Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paul pulls away

Independents have moved toward Rand Paul in droves over the last month and a half and as a result he's built his lead in the Kentucky Senate race up to 13 points at 53-40.

In a September PPP poll Paul led by 7 overall while also holding a 7 point lead with independents. Now that advantage with independents is a whooping 39 points at 66-27. There's been virtually no movement among Democrats or Republicans over that period of time so most of the movement in the race can be attributed to that shift.

There's been no change in Rand Paul's favorability numbers in the wake of the controversial 'Aqua Buddha' ad. He's at a net +6 (49/43), virtually identical to his +5 (45/40) a month ago. Jack Conway has seen his numbers plunge though. Where before voters split evenly in their assessments of him, giving him a favorability of 36/36, they now view him mostly in a negative light at -13 (39/52).

There's little doubt the ad has backfired. 56% of voters say they think it was inappropriate to only 15% who think it was alright. Even Democrats feel by a 41/24 spread that it crossed the line and perhaps relating back to Conway's huge new deficit with independents they think it was wrong by a 68/7 spread.

Others have compared this ad to the 'Godless Americans' one that Elizabeth Dole ran against Kay Hagan in the final days of the 2008 campaign and it's an apt comparison. A week out it was pretty clear that Dole was headed for defeat- a narrow defeat but a defeat nonetheless. She had to do something to change the game and it backfired on her and she got blown out by 9 points instead of losing narrowly. It's a similar story here- Conway was going to lose unless he did something dramatic. He did and now he's probably going to lose by a lot more than if he had not run the ad. Clearly religion is something politicians should probably stay away from in their ads. Still Conway was right to do something to change the game even if this was the wrong something.

Conway's path to victory was always dependent on getting folks who voted for John McCain to support him this time around but he just never developed the sort of crossover appeal that he needed. Only 8% of McCain voters are planning to support him, a smaller number actually than the 9% of Obama supporters going for Paul. In particular Conway has fallen short of getting the conservative Democrats that he needed to win this race, as evidenced by the fact that Paul is taking 25% of the overall Democratic vote.

At the end of the day Barack Obama's approval rating is 34% in Kentucky. It's going to be hard for Democrats to win open seat races this year where that's the case, unless they're running the most popular politician in the country as they are with Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

Full results here


Anonymous said...

Another ad that may have backfired badly was Joe Sestak's "Belle" ad in PA, which really was a defense of the unpopular bailouts, and Sestak didn't need a Hail Mary. He has gone from +3 to -8 in the Muehlenberg tracker.

Turning back to Kentucky, Conway's campaign was never consistently on-message, and Aqua Buddha was a prime example of that.

AG said...

Republicans love to take offense that others are offended by their views. Conway's ad was pretty accurate, conservatives are "real" Americans and must be given deference. More than anything else, it is that malignant sense of entitlement that bothers me most about the ultra-right.

I remember when Paul first beat Grayson in the primary and wondered if he was too crazy to be electable, but the fact is, he's no more unelectable than Jim Bunning was.

Chuck T said...

Ouch! I had hopes for this, but I know things can't be that good for Conway when PPP has him down by 13 while Fox/Pulse has him down by 7! That ad was a stupid mistake and probably put the nail thru the coffin.

Unknown said...

This is not good news, but it's unfortunately not surprising that Indies really didn't like the attacks; the type of red meat and muscular attacks which work well in the netroots doesn't work well with swing voters IMO but I could be wrong. This is simply a GOP state and voters are coming home.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this result will stop the lame posts of "PPP is Dem/Kos front."

But, somehow, I doubt it.

I'm getting very curious to find out whether the real world is the PPP world, the Rasmussen world, or something in between.

ARealSenator said...

I live in KY and the first time I saw the Conway ad I thought to myself "Well, I guess I'm going to have to say the junior senator from Kentucky Rand Paul." It's painful just to type it.

Generally, it's a bad idea to attack someone's college record since, you know, most people do stupid things in college and will let them slide. The most disappointing part is that it wasn't like there was a lack of good stuff to attack Paul on: the drug problem in eastern KY and his idea to increase the cost we pay for health care(which Conway did use), his pledge not to bring any money to KY through earmarks (KY gets way more money back from DC than we pay), his support for NOT setting mining regulations and his general belief that deregulation is always good (see financial/economic crisis). There were plenty of things Conway could have hit him on and he did on a couple, but this distracting ad and his campaign's blitz to make old college stuff relevant has distracted from any good point he makes.

I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here: whoever is running Conway's campaign is an idiot.

Unknown said...

While I'm sure Rand Paul is ahead, there's no way he wins independents by 39%. Rockefeller took 32% of Republicans in 2008 and won indies by 16 in a similar state. Kerry and Biden had landslides and were in the 20's. McConnell won them by 16. Those are the type of numbers someone like Jeff Sessions puts up against a weak candidate in a Republican state.

Dark-Star said...

That dimwit has built his own political coffin, plank by plank, with the grand finale being trying to 'run' (as a candidate) after shooting himself in both feet.

asdf is exactly right; Indies/Centrists reacted to that ad like a fart in church. Why Conway couldn't see that coming from a mile away I have no idea.

I usually refrain from making such predictions...but I think Paul has this one in the bag. The first two things Conway needs to do after he makes his concession speech are fire his campaign manager and go buy a clue.

Anonymous said...

To DBL, his Dad dominates with independents too. It isn't a typo. Check out the independent breakdown of both the Rasmussen Obama/Ron Paul head to head poll and the PPP Obama /Ron Paul head to head poll. Independents like them.

Unknown said...

@AG, I certainly don't personally find Conway's ad offensive and I think that you have a tremendous point re: sense of entitlement. I'm just thinking about a mushy middle swing voting constituency which doesn't go for that type of stuff, and for which Paul maintaining a moderate *demeanor* even while holding extreme viewpoints might have won him some points. This is all just a guess; for all I know, the ad had zero impact and this polling is simply a reflection of a pie in the sky pickup for Dems.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you guys could only produce so many BS polls for Democrats before the desire to protect your post-election reputation became too powerful to ignore.

There is no great move to Paul here. There never was any Conway surge. All you did here was not lie.

NRH said...

We'll have to see if it hurts Rand Paul's numbers any to have one of his prominent public supporters working for the campaign at the time caught on camera literally stomping on a Democratic activist. And then, apparently having taken lessons at the Cheney School of Public Relations, saying that he wants her to apologize to him for it.

Anonymous said...

There is no way that a Democrat was going to win a Senate seat in Kentucky in a Republican year. Obama is very unpopular in Kentucky. In another year Rand Paul was beatable.

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