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Polling and Political Wrap-Up, 12/21/09

December 22nd, 2009, 09:12 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

As we head into Winter (happy Solstice to one and all!), we also head into what will inevitably be a very slow set of news cycles in the world of electoral politics. No one wants to make news when virtually no one is watching the news, and what little oxygen exists in the political public conversation is going to get consumed by health care, anyway.

I’d expect it to be a pretty quiet two weeks here in Wrap-land. That said, there are a few items to toss out on this Monday evening, so let’s get after it….

ND-Sen: Rasmussen Claims Hoeven Has 80%+ Approval, Crushes Dorgan
By now, it is absolutely no surprise to anyone that Rasmussen Reports’ polling data is typically pretty amenable to GOP candidates, including some almost comically high favorables for GOP candidates (including virtual unknowns with 50%+ favorability). This poll, one could argue, takes the cake. Ras has North Dakota’s Republican Governor, John Hoeven, with a 22-point lead over incumbent Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan (58-36). While almost everyone agrees that Hoeven would be a very formidable foe for Dorgan (and some might even dub Dorgan a slight underdog in such a race), twenty-plus point leads for the challenger have only been seen in GOP sponsored polls thus far. What’s more–Rasmussen gets Hoeven with an 87% job approval rating, which almost defies belief. Granted, North Dakota has weathered the economic woes of the recent past better than most, and that might result in a reservoir of goodwill for their governor. But 87% job approval? For what it is worth, Dorgan’s favorabilities (his job approval was not released) were pretty solid, as well (61/36).

IL-Gov: Rasmussen Decides To Poll Ryan…And Look! He’s Ahead!
Last week, we noted that Rasmussen had differed from form a little bit by putting the Democrats in the lead somewhere (specifically, the Illinois Governor’s race). Well, it took them a few days, but they finally took care of that. They added the GOP frontrunner to their Illinois polling (former state Attorney General Jim Ryan), and (wonder of wonders) they have him leading incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn (46-39). Intriguingly, they have Quinn’s Democratic primary opponent, Dan Hynes, leading Ryan by a pair (42-40).

FL-Sen: Zogby Also Sees Single Digits in GOP Primary
Over the weekend we got a pair of surprising numbers from a new Zogby poll in the state of Florida, conducted on behalf of the Sayfie Review and Associated Industries of Florida. Like some other recent polls, they see the GOP Senate primary as a tight one, but they also give President Obama a quite favorable net +13 on his job approval (55/42). While not calling the GOP Senate primary a tie like their fellow pollsters at Rasmussen, Zogby does have the race in single digits, with Governor Charlie Crist sitting at 45% and insurgent Republican Marco Rubio at 36%.

The Race For 2010: SUSA’s Monthly Tracking Portends Tough ‘10 Races
Roughly every month, the team over at SurveyUSA does what they call their “50-State tracking” polls. It used to be just that, but somewhere along the line the fifty states were winnowed down to less than a dozen. In this incarnation of the monthly trackers, we see two things: a slight rebound in President Obama’s numbers over last month’s low points, and a couple of 2010 candidates who have to be more than a little concerned about their polling. Of particular concern were the net negative job approval ratings for Senator Barbara Boxer of California (39/49) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (36/44). In a sign of just how poisonous the political environment is for politicos of all stripes, the highest job approval rating recorded for anyone was a fairly middling 57% job approval for Senator Charles Schumer in New York.

Inside Polling: Blumenthal On Strategic Vision’s Fall From Grace
As we prepare to put 2009 in the books, one of the truly bizarre stories for political junkies has been the rise and utterly bizarre fall of Strategic Vision, the polling outfit that had been prolifically releasing political data for half a decade.

Today, in his column for National Journal, one of the deans of political/polling blogging, Mark Blumenthal, pens a postscript to the whole affair. You might recall that the whole affair began back in September, when Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight began to raise questions about some anomalies in SV’s data. This happened at the same time that the AAPOR (American Association of Public Opinion Research) had just censured SV for failure to disclose on some of their past polls. At the time, the head honcho at Strategic Vision, David Johnson, was loudly proclaiming that his firm would be vindicated.

And, then…as Blumenthal writes…nothing happened. Not only did Johnson never provide the exculpatory evidence that he promised back in September, but his firm has not released a single poll since. Lawsuits against both Silver and the AAPOR, as had been threatened by Johnson back in September, never materialized.

Furthermore, when Johnson penned an op-ed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, his bio identified his firm as a “public relations and public affairs agency.” Previous bios for Johnson represented SV as a “public affairs and polling company.” A small change in wording, but a potentially critical one.


  • What are the latest polls? Did a NASCAR guy really deserve AP’s Athlete of the Year award (my answer: maybe)? Find the answers to these and other burning issues over at my little patch of turf over at Twitter.
  • PA-10: A big break for potentially vulnerable sophomore Democrat Chris Carney this afternoon: one of the top GOP recruits for his seat, state legislator Mike Pfeifer, announced today that he would not be a candidate for Congress in 2010. Carney is not out of the woods yet, though: both former US Attorney Tom Marino and County Commissioner Malcom Derk are contemplating bids.
  • RI-Gov: While the only Republican in the field for the Governorship of Rhode Island walked last week, a former Republican appears just about ready to run. According to the Providence Journal, former U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee is teasing a major announcement shortly after the New Year. Chafee has been ramping up for a campaign, sending out fundraising appeals and staffing up. At present, the GOP bench is barren, although there are persistent whispers that some GOPers are still trying to talk former Cranston Mayor (and 2006 Chafee primary opponent) Stephen Laffey into the game.
  • VA-05: Hard to say whether this is good news or bad news for the Republican Party. The Richmond Times-Dispatch crunches the numbers, and finds that there are at least seven Republicans vying for the opportunity to challenge Democratic freshman Congressman Tom Perriello. The problem is that some of the more vocal right-wingers in the party are now openly gunning for the frontrunner (and NRCC darling), state Senator Rob Hurt. Just today, right-wing talk show host Laura Ingraham (who is being quite the kingmaker lately) announced a preference for real estate developer Laurence Verga. Hurt has rankled some on the right because he voted for a tax increase once, but he did get spared a bit by the decision that the nomination would be done in a primary rather than by an activist-driven convention. Remember that it was the threat of having to win a convention that drove somewhat sane Republican Congressman Tom Davis out of the 2008 Senate race, serving up Jim Gilmore to lose by thirty points to Democrat Mark Warner.
  • SC-05/IN-09: Another day, another set of Democratic incumbents on the GOP’s “Force Them Into Retirement” list that announce that they will seek re-election in 2010. The Democrats that made that call today were John Spratt (whose seat in South Carolina would have been a very tricky hold for the Democrats had it come open) and Baron Hill (who represents a potentially tricky district in Southern Indiana). Spratt and Hill join other Democrats (Collin Peterson, Chet Edwards, and Lincoln Davis) who have recently confirmed that they will be seeking re-election next year.

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