Thursday, September 1, 2011

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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.
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