Friday, July 29, 2011

New Jersey Miscellaneous Poll

One of the things we like to do on our polls is ask voters what they feel about politicians who have been out of the spotlight for a while. On our New Jersey poll we looked at Christie Whitman, Jim McGreevey, Bill Bradley, and Robert Torricelli. Only Bradley came out looking good:

-31% of voters have a favorable opinion of Whitman to 52% with an unfavorable one. She seems to have fallen into one what may call the Joe Lieberman trap- her moderation antagonized voters in her own party, who have a favorable opinion of her by only a 43/37 margin. But it didn't win over Democrats or independents either, who rate her at 23/60 and 29/54 respectively. What is it that allows the Scott Browns and Olympia Snowes of the world to ride moderation to incredible popularity while it trips up the Whitmans and Liebermans and Ben Nelsons of the world? I'm not really sure.

-Whitman certainly looks like a popular ex-Governor compared to her elected successor, Jim McGreevey, though. Only 19% of voters view McGreevey favorably to 64% with an unfavorable opinion. The animosity towards him cuts pretty strongly across party lines. Democrats like him the 'best,' such as it is at 31/48. With Republicans (5/85) and independents (12/70) warm feelings are virtually nonexistent. This same poll finds that New Jersey supports gay marriage so that's clearly not the issue- the way he handled it is.

-Eight and a half years after he left the Senate Robert Torricelli has quickly been forgotten by Garden State voters. 56% have no opinion of him. He might want even more to forget about him because among those who do remember only 10% have a positive opinion to 33% with a negative one. Torricelli replicates the McGreevey trifecta of being disliked by Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. What other elected Senators who have served in the office within the last 10 years do you think would be unpopular/forgotten enough now to have a favorability rating at 10% or lower? John Edwards manages that feat but he may be the only other one.

-There is one ex-pol New Jersey voters still love and that's Bill Bradley, who has a 56/14 favorability rating. There are only 2 sitting Senators in the country who have a net approval better than Bradley's current net favorability- Hawaii's Daniel Inouye and Wyoming's John Barrasso. To be that popular you have to have broad appeal and Bradley is quite well liked across the party spectrum- 67/7 with Democrats, 46/17 with independents, and 47/21 with Republicans.

Other items from our New Jersey poll:

-Voters in the state narrowly think gay marriage should be legal, by a 47/42 margin. That includes a 46/35 spread with independent voters. When you broaden the issue to civil unions 81% of voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples to only 17% opposed. 41% say full same sex marriage rights would be their preference with another 40% supporting civil unions. Even among Republicans in the state 77% support either gay marriage or civil unions.

-New Jersey's attitude towards its current Senate delegation could be easily summarized as 'meh.' Last week we showed Robert Menendez had tepid approval ratings and Frank Lautenberg does too with 41% of voters approving of him and 36% disapproving. What might be most remarkable is that 23% have no opinion even though Lautenberg's been in the Senate for nearly 30 years. Maybe that lack of familiarity is a product of the state not having its own media markets.

-And finally Democrats lead on the generic legislative ballot 52-39. They're holding their base (91% support from Dems for Dems) better than the Republicans (87% of GOP voters for the GOP) and only trailing by a 39-36 margin with independents. That 3 point deficit is a lot smaller than the advantage Republicans had with independents in 2009 and it's not nearly enough for the party to win in a state with a significant Democratic party id advantage.

Full results here

Voters dislike Snyder, also oppose recall

Michigan voters don't like Rick Snyder...but they don't support recalling him from office at this point either.

Snyder's approval rating is 38% with 50% of voters disapproving of him. That's actually a slight improvement from when PPP last polled the state in March, when Snyder stood at 33/50. His numbers are identical to where they were with Democrats on the previous poll and he's seen nominal gains with Republicans (from 68% approval to 72%) and with independents (from 32% to 40%, although his disapproval number has also risen with them as they've come off the fence.)

There are 2 key reasons Snyder continues to be under water. The main one is that independents disapprove of him 40/46. That's particularly notable because of how popular he once was with that group of voters- in fact it's been almost one year to the day that I wrote a blog post specifically on that subject. That unique appeal he had to independents over the course of last year's campaign is now a thing of the past. Snyder's other problem is that Democrats (80%) are more united in their disapproval of him than Republicans (72%) are in their approval. The intensity of feelings about him now are stronger on the other side of the party ledger than within his own.

As bad as Snyder's numbers are though voters are still slightly opposed to recalling him- 42% support removing him from office to 47% against it. That's because only 79% of voters who disapprove of him support recalling him compared to 92% of voters who approve of him that oppose recalling him. There's a large enough mass of voters who disapprove of him but don't think he should be removed to tip the scales against recall.

That phenomenon can particularly be seen with independents. They disapprove of Snyder 40/46 but they simultaneously oppose recalling him by a 50/35 margin.

Democrats aren't having a great July nationally but one data point in our Michigan poll still makes it clear that the party's a whole lot better off than it was in 2010. If voters could go to the polls and do last year's election over again they'd split their votes evenly between Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero at 45%. That's quite a contrast from Snyder's 18 point margin of victory last fall and an indication that voters in the state are moving away from the GOP, at least compared to last year. That's certainly good news for Barack Obama and Debbie Stabenow, as reflected in polling we released for the state earlier this week.

Michigan probably won't be as Democratic next year as it was in 2008...but at this point it looks like it will be more like 2008 than 2010. And that's actually a pretty good microcosm of all our polling across the country right now.

Full results here

Virginia Miscellaneous

-Bob McDonnell continues to be one of the more popular Governors in the country but that doesn't mean the Republican nominee putting him on the ticket next year would be a big game changer in the state.

50% of voters approve of the job McDonnell's doing to 31% who disapprove. That ties him for the 8th most popular out of 41 sitting Governors PPP has conducted polls about. He's pretty universally liked by the Republican base (83/8), is very solid with independents (49/29) and has a decent if not remarkable amount of crossover support from Democrats (18/56).

But when asked what impact McDonnell being the Republican Vice Presidential candidate next year would have on their vote, a plurality of voters at 44% say it wouldn't make a difference to them either way. And among those who say it would more- 31%- say it would make them less likely to vote Republican for President than say- 24%- that it would make them more inclined to vote for the GOP.

We found a similar result when we asked this question about Marco Rubio in Florida last month. 35% there said Rubio on the ticket would make them less likely to support the Republican nominee to only 31% who said it would be a positive. Rubio and McDonnell are both popular but it doesn't appear giving them the VP nod would be a difference maker in either of their critical swing states.

-Eric Cantor is not a popular figure with voters in his home state. 39% have no opinion about him and those who do view him more negatively than not- 29% have a favorable view to 31% with a negative one. Democrats like and Republicans dislike Cantor in similar numbers. What tips the balance against him is a 23/31 spread with independents. These numbers don't bode particularly well for a future statewide run in Virginia so continuing to climb the ladder of House leadership appears to be his better political future.

-Mark Warner continues to be one of the most popular Senators in the country. His 54/28 approval spread ties him for 12th out of 83 we've polled on. He's at 55/23 with independents and stands at 29% with Republicans. Jim Webb can't match Warner's popularity but he's above average as well at 45/36.

-Virginians are opposed to gay marriage but do support some form of legal recognition for same sex couples. 52% of voters think it should be illegal to 35% who support allowing it. But when you throw civil unions into the mix 65% of voters express favor for giving gay couples more rights to only 33% who oppose any recognition at all. A lot of voters appear to be more concerned about the semantics of 'marriage' than actually denying same sex couples the rights associated with it.

-Voters are leaning toward the GOP in this fall's legislative elections, but only by a 45/42 margin. They have the slight advantage because slightly more Republicans- 94%- commit to supporting their party's candidates than Democrats- 91%- commit to supporting theirs. Independents split evenly at 34%, a welcome change for Democrats after getting flattened with that group of voters in the 2009 election in the state.

-Virginia's favorite major league baseball team is the Braves (19%) with the Yankees taking second place honors at 14%. The Nationals, as close to a home state team as there is, can only muster a third place tie with the Red Sox at 11%. The Nationals do at least triumph in the 703 where 26% of voters say they're their favorite team. The Orioles come in 5th at 10% and the Phillies (4%) and Mets and Cubs (3%) have limited popularity.

-Finally Virginia voters prefer the Hokes over the Cavaliers, although the largest share of voters doesn't care at all. 46% have no opinion but among those who do 32% prefer Virginia Tech to 21% who go for Virginia. We also asked partisans of each school for approval ratings on their football and basketball coaches. Frank Beamer unsurprisingly gets the best marks with 70% of Hokie fans happy with the job he's doing to only 5%.

The other 3 coaches all get similar numbers- Seth Greenberg's at 39/5, Mike London's at 39/7, and Tony Bennett's at 34/4. The interpretation on all three of those guys is that the jury's out- very few fans are unhappy with them but most aren't ready to express support for them either. A lot of folks are taking a wait and see approach.

Full results here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Romney. Bachmann basically tied in NC and NJ

North Carolina and New Jersey are pretty different states but when it comes to the Republican Presidential race their stories are quite similar- Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann are basically tied for the lead.

In New Jersey Romney's at 22% with Bachmann at 21%, Ron Paul at 11%, Rick Perry at 10%, Herman Cain at 8%, Newt Gingrich at 7%, Tim Pawlenty at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.

Bachmann's strength in New Jersey is notable because it has one of the most moderate Republican electorates you will find in any state. There are more voters- 27%- who identify as moderates than there are who label themselves 'very conservative'- 23%. This is the only state where we've found that to be the case and you would expect it to be a drag on her numbers. But she leads Romney 26-18 with those far right voters and also has a 21-19 advantage with ones who are just 'somewhat conservative.' That allows her to offset the 34-16 deficit she faces with moderates.

If by some chance he were to change his mind about running for President Chris Christie would be the top choice of Republicans in the state at 38% to 13% for Romney and 12% for Bachmann. And if Sarah Palin ends up jumping in the race she would be in third place at 16% behind Romney's 21% and Bachmann's 18%. Perry and Paul would tie for 4th at 10% each. The fact that Romney's lead would be wider with Palin in than without her speaks again to the fact that she and Bachmann would likely pull from the same pool of voters and ease Romney's path to the nomination.

In North Carolina the numbers are very similar. There Romney leads Bachmann 23-22 with Rick Perry debuting at 14% and Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich at 9%, Ron Paul at 6%, Tim Pawlenty at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 2% rounding out the field.

North Carolina's a rare state where Bachmann actually edges out Romney with centrist voters, 23-21. But his 12 point lead with voters just right of center at 30-18 outweighs her 9 point advantage with far right voters at 26-17.

If you add Palin to the equation in North Carolina she finished 4th at 12% behind Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 17%, and Perry at 12%.

Taken together with our national poll last week and other polling we've released this month these numbers are a further indication that Romney and Bachmann have become co-front runners. That could prove to be a pretty short lived position for Bachmann though if Perry formally enters the race and starts eating into her support from conservatives. Perry's double digit standing on both of these polls before he's even entered the race is pretty impressive, especially as Pawlenty and Huntsman continue to languish in the 2-5% range.

And for what it's worth Tom Kean Jr. is who New Jersey Republicans want as their Senate candidate next year. 36% say he's their top choice with Kim Guadagno second at 10% and no one else hitting double digits- Woody Johnson's at 9%, Mike Doherty at 7%, Anna Little at 4%, Joseph Kyrillos at 3%, and Tim Smith at 2%.

Full results here

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kaine leads Allen by small margin

Barack Obama may have taken a step back in Virginia over the last couple of months but the state of the Senate race remains unchanged: Tim Kaine holds a slight lead over George Allen. This month's poll comes out at 46-43.

Kaine (87-7) and Allen (87-6) have basically identical leads with voters of their own party. What tips the balance toward Kaine is that he leads 44-33 with independent voters. That advantage for Kaine with independents is becoming a trend in our polling. In May Kaine had a 45-40 advantage with them and a 46-44 lead overall.

It's not that independent voters are in love with Kaine: his 43/38 favorability breakdown with them is decent but not earth shattering. But they really don't like Allen. Just 20% rate him positively to 47% with a negative opinion. That breakdown was 32/47 when we polled in May, 36/41 in late February and 38/45 in November. Allen does not have a good image with independent voters in Virginia and that's why he's down with them right now.

There seems to be a general thought that this race will move in whatever direction the national political winds do over the next 15 months and change so it's interesting that Kaine has gained a point on his lead over Allen even as Barack Obama's advantage on Mitt Romney has declined by 7 points. At least right now those races aren't moving in concert. For now that's good news for Kaine- Obama's not dragging him down even as his popularity flags. But longer term it could be good news for Allen too- if Obama's numbers see a recovery that doesn't necessarily mean Kaine's all the sudden going to have an 8 point lead either.

On the extremely off chance that George Allen were to lose the Republican nomination to Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke, Kaine would have a 16 point lead at 47-31. GOP primary numbers we'll release tomorrow shows the chances of that to be extremely minuscule though.

Full results here

Obama leads in Michigan

A slim majority of voters in Michigan approve of the job Barack Obama's doing as President and he leads all of his potential opponents for reelection in the state.

50% approve of the job Obama's doing to 46% who disapprove. His numbers are holding up decently well because 89% of Democrats remain in his corner. Independents split against him by a 41/53 margin and only 8% of Republicans think he's doing a good job but the largest number of voters in a Michigan Presidential year electorate are going to be Democrats so if Obama can keep the base in line his numbers are going to be pretty solid overall.

The only Republican who's competitive with Obama is Mitt Romney. The President leads him by 5 points at 47-42. This is the third time PPP has looked at an Obama/Romney match up in Michigan and the results have been pretty consistent- in March Obama led by a 48-41 margin and in December it was a 47-43 advantage. Romney actually leads Obama 45-34 with independent voters but he only takes 9% of Democrats and that may not be enough crossover support for a GOP candidate to win in Michigan.

One issue where voters are clearly on Obama's side over Romney's- and one that has the potential to scuttle Romney's chances of winning the state further down the line- is the auto bailout. 51% of voters think that it's been a success to only 30% who disagree. And asked more specifically whether they think the bailout's been a good thing for Michigan 66% of voters say it has been with only 18% dissenting. Romney's opposition to the popular bailout will give Obama a good card to play if that ends up being the match up in the general election.

Against the rest of the Republican field Obama leads by margins similar to his 2008 margin of victory in the state. He's up 15 on Rick Perry at 50-35, 16 on Michele Bachmann at 53-37, 17 on Herman Cain at 50-33, and 18 on Sarah Palin at 54-36.

Michigan is a rare state where Palin actually is not the potential Republican nominee who fares worst against Obama. That dubious designation goes to home state candidate Thad McCotter, who trails the President by 19 points at 50-31. McCotter is unknown to most voters, with 58% expressing no opinion about him. He does not get good reviews from the folks who do offer an opinion with only 13% rating him favorably to 29% with a negative opinion. Even among Republicans he's on negative ground at a 17/22 favorability spread. Clearly McCotter buzz is a nonexistent phenomenon.

If Republicans nominate Romney they have a chance in Michigan, although he'll have to come from behind. If they go with anyone else Obama appears likely to duplicate his double digit victory from 2008.

Full results here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nevada and Vermont Question Suggestions

Nevada and Vermont were the winners of our vote on where to poll this week.

Nevada the Senate race seems pretty set and we'll look at the Presidential race too. Any questions we should ask in the state besides that stuff and the obvious approvals for Harry Reid and Brian Sandoval? This is a statewide poll so we're not going to be doing the special election to fill Dean Heller's House seat at this point but I'm sure we'll take a look that sometime closer to the election.

In Vermont who would you like to see us poll against Bernie Sanders and Peter Shumlin? And what questions we should ask beyond those two races and the Presidential contest?

As always appreciate the suggestions.

Stabenow leads Hoekstra

Debbie Stabenow starts her race for reelection against Pete Hoekstra in a pretty good position, leading 50-41. That's similar to where she stood the last time PPP polled Michigan in March. At that time her advantage over Hoekstra was 50-38.

The key for Stabenow is that she has Democrats lined up almost 100% behind her. She leads Hoekstra 90-4 with voters of her own party. In a Presidential year in Michigan there are going to be a lot more Democrats voting than Republicans. That means for a Republican to win statewide requires some combination of meaningful crossover support from Democratic voters and a large victory with independents. Hoekstra actually does lead Stabenow 44-38 with independents but he needs a much wider advantage than that if he's only going to get 4% of the Democratic vote. Stabenow's winning 8% of Republicans to that 4% Hoekstra's getting from Democrats- it would be impossible for a GOP candidate who lost more Republicans than they won Democrats to win in Michigan.

Stabenow's approval ratings are about average for a Senator right now- 46% of voters like the job she's doing to 40% who disapprove. That's pretty much identical to our March poll when it was 46/39 and up a little bit from our December poll when it stood at 41/40. Stabenow does poorly with independents (37/47) but she's got more Republicans (15%) who like her than there are Democrats (12%) who dislike her.

There are other Republicans running but none of them are as competitive with Stabenow as Hoekstra- Randy Hekman trails by 16 points at 52-36, John McCulloch is down 20 at 52-32, and Peter Konetchy is down 21 at 52-31. None of that trio of Republicans hopefuls has greater than 23% name recognition. Hoekstra is a blank slate to many voters as well, with 39% holding no opinion about him. Those who do split pretty evenly in their assessments with 31% rating him favorably to 30% who have a negative view of him.

Hoekstra's decision to run certainly gives Republicans a credible candidate in this race. But he's still a long shot and if he wins it's likely going to be the product of a Republican landslide year that results in the party coming away with something in the neighborhood of 55 Senate seats. Think about it this way- Stabenow is stronger in the state than Barack Obama is. Obama won Michigan by 16 points in 2008- he would probably need to shift about 20 points in the wrong direction, losing the state by 4-6 points, to pull Stabenow down with him. Obama's numbers aren't very good right now but they haven't plummeted to that point.

Full results here

Good news and bad news for Obama in VA

Barack Obama's numbers are the weakest they've been in Virginia since before the 2010 election, but he still leads all of his top potential Republican opponents for next year by at least 4 points in the state.

Obama's approval is in slightly negative territory now with 47% of voters giving him good marks while 48% disapprove. On our last poll, conducted shortly after the capture of Osama bin Laden, he was at 51/44. He had also been on positive ground our previous two surveys before that. In March it was 48/45 and last November it was 50/45.

There's no one place where Obama has seen any particularly drastic shift in his numbers since our last Virginia poll. With Democrats his approval is still a very solid 89%, but it's down from the almost remarkable 94% it stood at in May. And with Republicans his disapproval, which was already pretty unanimous at 88%, has ticked up even further to 93%. If there's a silver lining for Obama in his 8 point net approval drop since May in Virginia it's that his approval with independents has remained steady at 48%, with 42% disapproving of him at this point.

Despite his declining popularity Obama continues to lead all of the top Republican candidates in the state. It's only a 4 point advantage against Mitt Romney at 47-43 but he has pretty healthy leads against the other contenders- 9 points over both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry at 49-40 and 48-39 respectively, an 11 point advantage over Herman Cain at 49-38, and a 14 point one over Sarah Palin at 51-37.

This is the first time we've tested Bachmann, Perry, and Cain in Virginia. Obama's lead over Romney is down 7 points from an 11 point advantage at 51-40 in May but he's only shed one point against Palin, his 14 point edge almost identical to the 15 point one he had at 55-40 the last time around.

Obama's really benefiting from the unpopularity of the Republican candidate field in the state. All 5 of the candidates we tested have net negative favorability ratings both overall and specifically with independent voters. Cain's numbers are the 'best,' such as it is with a -8 spread at 27/35. He's followed by Perry at -10 (25/35), Romney at -15 (34/49), Bachmann at -19 (30/49), and Palin at -34 (28/62).

The overall take from these numbers is that Virginia continues to look like it could be something of a firewall for Obama, making it the most important state in next year's contest. We found last week that Obama was tied with Romney nationally, performing 7 points behind his margin of victory against John McCain. But here his 4 point advantage over Romney is only 2 points worse than he did against McCain, meaning that Obama's running more or less 5 points better in Virginia compared to 2008 than he is in the rest of the country.

Virginia was in some sense icing on the cake for Obama last time- he was glad to win it, but he didn't necessarily need it to win. Now with his numbers flagging in places like Pennsylvania that are more traditionally Democratic Virginia may well be a critical part of Obama's path to 270 electoral votes next year. Combine that with the Kaine/Allen Senate race and you have the biggest state in the country next year.

Full results here

Voting time

We'll start releasing our Michigan and Virginia polls later today. Here are the options for where we'll go this coming weekend:

-California. There's been some polling showing Dianne Feinstein with weakening approval numbers. But would she actually be in any trouble against a named Republican candidate? Interested in looking at that and of course there's always plenty of good stuff to look at in our nation's biggest state.

-Colorado. There's no Gubernatorial or Senate race next year and that's why we haven't polled it that much but it could prove to be one of the most pivotal swing states in next year's election. Barack Obama won it by an impressive margin last time. How's he holding up?

-Kentucky. One of the few states with an important race in 2011- the one for Governor, which we haven't looked at since last October. Also very interested to get a first look at Rand Paul's approval numbers, and could Kentucky be the elusive state where Sarah Palin is popular?

-Nevada. There's been some conflicting polling on the Senate race of late and it's also an important early Republican primary and Presidential swing state.

-Vermont. One of the few states where we've never done a public poll and there are a few interesting things worth looking at- would Tom Salmon pose a threat to Bernie Sanders in the Senate race, is Peter Shumlin going to have a trouble winning a second term?

-West Virginia. Haven't taken a look at the Governor's race since before the primary and it's always worth checking up on Joe Manchin whenever Democrats are going through a bit of a down period, as seems to be the case now, to see how he's holding up.

Voting is open until tonight, we'll do the top 2, don't cheat the vote.

Friday, July 22, 2011

North Carolina Miscellaneous

Perhaps nothing signifies how much North Carolina is changing and its population growing from an influx of Northern transplants than this fact: the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are two of the state's three most popular baseball teams. While they are way behind the Atlanta Braves, baseball's most bitter rivals have far bigger fan bases in the state than do any other teams, including the Nationals and Orioles.

The Braves are far-and-away North Carolinians’ favorite baseball team, with 36% choosing them over seven other named Major League Baseball clubs. The Braves appeared for a long time on the TBS network in the state. Atlanta is also closer to some parts of North Carolina than Washington, D.C., or Baltimore.

But despite parts of the state residing in both the Nationals’ and Orioles’ media markets, only 4% cheer primarily for the O’s and 1% for the Nats. The same 1% like the Tampa Bay Rays, whose AAA farm club is the Durham Bulls, but they are no more popular in the Triangle than elsewhere in the state. The Orioles' biggest cluster of fans is in the Northeastern corner of the state, closest to the team; there, 12% say they follow the Birds.

Taking a distant second behind the Braves are the Yanks, with 15%, followed by 10% who root for the Sox. The Yankees are most popular in the Southeastern part of the state, where they trail the Braves only 28-20, followed by the Triangle, where they are behind, 32-19. The Red Sox are most popular in the Charlotte metro area, but so are the Braves, who are ahead 44-16 in popularity. There, the Yanks are least popular, still in third place but only claiming 7% of baseball fans. In addition to the immigration patterns mainly toward the Raleigh and Charlotte areas, these two teams’ recent World Series championships and their prevalence on national sports networks' broadcasts have created larger nationwide bandwagons.

The Chicago Cubs, who have long appeared on WGN stations in the state, and the Cincinnati Reds, whose media market includes some western parts of the state, each claim 3% of fans. 27% root for someone else.

In political news, former U.S. Attorney George Holding was probably wise to have put his hat in the ring to face Brad Miller in the soon-to-be GOP-friendly 13th congressional district rather than take on relatively popular three-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Holding's decision was made after this poll was in the field. If he changes his mind, he would start out behind Cooper, 40-29, with 31% undecided.

Part of Cooper’s advantage is that Holding is almost unknown, despite leading high-profile prosecutions of former Governor Mike Easley and former Senator John Edwards. Only 22% can express an opinion of Holding, with 5% favorable and 17% unfavorable. Cooper, meanwhile, is a known quantity to almost twice that many voters, and they fall slightly (23-20) in his favor.

But Cooper's crime-fighting record also gives him 12% of the Republican vote, with Holding taking only 7% of Democrats, weak for a Republican in this state. Cooper also has a nominal lead with independents, 32-30. Independents are more undecided than voters of either party, but they are only a fifth of voters. The crossover support/party unity is the deciding factor, and whoever takes on Cooper will have to cut into his strength with moderate to conservative Democrats. Cooper has a whopping 55-14 lead with moderates of all partisan stripes, and they're the 30% plurality of voters. He also gets 20% of the quarter who say they're somewhat conservative and even 11% of the fifth who claim to be far right.

55% are glad the state has the lottery, and 29% wish there was not one. Republicans are least glad, 47-38, and Democrats most, 64-22.

Neither of the state's senators is particularly popular right now, and surprisingly, despite being in her first term, Democrat Kay Hagan is slightly better-known and better-liked than the recently and strongly re-elected sophomore Republican Richard Burr. 38% approve of Hagan's performance, with 41% disapproving. The margin for Burr is 35-39.

Full results here.

Jersey? Fuhgedaboutit

Except Jon Huntsman's wholloping in Utah and Ron Paul's narrow lead in Texas, we have yet to find a single Republican beating Obama in his own state. Now New Jersey marks another state where a potential favorite-son White House aspirant has no home-field advantage.

The Garden State has been a bit of a tease for Republicans at the presidential level. In the wake of 9/11, George W. Bush’s campaign played there at the last minute in 2004, only to lose by six points on Election Day. The GOP may have sensed renewed hope with the election of Chris Christie in 2009, but his popularity has sunk, and if he were to run, he would do worse in his home state against President Obama than would national frontrunner Mitt Romney. In fact, none of the contenders would come closer than John McCain did to winning the state except Romney, and Romney only barely.

Romney’s 14-point deficit, 53-39, is only a hair less than McCain’s 15-point loss in 2008. Christie falls behind by 17, 56-39; Michele Bachmann by 20, 55-35; Tim Pawlenty by 22, 54-32; Herman Cain by 26, 55-29; and Sarah Palin also by 26, 59-33.

Romney (52-37), Palin (59-29), and Christie (55-38) trailed by similar margins when PPP last took a look at the race in early January.

The president wins the independent vote against everyone but Romney, leading by one (Pawlenty and Bachmann) to twelve points (Palin) but trailing Romney 44-45. But at only 22% of the electorate, independents are the least numerous voters in this state. Obama's greatest advantages are that Democrats have a 46-32 self-identified turnout edge over Republicans and that he wins considerably more support from the opposite party than the Republicans do. He takes 13% (against Romney and Pawlenty) to 17% of the GOP vote (Palin), while they only pull 5% (Cain and Pawlenty) to 9% of Obama's party (Romney).

Obama’s approval rating in the Garden State has essentially not changed in the last seven months, now at 52%, with 43% disapproving (51-43 then), still his seventh or eighth best showing in the country. That is basically the reverse of Christie’s 43-53 spread, which is itself an improvement on all his other partymates, with Romney at a 36-47 favorability margin, Cain a 20-33, Bachmann a 32-50, Pawlenty a 20-44, and Palin a 31-65.

President Obama might be in a periodic popularity swoon nationally right now, and he's struggling in Jersey's western neighbor, Pennsylvania, among other swing states, but he hasn't dipped here, and it's not likely the state's shrunken slate of 14 electoral votes will be up for grabs next fall.

Full results here.

Herbert popular, but in a close race with Matheson

On the face of it, Governor Gary Herbert couldn’t be safer for re-election. Herbert has a strong 51-32 approval rating and does well among Republican, 71-14, indicating he is not especially vulnerable to a primary challenge. Herbert even garners a significant amount of crossover support with 27% of Democrats approving compared to 58% who disapprove. Herbert’s approval among independents, 34-44, leaves much to be desired. However, in Utah this isn’t a big problem since half the state is Republican. While Herbert has an even lower approval among non-Mormons, 25-59, than his approval among Democrats, he more than makes up for it with a strong 62-20 approval rating with the Mormon majority in Utah.

It appears that Matheson can compete against almost any politician in Utah as despite Herbert’s strong ratings, he can hold Herbert to only a 45-43 lead. Against Matheson, Herbert’s support among Democrats comes to almost nothing as he trails Matheson 10-83 among Democrats while only leading Republicans 73-18. Herbert’s most disappointing numbers are among independents where Matheson beats him more than 2-1 by a 57-23 margin. There is a particularly large generational gap in Utah with those 18-29 supporting Matheson by a large 55-29 margin, while those over 65 favor Herbert 52-39.

Against candidates not named Matheson, Utah looks like it always does in the race for governor. Herbert holds a strong 55-32 lead over his 2010 challenger, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, and a 56-29 lead against former Utah Attorney General Jan Graham. Against these candidates, Herbert garners more than twice as much support among Democrats than he loses among Republicans, while holding modest deficits with independents If Matheson doesn’t run, Herbert should have nothing to worry about.

It’s not that the other Democrats are unpopular; Corroon has a 33-29 favorability rating while Graham has a 27-18 spread, but it takes Matheson’s 59-28 rating for a Democrat to get anywhere near victory in Utah. It may be a good idea for Utah Republicans to think twice before redistricting Matheson out of a seat, as he could cause them serious trouble in a statewide election.

Full results here

Evaluating God

While many polls have asked what Americans’ beliefs are about God, there has been little measurement of voters’ evaluation of its performance. It turns out, if God exists, voters would give God a strong 52-9 approval rating. This is hardly a surprise considering the vast majority of the country believes in an infallible deity, but some of the crosstabs are quite interesting.

There is a considerable age divide on God’s approval with those 18-29 approving 67-18 compared to a 40-6 approval rating among those over 65. What jumps out from this divide is not just that young voters are more likely to be critical of the job performance of the omnipotent figure, but that they are considerably more likely to voice their opinion. Only 15% of those 18-29 said they were unsure whether they approved of God, while 54% of those over 65 said they were unsure. This could indicate that the youth is much more comfortable answering silly questions about religion while the elderly feel a question on God’s approval is taking religion too lightly. There is also an ideological divide over God’s performance. Those who identify as very liberal approve of God 54-18, while those who identify as very conservative are almost uniform in their approval, 61-4.

God also performs well on some of the issues it could be responsible for if it exists. God scores its best rating on its handling of creating the universe. The big bang may be messy, but most voters must feel it gets the job done as they give God a 71-5 rating on the issue. As for the animal kingdom, if God exists it may have been off its game when it evolved up the giraffe’s laryngeal nerve, but perhaps the elegant Monarch butterfly makes up for it as voters give God a 56-11 rating on its handling of animals. As one would expect, God’s worst ratings are on its handling of natural disasters; however, Americans may feel the occasional earthquake or hurricane builds character as voters give God strong marks, rating it 50-13.

The reason God was referred to as “it” rather than “he” in the poll was because not everyone who believes in God believes God to be male. Using “it” in the God questions allowed them to be more inclusive.

Full results here

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Utah firmly against same-sex marriage, but not civil unions

With Utah, there’s no question voters oppose same-sex marriage. After all, it’s one of the reddest states in the country with a population that’s 70% Mormon. PPP confirms this as only 27% of Utah voters think that same-sex marriage should be legal compared to 66% who think it should be illegal. Republicans in Utah, who make up 50% of the state, are united 89-6 against legal same-sex marriage, while Democrats only support it 66-29. Unlike other states, independents also oppose legal same-sex marriage by a large margin, 52-36. This is likely due to the fierce opposition to same-sex marriage from Mormons. Mormons oppose same sex marriage 83-13, while non-Mormons come out strong for same-sex marriage rights by a 63-29 margin. Even in Utah, same-sex marriage has plurality support among the youth with those 18-29 in favor of legal same sex marriage 42-39.

When civil unions are included, a solid 60% majority of Utah voters come out in favor of some form of recognition. 23% favor marriage, 37% civil unions, and 39% oppose all recognition. With this level of support in Utah, it’s likely that there isn’t single state in the nation stands in opposition to all recognition of same-sex couples.

Despite the Mormon Church’s history of supporting polygamy, Utah is united in opposition to its legality. 75% of Utah voters think Polygamy should be illegal while only 14% think it should be legal. What’s most interesting about these numbers is the breakdown between Mormons and non-Mormons. Mormons are actually a bit less likely to support legalized polygamy. 14-78, than non-Mormons, 16-70. Utah voters also leave the Mormon Church’s history in the dust when it comes to interracial marriage, supporting legal interracial marriage 88-5. Mormons support legal interracial marriage a bit less strongly than non-Mormons, 87-5 and 90-5 respectively, but the difference is slight.

As for Utah’s politicians, Mike Lee, who ousted Bob Bennett at the Utah Republican convention, rates only a tepid 35-31. This is a poor rating for a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats more than 2-1. While Lee does fine with Republicans rating 53-12, he gets almost no support among Democrats, 6-60, and is deep underwater with independents, 24-44. Congressman Rob Bishop rates similarly with only a 32-30 rating. Like Lee, Bishop is down considerably with independents 24-47. For many politicians, this would be the kiss of death, but in Utah a Republican usually won’t have any problems unless Republicans begin to disapprove.

Former senator Bennett does better than Lee and Bishop among the general population of Utah voters, rating 48-34. However, Bennett only rates 50-32 among Republicans. Bennett is on positive ground with Democrats, 42-34, and independents, 48-37, but his crossover support proved useless when he had to defend himself against a more popular Republican in his own party last year.

As for sports, Utah voters prefer BYU as their favorite college team by a narrow 35-33 margin over Utah. 11% prefer Utah State, 5% Southern Utah, 4% Weber State, and 1% Utah Valley. Almost all the support for BYU comes from Mormons. Mormons prefer BYU over Utah by a 48-21 margin, but only 3% of non-Mormons prefer BYU compared to 61% who prefer Utah.

Full results here

Dems poised for House gains

There's a very curious thing going on in our national polling right now: voters are down on Barack Obama and it's looking more likely that there could be a Republican in the White House in 2013. But they're also way down on the Republicans in Congress and Democrats have now led on 11 consecutive PPP generic House ballot polls dating back to February. Could Democrats gain a lot of seats in the House, possibly even a majority, while simultaneously voting out Barack Obama? It would certainly run counter to all historical precedent but these are weird times politically.

PPP's newest national poll finds that Americans think even less of the new Republican majority in the House than they thought of the Nancy Pelosi led Democratic majority. 42% of voters think the GOP is doing a worse job than the Democrats did while in power to only 39% who believe they're an improvement. 18% say the new majority's performance is 'about the same' as the old one's.

Democrats lead this month 46-44 on the generic House ballot. That's a 9 point shift from the Republicans' 7 point margin of victory on that measure in November's election and although it might not be enough to give them back control that margin would almost definitely translate to Democrats winning back a lot of the seats that they lost last fall. The GOP does maintain an 8 point advantage with independents at 41-33, but that represents a significant decline from their 19 point victory with them according to last year's exit polls.

John Boehner is not proving to be popular with the American public. 33% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 37% who disapprove, with independents splitting against him by a 34/37 margin almost identical to the overall numbers. He does have one thing going for him though- with Republicans he's at 55/15, suggesting there's not too much opposition to him within the party. We also found on our GOP primary poll earlier this week that 41% of Republican voters have a higher opinion of Boehner to just 18% who picked Eric Cantor so there's not any appetite for a change in leadership at least with the public at large.

The House landscape has shifted dramatically in the last 9 months.

Full results here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Michigan/Virginia Question Suggestions

Michigan and Virgina were the easy winners of our vote on where to poll this week: beyond the obvious stuff what questions would you like to see us ask? Always appreciate the good suggestions.

Obama in perilous shape

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP's monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama's approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he's doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Republicans dislike him at this point to a greater extent than Democrats like him and that will be a problem for him moving forward if it persists.

Romney takes advantage of those 2 points of weakness for Obama. He leads the President by 9 points with independents at 46-37. And he earns more crossover support, getting 13% of the Democratic vote while only 8% of Republicans are behind Obama.

An extremely wide electability gap has developed between Romney and all the rest of the Republican candidates. Everyone else we tested trails Obama by at least as much as John McCain's 2008 margin of defeat and in most cases more. Obama's up 7 on Michele Bachmann at 48-41, 9 against Tim Pawlenty at 48-39, 12 versus Herman Cain at 48-36, and as usual has his largest lead in a match up with Sarah Palin at 53-37.

Here's an important note on all of this early 2012 polling though: Obama's numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama's doing but aren't committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out. Here's an idea of where these various match ups might stand once all voters have made up their minds:

-In the Obama/Romney head to head 21% of undecideds approve of Obama and 61% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Romney would lead 52-48.

-In the Obama/Bachmann head to head 10% of undecideds approve of Obama and 67% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 51-49.

-In the Obama/Pawlenty head to head 9% of undecideds approve of Obama and 75% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, the race would be tied at 50%.

-In the Obama/Cain head to head 8% of undecideds approve of Obama and 76% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 51-49.

-In the Obama/Palin head to head 5% of undecideds approve of Obama and 84% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 54-46.

So if you dig deeper into the numbers Obama's position is a lot worse than meets the eye. There's a very good chance Obama would lose if he had to stand for reelection today. If there's a silver lining for Obama it's this- he trailed Romney in our poll last July and then led him for each of the next 11 months. For whatever reason summer and particularly the month of July has not been friendly to Obama in the polls ever since he hit the national stage. So perhaps he'll see another recovery now as he has in the past. But for now he's in one of the weakest positions of his Presidency.

Full results here

And the finalists are...

We have 7 choices for where we'll do our 2 polls this week. Voting is open until 5 PM today.

-California. There's been some polling showing Dianne Feinstein with weakening approval numbers. But would she actually be in any trouble against a named Republican candidate? Interested in looking at that and of course there's always plenty of good stuff to look at in our nation's biggest state.

-Colorado. There's no Gubernatorial or Senate race next year and that's why we haven't polled it that much but it could prove to be one of the most pivotal swing states in next year's election. Barack Obama won it by an impressive margin last time. How's he holding up?

-Kentucky. One of the few states with an important race in 2011- the one for Governor, which we haven't looked at since last October. Also very interested to get a first look at Rand Paul's approval numbers, and could Kentucky be the elusive state where Sarah Palin is popular?

-Michigan. This one needs no explanation- the Senate race just got a lot more interesting with Pete Hoekstra's reconsideration. Also very interested to see how Obama's doing here- if his numbers are as weak as they are in Pennsylvania that's very bad news. And has Rick Snyder's decline continued, stabilized, or has he maybe even shown a little improvement?

-Vermont. One of the few states where we've never done a public poll and there are a few interesting things worth looking at- would Tom Salmon pose a threat to Bernie Sanders in the Senate race, is Peter Shumlin going to have a trouble winning a second term?

-Virginia. Not all that interested in the Senate race- it will almost definitely be tied give or a take a few points. But this is a place where in 3 polls we've done since November Obama has held up very that still the case? And since we took a first look at the 2013 Governor's race in New Jersey, we may as well do the same in Virginia.

-West Virginia. Haven't taken a look at the Governor's race since before the primary and it's always worth checking up on Joe Manchin whenever Democrats are going through a bit of a down period, as seems to be the case now, to see how he's holding up.

As always don't cheat- voting a few times on different computers is fine, creating a proxy to vote hundreds of times will get a state thrown out.

Christie on the decline

Chris Christie's popularity has declined significantly over the first half of 2011 and he would have a very difficult time winning reelection if voters in New Jersey went to the polls today.

Only 43% of voters in the state approve of the job Christie is doing to 53% who disapprove. That -10 approval spread represents a 13 point decline from when PPP last polled the state in January, when Christie's standing was 48/45. Christie's numbers are steady with Republicans. But independents have really turned on him, going from approving by a 55/39 margin to disapproving by a 54/40 margin. And his crossover popularity with Democrats is on the decline as well- where 23% approved of him in January now only 16% do.

The fallout of Christie's declining approval numbers is that he would now trail Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a hypothetical 2013 match up, 47-43. Booker is an extremely popular political figure, with 43% of voters expressing a positive opinion of him to only 16% with a negative one. He still has 2 things going for him that Christie no longer does- he's very well liked with independents (a 35/13 favorability spread) and he has a lot of appeal across party lines (just as many Republicans- 26%- like him as dislike him. Booker actually leads Christie 43-42 with independents, a group GOP candidates really need to win by a wide margin to be successful statewide in New Jersey.

Christie would also find himself in a tough battle with a couple other major Democratic political figures. Congressman Frank Pallone would fight Christie to a tie at 43%. That's despite the fact that only 38% of voters in the state even know who Pallone is, and those who do don't have a particularly positive image of him. And Christie would lead his recent foil, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, only 42-40. That match up is close even though voters across the state have quite a dim view of Sweeney with only 13% saying they see him positively to 37% with an unfavorable opinion.

It's not even a given that Christie would be able to win another match up against his predecessor and the man he defeated for the job, Jon Corzine. Asked how they would vote if they could do the 2009 election for Governor all over again 48% say they would pick Christie and 48% say they would pick Corzine. Our final 2009 poll found Christie beating Corzine by 23 points with independents. Now that margin would be just 11 points. Corzine ties Christie even though he remains an unpopular figure in the state with just 39% of voters rating him positively to 47% with a negative opinion.

Finally we also- at the request of our blog readers and just for fun- looked to see how Bruce Springsteen would fare in a run against Christie. Each would start out at 42%, but there's a lot more room for growth for the Boss because while only 4% of Republicans are undecided, 23% of Democrats say they're not sure who they would vote for. If Springsteen ran and came across as a credible candidate he'd likely see a large increase in that Democratic support. Springsteen has favorability numbers any politician would die for- 50% of voters see him positively to only 22% with an unfavorable opinion. He has favorable numbers across party lines although perhaps because of his well known politics he's seen a good deal more positively by Democrats (63/10) than Republicans (38/35).

Christie has plenty of time to rehabilitate his numbers in the next two years and change but it's clear that New Jersey voters are souring on him and that he'd have an uphill battle for reelection if he was up this year.

Full results here

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

PA Republicans: Santorum should drop to Senate race

Pennsylvania Republicans have a message for Rick Santorum: run for the Senate instead of the White House.

Santorum is in a distant 3rd in our Republican Presidential polling in the state, with only 14% of GOP primary voters saying he'd be their top choice. That puts him behind Michele Bachmann's 24% and Mitt Romney's 17%. Santorum does run ahead of Herman Cain at 10%, Ron Paul at 9%, Rick Perry at 8%, Newt Gingrich at 6%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Tim Pawlenty at 1%.

Bachmann's lead in Pennsylvania reinforces the advantage we showed for her nationally in numbers released this morning. As is the case everywhere she's leading primarily based on her strength with the far right, and she seems to be squeezing Santorum out with that group of voters which should be his natural base of support. She gets 30% with them to only 15% for Santorum. Bachmann also leads Romney 25-18 with 'somewhat conservative' voters, a group that he has tended to have the advantage with nationally. Romney does crush Bachmann with moderates by a 33-6 margin, but they only account for 16% of primary voters so that doesn't take him far.

Pennsylvania Republicans may not support Santorum for the White House but they would like him to be their candidate for another shot at Bob Casey next year. 47% say he'd be their choice of a nominee with no one else even registering in double digits- Jake Corman and Tim Murphy are each named by 9% of respondents, Jim Gerlach by 7%, Laureen Cummings by 5%, Charlie Dent by 4%, Marc Scaringi by 1%, and Kim Ward by 0%.

Whether Santorum ends up jumping into the Senate race or not these numbers make it pretty clear that Republicans are looking for someone new to get into the field. The two announced candidates we tested- Cummings and Scaringi- account for only 6%. That leaves a whole lot of room for someone else to jump in and win the nomination. It's safe to say GOP voters are not satisfied with the current crop of candidates.

Looking at the GOP Presidential field without Santorum included Bachmann maintains her 7 point advantage at 27% to Romney's 20% and 10% each for Paul and Perry. And if you throw Sarah Palin into the mix she surpasses Romney for second, getting 18%. That puts her behind Bachmann's 23% but ahead of Romney's 14% and Perry's 11%. No matter what permutation of the candidate field you look at Bachmann's the early favorite of Republicans in the Keystone State.

Full results here

Taking suggestions

We're going to do 2 state polls this weekend- where would you like us to go? We'll take suggestions until the morning, pick some finalists, and then take a vote during the day tomorrow to pick the two states where we poll. Thanks as always for the good ideas!

New Hampshire Miscellaneous Poll

-There are a million New Hampshire Republican primary polls out there right now so when we polled the state earlier this month we decided we may as well ask about the 2016 Democratic race too. The answer is not surprising: if Hillary Clinton decided to make another run at the White House she would start out as an overwhelming favorite. 52% of primary voters said she'd be their choice from the options we gave, followed by Joe Biden at 16%. No one else registered in double digits- Andrew Cuomo at 9%, Russ Feingold at 3%, Deval Patrick at 2%, Cory Booker at 1%, and Brian Schweitzer and Mark Warner each at 0%.

Those numbers largely reinforce what we found when we asked about a similar pool of candidates in Iowa in April. There 44% picked Clinton to 13% for Biden, and again no one else in double digits. If nothing changes over the next few years- and goodness knows it could- Clinton's going to be way out in front to start if she decides to make the race.

Since it seems quite likely neither Clinton nor Biden will actually run we also asked a version of the question in New Hampshire without them. In that permutation Cuomo leads the way with 30% to 18% for Feingold, 13% for Patrick, 2% each for Booker and Warner, and 1% for Schweitzer. That may be an indication that Cuomo's work in his first 6 months as Governor really has made national waves. Or it could also just be an indication that he has a famous family name.

-New Hampshire Republicans made enormous gains in the Legislature last year. Now voters appear ready to go back in the other direction in 2012. Democrats lead the generic ballot in the state by a 48-45 margin. That actually represents progress for the Republicans, who trailed by 49-41 on that count when PPP last polled the state in April. But that spread would still result in a huge number of seats- and quite possibly the majority- moving back to the Democrats. The key to the party's improvement relative to last year? It leads 42-41 with independent voters- that's a modest advantage but it's a far cry from the huge margins the GOP was winning those voters by last year.

-New Hampshire is one state where there's an outright majority in favor of gay marriage. 51% of voters in the state think it should be legal to only 38% who think it should be outlawed. Two thirds of voters under 30 support it but what might be most remarkable is that even seniors do by a 45/44 margin. That's quite a different story than we see in most states.

If you extend the question to asking about both gay marriage and civil unions 80% of voters in the state support some form of legal recognition for same sex couples with 45% saying that full marriage rights is their top choice and the other 35% preferring civil unions. Only 19% oppose all recognition.

Even among Republicans in New Hampshire 67% support legal recognition for gay couples. They largely prefer civil unions- 50% of GOP voters- with 17% in favor of marriage. These numbers suggest that gay bashing is not likely to be a winner for Republican Presidential candidates in New Hampshire next year.

-The state's 2 Senators have very similar and pretty solid numbers. Neither is overwhelmingly popular but they're both on positive ground and that's not a bad place for an elected official to be these days. Kelly Ayotte's approval is a +6 spread at 44/38 and Jeanne Shaheen's breaks down at +5 at 47/42.

Full results here

Is there an IVR/Live Telephone Interview divide in Republican primary polling?

While PPP has shown a remarkable surge in Bachmann’s performance, with her pulling into a one point lead nationally, many other pollsters have found only a moderate surge. Bachmann reaches only 8% In a McClatchy/Marist poll (6/15 - 6/23), 11% in a Fox News Poll (6/26 - 6/28) and 14% in a Quinnipiac poll (7/5 - 7/11). On the other hand, Rasmussen (6/14) also found a larger surge for Bachmann, with her polling at 19% despite the poll having been conducted only right after the last debate as Bachmann’s surge was just beginning. However, the Rasmussen poll did have a large Romney lead. Nevertheless, Bachmann’s strongest showings have both been in IVR polls.

Similarly in Iowa, IVR pollster Magellan Strategies has Bachmann at 29%, almost double Romney’s 16% while live telephone interview pollsters have found Bachmann either tied or with only a small lead on Romney. In New Hampshire, the evidence is more of a mixed bag with PPP finding Bachmann closest to Romney with 18% to his 25%, while Magellan finds Bachmann with her lowest support at 10%. Magellan’s poll of New Hampshire was conducted right after the debate, so Bachmann’s showing might be stronger if they were to re-poll this week.

It’s not just Bachmann for whom IVR polls have shown stronger support. At the height of Cain’s surge, PPP showed him stronger relative to Romney than all other pollsters. No other IVR polls were conducted nationally at this time. Similarly, PPP and Rasmussen were the only pollsters to find Donald Trump alone in the lead at his height.

Bachmann, Cain, and Trump all have had appeal to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. It’s possible that IVR polls could be showing a stronger performance for the right wing candidates than live telephone interview pollsters, though this is far from certain. The Magellan New Hampshire poll and the recent Rasmussen national poll showing a large lead for Romney offer contradictory evidence. However, this might be attributable to both polls occurring right after the debate before her momentum could fully build. While more evidence is needed, it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if the divide persists.

Menendez shows some signs of weakness

Robert Menendez might be the most vulnerable Democratic Senator up for reelection next year that no one's talking about. PPP's newest New Jersey poll finds him with an approval rating mired in the 30s and leading by only 5 points over one of his prospective 2012 opponents.

Just 37% of voters in the state approve of the job Menendez is doing to 35% who disapprove. He has awful numbers with independents, only 24% of whom approve of him to 40% who think he's doing a poor job. And Republicans (63% disapproval) are more convinced that he's doing a bad job than Democrats are (60% approval) that his performance has been good.

Of course the big challenge for Republicans is finding a candidate that can actually capitalize on Menendez's weakness and that looks like it might be a difficult task. Four of the people whose names have been bandied about as candidates- Mike Doherty, Kim Guadagno, Woody Johnson, and Joseph Kyrillos- would all trail Menendez by double digits in spite of his middling approval numbers. It would be a 13 point lead over Doherty (48-35), a 14 point advantage over Guadagno (48-34), an 18 point one over Johnson (48-30), and a 19 point spread over Kyrillos (48-29).

That quartet of Republicans all has two things in common. They're obscure, with all of them having a name recognition that falls into the 24-35% range. And they're not well liked by the few voters who do offer an opinion of them, with each having at least 9% more voters who rate them unfavorably than positively.

There does look to be one potential candidate who could really make the race competitive and that's the GOP's nominee from 2006, Tom Kean Jr. He's decently popular, with 32% of voters giving him good marks to 27% with a negative opinion. More importantly he's at 35-22 with the independent voters who any Republican needs to win by a wide margin in order to be successful in New Jersey.

Kean holds Menendez to a 44-39 advantage. He benefits from a 49-30 lead with independents, but he takes only 8% of the Democratic vote. He would likely need more crossover support than that to pull out a win. Still he's within striking range and would clearly be the Republicans' best hope for winning this race.

Menendez's vulnerability hasn't received much attention and if Republicans don't get a strong candidate into the race it probably never will. But his lead over Kean is a lot smaller than the advantages folks like Bill Nelson in Florida and Sherrod Brown in Ohio have posted over all of their prospective opponents and much has been written about their situations.

Of course there's one big difference between Menendez's situation and theirs- the GOP has actually won recent Senate races in Florida and Ohio while New Jersey has proven to be an endless tease for the Republican Party. The reaction to Menendez from voters in the state may be a 'meh' but in a Presidential year a Democratic Senator would probably have to be deeply unpopular to lose reelection- and he doesn't fall into that category.

Full results here

Bachmann continues to surge

Michele Bachmann's momentum continues to build and she's taken first place by the smallest of margins on PPP's newest national Presidential poll. 21% of Republican primary voters say she's their top choice to 20% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Rick Perry, 11% for Herman Cain, 9% for Ron Paul, 7% for Newt Gingrich, 5% for Tim Pawlenty, and 3% for Jon Huntsman.

Bachmann's rise has been fueled by her appeal to voters on the far right- and their skepticism about Romney. Romney has the lead with centrist Republicans (23-17) and with those defining themselves as only somewhat right of center (24-17). But among 'very conservative' voters only 48% have a positive opinion of Romney to 34% who view him negatively, weak numbers, and Bachmann's capitalizing on that with a 26-15 lead over Romney, who's in third place with that group of voters.

Oddly enough one of the best things that could happen to Romney right now is the late entry of Sarah Palin into the race. In a ballot test including her as a candidate he leads the way with 20% to 16% for Bachmann, 12% for Palin, and 11% for Perry. 44% of Palin's voters say they would vote for Bachmann if Palin didn't run, compared to only 6% who say they would otherwise vote for Romney. So basically a Palin candidacy would take a large bite out of Bachmann's support with virtually no impact on Romney.

Republicans don't want Palin to run though. Just 29% think she should enter the race at this point to 53% opposed to that idea. It's not that GOP voters don't like Palin- 57% have a favorable opinion of her to 32% with a negative one, the best favorability spread of anyone we tested on this poll. But even among those voters who see her in a positive light only 45% think she should make a White House bid. There just continues to be a significant disconnect between Republicans liking Palin and thinking she should be President.

There's been a fair amount of speculation that this contest could end up as a two race between Romney and one of the more conservative candidates in the field, the strongest of whom at this point is looking like Bachmann. In such a scenario Bachmann would lead Romney 44-41. Bachmann would win the support of Cain voters (57-35), Paul backers (43-31), and Perry's (57-30) while Romney would get the voters of Gingrich supporters (43-29), Huntsman ones (79-10), and Pawlenty's (43-32).

The fact that 57% of Perry's supporters would otherwise prefer Bachmann to only 30% who would go for Romney suggests that his entrance into the race would have the potential to stifle Bachmann's momentum. Perry's 12% debut in our polling is a very strong entrance given how little exposure he's had so far on the national stage. Other than Bachmann he has to be seen as the biggest winner on this poll.

The losers this time around are the duo of Pawlenty and Huntsman. Pawlenty appeared to be finally getting some momentum after Mike Huckabee declined to make the race and did as well as 13% in a national poll we conducted in late May. Since then though he's declined to 9% and now 5% over the course of our last two surveys- not a good trajectory. Meanwhile Huntsman's official entry to the race hasn't done anything for him- he's still stuck at the same 2-3% level of support that he's shown in most of our polling both at the national and state levels.

These numbers also show potential signs of trouble ahead for Romney. Only 17% of Republican voters say they'd be willing to vote for someone who had supported an individual health insurance mandate at the state level, compared to 66% who say they would not be willing to support such a candidate. The funny thing about that is Romney's getting 17% right now with that latter group of voters and his favorability with them is 49/33. Your average primary voter isn't tuned in enough to the race right now to know the specifics of Romney's record.

The biggest question for his campaign is what's going to happen once Romney's opponents inevitably do make folks aware of his record- will that really be a sort of litmus test/deal breaker for GOP voters or will they forgive Romney for that because of his greater attributes and far superior electability? These numbers show the potential for big trouble down the road for Romney but there are also reasons to think he'll be able to overcome that.

Full results here

Friday, July 15, 2011

Perdue trails McCrory by 8

The story with Bev Perdue's poll numbers doesn't change much: her approval rating continues to be in the mid-30s and she continues to trail Pat McCrory in a head to head for reelection by a high single digit margin.

34% of voters this month say they're happy with the job Perdue's doing while 49% disapprove. The biggest obstacle to Perdue seeing a significant improvement in her numbers continues to be a lack of support for her from Democrats, only 55% of whom give her good marks to 25% who dissent. Usually you'd expect a Governor to be at 70% or higher with voters in their own party. Perdue's numbers with independents, at 31/57, have a lot of room for improvement as well.

These are actually the best approval numbers Perdue has had during the month of July at any point during her time in office. In July of 2009 she had a 25% approval rating and in July of 2010 she was at 32%. She still has a lot of room for improvement but she's at least in a better place than she was earlier in her term.

This month Perdue trails McCrory 47-39 in a hypothetical rematch of their 2008 contest. McCrory gets 83% of the Republican vote, while only 67% of Democrats will commit to voting for Perdue. And she trails by a 57/28 margin with independents as well.

Certainly Perdue's unpopularity is the biggest reason she trails McCrory but he is also a pretty popular figure, with 29% of voters rating him favorably to 23% with a negative opinion of him. The 48% with no opinion indicates a lot of voters have already forgotten McCrory since his 2008 campaign so he will have a lot of reintroducing of himself to do once he formally enters the race.

Over the last 3 months Perdue has settled into trailing McCrory by a 6-8 point margin. That's a significant improvement from the 11-14 point deficits she showed in polling between February and April. The legislative session definitely enhanced her stature and put her in a stronger position than she's been in a long time, the big question now is whether she can keep that improvement going once her foils in the General Assembly go home.

One thing seems pretty certain: when McCrory finally does throw his hat in the ring he'll start out with the lead.

Full results here

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Breaking News: Obama will not win Utah in 2012

Barack Obama is not going to win Utah next year. His approval rating is 32% with 62% of voters disapproving of him. But now that we have that out of the way there was actually some pretty interesting stuff in our Utah President poll:

-Even though our numbers yesterday showed Mitt Romney would destroy Jon Huntsman in a Republican primary in the state, Huntsman is actually much stronger when tested against Obama in the state. He leads Obama by 40 points at 63-23, compared to a 32 point advantage for Romney against Obama at 63-31. The reason Huntsman does so much better in the general is that he is beloved by Democrats (69/25 favorability) and independents (61/29). He gets 28% of the Democratic vote against Obama, compared to 19% for Romney. And he wins independents by a 39 point margin against the President, compared to 8 points for Romney.

These numbers speak to the fact that Huntsman would be an incredibly formidable candidate against Obama if he made it to the general election. His appeal to Democrats and to independents is remarkable for a Republican candidate. And that's exactly why he won't even come close to smelling the nomination.

-Bill Clinton lost Utah by 19 points in 1992 and that's the closest a Democrat has come to winning the state since 1964. That makes Sarah Palin's performance against Obama truly remarkable- she leads him by only 2 points at 43-41, losing independent voters by 26 points and getting only 69% of the Republican vote while Obama takes 89% of the Democrats. We've polled Palin's favorability in 33 states over the course of the last 8 months and haven't found voters with a positive opinion of her anywhere. We thought dark red Utah might finally be the one but only 32% of voters there have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with an unfavorable one. The search continues. The fact that Palin would make Utah a swing state may be the greatest sign of her weakness yet.

Rounding out the Republican field in Utah Herman Cain leads Obama by 7 points at 43-36, Tim Pawlenty has an 11 point advantage over him at 45-34, and Michele Bachmann tops him by 14 points at 49-35.

-One final note: if the non-Mormons in Utah were a state it could very well be the bluest state in the country, at least based on the results of this poll. Only 30% of poll respondents were not Mormons so the sample size on this group is about 220, making the margin of error +/-6.6%. Nevertheless Obama's approval rating with non-Mormons is 66% with only 29% of voters disapproving of him. That's a higher approval than we've found for Obama in any other state and only Hawaii where he's at 64% even comes close. He leads Huntsman by 9 points with non-Mormons and beyond that it's landslides- 40 points over Romney, 43 against Bachmann, 46 versus Pawlenty, 47 against Cain, and a 51 point edge on Palin.

Folks who know Utah politics better than me- is the non-Mormon population in the state really this liberal Democratic? I had no idea and found these results to be pretty fascinating.

Full results here

Pennsylvania Miscellaneous

-Florida's Rick Scott, Ohio's John Kasich, and Wisconsin's Scott Walker get most of the attention but Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett also belongs on the list of new Republican Governors that voters are having significant buyer's remorse about. Only 35% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing to 46% who disapprove. Democrats are more unified (65%) in disapproving of him than Republicans are (58%) in liking him and independents split against him by a 35/40 margin as well. If voters could do it over again they say they'd vote for Dan Onorato over Corbett by a 47/44 margin. Barack Obama has a lot of problems in Pennsylvania but a popular Republican in the Governor's office is not one of them.

-The dominant sentiment toward Pat Toomey after 6 months in the Senate is ambivalence. 30% of voters give him good marks, 29% disapprove, and the largest mass of them at 41% has no opinion either way. This is perfectly good news for Toomey- you're a lot more likely to permanently damage yourself in the first few months in office than you are to set the world on fire so maintaining a low profile and not ticking everyone off is just fine. Better to be in his position than Corbett's.

-Democrats lead on the generic Congressional ballot in the state 46-40, an outcome that would almost certainly lead to the party picking up a number of seats if the election was held today. Democrats have two big things going for them compared to last year. They lead by 6 points with independents. In August of 2010 they had a 23 point gap with that voting bloc. And where last summer only 72% of Democrats were committed to supporting their party's House candidates, now 80% are. Six months of seeing what can happen with a Republican controlled House seems to have reunified the party.

I think Democrats' chances of retaking the House are being significantly undervalued by most experts right now. This finding, as well as one we made in Florida last week that Democrats led the generic ballot there by a 45-40 margin, reinforce our national polling which currently finds voters leaning Democratic 48-42 for the House next year. Voters are not happy with the new GOP majority and if there was an election today Democrats would at the least pick up a lot of seats, even if not enough to take back control.

-68% of Pennsylvania voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples but most of them fall short of saying they would favor outright gay marriage in the state. Out of the 68%, 32% say they think gay couples should have full marriages right while another 36% say their preference would be civil unions. Asked just to say whether they think gay marriage should be legal or not though only 38% go that far with 51% of voters opposed.

We see the typical massive generational divide on this issue play itself out in Pennsylvania. A strong majority of voters under 45 support gay marriage but senior citizens are even firmer in their being against it, 69/20.

-The Steelers are Pennsylvania's favorite professional sports team. 30% of voters in the state pick them, followed by 22% for the Phillies, 12% each for the Penguins and Eagles, 6% for the Pirates, 4% for the Flyers, and 2% for the 76ers. For those keeping track that's 48% of voters in the state choosing one of Pittsburgh's 3 teams to only 40% picking a Philadelphia team even though that city has 4. Advantage Steel City on that front.

Full results here

New Hampshire Congress Poll

Neither Frank Guinta nor Charlie Bass have approval numbers that are setting the world on fire in their New Hampshire Congressional districts, but Bass appears to be in much worse shape for winning another term next year.

Only 29% of voters in Bass' district approve of the job he's doing to 48% who disapprove. His numbers are bad with Democrats and independents but what really plunges them is how weak he is even with Republicans. Just 48% give him good marks to 26% who think he's doing a poor job. Those are the kinds of numbers that can make you vulnerable even in a primary. Last year Bass narrowly won the primary with less than 50% of the vote in a 5 candidate field. It would be interesting to see the outcome in a two person race.

Assuming Bass is again the Republican nominee he would find himself in a tight race with his 2010 opponent, Ann McLane Kuster. A rematch between the two would basically start as a tie with Bass edging Kuster 43-42. The reason Bass leads Kuster despite his horrid approval numbers is that even though only 48% of GOP voters are happy with the job he's doing, 80% would still choose him over a Democratic alternative. This was one of the closest House races in the country last year and it could well be again in 2012.

In the 1st District Frank Guinta has narrowly positive approval numbers. 39% of voters are happy with him while 38% dissent. Republicans approve and Democrats disapprove of him in similar numbers. What puts him over the top is a pretty decent 43/35 breakdown with independents.

Guinta leads a rematch with the former holder of the seat, Carol Shea-Porter, 48-41. He wins independents by 19 points in such a scenario. In one sense these numbers represent an improvement for Shea-Porter since she lost reelection by 12 points last year. Still there's an argument Democrats might want to go in a different direction if they want to reclaim this seat. Shea-Porter has poor favorability numbers with only 40% of voters viewing her positively to 48% with a negative opinion. And her 36/53 spread with independents is even worse than the overall number. A fresher candidate could have a better chance at returning the seat to the Democratic column.

Full results here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

National/New Jersey Question Suggestion Thread

This weekend we're going to do our monthly national poll and we're going to do a New Jersey poll. Please fire away with your question suggestions, particularly on who to test against Robert Menendez. Thanks as always.

North Carolina going bad for Obama

Barack Obama's annual summer polling swoon has come to North Carolina. For the first time since February more voters disapprove than approve of him in the state, and for the first time since November he faces majority disapproval. His approval rating this month is down to 45%, with 51% of voters unhappy with him.

A sharp turn against him with independent voters is what's causing Obama problems in the state. Last month they narrowly gave him good marks by a 47/46 margin but now only 36% are happy with him while 62% disapprove. Obama's approval with Democrats is 77%, generally on par with what it's been over the course of his time in office. And even though receiving only 5% approval from Republicans is pretty bad for Obama it's also nothing new- he's had little crossover popularity with GOP voters since the day he took office.

Obama's declining popularity also means he's not doing as well in head to head match ups against possible Republican opponents for next year. He is now tied with Mitt Romney at 45%. Although the margins were usually small he had led Romney all eight previous times PPP polled a match up between the two of them in the state. The key here is again those independent voters- they give Romney a 17 point advantage at 50-33.

Obama does lead the rest of the Republican field but with the exception of Sarah Palin his advantages are modest: he's up 3 against Michele Bachmann at 46-43, 4 against Herman Cain at 46-42, 5 against Tim Pawlenty at 46-41, and 8 against Palin at 50-42.

The reality for Obama is worse than those topline numbers indicate. In all of the match ups the vast majority of undecideds disapprove of the job Obama's doing- it's 84% against Palin, 83% against Pawlenty, 81% against Cain, 77% against Bachmann, and 74% against Romney. In all likelihood most of those undecideds would not be in Obama's camp if they really had to vote today but are on the fence at this point while they wait to see who the GOP nominee is. If their votes broke the same direction as their feelings about the President that would leave him trailing all of them except for Palin.

If there is a saving grace for Obama it's that voters don't respond well to any of the Republican candidates on a personal level either. Bachmann has the best favorability numbers but it's still a -8 spread at 34/42. She's followed by Cain's -12 at 24/36, Romney's -15 at 32/47, Pawlenty's -21 at 19/40, and Palin's -22 at 35/57. The Republicans' poll numbers all have two things in common: independents dislike them and Democratic voters are more unified in disliking all of them than Republicans are in liking them. If the GOP had an appealing set of candidates Obama would likely be in a far worse position in the state.

This is the third key swing state in the last week, along with New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where we've found Obama with under water approval numbers and struggling in head to heads with Romney. Obama's poll numbers have seemed to go bad every summer since he went to the heart of the American spotlight and they usually see some recovery- he'll have to hope that will be the case again this time around.

Full results here

Bad news for Huntsman, Hatch

It's a good thing for Jon Huntsman that his home state of Utah isn't a terribly important one to the Republican Presidential nomination process. A plurality of GOP primary voters there have an unfavorable opinion of him and he gets absolutely crushed by Mitt Romney in the state.

Overall 43% of primary voters have a positive opinion of Huntsman to 46% with a negative one. He fares well with moderates in his party (65/21) and does ok with voters who describe themselves as just 'somewhat' right of center (46/41). But with voters who describe themselves as 'very conservative' Huntsman is a pariah. Only 29% of them rate him positively with 61% giving him an unfavorable review. His work for the Obama administration and centrist stances on some issues have clearly riled up the right wing in the state.

Romney is the first choice of 63% of Republicans in the state with Huntsman placing a very distant second at 10%. Michele Bachmann at 6%, Sarah Palin at 5%, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul at 4%, Newt Gingrich at 3%, and Tim Pawlenty at 1% round out the field.

Romney's performance in Utah is the strongest we've seen for any of the Republican candidates in any individual state. The best before now was Romney in Massachusetts, where he pulled 49%. 83% of primary voters see him favorably to only 13% with a negative opinion.

Asked to choose directly between Romney and Huntsman 82% of respondents pick Romney to only 14% who side with Huntsman. Data we'll release tomorrow shows that Democrats in Utah absolutely love Huntsman and that may sum up the problem with his candidacy. He's the Republican candidate that Democrats love and filling that niche won't win you a lot of primaries.

On the Senate front 47% of Republicans would like Jason Chaffetz to be the party's nominee for the US Senate next year compared to 43% whose first choice is Orrin Hatch. The 47% supporting Chaffetz pretty closely tracks the 44% who would like to see Hatch replaced with someone more conservative next year.

What's interesting about that is only 30% of GOP voters actually express the sentiment that Hatch is 'too liberal.' There's a significant chunk of the Republican electorate that thinks Hatch is fine ideologically but just wants someone more conservative anyway. That's an indication that the Tea Party mentality that scuttled Republican chances in several Senate general elections last year still exists some places- and it has the potential to hurt the party in Utah if Jim Matheson decides to run for the Senate. Matheson polls 4 points better in a head to head against Chaffetz than Hatch.

Hatch destroys Chaffetz with moderate voters, leading 67-23. And he stays pretty competitive with somewhat conservative ones, trailing only 47-43. But with 'very conservative' voters he's at a 59-29 disadvantage and that's what puts him down overall. It's hard to say how the opinions of voters overall translates to convention goers next year but clearly Hatch is at very serious risk of losing renomination just as Bob Bennett did last year.

Full results here

Casey in good shape

Pennsylvania polling we released last week showed Barack Obama in serious trouble in the state. But Bob Casey just continues to roll along, leading his actual opponents by 18-20 points and leading a bevy of potential candidates the GOP would probably rather have in the race by anywhere from 9-16 points.

Casey's approval numbers don't exactly set the world on fire, with 40% of voters giving him good marks to 32% who disapprove. Those numbers are deceptively weak though. What keeps them down is that Democrats aren't terribly enthused with Casey- only 56% of them approve of him to 18% who disapprove. You'd usually expect a Senator to be more in the 70-80% approval range with voters of his own party. But even if Democratic voters aren't enthralled with Casey 79-85% of them are still committed to voting for him in the general election and unenthusiastic votes count just the same as excited ones.

The positive side of Casey's lower than normal approval numbers with Democrats is that the comparative conservatism responsible for them simultaneously makes him unusually popular with Republicans. 23% approve of him to 46% who disapprove. There aren't a lot of Senators who are only 23 points under water with the opposite party in this era of polarization. In that sense Casey is very similar to Florida's Bill Nelson- a lack of excitement about them from the base pulls down their topline approval numbers but their unusual level of support from the GOP makes them very, very hard to defeat in a general election.

The strongest potential Republican candidate against Casey is his predecessor Rick Santorum, who trails 48-39. Although Santorum would have a very difficult time knocking off Casey that 9 point spread actually represents a significant improvement on his 17 point margin of defeat against Casey in 2006. It's probably due more to the current political climate being far different from last time around than anything else but Casey is in a weaker position now than he was then and that makes it a little curious a more serious Republican candidate hasn't moved toward entering the race.

The candidates who had lined up to face Casey at the time we took this poll are decidedly B-list. Marc Scaringi has 16% statewide name recognition and trails Casey by 18 points at 47-29. 17% of voters in the state have an opinion about Laureen Cummings and she trails Casey by 20 points at 51-31.

A cadre of prospective candidates who don't seem likely to actually make the race against Casey do better than Scaringi and Cummings, but still all trail by double digit margins. Tim Murphy trails by 12 points at 47-35, and Jim Gerlach and Jake Corman each trail by 16 points at 49-33 and 51-35 respectively.

Casey's going to be very tough to beat. It's still odd that no serious Republican candidate has stepped up to try though.

Full results here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lynch looks hard to beat but GOP prospects good for open seat

If John Lynch decides to run for reelection as Governor of New Hampshire next year he'll have a big advantage no matter who the Republicans run against him. But our polling suggests that Democrats might start at a disadvantage in an open seat situation.

57% of voters approve of the job Lynch is doing to 33% who disapprove. In addition to predictably strong numbers with Democrats (84/10), he also has majority approval with independents (52/35), and an unusual amount of crossover support with a third of Republicans giving him good marks (33/56). Lynch leads all four hypothetical opponents we tested against him by double digits: it's 11 points over John Sununu at 51-40, 18 over Ovide Lamontagne at 54-36, 19 over Jeb Bradley at 54-35, and 21 over John Stephen at 55-34. If Lynch wants another term it looks to be pretty much his for the taking.

If Lynch decides to move on though Republicans may have the advantage for this office. We tested that quartet of potential GOP candidates against three possible Democratic alternatives in the case that Lynch were to retire- Maggie Hassan, Steve Marchand, and Mark Connolly. The Republican leads in 11 out of those 12 possible match ups, with the only exception being a tie between Connolly and Stephen.

The early Republicans leads are modest in size. Sununu leads the trio of Democrats by 8-9 points, Bradley's advantage is 6-8 points, Lamontagne's is 6-7, and Stephen leads by only 1-2 points beyond his tie against Connolly. There is a very high level of undecideds in all of the match ups with 19-31% of voters saying they're not sure who they would vote for if there was an election today.

The early GOP advantage may be more attributable more than anything else to their pool of potential candidates being better known than the Democrats. All 4 Republicans we tested have higher name recognition than all 3 of the Democrats we looked at. From best known to least known it's Sununu with 82% of voters having an opinion about him, followed by Bradley and Lamontagne at 64%, Stephen at 58%, Hassan at 33%, Connolly at 27%, and Marchand at 26%. It's possible some of that early lead for the Republicans would disappear as the Democrats became better known.

One thing that's particularly interesting about the 7 folks we looked at as possible alternatives to Lynch is that they all have negative favorability numbers. None of them stand out as folks who would start out with immediate popularity and credibility with voters in the state. That leaves plenty of room for other folks to get into the mix if this actually becomes an open seat situation as well.

John Lynch can probably have this office as long as he wants it but it's going to be a tough fight for Democrats when he leaves.

Full results here

NC budget unpopularity continues to grow

The public continues to react negatively to much of what the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly put forward. The latest thing voters have turned against is the proposed Congressional redistricting maps: only 25% support them to 37% who are opposed and 37% who have no opinion. Predictably Republicans support the new districts and Democrats are against them- what turns the overall numbers against the lines is 37/26 opposition from independents. A plurality of voters in every region of the state dislikes the current proposal.

Voter dissent on redistricting is a minor headache for North Carolina Republicans compared to continued unhappiness with the budget they passed over Bev Perdue's veto last month though. Our June poll found 23% in the state supporting the GOP budget to 41% opposed. Now public opinion has moved even further in opposition to it with just 20% supportive and 47% opposed. It's no surprise Democrats are against the budget by a 56/14 margin and independents breaking against it by a 46/26 one isn't shocking either. Where the numbers are really eye catching is with Republicans- only 26% support it to 35% opposed.

Why are voters so firmly against the budget? The jobs issue is a big one- only 18% think the budget passed last month will create them while 45% think it will lead to job losses. And those job losses are hitting close to home for a lot of voters. 48% in the state say they know someone or have themselves been laid off or forced to retire from a teaching or state or local government job in the last six months.

It all adds up to very bad numbers for the Republicans in the General Assembly. Only 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of them to 45% with a negative one. And although most voters don't know enough about Thom Tillis or Phil Berger to have an opinion about them personally those who do rate them poorly- 16/30 for Tillis and 12/27 for Berger.

And yet for all that the generic legislative ballot in the state is tied at 43%, representing movement in the wrong direction for Democrats from last month when they led 46-41. That's because as unpopular as the Republicans are, voters still aren't seeing the Legislative Democrats as a real appealing alternative. Their favorability comes out to a 36/44 spread, including an awful 22/49 breakdown with independents. Democrats have succeeded greatly in tearing down the Republicans. Now the challenge is to build themselves up in the eyes of the voters as well.

Full results here
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