Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dems against Obama on Health Care

Here's an interesting fact:

The Democrats on our most recent national poll who said that they're opposed to Barack Obama's health care plan...didn't vote for him anyway! They report having supported John McCain by a 53-26 margin last fall. And 53% of them have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin!

Amazing how many Congressional Dems want to pander to the Palin wing of the party.

A word on our Virginia party id numbers

When we put out our Virginia poll yesterday with a party breakdown of 37% Democrats, 29% Republicans, and 34% independents people who wanted to discredit its results were quick to jump to the 'the sample is biased!' cry.

First off, for the umpteenth time, we don't weight for party. So we didn't 'create' those figures, the likely voters in Virginia did.

Let's dig a little deeper.

Our final Virginia Presidential poll last year was right on the mark. We said Barack Obama would take the state 52-46 and that's what happened. The party breakdown of the poll was 40% Democrats, 35% Republicans, and 25% independents.

Let's compare that to this week's poll: a 9% increase in independents since then with a 3% decline in Democrats and a 6% decline in Republicans.

Now let's take a bit of a deeper look at those independents. We found Barack Obama winning them 49/47 last year. Now his approval with them is a dreadful 35/56 and Creigh Deeds trails Bob McDonnell 53-37 with them as well.

A significant decrease in Republicans and a sudden significant rightward turn in the independent ranks? Pretty clear those two things are correlated. Those Republican voters from last year are still there. They're just not identifying as Republicans any more. But whether they identify themselves as Republicans or independents they're certainly still conservatives, and that's reflected in their appraisals of the President and who they plan to vote for this fall.

The spread between Democrats and Republicans in the party id breakdown becomes a lot less consequential when the independent ranks are so skewed in one direction.

Virginians on the right wing media

Roughly equal numbers of Virginians have a positive opinion of two of the country's leading right wing mouthpieces. Rush Limbaugh's at 30% and Glenn Beck's at 28%. For his increasing prominence of late though Beck can't come close to Limbaugh in inspiring liberal hatred. 54% of Virginians have an unfavorable view of Limbaugh to just 37% for Beck.

The main reason I asked this poll question was to see how conservatives perceived the two- whether Beck had caught up to Limbaugh in popularity and also who those folks viewed as being the more influential.

Their net favorabilities with conservatives are equal at +49 but Limbaugh continues to be better known. He's at 65/16 to Beck's 57/8. 42% think Limbaugh is the more powerful of the pair to 22% for Beck.

Overall 38% of Virginians think Limbaugh is the more influential compared to 16% for Beck. You have to imagine that six months ago no one would have picked Beck though so it's still a pretty remarkable testament to how fast his stock has risen.

Even though independents are supporting Bob McDonnell 53-37 against Creigh Deeds, a majority of them have an unfavorable opinion of Limbaugh. Maybe Deeds needs to run an ad where McDonnell's face morphs into Limbaugh's! (Just kidding but does anyone know if that has actually been done in a race before with Limbaugh?)

Full results here

The Wilder Effect

Did Doug Wilder do Creigh Deeds a favor by not endorsing him?

23% of Virginia voters say they're less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Wilder, while only 8% say that the former Governor's support would make them more likely to vote for a candidate. 69% say Wilder's opinions don't affect them either way.

Among the respondents who said that a Wilder endorsement would have a positive influence on their vote, 76% are already supporting Deeds. The remaining 24% gives very poor marks to Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, and Jim Webb and also overwhelmingly supports Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli. In other words, they don't seem likely to vote for a Democratic candidate anyway and they may well be Republicans expressing positive feelings toward Wilder precisely because he didn't endorse Deeds.

Basically the Wilder endorsement or lack thereof is something the chattering class is considerably more interested in than real voters. This is having no impact on the race. Those who really care what Wilder thinks are pretty much all hardcore Democratic voters anyway who aren't going to stray or stay at home due to his non endorsement.

Overall 36% of Virginians have a favorable opinion of Wilder with 33% viewing him unfavorably and 30% with no opinion, a reflection of the 16 years that have passed since he last held statewide office.

Deeds is actually more popular with black voters in the state than Wilder. His favorability spread with them is 73/8 to Wilder's 67/19. And Wilder isn't in the same ballpark with Barack Obama's 88/12.

Full results here

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GOP Moderate Woes

On our national poll last week 19% of moderate Republicans said they voted for Barack Obama against John McCain last fall.

When we asked them to look toward 2012 34% said they'd vote for Obama against Sarah Palin, 31% against Jeb Bush, 21% against Mike Huckabee, and 20% against Mitt Romney.

It's safe to say there's no way a GOP President is going to be elected in 2012 if moderate Republicans are even more supportive of Obama than they were last year.

So it seems like the current crop of leading GOP contenders is not going to cut it with the swath of the party that is mainstream enough to consider voting Democratic.

More moderate alternatives may emerge- Tim Pawlenty? But it's going to be a challenge for any more mainstream candidate to make it to the general when 70% of Republican voters are conservatives. We certainly saw that last year with the fate of Rudy Giuliani's campaign (not that he didn't cause a lot of his own problems.)

I think the GOP's worst enemy in 2012 may be itself.

Big question in Arizona

Is Rasmussen an "East Coast, left-wing Democratic smear group?"

That's what Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, called us to the Arizona Republic last week after we released our poll on next year's race for Governor.

We showed Brewer trailing likely Democratic opponent Terry Goddard by 10 points and with a -17 net approval rating.

Rasmussen released a poll yesterday showing Brewer with an even worse -20 net approval rating and a pretty similar seven point deficit against Goddard.

I think someone in the Arizona press needs to go back and ask Mr. Senseman if he thinks that Rasmussen is also a left wing Democratic smear group!

On a more serious note though, I don't understand what flacks on either the Democratic or Republican side of the aisle think they accomplish by employing such over the top rhetoric. If the Brewer camp could have pointed to something in the internals of the poll to show why it skewed in a Democratic direction that might have helped their cause but this sort of talk just makes them look ridiculous- and desperate.

Deeds continues to close in

Creigh Deeds has now pulled to within five points of Bob McDonnell in the race to be Virginia's next Governor, and most of the remaining undecided voters are Democrats.

McDonnell leads 48-43. A month ago his lead was 49-42 and the month before that it peaked at 51-37.

McDonnell owes his continuing advantage to two primary factors: a 53-37 lead among independents and a much higher degree of unity within his party than Deeds enjoys. He is winning 96% of the Republican vote while Deeds is at 82% of the Democratic vote.

Deeds appears to have more room to grow. 53% of the remaining undecideds are Democrats while only 7% are Republicans. Although the fact that Deeds has not locked up those votes yet does show some degree of lukewarmness toward his campaign, those voters are still more than likely going to end up 'coming home.'

The increasingly negative tone of the race appears to be hurting both candidates' standing with the voters. McDonnell's net favorability has dropped from +22 (53/31) a month ago to now just +5 (47/42). Deeds has seen a similar although less dramatic decline from +12 (47/35) to +1 (43/42).

Bob McDonnell's thesis is having a mixed impact on the race. Only 2% of people who say they supported him a month ago now say they're going to vote for Deeds, so the extent to which the thesis is changing people's minds is limited. But it may be playing a role in increasing Democratic turnout. In our last poll those planning to vote this year had voted for John McCain by a 49-45 margin. Now the likely electorate voted for Barack Obama by a 48-45 margin, indicating intended Democratic turnout is now pushing closer to what it was last year. The thesis may not have turned McDonnell votes into Deeds votes, but it looks like it is helping to turn non-voters into Deeds votes.

52% of voters say they're very familiar with the thesis and McDonnell actually has a 55-41 with that group, reflecting the fact that Republicans are more engaged this year and following the campaign more closely. Deeds is up 56-41 with the 29% of voters who claim moderate knowledge of the thesis.

There's been little movement among women over the last month. What was a nine point lead for Deeds with them is now an eight point advantage.

This race is being defined largely by rigid partisanship. McDonnell is winning only 8% of the Obama vote and Deeds is winning only 7% of the McCain vote so by and large however you voted last year is the predictor for how you're going to vote this year. That means this is all going to come down to turnout. If the electorate looks the same way it did last November Deeds will probably pull this one out by the skin of his teeth. But if Republicans continue to be more energized (or Democrats are more disinterested) McDonnell will continue the lead he's held throughout the general election right through the finish line.

Down ballot Bill Bolling leads Jody Wagner 43-35 for Lieutenant Governor and Ken Cuccinelli is up 43-34 on Steve Shannon for Attorney General.

Full results here

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is the thesis making a difference or not?

It's always nice when polls give easy answers to questions about what's going on in the political world but a lot of the time they don't. That's certainly the case with figuring out what impact Bob McDonnell's thesis is having on the Virginia race for Governor.

Here are some indications that it is:

-Voters who say they were undecided a month are going for Creigh Deeds by a 35-32 margin

-42% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Bob McDonnell, compared to 31% a month ago.

-34% of voters say the thesis made them less likely to vote for McDonnell while only 7% said it made them more likely to do so.

And here are some indications that it isn't:

-The vast majority of that 34% who said the thesis made them less likely to vote for McDonnell had already been Deeds voters before that story came out.

-A month ago Deeds led by 9 points among women, now it's 8, basically unchanged.

-Among voters who are very familiar with the thesis story McDonnell actually leads 55-41.

All that said Deeds is closing in on McDonnell and a big reason for that is more and more Obama voters say they're planning to come out to the polls. The thesis story might not change a lot of votes from people who were already going to turn out but if it gets Democrats motivated to cast a ballot who wouldn't have otherwise it will have a significant impact on the race.

The results of this poll will be out tomorrow morning.

Perdue and Women

Interesting article in the News&Observer yesterday about some women being unhappy with Bev Perdue.

I think the first thing that should be noted when talking about Perdue and women is that she actually was not the beneficiary of an unusual gender gap when she was elected last fall. Exit polls showed Perdue winning 52% of the female vote and 47% of the male vote. The gender gap was larger in both the Presidential race, where Barack Obama won 55% of the female vote and 43% of the male vote, and in the Senate race where Kay Hagan 55% of the female vote and 47% of the male vote.

So despite the fact that Perdue was the only woman running against a man at the top of the ticket last year, she actually earned a smaller percentage of the female vote than both Obama and Hagan.

That trend has continued in approval polling over the course of this year. In our July, August, and September polls Barack Obama averaged a 50% rating with women and a 43% rating with men for an average gender gap of 7 points. Perdue has averaged a 27% rating with women and a 25% rating with men for an average gender gap of just 2 points.

What does it all mean?

Perdue, despite her status as the state's first female Governor, has no unique appeal to women voters. She got few, if any, extra votes last fall from Republicans or independent women who wanted a woman in that office. Folks who would normally have voted Republican still did. And women aren't cutting Perdue any slack for the issues she's had during her first eight months as Governor, evaluating her more or less the same way men are.

It's certainly significant on paper that Perdue is the state's first woman Governor, but that seems to be having little impact on her overall political standing.

A deeper look at Obama and Health Care

The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama is taking a hit in the polls because of health care.

You could use our most recent national poll to make that argument. 90% of McCain voters are opposed to Obama's health care plan while only 81% of his voters are in support of it.

Let's dig a little deeper though. Is Obama losing the overall support of his 2008 voters that he hasn't sold yet on health care? The answer, for the most part, is no. That group still approves of him by a margin of 64/27.

Only 2% of voters nationwide overall voted for Obama but now disapprove of him on health care and disapprove of his overall performance.

Now let's look at another group- people who voted for McCain but support what Obama's trying to do on the issue. They account for 3% of voters nationwide, and within that group 90% of them approve of Obama's overall performance.

The number of Obama voters who've abandoned him because of health care and the number of McCain voters who've joined him because of health care appears to be basically equivalent. And that's why his approval rating is pretty much identical to the share of the vote he won last November.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The next couple weeks...

Our Virginia poll is in the field now. Beyond all the basics we asked folks who their favorite and least favorite Governors of the last 20 years are, what their opinion of Doug Wilder and his endorsements is, and also did some comparative questions on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. I imagine we'll be doing the latter in several states in the near future because I'm interested in whether there is really any shift in who the right wingers are following most intently.

I also streamlined the question geared toward figuring out how individual vote preferences have shifted over the last month, thanks for the feedback that it was too long and cumbersome. We really are listening!

North Carolina is on deck for this week. It seems like a really dull time in North Carolina politics. I don't think I wrote anything about NC on the blog all week...any suggestions for interesting and enlightening questions there? I'm considerably more interested in asking about things that are very specific to the state than I am in asking what NC voters think about various national issues.

Go Heels, take down the Yellow Jackets, go Blue, beat the Hoosiers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bipartisan Consensus!

There's not much Democrats and Republicans agree on these days but in a time where politicians are pretty universally unpopular there's a consensus across party lines about one thing- they want to keep their elected leaders moving.

69% of Americans support term limits for members of Congress with only 16% opposed. That includes 81% of Republicans, 73% of independents, and 57% of Democrats. That doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon but it's interesting how strong the sentiment is.

There's an even stronger consensus that the President should continue to be limited to two terms. 78% of voters would oppose a Constitutional amendment letting them serve longer with only 16% in support. Most of the support for that change seems to be coming from Obama voters who would like him to have the opportunity to stay longer. Those in favor of going back to the old system with no limitation voted for him 67-23 over John McCain last fall.

88% of Republicans, 84% of independents, and 65% of Democrats oppose changing the Presidential term limit.

These numbers are very consistent with the current throw the bums out mentality of the American electorate. Of course if they get a new set of bums they probably won't like those ones either, but there's always the hope that new leaders will bring better days.

Full results here

My thoughts on the Strategic Vision Controversy

I've had several people ask me what I think about the Strategic Vision controversy.

I think that all companies doing public polling should make their topline demographics and crosstabs easily publicly available. It should be right there on your website. I remember when I was in high school all of my math textbooks had the answers to all of the odd numbered questions in the back. When you did your homework you could certainly look back there and get the answers right but you didn't get any credit if you didn't show your work.

I could leave PPP, start Tom Jensen Polling, put out a bunch of topline numbers the day before an election that just copied the Pollster, RCP, or Nate Silver predictions and be one of the most accurate pollsters in the country. That would be pretty darn easy and anyone could do it. And that's why public pollsters should hold themselves to a higher standard and also be held to a higher standard by the media. I don't think the press should report on any polls that they can't see the party ID breakdown for, etc.

(To be clear I'm not saying that Strategic Vision or anyone else necessarily does or has done what I'm describing above, but you could certainly get away with it if nobody ever asked you to show your work.)

I also hope that Nate Silver will do the sophisticated analysis he did to raise questions about Strategic Vision's polls for every national pollster that has released more than 50 public surveys in the last two years. If it turns out that one of us is cheating then suspicions will be raised that any of us could be cheating and a more thorough look at what's going on out there might be necessary to keep public faith in our field.

Brewer trails in primary

Our general election numbers earlier this week showed Jan Brewer trailing Terry Goddard for a full term as Governor but that may not even matter because if there was an election today she would probably lose in the primary.

In a head to head contest with Treasurer Dean Martin, Brewer trails 37-26. She does edge Martin 28-26 among moderates, but Martin leads 39-26 with conservatives. Given that 76% of Arizona Republicans identify themselves as conservatives governing from the center is not a very good strategy for winning the primary. It doesn't look like she would benefit any from her gender either as she is down by 13 points with women, even greater than her 7 point deficit with men.

Brewer leads a head to head contest with Fife Symington 39-31. Given that Martin leads Brewer and Brewer leads Symington you would expect that in a three way contest Martin would lead followed by Brewer and then Symington.

But weird things happen in three way primaries and that's not the case. Symington actually leads with 34% to 26% for Martin and 22% for Brewer. The reason is that even though more people dislike Symington than the other two candidates, he is the most popular with the people who do like him. 61% of Republicans with a favorable opinion of him say they'll vote for him in a three way primary. Only 50% of Martin and 46% of Brewer's supporters say the same. So the intensity of support is stronger for Symington.

Of course these numbers are of limited use when the field is so unsettled and the primary is so far away. The important takeaway is that there is a very good chance Brewer won't win the nomination if she has strong competition.

One incumbent facing a challenger from the right who has nothing to worry about is John McCain, who leads Minutemen Project founder Chris Simcox 67-17. That one's a nonstarter.

Full results here

If you think Barack Obama's the Anti-Christ...

Then you probably like Sarah Palin!

We broke down our national poll from this week based on how the respondents who think Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ view the potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidates and Palin comes out the best by a long shot.

82% have a favorable opinion of Palin, followed by 64% for Mitt Romney, 48% for Mike Huckabee, and 40% for Jeb Bush.

Kind of surprised by the low Huckabee numbers but maybe his supporters think you don't mess around with the Anti-Christ.

Looking at the numbers from another direction 21% of people with a favorable opinion of Palin think that the President is the Anti-Christ.

There's not much doubt who the extreme right wing of the Republican Party wants as its nominee in 2012, and there's not much doubt Barack Obama would get over 400 electoral voters if their wish was granted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick Odds and Ends

-Democrats are mostly going to be playing defense on the Senate front in 2012 because they pretty much won all competitive seats in 2006. That makes Jon Kyl's middling 43/40 approval rating on our Arizona poll today very interesting. Among independents 53% disapprove of the job he's doing to just 32% approving. With their recent successes in Congressional elections Democrats in the state are building a strong bench, and of course Janet Napolitano might be ready to return to the electoral fray by then. There's a very good chance Arizona is the top pick up opportunity for Democrats that cycle, especially since you know the Obama team will be putting everything it has into flipping that state.

-We're going to ask some other questions about the thesis on our Virginia poll this weekend but this question, which doesn't even mention the thesis, I think has the best chance of truly gaging its impact:
Have you changed your mind about who to vote for Governor in the last month? If no, press 1. If you were undecided but now plan to vote for Creigh Deeds, press 2. If you were undecided but now plan to vote for Bob McDonnell, press 3. If you were planning to vote for Creigh Deeds but are now undecided, press 4. If you were planning to vote for Bob McDonnell but are now undecided, press 5. If you were planning to vote for Creigh Deeds but now plan to vote for Bob McDonnell, press 6. If you were planning to vote for Bob McDonnell but now plan to vote for Creigh Deeds, press 7.

McCain approval weak, but he's still safe

John McCain is not all that popular with Arizona voters right now. 48% of them approve of the job he's doing while 42% disapprove. Nevertheless he has nothing to worry about when it comes to reelection next year.

Why is that? The reason his numbers overall are weak is that an unusually low percentage of Republicans, just 65%, approve of the job he's doing. That's lower for instance than the 72% who like Jon Kyl. But just because a quarter of GOP voters disapprove of McCain doesn't mean they'll vote for a Democrat over him. In hypothetical contests against Janet Napolitano, Gabrielle Giffords, and Rodney Glassman McCain still wins 65-68% of the vote from Republicans who disapprove of him.

And while McCain has an unusually low level of support from within his own party, he also has an unusually high level of support from Democrats. 32% of them like how he's doing his job in a climate where most Senators have approvals in the teens among voters of the other party.

So what does that all add up to? McCain leads Napolitano 53-40, Giffords 57-30, and Glassman 55-25.

Napolitano obviously is not going to run for the Senate next year but we tested her as a shoot for the moon candidate and the numbers indicate her popularity with Arizonans has declined over the last year. When PPP polled the state in August of 2008 her approval rating was 54% with 37% disapproving of her. But now there are more voters- 47%- who have an unfavorable opinion of her than there are- 44%- who say they view her favorably. Are voters mad that she didn't serve out her full second term?

Her numbers with Democrats are pretty much the same place they were a year ago but she's lost nearly all of her crossover support. Where before 32% of Republicans approved of her work as Governor, now only 16% have a favorable opinion of her. And what was a 59% approval rating with independents is now just 48% positive. Maybe joining the Obama administration made her come across as more partisan to these non-Democratic voters.

Most voters don't have an opinion about Giffords or Glassman, and that's reflected in their numbers.

Full results here

Obama leads 2012 foes

If Barack Obama had to stand for reelection today he'd win by as much as he did last year, if not more.

He leads Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Sarah Palin by anywhere from 7-15 points in hypothetical 2012 contests.

Huckabee comes the closest, trailing Obama 48-41. In the six months PPP has run this poll he has been the most competitive Republican every time. Obama's lead has increased from 47-44 over the former Arkansas Governor a month ago.

Mitt Romney does next best, down 48-39. In some ways he looks like a stronger general candidate than a primary one though. He has the best favorability of the GOP quartet with Democrats and independents, but only 50% of Republicans have a positive opinion of him compared to 70% for Mike Huckabee and 69% for Sarah Palin. Will he be able to connect well enough with the GOP base to snag the nomination?

It's safe to say that the country is not ready for another Bush. Only 22% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Jeb, with 45% saying it was unfavorable. Even Palin's numbers are better with Democrats and independents than his. He trails Obama 50-37 in a potential contest. It'll be interesting to see if the Bush brand is permanently damaged or if the family can make a comeback in the future, but it seems safe to say that won't be likely in the next few years.

And finally Sarah Palin polls the worst against Obama, and her numbers have been getting progressively worse over the last couple months. Her favorability peaked in our polling at 47/45 in the middle of July, then dropped to 40/49 in August, and now 37/55 in September. Hard to say why she's seeing so much droppage during a period when she's been mostly out of the public eye but it all adds up to her trailing Obama 53-38.

Looking at these numbers it's safe to say that rumors of Barack Obama's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Which is not to say that 2010 won't be a tough election year for Democrats. But that's because Republican voters are more fired up than Democrats and more likely to turn out in a non-Presidential year, not because the electorate as a whole has decided it thinks Republicans would do a better job of running the country.

Full results here

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bush Curse?

On our national poll this week Barack Obama's approval rating was the same 52% as last month. The party breakdown was D+5, as opposed to last month's D+6. So all in all, a very similar universe to the August survey.

Despite that there was an 11 point average drop in the net favorability of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Sarah Palin on the poll.

That's pretty weird. But I think I have an idea why. Previously we had asked first about New Gingrich on the poll, then the other three Republicans. But this time Jeb Bush was first up on our poll.

Did respondents being reminded of the Bush brand cause them to rate all the other Republican candidates less favorably? It's entirely possible. If we include Bush in a poll again I might rotate the response options- this just never occurred to me ahead of time.

Maybe Democrats need to morph Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie's faces into George W. Bush next month- although it feels to me like it's time to stop riding the anti-Bush train the truth is that it might be good to remind voters that even if they're not totally thrilled with the leadership now they like it a lot more than they did a year ago.

Goddard in good shape

If the election was today Democrats would reclaim the Governor's seat they gave up in Arizona when Janet Napolitano became Homeland Security Secretary. Attorney General and likely party nominee Terry Goddard leads incumbent Republican Jan Brewer and two other potential GOP rivals by margins ranging from 8 to 23 points.

Only 26% of Arizona voters approve of the job Brewer is doing with 43% expressing disapproval and 31% unsure. Her numbers are remarkably consistent along party lines with 28% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats, and 24% of independents giving her good marks. Of all the Governors and Senators PPP has polled on across the country so far in 2009 Brewer is the least popular within her own party, taking that mantle from Illinois Senator Roland Burris who is at just 29% with Democrats.

Brewer's level of crossover support with Democrats actually isn't too bad, but it won't matter if she can't make it to the general election. PPP will release numbers looking at some possible Republican primary contests on Friday.

Goddard leads Brewer 46-36 in a head to head contest, winning 77% of the Democratic vote while holding her to 59% of the Republican vote and taking independents 47-35. He is actually slightly more popular with GOP voters than Brewer is, with 31% of them viewing him positively. Overall 44% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him to 22% unfavorable.

With Brewer's position looking perilous, PPP also tested some alternative GOP candidates against Goddard.

Fife Symington may have had the conviction that led to his resignation in 1997 thrown out by the courts, but he doesn't appear to have recovered in the court of public opinion. 54% of voters in the state have an unfavorable opinion of him with only 17% viewing him favorably. It's important to note though that 26% of Republicans like him, almost equal to Brewer. That could make a primary contest interesting.

He doesn't appear to be viable as a general election candidate, trailing Goddard 52-29. The Democrat wins independents by an unusual 31 point margin in that match, and wins 84% of his party vote while Symington gets just 51% of Republicans.

The best choice for Republicans then might be a fresher face in the form of Treasurer Dean Martin. He's not particularly well known, with 54% of voters not knowing enough about him to have formed an opinion. But that might not be a bad thing considering how many voters already dislike Brewer and Symington. His favorability breaks down 27/19 with those who do know him, and he comes the closest of the GOP trio to Goddard, trailing only 45-37.

The Republicans are basically in disarray here and that's giving Goddard the early advantage. His favorability numbers are good but certainly not so good that he's unbeatable. It would probably be in the GOP's best interests if Brewer decided not to run for reelection, Symington stayed on the sidelines, and Martin or some other candidate with less baggage ended up as the party's nominee. For now though this is one of the few 2010 races in a bad political climate for Democrats where they're favored to gain an office currently held by the GOP.

Full results here

Is extremism becoming mainstream?

Is extremism becoming mainstream in 21st century American politics?

Our latest national poll would seem to say yes- 35% voters in the country either think that Barack Obama was not born in the United States or that George W. Bush intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur so that we could go to war in the Middle East. A very troubled 2% of the population buys into both of those conspiracy theories.

It's hard to call a third of the country a fringe.

Only 59% of Americans say confidently that they think Barack Obama was born in the country while 23% think he was not, and 18% are unsure. Among Republicans there are more voters- 42%- who think he was born somewhere else than there are- 37%- who will say for sure that he was born here.

The far out sentiments aren't limited to the right though. 14% of Americans, including 25% of Democrats, think that George W. Bush let 9/11 happen to justify war, and 8% aren't sure.

When more than a third of the population either thinks that the current President doesn't legitimately hold the office or that a former President was attacking the country from within for political gain it shows a pretty remarkable lack of trust in our leaders.

We also took a look at the Anti-Christ question nationally and found that a pretty similar number of voters are willing to go so far as to hang that label on either Obama or Bush. 10% of voters say they think Obama is the Anti-Christ with 11% unsure and 8% say the same of Bush with an equal 11% unsure. Some opponents of Obama have pointed to biblical 'proof' to show that Obama is the Anti-Christ but the relatively equivalent number of Americans saying the same of Bush would seem to be an indication folks' saying that is more a way to express that they really don't like a politician than it is rooted in theology.

It's still remarkable that 16% of Americans will go so far as to declare one of the last two Presidents the 'Anti-Christ' with another 19% unsure about whether that label should apply to one or the other or both.

Strange times in American politics. Forget bipartisanship, it would be an accomplishment if we could just get to the point where excess partisans didn't think the opposite party's President was the Anti-Christ!

Full results here

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Obama hanging tight

For the second month in a row Barack Obama's approval rating is at 52% nationally. 44% of voters disapprove of the job he's doing.

81% of Democrats, 52% of independents, and 18% of Republicans give him good marks. While whites disapprove of him by a 50/45 margin, that's balanced out by his receiving approval from 89% of African Americans and 64% of Hispanics.

Obama has barely lost any support from people who voted for him last November. Only 5% now express disapproval of him while 93% think he's doing a good job. The percentage of McCain voters- 11%- who now approve of his work is greater than the proportion of his own voters Obama has lost. PPP numbers coming out tomorrow will show that Obama leads a quartet of possible 2012 opponents by margins equal to or greater than what he won last fall.

While Obama's overall approval numbers are flat compared to a month ago, support for him on health care is on the rise. In mid-August 47% of voters said they were opposed to his plan with just 40% in support. Now Americans are almost evenly divided with 46% opposed and 45% in support.

The primary movement in the last month has come with independents. They were arrayed 49/35 against it and now support it by a narrow 46/44 margin. It's interesting to note though that there hasn't been any increase in backing from Democrats, perhaps an indication that those who weren't standing with the President on the issue to begin with felt so strongly about it that a speech wasn't going to change their minds. Republicans continue to be more united in their opposition (81%) than Democrats are in their support (70%).

Full results here

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow we'll have the first part of our national poll. Barack Obama's overall approval is basically unchanged from a month ago but voters are now basically split on his health care plan where a month ago they said they were opposed to it 52/40. The biggest movement has come among independents, who have shifted from -14 last month to +2 this month.

The poll also provides continuing confirmation that Obama isn't really losing the support of anyone who voted for him. His approval comes down at 93/5 with his 2008 voters. With it at 11/84 among McCain voters he's actually winning over slightly more people who didn't vote for him than he is losing ones who did.

We'll have his approval and health care numbers as well as our measurements of extremism in the American public tomorrow.

We'll also have Arizona Governor numbers. Democratic candidate Terry Goddard is more popular with Republicans than the incumbent GOP Governor Jan Brewer, whose approval within her own party is just 28%.

You'd know all this already if you were following us on Twitter.

Approval Numbers and 2012

I recently had someone ask me if they thought Obama's approval numbers nationally were the same thing as his reelect numbers nationally. I said I suspected that was more or less the case but since I have two fresh 2012 polls in hand I can answer better from a data standpoint.

On the national poll we have coming out Thursday 94% of people who approve of Obama's job performance support him against Sarah Palin, 92% do against Jeb Bush, 90% do against Mitt Romney, and 89% do against Mike Huckabee.

Among those who disapprove of Obama's job performance 7% support him against Palin, 3% against Bush, and 2% against Huckabee and Romney.

Pretty similar story in Arizona. 92% of his approvers will vote for him against Palin, 90% against Huckabee, and 88% against Romney. Among his disapprovers it's 3% against Palin and only 1% against Huckabee and Romney.

Obama's RCP approval right now is 54%. With Pollster it's 51%. Just more evidence that he's more or less in the same place he was on election day.

Democrats' Senior Problem

I talked pretty extensively with the Washington Times for a story they put out yesterday on how senior citizens are reacting to the health care battle and the overall impact that's having on the political landscape.

There are two issues for Democrats here, the biggest being that they're doing poorly with voters over 65 and the corollary being that those older voters make up a larger portion of the electorate in a midterm year than they do in a Presidential one.

We've polled in seven different states since mid-July and Barack Obama's approval rating with senior citizens is poor in all of them, ranging from a low of 37% to a high of 42%:


Obama Approval w/Seniors



North Carolina




New Jersey








In a development that's probably related we find Democrats doing poorly with older voters in most of the 2010 races we've polled recently:

-In North Carolina Richard Burr leads the generic ballot overall by 7 points, while among seniors his margin is 14. Against six potential opponents he leads by 7-16 points with all voters, but by 10-22 with seniors.

-In Arkansas Blanche Lincoln trails Gilbert Baker and Curtis Coleman by 2 points and 1 respectively but with seniors those leads are 9 and 7 points for the Republicans.

-In Colorado Michael Bennet trailed Bob Beauprez by 3, led Ken Buck by 4, and had a 5 point advantage over Ryan Frazier. Among seniors he was down 10 points to Beauprez, 3 to Buck, and tied with Frazier. On the gubernatorial front Bill Ritter was down by 9 to Scott McInnis and tied with Josh Penry among all voters. With seniors it was a 17 point deficit to McInnis and a 6 point disadvantage against Penry.

-In Louisiana David Vitter led Charlie Melancon by 12 points overall and by 26 with voters over 65.

-On the generic Congressional ballot we found the GOP up 45-41 with all voters, buoyed largely by a 55-34 lead with senior citizens.

One thing to keep in mind with all of this is that seniors aren't a particularly good demographic for Democrats to begin with. Last year John McCain won them 53-45 nationally while losing by a pretty similar spread overall. But what makes it a bigger problem looking toward 2010 is that voters over 65 tend to make up a larger share of the electorate in midterms than they do in Presidential years, largely because they're more inclined to vote in all elections while younger voters and particularly those under 30 are more prone to only vote in the highest turnout ones. So they're a more powerful bloc next year than they were last year.

Seniors and independents are probably the two main groups Democrats are going to need to win over to hold their position next year. African Americans and young voters will be important too but that's more an issue of persuading them to turn out than persuading them to the party.

Mixed Reviews for Obama in Arizona

Arizonans are evenly divided on Barack Obama's job so far as President and if he had to stand for reelection today it looks like the state would probably remain in the red column.

47% of voters there give Obama good marks for his work so far and an equal 47% express disapproval. His reviews are predictably polarized along party lines with 80% of Democrats but only 17% of Republicans approving of him. Independents split positively 50/42 in his direction.

53% of whites disapprove of Obama but his 58% approval from Hispanics evens that out.

Support for Obama's health care plan lags behind his overall approval rating in the state, as it has everywhere PPP has polled in the last two months. 53% of voters are opposed to it with only 40% in favor.

There's been a lot of speculation given Obama's strong performances in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico last year about whether Arizona would head to the Democratic column as well in 2012 without the President having to face native son John McCain. The answer at this very early stage is no. Obama trails Mitt Romney 50-43 in a hypothetical contest, is at a 49-45 disadvantage against Mike Huckabee, and is knotted up with Sarah Palin at 47.

In each of those contests Obama wins about 9-10% of the 2008 John McCain vote while holding on to 90-96% of his vote. His formula for victory in the state next time would be to push his McCain share to around 15% and continue the success he showed in 2008 for turning out new voters on his behalf.

Why isn't Arizona trending quite as blue as its neighbors? The first answer is that the Hispanic vote in the state is not as Democratic as it is in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and California. Exit polls showed Obama winning 56% of their votes in Arizona last year and his approval with them now is 58%. He wins 55-57% of their vote in the hypothetical contests against Romney, Huckabee, and Palin. By comparison Obama averaged winning 70% of the Hispanic vote in the surrounding states that he took last fall.

The other reason is quite simply that Arizona is more Republican than those states. There are 16% more Democrats than Republicans in New Mexico, 12% more in California, 8% more in Nevada, and Colorado is split evenly. Arizona had 7% more Republicans than Democrats on election day and we find that number at 5% today. That means Obama has to win by a lot with independents and get a fair amount of crossover votes. But right now the Republicans are actually winning over more Democrats than Obama is their voters, and his leads among independents are slim.

So it's possible for Obama to take Arizona in 2012- but it's not going to be easy.

Full results here

Monday, September 21, 2009

Odds and Ends

-The big question on our Arizona poll tomorrow is whether Barack Obama is set up to win the state in 2012, and the answer as of today is no. He is winning 9-10% of the 2008 McCain vote against Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin but that's not quite enough.

-Two positive points for Obama from the poll though: only 3% of his 2008 voters disapprove of the job he's doing and independents are split 45-45 on his health care plan. That's the first poll we've done where indies weren't opposed. And he certainly doesn't seem to have a base problem in Arizona.

-Ty Harrell's resignation yesterday is good news for Democrats. With the problems he was having reelection next year looked close to impossible. It's still going to be a tough hold but if the right person gets appointed to take his place and they do a good job of making the best of their incumbency over the next year it will increase the chances of keeping it in Democratic hands. All other Democrats in swing districts with ethical clouds over their heads should take one for the team and go ahead and resign as well.

-Rush Limbaugh called me a 'huge liberal Democrat' on his show Friday. I'll take it as a compliment.

The Obama Approval/Health Care Gap

The gap between Barack Obama's overall approval rating and support for him on health care is 7 points on the Arizona poll we're putting out tomorrow, an indication that opposition to the plan among his detractors continues to be stronger than favor for it among his supporters.

We've polled on health care eight times now and while that gap seems to have closed a little over the last six weeks it's still been there to the tune of at least five points on every statewide and national poll we've conducted during that period:



Obama Approval

Health Care Support




























North Carolina





New Jersey









The health care debate's a good example of how it's easier to unite people in opposition to something than in support of it. With Republicans all on the same page they've easily won the message battle over Democrats who are comparatively all over the place.

Taking Nominations

So after the latest on John Edwards came out Saturday afternoon I thought to myself that on our next North Carolina poll I might ask if people thought he was the worst person in the world.

I'm not going to do that but it actually did get me thinking of a good set of poll questions- who are you most proud and least proud to call a North Carolinian?

I'd like to narrow it down to about five choices on each front and put it on our next poll of the state, which will go into the field next weekend.

I think the 'proudest' category has to include Michael Jordan, Billy Graham, and Andy Griffith. The 'least proud' one definitely starts with Edwards. Who else should we throw in the mix on either count?

Democratic struggles with independents continue

In late July I wrote a blog post about how the Republican candidate had been leading among independents in 13 of the last 16 individual 2009 and 2010 races we had polled.

That continues to be the case in 12 of the 17 contests we have looked at since then:

-Chris Christie leads Jon Corzine 48-29 in New Jersey

-Bob McDonnell leads Creigh Deeds 60-29 in Virginia

-Richard Burr leads a generic Democrat 46-24 in North Carolina and leads specific Democrats Cal Cunningham 42-16, Bob Etheridge 45-21, Kevin Foy 47-14, Kenneth Lewis 46-14, Elaine Marshall 45-15, and Dennis Wicker 46-16

-In Arkansas Blanche Lincoln trails Gilbert Baker 47-26, Curtis Coleman 46-25, and Tom Cotton 42-26. For Governor Mike Beebe does lead Allen Kerr 43-23.

-In Colorado things are more positive for Democrats. Bill Ritter does trail Scott McInnis 38-37, but he leads Josh Penry 37-32. And Michael Bennet led among indies against all comers- 38-36 over Bob Beauprez, 36-28 over Ken Buck, and 33-25 over Ryan Frazier.

Overall that's 25 of 33 contests since early June where we have found the GOP leading among independents. And when we took a look at the generic Congressional ballot at the end of last month Republicans were up 40-31 with independents.

Obviously this is somewhere Democrats are going to have to improve a lot to keep next year from being a disaster. If they're losing independents, especially by these kinds of margins, it means they need to get Democratic voters to the polls at a much higher rate than Republican voters and that doesn't seem particularly likely right now. The GOP is just more enthusiastic about getting out there and taking some of their power back. But it's a heck of a long way until November 2010 still.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NC-11 Numbers

Garin-Hart-Yang has some fascinating new numbers out on voter attitudes in NC-11, Heath Shuler's Congressional District.

Overall Shuler's approval rating is 49%, with 24% of his constituents disapproving of his job performance. Those are great numbers for a Congressman. But what I find particularly interesting is how small the gap is between his approval with Democrats (56%) and Republicans (46%). I can't think of another politician I've seen approval numbers on where the difference was so minimal along party lines.

Of course there are positives and perils because of that. The cross over support from Republicans is very good news for a possible future statewide run. However, his reviews from Democrats are pretty weak and don't necessarily bode well for a primary where he'd have to win over an electorate heavily concentrated in the I-85 corridor.

One thing's for sure though at this point: Shuler will hold his district for as long as he wants it.

Other interesting stuff from the poll:

-61% of voters in NC-11 have no opinion of Richard Burr. That almost makes our numbers on him look charitable. He's viewed favorably 24/15 by those who are familiar with him.

-Barack Obama and Sarah Palin get very similar reviews...42% favorable for Obama and 40% favorable for Palin. Remember that Obama lost this district by five points so those numbers aren't particularly surprising.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming next week...


-Part 1 of our Arizona poll, which focuses primarily on the question of whether Barack Obama is in position (at this very early stage) to win the state in 2012 without John McCain on the ballot. We're testing him against Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney as well as looking at his approval and health care numbers.


-Part 1 of our national poll, the most important aspects of which are our monthly look at Obama's approval rating, as well as how the numbers have moved on health care over the last month. We'll also continue our look at extremism in American public opinion.

-Part 2 of our Arizona poll, which will look at the Governor's race. Approval ratings on Jan Brewer, favorabilities on likely Democratic nominee Terry Goddard and potential Republican primary challengers Dean Martin and Fife Symington, and horse race match ups involving those folks in all the likely permutations.


-Part 2 of our national poll, which is the monthly look toward 2012. Can American stomach another Bush? We're swapping Jeb in for Newt Gingrich this time, as well as taking our normal looks at Huckabee, Palin, and Romney.

-Part 3 of our Arizona poll, which will look at whether John McCain is at all vulnerable in a primary or general election. We're shooting for the stars by testing the unlikely Janet Napolitano and Gabrielle Giffords, as well as the more likely Rodney Glassman.


-Today I took calls from listeners to Shawn Wasson on WGN-AM in Chicago about things they'd like to see polling data on and several people brought up term limits. So on our national poll we're looking at both whether people would like to dump them for the President and implement them for the Congress.

It's going to be a busy week...stay tuned!

Perdue's problems go beyond the economy

During her campaign last year, especially before the economy tanked, Bev Perdue talked repeatedly about how her goal as Governor would be to make North Carolina the 'healthiest and most well educated state in the country.'

Our most recent poll found voters don't think she's doing too well on that front.

49% of respondents expressed disapproval of Perdue's leadership on education to just 26% approving. And 50% say they don't like what she's done relating to health care with only 20% giving her good marks.

While issues relating to taxes and the budget have gotten most of the attention for Perdue's approval woes, it's a reminder that voters are unhappy with her even on some of her core issues.

Perdue's been gaining some visibility on these things in recent weeks, emphasizing the importance of flu shots and having events involving schoolchildren. If she can move beyond the photo ops to implementing specific initiatives that work toward her ultimate goal on these issues it will go a long way toward helping her with her base problem, namely that only 40% of Democrats approve of her job performance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Odds and Ends

-Interesting array of Virginia polling results this week. We'll go in the field there next weekend. My big question is what is the best way to ask about the thesis controversy and really get an idea of the impact it's having? We're open to suggestions on how to do that most effectively.

-Yesterday we mentioned that Cory Booker was one of only five Democratic politicians we had polled on this year who had net favorables with Republicans. The others were Lisa Madigan, Andrew Cuomo, Mike Beebe, and Jack Markell. Madigan passed on her chance to basically have her pick of promotions, it'll be interesting to see what Cuomo does.

-It always amuses me when people google the phrase 'Public Policy Polling is biased.' They've already made up their mind, but they're looking to someone else to give them the 'proof.' Last year it was always Republicans doing this but so far in 2009 it's actually mostly been Democrats. Of course when people do this search it shows up on our web traffic reports, so we always know that something's coming. When it happened yesterday it actually turned out it was the Republicans and honestly that's our preference! With the weekly dose of bad news we've delivered Democrats over the last three months it's nice every now and then for the other side to be mad.

-I talked about the current state of North Carolina politics with Bill LuMaye on WPTF in Raleigh yesterday: audio here.

Looking closer at Obama in New Jersey

In July we found Barack Obama's approval rating at 53% in New Jersey. Now we have it down at 45%. That means it's time to answer one of our favorite questions: who'd he lose?

The main answer in New Jersey is moderates, regardless of their party affiliations. He went from 78% to 69% with moderate Democrats, 29% to 20% with moderate Republicans, and most damaging 59% to 39% with moderate independents.

The other group he saw a significant drop with was conservative independents, from 20% to 9%.

When we compared his national numbers from April to August we did not find any drop yet among moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans so it will be interesting next week on our forthcoming national poll to see if that's a broader trend or just likely Gubernatorial voters in New Jersey.

One group Obama continues to have no trouble with is liberal Democrats: his approval with them shot from 94% to 98%.

The full data:

Obama Approval in NJ



Liberal Democrats



Moderate Democrats



Conservative Democrats



Moderate Independents



Moderate Republicans



Conservative Independents



Conservative Republicans



Would NJ Dems be better off without Corzine?

The last time things looked as dire for a New Jersey Democrat as they do right now for Jon Corzine was around this time in 2002 for Robert Torricelli. The looming possibility of his losing to Doug Forrester resulted in him being dropped off the ballot and replaced by Frank Lautenberg, who won a relatively comfortable victory.

With that history in mind, we decided to look and see whether the party would be in better shape for the Governor's race with Frank Pallone or Cory Booker as the nominee instead of Corzine.

The answer with Pallone is a definite no. Voters might not be happy with the leadership in Trenton right now but they don't think a DC politician is the answer. Just 14% of voters in the state say they have a favorable opinion of Pallone and he trails Chris Christie 43-23 in a possible contest, with Chris Daggett pulling 15%.

Pallone would probably end up doing better than that if he actually was the nominee since he would have a chance to better familiarize himself with voters, but with only seven weeks until election day that's not going to happen this year.

Booker is a far more intriguing possibility. 41% of voters view him favorably, nine points better than Corzine, and only 20% have an unfavorable opinion of him, 40 points lower than the current Governor. Booker's popularity is such that he's even viewed positively, 29/27, by a small plurality of Republicans. He's only the fifth Democratic politician PPP has found that to be the case for across the entire country in 2009.

It doesn't look like Booker's race would be an issue. 40% of whites view him favorably compared to 21% unfavorable. That's far better than Corzine's numbers (25/67) and Barack Obama's (37/55). And while Booker may have been accused in some quarters of being an 'Uncle Tom' during his campaigns for mayor of Newark, only 5% of African Americans statewide have a negative opinion of him.

All that being said Booker polls only slightly better than Corzine against Christie, trailing 41-33 to 13% for Daggett. Voters seem to be sending a message to Democrats that they're not going to get away with the 2002 trick again this time. And of course this poll is entirely hypothetical anyway- Corzine's not going anywhere.

Back to Booker though- his numbers are pretty darn impressive and if he stays scandal free he may have his choice of the Democratic nominations for Governor in 2013 or Senator in 2014.

Full results here

Rasmussen Polls NC

Rasmussen polled North Carolina Tuesday night and found results that in some ways are very similar to our picture of the state and in others are very different.

The similarities:

-They find Obama's approval at 47/52. We recently measured it at 45/51.

-They find voters in the state opposed to Obama on health care, 53/44. That's relatively similar to the 54/40 spread we recently found.

-They found Richard Burr with a ten point lead over Elaine Marshall and a 16 point over Kenneth Lewis. Last week we found margins of 11 and 16 points respectively in those match ups.

The differences:

-They find North Carolinians a whole lot more happy with their elected officials than we do, with 58% viewing Richard Burr favorably and 40% with a positive opinion of Bev Perdue. We recently found their approval numbers at 38% and 26%. I think Civitas and Insider Advantage are the only other companies to poll on this in the last six months and they have found numbers considerably more similar to ours than these Rasmussen ones.

-The one thing I find truly impossible to believe in the poll is that 66% of voters have an opinion one way or the other about Kenneth Lewis. The one time we polled on his favorability we included his party identification and 64% of voters still had no opinion of him. If we hadn't included that I'm sure it would have been up in the 80s.

It's always good to see a wider variety of polling in North Carolina.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Economy drops as top issue

Only 40% of North Carolinians named the economy as their top issue on our most recent survey, the smallest percentage to do so since February of 2008.

In mid-October of last year it was the most cited concern of 65% of voters in the state. Six months ago it was 55%.

There are several reasons for this development. Voters may feel that the worst has passed, and believe economists who say the recession is over. Another is that Democrats, who previously overwhelmingly named it as their top issue, are moving over to health care as their main concern. In October of last year only 4% of North Carolinians said it was their top issue and in March only 5% did. That's now up to 15%, making it the second biggest concern of voters in the state.

The only other issue that's really seen its importance shoot up in the last year is education, which in October was top concern for just 4% of voters but is now cited by 11%.

It's interesting to note that despite recent increases in state taxes the same 7% of voters listed that as their biggest issue both this month and at this time last year. Of course it's possible people are folding that in with the economy, and given that tax increases were the number one reason voters cited for their unhappiness with Bev Perdue last week that does seem to be having a significant impact.

There's no doubt that the intensity of immigration as a major issue for voters in the state has declined though. In 2007 it polled in double digits but this month it's at 4% and we've had surveys where it even went as low as 2%. It's not that North Carolinians have really changed their views on immigration issues, but with President Obama in the White House it just doesn't fire up the right wing in the way it used to- they have plenty of other battles to fight that they now consider more important.

2008 basically ended up being a one issue election. Candidates may have talked about things other than the economy, but ultimately that was all voters wanted to hear about. It looks like the 2010 election will be fought out on a much broader array of issues.

Origin of the Anti-Christ question

I've had several reporters call me now and ask where on earth we came up with the Anti-Christ question.

Well we didn't.

Last week we were scrambling to get a poll about Joe Wilson out and posted the questionnaire on our blog to get input from our readers and make sure we weren't missing any important angles on that story. We also got that call for suggestions up on Twitter.

One of the suggestions was that we poll on this question of whether Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. We couldn't get it on the Wilson poll due to length considerations, but I got several follow up e-mails and messages on Twitter from people saying they really did think we should ask it, so we did.

We put it at the very end of the New Jersey poll, even after the demographic questions, because we just didn't know how people would take it. It is definitely the strangest question we have ever asked. But very few respondents- less than 3%-hung up and didn't answer that last one.

We'll be honest. It took about six or seven takes to record that question with a straight face and without busting out in laughter at the ridiculousness of it. But I think the answer does tell us something about the level of extremism out there and how far some people are taking their hatred of President Obama.

Anyway, our company really is trying to find an intersection between high quality, accurate scientific polling and genuine utilization of social media. So the moral of the story is send us your crazy question idea and we really might ask it.

A remarkable story in Winston-Salem

Yesterday a senior at Winston-Salem State, Derwin Montgomery, more or less won a seat on the City Council by defeating four term incumbent Joycelyn Johnson 57-24 in the Democratic primary.

He did it by taking full advantage of same day registration and one stop voting. Yes Weekly reports that 213 of his classmates registered and voted at the same time and overall Montgomery estimates that more than 400 WSSU students voted.

The results speak for themselves. Montgomery actually trailed Johnson 194-90 in votes cast on election day. But he had already banked a 440-28 lead in early voting that proved to be quite insurmountable.

There are a lot of reasons this example isn't easily replicable elsewhere. Winston-Salem's district voting for City Council elections with all of the students concentrated in one district for instance is somewhat unusual, and few elections have turnout this low from so called 'permanent voters.' And Montgomery has to have been a pretty special and unusually well organized candidate to get his peers out like that- frequently fewer than 400 out of UNC-Chapel Hill's 25k+ student body participate in municipal elections.

Nevertheless it's an amazing indication of the clout college students can have if they decide to, particularly in low turnout elections. Will we see one or more elected to the legislature by turning out students disproportionately in what is likely to be a relatively low interest primary next spring?

One thing's for sure- Anthony Foxx should figure out what he can do to replicate this in Charlotte for the general election because a couple thousand votes from the city's colleges could well be the difference maker in what seems likely to be a very close contest.

Extremism in New Jersey

We've been uncovering a remarkable level of anger toward Barack Obama in a lot of our recent polling so for New Jersey we decided to go a step further in determining how extreme some people's feelings are about the President and asked respondents if they think he is the Anti-Christ.

8% said yes. 13% aren't sure. Among Republicans 14% said yes and 15% weren't sure.

Pretty eye popping numbers. The extent to which some people already hate Obama is amazing. We'll test that question nationally this weekend.

The extremism in New Jersey isn't limited to the right though. 19% of voters in the state, including 32% of Democrats, think that George W. Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11.

Beyond that 21% of respondents, including 33% of Republicans, express the belief that Obama was not born in the United States.

Combine the birthers and the truthers and you've got 37% of the electorate. And the 3% of voters who really need to get their heads checked are the ones who are both birthers and truthers.

These findings are in no way unique to New Jersey. In fact it's the least 'birther' of five states where we've looked at that question. But it's a reminder that high levels of extremism are in no way limited to the south.

Full results here

Obama struggling in New Jersey

Barack Obama's approval rating with likely voters for this fall's election in New Jersey has sunk to just 45%, with 48% of voters disapproving of him. That makes you wonder just how effective tying himself to Obama is really going to be for Jon Corzine this fall.

When PPP looked at New Jersey in late July Obama's approval came down at 53/39. Since then he's steady at an 80% approval rating with Democrats but has seen a decline with Republicans and particularly independents. Where he was at a positive 48/42 with unaffiliated voters then, that's now dropped to 36/56. What's particularly interesting about that is over the same period of time Corzine has seen his deficit to Chris Christie among those voters fall from 28 points to 19. With Republicans what was a 20% approval rating is now just 12%.

New Jersey is the first state where PPP has found more people who voted for Obama saying they disapprove of him than people who voted for John McCain that think he's doing a good job. 11% of Obama voters are now unhappy with him while just 6% of people who didn't support him last fall express approval for the job he's doing.

The health care issue doesn't seem to be doing him any favors in the state. Only 39% of voters say they support his plan while 50% are opposed.

It's important to remember that this poll was conducted of the 2009 electorate, which supported Obama just 48-46 last year. If the survey was reweighted to reflect an electorate that voted for him 57-42, his approval spread would be 51/43. That's certainly better, but nevertheless much weaker than his performance on election day last year.

New Jersey's Senators aren't too popular either. Perhaps most worrisome for Democrats in the state are Robert Menendez's numbers. Only 27% of voters express approval for his job performance while 40% disapprove. Even within his own party just 47% give him good marks. Frank Lautenberg's numbers are somewhat better, coming in at 38% approval to 44% disapproval.

Full results here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did the speech make a difference or not?

So we've seen polling now from CNN and Research 2000 that would seem to indicate things are headed in the right direction for Obama after last week, polling from Gallup/USA Today showing that they aren't, and polling from Rasmussen first showing that they were and then showing that they weren't. And I'm sure I'm missing other polls that fall into one or another of those categories as well.

We'd love to give you some clarity...but we can't. We've conducted two polls since last Wednesday night. The one in SC-2 looked great for Obama and health care. The one in New Jersey we'll release in full tomorrow looks terrible.

The day after the speech I suggested the two swing groups he needed to win over were conservative Democrats and moderate independents. I said if he was in the 60-70% support range on health care with those groups it would show the game had changed but that if it was still 45-55% it would indicate we were right where we were before.

It's a limited sample size but here's what we've found on those fronts:

-In SC-2 support for him among moderate independents on health care is at 55%. Not bad, but not where he needs to get it. But it's a much happier story than New Jersey, where it's just 30%

-In SC-2 among conservative Democrats it's at 79%...but you need to keep in mind there that 71% of the folks who fall into that group are African American. In New Jersey it's at 53%.

So based on the metrics we had laid out Obama's speech probably did not give support for him on health care the boost it needed. But we'll see where it looks nationally this weekend, where we have data from last month that we can compare it to, as well as looking at it in whatever state we end up polling.

I think the truth is going to end up being that we're right where we were a week ago and that the SC-2 numbers may be a reflection of voters there feeling like they have to be nicer to Obama because their Congressman was a jerk.
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