Friday, July 31, 2009

Coming next week

We're going to have our Virginia poll. Tuesday will be the newest numbers for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General and then Wednesday we'll have the latest on Barack Obama's popularity in the state, what impact he and Sarah Palin would have in campaigning for Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell respectively, and whether Virginians think he was born in the United States or not.

In a result making me want to bang my head against the table, the first round of calls for our Virginia poll this afternoon founds voters in the state almost evenly split on whether they thought the President was born in the US. We're polling North Carolina next week, and I am almost definitely going to throw a question on there asking people whether they think Hawaii is a state or not.

Speaking of that, we'll be finalizing the North Carolina questionnaire on Monday and if you think there are any burning questions we need to ask there might be room for one or two more.

Follow us on twitter, and have a good weekend!

Party ID and the Obama decline

Barack Obama's approval is clearly on the decline and there's been a lot of bad polling recently for Democrats related to 2009 and 2010 races but one thing that doesn't seen to be changing concurrently is the nation's party identification breakdown.

If you look at this handy chart keeps of party id among registered and likely voters, it's basically flat since January. Overall Democrats have a 38-31 advantage over Republicans, almost unchanged from the 39/32 spread exit polls showed nationally on election day in November.

So if there's no party id shift but Dems are polling poorly, what's going on? Two things:

1) Independents aren't reacting as well to Democrats now as they were a year or six months ago, which is not surprising. They'll be back with us this time next year if there's significant progress on the economy and if not they probably won't.

2) Republicans are getting hyper partisan. We are frequently finding approval ratings of less than 15% among them for Obama and some Governors and Senators in our state by state polling. It's usually not that low.

Given the fact that there hasn't been a major shift in the partisan landscape Democrats will be fine next year if they can get their folks out and get back to the break even point with independents. Of course that might be easier said than done- sure isn't happening in New Jersey and Virginia right now.

Perdue not rubbing off yet

I thought the most interesting thing in this month's Civitas poll was that despite Bev Perdue's remarkable unpopularity Democrats still lead on the generic legislative ballot 43-33, a spread that if it played out in real life I think could even increase the party's majorities in the House and Senate.

I don't think folks are real thrilled with how things are going in Raleigh, but legislative Republicans still come off as too extreme and spend too much time and overheated rhetoric on opposing bills that are well within the mainstream of public opinion in the state. They have not presented themselves as a viable alternative for most voters.

Now if things are really bad for the President and Democrats nationally, the GOP in the state can probably say whatever it wants and do well at the polls in 2010. But there have been cycles that were bad for Democrats nationally- 2004 is the most recent example- where they still stayed in control of the legislature due to Republicans having bad candidate recruitment, bad campaigns, and a bad message.

15 months out it looks like that could happen again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More on Corzine and Obama

The poll we released yesterday showed that only 18% of New Jersey voters were more likely to vote for Jon Corzine because of Barack Obama campaigning for him, while 32% said they were less likely to do so.

On the surface that may seem like Obama's potential positive impact is limited. But our poll also found that Corzine was lagging with blacks and Hispanics, two groups Obama continues to be very popular with both in the state and nationally.

So a more pertinent way to look at Obama's impact may be to consider his impact on minority swing voters- those either undecided or open to changing their minds between now and the election.

Those folks make up about 10% of the electorate, and right now support Corzine only 34-28. At the same time they approve of Obama's job performance by a 73/12 margin and 33% of them say his help makes them more inclined to support Corzine with just 4% saying it makes them less likely to do so.

Obama's not coming to New Jersey to win over conservative Republicans- he's coming to both win over these folks and increase the quantity of them who head out to the polls. And it appears Corzine may be able to get at least some traction with these folks by playing the Obama card- although we'll have to see come October whether the President's popular enough that's something Corzine wants to splash on tv or target more specifically with direct mail.

Polling in Virginia

About a month ago we showed Barack Obama's approval down to 48% in Virginia. That was before his numbers started really declining in most national polls and at the time came as quite a surprise given the 52% he received there last November.

Then last week SurveyUSA released its monthly round of state level approval polling, and while they found him down everywhere it was particularly pronounced in Virginia, where he dropped all the way too 44%.

Both our poll and that SurveyUSA poll showed a party identification breakdown for the state of D+1, which I think is reasonable. Two polls don't make a firm conclusion, but is there any reason folks can think of why Obama would be doing worse in Virginia relative to his performance last year than other places?

A separate Virginia poll SUSA put out yesterday showed Bob McDonnell up 15 points on Creigh Deeds, but was criticized because those sampled reported having voted for John McCain by nine points, quite different than Obama's six point victory in the state last fall.

Although I doubt the electorate there this fall will be that Republican leaning, it is worth noting that we have found very little interest in the election from black and young voters who were so pivotal to Democratic success in the state last fall. So I would not be shocked if those who turn out this year split evenly or had some lean toward McCain last year. We're going to ask that on our poll of the state this weekend.

Speaking of which, we pretty much have the poll written but if anybody has interesting question ideas I'm open to them.

Politics of Sotomayor

Richard Burr's opposing the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, and it's not going to do him any political damage.

There are a couple basic reasons for that. The first is that there's not a meaningful Hispanic vote in North Carolina yet. The second that is that most voters are paying little to no attention to the confirmation process- this is not exactly something that was going to show up in a tv ad (at least an effective one!) no matter how Burr voted.

The biggest reason though is he did what was expected- voted the conservative Republican Party line as he has on pretty much everything for the last four years. He's not going to get whacked for this issue more than he would on any other issue.

I don't think there's really any help or hurt for Republicans who oppose Sotomayor- that's just seen as the party line. But there may be some advantage in going outside the box and supporting her. Just look at Chris Christie in New Jersey- he said she should be confirmed and now has a 50-33 lead with Hispanics in our most recent poll even as 67% of them approve of Barack Obama's job performance. We'll see if that bump is real or temporary but either way it's an eye opener.

If Burr had supported Sotomayor he would have had good material for a mailer to suburban independents and Democrats showing that he was willing to be more than an obstructionist . But ultimately this is not going to play a role next year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

25 days later...the impact of Palin's resignation

Since Sarah Palin announced she was going to resign we've done two national polls and four state level ones that included questions about what's the verdict?

She's not in any worse of a position now than she was before July 3rd, but she was already in a pretty bad position then if her goal is to be President.

In national surveys we conducted in May and June Palin's favorability with American voters averaged out to 43/50. In two polls conducted since she announced her resignation it's been 47/45. So there's been a slight improvement on that front.

In a hypothetical contest against Barack Obama she went from trailing 52-40 in June to 51-43 in July. That reduction in her margin against Obama probably reflects a decline in his popularity more than a gain in hers.

Her national numbers are where we have before and after comparisons from the resignation. In the state polls we just have to compare her performance against Obama to John McCain's.

-In North Carolina Obama beat McCain 50-49 and leads Palin 49-42 in a possible contest.
-In Louisiana McCain beat Obama 59-40, Palin leads 49-42 in the hypothetical.
-In Minnesota Obama won 54-44 and leads Palin 56-35 in a prospective match.

In that trio of states then Palin's running an average of ten points worse than McCain did. And that's probably what it comes down to- her popularity hasn't decreased since she resigned probably because most folks who were inclined to dislike her already did. But she still has a lot of ground to make up to even match McCain's performance at the polls last year and obviously that wasn't nearly good enough.

Perdue and Obama

Remember the constant drama last year about whether Bev Perdue was going to want to appear with Barack Obama on various campaign visits? I think it's safe to say any question about that has passed.

Consider these figures:

-83% of the North Carolinians who approve of Bev Perdue's performance also approve of Obama's.
-Only 42% of the ones who approve of Obama's performance also approve of Perdue's.

In other words Perdue has a whole lot more to gain from being seen with Obama at this point than vice versa. As she tries to rebuild her public support the folks who like Obama but not her are a pretty good place to start. 72% of them are Democrats, 36% are black, 59% are women, 80% are either liberals or moderates. All of those are groups Perdue cleaned up with at the polls but has lost support from since she took office...she'll need their support not just to get reelected but also to generate any sort of momentum for her policy agenda.

I don't think anyone foresaw the day where a black President from Chicago would have an approval rating twice as good in North Carolina as a white Governor from down east!

Ventures in Social Media

You can now follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook group.

Why should you? The Twitter account in particular might contain teases of poll results before they come out to a greater extent than we currently do on the blog and if you're already on twitter you'll see content quicker. And we'll be using both venues not just to take suggestions for where we should poll in certain weeks but also to do more in terms of soliciting ideas for individual questions on polls.

So join up!

Obama and Palin in New Jersey

51% of New Jersey voters say that Barack Obama coming to campaign for Jon Corzine had no impact on their choice for Governor, while only 38% say that Sarah Palin coming to campaign for Chris Christie would have no effect. When's the last time that six months into the term of a new administration the losing Vice Presidential candidate was more polarizing than the sitting President?

Overall voters in the state don't seem too interested in hearing from major national political figures about who they should support for Governor. Although Obama maintains a 53% approval rating in the state, the same as a month ago, only 18% of respondents say that his campaigning for Corzine made them more likely to support the Governor for reelection. 32% said his appearance made them less likely to do so.

Christie's decision not to have Palin in to campaign for him appears to be a prudent one. 42% of respondents said her appearance would make them less likely to vote for Christie with only 19% saying it would make them more likely to do so.

Here's where the Palin numbers are a lot more pertinent than the Obama ones though: only 2% of the people who said the Obama visit made them less inclined to vote for Corzine support him anyway. But among the people who said that a Palin visit would make them less likely to vote for Christie 25% were currently planning to support him. He would have a lot to lose with his moderate and Democratic supporters from a Palin appearance and little to gain since he already has the GOP base lined up behind him.

On another note New Jersey's Senators continue to be pretty unpopular with Frank Lautenberg's approval rating at 40% and Robert Menendez's at 29%.

Full results here

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gender not doing Perdue any favors

Bev Perdue may be North Carolina's first female Governor, but that's not getting her any sympathy from her fellow women as her approval rating continues on a downward spiral.

An average of PPP's last three monthly approval polls actually finds her less popular among women than men. On average 28% of women have approved of her job performance, with 53% disapproving. The numbers have been slightly better with men, as 32% approve to 52% disapproving.

For the sake of comparison, Kay Hagan is much more popular among women than men. 33% of women approve of the job she's doing while only 24% disapprove, compared to 41% of men disapproving and only 31% approving.

Female politicians, and especially Democratic female politicians, tend to be more popular with women than men. But Perdue is breaking the trend.

What Conservative Dems in NC are thinking about Obama

Conservative Democrats might be the most powerful group of voters in North Carolina. When they decide to stick with the party- like they did for the most part last fall- Democrats win up and down the ballot in North Carolina. When a lot of them cross over and vote Republican, as has been the case particularly in many federal races over the last 30+ years, their support allows GOP candidates to overcome the party's large registration gap in the state.

So six months into a new administration and on the dawn of what seems likely to be another hotly contested Senate election in the state, what is this important bloc thinking about things?

They're giving the President pretty good reviews- a 64% approval rating with 29% disapproving.

The economy has a lot to do with that. Many socially conservative Democrats in the state who might usually have voted Republican because their values are at odds with national Democrats stuck with Obama last fall because their overwhelming concern was getting the economy turned around. 50% of conservative Democrats still say the economy is their top issue and that's a good thing for Obama because among the 14% who say it's moral and family values his approval is only 27%.

Looking at it from another angle, only 21% of conservative Dems think that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. But they still like Obama anyway. His ability to hold onto those folks is going to be predicated on getting the economy turned around though, because if he can't produce results there his divergent views from them on social issues might become a bigger problem.

Tomorrow we'll look at where Richard Burr is in terms of getting the crossover support he needs from this group for reelection.

Christie up 14

PPP's newest look at the New Jersey contest for Governor finds Chris Christie leading Jon Corzine 50-36. That 14 point margin is up from 10 in our June survey.

Christie continues to hold a commanding lead with independents, 54-26, and is receiving 86% of the Republican vote while holding Corzine to just 64% of the Democrats.

Negative advertising against Christie does not seem to be having any effect on voter perceptions of him. 42% have a favorable opinion of him with 32% holding an unfavorable one, numbers virtually unchanged from a 43/33 spread a month ago. Corzine's numbers are pretty much the same as well with 56% of the electorate viewing him negatively and 33% positively after those numbers were 56 and 36 in June.

If there's a silver lining for Corzine it's that 14% of voters are undecided and beyond that 25% of folks currently preferring either Christie or Corzine say that they're open to changing their minds. That leaves Christie with a 37-27 lead among voters who say their minds are completely made up and 36% at least somewhat persuadable. 47% of the folks who fall into that group are Democrats while just 26% are Republicans so if Corzine can convince his base voters to come home the race will likely tighten up over the last three months.

Corzine's biggest problem right now might be lacking support from minority voters. He's up only 64-20 with black voters, well below the usual 80% on up that Democratic candidates win in that demographics, and he's actually trailing 50-33 among Hispanics. Christie's public statement of support for the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor may be doing him some good.

Corzine's weakness with those groups may lead some to think we got a conservative leaning sample of blacks and Hispanics, but Barack Obama's approval rating is 92% with the blacks we polled and among the Hispanics it was 67%. He has some work to do with those groups to get reelected this fall.

Given his remarkable unpopularity with independents, Corzine's going to need to move that 64% of the Democratic vote he's getting right now closer to the 90% range if he's going to get reelected. For now Chris Christie has to like where he's standing.

Full results here

Charlotte Polling

Jim Morrill reports on dueling polls between Anthony Foxx and John Lassiter in Charlotte.

The Cornerstone Solutions poll showing Lassiter with a 16 point lead is clearly not rooted in reality. It's not clear to me that this group has done any public polling before and they may not have mastered the concept of weighting yet: in a city where 33% of the population is black we would expect the African American share of the electorate in a municipal election to fall somewhere in the 27-33% range rather than the 14% cited in this poll.

Simply taking their data and reweighting it for an electorate that is 65% white, 30% black, and 5% other you would find Lassiter with a five point lead, well within the margin of error.

And that of course doesn't take into account the highly unlikely finding in the poll that Foxx is earning just 41% of the Democratic vote while Lassiter has already locked up 79% of the Republican vote.

I see a lot of bad polls, but I think this is the worst one I've seen in a long time.

Full disclosure, we placed robocalls for Foxx during his reelection campaign. But if a Democratic oriented group with no track record put out a shoddy poll showing him with a 16 point lead I'd say the same thing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bunning retirement good news for Republicans

Jim Bunning's retirement is intuitively good news for Republicans but our polling data backs it up too.

In April we found that:

-Jack Conway led Bunning 42-33 but Trey Grayson only 37-33
-Dan Mongiardo led Bunning 43-36 but trailed Grayson 40-36

So the race goes from one that Democrats almost certainly would have won to one that will start out as a tossup.

The money number in New Jersey


That's the percentage of the Democratic vote Jon Corzine is getting against Chris Christie in the poll we'll be releasing tomorrow.

That cuts both ways. It shows how much trouble the Governor is having stirring the party base in advance of this fall's election. But it means he also has a lot of room to grow if he can convince them to come home by November.

That's been the story of many a New Jersey election in recent years- good early polling for Republicans that turns to defeat as Democrats get on the same page- we'll see if Corzine can keep that pattern or if Christie will manage to break the trend.

Health Care not a top concern for North Carolinians

Health care may be dominating the debate in Washington right now, but the recent prominence of the issue has not moved it too far up the list of North Carolinians' top issues in recent months.

Right now 8% of voters say that health care is their top concern. In July of 2008 it was 5%. In January of this year it was 4% and in April it was 9%.

The top three issues continue to be the economy and jobs at 48%, moral and family values at 14%, and education at 11%.

Among the voters who do list health care as their paramount concern, there is a lot of support for Barack Obama. 87% of those folks approve of his job performance, compared to a 49% approval rating overall.

Obama's visit this week may be an indicator that folks in DC are looking to North Carolina as a battleground in this fight, but the extent to which the issue is really grabbing the attention of the broader public and not just the usual political junkies is pretty unclear.

A different way of looking at poll demographics

We all know that looking at the party breakdown of a state's voters isn't necessarily the best way to figure out how inclined it is to vote Democratic or Republican in a Presidential election. For instance Louisiana and West Virginia are Democratic states as far as party identification goes, but they're not likely to vote for a Democratic Presidential candidate any time soon. Virginia and Alabama are both pretty evenly divided on the party id front, but John McCain won a landslide victory in the latter while Barack Obama took a closer but still solid one in the former.

This chart shows the states we've polled in the last few months from most Democratic to least Democratic, along with the 2008 results:


Party ID

2008 Results

West Virginia


McCain +13



Obama +25



Obama +4

North Carolina


Obama +1

New Jersey


Obama +15



Obama +14



McCain +19



Obama +10



Obama +6



McCain +21

As you can see, not a lot of correlation. So if party ID isn't the best barometer for telling how inclined a state is to vote Democratic or Republican for President, what is?

I think the percentage of voters in a state who identify as conservatives is a pretty good start. Looking at these ten states, there's not an entirely linear relationship between the proportion of voters who describe themselves as conservatives and how they voted last fall, but it certainly comes a lot closer than using the party id measure:


% of Conservatives

2008 Results



McCain +19



McCain +21

West Virginia


McCain +13

North Carolina


Obama +1



Obama +10



Obama +6



Obama +15



Obama +10



Obama +4

New Jersey


Obama +13

Two closing thoughts:

-People frequently bash poll results they don't like by criticizing the party id breakdown, but it might actually be more relevant to take a closer look at the ideological breakdown.

-What other measures of a state's electorate do you think can better predict Presidential voting patterns than party id breakdowns?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming next week

It's New Jersey week at PPP. We will of course look at the horse race for Governor, as well as approval ratings for the state's Senators and the President.

We also asked about the potential impact of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin coming to the state to campaign for their party's gubernatorial candidates: voters aren't all that interested in hearing from either of them about New Jersey politics.

Stay tuned starting Tuesday...then we'll have Virginia the week after that.

Why liberals never get what they want

Democrats have control of the White House and both branches of Congress, but progressive voters still aren't seeing much of what they want policy wise put into action. Why is that?

Part of it is the inertia of Washington, but another part is that the political parties just don't have to fight over liberal voters the way they do moderates and conservatives.

Take our last national poll as an example- 82% of liberals are Democrats, 11% are independents, and 7% are Republicans. Not a lot of variety there.

Moderates are a lot more split. 50% are Democrats, 28% are independents, and 22% are Republicans.

Conservatives are more one sided than moderates, but a lot less so than liberals. 63% are Republicans, 22% are independents, and 15% are Democrats.

Looking at these numbers, you can see why Democratic leaders sometimes seem willing to take liberal voters for granted while trying harder to curry favor with moderates and conservatives. With no viable alternative to the Democrats for liberal voters in the current political system, party leaders can play to the middle or right without much risk.

The states where Obama's doing better and why

So far in 2009 PPP has polled on Barack Obama's approval rating in 16 states. In four of them, his approval is more than three points greater than the percentage of the vote he earned at the polls in November. Every one of them is a southern state he lost by a healthy margin: Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Kentucky. He's by no means popular in these states now- fewer than half the voters in each approve of the job he's doing- but it's an interesting trend.

It's occurring largely among white Democrats:


Obama Approval

Obama White Democratic Vote in 11-08

Obama White Democratic Approval

















I think most analysts' first instinct in discussing how poorly Obama did with white Democrats in these states would be to blame it on racism, but the fact that his approval ratings are now at least six points better than his share of the vote with that demographic leads me to consider another possible conclusion: maybe those voters just really liked John McCain. Even stripping away the races of the two candidates, it's not a stretch that to conservative white Democrats in SEC country McCain's profile would be more appealing than Obama's.

We can't authoritatively solve the question of whether racism was the major factor for these voters or not, but we probably can conclude that with a group of voters that was clearly skeptical of him last fall Obama has won over some converts. Certainly not enough to put these states in the Democratic column in 2012 or any time soon, but perhaps enough to keep Obama from being quite as much of a drag on Democratic candidates in these places as GOP strategists might hope he would be.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is McCrory the best GOP hope?

Today Civitas released numbers showing that Pat McCrory would beat Bev Perdue 46-32 in a possible rematch. That's really a no brainer given the Governor's approval ratings, but the bigger takeaway for me from the poll is that McCrory's numbers are pretty underwhelming.

McCrory got 47% of the vote last fall but despite Perdue's remarkable unpopularity he doesn't improve on that at all in this poll. McCrory got good reviews as a candidate last fall but perhaps his stronger than expected performance had more to do with the eventual winner's campaign being underwhelming than anything having to do with himself. I almost think McCrory's standing in this poll is similar to that of a generic Republican- would a Fred Smith, Phil Berger, or Sue Myrick necessarily have polled any worse? I think McCrory's Gubernatorial campaign was pretty overrated.

The overall situation surrounding Perdue reminds me a lot of the Washington Governor's race and Christine Gregoire four years ago. Gregoire just barely snuck into office after a much closer than expected challenge from Republican Dino Rossi. The early part of her term was rocky- in May 2005 her approval rating was just 34%, ranking her 47th out of 50 for popularity in SurveyUSA's tracking for that month.

After Rossi's tight defeat the party automatically went back to him for a second go around in 2008 and despite Gregoire's first year difficulties she dispatched him by a much more lopsided six point margin in the rematch.

I have no doubt Bev Perdue would lose if there was an election today. But there isn't, three and a half years is a lifetime in politics for things to shift back in her direction, and these numbers don't make McCrory look all that impressive either. Folks gleefully declaring Perdue a one term Governor based on her approval rating six months in might be right, but I still think there's a better than even chance they're wrong.

Where Obama's losing support

Barack Obama's approval rating peaked in our national polling at 55% in May and is now down to 50%.

A deeper analysis of where shifts in his approval are occurring finds that he's not having any trouble with his base. His numbers with conservative Democrats have actually slightly improved over the last two months to a 72% approval rating, an indication that while the health care battle may be making some Congressmen on the right side of his party uneasy it's not affecting Obama's popularity with that group of voters. He's a couple points up with liberal Democrats and three points down with moderates, trends that basically cancel each other out.

His main drop has been with his moderate Republican support. He was doing decently well with that group of voters earlier in his term, sporting a 38% approval rating. That's now been cut in half to 19%. He's also seen some decline with moderate independents. Although he is still at a solid 55%, that's down from 63% in May. Our polling finds that those voters' top concern is overwhelmingly the economy and they'll support whatever party they find making it better. His drop there may be a reflection of growing impatience that the stimulus has not had a more immediately visible impact.

Here's the full data on his shifts over the last two months:


Obama Approval in May

Obama Approval in July


Moderate Republicans




Moderate Independents




Conservative Republicans




Moderate Democrats




Conservative Independents




Liberal Democrats




Conservative Democrats




Question of the Day

Are the birthers nonpartisan?

Here's an e-mail we got yesterday:

From: Rebecca Sage []
Sent: Wed 7/22/2009 2:54 PM
To: PPP Information
Subject: FYI Jindal is NOT a natural born citizen

FYI. Jindal cannot run for President. He is not a natural born citizen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Perdue's drop by voter group

In four months Bev Perdue's approval spread has gone from 44/35 to 25/55. I know conservatives want to claim it's all because she went public supporting a tax increase but her biggest drop actually came from April to May before she did that, so while I certainly wouldn't dispute that's part of what's going on I don't think it's the biggest thing.

Perdue's biggest declines in approval have come among moderate Democrats (a 30% drop) and liberal Democrats (a 24% drop). Those are the two party/ideology groups most likely to be opposed to huge spending cuts and most open to tax increases so there has to be something more to what's going on here.

I offered some theories last week, but here's my big question: why is Bev Perdue so unpopular, especially with her base? Is it lack of overall vision, failure to support progressive legislation, not being visible enough? We're interested in doing a poll digging deeper about why Perdue is where she is and any ideas you have about why that can be translated into coherent poll questions are very welcome.

This chart shows her overall approval decline by party/ideology group comparing March and July:


Perdue Approval in March

Perdue Approval in July


Moderate Democrats




Liberal Democrats




Moderate Independents




Conservative Democrats




Moderate Republicans




Conservative Republicans




Conservative Independents



No Change

Is Romney weak with conservatives?

Mitt Romney has had some great polling news lately- he was tied with Barack Obama nationally in a Rasmussen survey on Monday and a Gallup poll last week showed him with an early lead for the 2012 GOP nomination.

Our last two national polls are starting to show a trend that wouldn't bode too well for his chances of surviving the Republican primary contest though: he lags the other hopefuls in his popularity among conservative party voters.

Our poll this month showed 81% of conservative Republicans with a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin with 73% having a positive one about Mike Huckabee and 72% doing the same for Newt Gingrich. But for Romney the figure is just 58%.

That fits the same general trend as our June survey. Then 83% viewed Palin favorably to 79% for Huckabee, 77% for Gingrich, and 69% for Romney.

It's just two polls and we'll have to follow the trend to see if it continues, but Romney is well behind his fellow contenders in popularity among conservative Republicans, and obviously those are the voters who dominate GOP primary electorates.

The Politics of the Budget Deal

Well I'll tell you I don't envy the task North Carolina legislators had in crafting a budget deal one little bit. That's a tough job. But if their goal was to put together a package that would do the least damage politically I don't think they accomplished it.

Our polling last month showed that when you ask voters straight up, 51% said the budget should be balanced solely by spending cuts while 32% said it should be a mixture of spending cuts and new taxes.

But when we asked voters about some specific tax proposals they were a lot more supportive. For instance 60% favored raising income taxes just on those who make more than $200,000. 53% supported a one dollar per pack increase in the cigarette tax and 60% supported a 5% surcharge on alcohol purchases.

There was public support for those things because they don't affect the average North Carolinian- most of us don't make more than 200k and most of us don't smoke.

Here's how I think most voters in the state would look at the budget crisis:

Other people's taxes raised>massive spending cuts>my taxes being raised

In the end of course we ended up with that least popular option- raising everyone's income taxes instead of focusing on the very rich and holding down the extent of the sin tax increases while increasing the sales taxes everyone has to pay.

I can't speak to whether that's the right or wrong way to balance the budget- but politically I think it's about the most unpopular way of dealing with the hole that the Legislature could have come up with.

Jindal near tops for popularity

Bobby Jindal's approval rating with Louisiana voters is 55%, and while voters in the state don't want him to run for President in 2012 they'll vote for him if he does.

Jindal's popularity in the state ranks him third among 17 Governors PPP has polled on around the country so far in 2009, trailing only Arkansas' Mike Beebe and Delaware's Jack Markell. That's certainly a testament to his appeal, but it also says something about how unpopular Governors are right now that a 55% approval can put you in the 80th percentile.

80% of Republicans, 59% of independents, and 32% of Democrats give Jindal good reviews. That level of crossover support is pretty unusual in this highly polarized nation.

Despite (or maybe because of) his popularity most voters in the state wish Jindal would pass on a possible 2012 Presidential bid. Just 27% say they would like to see him run while 61% say he should not. That's a combination of his supporters wishing he would stay right where he is and his detractors not wanting him to rise any higher.

Nevertheless in a potential contest against Barack Obama, Jindal leads 54-40, including a 61-29 advantage among independents.

50% of Louisianans disapprove of Obama's job performance so far with just 44% rating him positively, no great surprise in a state that he lost by 20 points last November. Obama has the support of 74% of Democrats, 30% of independents, and 12% of Republicans. While 91% of African Americans think he's doing a good job, only 25% of whites do.

We also looked at Sarah Palin. 46% of voters have a positive opinion of her with 42% unfavorable, and she leads Obama 49-42 in a potential contest.

It's interesting in comparing how Palin and Jindal stack up against Obama that she does almost as well as Jindal among Democrats, but has leads smaller than his by ten points or more with Republicans and independents.

Finally, Mary Landrieu's reviews are split right down the middle, with 43% approving and 43% disapproving of her job performance.

Full results here

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Independents going Republican pretty universally

In the last month PPP has polled on 16 different actual or potential 2009 or 2010 contests for Governor and Senator around the country, and in 13 of those independent voters have favored the Republican candidate.

Part of that has to do with the decreasing number of Americans identifying as Republicans in recent years. While they're eschewing the party's label, they're still conservative and more often than not voting for the party's candidates. An analysis we did last week found more than three times as many conservatives as liberals in the independent ranks nationally, and that in some of the states we've polled recently that gap is as wide as 7:1.

Nevertheless Democrats last year, including President Obama, did quite well with independents. This early success the GOP is having with them looking toward 2012 does seem to indicate a certain level of support for more divided government moving forward, as well as some dissatisfaction with the President and Democrats in Congress.

Here are the numbers among independents for races we've polled recently:

Most immediately Bob McDonnell has a 54-33 lead over Creigh Deeds in Virginia and Chris Christie has a 60-26 one over Jon Corzine in New Jersey.

On our Louisiana poll today David Vitter led a generic Democrat 45-27 and Charlie Melancon 43-25.

On the North Carolina poll we released last week Richard Burr had a 38-28 lead with independents on the generic ballot, a 39-21 one over Cal Cunningham, and a 39-22 one over Kenneth Lewis.

Norm Coleman trailed two out of three potential Democratic opponents we pitted him against for Governor overall, but he still led all three with indies. It was 39-31 over Mark Dayton, 36-34 over RT Rybak, and 43-24 over Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

In Ohio Ted Strickland narrowly led John Kasich overall, but was down 54-33 with independents.

In Wisconsin Jim Doyle had a 55-30 deficit against Scott Walker and a 48-30 one against Mark Neumann.

The only Democrats breaking the trend were Jennifer Brunner and Lee Fisher in the Ohio Senate race, holding leads of nine and one points respectively, and Russ Feingold with a 45-38 lead over Paul Ryan.

Assessing a Democratic primary

With the news this morning that Elaine Marshall is seriously considering a Senate run, somebody posed the question to me: wouldn't that be game over for the Democratic nomination?

That train of thought makes sense- you would expect somebody with more than a decade in statewide office to be able to easily dispatch a one term state senator (Cal Cunningham) and someone who has never served in any elected office (Kenneth Lewis).

But it's really not the case. When we polled it in March 43% of Democratic voters said they had a favorable opinion of Marshall while 50% said they had no opinion. She certainly has more name recognition than Lewis (70% no opinion in a May poll) and Cunningham (67% no opinion in a February poll), but none of them are very well known. Secretary of State just isn't a headline winning position.

Marshall would doubtless lead in early polling of a potential primary contest but probably not by a wide margin. The vast majority of voters would be making their decisions based on the campaigns the contenders ran, rather than starting out knowing who they're going to vote for based just on who the candidates are as is often the case when more high profile people are involved. At that point it comes down to who can raise the most money and spend it the most effectively, and it's not clear anyone out of the Marshall/Lewis/Cunningham trio has the inherent edge on that front.

At this point it is unlikely there is anyone who could decide to run for the Senate and clear the field. Last year a contested primary actually ended up working to Kay Hagan's benefit, and that may end up being the case again for whoever the Democrats choose next May- or maybe even June if a runoff is necessary as the field expands.
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