Friday, August 22, 2008

Civitas Polls

Civitas has released its newest round of numbers this week and the big news is Kay Hagan continuing to move up on Elizabeth Dole. Hagan now just trails by three points, 44-41. This despite Hagan continuing to get less than 70% of the votes of self identified Democrats, a figure which can only improve.

Civitas was in the field from last Thursday to Sunday. We went into the field on Wednesday. The impact on the race's numbers of an extra week of the DSCC ad about Dole's effectiveness as well as Hagan's own ad campaign? We still have more folks to interview but there is a very good chance Hagan will be in the lead based on the first two days of this poll.

They show the race for Governor basically unchanged with Bev Perdue leading Pat McCrory 43-41. In our poll last month we showed most of the Democratic ticket in essentially the same position it had found itself in June, but with Perdue significantly expanding her lead. Usually if one of the candidates makes a leap and none of the rest in their party do it's because something real is happening, like in the Senate race. But it could have just been one of those occasional flukes of polling- we'll see next week.

One thing I found interesting in their poll was this test for the Supreme Court race where they asked the question both identifying and not identifying the candidates' parties. When they gave party labels in July 69% of respondents had a preference, with Democrat Suzanne Reynolds leading 36-33. When they took the party labels off in August just 26% picked one of the candidates with Reynolds still leading 14-12.

Civitas uses this to bolster an argument for partisan judicial elections and I don't necessarily disagree. Sometimes people in power over react to a single bad incident and make decisions without considering the fact that things will turn back around in the future. Case in point the move by legislative Democrats to go to nonpartisan judicial elections after the disastrous result of the 2002 contest.

Yeah that was a bad year for Democrats, but they lost a Court of Appeals seat in 2006 between Linda Stephens and Donna Stroud that they surely would have won if party labels had been on the ballot in that Democratic year. Democrats may sweep the Judicial elections this year anyway, but again, I think it would be a slam dunk with party labels on the ballot.

Changing the rules because of one really bad election year may have been short sighted- and party labels on the ballot does make it much easier for voters.


Anonymous said...

The non-partisan / public funding legislation was passed during the 2002 short session, effective for the 2004 cycle. So, it would not have been a response to the results that year. While 1998 and 2000 were not as bad for the Democrats, there was definitely a belief that having an R by a candidates name was a plus in a judicial race. One of the interesting things about the Civitas analysis is the implicit assumption that having voters pick judges based solely on party affiliation is a good thing. Every voter in this state has a voter guide mailed to his or her house in advance of the election, made possible by the public financing legislation. One would assume that actual information about the candidates might be a better way to inform the public. Of course, no one has received that information for the 2008 election yet, so no poll is going to reflect the effect (whatever that might be) of the voter guide.

Tom Jensen said...

Thanks for the correction on the timeline...I was morphing events together!

I'd like to believe people pay much attention to that voter guide but I'm afraid they probably don't.

Anonymous said...

Probably so. I do see some people carry them in to the polls, but that is a small percentage. The Center for Voter Education did a poll on use of the guide a few years ago. I don't recall the specifics, but the upshot was that those who used it found it helpful, and a fair percentage remembered receiving it.

Web Statistics