Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Did Allen really do himself any long term damage?

Last week we found that George Allen was actually not particularly damaged goods when it comes to the possibility of again seeking elected office. Here's some additional perspective on those numbers:

-His 50% favorability rating makes him more popular than about 2/3rds of the Senators we've polled on so far in 2009.

-He has decent numbers with key swing voter groups. Among conservative Democrats only 23% say they would never vote for Allen while 59% are open to it. With moderate Republicans he's very popular- 86% of them have have a favorable opinion of him and while 60% say they would definitely vote for him in a future campaign only 7% said they never would. And while his overall numbers with independents are impressive- 59% with a positive view of him and 69% open to voting for him in the future- what makes the numbers even more intriguing is that among moderate independent voters he still has a positive 48/41 favorability ratio.

Here's my feeling on 'Macaca': it was probably the difference between Allen losing by a point and winning by one or two. The fact that the race became so competitive was more a reflection of the national political climate and Jim Webb making an unexpectedly strong candidate than Allen's misstep. It may have made enough of a difference to tip the needle in an extremely tight race, but I don't think it had a huge impact on voters' long term perceptions of him- it may have made Democrats who disliked him already dislike him even more but it didn't make many Republicans sour on him and evidently the impact with independents was small as well.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, his next move is.

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