst candidates a party's put forth in a plausibly competitive Gubernatorial race in recent memory. Only 21% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 54% who view him negatively. Even with Republicans he's barely seen positively by a 41/29 margin and with Democrats (9/70) and independents (16/55) there are virtually no voters with a favorable view.

Even if the GOP had a really strong candidate this might be an uphill battle though. Beshear has a 57% approval rating, with only 30% of voters giving him bad marks. Out of 42 sitting Governors PPP's polled on those numbers put Beshear in a tie for the 4th most popular with Tennessee's Bill Haslam, behind only Dave Heineman of Nebraska, Mike Beebe of Arkansas, and John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Combine one of the most popular Governors in the country with one of the worst challengers imaginable and you get this blow out race.

Beshear is winning 78% of the Democratic vote. At the same time Williams gets only 59% of Republicans, with Beshear taking 19% of those votes. And Beshear is also up big with independents, getting 51% to 25% for Williams and 14% for Galbraith.

The Governor's race is probably a lost cause for Republicans. The bigger concern is the effect its lack of competitiveness might have down ballot. Those saying they're likely to vote this fall only report having supported John McCain by 4 points over Barack Obama in 2008, in contrast to McCain's actual 16 point victory in the state. That suggests a very low motivation level for GOP voters at this point, likely due to the weakness at the top of their ticket.

That could really come into play especially in the races for Auditor, Secretary of State, and Agriculture Commissioner, all of which look like toss ups right now. In the Auditor race Democrat Adam Edelen leads Republican John Kemper III 34-31. In the Secretary of State race Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes leads Republican Bill Johnson 38-35. And in the Agriculture Commissioner race Republican James Comer leads Democrat Bob Farmer 37-36. Those are all contests that could go in the GOP's direction if the party's voters step up their level of engagement.

In 2 other statewide contests the Democratic candidates hold wider leads. Jack Conway's up 47-36 for reelection as Attorney General against Republican challenger Todd P'Pool. Conway's favorability numbers dropped all the way to a pretty dreadful 34/52 spread in the closing days of his Senate run against Rand Paul last year, but now he's at 38/35, suggesting that campaign didn't do him too much permanent damage. Fellow Democrat Todd Hollenbach leads with 43% for Treasurer to 28% for Republican K.C. Crosbie and perhaps most notably 16% for Libertarian Ken Moellman. While third party candidates rarely end up doing as well in the end as they poll a couple months out from an election, that figure still reflects a pretty high degree of unhappiness with both political parties.

Steve Beshear looks like a shoo in for reelection. The biggest question in Kentucky is whether Republicans staying home because of their disenchantment with David Williams sinks the rest of the GOP ticket as well.

Full results here

Perry up big in South Carolina

There might not be a state that betters symbolizes the fundamental shift that's occurred in the Republican Presidential race over the last few months than South Carolina. When PPP last polled there in early June, Mitt Romney led everyone in the field by at least 15 points. But now with Rick Perry's entry Romney has lost almost half of his support. That leaves Perry with a 20 point lead- he's at 36% to 16% for Romney, 13% for Michele Bachmann, 9% for Herman Cain, 8% for Newt Gingrich, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Rick Santorum, and 2% for Jon Huntsman.

Voters on the far right side of the Republican spectrum have been dying for a candidate they can call their own and Perry is filling that void. With folks describing themselves as 'very conservative,' which is the largest segment of the GOP electorate in South Carolina, Perry's at 44% to 14% for Bachmann, with Romney mired in single digits at 9%.

That furthest right group of voters has never been all that friendly to Romney though. What has to be a greater sign of concern for him is that with those labeling themselves as only 'somewhat conservative' he still trails Perry 37-19 with Bachmann at 11% and Cain at 10%. When Romney's primary threat was Bachmann he was still winning this group of voters. But Perry seems to be filling a void for voters looking for someone more conservative than Romney and more credible than Bachmann and if he can sustain his lead with that segment of voters he's going to be tough to topple.

Romney does continue to be the favorite of moderate Republicans, leading Perry 26-20. But since those folks only account for 16% of the overall GOP electorate having their support isn't going to take Romney very far.

Romney's certainly lost the most support because of Perry's entry into the race, dropping 14 points from 30% on our June poll to now 16%. But pretty much everyone else has lost ground too. Gingrich is down 7 points from 15% to 8%, Cain is down 6 points from 15% to 9%, and Paul is down 5 points from 10% to 5%. The only folks who have held steady are Bachmann at 13% and Huntsman at 2% on both of these polls.

Another potential candidate losing ground with the Perry surge is Sarah Palin. In June we found that she would be in a clear second place behind Romney at 18% if she decided to get into the field. Now she's in third place at only 10%, well behind the 36% Perry would get with her in the field and putting her in back of Romney's 13% as well. Palin would probably see some boost in her support if she actually formally entered the race but this continues a trend in our polling showing that as time passes support for her is getting smaller and smaller.

It's possible that by the time the Republican race gets to South Carolina there will have been some narrowing down of the field as candidates perform poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire. So we looked at some scenarios addressing that. If it was a three person contest by that point Perry would hit 50% with Romney at 25% and Bachmann at 16%. If it was just Perry and Romney, Perry would lead 59-28. If it was Perry and Bachmann, Perry would lead 63-20. And if it was just Romney and Bachmann, Romney would lead 45-40. It's really not a good sign for Bachmann that in a state with a Republican electorate as conservative as South Carolina, voters would still prefer Romney.

So why is Perry doing so well? He's out there talking about a lot of things that Republican voters agree with. For instance he's been made fun of for his skepticism about global warming but only 25% of primary voters believe it exists to 61% who do not. He has a 42-11 lead over Romney with the climate skeptics compared to only a 24-22 one with the voters who believe in global warming. It's a similar story with evolution- only 32% of GOP voters believe in it while 57% do not. He's up 41-10 with the evolution skeptics compared to just 31-24 with the voters who believe in evolution. People can make fun of Perry all day long but he's in line with the Republican electorate on these issues and his willingness to voice his skepticism publicly seems to be helping him pick up some support.

Full results here

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wisconsin Miscellaneous

Though a previous release showed voters were slightly happy with the results of the recent Wisconsin recall elections, that was because Republicans were more happy that they did not lose control of the Senate than Democrats were unhappy that they did not gain a third seat. By a one-point margin (48-47), Wisconsinites would actually prefer that Democrats control that body. Most of that is because Democrats have a three-point identification advantage in the state, as Republicans seem to now be a tad more enthusiastic about maintaining their majority than Democrats are wanting their party in charge, and independents split 43-42 for the GOP.

Wisconsin is not particularly eager to see same-sex marriage made legal. Only 39% want that, and half do not. But when voters are given three options, including civil unions, two-thirds want gay couples to at least have the same legal rights as married couples, if not the name. That includes 81% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and even 49% of Republicans.

New Sen. Ron Johnson remains a cipher to most voters in his first year in office. His name recognition is up a bit from May, but those who have an opinion on him now who didn't before are split evenly in approval and disapproval. 39% approve, 35% disapprove, and still 26% aren't sure how they feel about his performance so far. Three months ago, it was 35-31-34.

Johnson's retiring senior colleague Herb Kohl is much more beloved, at 50-31, essentially the same as the 50-30 we found in May. He has a solid 22% approval rating from Republicans. Whoever the Democrats nominate to replace him on the ticket next year is going to have to hope some of his bipartisan appeal rubs off, because we found last week that the Senate race is surprisingly close, even if Russ Feingold had chosen to run.

Wisconsin football fans are pretty confident the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl this season. 55% think they will, and only 22% bet they will not.

Speaking of the Packers, the state is way down on the team’s longtime quarterback Brett Favre, who came out of retirement three years ago to play for the New York Jets and then the rival Minnesota Vikings. Only a third see him favorably, and 54% unfavorably. The state may be divided over politics, but Favre is one thing on which Democrats, Republicans, and independents almost exactly agree.

Unsurprisingly, the postseason-bound Milwaukee Brewers are overwhelmingly the state’s favorite baseball team. 71% claim the Brew Crew as their favorite club among a list of seven other Major League Baseball teams. Way behind are the Chicago Cubs at 8%, the Minnesota Twins at 4%, and the Atlanta (formerly Milwaukee) Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees all the favorites of 2% of Wisconsin voters, and the St. Louis Cardinals of 1%. 7% favor a different team or are not baseball fans.

Full results here.

Iowa Miscellaneous

Iowans have cut their governor a little more slack since we last polled the state three months ago. 41% approve and 44% disapprove of Terry Branstad’s performance, up from 39-47. But that makes him 29th out of 42 sitting governors we've polled, and voters still would only narrowly prefer him to the Democrat he ousted from office last fall, Chet Culver.

In a hypothetical do-over, Branstad would prevail, 48-44, when he actually won by a 53-43 margin. The problem for Culver is that Branstad wins over twice as many Democrats (a huge 18%) as he won last fall. On top of that, even though the third of voters who say they are independents disapprove, 36-46, they prefer Branstad to Culver, 46-41. That is down, however, from the 51-41 margin reported by exit polls.

As the only Midwestern state where it is legal, Iowa is becoming increasingly favorable to same-sex marriage. 46% think it should be legal, and 45% illegal. But when civil unions are included as an alternative, giving gay couples the same rights as marriage, 40% still prefer full marriage equality, 30% favor civil unions, and only 29% think there should be no recognition of these relationships at all. When we asked the same question in April, the breakdown was 35-29-33. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all more in favor of both marriage and civil unions than before, but particularly Republicans, 14% of whom favor marriage and 36% civil unions now, versus 10-28 four months ago. For Democrats, it is 63-23 versus 57-25, and for independents, 40-31 versus 35-36.

With Iowa losing a congressional seat after the census, the new map has double-bunked two incumbent Republicans, and should favor Democrats. On top of that, voters prefer Democrats for Congress by a 44-40 margin over GOP candidates. Democrats, at 88-4, are slightly more united than Republicans (85-5), but independents just barely prefer the GOP, 36-34.

52% of Iowans see their senior senator Chuck Grassley favorably, and 33% unfavorably. They are not as hot on Tom Harkin, giving him a 46-40 mark, but that still puts him in a tie for 50th out of 86 senators on which we've polled. Grassley is tied for 25th. The two are equally popular with their own bases, but Grassley, at 39-45 with Democrats, is way more popular across the aisle than is Harkin (a still healthy 23-64 with Republicans). Grassley also bests Harkin with independents, 50-34 versus 39-45.

Full results here.

Ohio Miscellaneous

The recent debt deal has caused Ohioans to sour on John Boehner. When PPP polled the state in May, 37% both approved and disapproved of Speaker Boehner’s performance in office. Now, only 34% approve, and his disapproval is up to 47%. The main cause? A movement of 23 points in the wrong direction with independents, from 37-34 to 34-54. He has also declined with the two major parties. Now, more Republicans disapprove (16%) than Democrats approve (12%), the opposite of three months ago, when only 8% of Republicans disapproved and 14% of Democrats approved.

Boehner’s native state does still see him more positively than they do Nancy Pelosi, however, with 49% viewing Boehner more favorably and 34% Pelosi. 14% see them equally well--almost all Democrats and independents. Though Republicans are not terribly high on Boehner in isolation, when matched with his vile foe, the former speaker, 90% of them prefer Boehner. Still only 62% of Democrats have a higher opinion of Pelosi, and independents split 52-25 Boehner's way, a huge switch from their overall feelings on him. Pelosi should probably steer clear of Ohio when her vulnerable members are running in Ohio House races next year.

Speaking of those House races, Ohio voters narrowly prefer Democrats for Congress, 42-37, but that is down from 43-34 in May, mainly because Republicans are hardening, moving from 73-9 in favor of the GOP pick to 80-5, now equaling Democrats' 81-6, the same as three months ago. Still 45% of independents remain undecided, down from 53% in May, and they have moved slightly towards the Democrats, from 30-17 in favor of the GOP to only 32-23 now.

As bad as the economy has been in the Rust Belt, more Ohioans still blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy than President Obama. 51% say Bush has been more responsible for the recession, and 42% say Obama. Independents side 49-44 with Bush, and Democrats are just slightly more likely to blame Bush than Republicans blame Obama.

We also asked a number of questions on the debt ceiling deal. 45% of Ohio voters think it will be bad for the economy, and only 27% predict it will be a good thing. As in the other states we asked the question, Democrats narrowly think averting default was a positive, 37-30, and most of the negative sentiment comes from Republicans (18-51) and independents (19-65).

Ohioans are almost unanimously sure the deal will do nothing for the deficit. 5% think it will solve it, but 82% do not. Again, Republicans (2-88) and independents (3-91) are most pessimistic.

As the deficit supercommittee gears up its negotiations, Boehner and crew should be wary of pushing a solution that is too heavy on cuts. 54% of Ohioans think the deficit should be dealt with through a combination of cuts and tax increases, while only 37% think cuts alone will suffice. Republicans favor cuts (68-25), obviously, but less so than Democrats prefer a balanced approach (13-77). Independents also side with Obama and the Democrats, 37-55.

Ohio is generally not in favor of same-sex marriage. Only a third think it should be legal, and 53% say it should remain illegal. That is just slightly up from May (31-53), as Democrats have moved from 45-40 in favor to 50-33, and independents from 28-51 against to only 37-47. But when given the option of civil unions, 61% of Ohio voters favor equal legal rights for gay couples, including 73% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and even 44% of Republicans.

When recently confronted by hostile Iowa voters, Mitt Romney proclaimed that “corporations are people, my friends.” PPP asked whether Ohioans agreed. 36% do, but half do not. Democrats unsurprisingly are least likely to agree with Romney (26-60), but even Republicans only narrowly do (42-41), less than independents do (45-42).

Full results here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mandel leading for OH Sen. nomination, Perry for Pres.

The Republican race for the right to face off with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown next fall seems to lean strongly State Treasurer Josh Mandel's way, based on our new poll and on the latest developments in the race. Polled before Rep. Jim Jordan declined a bid and instead endorsed Mandel, Mandel tops Jordan and former State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, 27-16-8, and beats Coughlin in what will now likely be a two-way race, 31-12.

Since so few voters are familiar with the candidates so far, 57% are undecided. Coughlin obviously has an opportunity, but if he stays in the race, he'll have to cast himself as a Tea-Party, anti-establishment conservative and make up a lot of ground with the furthest right voters, who make up a 41% plurality of this electorate.

The problem for Coughlin is that Jordan's nod could only further help Mandel with the far right. Mandel is already strong against Coughlin with this group, but Jordan actually tied Mandel at 22% in the three-way match-up, meaning his credibility with conservatives could only further widen the gap with Coughlin.

Just to see what would happen, we also decided to test disgraced former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel in this race. Republicans should probably not be terribly proud that, if he ran, Tressel would be their top pick. He is still popular, certainly more than any of the others, and he is more than twice as well-known as any of them, but it is at best a sign that no one is paying attention to the burgeoning race yet, and at worst a sign that there is little enthusiasm for the real candidates at this point. Tressel is almost certain not to run, but he leads with 23% over Mandel’s 17%, Jordan’s 13%, and Coughlin’s 5%, with 43% undecided, a clear indication that name recognition is the most decisive factor at this stage.

Two-thirds have an opinion of Tressel; 46% have a favorable opinion of him and 21% a negative one. By contrast, only 31% know enough about Mandel to express an opinion, but he is very well-liked (24-7). Only 22% are aware of Jordan (14-8) and a mere 15% of Coughlin (6-9).

We already showed Rick Perry leading Mitt Romney nationally by 13 points yesterday, and leading a tight four-way contest in Iowa on Tuesday. This poll, conducted a week before Perry even officially entered the race, was already showing Perry's threat to Romney's presidential chances as becoming more and more real. When PPP polled Ohio GOP primary voters three months ago, Romney led with 23% over Newt Gingrich’s 16%, Herman Cain’s and Ron Paul’s 13%, Michele Bachmann’s 11%, and Tim Pawlenty’s 6%.

Now Perry, polled for the first time here, has jumped into the lead with 21% to Romney’s 20%, Bachmann’s 14%, Cain’s 10%, Gingrich’s and Paul’s 8%, and Jon Huntsman’s 1%. Polled before he dropped out, Pawlenty got only 3% support. Perry seems to have taken a lot of support from Gingrich, Paul, and Cain, and holds a huge 28-15-13-11 lead over Bachmann, Romney, and Cain with the most conservative voters.

If Sarah Palin were to jump into the race, she would knock Bachmann from third but help Perry. Perry would hold at 21% to Romney’s 18%, Palin’s 11%, Bachmann’s 10%, Cain’s 8%, and Gingrich’s and Paul’s 7%.

Full results here.

Third-party bids would help Obama

Some have suggested that with an unpopular president who's got a somewhat dissatisfied base and suffers from a weak economy, and with a Republican nominee who inevitably will either struggle with the middle or who is not conservative enough for the right, there is room for a strong third-party bid for the first time in at least 16 years. But we took a look at seven possible independent candidates against Obama and his strongest GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, and found that the chances of defection by GOP-inclined voters are stronger than are cracks in the Democrats’ armor. Despite their grumbling, Democrats remain pretty united behind Obama, and six of the seven possible independent candidates would hurt Romney more than the president.

Head-to-head, Romney and Obama are tied at 45% in the national popular vote, per Tuesday’s release. Against Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the major-party candidates are still knotted at 42%, with Bloomberg at 10%. Faced with a well-known moderate who leans more left these days, this is the only instance in which Romney is able to hold more of his base than the president does of his (82% versus 78%). But Obama treads water by holding a six-point lead with independents, 13% of whom go to Bloomberg.

With a challenge from his left by either Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or perpetual Democratic thorn Ralph Nader, Obama would remain at 45%, with Romney falling to 41% and Nader getting 7% and Sanders only 5%. Partly because Democrats hate Nader and aren't familiar with Sanders, Romney would still win more Democratic support, in double digits, than either of these liberal candidates would. But Obama again leads, this time by ten against Sanders and 13 against Nader, with independent voters.

Jon Huntsman has spent a lot of time criticizing both parties lately, and if he takes his iconoclasm from his quixotic GOP primary bid to the general, he would earn 7%, with Obama prevailing, 46-40. Huntsman is the second-least-known of these candidates after Sanders, so he essentially serves as a "generic centrist independent" in more than half of poll respondents' eyes. Romney still pulls more Democrats than Huntsman does, but Obama leads by 18 with independents.

Though he refused in 2008, there would probably be a lot of appetite for a third-party candidacy from 1988 Libertarian Party nominee Ron Paul. He would get a solid 15%, with Romney falling to 33% and Obama still at 45%. Paul earns the most independent support of any of these third-party options (20%), almost all GOP-leaners, as Obama beats Romney by 20 with independents overall. Paul also holds Romney to 63% of Republicans, taking 22% himself. Despite his supporters' claims about his popularity with Democrats, Paul wouldn't get anymore crossover support from Democrats than any of the others.

Even though he declined to make good on his flirtation with running as a Republican earlier this year, Donald Trump keeps reviving his threats to run as an independent if he isn't personally satisfied with the GOP nominee. Even though his birther shenanigans trashed his name with most voters, he would still pull 18% to Romney’s 30% and Obama’s 46%, meaning Romney would finish closer to third than first. After initially leading in our April national primary poll, Trump soon tanked before announcing he wouldn't run after all. But Republican voters would still give him 32% of their support to Romney's 56%, and he'd also pull 17% of independents, with Obama up 51-27 over Romney.

Romney’s biggest obstacle could come from Sarah Palin, whose decision about whether she will run at all remains a mystery. She isn't polling all that well in our primary matchups anymore, with more Republicans coalescing around the announced candidates. But Palin would split general-electorate Republicans, with Romney at 46% to her 41%. As she usually does when the two are pitted head-to-head, she would give Obama his biggest lead among independents, 51-26, with Palin at 15%. Overall, Obama would run away with the election, 47-26-21 over Romney and Palin.

The main problem for Romney is that Obama holds his base, both Democrats and the independents who are inclined to vote for him anyway, better than Romney does his. Most of the peeling-off is among Republicans (at least against Palin, Trump, and Paul) and independents who might ordinarily lean Romney's way if he were the only other choice than Obama. These independent candidates earn only 4-9% of the Democratic vote, and Obama gets 41-51% of the independent vote, not much less than the 48-59% he gets against just the five Republicans we tested against him head-to-head. By contrast, while Romney is the strongest head-to-head with independents, trailing the president by nine points, he gets a measly 26-35% of the independent vote in these three-way match-ups. The only third-partier who would help Romney in that department is Bloomberg, and Romney would still lag by six with independents, and by 10 to 25 points versus the others.

Romney would probably be more susceptible to a right-wing third-party challenge than would, say, Rick Perry, and less so to someone like Bloomberg or Huntsman than would Perry. But whoever comes out of the Republican primary is almost certainly going to be weaker than the president--less popular, with less money, with a bruised image, and with a less secure voting bloc. The GOP is going to be walking on thin ice, praying not to draw a challenge from either the center or the right. It'll be a tough, fine line to satisfy both ends of the spectrum.

Full results here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Obama leads in Wisconsin, Iowa

Barack Obama leads the entire Republican field in both Wisconsin and Iowa, two states that were hotly contested in 2000 and 2004 but that he won easily in 2008.

Obama is not popular in either state. In Iowa just 45% of voters approve of him to 48% who disapprove. Independents split against him 43/47 and only 79% of Democrats think he's doing a good job while 87% of Republicans give him bad marks. It's a pretty similar story in Wisconsin. There an equal 45% of voters approve of him with his disapproval number standing at 51%. Independents go against him 40/52 and 94% of Republicans disapprove of him to 86% of Democrats who rate him positively.

Obama's not running for reelection in a vacuum though and given the GOP alternatives he still leads in both of these states. In Wisconsin he's clearly weaker at this point than in 2008, when he won the state by 14 points. He leads Mitt Romney only 47-42. And while he does have double digit advantages over the rest of the Republican field- 10 over Rick Perry at 50-40, 12 over Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin at 51-39 and 52-40 respectively, and 14 over Herman Cain at 50-36- for the most part he's not matching his margin of victory from last time.

It's a different story in Iowa though and that may bode well for Obama in terms of what happens when voters get a lot of exposure to the Republican candidates. There he actually exceeds his 2008 margin of victory against the entire GOP field- he's up 10 on Romney at 49-39, 13 on Perry at 51-38, 17 on Bachmann at 51-34, 18 on Cain at 51-33, and 21 on Palin at 54-33.

Iowa's a closely divided state in terms of its partisan loyalties, meaning it's one of those places where independents really do make the difference. Romney's favorability with them is 27/55. Perry's is 23/52. Bachmann's is 22/60. And Obama has leads of 13, 17, and 17 points respectively with independents over the three of them. What those folks have to say to make the Republican base happy doesn't look like it will serve them well heading toward November. It's just one poll and one state but it points to the possibility that Obama can win with a 45% approval rating because the GOP field is so bad.

One last point- with Romney doing 5 points better than Perry against Obama in Wisconsin and 3 points in Iowa it's another data point showing that the Perry surge is good news for Obama's reelection prospects.

Full results here

Perry leads nationally

In PPP's first national poll since Rick Perry's official entry into the Presidential race he's jumped out to a double digit advantage. Perry's at 33% to 20% for Mitt Romney, 16% for Michele Bachmann, 8% for Newt Gingrich, 6% for Herman Cain and Ron Paul, 4% for Rick Santorum, and 3% for Jon Huntsman.

Conservative voters have been looking for a candidate that they can rally around and Perry's filling that role. Romney continues to lead with the small portion of voters describing themselves as moderates at 27% to 20% for Bachmann and 15% for Perry. But Perry gets stronger and stronger as you move across the ideological spectrum. With 'somewhat conservative' voters Perry leads by 15 points with 38% to Romney's 23% and Bachmann's 11%. And with 'very conservative' voters the advantage expands to 22 points with him at 40% to 18% for Bachmann and 14% for Romney.

Perry was at only 12% five weeks ago, so he's climbed 21 points since entering the race. The biggest losers with his entry have been Bachmann and Cain, who've each lost 5 points of support, and Paul, who's lost 3 points of support. Romney and Huntsman are both unchanged from a month ago while Gingrich has actually gained a point of support.

There's some thought that this may eventually come down to a 2 or 3 person race and Perry would be favored in both of those instances as well. In a 3 way Perry would get 41% to 29% for Romney and 19% for Bachmann. There was some thought that Perry's entry would actually help Romney because it would lead to a split in the conservative vote between Perry and Bachmann but Perry is now winning those voters by such a wide margin that it doesn't even matter.

Perry also leads head to heads with both Romney (52-36) and Bachmann (56-26). In the match up with Romney Perry picks up Bachmann supporters (47-37), Cain supporters (61-29), Paul supporters (43-28), and Santorum supporters (68-21). Romney gets Gingrich supporters (51-35) and Huntsman supporters (76-24).

In the match up with Bachmann Perry wins Cain supporters (49-38), Gingrich supporters (52-32), Paul supporters (44-28), and Romney supporters (53-20). Huntsman supporters (24-21 for Bachmann) and Santorum supporters (44-43 for Perry) split pretty evenly.

In the event of the race coming down to Bachmann and Romney, Romney would lead 49-40. Somewhat surprisingly he narrowly wins Perry voters (48-42). He also gets Huntsman backers (88-6) and Gingrich ones (59-29). Paul voters split evenly at 42 while Cain voters (64-29) and Santorum voters (65-27) go to Bachmann.

Full results here

Kentucky/South Carolina Question Suggestions

Kentucky and South Carolina won our vote on where to poll this week. We'll obviously poll the Presidential race in both states, Senate and Governor approval ratings, and the Governor's race in Kentucky. Beyond those things what questions would you like to see us ask in those states?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Obama tops Perry

Rick Perry is looking increasingly like the Republican favorite for President- he led in the Iowa poll we released this morning and he leads by double digits in the national poll we'll release tomorrow. The biggest beneficiary of Perry's rise? It might be Barack Obama.

In our first national poll pitting the two Obama leads Perry 49-43. That six point advantage is pretty comparable to Obama's margin of victory over John McCain. Perry has certainly come on strong with Republicans but independents view him negatively already by an almost 2:1 margin, 29/55, and Democrats pretty universally give him bad ratings at a 10/71 spread. As a result Obama leads Perry thanks in large part to a 24 point advantage with independents at 56-32.

It's a different story for Obama when it comes to the match up against Romney. There he can only achieve a tie at 45%, and because there are a lot more undecided Republicans than Democrats in all likelihood Romney would come out ahead if voters had to go to the polls and really make a decision today. Romney does better than Perry because he holds Obama to only a 9 point advantage with independents, 48-39, and because he loses only 5% of the Republican vote to Obama where Perry loses 10%.

None of the rest of the Republican hopefuls even fare as well as Perry. Obama leads Michele Bachmann by 8 points at 50-42, Herman Cain by 10 points at 49-39, and Sarah Palin by 13 points at 53-40. This poll is more confirmation of what's become a broad trend in our polling- against Romney Obama faces a toss up and against anyone else he's in decent shape for reelection.

One big reason Obama's doing pretty well in these match ups is the Hispanic vote. Exit polls in 2008 showed him winning it by a 36 point margin over McCain but he builds on that in all of these match ups with a 37 point advantage over Romney at 66-29, a 46 point one over Perry at 72-26, a 48 point edge over Bachmann at 74-26, a 49 point lead on Palin at 74-25, and a 53 point spread on Herman Cain at 75-22. This is a good example of what Republican strategist Mike Murphy has described as the economics vs. demographics tension for next year's election. The economy could sink Obama but at the same time an ever growing expanding Hispanic vote that he wins by a huge margin could be enough to let him eek out a second term. It's certainly propping him up on this poll.

Full results here

This week's poll choices

We'll have voting open the rest of the day for where we do our two state polls this weekend. Choices are:

-Connecticut. With Chris Shays entering the Senate race probably worth taking a fresh look at one we haven't polled since March.

-Kentucky. It's been a while now since there was a new poll on this fall's Governor's race and we haven't polled it for the entirety of 2011.

-Missouri. An internal poll yesterday suggested that Peter Kinder's recent issues haven't damaged him any...maybe that's true but it's worth another set of eyes. And also interested to see where Claire McCaskill is right now.

-South Carolina. The general assumption is that Rick Perry is the man to beat in the state now but it would be good to actually confirm whether or not that's the case with some polling.

-West Virginia. This Governor's race seems likely to be the most competitive in 2011, and it's really creeping up now. Worth checking in on how Joe Manchin's holding up as well.

Please don't cheat by voting repeatedly, we had a problem with that on last week's vote. Thanks!

Perry takes the lead in Iowa

Rick Perry is the new leader in Iowa:

The race is pretty close four ways in Iowa but Rick Perry is the new favorite among Republican voters in the state. Among announced candidates he's at 22% to 19% for Mitt Romney, 18% for Michele Bachmann, and 16% for Ron Paul. Further back are Herman Cain at 7%, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.

If you throw Sarah Palin into the mix the numbers are pretty similar with Perry at 21%, Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 15%, Paul at 12%, and Palin registering at only 10%.

Perry's support is being built on Tea Party support and voters with very conservative positions on certain issues

Only 33% of Republican voters in Iowa identify themselves as members of the Tea Party but a broad advantage with them is driving Perry's lead. He gets 32% to 22% for Bachmann, and 19% for Paul. Romney is all the way back in 6th place with those voters at only 6%. Romney doesn't need to win Tea Party voters to win in Iowa but he needs to do a whole lot better than that. With the majority of Republicans who don't consider themselves Tea Partiers Romney actually leads Perry and Bachmann with 30% to their 16% but it's not enough to make up for his poor performance with the far right faction of the party.

Perry's drawn some attention in the last week for his statements about global warming and evolution and although he's drawn ridicule from Democrats and Republican elites for them our polling suggests he's perfectly in line with the GOP base. Only 35% of Iowa Republicans believe in evolution to 48% who don't. With the ones who do believe in it Perry's in 4th place at 12%, putting him behind Romney's 24%, Paul's 18%, and Bachmann's 15%. But with the evolution deniers Perry is the overwhelming favorite at 32% to Bachmann's 19%, Romney's 15%, and Paul's 13%.

It's a similar story with global warming. Only 21% of GOP voters believe in it while 66% do not. Again with the believers Romney is in a strong first place at 31% to 15% for Paul, 13% for Bachmann, 11% for Huntsman, and only 9% for Perry. But with the much more numerous group of Republicans who think global warming is a farce Perry cleans up at 28% to 20% for Bachmann, 16% for Paul, and 13% for Romney, giving him the overall lead.

There even continues to be a pretty strong birther strain in Iowa. 48% of Republican voters believe Barack Obama was born in the United States but 32% still do not. With the ones who think Obama was born in the country, Romney edges Perry 25-22. That's more than overcome by Perry's 22-10 lead with the GOP voters who don't think the President is a legitimate US citizen.

Can you believe in global warming and evolution and still win the Republican Presidential nomination? I'm not sure you can given these numbers.

These numbers are very bad news for Michele Bachmann, and to a lesser extent Romney:

It's clear that Bachmann has gotten virtually no momentum out of her victory in the Ames Straw Poll. She was in 3rd place when we polled Iowa in June and she's in third place now. Beyond that her favorability numbers in the state have taken a significant hit. In June she had a 53/16 breakdown. Since then her positive number has dropped 6 points from 53% to 47%, and her negative number has climbed 19 points from 16% to 35%. Perry's now winning the voters on the far right that we showed her doing really well with throughout most of June and July. The day of her win in Ames may be remembered as the peak of her campaign.

In some sense the news is worse for Romney- he's actually losing support- going from 26% and the lead in June to 19% and second place now. There had been some thought that he might absorb Tim Pawlenty's support in the state and clearly that has not happened. But Romney probably doesn't need Iowa with New Hampshire serving as his firewall so these numbers still don't seem as bad for him as they do for Bachmann.

The other winner in the poll

Michele Bachmann may not have much momentum coming off of her strong performance in Ames but Ron Paul sure does. His 16% poll standing is up from 11% on our June poll of the state and his net favorability of +24 at 53/29 makes him the second most popular of 15 announced and potential candidates that we polled, behind only Perry's +32 at 56/24. While Paul is certainly still a very long shot for the nomination it looks likely that he will be a more relevant candidate this time around at least than he was in 2008.

Who's up and down

Here's the net favorability of everyone we polled in Iowa ranked from most popular to least popular, compared with where they were on our June poll:


Favorability (Net)

Change from June Poll

Rick Perry

56/24 (+32)

+27 (was +5 at 21/16)

Ron Paul

53/29 (+24)

+11 (was +13 at 42/29)

Rick Santorum

44/22 (+22)

+11 (was +11 at 29/18)

Chris Christie

43/21 (+22)

-8 (was +30 at 42/12)

Paul Ryan

38/21 (+17)

-11 (was +28 at 42/14)

Sarah Palin

52/36 (+16)

-12 (was +28 at 59/31)

Michele Bachmann

47/35 (+12)

-25 (was +37 at 53/16)

Rudy Giuliani

43/34 (+9)

-9 (was +18 at 49/31)

Herman Cain

42/35 (+7)

-7 (was +14 at 38/24)

Mitt Romney

45/38 (+7)

-10 (was +17 at 51/34)

Newt Gingrich

42/44 (-2)

None (was -2 at 39/41)

Fred Karger

3/25 (-22)

-7 (was -15 at 2/17)

Gary Johnson

5/31 (-26)

-12 (was -14 at 4/18)

Jon Huntsman

13/40 (-27)

-11 (was -16 at 7/23)

Buddy Roemer

1/34 (-33)

-16 (was -17 at 4/21)

Besides Romney and Paul the only other candidate who appears to be getting any traction right now in Iowa is Santorum, who's seen a healthy improvement in his favorability numbers. That still doesn't appear to be translating into many votes for Santorum but if Republican voters demonstrate that they at least like him that might help his cause for getting a show on Fox, which might be the best possible outcome for him out of this campaign.

No one is sinking faster than Bachmann. And it's interesting to note that Palin's popularity is on the decline as well, which makes you wonder how much of a factor she would be even if she did jump into the race at this point.

Full results here

Friday, August 19, 2011

Obama's Base Problem

There's been plenty of bad news for Barack Obama this month in the form of his approval numbers, but our polling finds that his problems go deeper than that. Democratic enthusiasm about voting in next year's election has hit a record low this month.

Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were 'very excited' about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the 'very excited' number has dipped below 50%.

In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats 'very excited' about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.

It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the 'enthusiasm gap' that caused so much of their trouble in last year's elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they're 'very excited' about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.

The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we've polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.

In Colorado it's 59/31 overall and 55/33 with independents for more taxes. In North Carolina it's 53/32 overall and 56/31 with independents for more taxes. And in Ohio it's 54/37 overall and 55/37 with independents for more taxes. It's obviously not like these voters want more taxes- no one does. But they do see them as necessary and Obama antagonized his base with the deal he cut on this issue without doing anything to help himself with independents or Republicans.

It's a long way until November 2012 and Obama certainly has time to redeem himself but for the first time in his Presidency I really do think he has an issue with the Democratic base.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kasich/SB 5 numbers

John Kasich and Senate Bill 5 are both still unpopular: but neither is as unpopular as it was 3 months ago.

50% of Ohioans say they would vote to reject Senate Bill 5 if the election was today, to 39% who would vote to accept it. Those are encouraging numbers for pro-labor interests but when we last polled the state in May 55% of voters say they were against the bill to only 35% in favor of it. So the trendlines at least are working in favor of the bill remaining as law.

Democrats (69/21) are more in favor of rejecting the bill than Republicans (58/29) are of accepting it. But independents have moved from 52/40 opposition to it in May to 46/44 support for it now.

The odds are still stacked against SB 5 staying enacted but just like we saw in the Wisconsin recalls the anger is not there at the same level it was during the spring, which has to be a slight cause of concern for those working to reject it.

John Kasich remains one of the most unpopular Governors in the country with a 36/53 approval rating. The only one we've polled this year with worse approval numbers is Florida's Rick Scott. Still Kasich's numbers represent a slight improvement from May when he was at 33/56. That's mostly attributable to Republicans rallying around him- they've gone from 58/28 approval to 67/21. He continues to have basically no support from Democrats- an 11/80 spread- and with independents he mirrors his overall numbers at 36/52.

Despite the small improvement in Kasich's approval numbers he would still lose a hypothetical rematch to predecessor Ted Strickland by a wide 54-39 margin. Democrats are having a rough August nationally but when you see those numbers it's still a reminder that we're a long way away from the political climate of 2010.

Perhaps the worst finding for Kasich on our poll is this: by a 41-31 margin Ohio voters think ousted Ohio State football Jim Tressel is a more 'ethical and honest' person than their Governor. This despite the fact that Tressel has been found to have repeatedly lied about various issues surrounding his program.

Full results here

Close Senate race in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl is looking like a genuine Republican pick up opportunity, with both Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann leading all the potential Democratic candidates we tested besides Russ Feingold.

Feingold, who doesn't seem terribly interested in running, would still be the strongest potential candidate. He has the best favorability rating of anyone we looked at both overall (49/43) and specifically with independents (52/37). He would have the slightest advantage over Thompson, 48-47, and a more healthy one over Neumann at 51-44. Feingold led them by 10 and 12 points respectively when PPP first looked at this race in May so there's been a good amount of movement toward the Republicans since that time.

Voters in the state are pretty evenly divided in their feelings about Thompson with 44% rating him favorably and 42% unfavorably. He would start out with decent sized leads over all the Democratic candidates not named Russ Feingold- 7 points over Ron Kind at 48-41, 8 over Tammy Baldwin at 50-42, and 8 over Steve Kagen at 49-41. Thompson was tied with Kind, led Baldwin by only 1, and had just a 3 point advantage over Kagen the last time we polled so again these numbers show momentum in the GOP's direction.

Neumann doesn't fare as well as Thompson but still has small leads over the Democratic field. He's up 3 on Kind at 43-40, 4 on Baldwin at 44-40, and 7 on Kagen at 45-38.

None of the candidates beyond Thompson and Feingold are particularly well known. Baldwin has 54% name recognition, Neumann's is 52%, Kind's is 44%, and Kagen's is 36%.

The timing of both Wisconsin polls we've done since Kohl's retirement announcement has been a little odd. The first was done just a couple weeks after the killing of Osama bin Laden and may have represented somewhat of a high point for Democrats. This one was done the same weekend that we nationally found a record low approval rating for Barack Obama. So unless Obama's numbers continue to get worse, this may be something of a high point for the Republicans.

Split the difference between the two polls and you're looking at a sheer toss up, with Democrats probably having the slightest advantage if Feingold runs and Republicans probably having the slightest advantage if Feingold doesn't run and Thompson can actually survive the Republican primary.

Everything we saw in the recall elections points to a closely divided state and against that backdrop it's no surprise the Senate race is falling into that category as well.

Full results here

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Iowa and National Poll Question Suggestions

Iowa was the winner of our vote on where to poll this week so we'll do that in addition to our national poll. Obviously we'll ask about the Republican primary on both polls and test Obama against the regulars. Beyond those things what would you like to see us delve into? Appreciate the question suggestions as always.

Perdue down 8 to McCrory

When it comes to Bev Perdue's poll numbers you can look at it one of two ways.

If you look at her situation just in terms of where she stands now it's a pretty sorry picture. Her approval rating is 37% with 48% of voters disapproving of her. Independents split against her 38/51 and only 58% of Democrats think she's doing a good job while at the same time 77% of Republicans think she's doing poorly. She trails Pat McCrory 47-39 for reelection, the same deficit she faced a month ago.

If you look at where she stands today in context with where her numbers have been in the past though, they look a little bit more promising. Six months ago she had an identical 48% disapproval to what she has now, but her approval rating was only 30%. So she's improved 7 points on that front. In fact her 37% standing right now is the best she's enjoyed since April of 2009, only 3 months after she took office. And while the 8 point deficit against McCrory is bad, it's not as bad as the 12 point one she had against him in February at 49-37.

Perdue's making progress. She hasn't made enough progress yet and has a long way to go but there's more of a ray of hope for her now than there was earlier in the year.

The Republican legislature has undoubtedly helped Perdue's prospects. Asked whether voters have more faith in her or them to lead the state the Governor comes out on top by a 44-41 margin. In February the GOP led 44-37 on that question. They've proven to be a good foil for her and things are moving in her direction, if slowly. It just remains to be seen if she can continue that progress over the next 14 months and change.

Full results here

Brown leads Republican field

As soon as Jim Tressel stepped down as Ohio State's football coach folks started contacting us and saying we needed to test him as a potential Republican Senate candidate against Sherrod Brown. So on our poll of the state last weekend, the first we've conducted since Tressel's resignation, we did.

Tressel remains a pretty popular figure in the state. 39% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 27% with a negative one. Those numbers are certainly better than any major politician in the state can claim. Beyond that he has bipartisan appeal. Both Republicans (44/19) and Democrats (37/28) have a favorable opinion of him.

Nevertheless Tressel would trail Brown in a hypothetical match up, 46-34. Democrats may like Tressel but they wouldn't be willing to actually vote for him over their incumbent Senator. Brown leads him 79-9 within his party. Brown also has a 43-31 lead with independents, while Tressel has the 68-6 advantage with Republicans.

Tressel does as well as any of the Republicans who are actually running or could plausbly get into the race though. Brown leads Congressman Jim Jordan 47-35, former state senator Kevin Coughlin 47-33, and State Treasurer Josh Mandel 48-33.

Brown is not as safe as those double digit margins might suggest. Mandel has only 34% name recognition, Jordan's is just 29%, and only 23% of voters claim to have an opinion about Coughlin. Because they're so unknown at this point there are far more Republican voters than Democrats undecided in each of these match ups and that means there would be definite tightening once one of them actually became the GOP nominee.

Brown's approval numbers are not exactly stellar, with 37% of voters approving of him to 34% who disapprove. Independents split against him by a 32/40 margin. Still his net approval is running 11 points ahead of Obama's in the state, so Brown will probably continue to be out ahead unless the President really, really tanks. Republicans have some reasons for hope here but compared to places like Nebraska, Montana, and Missouri it's looking like a second tier pick up possibility.

Full results here

Perry, Bachmann tied in Wisconsin

Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are tied for the Republican Presidential lead in Wisconsin at 20%...with Mitt Romney all the way back at 13%. Sarah Palin at 11%, Herman Cain at 7%, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul at 6%, Tim Pawlenty (the poll was conducted before he dropped out) at 3%, and Jon Huntsman at 1% round out the field.

These numbers make it clear that Bachmann and Perry have all the momentum in the state, while all the other candidates are losing steam. Perry wasn't even tested when we polled Wisconsin in May and Bachmann's up 9 points now from her 11% standing then. Everyone else is on the decline- Pawlenty's fall was the worst, down 8 points from 11% in May to now 3%. You can see why he dropped out.

Palin's support is down 5 points, Romney, Paul, and Gingrich are each down 4, Cain's down 3, and Huntsman's down 1. At least in Wisconsin Perry and Bachmann are clearly sucking the wind out of the rest of the field and it's going to be interesting to see if that's the case everywhere in polling over the next couple weeks.

There are two key things within the crosstabs that don't bode terribly well for Romney:

-Among 'very conservative' voters, the largest segment of the Republican electorate in Wisconsin, Romney gets only 11%. That puts him well behind Bachmann's 25% and Perry's 22%. This was never a group of voters that Romney seemed particularly likely to win, but it's one that he has generally been able to stay competitive with. With two candidates in the race now who are better liked by the far right it's not clear if Romney's going to be able to get the minimum threshold of support he needs there.

-Here's the other problem though: the pattern in our polling over the last few months has been Bachmann wins the far right, Romney wins the moderates, and Romney wins overall because he also finishes first among what you might think of as the Republican middle- voters who identify themselves as conservative, but not as 'very conservative.' Winning with those voters in Wisconsin? Perry with 25% to 17% for Romney and 15% for Bachmann. That's the real threat Perry poses to Romney- if he can be the guy for Republican partisans who think Romney's too liberal but also think Bachmann's nuts. This is just one state and not a terribly important one to the nomination process at that but the numbers are not great news for Romney.

If you take Palin out of the picture Bachmann gains even more steam, getting 24% to 20% for Perry, 17% for Romney, and 10% for Gingrich.

Full results here

Thompson vulnerable on right

I think it's highly unlikely Tommy Thompson is going to be the Republican Senate candidate in Wisconsin next year.

Sure our newest poll of the state finds Thompson leading Mark Neumann 47-39 in a head to head primary match up. But that's based much more than anything else on Thompson's far superior name recognition. 91% of GOP voters are familiar enough with him to have formed an opinion, while that's only the case for 57% of voters when it comes to Neumann. With that 57% of voters who have formed an opinion of Neumann, whether it's a positive or a negative one, he leads Thompson by a 55-39 margin. That bodes pretty well for Neumann's prospects as he gets into the swing of the campaign.

Here's the real sign of how weak Thompson is though. We read respondents a two sentence, 28 word summary of the attacks he's likely to face from Neumann during the primary campaign and then asked voters again who they would support if the primary was today. And all the sudden Thompson trailed Neumann by a whooping 33 points, 59-26! Two sentences led to a 40 point swing in the horse race. We don't see that happen very often. (Here's the likely future Neumann line of attack on Thompson that we read: "While Tommy Thompson was Governor, he more than doubled state spending and increased government bureaucracy. Then he endorsed Obamacare, President Obama’s $1- trillion-dollar government takeover of health care.")

Thompson is already vulnerable with the far right. On the original ballot question he trailed 54-38 with 'very conservative' voters, but made up for that with a 57-21 advantage among moderates and a 48-33 one with 'somewhat conservative' voters. After the rigor of a primary campaign his situation will be far worse. He's made a successful career out of being a moderate Republican, but there may not be a place for that anymore in today''s Tea Party dominated GOP. I will be very surprised if he snags the nomination.

On the Democratic side in Wisconsin we didn't even bother testing Russ Feingold this month because if he runs, he'll be the Democratic nominee, end of story. If Feingold sits it out Tammy Baldwin is looking like the early favorite. In a three way race with Ron Kind and Steve Kagen she leads with 37% to 21% for Kind and 15% for Kagen. And in just a two way race with Kagen she leads 48-19.

Certainly Baldwin is at her strongest in the three way race with voters describing themselves as 'very liberal,' with whom she leads Kagen by 42 points and Kind by 47. But she's also up 19 on Kind and 31 on Kagen with voters identifying just as 'somewhat liberal' and even with moderates she basically runs even with Kind, getting 23% to his 24% with Kagen back at 16%. In the head to head with Kagen, Baldwin is up double digits with every ideology group. If she runs and Feingold doesn't, she's going to be pretty difficult to beat in a primary.

Full results here

This week's poll choices

We're due up for our national poll this week, which I'm pretty excited about given all the recent changes in the GOP race. We're also going to do one individual state poll. Here are the choices:

-Connecticut. With a lot of ground to defend next year this is definitely one Senate seat Democrats could live with not having to worry about- would a Chris Shays candidacy put it in play for the GOP?

-Kentucky. It's now less than three months until the general election for Governor there and we haven't polled the race a single time this year. In addition to that I'm very interested to see how Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell's approval numbers are holding up.

-Iowa. Obviously it'll be interesting to see what the Republican numbers look like in a post-Pawlenty exit, post-Perry entrance landscape. And beyond that the general election numbers in this difficult period for Barack Obama would be interesting to see as well.

-South Carolina. Seeing the numbers post-Perry entrance is the most interesting thing here as well and one reason you could argue for polling South Carolina over Iowa is that there will probably be a lot of Iowa polls in the next few weeks but we seem to be about the only company looking at SC with any sort of regularity.

-West Virginia. The general election for this Gubernatorial race is now less than two months away and it's probably going to be closer than the one in Kentucky. Also good to get the regular refresh on how Joe Manchin is holding up.

Voting will be open until 5 PM today.
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