Monday, July 12, 2010

Republicans and the McCain Vote

With Republican voter excitement and anger at high levels across the country you would expect everyone who voted for John McCain even in the Democratic year of 2008 to be strongly committed to supporting the GOP this year. And for the most part that's true- in 18 of 24 Senate and Gubernatorial races we've polled over the last 3.5 months the Republican candidate held at least a 60 point advantage with voters who said they supported John McCain. There is very little in the way of McCain voters going for Democrats this year.

What are interesting are the six exceptions though:

1) In Kentucky Rand Paul leads Jack Conway only 70-14 with McCain voters

2) In Texas Rick Perry leads Bill White 72-14

3) In Illinois Senate Mark Kirk leads Alexi Giannoulias 61-6

4) In Louisiana David Vitter leads Charlie Melancon 72-14

5) In New Hampshire John Stephen leads John Lynch 64-13

6) In Illinois Governor Bill Brady leads Pat Quinn 66-8

The New Hampshire case is not very remarkable- John Lynch has proven to be a strong vote getter with a large amount of crossover support in his three successful runs for Governor.

The others though speak to some problems for the GOP. In both Kentucky and Texas the Republicans nominated the more conservative, more unpopular candidate when Trey Grayson or Kay Bailey Hutchison winning probably would have resulted in general election contests that weren't really contests. Likewise in Illinois Republicans nominated an unknown in Bill Brady instead of one of the better known candidates in the race. We haven't polled Nevada recently where Republicans did something similar or Colorado where they might, but if GOP voters want to give their party the best chance possible to get back control of the Senate this fall they're probably not nominating the right candidates to do it.

In Illinois and Louisiana the comparatively tepid support from McCain voters for Mark Kirk and David Vitter is likely a product of scandal that has surrounded the candidates. Given all of Alexi Giannoulias' baggage a Republican devoid of it would probably would be winning the Senate race right now. David Vitter's probably going to be fine but Republicans would have zero chance of losing the race given Barack Obama's standing in the state if they had a cleaner nominee.

If I had to put my money on it I'd still say Republicans are going to win the Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana races and they have at least an even money chance in both of the Illinois ones. But they're making things harder on themselves than they have to be.

Here's a chart showing how much each Republican across the country leads by with McCain voters:


GOP Nominee

Lead Among McCain Voters

California Senate

Carly Fiorina


Iowa Senate

Chuck Grassley


Missouri Senate

Roy Blunt


New Hampshire Senate

Kelly Ayotte


Arizona Senate

John McCain


Wisconsin Governor

Scott Walker


Colorado Governor

Scott McInnis


South Carolina Governor

Nikki Haley


Iowa Governor

Terry Branstad


Ohio Governor

John Kasich


Wisconsin Senate

Ron Johnson


Pennsylvania Governor

Tom Corbett


Arizona Governor

Jan Brewer


Pennsylvania Senate

Pat Toomey


California Governor

Meg Whitman


Colorado Senate

Ken Buck


Ohio Senate

Rob Portman


North Carolina Senate

Richard Burr


Texas Governor

Rick Perry


Louisiana Senate

David Vitter


Illinois Governor

Bill Brady


Kentucky Senate

Rand Paul


Illinois Senate

Mark Kirk


New Hampshire Governor

John Stephen



Anonymous said...

Normal Republicans were never excited about McCain and conservative independents were absolutely turned off by him. He got the nomination because the conservative vote was split and Dems in Florida where the primary was not supposed to matter crossed to vote for him. Many GOP stayed away from the polls even knowing the GOP could lose to Obama specifically because they DIDN'T like McCain. Those are the precise GOP most motivated to go to the polls this time. You are way off base at looking at enthusiasm. McCain had just voted for TARP when the election came in 2008. It is those who voted only to vote against Obama, and those who didn't bother to show up who will turn the tide this year.

DBL said...

Considering that PPP has a 3-4% margin of error, is there much of a difference between Ron Johnson's 77-11 lead and Rand Paul's 70-14 lead?

I don't

Louisiana and Kentucky are unusual states. McCain got 30% of the Democratic vote in Kentucky and 24% in Louisiana. McCain overwhelmingly won independents in both states. McCain got single digits among Democrats in most states and lost independents by 10-20 points. So all McCain voters weren't in the same place on the ideological spectrum. Dems who vote GOP in some cases aren't movement conservatives.

The unusual thing isn't Brady having a 66-8 lead, but that 24% are undecided. If he splits those 24%, that'll be a surprise because I'd expect the best Dems won't get more than 12-13% of the McCain vote.

Anonymous said...

A good many Republican voters voted for McCain in 2008, not because he was thought to be the best possible candidate, but rather because he represented values closEST to those voting for him - when compared to a very liberal opponent, Barack Obama. Many of us more conservative Republican voters had to hold our noses before casting our votes for John McCain. It was simply a matter of McCain being, as "they" say, the lesser of two evils. As far as most Republican voters are concerned, McCain is politically irrelevant to the future of the Republican Party. He is but a footnote to the past policies of a (GOP) party that has gone astray. Trust me, the NEW Republican Party that will emerge between now and 2012 will represent a far different kind of Republican Representative than what existed in 2008. Watch and see.

Christian Liberty said...

Buck is at least as competitive as Norton against either Dem candidate. Buck leads both Romanoff and Bennet by larger margins than does Norton.

Dustin Ingalls said...

In our May poll, Norton did slightly better than Buck against both Bennet and Romanoff.

Bennet led Buck 45-39 but Norton only 44-41. Romanoff led Buck 41-38 but Norton only 43-41.

It's pretty clear the most likely matchup--Bennet/Buck--is the best for Dems, just as Angle and Paul winning has been a huge boost to our prospects of retaining one seat and actually picking up another to offset the zero chance the GOP already had of taking back the Senate.

Unknown said...

That seems a bit disingenious. Even Nate Silver concedes that the GOP has at least a 10-15% chance of winning the Senate, and his prediction came before you released your Wisconsin numbers.

Christian Liberty said...

PPP's very generous voter "screen" of anyone who voted as little as once in the past 3 general elections (and potentially never voted in a midterm before) seems to produce a very pro-Democratic sample, often making PPP an outlier among recent polls. Such a liberal "screen" may be appropriate for general elections with high youth and minority turnout and high turnout among first-time voters, but not for midterms. For midterms, I would trust Rasmussen more. (Rasmussen's data was as pro-Democrat in 2006 as it is pro-Republican in 2010.)
Buck's trendline is ascending against both Bennet and Romanoff, while Norton's trendline is flattening or descending.

Survey USA and Denver Post both had Buck up by 9 on Romanoff and up by 3 on Bennet, while Norton led Romanoff by 4 and Bennet by 3.

Buck is a stronger candidate in practically every poll besides PPP.

Dustin, I also feel your antipathy toward principled conservatives like Angle and Paul is leading you to ignore the polling data. Colorado may be a tossup (or lean Republican), but Nevada and Kentucky are both very likely Republican. NV and Ky can safely nominate principled conservative and still win in November. Harry Reid is every bit as vulnerable as Tom Daschle... and no smear campaign is going to save him.

The fact that leftists don't like the more conservative candidates is all the more proof that principled conservative candidates will be MORE popular statewide. Leftists are such a minority that the majority of Americans want what makes leftists piss their pants. The fact that leftists worry about Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and Ken Buck is all the more proof that not only will conservatives support them, but so will INDEPENDENTS.

CO - R pickup
NV - R pickup
KY - R hold

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