Nobody really knows who Alex Sink and Kendrick Meek are ... but at least they're not Michael Arth and Corinne Brown. Sink fares best among the members of the vaunted Democratic "unity slate" (gagging ...) posting 24% favorable ratings, just 9% unfavorable, 28% neutral and 39% "Alex who???" Meek gets 11% favorable, 5% unfavorable, 22% neutral and a whopping 62% "you want me to sign what? And who are you again...???" Their would-be primary challengers (stop laughing!) don't do as well. Hell, I'm a political junkie and I'm with the 93% who have no earthly idea who Arth is, and while Corinne's dunnos are a percentage point lower than Kendrick's, her unfavorables outweigh the love by nearly three to one (15% vs. 4%.)
Out of the handful of Republicans who know who Marco Rubio is, and the 100 percent who know who Charlie Crist is, they like to two about equally. Crist still crushes Rubio in a head-to-head when you factor all Republicans in (51% to 23% with 26% undecided,) but in what is perhaps the only interesting news in the poll, when you factor in Republicans who know both candidates, Crist and Rubio are essentially tied, 33% to 31% with 36% undecided. That should provide a kernel of hope to Rubio: though 48% of those polled have no idea who he is and the percentage who have formed no opinion about him equals his favorers (23% and 24% respectively,) he seems to have some room for growth -- if his Club for Growth and RedState.com winger friends can raise enough dough to buy him some name recognition outside Miami and those god-awful tea parties...
Bill McCollum has managed to leave barely any impression on Floridians, even after 10 terms in Congress in two different districts, two runs for governor and his current stint as attorney general. McCollum, who might as well change his middle name to Whatever, is 6 points ahead of Alex Sink, but that's small consolation since, to reiterate point one, not a lot of peole know who she is. McCollum has the highest "neutral" ratings of any of the somewhat known candidates, at 45%. Sad, since he's been swimming in Florida's political bloodstream longer than anybody running. Still, at 13%, McCollum's unfavorables are remarkably low for a guy whose crowning achievement was being a member of the Clinton impeachment brigade. The key factor for Sink is women -- if she can improve her name ID, and do better than her current margin of error lead over Bland Bill with women voters, she should be in pretty good shape.
Florida is still not a blue state (I keep telling my Democratic friends this, but they don't believe me. I think it's the Obama Uphoria.) The large share of the state that leans independent, still seems to favor Republicans over Democrats. Indies in this poll favored McCollum over Sink (41% to 27%), Crist over Meek (47% to 23%.) Democrats will have to change that if they mean to win.
Floridians like Charlie Crist, but not as much as the media says they do. Crist gets a 49 percent favorable rating in this poll, a far cry from his 60 percent plus approval ratings in other polls. Still, with the GOP brand being currently flushed down the toilet by people like Sarah "It Came From Wasila" Palin, John "The Homewrecker" Ensign and Mark "TMI" Sanford, Crist's rating, and the fact that at least for now, he would grab an incredible 28% of Democrats if he faces Kendrick Meek, and 34% if for some reason Kendrick quites the race to become ambassador to Haiti and Corinne Brown gets the nomination by default, makes him practically a GOP Jonas Brother.
Nobody cares about the other cabinet races. The undecideds are in the 70s for the most part, and none of the candidates has a dime's worth of name I.D. Wow, sure wish we had an exciting main event primary going on on the Democratic side, so voters would tune in and maybe check out the other races ... oops, never mind!
Care to read the polls for yourself? Here you go, you political nerd, you!
In case you missed it: Crist comfortably ahead in Florida, so far
The righties may not like it, but Charlie Crist still looks like a pretty good bet for Florida's GOP Senate nomination. A June 10 Quinnipiac poll finds him way ahead of Marco Rubio, and far ahead of Kendrick Meek in a general election match-up to boot. The same polls show Florida's political Don Quixote, Bill McCollum, surprisingly close of the less well known Alex Sink for governor, but the undecided in that race is a whopping 30 percent, meaning it's probably Sink who has more room to grow. The Qinnipiac poll finds that Crist's popularity is holding up, and even exceeds that of the president:
Gov. Charlie Crist swamps former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio 54 - 23 percent in the 2010 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Kendrick Meek, a Congressman from South Florida, leads the field for the Democratic Senate nomination with 18 percent, followed by two other members of Florida's congressional delegation, Corrine Brown with 12 percent and Ron Klein with 8 percent. But 57 percent of voters say they don't yet have a candidate in the race, according to the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey.
President Barack Obama remains very popular in the state of Florida with a 58 - 35 percent job approval rating. That compares to the less than 52 percent he received in Florida last November.
Obama's job approval rating, however, trails that of Gov. Crist, whose strength across the political spectrum would make him a difficult candidate to beat in a general election for the U.S. Senate. Crist has a 62 - 28 percent job approval rating overall, including a 59 - 30 percent thumbs-up from Democrats.
"Marco Rubio says there are many Florida Republicans who don't want Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate. Depending on how you define the word 'many,' he might be correct. Unfortunately for Rubio at this stage, many, many, many more favor Crist," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
For Meek, the big news is that no one really knows him or his current Democratic opponents (which is why he's doing that statewide petition drive.) Says Qpac:
While Meek is slightly ahead in a Democratic Senate primary, 80 percent of voters statewide, including 74 percent of Democrats, don't know enough about him to form an opinion. Brown and Klein do no better.
Meanwhile Quinnipiac finds Alex Sink slightly ahead of McCollum, 38 to 34 percent:
Sink leads 72-11 among Democrats, while McCollum leads 72-5 among Republicans and 32-27 among independents.
Eleven percent of voters said that the possibility of Sink being Florida's first female governor makes them more likely to vote for her. Eighty-one percent said it didn't matter.
It's no secret that there hasn't been much love lost over the years between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. When it comes to the moderate military man, the chickenhawk cabal who hijacked George W. Bush's presidency and crashed it into the ground (sorry, couldn't resist the 20th hijacker reference...) no likey. In fact Cheney, who opted out of Vietnam himself, doesn't seem to have much use for people who actually serve. But fellow Vietnam service dodgers like Rush Limbaugh? Them, he likes:
And if you look at the latest Gallup Poll, it appears the Republican Party will soon be made up only of draft dodgers, pill heads and wacked out talk show hosts (and Michael "Fo Sheezy" Steele.) Wow.
Pew survey finds Christians back lions in torture debate
The Pew survey so many people are talking and blogging about, which found that the more a person goes to church in America, the more likely they are to support the use of torture. Jack Cafferty dealt with it in his CNN segment last week:
The survey has produced mass consternation, mostly from people outside the world of evangelical Christianity. Actual Christians, have mostly reacted with sort of sad disbelief, or by deflecting the issue, when they've reacted at all. I suppose many Christians worry that the survey will provide yet another excuse to bash their faith as witless and primitive. Of course, it will, and many on the left, including atheists, will take their shots. But as a Christian myself, if a fairly tortured one (no pun intended,) I do wonder why frequent church-goers would favor the tactics of Caesar over the teachings of Jesus... I can think of three reasons right off the bat:
1) Partisanship. White, evangelical Christians are both the majority of torture proponents, and the most likely to be cultural conservatives who vote Republican, and to have supported George W. Bush. Had a Democratic president used torture, I suspect the poll would have shown fewer evangelicals supporting it.
2) Fundamentalism. All religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam -- all have their fundamentalist elements, and the further you go along that trajectory, the more violent the tendencies become. Think Jewish settlers on the West Bank, Islamist jihadis and Christian extremists like the Ku Klux Klan, violent anti-abortion activists like Randall Terry, and the like. What they all have in common is a belief that everyone other than them is going to hell. When you believe that, sympathy for the devil-bound is probably hard to come by.
3) Religious xenophobia. The Pew survey specifically asks about the use of torture against "suspected terrorists," who probably everyone taking the survey presumed to be Muslims, given the times we live in. And many Christians of the right wing variety have a strong, shall we say, intolerance, for alternative faiths, and probably consider practitioners of Islam (who they likely presume are the people being subjected to torture) to be inherently evil -- "the enemy" -- and whatever might be done to them to "protect America and our way of life" is justified.
There is a fourth: and it is the possibility that while they love to "call on his name," many Christians, like the Calvinists before them, think Jesus is fine to revere, but they don't really buy into his "new age" philosophy. They prefer the hardness and certainty of the Old Testament to the lovestruck view of the New. There is an element of fundamentalism that won't even accept change when it happened 2000 years ago, and that in a sick way, is drawn to violence as a way to achieve religious "victory" over the evils of modernity, something that's true of extremist Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. There is a certain violence inherent in all fundamentalism, and I suspect that's why so many evangelicals were drawn to "The Passion of the Christ," with al its violent imagery. [Still from the movie shown at left]
Ironically, Jesus wouldn't have fit in with the crowd that claims him most passionately in America. Compared to them, he would have seemed an absolute hippie, with all that "blessed are the meek" stuff. (Indeed, in Jesus' time, he was rejected by his own people because he wasn't violent enough against the Romans...)
That said, I think evangelicals need to take a good hard look at themselves, and ask whether one can be both "pro life," and, as many other commenters have said, pro gun, pro torture and pro death penalty, or whether perhaps some Christians have a little too much in common with the Pharisees. In the end, the bargain of "torture for (alleged) safety" is no bargain at all. As this very smart guy says:
A nation that turns its bravest and best into torturers instead of warriors has dishonored itself. There are worse things than losing a war and that is one of them.
Charlie Crist isn't even officially running for Senate yet (okay, yeah, we all know that lady he's married to ain't staying in Tallahassee, so he's running...) but the DSCC is already attacking him for allegedly bailing on the state when times get tough. Peep the ad (HT to Politico):
More than half (57%) of Florida voters say it is at least somewhat likely they would vote for Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in the state's United States Senate race in 2010. That figure includes 23% who say they are Very Likely to do so.
Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country in the 11 weeks since President Obama was inaugurated, suggesting that he is enjoying some success in his critical task of rebuilding the nation’s confidence, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
These sometimes turbulent weeks — marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House — do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.
By contrast, just 31 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in New York Times/CBS News polls.
And it appears, the pollsters say, that Obama's honeymoon has been more durable than that of his recent predecessors.
Still, there are worries out there:
The poll found that 70 percent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned that someone in their household would be out of work and looking for a job in the next 12 months. Forty percent said they had cut spending on luxuries, and 10 percent said they had cut back on necessities; 31 percent said they had cut both.
For all that, the number of people who said they thought the country was headed in the right direction jumped from 15 percent in mid-January, just before Mr. Obama took office, to 39 percent today, while the number who said it was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent. That is the highest percentage of Americans who said the country was headed in the right direction since 42 percent said so in February 2005, the second month of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The percentage of people who said the economy was getting worse has declined from 54 percent just before Mr. Obama took office to 34 percent today. And 20 percent now think the economy is getting better, compared with 7 percent in mid-January.
“It’s psychology more than anything else,” Arthur Gilman, a Republican from Ridgewood, N.J., said in a follow-up interview to the poll. “President Obama has turned around the negative feeling in this country. He’s given everything an impetus because he’s very upbeat, like Roosevelt was. It’s too soon to tell if the spending stuff works, but some things have improved.”
That last guy, the Republican, is bad, bad news for the GOP.
By the by, who does the public blame for the economic crisis we're in? Sorry, Scarborough:
... The poll found that he shoulders virtually none of the public blame for the economic crisis: 33 percent blame Mr. Bush, 21 percent blame financial institutions, and 11 percent blame Congress.
And whom do voter trust to turn things around? Sorry Glenn Beck. You may want to break out the tissue:
By more than three to one, voters said they trusted Mr. Obama more than they trusted Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions about the economy. And by more than two to one, they said they trusted Mr. Obama to keep the nation safe, typically a Republican strong suit. Nearly one-quarter of Republicans said they trusted Mr. Obama more than Congressional Republicans to make the right decisions about the economy.
“As far as acting like adults and getting things done, the Democrat Party has done better,” said Rachel Beeson, an independent from Wahiawa, Hawaii. “The Republican Party seems to have decided that they are going to turn down anything that comes out of the White House, and nothing will get done that way.”
And that, from a guy who still says "Democrat Party." Meanwhile, GOPers still clinging to the notion that Obama is more polarizing than George Dubya Bush may want to avoid reading this.
BOSTON -- Nearly half of Boston youths believe pop singer Rihanna was responsible for an incident of alleged domestic abuse that left her bloodied and bruised, according to a survey conducted by the Public Health Commission.
Surveyors polled 200 city youths, ranging in age from 12 to 19, and asked their feelings about the incident, in which singer Chris Brown is accused of striking girlfriend Rihanna several times following an argument. The survey found that 46 percent of youths believe Rihanna is responsible for provoking the alleged assault. Additionally, 52 percent said Rihanna and Brown share responsibility for the incident, despite the fact that Rihanna had been beaten badly enough to require hospital treatment.
A new ABC/WaPo poll puts the president's approval rating at 68 percent. The GOP? Not so much.
Compared, the approval ratings fall this way:
President Obama - 68% Democrats in Congress - 50 Republicans in Congress - 38 (wah wah waaaaahhhhh....)
And the Post writes:
Overall, 68 percent of poll respondents approve of Obama's job performance, a finding that puts him on par with the average for the past eight presidents at this point in their tenures. Ninety percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents approve of Obama's performance. Sixty-four percent said they approve of how Obama is handling appointments to the Cabinet and other top positions in the administration, despite tax problems and stumbles that have led to three of his top nominees withdrawing from consideration.
Although Obama has encountered near-unanimous GOP opposition to his stimulus plan in Congress and widespread criticism for a housing bailout plan that some say rewards people who have been fiscally irresponsible, 64 percent of those polled back the economic recovery package, and the same percentage support the mortgage proposal. The broad support for the recovery package comes as just 10 percent said the bill was too heavy on spending and too light on tax cuts, the primary contention of the Republican leadership in Congress.
Overall, 60 percent of poll respondents approve of how Obama is dealing with the economy.
About nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents said Obama is living up to the central promise of his campaign: bringing change to Washington. Most Republicans said he is not.
Half of all poll respondents said they approve of how congressional Democrats are doing their jobs, up 15 points from July and the highest marks they have received in nearly two years. Congressional Republicans also are being viewed more favorably, with 38 percent approving of their job performance, a 13-point improvement since the middle of last year.
Head to head, though, Americans put far more faith in Obama than in congressional Republicans: Sixty-one percent said they trust Obama more than the GOP on economic matters; 26 percent side with the Republicans in Congress. On that question, Obama's advantage is bigger than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush ever had over the opposition party in the legislature.
Overall, Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront "the big issues" over the next few years.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) may be facing his lowest approval ratings ever, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday.
54 percent of Connecticut voters said they disapproved of the way Lieberman is handling his job, while 38 percent said they approved. The numbers are the lowest approval ratings Lieberman has faced since the poll started tracking his popularity.
Forty-two percent of those surveyed said Lieberman's support for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the presidential election made them think less favorably of him; 43 percent of voters said it made no difference. 30 percent of those who supported Lieberman in his 2006 general election said they would now vote for someone other than Lieberman if the election were held again today.
Chris Dodd's rating aren't great either, but at 47 positive, 41 negative, at least they aren't upside-down...
What happens when someone who thinks Sean Hannity delivers the news meets the most accurate poll cruncher in politics (or baseball?) Calamity, that's what.
It all started when a rather surly winger named John Ziegler commissioned a poll for his "documentary," which is aimed at proving that Obama voters were too uninformed to know that their candidate is a fake Muslim, un-Christian terrorist, just like Fox News said he was. Ziegler got poor John Zogby (perhaps he played the "Z" card) to conduct what amounted to a push poll, prompting Zogby to post the following disclaimer on his website:
"We stand by the results our survey work on behalf of John Ziegler, as we stand by all of our work. We reject the notion that this was a push poll because it very simply wasn't. It was a legitimate effort to test the knowledge of voters who cast ballots for Barack Obama in the Nov. 4 election. Push polls are a malicious effort to sway public opinion one way or the other, while message and knowledge testing is quite another effort of public opinion research that is legitimate inquiry and has value in the public square. In this case, the respondents were given a full range of responses and were not pressured or influenced to respond in one way or another. This poll was not designed to hurt anyone, which is obvious as it was conducted after the election. The client is free to draw his own conclusions about the research, as are bloggers and other members of society. But Zogby International is a neutral party in this matter. We were hired to test public opinion on a particular subject and with no ax to grind, that's exactly what we did. We don't have to agree or disagree with the questions, we simply ask them and provide the client with a fair and accurate set of data reflecting public opinion." - John Zogby
Ziegler then released a popular Youtube video, in which he sets up various Obama voters, most of them black, to look foolish because they could only remember bad things about Sarah Palin, but not ancient bad things about Joe Biden or untrue bad things about Obama:
Enter Nate Silver, the poll number cruncher extraordinaire. He called Zogby & Ziegler out on the push poll:
Most of the questions on the survey take the form of a multiple choice political knowledge test, stating a "fact" to the respondent and asking them which of the four major candidates (Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin) the statement applies to. Questions include the following:
"Which of the four [candidates] said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket?"
"Which of the four [candidates] started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground?"
"Which of the four [candidates] quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism?"
"Which of the four [candidates] won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot?"
As should be obvious, the veracity of several of these claims is -- at best -- debatable, yet they are apparently represented as factual to the respondent. It is not clear whether the respondent is informed of the "correct" response after having had the question posed to him.
There was also a question: "which of the four candidates said "I can see Russia from my House?" The correct answer? Tina Fey. Seriously.
Which brought the former talk radio host out in Ziegler, who got so mad, he called Silver up, for an on the record interview. It didn't go well:
NS: Do you stand by all the statements in the survey as being unambiguously true? JZ: I stand one hundred percent by the notion that there is absolutely zero ambiguity as to what the right answer is to any of the questions. With the one exception of the Palin-Russia-Alaska question which we asked the way we did for a very specific purpose which was to try and gauge the Tina Fey Effect which I think we did in a very effective manner which was what was actually said by Tina Fey, everyone attributed to Sarah Plain. But for purposes of scoring Obama supporters’ answers we counted Palin as a correct response.
NS: What was the right answer to that [Palin] question? JZ: The technically accurate question [sic] is that none of the four people said that, but we counted it as correct if they said Sarah Palin.
NS: Why would you commission a survey question with no correct response? JZ: The purpose of the question, you pinhead, was we wanted to determine the Tina Fey Effect.
NS: Were the interviews conducted by telephone or online? JZ: How can you ask a question like that and pretend that you have any clue what you're writing about! That's unbelievable that someone could write what you did! That is unbelievable that you wouldn't know that it's a telephone or an online poll and that you went on my summaries of the questions before the questions were even released!
NS: We’ve heard reports from our readers that very similar questions had been asked in an online format. There was no online component at all? JZ: That is correct, which you would have known if you had looked at the information. Before you called this a push poll -- you don't seem to know the definition of a push poll. How do you have this website?
NS: Is the complete interview available anywhere -- complete results for the interview? JZ: Yeah if you had done your research it is all online, every question, all the cross-tabs. Man, you're never going to post this [transcript], are you? ...
Um ... yes ... he was going to post that transcript. (Ahem).
So let's review: John Ziegler doesn't do well on the telephone, and he thinks that the mainstream media would do better to follow the lead of talk radio hosts when presenting news and information in advance of an election. By the way, if you keep reading the transcript, Ziegler also reveals that he's pretty confident Obama is a Muslim, and not at all confident that the president elect accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
Sorry, wingers. Obama's approval rating is damned good going in. Your guy? Not so much...
PRINCETON, NJ -- Monday's White House meeting between President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama presents a remarkable contrast between one of the least popular two-term presidents in modern times at the close of his administration, and one of the most popular candidates to win the presidency.
According to Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Nov. 6-8, only 27% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president. This contrasts with the 70% of Americans holding a favorable view of Obama.
Meanwhile, consumer confidence is also up slightly following Obama's election.
I'm not even paying attention to the national polls anymore, even those this one and this one are pretty damned good. It's the state polls that count, and here are a few key polls from Quinnipiac:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:
Florida: Obama at 47 percent to McCain's 45 percent, unchanged from October 29;
Ohio: Obama up 50 - 43 percent, compared to 51 - 42 percent last week;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 52 - 42 percent, compared to 53 - 41 percent last week.
Gallup's interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday shows that 27% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted. The trend in early voting has trended consistently upward on a day to day basis, moving from 7% of registered voters, who had already voted during the period of Oct. 17-19, to the current estimate of 27%. Another 8% of registered voters still indicate that they plan on voting before Election Day itself. The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average. Thus, more and more of these Obama-oriented voters' choices are being "locked in" to the likely voter pool through early voting, benefiting Obama. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.) -- Frank Newport
Meanwhile, poor Matt Drudge engages in some serious wishful thinking with this headline:
Pollster John Zogby:"Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. "Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."
Obama is holding his lead in the three day averages, with the exception of fright night, when apparently more Republicans than Democrats were staying at home with their lights off to keep those darned costumed kids off their lawns. Well before you get to excited, Palinites, read the following from Seth Colter Walls:
Zogby has a unique methodology in his polling. He fixes -- or "weights" -- the partisan balance of his respondents, unlike most pollsters. While his admirably transparent and stable practice guarantees a certain methodological sameness from day to day, therefore making any new lead for McCain worth reporting, Zogby's partisan weighting can also raise other questions.
Asked earlier this week what the partisan weighting of their poll currently is, a Zogby aide told the Huffington Post: "Party ID remains at 38 Democratic - 36 Republican - 26 Independent. We have added a point for 18-29 [year old voters], 1.5 for African Americans, and 2 for Hispanics."
Earlier this year, Zogby told me that "party ID is a lead variable, and a major determinant in how people vote. I apply a weight to party ID, and if I see a reason for it to change, I will."
Still, Zogby's two point party ID advantage for Democrats is the smallest of any polling firm. The last four days of the Hotline/Diageo poll show anywhere from a four- to six-point advantage for Democrats -- and a simultaneous seven-point lead for Obama. Gallup's latest surveys indicate that Democrats have an 11-point advantage over Republicans in party ID (including what the firm describes as partisan "leaners").
Zogby's partisan makeup gives even less of a partisan advantage to Democrats than Fox's latest poll, which earned some skepticism, as well.
As for the day-to-day fluctuations in tracking polls, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says they are "almost entirely due" to random statistical error, or "noise."
William Arnone, who was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton, has been doing a monthly assessment of the presidential race to which I have contributed analysis about Florida. Here are his latest numbers, including the updated numbers of registered voters in each state:
District of Columbia (DC)
New Hampshire (NH)
New Jersey (NJ)
New Mexico (NM)
New York (NY)
North Carolina (NC)
North Dakota (ND)
Rhode Island (RI)
South Carolina (SC)
South Dakota (SD)
West Virginia (WV)
Two things I disagree with William on:
First, I think Barack Obama will win Florida, which will add 27 electoral votes to his total. The metrics in this state, including superior voter registration numbers for Democrats, the blighted economy and real estate bust, the fact that many middle and lower middle class white voters in South Florida have left the state in recent years, and the fact that Obama is commanding something like 98 percent of the black vote, and Democrats are dominating the early vote, bodes well for his candidacy. Also, Dems are doing better in absentee returns, which Republicans always dominate. Here are the latest numbers as released by the Florida Democratic Party:
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 336720 53.57% 96530 15.36% 195253 31.07% 628,503
Returned Absentee Ballots
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 316,853 35.13% 127,606 14.15% 457,395 50.72% 901,854
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 653,573 42.71% 224,136 14.65% 652,648 42.65% 1,530,357
Voted Early - 2006
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 86633 44.04% 25545 12.99% 84533 42.97% 196711
Returned Ballots - 2006
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 65,427 29.56% 26,005 11.75% 129,879 58.69% 221,311
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 152,060 36.38% 51,550 12.33% 214,412 51.29% 418,022
Second, I think Indiana will wind up in Obama's column, in no small part because much of the state shares a media market with neighboring Illinois, which Obama is going to win by huge margins. If that happens, Obama gets another 11 electoral votes, for a grand total of 329 to McCain's 209, a landslide by any measure.
The one thing McCain has going for him is that both he and Obama remain below 50 percent in most polls, which means he has a chance to close strong with undecided voters, but because he is behind, McCain has a longer road to run.
What is wrong with that picture? The McCain number looks about right -- comparable to the numbers he's pulling in the NBC/WSJ and every other poll, including the often loopy Zogby poll. But look at the Obama number: it has dipped not just below 50 percent, but six points under. How? Obama passed the 50 percent threshold weeks ago. What would account for a 6-8 point downward swing? In a word: nothing.
Next up, the poll sample, which way, way overcounts evangelicals. John Aravosis explains:
45% of this poll's respondents are evangelicals or born-again Christians ... The problem? In 2004, evangelicals/born-again Christians made up 23% of voters. But that same group makes up 44% of likely voters in AP's poll released today. That's almost double the number - it's totally implausible.
Pew's findings back that up, with this most comprehensive survey of American religious life putting the percentage of the country that are evangelical Protestants at a much more modest 26.3%.
In other words, the poll is a crock. Disregard it starting ... now.
Can John McCain win without Colorado? Plus: Newsmax buries the lead
In a word ... no. And yet, his campaign is reportedly looking for a way to do so. Meanwhile, none other than Dick Morris releases a new map that shows Obama creaming John McCain, and the good editors at Newsmax manage to completely bury the lead. Their headline?
Um ... would this be a bad time to mention that Morris' map has McCain losing or Obama getting the lean in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, and beating McCain in the Electoral College 355 to 133? Hell, even Arizona is a "toss-up" in Morris' map. I'm thinking it's time to find a new headline writer...
More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.
... more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.
Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.
Who spent more time attacking during the debate? McCain – 80% Obama – 7% And:
The poll also suggested that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose during the debate, from 63 percent at the start of the debate to 66 percent at the end of the debate. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped, from 51 percent to 49 percent.
Stan Greenberg is briefing reporters on his focus group of undecided voters in Colorado. He said the respondents felt Obama "won" and that the results were "more decisive than either of the last two." That's a reference to Greenberg's previous focus groups, which also came away preferring Obama.
The most striking result came on the favorability ratings. Although the focus group was officially undecided, it leaned towards McCain. Here were the favorability-unfavorability ratings for each candidate at the start:
McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable
Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable
Here's what the ratings looked like after the debate:
McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable
Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable
Apparently, Obama scored most with his answers on education and parental responsibility, which produced strong "shares my values" ratings.
And last but not least, here's yet another Frank Luntz focus group that put a sag on poor Brit Hume's face. This time, from right here in Miami! Aye, dios mio!
Polls show Obama is ahead in four key swing states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Colorado being the important turnaround state that went to Bush in 2004.
In Michigan, Obama leads 54-38; in Minnesota, he’s up 51-40; and in Wisconsin respondents went 54-37 for Obama. (The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 3 percentage points in each of the four states.)
Colorado, meanwhile, went for President Bush in 2004. But if this latest number holds, it’s going blue this year. Quinnipiac reports that Obama leads there by 9 points, 52-43. With its nine Electoral College votes, the state is no Virginia, but it’s a big prize nonetheless, one that would by itself put Obama almost over the top if he holds Kerry’s states and adds Iowa — which polls indicate he will — to his column.
This comes on top of the latest ABC/WaPo poll which shows Obama up by 10 points, and ahead in every measure of leadership including taxes, for god sakes, the Iraq war, and "an unexpected crisis" -- everything except for terrorism, where McCain leads by 6 points. I refer you to question number 9:
9. (ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?
10/11/08 - Summary Table* Both Neither No Obama McCain (vol.) (vol.) opinion a. The economy 53 37 1 7 2 b. Helping the middle class 59 31 1 6 2 c. The war in Iraq 48 47 1 4 1 d. Taxes 52 41 1 5 2 e. Protecting the Social Security system 51 34 2 9 4 f. The U.S. campaign against terrorism 43 49 2 4 3 g. Health care 59 30 1 6 4 h. An unexpected major crisis 48 45 2 4 1
Meanwhile, a Politico poll finds that Obama is ahead in 3 out of 4 "bellweather" counties that went for Bush in 2004:
In Washoe County, near Reno, Nev., Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 45 percent , with 6 percent undecided. Obama posts a wider 50 percent-44 percent lead with 5 percent undecided in Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County, and another 6 point lead in Hillsborough County, Fla., where Tampa is located. There, he edges McCain 47 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
Among the four counties tested, McCain leads in only one: Jefferson County, Colo., a populous Denver suburb. McCain is ahead there by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
At first glance, these Politico/InsiderAdvantage numbers might not look so troubling for McCain, who trailed Obama by 10 points in an ABC/Washington Post national survey, released Monday.
But these four counties are crucial battlegrounds in four of the most competitive states in the presidential race. In recent years, the Republican path to the White House has run through these areas.
And that, my friends, is called "burying the lead."
CBS News and Knowledge Networks have conducted a nationally representative poll of 473 uncommitted voters to get their immediate reaction to tonight's vice presidential debate.
... Forty-six percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed say Democrat Joe Biden won the debate, compared to 21 percent for Republican Sarah Palin. Thirty-three percent said it was a tie.
Eighteen percent of previously uncommitted percent say they are now committed to the Obama-Biden ticket. Ten percent say they are now committed to McCain-Palin. Seventy-one percent are still uncommitted.
Both candidates improved their overall image tonight. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they now have a better impression of Biden. Five percent say they have a worse opinion of the Delaware senator, while 42 percent say they debate did not change their opinion.
Fifty-five percent say they now have a better opinion of Palin. Fourteen percent say they have a worse opinion, while 30 percent say their opinion hasn't changed.
After the debate, 66 percent see Palin as knowledgeable about important issues – up from 43 percent before the debate. But Biden still has the advantage on this – 98 percent saw him as knowledgeable after the debate. That figure was 79 percent before the debate.
John McCain's teeth are going to fall out if he clenches them like I think he's gonna clench them after this... Quinnipiac's new polling justifies the internal confidence of the Obama campaign about Florida:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University polls conducted before and after the debate show:
Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.
More than 84 percent of voters in each state say the debate did not change their mind. But by margins of 13 to 17 percent, voters in each state say Obama did a better job in the debate. And by margins of 15 to 27 percent, independent voters in each state say Obama won.
"It is difficult to find a modern competitive presidential race that has swung so dramatically, so quickly and so sharply this late in the campaign. In the last 20 days, Sen. Barack Obama has gone from seven points down to eight points up in Florida, while widening his leads to eight points in Ohio and 15 points in Pennsylvania," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Sen. John McCain has his work cut out for him if he is to win the presidency and there does not appear to be a role model for such a comeback in the last half century," Brown added.
"Sen. McCain's problem is not with this or that demographic group. Although he still leads among white men, albeit by a smaller margin, his problems are across the electorate.
"Sen. Obama clearly won the debate, voters say. Their opinion of Gov. Sarah Palin has gone south and the Wall Street meltdown has been a dagger to McCain's political heart. Roughly a third of voters, and almost as large a share of the key independent vote, say McCain did more harm than good in trying to resolve the financial crisis, and the share of voters who see the economy as the top issue has risen from roughly half to six in ten."
President Bush's approval rating doesn't crack 25% in any of the three key swing states: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, McCain only holds five-point leads with white voters and white men in the Sunshine State, and Obama has opened up a 20 ... that's TWENTY point lead among women in the state.
And yet, John McCain could still win this election. How? It's not pretty, but he has to hope that there are enough of three groups in key states to pull things out for him:
1) Republican partisans 2) Evangelicals who think Obama is the Antichrist; and 3) Racist white people
It's not pretty, but that's what it's come down to. Having demonstrated his erratic temperament, inability to lead his own party, fecklessness with the country's interests versus his own, and his utter recklessness -- in short, his unfitness for the office of president, and with George W. Bush's economy hanging around his neck like an anvil, John McCain has one remaining hope of becoming president: he needs for there to be more racist, than non-racist white folks, plus enough knee-jerk partisans and evangelical believers in the most bizarre conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, out there in the country -- and willing to stand in line and vote -- to win.
It's almost like he's from Mississippi instead of Arizona ... oh wait, he IS...
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years. Mr. Davis's firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said...
...On Sunday, in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, Mr. McCain responded to a question about Mr. Davis's role in the advocacy group through 2005 by saying that his campaign manager "has had nothing to do with it since, and I'll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it."
Freddie Mac had previously paid an advocacy group run by Davis, called the Homeownership Alliance, $30,000 a month until the end 2005, when that group was dissolved. That relationship was the subject of a New York Times story Monday, which drew angry denunciations from the McCain campaign. McCain and his aides have vehemently objected to suggestions that Davis has ties to Freddie Mac-an especially sensitive issue given that the Republican presidential candidate has blamed "the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats" for the mortgage crisis that recently prompted the Bush administration to take over both Freddie Mac and its companion, Fannie Mae, and put it under federal conservatorship.
But neither the Times story -- nor the McCain campaign -- revealed that Davis's firm, the Washington, D.C. based lobbying firm Davis Manafort, continued to receive $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac until last month-long after the Homeownership Alliance had been terminated. The two sources, who requested anonymity discussing sensitive information, told Newsweek that Davis himself approached Freddie Mac in 2006 and asked for a new consulting arrangement that would allow his firm to continue to be paid. The arrangement was approved by Hollis McLoughlin, Freddie Mac's vice president for external relations, because "he [Davis] was John McCain's campaign manager and it was felt you couldn't say no," said one of the sources. [McLoughlin did not return phone calls].
The economy shakes more Americans awake, and Barack Obama takes a 52-43 lead over Crazy Grandpa John.
Two weeks ago, in the days immediately following the Republican National Convention, the race was essentially even, with McCain at 49 percent and Obama at 47 percent.
As a point of comparison, neither of the last two Democratic nominees -- John F. Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 -- recorded support above 50 percent in a pre-election poll by the Post and ABC News.
Last week's near-meltdown in the financial markets and the subsequent debate in Washington over a proposed government bailout of troubled financial institutions have made the economy even more important in the minds of voters. Fully 50 percent called the economy and jobs the single most important issue that will determine their vote, up from 37 percent two weeks ago. In contrast, just 9 percent cited the Iraq war as their most important issue, its lowest of the campaign.
But voters are cool toward the administration's initial efforts to deal with the current crisis. Forty-seven percent said they approve of the steps taken by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to stabilize the financial markets, while 42 percent said they disapprove.
Anxiety about the economic situation is widespread. Just over half of the poll respondents -- 52 percent -- believe the economy has moved into a serious long-term decline. Eight in 10 are concerned about the overall direction of the economy, nearly three-quarters worry about the shocks to the stock market, and six in 10 are apprehensive about their own family finances.
Two weeks ago, McCain held a substantial advantage among white voters, including newfound strength with white women. In the face of bad economic news, the two candidates now run about evenly among white women, and Obama has narrowed the overall gap among white voters to five percentage points.
Much of the movement has come among college-educated whites. Whites without college degrees favor McCain by 17 points, while those with college degrees support Obama by 9 points. No Democrat has carried white, college-educated voters in presidential elections dating back to 1980, but they were a key part of Obama's coalition in the primaries.
In addition, Obama is favored by whites who are worried about the economy. He doesn't do as well with those who aren't.
Still, Obama pitfalls remain, including the 18 percent of voters in a new AP/Yahoo poll (have I mentioned my increasing lack of trust in the Associated Press?) who are undecided. In my book, at this stage and with this economy, undecided is generally American for "I can't vote for that black guy, but don't go calling me racist ... and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm voting for McCain, knowing he'll screw things up even more."
I have been a longtime critic of the Florida Democratic Party's eternal pursuit of what I call the "white whale" of winning the I-4 corridor: the part of Florida that stretches north from around Orlando to Tampa-St. Petersberg. When the party held a conference call earlier in the year to talk general strategy, and announced that once again, the Democrats would run an I-4, rather than a South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach) based strategy, and that the Obama campaign would be based in Tampa, I hung my head in distress. Particularly given the party's lack of success with this strategy in any election since I moved here (Kerry lost Florida by 380,000 votes and went down swearing he could cut into the military vote in Tampa, and Jim Davis lost the governor ship to the tan guy otherwise known as NOT GETTING MARRIED ANYTIME SOON since he's not the v.p., swearing that he could bring home his home city: Tampa.)
But something is looking mighty different this time around.
First, the Obama campaign is being managed here by Steve Schale, probably the only Democrat in the last ten years who truly knows how to win in Florida. Schale speaks "evangelical," since he is one, and he is credited with helping Democrats pick up seats statewide in 2006. If his Tampa-centric strategy works, he will officially be labeled a supah genious.
Second, the Obama campaign is seriously, seriously competing for this state. They've pledged $39.3 million in spending -- more than they've budgeted in Ohio, and they are making a serious push to hold the Jewish vote, erode the Hispanic vote (complete with a new round of Spanish language TV ads running this week,) and turn out the black vote (complaints by some local black pols and preachers about the lack of spending money notwithstanding.)
Third, the army of Obamatrons roaming the state appears to be having an effect. The Dems have picked up a more than two-to-one new voter registration advantage, with about 250,000 voters registered as Dems through July versus about 98,000 for the GOP. If they improved on that in August and September, it's a good look, even in a state where most Democrats north of Jacksonville vote Republican.
Fourth. Sheer commitment. Obama and his team have been blanketing the state over the last two weeks, and guess where the Senator is doing his debate prep? Tampa. Hell, even I got an interview!
Now, to the polls.
And this one's a stunner.
Mason-Dixon, one of the best, but also one of the most Republican-leaning, of the Florida polls, actually shows Barack Obama opening up a slight lead in the Sunshine State (per Chuckie T and company:)
Yet inside those numbers, Obama leads McCain in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Polk counties) by a 49%-43% margin. Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker says the key to winning Florida statewide is usually through Tampa Bay, and Obama’s six-point lead in the area explains why he’s ahead in this poll. Moreover, outside of Nevada, there is probably not another state that has been hurt more by the housing and credit crunch, and that may be benefiting Obama right now.
Also potentially troublesome for McCain in this must-win GOP state, he leads by just six among Hispanics (49%-43%), which in Florida is made up of a majority of Cubans. (If Obama does pick off younger Cubans, he may close the overall gap thanks to his large lead among non-Cuban Hispanics in the I-4 corridor.)
Also, McCain's four-point lead among seniors (48%-44%) is not as big as he needs it to be to offset the electorate-changing demographics among blacks and young voters. ...
Those are four big "yikes!" if you're John McCain.
A bit more on the poll, from the Miami Herald:
... voters prefer Obama by a slight margin to handle the economy (49-44) and to reform government (48-44). But McCain trounces Obama on the question of who's best to handle national security: 57-39. Military voters favor McCain 57-39, those who haven't served prefer Obama 49-42.
Also keeping McCain strong: white support (he edges Obama 50-42) and support among Hispanics (49-43), a crucial swing-voting demographic.
Obama has a decisive lead among black voters (88-5) and barely leads among women voters, 49-41. Past election exit polls show that the Republican who captures 45 percent or more of the woman vote generally wins the state.
The biggest swing in the poll: name-recognition for Republican vp pick Sarah Palin. About 75 percent of voters didn't recognize her name in the last Mason-Dixon poll in August. Now, only 2 percent don't recognize her. About 45 percent of voters view her favorably and 31 percent unfavorably. That compares to Joe Biden's fav/unfav of 39-21.
Palin has also had a bigger effect on her ticket than Biden has on his. About 60 percent of voters say Biden's pick had no effect on their vote, compared to 37 percent for Palin. And 36 percent say they're more likely to vote for McCain because of Palin, while 23 percent say it made them less likely. Biden's more likely/less likely numbers: 21-15
For Obama to be holding onto 42 percent of the white vote isn't a bad look in this state. And if he can hold onto women, and get black turnout to put some muscle behind his commanding lead there, he really could win Florida, and this coming from someone who wasn't so sure of that a month ago.
BTW McCain is still ahead in the Rasmussen survey, by five points, and he has an average two point lead per RCP. But Mason Dixon is considered the gold standard of Florida polls, and given what they're spending, you've got to believe Team Obama has some internal polls that tell them Mason-D is on the right track.
From the WaPo today, proof that outside the evangelical base, there is no Palin effect. It's still the economy, stupid.
The presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama in four key battleground states remains remarkably stable despite a month of politically significant developments, with the Illinois senator running ahead of or even with his Republican rival according to polling conducted by Quinnipiac University for washingtonpost.com and the Wall Street Journal.
In Colorado, Obama takes 49 percent to 45 percent for McCain while in Michigan Obama stands at 48 percent as compared to 44 percent for McCain. The contest in Minnesota, once considered a lock for Obama, is also quite close with Obama at 47 percent and McCain 45 percent. Only in Wisconsin does Obama have an edge -- 49 percent to 42 percent -- outside the statistical margin of error for the poll.
Those results are remarkably similar to data from July Quinnipiac polls in each of the four states and suggest that despite the massive media coverage surrounding the two parties' national nominating conventions as well as the vice presidential selections -- especially that of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which many presumed would alter the campaign's dynamic -- little has changed in the race for the White House.
Obama won't lose a single Kerry state. Bank on it. And he will pick up New Mexico and Iowa. That leaves his task as the following: get Nevada, Florida, Virginia or Ohio. If he grabs one of those, and picks up New Hampshire, it's over. Tick, tick...
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows John McCain moving ahead of Barack Obama 50% to 46%. Since Friday, Obama has lost one point, but McCain has gained seven. Among "likely voters," the poll has McCain up by ten points. That's what you call a bounce (unimpeded by the Bradley effect.)
Republican enthusiasm has jumped from 42% at the end of August to 60% now. Democratic enthusiasm is higher, at 67%. Clearly, Sarah Palin is making a difference.
The question is, who is she making a difference with? Base voters, or swing voters? Signs point to the former. Let's see how long McCain holds that number, and if he's able to grow beyond 50%.
Maybe the reason John McCain was so testy with TIME Magazine's reporters was that he'd read these polls:
An exclusive TIME/CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll reveals that Barack Obama leads John McCain by several percentage points in three crucial battleground states—Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—while McCain tops Obama by 1% in Colorado.
Obama's widest margin is in New Mexico, where 53% of registered voters said they prefer the Democrat to 40% who favor McCain. Obama also holds a five-point advantage in Nevada (49% to 44%). Both states went narrowly to George W. Bush in the 2004 election.
In Pennsylvania, Obama leads 48% to 43, while McCain topped Obama in Colorado 47% to 46%. In all state polls, the margin of error is plus-or-minus 4%.
Getting a little whiplash here, but could the Reuters/Zogby shock poll showing John McCain pulling ahead of Barack Obama by five points nationally, and pulling out to a 9-point advantage on the economy be an outlier? Maybe. MSNBC and other mainstream outlets completely ignored the poll today, perhaps because they've got their very own branded polls ... but you'd think this one would be news.
The latest MSNBC/WaPo poll shows Obama still in the lead, up 45%-42%, but half the lead he held last month. But the poll shows the opposite of the Zogby finding on the economy, despite also showing warning signs for Barack:
“Whatever momentum that Obama took into the summer, he really appears to have lost it,” says Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. “It is not a dead heat, but it is close.”
The survey also shows that both presidential candidates face their share of challenges. For Obama, he receives the support of just one in two voters who backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and he trails his Republican rival on handling terrorism, the war in Iraq and international crises like the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia.
As for McCain, nearly eight in 10 voters believe that the Arizona senator would closely follow President Bush’s policies if elected, and respondents view him as the weaker candidate on the issues of the economy and health care — which rank among the public’s top concerns in the poll.
Back to the Zogby poll: David Moore at pollster.com gives it a good working over:
All pollsters, it seems, eventually find themselves with what Andy Kohut once referred to as "loopy" results. His comment was about the Gallup polls in the 2000 election, though in September 2004, Pew experienced such results itself, and of course several polls this campaign season have produced inexplicable or "wrong" numbers, as indicated by the subsequent primary election vote counts.
This time, it's Zogby's turn to confuse the masses. His latest Reuters/Zogby poll, based on a sample of 1,089 "likely voters" drawn from listed telephone numbers, conducted Aug. 14-16, 2008, shows McCain over Obama by 46% to 41%.
Two days earlier, Zogby reported substantially different results. His online poll (of self-selected people who want to be part of his Internet polling sample) of 3,339 "likely voters," conducted Aug. 12-14, showed Obama with a three-point lead, 43% to 40%.
By Zogby's own calculation of the margins of error of each poll, the difference between the two polls in McCain's support (46% in the later telephone poll vs. 40% in the earlier online poll) is statistically significant. The difference in Obama's support (41% vs. 43% respectively) would not be statistically significant. Still, the 8-point difference in the margin of McCain's lead would be significant - a McCain 5-point lead vs. an Obama 3-point lead in the earlier poll.
If we believe both polls, the period of Aug. 13-14 must have been a real bummer for Obama and an electoral high for McCain. Whatever it was that caused millions of voters to "change" their minds and gravitate toward the Republican candidate in the two-day period, however, escaped my notice. Perhaps others have been more observant.
Moore also slams Zogby's "refusal" to use "sound methods of designing his samples," including using only listed phone numbers and self-selected online samples. Two problems that could make both the Zogby results less credible. Maybe that's why Chuckie T pretended the poll didn't exist today.
Good for my blood pressure, though I don't think it erases Obama's creeping message problem, something he is trying to address with limited attack ads and tougher rhetoric. But I agree with Josh Marshall on one big point: Obama simply must stop asking, begging, whatever, John McCain to stop attacking his patriotism. Instead, he needs to come up with three salient, succinct attacks on John McCain, and repeat them 100 times a day, every day between now and November 4th.
It may be an outlier poll, state polls may matter far more, and Obama's veep pick and convention bounces may erase McCain's gains, but the new Reuters/Zogby survey of likely voters shows John McCain pulling ahead of Barack Obama by five points nationally, and pulling out to a 9-point advantage on the economy. Combined with Obama’s average lead over John McCain of just 3 points nationally (before the Zogby/Reuters poll,) according to RealClearPolitics, the latest Bloomberg/LosAngeles Times poll that has the race tightening to just 2 points, and the CNN "poll of polls" which shows a 3-point gap, it is indicative of a very unhealthy trend.
And while maybe it's not quite time to hit the panic button, Obama supporters (and hopefully the campaign itself,) can no longer deny that Houston, we have a problem.
This is not a surprising finding, given that the competition is married to a woman rich enough to make him sign a pre-nup, but here it is:
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama holds a 2 to 1 edge over Republican Sen. John McCain among the nation's low-wage workers, but many are unconvinced that either presidential candidate would be better than the other at fixing the ailing economy or improving the health-care system, according to a new national poll.
Obama's advantage is attributable largely to overwhelming support from two traditional Democratic constituencies: African Americans and Hispanics. But even among white workers -- a group of voters that has been targeted by both parties as a key to victory in November -- Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, and has the advantage as the more empathetic candidate.
Still, one in six of the white workers polled remains uncommitted to either candidate. And a majority of those polled, both white and minority, are ambivalent about the impact of the election, saying that no matter who wins, their personal finances are unlikely to change.
More than disaffection drives these workers, according to the new national poll by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University
The survey also puts to rest some Pat Buchananisms that cropped up during the primary:
Their politics are shaped partly by their lot in the current economy: These voters are among the most severely hurt by rising prices, and many are insecure about their finances and lack jobs with basic benefits. Nevertheless, many are optimistic about the future even as they express deep suspicion about government.
The new poll included interviews with 1,350 randomly selected workers 18 to 64 years old who put in at least 30 hours a week but earned $27,000 or less last year. As a group, they are somewhat less likely to be Republicans than all adults under age 65 and are also less likely to be registered to vote. As many call themselves conservatives as liberal, and nearly four in 10 said their views on most political matters are "moderate."
The group, which accounts for nearly a quarter of U.S. adults, gives the Democrat the nod both as the more empathetic candidate and as the one who more closely shares their values. And while many express no opinion about who would do more to improve the economy or health care -- or the voters' finances -- Obama has the clear edge among those who picked a favorite on these core issues.
Obama's standing with the white workers runs counter to an impression, dating from the primary season, that he struggles to attract support from that group. McCain advisers have said for months that they think the Republican can win a significant share of those voters because of Obama's performance in the spring.
The survey suggests it will be difficult, but not impossible, for McCain to increase his appeal. Whereas Obama underperforms congressional Democrats by six points among low-wage whites -- 53 percent would prefer that the party control Congress -- McCain has a seven-point edge over congressional Republicans.
Sixteen percent of the white workers polled chose neither Obama nor McCain, saying either that they have no opinion or that they support someone else or that they do not plan to vote.
Meanwhile, the Gallup Daily crack hit has Obama up 3: 46%-43%, comporting with the now familiar "gallup" of the poll, which opens up for Obama at the top of the week and closes at the end of the week.
Despite his spectacular week overseas, there are a few warning signs on the horizon for Sen. Barack Obama, which his team has got to pay attention to:
Warning sign 1: gassy polls
Stipulating that you have to take any poll with a bit of a grain of salt -- a lot can depend on the sample, the news of the week, etc., the Obama campaign has got to be a bit thrown off by the latest Quinnipiac poll, which shows John McCain closing in key swing states, and even taking the lead in Colorado (which since 2004 has had a Democratic State House, State Senate, governor's mansion and 1 out of 2 Senate seats.) The pollsters explain that part of the reason for McCain's rebound is the issue of offshore drilling, which is gaining acceptance among voters hard hit by high gas prices.
Arizona Sen. John McCain has inched ahead of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Colorado; come within inches in Minnesota and narrowed the gap in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls of likely voters in these battleground states, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com and released today.
Voters in each state say energy policy is more important than the war in Iraq. And by margins of 22 to 31 percentage points, voters in each state support offshore oil drilling, and by seven to 12-point margins, drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
Sen. McCain has picked up support in almost every group in every state, especially among independent voters and men voters. The Republican now leads Obama among independent voters in Michigan and Minnesota. Overall results show:
Colorado: McCain is up by a nose 46 - 44 percent, compared to a 49 - 44 percent Obama lead June 26;
Michigan: Obama tops McCain 46 - 42 percent, compared to a 48 - 42 percent lead last time;
Minnesota: Obama edges ahead 46 - 44 percent, compared to a 54 - 37 percent Obama lead;
"Sen. Barack Obama's post-primary bubble hasn't burst, but it is leaking a bit. It's been a good month for Sen. John McCain. His movement in these key states, not large except for Minnesota, jibes with the tightening we are seeing in the national polls," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The other issue with the polls is that Obama's slim lead, including in the Gallup daily tracking poll, indicates that despite McCain's moribund campaign, there is something out there that's keeping some voters, particularly older voters, from siding with Obama, even if they aren't thrilled about McCain (and who is.) I think that the X factor in Obama's run is race, which many voters won't admit to, but which is behind the arbitrary suspicion of him as a potential president. The Obama team has got to factor in a 5-8% share of the vote nationally -- and higher in certain states, like Pennsylvania and even Michigan -- that will be unavailable to him, specifically because of the race factor.
Warning sign #2: media bully victim syndrome
I have this theory that most reporters were high school yearbook or newspaper club nerds who always both despised and envied the jocks, bullies and cheerleaders, and found ways to laud them in print while scorning them in private. Today, most of these guys spend their time trying to find ways to deflect the new bullies on their backs: right wingers, especially those on talk radio, by constantly interpreting their wishes and then executing them, usually while in wobbly kneed terror.
Politico is one example of this media angst. The site works hard to be "fair and balanced," but often winds up airing right wing memes. A few headlines from the site today that will make the right wing talk radio rounds:
Obama cancels troop visit Jonathan Martin on the Obama campaign's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany, which will be THE top story on right wing talk radio, and probably the focus of a new attack ad, going into next week.
The Wall Street Journal tries to find the bad news for Obama in its new poll with NBC with this headline:
Voter unease with Obama lingers despite his lead Poll finds background, experience are advantages for McCain
But the underlying numbers look pretty good for Barack, who leads overall, by 6 points (47%-41%), and also in enthusiasm, with suburban and urban voters, in every region except the South, including by 12 points in the swing states and by a 51%-38% margin in the Midwest, with voters of all income levels, 55%-29% with moderates, and by a wide 52%-31% margin with Hispanics (black voters goes without saying -- McCain has 3 percent...) But the biggest divide appears to be generational. From one WSJ analyst:
On age, the poll found that 55% of voters aged 18 to 34 prefer the 46-year-old Sen. Obama, while 31% favored Sen. McCain. That 24-point edge is up from a 13-point advantage for Sen. Obama in last month's survey. Sen. McCain, who turns 72 next month, would be the oldest person elected to a first term as president.
At the same time, Sen. McCain's lead has ticked up among the oldest voters. He is now favored by 51% of those aged 65 and up, versus 41% for Sen. Obama. That 10-point gap is up from seven points in June.
The gap appears to be much greater than it was four years ago. In 2004, exit polls found that while younger voters favored Democrat John Kerry and older voters favored President George W. Bush, the margins were much tighter.
Beyond the age issue, the poll also found:
• A geographic divide, with voters in urban areas preferring Sen. Obama, and those in rural areas going, albeit more narrowly, for Sen. McCain. Suburban voters, a traditional swing group, narrowly lean toward Sen. Obama. • A persistent and striking enthusiasm gap between the parties. Just 14% of McCain voters -- versus 44% of Obama voters -- were excited about their candidate. Similarly, 43% of McCain supporters -- and just 22% of Obama's -- called their man the "lesser of two evils."
• Very different concerns about each candidate. The most common concern about Sen. McCain, cited by about four in 10 voters, was that he would continue President Bush's policies. For Sen. Obama, the most common concern was that he is too inexperienced for the job. One in three worry about that.
• A continued advantage for Democrats in party identification. Forty-five percent of voters told pollsters they considered themselves Democrats, versus just 35% who identified as Republicans -- another worrisome sign for the GOP.
• In looking at vice-presidential candidates, 60% of voters think Sen. McCain needs someone who is an expert on the economy. Half of voters say Sen. Obama needs someone who is an expert on foreign affairs.
That Bush number is probably the biggest worry for McCain.
One other interesting note about the poll: when third party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are factored in, Obama holds, and even bumps up, his number, while McCain takes a hit:
Without the third parties: Obama - 47% McCain - 41% Undecided/neither/other - 12%
With the thirdies: Obama - 48% McCain - 35% Nader - 5% Barr - 2% Undecided/neither/other - 10%
I get the feeling that if Barr had higher name recognition, the numbers for McCain would be even worse.
All of that said, the Journal does make a point in that the gap between Obama's theoretical numbers (his advantages on issues, in regions, etc) and his actual spread remains at a good 7-8 points, and the "discomfort" factor probably explains the spread. In my opinion, part of that "discomfort factor" is race-based, and Obama will have to live with a small but significant percentage of votes that will simply be inaccessible to him because of his race. The question will be whether that cohort is big enough in key states to keep him from pulling them into his column. Because many of the swing states are out west, where Obama's advantage with Hispanics will likely outweigh the "rejectionist" white vote, he's probably in good shape. But Team Barack should keep an eye on the rejectionist numbers in states that are likely to be very close, and here I'm thinking Ohio, even Michigan, and of course, Florida.
Senator Obama is blaming the news media — and especially FOX News — for Michelle Obama's high negative ratings. Just under 30 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama in our last FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month put her unfavorable rating at 42 percent.
Obama tells Glamour magazine that political spouses should be off-limits. He says the "conservative press — FOX News... went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way... spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this."
Though Obama failed to mention it, his wife has made a number of official campaign stops with him and has even campaigned for him on her own.
Obama then added, "If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives."
On his upcoming overseas trip, Barack Obama will be met along the way by the anchors of the three network evening newscasts. About 200 other journalists have also asked to join Obama during his trip.
But Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post reports that John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months — all unaccompanied by a single network anchor and with little fanfare. The Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage, says that since June the nightly newscasts on the three networks spent a combined 114 minutes covering Obama while devoting just 48 minutes to McCain.
Hume and Kurtz fail to mention that the McCain camp never made the ask of the networks. Don't hate on Team Obama because they were sharp enough to do so ...
The magazine is sticking its finger in the eye of every bigot who hates the Obamas because they're African-Americans, every racist who seeks to polarize the electorate and every ignoramus who mistrusts the senator from Illinois without examining his record and background.
Something else is going on here as well. This criticism centers on conservatives' strong dislike -- "hatred" is such a nasty word, no? -- of both Obama and the New Yorker, two of the most visible and successful symbols of liberal America. While there was also carping in some liberal quarters, the most vocal anger seemed to come from the other side.
The liberals' opponents are jumping on the bandwagon partly in the hope of making the New Yorker look bad (i.e. unpatriotic). The magazine has written many stories blasting the Bush administration's policies, especially its handling of Iraq.
If Obama were to choose Powell, 42% of likely voters nationwide said it would make them more likely to support the Democratic candidate - as did 42% of Democrats and 43% of political independents. The Zogby International telephone poll of 1,039 likely voters nationwide was conducted July 9-13, 2008, and asked respondents how the selection of certain vice presidential candidates would affect their likelihood to vote for the two leading presidential candidates. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
Watch right wing heads exploding everywhere... oh God, there go some Democratic head explosions in West Virginia! Zogby provides the doubters with a helpful table:
Likelihood to vote for Barack Obama if he chooses ... as his Vice President
What? Not much help from "Bayh Bayh Bayh"? Meanqhile, the pollster says McCain's best bets are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Now I think that Romney will ultimately be the running mate (supporting evidence here), no matter how much Mac may still secretly hate his guts, but me thinks the pollster doth miss name recognition too much. Not that name recog doesn't count in a veep selection. Just sayin. I doubt that the respondents to the poll really sat down and thought about the idea of TWO black men running together for president.
Anyway, just to be fair, here's the GOP chart:
Likelihood to vote for John McCain if he chooses ... as his Vice President
And would ya look at Miss Charlie, getting 5 percent! |
Meanwhile, a CBS/NYT poll shows that America's racial divide is as sharp as ever, according to the paper, Obama's polling success so far notwithstanding:
In the survey, 83 percent of blacks had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 31 percent of white voters.
The poll shows that the essence of the divide is that a preponderance of white Americans believe that racial discrimination is a thing of the past, which black people make too much of, while most black Americans feel that racial discrimination is very much a thing of the present, which white people make too little of:
On the status of race relations, 59 percent of black respondents thought they were generally bad, compared with 34 percent of whites who thought the same way.
The nationwide telephone poll of 1,796 adults showed that 39 percent of blacks said there had been no real progress in recent years in getting rid of racial discrimination. Only 17 percent of whites said the same thing.
Twenty-seven percent of whites said too much had been made of problems facing black people, while half of blacks said not enough had been made of racial barriers faced by black people.
What's ironic, is that some of the same white folks who say too much is made of racism harbor concurrent, negative, and I dare say racist, views of black people. If you don't believe me, read any comment thread under any online story about Barack Obama, or almost any other prominent social or political figure.
Update: The Obama camp is disputing the Times reporting, saying that the full poll disagrees with the paper's headline about Obama "not closing the racial divide." (H/T to the HuffPo.) TMP Election Central reports:
The Obama campaign sent over a detailed critique of the story, which concludes from the poll that Obama isn't closing the divide on race. The story's lead reporter was the paper's top political writer, Adam Nagourney.
"The NYT story about their poll ignores multiple and significant pieces of data that actually indicate a trend much different from that which the story suggests," the critique reads. It goes on to list "some straightforward points from their data that are omitted from the story."...
a) More white voters say Obama cares about people like them, than say the same thing about McCain by 31 to 23
b) On the essential issue in this campaign - bringing about change in Washington - Among white voters, Obama is seen as the change agent by 52% to 30%
c) Obama's 31% favorable rating among white voters is virtually identical to McCain's, which is at 34%.
d) By a 2 to 1 margin over McCain, white voters are more likely to say that Obama would improve America's image in the world
e) "Racial dissension" around Mrs. Obama's 24% favorable rating among whites is an extremely odd description given that Mrs. McCain's favorable rating among white voters is 20%.
f) Enthusiasm for Obama's candidacy is roughly 2.5 times higher among white voters than is enthusiasm for McCain's.
And Obama's fate will be determined by one thing: turnout...
Independent voters split 44 - 44 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Sen. McCain has a slight 47 - 44 percent edge among men voters and a larger 49 - 42 percent lead among white voters.
But black voters back Sen. Obama 94 - 1 percent, while women support him 55 - 36 percent. Obama leads 63 - 31 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old and 48 - 44 percent among voters 35 to 54, while voters over 55 split with 45 percent for McCain and 44 percent for Obama.
The Democrat gets 44 percent to the Republican's 47 percent in red states, which went Republican by more than 5 percent in 2004, and leads 50 - 39 percent in purple or swing states.
"Sen. Barack Obama's national lead is solid - but it's not monolithic," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"His support in the black community is about as close to unanimous as you can get. Politicians say that the only uncertainty will be turnout. Sen. John McCain leads among white voters.
Meanwhile, Newsweek finds alarming numbers of voters who think Obama is a Muslim. Consider the responses to Question #16:
16. As I read you some statements about Barack Obama, please tell me if each one is TRUE or FALSE, to the best of your knowledge. (First/Next)... (INSERT ITEM—READ AND RANDOMIZE). (As far as you know) is this true or false?
BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS
a. Obama used a Koran for swearing into the U.S. Senate
b. Obama attended an Islamic school in Indonesia during his youth
c. Obama was raised as a Muslim
d. Obama is a practicing Muslim today
NET—Think one or more of these statements is true 52
An AP/Yahoo survey released yesterday asks repondents to play word association with the presidential candidates. Here are the results:
1. Old, 19 percent
2. Military service, 9 percent
3. Record, qualifications, 8 percent
4. Bush, 7 percent
5. Strength, 7 percent
6. Insider, politician, 7 percent
7. Iraq, terrorism, 6 percent
8. Honest, 5 percent
9. Republican, 5 percent
10. (tie) Moral/good and dishonest, 4 percent
1. Outsider, change, 20 percent
2. Lack of experience, 13 percent
3. Dishonest, 9 percent
4. Inspiring, 8 percent
5. Liberal, 6 percent
6, 7 (tie). Obama's race, young, 6 percent
8. Not likable, 5 percent
9. Intelligent, 4 percent
10. Muslim, 3 percent
Ouch. So it's "change" vs. "old" by the numbers. And as many people cited "Bush" and "insider/politician" as cited "strength" for McCain. Meanwhile for Barack, the 6 percent who cited "race" might be an undercount, the 13 percent who said "inexperienced" is a clear red flag, and the 3 percent who said "Muslim" is proof that some people believe only what they want to, and that there is a small but impenetrable set of voters out there he will not be able to reach.
As the race for President passes the Independence Day holiday and heads toward the dog days of summer, Sen. Barack Obama holds a 44% to 38% lead over Sen. John McCain in the horserace contest, but also leads by a substantial margin in a state-by-state Electoral College tally, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.
The extensive national poll of of 46,274 likely voters also shows Libertarian candidate and former Congressman Bob Barr wins 6% support, eating into McCain’s needed conservative base of support.
And in table form:
Zogby’s Electoral College Count
As for Barr, and the demographics:
Bob Barr receives the support of 7% of voters who identify themselves as conservative or very conservative voters. Barr gets 43% of libertarians and 11% of independents. McCain’s support among conservatives is 74%. On the left, Ralph Nader gets less than 2% nationally.
Obama has the support of 83% of Democrats, while McCain gets 75% of Republicans.
Independents break 39% for Obama, compared with 31% who support McCain.
For white voters, race doesn’t appear to be playing a significant factor. McCain leads Obama, 43%-39%, with Barr at 6%. Among black voters, Obama wins the vast majority of support.
Gallup has Obama up 47%-43% over John McCain. And Politico offers a helpful retrospective on Fourth of July polls and the candidates they favored.
Meanwhile, the National Journal has its own poll, of political insiders, which includes explanatory snippets from poltiical operatives. The best take: from one of the 30% of Democratic strategists who said "age" is one of John McCain's two biggest vulnerabilities:
"Every time McCain gets off the airplane, he hikes his pants up like a grandpa. That does not speak to voters' hopes for the future."
One more number to watch that will no doubt prove to be much more important: the number of jobs the U.S. economy has shed in the first half of this year? 438,000:
"Over the past year the number of unemployed has increased by 1.5 million to 8.5 million and the unemployment rate has increased by 1 percentage points to 5.5%," says Steven Wood, chief economist of Insight Economics. "In the post World War II period, every time the unemployment rate has jumped by a full percentage point in the course of a year, the economy has slipped into recession."
So far this year, the economy has lost a total of 438,00 jobs, an average of 73,000 a month.
An emerging Democratic coalition of women, minorities and younger voters is propelling Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to leads of five to 17 percentage points over Arizona Sen. John McCain among likely voters in the battleground states of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com and released today.
Sen. McCain's lead among white voters in Colorado and Michigan cuts the gap to single digits, but doesn't offset Sen. Obama's strength among other groups. The Democrat also leads by eight to 21 percentage points among independent voters in each state. Overall results show:
Colorado: Obama leads McCain 49 - 44 percent, including 51 - 39 percent among independent voters;
Michigan: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent, with 46 - 38 percent among independents;
Minnesota: Obama buries McCain 54 - 37 percent, and 54 - 33 percent with independents;
Wisconsin: Obama leads McCain 52 - 39 percent, and 50 - 37 percent with independents.
Obama is losing white men by just 5 points in Colorado, and splitting whites 46 to McCain's 47 in my former state, while creaming McCain with Hispanics, 62-36.
He's winning all age groups in Michigan, including a 3-point edge with voters over 55 (he's down by 6 points with white men. Meanwhile,
Obama tops McCain 58 - 32 percent with women and 49 - 42 percent among men. White voters support Obama 51 - 39 percent. The Democrat leads 63 - 33 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 39 percent among voters 35 to 54 and 49 - 38 percent with voters over 55.
Obama gets a 59 - 22 percent favorability, to 46 - 32 percent for McCain.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, there's good news for Barack, bad news for Al Franken, and Tim Pawlenty news for John McCain:
"Sen. Obama sweeps nearly every demographic group in Minnesota, including whites and blue collar workers, to lead by 17 points, the biggest lead in the four states surveyed. At the same time, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, with overwhelming support among men and a tie among women, has a 10-point overall lead over comedian Al Franken, the Democratic challenger," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Most voters say it would not make any difference in their vote if Gov. Tim Pawlenty is McCain's running mate," Richards added. Wisconsin
Not what the McCain team wants to hear, I suspect.
Last but not least:
Wisconsin women likely voters back Obama 53 - 37 percent while men back the Democrat 51 - 40 percent. White voters back Obama 49 - 42 percent. He leads 61 - 35 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old, 52 - 39 percent among voters 35 to 54 years old and 47 - 41 percent among voters over 55.
Obama's favorability is 54 - 27 percent, with 48 - 30 percent for McCain.
And the main issue for all comers: the economy, stupid. It's no wonder that:
"November can't get here soon enough for Sen. Barack Obama. He has a lead everywhere, and if nothing changes between now and November he will make history," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
With those numbers? Hell yes. Now, for the very early, and very theoretical, Electoral College count:
Give all 46 of those EVs to Obama, and he's got 221 electoral votes, without including Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, North Carolina or Virginia. He would need another 49 EVs, McCain would need 96. That leaves Obama a number of combinations to win it. Give him the three previous QPac swing states that he's winning: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, and Obama is at 289, enough to win it all. Add Iowa and New Mexico -- two states he will almost certainly win -- and he's over 300. It's a tantalizing possibility, but again, it's still early, and we don't know what the Bushies' "October surprise" will be yet...
To have fun with the delegate math your damn self, go to 270towin.com. Just look busy so your boss thinks you're working...
Poor pundits. Most have been pooh-poohing the latest Newsweek poll showing a double digit lead for Barack Obama over John McCain, nationally. Is it still considered an outlier if another poll comes out that's just like it? LAT/Bloomberg's latest:
In a two-man race between the major party candidates, registered voters chose Obama over McCain by 49% to 37% in the national poll conducted last weekend.
On a four-man ballot including independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr, voters chose Obama over McCain by an even larger margin, 48% to 33%.
So to paraphrase and reverse Pat Buchanan, what's wrong with McCain? In a word: enthusiasm...
McCain suffers from a pronounced "enthusiasm gap," especially among the conservatives who usually give Republican candidates a reliable base of support. Among voters who describe themselves as conservative, only 58% say they will vote for McCain; 15% say they will vote for Obama, 14% say they will vote for someone else, and 13% say they are undecided.
By contrast, 79% of voters who describe themselves as liberal say they plan to vote for Obama.
Even among voters who say they do plan to vote for McCain, more than half say they are "not enthusiastic" about their chosen candidate; only 45% say they are enthusiastic. By contrast, 81% of Obama voters say they are enthusiastic, and almost half call themselves "very enthusiastic," a level of zeal that only 13% of McCain's supporters display.
Say it isn't so, John! What about Barack, and all his problems with white and women voters?
Meanwhile, Obama is doing well among a broad range of voters," she said. "He's running ahead among women, black voters and other minorities. He's running roughly even among white voters and independents."
Among white voters, Obama and McCain are dead even at 39% each, the poll found. Earlier this year, when Obama ran behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) among white voters in some primary elections, analysts questioned whether the African American senator could win white voters in the general election.
But the great majority of Clinton voters have transferred their allegiance to Obama, the poll found. Only 11% of Clinton voters have defected to McCain.
They key in this poll and the Newsweek and other recent surveys is that despite McCain's best efforts, his signature issues, terrorism and the war in Iraq, don't rank high on the priority lists of most Americans. Maybe that's why Camp McCain is not-so-secretly hoping for a terror attack, bin Laden video or handy assassination of a foreign leader just before the election...
Meanwhile, a new Zogby poll shows Obama with a 16-point lead in South Florida. He's leading McCain 46-30% in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beaches combined, according to the relatively small sample poll, which also shows Obama with a 40-35% lead among Hispanic voters in the tri-county area. Early, but interesting...
Meaning that the independent candidates take about 3 points from Obama, 2 points from McCain and nothing from undecided.
Republicans appear to be genuinely worried about Barr, much more so than Dems are paying attention to Ralph Whats-his-name. Especially after a June 18 Insider Advantage poll showed Barr narrowing McCain's Georgia margin to the lowest possible single digit:
McCain: 44% Obama: 43% Barr: 6% Undecided: 7%
The pollsters point out that Barr's main strength is also McCain's: senior voters. Uh-oh...
One more piece of polling interest, from the WaPo pol:Voters were asked, regardless of who they support, which candidate:
Is the stronger leader? Obama: 46% McCain: 46% (McCain had a 4 point advantage in May)
Would do more to bring needed change to Washington? Obama: 60% McCain: 22%
Better represents your own personal value? Obama: 51% McCain: 38%
Better understands the problems of people like you? Obama: 53% McCain: 35%
Would do more to stand up to lobbyists and special interest groups? Obama: 51% McCain: 36%
So much for Pat Buchanan's "what's wrong with this guy?" routine...
Voters were also asked who they trust more on a variety of issues. Here's how the two candidates scored:
Obama was trusted more on:
the economy (52/36)
women's issues (58/26)
gas prices (50/30)
global warming/environmental issues (55/28)
appointments to the Supreme Court (45/53)
McCain was trusted more on:
international affairs (49/43)
the war in Iraq (47/46) -- a statistical tie
the "U.S. campaign against terrorism" (53/39 -- McCain's only big lead)
The latest Quinnipiac swing state polls have bad news for Pat Buchanan and other political analysts who have created a mini cottage industry out of Barack Obama's supposed inability to win over women and blue collar voters in the traditional battleground states, the way Hillary Clinton did.
Not only does Barack Obama lead John McCain in three crucial battleground states -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and for the first time this political season, Florida -- his lead in PA is the largest of them all. I guess those "real Americans" in Appalachia are closet Adlai Stevenson fans? The numbers:
Florida: Obama edges McCain 47 - 43 percent;
Ohio: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent;
Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 52 - 40 percen
The poll also reveals ongoing demographic challenges for John McCain:
In the three states, Obama leads McCain 10 to 23 percentage points among women, while men are too close to call. The Democrat trails among white voters in Florida and Ohio, but gets more than 90 percent of black voters in each state. He also has double-digit leads among young voters in each state.
And as to the idea of Hillary Clinton on the ticket, even in Clinton Country (Florida and Pennsylvania,) the idea leaves crucial independent voters cold:
Florida: Democrats want Clinton on the ticket 57 - 33 percent while Republicans are opposed 59 - 17 percent and independents oppose it 46 - 37 percent;
Ohio: Democrats want Clinton for Vice President 58 - 31 percent, but Republicans say no 60 - 19 percent and independents turn thumbs down 47 - 31 percent;
Pennsylvania: Democrats say yes to Clinton 60 - 31 percent, while Republicans say no 63 - 20 percent and independents nix the idea 49 - 36 percent.
"If Sen. Obama seriously is thinking about picking Sen. Clinton as his running mate, these numbers might cause him to reconsider. The people who really matter come November - independent voters - turn thumbs down on the idea. And, many say they are less likely to vote for him if he puts her on the ticket," Brown added.
The crucial finding here is that women are quickly consolidating behind the Obama candidacy, or against McCain, however you choose to spin it. As McCain's views become more widely known, he will become even more difficult to market to women, and to younger voters, for whom issues like the environment, ending the Iraq war, holding the Supreme Court and ridding the country of Bush era policies are paramount, and for whom McCain's very real sacrifices in war, frankly, age him all the more because they stem from a war younger voters only know as the father of unnecessary wars like Iraq. Add McCain's newfound zeal for offshore drilling, and you can imagine his stance helping him close the gap somewhat in Pennsylvania, but widening it in the Sunshine State.
By the way, the other problem with McDrilling is that the notion of despoiling Florida's coastline will, as Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times put it on MSNBC this morning, instantly activate a legion of environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters, who might otherwise have been less exercised by the McCain candidacy. These groups have lists, and they consist of mainly older, supervoters. If McCain's new stance touches off a very real push for drilling in Florida, his stance could fuel increased coordination by environmental groups and perhaps elements of the tourism industry, not only against his candidacy, but against other vulnerable Republicans in November.
Former Nixon aide Patrick Buchanan is a very smart, very engaging guy. I really enjoy him on MSNBC, especially when he starts waving the hand, turning red and going apoplectic over Barack Obama's supposed weaknesses with "hard working white folks." When he gets really exercised, "like that" becomes "Lack-at." And I really did love his book, "Where the Right Went Wrong."
That said, where did Pat go wrong on his analysis of Obama's weak demographics? It seems ... shock of all shocks ... a candidate's performance relative to candidate in his or her own party does not necessarily indicate how that candidate would perform in a general election. So the MSNBC/WSJ poll yesterday had to be murder on Pat, who has been writing and saying a lot of stuff "lack-iss":
Bush's disapproval is near 70 percent, and 80 percent of the country believes the nation is on the wrong course. Unemployment is rising. Surging gas and food prices compete for the top story not only on business pages but front pages, with home foreclosures and the housing slump. Family incomes of Middle Americans have ceased to rise, as millions of their best jobs have been outsourced overseas.
Yet, national polls show McCain-Obama a close race, and the electoral map points to critical problems for Barack.
He seeks, for example, to target Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. But in all three the Hispanic vote may be decisive. And Barack was beaten by Hillary two to one among Hispanics, and between these two largest of America's minorities, rivalry and tension are real and rising.
Barack must hold Michigan and Pennsylvania and pick up Ohio or Virginia. Yet, his weakness among Southern and working-class whites and women is remarkable. By two to one they rejected him.
After his string of primary and caucus victories in February, Barack proceeded to lose Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, then West Virginia by 41, Kentucky by 35, Puerto Rico two to one and South Dakota by 10. That last one Barack was supposed to win.
The longer the campaign went on, the more reluctant Democrats seemed to be to embrace his nomination.
What is Barack's problem?
Well ... according to the poll, he doesn't have one. The poll results were pretty darned definitive:
Obama has opened up a six-point advantage over McCain (47%-41%) in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, which is up three points from Obama’s lead in April. Perhaps the most fascinating numbers are in the crosstabs, and some of the numbers will surprise folks who memorized every exit poll from the Democratic primaries. Obama leads McCain among African Americans (83-7), Hispanics (62-28), women (52-33), Catholics (47-40), independents (41-36) and even blue-collar workers (47-42). Obama is also ahead among those who said they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries (61-19). Meanwhile, McCain is up among evangelicals (69-21), white men (55-35), men (49-41), whites (47-41), and white suburban women (44-38). However, Obama has a seven-point edge (46-39) among all white women. How important is that lead? NBC/WSJ co-pollster Neil Newhouse (R) explains that Republican candidates always expect to win white men by a substantial margin, but it’s white women that usually decide the race.
The MSM, who all-but declared Obama's chances with white women dead after Hillary dropped out, have been focusing on the white, suburban women number. But aren't these the same "soccer/security moms" who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004?
Another interesting break-out is the evangelical vote. George W. Bush won that vote 68%-30% against Al Gore, and 78% to 21% versus John Kerry in 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. If Obama has already brushed the GOP back to its 2000 numbers (the year Bush lost the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes and won the Electoral College by ONE vote, after the Supreme Court awarded Florida to him) then John McCain has a problem. Over time, I suspect Obama's "Joshua Generation" project and superior comfort level with the language of religion will only boost his number, while the zeal to turnout for McCain -- which made the difference for Bush in 2004, just isn't there.
Having worked in media since 1998, I have to tell you I haven't seen a concerted effort at a media takedown like the one heaped on Barack Obama by the Washington press corps and cable news talking heads since the Clinton impeachment fiasco. (Howard Kurtz tries to explain why the press corps turned on Obama in his WaPo column. The Cliffs Notes version: "Saturday Night Live." Pretty pathetic.) But over the weekend, a kindly blogger at the Huffpo and a writer at the New York Times had the decency to show us the numbers. Blogs Al Giiordano:
I turn on the TV, read the political columnists (and a significant number of analytically-challenged bloggers, too) and all I hear is a bunch of white folk prattling on about their favorite narrative: "Obama's losing white voters!"
They've swallowed the Clinton racially-obsessed spin, hook, line and sinker. Some, because they are gullible, haven't an original idea in their little pea brains, and follow the pack of what everybody else is talking about. Others, because they like to toss around knowing falsehoods. Nary a superdelegate can go on Fox News without being berated by an anchorperson screeching (this is pretty close to an exact quote): "But your duty as a superdelegate is to select the most electable and that's Hillary Clinton!" That these anchorpersons are Republican partisans openly cheering for Senator Clinton is our first clue of the game afoot. One of the major successes of Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos is that it has got all the right-wing pundits and reporters marching lockstep behind the effort to give Clinton enough oxygen to keep slashing away at Senator Obama, who remains the prohibitive likely Democratic nominee.
And when Clinton wins state primaries that, because of demographics, she was always going to win - last week, Pennsylvania and next week, Indiana - they then wave that event up like a blood-soaked flag as proof of their narrative: See? See? We told you so! White people won't vote for Obama!
The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.
On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period).
While a favorable opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a vote, this should still give the Clintons (and the superdelegates) pause. Electability cuts both ways.
He holds a solid lead over John McCain, and beats HRC in the new CBS/NYT poll. Meanwhile, the Times tries to make a story of the 25 percent of voters who say their opinions are impacted by the ubiquitous Rev. Wright. Note to Times: 100 minus 25 is Seventy Five...|
For all the media's efforts to close this race up and keep it going, a Newsweek poll shows Barack Obama pullling away:
Despite her campaign's relentless attacks on Barack Obama's qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday's critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.
The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton's big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters. (For the complete poll data, click here).
One of the more devastating results for Clinton was that a majority of all registered voters now see her as dishonest and untrustworthy. According to the poll, just four in 10 (41 percent) registered voters view the New York senator as honest and trustworthy, while 51 percent think the opposite. This compares with solid majorities of voters who see Obama and McCain as honest and trustworthy (both polled 61 percent).
The results suggest that Clinton was damaged more by being caught in a tall tale about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire than Obama has been by his recent controversies, including the firestorm of criticism provoked by the Illinois senator's remarks that blue-collar voters "cling" to religion, guns and other issues because of their bitterness. In addition, over half (53 percent) of voters say they believe Obama shares their values, more than those who say the same thing about Clinton (47 percent) or McCain (45 percent).
Even so, the poll indicates that both Obama and Clinton have been harmed by the fierce attacks they have aimed at each other. While Obama has a 57 percent favorable rating among all voters in the latest survey, that represents a 4 percent drop from March, and his unfavorable rating has jumped from 28 percent to 36 percent. Clinton is viewed favorably by just 49 percent, compared to 56 percent in March, while 47 percent view her as unfavorable, compared �"This is not a year for negative campaigning and Clinton's pounding of Obama on his controversial description of small town voters in Pennsylvania does not seem to be working. Obama leads in the Philadelphia and eastern part of the Commonwealth, among African Americans, and Very Liberal Pennsylvanians. He also has a slight lead among voters in union households and has an 18 point margin over those who have lost a job. Clinton maintains her lead among whites, Catholics, Liberals, and Hispanics.
"The gender gap is huge with Obama leading among men by 15 and Clinton leading among women by 15. But Clinton holds a wide advantage on the question of understanding Pennsylvania (58%-27%) and handling the economy of the country (47%-38%). She also is ahead in understanding the personal financial situation of individuals (41%-35%).
"On the other hand, Pennsylvanians by a two to one margin (60% to 29%) are more likely to agree with supporters of Obama that voters in Pennsylvania are bitter about their economic situation than with Clinton and critics of Obama that he is an elitist who does not understand working people.
to 40 percent in the previous poll. Even so, the unopposed McCain has also suffered a setback: his favorable rating has dipped to 52 percent from 55 percent, while his unfavorable rating has increased to 42 percent from 35 percent. ...
Time is running out for Hil. Look for her to take the really big clubs to Obama's knees going forward.
Meanwhile Zogby, who's been very unreliable lately (maybe it's because he's partnering with Newsmax...) has the PA race down to 1 point. The undecideds in the Zogby poll: 9 percent. Here's Zogby's take:
�"This is not a year for negative campaigning and Clinton's pounding of Obama on his controversial description of small town voters in Pennsylvania does not seem to be working. Obama leads in the Philadelphia and eastern part of the Commonwealth, among African Americans, and Very Liberal Pennsylvanians. He also has a slight lead among voters in union households and has an 18 point margin over those who have lost a job. Clinton maintains her lead among whites, Catholics, Liberals, and Hispanics.
"The gender gap is huge with Obama leading among men by 15 and Clinton leading among women by 15. But Clinton holds a wide advantage on the question of understanding Pennsylvania (58%-27%) and handling the economy of the country (47%-38%). She also is ahead in understanding the personal financial situation of individuals (41%-35%).
"On the other hand, Pennsylvanians by a two to one margin (60% to 29%) are more likely to agree with supporters of Obama that voters in Pennsylvania are bitter about their economic situation than with Clinton and critics of Obama that he is an elitist who does not understand working people. ...
We shall see. But most polls show Pennsylvania closing. Rasmussen has Clinton up by 3% (47%-44% with 9% undecided in a poll taken the night of the ABC debate debacle) but with 6 percent of Obama supporters saying they could still change their minds (to 2 percent for HRC.)
For all the media's fulminating and braying on behalf of the gun owning, churchgoing, illegal immigration opposing, small town Americans that most of their East Coast elite backsides quietly despise, it appears that so far, Americans are proving to be much smarter than the people who bring them the news.
To whit, the "bittergate" flap -- five eye-rolling days rolling, with no end in sight -- has had exactly zero impact on the presidential primary race. Zilch.
The new LAT/Bloomberg poll finds the race in Pennsylvania actually getting tighter -- it's down to five points in a poll taken Thursday through Monday, meaning all but one polling day included this stupid, tedious, non-story about who's bitter and who's the salt of the earth. The same outfit has Hillary losing her lead in Indiana, and going down 13 points to Barack in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs spent the better part of his show today spouting off at Obama, but when he tried to put it in a poll, that too fell flat. Lou's poll asked whether the viewers of his show would desribe themselves as "partisan and pathetic," "bitter and angry" or "independent and proud." I think he was pulling for "independent and proud." the results, instead the results were as follows:
Partisan and pathetic - 3% Independent and proud - 45% Bitter and angry - 52%
52% Lou. That's a majority of your viewers who describe themselves as bitter and angry. I mean, you do listen to your show, right?
BTW, Hillary's PA lead according to Quinnipiac: 6 percent. No change from last week.
And Barack is up one point in Gallup's daily tracking poll - 51% to 40%.
I love a good poll as much as the next political junkie. In fact, I follow them pretty asiduously, including on this blog. But it's fair to say that most of the horse race polls pitting either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton against John McCain to see who's more "electable" in the general don't matter a whit. Here are three reasons why:
1. It's April. Much could change in the U.S. between now and the election. Those events will influence the way voters feel about the eventual nominees versus one another.
2. There are two many people in the race. With no conclusion on the Democratic side, the horse race polls are polluted with passionate Clinton voters who lean to McCain because they don't like not seeing their girl on the ticket, and Obama voters who do the same on behalf of their guy. The latest polls say as much, showing something like a quarter of Obama supporters saying they'll vote for McCain if Barack doesn't get the nod, and a third of Hillary supporters saying the same thing. That, too, will change as we get into the general election, and John McCain is defined more starkly against just one Democrat. Then, those who claim they'll switch will be confronted with a whole new reality, and most of them will likely vote party line.
3. John McCain has not been defined. The media has done a woeful job of covering McCain, whom many reporters appear to worship even more than they worshipped George W. Bush after 9/11. The lack of coverage of McCain gives him the natural advantage of being defined in potential voters' minds only by his amorphous "cliche qualities," which have been drummed into the public's mind by the same mainstream media: "McCain is a maverick"; "McCain is no George W. Bush"; "McCain is a hero." With those platitudes substituted for actual probing of his actions and views, it's no surprise that he is dead even with either Democrat in the polls.
4. The Democrats aren't helping themselves. By attacking each other something like ten times more than they attack McCain, the two Democratic contenders are building up each other's negatives, and their own, and leaving McCain in the arms of the suck-ups in the Washington press corps. Of course, that will change too, once Miss Hillary accepts that this thing is over. ... I mean, once the contest has run its course... (ahem)
And the fifth reason why the horse race polls don't matter?
5. National polls don't matter nearly as much as statewide polls. The latter gauge how candidates might do in the real contest in November -- the contest for electoral college votes. That's why statewide polls like the DNC's arguably Democratic friendly internal polls matter more inside campaigns. DNC pollsters surveyed 17 swing states and found some troubling trends for Grandpa McCain, whose age and stands on issues will undoubtedly become major subjects of the fall campaign. Another set of polls that can tell a compelling story: daily tracking polls like Gallup's, which are good at identifying trends.
If you want to read some polls that matter, check out the polling out of states that are headed to the polls in the next several weeks (PA, IN, etc.) Those are the polls, right now, to watch.
Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 53% to 36% among men (46% of likely Democratic primary voters). Among women, Clinton leads 52% to 39%.
Clinton leads 52% to 36% among white voters (80% of likely Democratic primary voters). Obama leads 89% to 9% among African American voters (16% of likely Democratic primary voters).
Obama leads 52% to 38% among voters age 18 to 49 (52% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Clinton leads 52% to 38% among voters age 50 and older.
27% of all likely Democratic primary voters and 41% of likely Democratic primary voters age 18 to 49 say they would never vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary and 25% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the primary.
In Indiana, ARG has Clinton up 53% to 44% with just 2 percent undecided, and the polling firm gives Obama the edge in North Carolina, 51% to 38% with 7% undecided.
Pretty stunning stuff, given that Hillary must win Pennsylvania to keep the media at bay (winning it has no impact on her electoral prospects, and she and everybody in the press corps knows it.) Not only that, but Hillary has to fight to keep the superdelegate dam from breaking over the next couple of weeks leading up to the PA primary, lest a march to the Obama camp further diminish her stature and appearance of viability, and along with it, her chances of winning upcoming races.
Related: Salon ponders Obama's state of suspended animation, unlikely to be vanquished by Hillary, and yet unable to finish her off.
81 - the percentage of Americans in a new poll that say the country is on the wrong track. That's the worst showing for right track/wrong track EVER in this poll, stretching back to 1986. (Another 14 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, leading to serious questions about what the hell is wrong with the other 5 percent...) In the NYT/CBS poll, most respondents blamed regulators, rather than banks or homeowners, for the current housing crisis, reflecting a tendency for people to "blame up" -- meaning that those with a closest proximity; your neighbor (or yourself) and your neighborhood bank, get less blame. And most Americans oppose bailing out banks, preferring that the government offer individual help to homeowners. Overall, the poll finds Americans pessimistic about jobs, unhappy with both the president and Congress, and slightly preferring either Democratic presidential candidate to John McCain. On the "Ronald Reagan test" question, 78 percent say the country is worse off than it was five years ago (another high for the poll) with just 4 percent saying we're better off. The complete poll is available here.
$40 million - The amount of money Barack Obama raised for his presidential campaign last month. Hillary Clinton's campaign raised half that amount, and her campaign is being completely outspent where it counts: in upcoming primary states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina (In PA, for instance, Hillary has a $500,000 television buy in the field, versus $3 million in television and radio ads for Obama.) To her credit, Clinton has raised $175 million so far in the campaign. Trouble is, Obama has raised $240 million, and her donor base, which has by and large given in larger individual amounts, is getting tapped out, while her fundraisers are expressing exhaustion, rather than enthusiasm.
1,276,000 - The number of individual donors who have contributed to the Obama campaign. According to the Times: "More than 442,000 people contributed to the campaign in March, with more than 218,000 of them giving for the first time. The average contribution in March was $96; the total number of contributors to date comes to 1,276,000."
2 - the point spread between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a new Insider Advantage poll of Pennsylvania voters. I don't know how reliable this poll is, and I'd probably go with the latest Qpac poll myself,) but it's not good news for Camp Clinton, who surely see that the race in this must-win-big state for her, is tightening.
Note to the media: the Obama campaign is well aware that Hillary Clinton's only route to the nomination is to knee-cap Barack Obama, rendering him un-nominatable, or unelectable in the general. They know that. His campaign manager has said as much. The news isn't so much that Hillary's own people know that she has to go Tonya Harding on Barack in order to win. The news is that the media is surprised.
But one thing to remember about Ms. Harding: in the end, her knee-capping operation hurt her reputation more than it hurt her then opponent, Nancy Kerrigan. Harding became a punch line, a loser making a living doing amateur, B-list celebrity boxing. And for Mrs. Clinton, the kitchen sink strategy appears to be soaking her, and her husband's legacy, in much the same way.
The latest NBC News/WSJ poll finds that among voters surveyed, Hillary Clinton's negatives have risen more than Obama's, and her positive ratings have shrunk more. Moreover, Hillary Clinton is viewed negatively by more Obama voters than the reverse.
Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC polls with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, called the latest poll a "myth-buster" that showed the pastor controversy is "not the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign."
But both Democrats, and especially New York's Sen. Clinton, are showing wounds from their prolonged and increasingly bitter nomination contest, which could weaken the ultimate nominee for the general-election showdown against Sen. McCain of Arizona. Even among women, who are the base of Sen. Clinton's support, she now is viewed negatively by more voters than positively for the first time in a Journal/NBC poll.
The latest survey has the Democratic rivals in a dead heat, each with 45% support from registered Democratic voters. That is a slight improvement for Sen. Obama, though a statistically insignificant one, from the last Journal/NBC poll two weeks ago, which had Sen. Clinton leading among Democratic voters, 47% to 43%.
While Sen. Clinton still leads among white Democrats, her edge shrank to eight points (49% to 41%) from 12 points in early March (51% to 39%). That seems to refute widespread speculation -- and fears among Sen. Obama's backers -- that he would lose white support for his bid to be the nation's first African-American president over the controversy surrounding his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Chicago.
Had that erosion happened, party leaders' reassessment of Sen. Obama's electability could have tipped the race to Sen. Clinton's favor. Weathering the episode could strengthen his standing among the party leaders nationwide -- the superdelegates -- whose votes are likely to break the impasse.
Beyond the nomination race, in hypothetical matchups for November's election Sen. Obama still edges Sen. McCain 44% to 42%. That is nearly the same result as in the early March poll, before videos of Mr. Wright's most fiery sermons spread over the Internet. But Sen. Clinton, who likewise had a narrow advantage over Sen. McCain in the earlier survey, trails in this one by two points, 44% to his 46%.
The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday, a week after Sen. Obama delivered a generally well-received address on race.
The negativity of the Obama-Clinton contest seems to be hurting Sen. Clinton more, the poll shows. A 52% majority of all voters says she doesn't have the background or values they identify with. But 50% say Sen. Obama does share their values, and 57% agree that Sen. McCain does.
Also, fewer voters hold positive views of Sen. Clinton than did so just two weeks ago in the Journal/NBC poll. Among all voters, 48% have negative feelings toward her and 37% positive, a decline from a net positive 45% to 43% rating in early March. While 51% of African-American voters have positive views, that is down 12 points from earlier this month, before the Wright controversy.
More ominous for Sen. Clinton is the net-negative rating she drew for the first time from women, one of the groups where she has drawn most support. In this latest poll, voters with negative views narrowly outstrip those with positive ones, 44% to 42%. That compares with her positive rating from 51% of women in the earlier March poll.
Both she and Sen. Obama showed five-point declines in positive ratings from white voters. But where she is viewed mostly negatively, by 51% to 34% of whites, Sen. Obama's gets a net positive rating, by 42% to 37%. Among all voters, he maintained a significant positive-to-negative score of 49% to 32%—similar to Sen. McCain's 45% to 25%.
The toll on both Democrats from their rhetorical brawling is evident in these poll findings: About a fifth of Clinton voters say they would support Sen. McCain if she isn't the Democratic nominee, and likewise a fifth of Obama voters say they would do the same if he isn't the party standard-bearer.
In other words, negative campaigning may work, but it can sometimes do more damage to your own knees than on your opponent's.
Meanwhile, back at the kitchen sink, Clinton's donors (who are far outnumbered by Barack's donors...) issue oblique threats to Nancy Pelosi (who appears to be an Obama Girl) ... but will they also threaten the Democratic governor of Tennessee over his idea for a superdelgate primary?
http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifThe latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has its ups and downs for Republicans and Democrats. First, the downs:
Americans aren't happy with the state of the country or of the economy:
Forty-three percent say that they and their families are worse off, compared with 34 percent who say they’re better off; 21 percent respond that their status is the same. By contrast, strong pluralities or majorities answered that they were better off before entering the general elections in 1996, 2000 and 2004 — when, with the exception of the extremely close 2000 race, the incumbent party held onto the presidency.
Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with GOP pollster Bill McInturff, suggests that these new numbers are more good news for a Democratic Party trying to take back the White House. “The compass points due north for the party of change.”
But which party would that be?
In 1980, Americans voted to get out of the Carter doldroms by "changing" to a Hollywood actor who made them feel better about themselves. In 1992, they voted to change the generational makeup at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in some ways to punish George H.W. Bush for going back on his tax pledge, and to signal dissatisfaction with the economy. But in 2000, given the opportunity to put a familiar name, a Bush, back into the White House, half of American voters took the bait, only to be bitching about another miserable Bush economy now. In other words, Americans say they want change, but often what they want is familiarity, and a comfort level with the person their assigning to bring them that so-called change.
So could it be that in 2008, given the opportunity to turn the page from the Bush era, or to extend it for four more years with John McCain, a man who gives off the perception of change, while promising to keep nearly every policy of the present administration going -- in perpetuity -- will Americans fall for it again?
I suspect they might. Because at the end of the day, voters -- and lets be specific here -- lower middle class white voters, who still form a majority of the electorate -- may feel more comfortable with the familiarity of McCain, than with either change agent on the Democratic side.
"The compass points due north for the Democrats as the party of change," said Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who, with Republican Bill McInturff, conducts the Journal/NBC surveys. "But for each of the three presidential hopefuls, the compass settings are much less definitive."
A couple findings in the new poll capture how conflicted Americans are. By a 13-point margin, 50% to 37%, registered voters say they would prefer a Democrat to be elected president. When asked to choose specifically between Arizona Sen. McCain and either Democrat, the results in each case are a statistical tie. (Poll results)
Illinois Sen. Obama edges Sen. McCain by 47% to 44%, while Sen. Clinton, of New York, beats the Republican by a near-identical 47% to 45%. The poll, which surveyed 1,012 registered voters March 7-10, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Chief among the strengths of the Republican nominee-in-waiting is his experience with national-security issues, as a naval aviator and longtime senator. "Americans can visualize John McCain behind the desk in the Oval Office," said Mr. Hart. "The difficulty is where his policies are, and is he going to take the country where it wants to head."
Of 10 attributes measured in the poll, Sen. McCain scored highest for "being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency." Nearly two-thirds of voters agreed -- up 12 points from December, when both parties' nominating races were getting under way. His next-highest ratings, from 61%, were for strong leadership and for readiness to be commander in chief.
Voters gave Sen. McCain the lowest marks on whether he shared their positions on issues (31% said he does), for being inspirational (22%) and for being likely to produce change in Washington (20%). Yet Sen. McCain evokes positive responses among voters generally -- by 47% to 27% they say they have a favorable view of him, with the rest mostly neutral. Those with positive feelings include seven out of 10 conservative voters who otherwise say they are unhappy with Sen. McCain as the nominee. Fewer than half of Democrats have unfavorable views.
In other words, McCain wins the "red phone" contest, even though he loses with voters on the issues (and despite the fact that 52% of Republicans surveyed said they would have preferred another nominee.)
And now, the upside for Democrats:
By 56% to 30%, voters say the economy and health-care issues -- where they favor Democrats -- are more important in deciding who should be president than terrorism and social issues -- areas where Republicans are stronger. That is roughly the reverse of voters' priorities right before Mr. Bush's 2004 re-election.
At the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war, the conflict remains as unpopular as ever, despite the military progress of Mr. Bush's troop buildup of the past year -- of which Sen. McCain was the chief promoter. A majority still wants to start withdrawing troops in 2009 rather than stay indefinitely until Iraq is stable, as Sen. McCain suggests.
The toll on Republicans is reflected in voters' party identification. By 12 points, 47% to 35%, more voters say they are Democrats or lean that way; four years ago, the parties were roughly even. Republicans' slippage is mostly among those 18 to 34 years old. While strategists typically give short shrift to younger Americans because many don't vote, Mr. McInturff says their excitement this year, especially on the Democrats' side, could make 2008 "one of the first general-election cycles where they become a very important subgroup." That could hurt 71-year-old Sen. McCain.
And yet, while a generic D beats a generic R by a 50 to 37 margin, McCain remains in striking distance of either -- now heavily primary damaged -- Democrat.
A raft of fresh, new polls hit the streets this morning, and there's nothing nice in them for Senator Clinton.
USAT/Gallup (Feb. 21-24 poll of 829 Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents and 1,009 Democrats and Democrat leaners) starts us off with head-to-head match-ups that show Barack Obama as more electable than Hillary Clinton versus John McCain:
Among likely voters:
McCain - 50% Clinton - 46 Other/Neither/No opinion - 4
The Illinois senator leads Clinton by 23 percentage points among white men and by 17 points among liberals -- groups that were evenly divided between the two in early February. He has a similar advantage among people earning $50,000 to $100,000 annually -- whom she led earlier by 13 points.
Clinton maintains robust leads among some groups that have been cornerstones of her candidacy, including those age 65 and up, white women and people earning under $50,000 annually.
Overall, Obama has 46 percent to Clinton's 43 percent, a virtual tie. Clinton had a slight 5 point lead nationally in early February.
Although the AP/I poll shows both Dems beating John McCain, which is good news for Hillary, Barack wins by bigger margins:
Clinton - 48% McCain - 43 Neither/Not sure - 9
Obama - 51% McCain - 41 Neither/Not sure - 8
And the internals, particularly on white men, are more important than the national horse race, because they speak to a trend against Hillary that could carry over into a general election.
A new New York Times/CBS News poll shows Barack Obama's support continuing to ascend the celestial plain (sorry, Hillary...) and it reveals some troubling trends for Hillary...
Her support among men has cratered, according to this poll, dropping from 42% in December to 28% at the end of February. Barack's, meanwhile, has climbed from 26% to 67%.
Hillary is holding steady with women - 46% then and now, but Barack has caught up to her, climbing from 27% of Democratic women to 45% from December to February.
Barack is preferred by Democratic voters overall, and by a wide margin (54% to 38%). In December, Hillary led that question 44% to 27%).
And the poll shows his support climbing among blue collar voters ($50K and under households) and self-described moderates.
Meanwhile, a new set of polls shows Hillary hanging onto a shrinking lead in Ohio but appearing to lose her lead in Texas. Not a good sign for a campaign that needs to win both states handily. Worse, the polls closed on February 24th (Sunday) -- before news of her rather shrieky weekend rants and Obama in Muslim garb gambit sunk into the public zeitgeist. I would guess those antics will cut against Hillary, at the same time Barack's NAFTA flyers will begin having an impact in Ohio.
The ARG polls (first and last columns) which are looking better and better after they nailed Wisconsin, show Barack pulling ahead in Texas, and Hillary maintaining about a 10 point edge in Ohio (again, pre-rant):
A new Pew Poll has bad news for organized religion. Americans are becoming, shall we say, more European in our outlook on organized religion. Spirituality without religion -- faith without structure (and bully-boy tactics on "tithes") ... may be the new "black."
I think I fall into that category. As I get older, I grow more disillusioned with "the church," more cynical about religious leaders and less inclined to seek, or to need, organized religion. It's a source of guilt for me because I think that organized religion provides a good, moralizing structure for kids, of which I have three. But I just find it hard to drink the Kool-Aid with all that I've seen, particularly in Miami, where some preachers are literally for sale (as I saw during the fight on gambling in Miami,) others are unbelievably timid when it comes to standing up for (or against) Big Things, and still others seem to be mostly in it for the bling. There are very few who truly work for social change or who openly confront the serious issues facing the communities they pastor. That's a shame, but not an unchangeable one.
Hillary Clinton's campaign now hangs by a thread -- or maybe three: Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. The first two hold primaries on March 4th, along with Vermont and Rhode Island. PA voters go to the polls on April 22nd, by which time the Clinton campaign could well be on fumes. Here's the entire calendar:
Feb 19 Hawaii (Dems only) Wisconsin
March 4 Texas Ohio Rhode Island Vermont
March 9 Wyoming (Dems only)
March 11 Mississippi
April 22 Pennsylvania
Another twist: February 19 is also the day early voting begins in Texas, so if Barack Obama does well -- or if Hillary does -- it could influence those voters as they start to cast their ballots.
Signs of Clinton panic? She's sending her "stopper" -- a feared opposition research guy nicknamed "Doctor Death" -- into Texas.
As to the latest pollilng: an IVR poll showed Hillary leading Barack 48 percent to 38 percent with 10 percent undecided as of January 31st. I would guess that gap has narrowed since then.
Meanwhile, over at the WaPo, Michael Gerson gets downright ugly-truthful:
Though it is increasingly unlikely, Clinton may still have a path to the nomination -- and what a path it is. She merely has to puncture the balloon of Democratic idealism; sully the character of a good man; feed racial tensions within her party; then eke out a win with the support of unelected superdelegates, thwarting the hopes of millions of new voters who would see an inspiring young man defeated by backroom arm-twisting and arcane party rules.
The most recent Quinnipiac poll has good news for Hillary Clinton ... sort of ...
She leads Barack Obama in the must-win (for her) states of Ohio and Pennsylvania:
Ohio: Clinton - 55% Obama - 34
PA: Clinton - 52% Obama - 36
One caveat: the poll was taken between February 4 and 12, which means it preceded and immediately followed Super Tuesday, when Hillary did well, and ended on the day of Barack's Potomac sweep. That means the poll doesn't take into account Barack's post-Potomac momentum, so I suspect those numbers are quite a bit tighter in reality (polls tend to lag popular opinion by up to a week anyway...)
Bottom line for Hillary - Barack has plenty of time before the next round of voting on February 19 (Wisconsin and Hawaii) and March 4 (Ohio and Texas) to close the gap. And she needs to win those states, not with 52 or 55 percent of the vote, but with more than 60, and the First Law of Clinton Saturation suggests that, with 99% name recognition and 15 years of voter familiarity, Hillary is not likely to add 5 to 10 points to her numbers in short order (although you should never count a Clinton out.)
Some detail from the poll:
Among Ohio Democrats, women back Clinton 56 - 30 percent while men back her 52 - 42 percent. Clinton leads 64 - 28 percent among white Democrats, while Obama leads 64 - 17 percent among black voters.
Among Pennsylvania Democrats, Clinton leads 54 - 34 percent with women, 49 - 39 percent with men and 58 - 31 percent among whites. Obama leads 71 - 10 percent among black Democrats.
"With Sen. Obama closing the gap, the winner in Pennsylvania probably will depend on whether blacks, young people and college graduates in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh can turn out in sufficient strength to overcome Sen. Clinton's strong lead among blue collar voters and women," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
And the match-ups with John McCain slightly favor Hillary in this poll, which her team will probably circulate widely today:
... Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican front-runner, is running neck and neck with either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama. Results are:
Although again, these numbers seem to reflect Super Tuesday more than the post-Tsunami period, and though she didn't win as many states, Hillary's team managed the expectations game better than Team Barack did on that day, and she managed to come out relatively unscathed. Since then, she's been "scathed" plenty.
On to Texas, where there hasn't been much polling since January. But Pollster.com has an interesting graph showing the Clinton-Obama trend lines:
The difference in both polls, is that Obama does better with Independents (Pew gives him a 62 percent approval rating with them, higher than any candidate including McCain) -- takes them from McCain along with soft Republicans (now called Obamacans by the punditocracy,) whereas Hillary will have to rely on the Democratic base, mainly white women and Hispanics, to win the election.
More detail on the results for poll junkies like me:
CNN/OPINION RESEARCH CORPORATION POLL January 9-10 (Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts) Registered Voters' Intentions If Clinton Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 37% Consider voting for 19% Definitely vote against 43%
Registered Voters' Intentions If Obama Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 30% Consider voting for 32% Definitely vote against 38%
Registered Voters' Intentions If McCain Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 22% Consider voting for 35% Definitely vote against 43%
Registered Voters' Intentions If Giuliani Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 19% Consider voting for 25% Definitely vote against 55%
Registered Voters' Intentions If Huckabee Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 15% Consider voting for 31% Definitely vote against 52%
Registered Voters' Intentions If Romney Wins the Nomination
Definitely vote for 13% Consider voting for 25% Definitely vote against 62%
Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts
If these numbers are to be believed, Barack Obama is the least polarizing candidate, and he and McCain merithttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif the highest consideration. But Hillary has the most committed support, probably because the survey had a large sample of women.
Also, a pollster friend of mine pointed out rightly that Clinton was leading in all of the tracking polls going into New Hampshire, right up until the end. And my pollster friend provided this useful link to the great poll decoding site going: pollster.com.
As usual, Keith Olbermann is the voice of reason in a sea of insanity (Chris Matthews). Last night on Countdown, Olbermann broke down the spinsanity in the wake of the New Hampshire "upset" by Hillary Clinton, who had been the front runner for the better part of a year before losing her momentum to Barack Obama in the closing weeks. Matthews and other pundits have been practically leaping out of windows in their overwrought condition after failing, for the second time in 20 years, to seal the downfall of the Clinton family. And Matthews in particular has been blaming everything from the pollsters to lying, racist, white poll respondents who lacked the courage to admit to their inner Archie Bunker.
Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.
As Keith pointed out, they may not have been as wrong as they seemed.
Here's what Barack Obama had going in to the primary, according to the major polls taken between January 5 and January 7:
...for an average, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, of 38.3%.
In the end, Obama got 37% of the vote. That's pretty close, and it presents the frightening prospect that the Rasmussen poll was the most accurate of all... perhaps because it is a rolling snapshot poll, unlike the others, and had by far the largest sample.
What appears to have been wrong in the polls, was not the Obama number, but rather the Clinton number, and even that wasn't wrong, so much as it was missing a crucial part: the undecideds.
Let's take the Rasmussen poll, for example. It scored the race as follows:
Obama 37 Clinton 30 Edwards 19 Richardson 8
My math says that leaves 6 points on the table. If Hillary takes the remainder, she's even with Obama. But something else also appears to have happened -- late deciders and weak supporters of other candidates defected to Hillary as well. Either that, or Independents, who may not have been well represented in any of the Democratic race polls, broke heavily for Hillary in the end.
That is not to vindicate the pollsters. It's just to say that while all of us missed the boat on how strong the backlash would be among women against the media and opposition onslaught against Hillary, the polls for Barack were pretty stable, for the most part (although many had his numbers where I had them -- in the 40s, which clearly didn't pan out.)
In the end, I think the hand wringing is bad for Barack, and he would do well not to follow Chris Matthews' lead in whingeing about the outcome.
Rhett Butler ... Slade Gorton ... men, real and fictional (you decide) ... with Harlequin Romance names and strong, manly jaws. Could Mitt Romney (nee Willard, but how romantic is that...?) join this pantheon of cheesy goodness?
Let's go to the polls...
The latest ABC/WaPo poll (Rasmussen is for suckers) shows the Mittster with incredible staying power, even with his Mormonic baggage.
Romney has a healthy lead in New Hampshire, with 37 percent (the highest I've seen any Republican score in any poll to date). And despite the fact that a whopping 6 in 10 voters served say they could still change their minds, Romney's lead is remarkable in that he leads in almost every category -- he's seen as having campaigned the hardest (50% say that), and he's trusted by most to handle the economy (44% to Rudy's 19%), the deficit (38% to Rudy's 18%), healthcare (37% to Rudy's 13%), taxes (37-17), abortion and gay civil unions (even with the flip-flop he's at 34% to 16% for Rudy and just 11% for Huckabee and 10% for McCain), immigration (even with the newly fired help from Tijuana, he's up 34-19 over NY Snidely Whiplash...) and, Rudy's gonna hate this, he ties with Rudy for trust on Iraq (though McCain beats them both at 36%). The only place Rudy beates Mitt in terms of trust by NH Republicans is on terrorism, where Snidely ties with McCain at 31% and Mitt gets 17%.
And while Mitt gets dealt with by Huckabee in Iowa among religious conservatives, he beats the Huckster across the board with religious voters in New Hampshire. The lesson may be that Republicans in New Hampshire are an entirely different sort than the religous nuts ... I mean conservates... of Iowa (where 80% of Republicans actually think GWB is doing a fine job as president...)
The bad news for Huck is that he may well win Iowa, but he will face a Mitt-style roadblock in the following state. How that plays out when the gang heads back to the Bible Belt (SC) remains to be seen. And if Mitt and Huck split the first three contests, will that open the door for Snidely in Florida?
The GOP race is actually more interesting in some ways than the sniping, griping, back-biting Democrat race. These old, white men are really running a contest, made the more fascinating by the fact that they're running a race in which NONE of them are actually well liked by their constituents. They're essentially battling to be the least unacceptable.
The nation's new attorney general gets something right, finally giving up the security clearances needed for the Justice Department to investigate his predecessor's -- and those he was lacky to -- domestic surveillance. We await word on whether the Dems will cave on immunity for the telcos that helped out with the government's giant information shovel.
Bush's GOP lackeys on the Hill (I make the distinction to separate them from the Democrat and Independent lackeys on the Hill) demand that the Dems retract their Iraq war cost report putting the cost at $1.5 billion. After all, that report might turn Americans against the war ... HA!!!
And Kanye West's mother's death following plastic surgery is sad ... and should sober people up about how dangerous plastic surgery can be. Earth to ladies: it's not your mother's Botox brunch. Meanwhile, Kanye issues a statement. ... and the doctor who says he refused to operate on Donda West says she ignored medical advice and that doing so may have led to her death.
The mainstream media (of which I have been a part for many years) has some bad habits, but among the worst, is a herd mentality that coincides with a tendency to create what you might call an "internal conventional wisdom." To explain, remember after 9/11, when George W. Bush became "an enormously popular president?" You couldn't listen to a newscast about the POTUS without hearing that phrase -- it was literally written into the anchors scripts, and into nearly every newspaper article. That narrative by the members of the elite media persisted, for years, even as Bush's poll numbers began to come down. It persisted even after he dipped below 50% approval ratings in most polls. I can still hear Chris Matthews braying about how much the American people "like this guy," even when they stopped liking the war, the economy, his cabinet, his vice president and his policies.
The trouble was, the polling didn't support the narrative. It doesn't have to. The Washington reporting set are a tight clique who reinforce each other, and the narrative, at all costs. It's why you hear the phrase "you're absolutely right" so much on your favorite news chat shows.
Okay, fast forward to today. I was watching MSNBC this morning as Chuck Todd was chatting with one of MSNBC's morning spokesmodels about the latest presidential polling. The poll of the day, as it should be on MSNBC, is the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows Hillary Clinton with a 22-point lead over Barack Obama on the Dem side (nasty old John Edwards has dropped 5 points to 11 percent on the strength of his desperation attacks on the front-runner...) and Rudy Giuliani ticking up 3 points to a 33-16 lead over surprise second place finisher John McCain, with sleepy Fred Thompson cratering from 23 points in September to 15 now. The Mittster is down to 11 points.
And now for the narrative. The poll also shows that a generic Democrat leads a generic Republican in the head-to-head match-up by a whopping 50 percent to 35 percent, while a Hillary-Rudy race is a dead heat (she leads by a single percentage point.) MSNBC writes it up thusly:
Yet given those advantages, Clinton — as well as the other top Democrats in the race — finds herself in a dead heat in a general election match-up against Rudy Giuliani, who leads the GOP presidential field in the poll.
Sounds OK so far. The writer acknowledges that Hillary is just one of the Dems who hold a slim lead over the potential GOP nominee, Giuliani. It's all Hillary -- and all downhill -- from there:
“Her primary numbers are certainly strong, and that is where the game is being played [right now],” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. But in a general election, Hart adds, Clinton “obviously has a lot of troubles and challenges ahead.”
“She has a lot to do to win the presidency.” ...
Okay, so Hillary has a lot to do to win the general? Let's compare how her rivals do against the same challenger, Rudy, and against the other GOPers. From PollingReport.com:
Hillary - 46 Rudy - 45
Barack - 44 Rudy - 42
Hang on ... the media's argument is that Barack is sooooo much more likable, lovable, and by inference, has less headwind against a Rudy candidacy than Hil, right? MSNBC sez:
One of the reasons, it seems, why Clinton commands this lead over Obama is the perception of experience. Seventy-six percent of Democrats surveyed in the poll give Clinton high marks for being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency. By comparison, just 41 percent of Democrats say the same about Obama.
Similarly, 63 percent give Clinton high marks for her ability to be a good commander-in-chief. That’s compared with 43 percent who give Obama high marks on this question.
On the flip side, however, Obama is seen as more likeable than Clinton (72 percent of Democrats give him high marks here versus 49 percent for Clinton), as well as more honest and straightforward (65 percent versus 53 percent).
And yet, Barack statistically does no better against Giuliani than Hillary does... could it be that a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican, but ANY specific Dem varies the outcome depending on which Republican they face? Hm. More numbers:
Hillary blows out Mitt Romney, 50-39 She tanks Fred Thompson 51-37 She edges John McCain 47-43 (also within the margin of error, meaning McCain is just a strong a candidate as Rudy is...)
But wait ...
Barack also beats up on the Mittster, 48-36 And John Edwards does just as well against Rudy as the others, 45-44 In fact, the only Democrat Rudy can beat is one who isn't running, and he only beats Al Gore by one point, 47-46
What is clear in the poll is that Americans are disgruntled, unsatisfied with the way things are going (67 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 57 percent say the country is in a "state of decline) and they're not happy with either the president or the Congress. They want change, but they're not sure what kind of change that should be.
If they were sure, neither Rudy nor Hillary would be front runners.
Why do I say that? Because Hillary essentially represents a return to the good old economic times and international support of the 1990s ... and Rudy represents no change at all, particularly on foreign policy, domestic spying, the war in Iraq, a war in Iran, torture, etc., etc. ... even on the domestic side, Rudy agrees with VIRTUALLY EVERY POSITION HELD BY GEORGE W. BUSH. If voters are telling pollsters the truth about wanting change, then why are either of these candidates in the lead?
And speaking of Rudy, his "lead" is rather meager, in that it has yet -- in any poll -- to get out of the 30s. That isn't what you call solid support.
At the end of the day, all that you can say about the mood of the electorate is that it's bad. The American people say they want change, but history suggests that what most Americans prefer is "change with safety" -- predictable, marginal change, rather than major, radical change -- EVEN ON IRAQ (otherwise, the frontrunners should be Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.)
My read: Hillary and Rudy are out front because for Democrats, Hillary represents a "change back" to the time when things were good in the country and for the Democratic Party. For Republicans, who operate from a "fear base," if you will, Rudy probably represents change in terms of competency (hell, he ran big old New York ... that's hard, right??? ... but the status quo in terms of America's radical war footing against "the terrorists." That, and he's not Hillary Clinton -- something that only matters to the GOP base, which has been fed a steady diet of Hillary as boogeyman melodrama, by the party, and by the press.
Americans to Congress: "we hate you" (and your little president, too...)
The Pope to Condi Rice: "I'll get back to you on that meeting..." not... sorry but I've got to give this bit to you:
Pope Benedict XVI refused to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August, saying he was on holiday, an Italian newspaper reported Wednesday. Rice "made it known to the Vatican that she absolutely had to meet the pope" to boost her diplomatic "credit" ahead of a trip to the Middle East, the Corriere della Sera daily reported without citing its sources.
She was hoping to meet the pontiff at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo at the beginning of August, it said.
"'The pope is on holiday' was the official response," the paper said.
It said the reply "illustrated the divergence of view" between the Vatican and the White House about the "initiatives of the Bush administration in the Middle East."
Oh, Condi, you pathetic little dear ... at least you can pick up some fabulous shoes while in Italy...
Percentage of Americans who want Congress to investigate the actions of the Bush-Cheney administration during and after the 9/11 attacks, according to a new Zogby poll. Also, according to the poll, more than 30 percent favor the immediate impeachment of the president and/or vice president.
No one really expects The Drudge Report, or any of its winger accolytes, to deliver the actual news. But this kind of blatant inaccuracy is bad, even for Matt and friends. Today, Drudge linked to his favorite "news" source, champion headline linker and right wing pundit Andrew Breitbart's self-titled link portal. The headline: US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring: poll
More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.
And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.
More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.
More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".
Sounds like straight reporting, yeah? Well, maybe not.
Heading over to the actual Pew Poll, we find something slightly different.
It turns out that the public as a whole has an overwhelmingly positive view of the news media, with 78% viewing local TV news favorably, 75% feeling the same way about cable TV news, 71% for network news, 78% for daily newspapers and 60% for national newspapers.
As for perceptions of bias, the percentage of Americans saying that the news media as a whole is moral has dropped from 54% to 46% between 1985 and 2007, the percentage saying the media "protects democracy" has dropped from 54% to 44% in that time, with a minority of 36% saying they "hurt democracy" and 20% saying they don't know ... and 66% now saying the media is "highly professional", down from 72% in 1985 and versus just 22% who now say the media are "not professional." Where the Breitbart headline almost sounds coherent is in the areas of factuality and bias: 30% of respondents to the Pew poll said the media "gets the facts straight" versus 53% who say stories are often inaccuate. Back in '85, the numbers were 55% for factuality and 34% for frequent error. That is a problem for the media, which has been subject to various "gotchas" in recent years, from everything from blogswarms to in-house liars like Jayson Blair.
And on the subject of bias, just 31% of respondentss said the media are "careful to avoid bias," versus 55% who called the media politically biased. In 1985, however, those numbers weren't much different: then, 36% said the media were careful to avoid bias, versus 45% who detected bias. In other words, the percentage of doubters, down from 19% to 14%, has declined, and the percentage of those who are certain that the media is out to trick them, has climbed, though the impact on those who consider the media honest is almost within the margin of error.
And what accounts for the increased certainty of bias? According to the poll, two things: the Internet, and Fox News.
Respondents who get most of their news from the 'net scored the highest in the poll in terms of perceiving bias in the news. Both on the left and the right, people who see the media as hopelessly tilted to one political side or another, have in many cases turned to getting most of their news online, sussing out information for themselves rather than relying on the talking heads. These folks tend to be younger, not nursed on the three major networks' nightly news, and highly skeptical of the official story presented by the often lap-dog press (have I revealed too much...?)
According to the Pew analysts:
People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers.
The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).
Indeed. But the even bigger drag on the poll in terms of perceptions of the media is Fox News. It has fed an almost hysterical revulsion for the "mainstream media," from the New York Times to CNN, and has led many Republicans to conclude that they -- and thus, America -- are under seminal attack by the left wing hordes of the press. Say the Pew researchers:
Across every major news source, Democrats offer more favorable assessments than do independents or Republicans. The partisan divide is smallest when it comes to local TV news, which 83% of Democrats rate favorably along with 76% of Republicans. The differences are greatest for major national newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Fully 79% of Democrats rate these newspapers favorably compared with just 41% of Republicans, based on those able to rate them.
While Republicans have long been more skeptical than Democrats about major media sources, the magnitude of the difference is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Pew's first measure of media favorability in 1985, there were modest differences of opinion across party lines.
And as for the "Foxified viewers" as described in the poll:
those who cite the Fox News Channel as their primary source of news stand out among the TV news audience for their negative evaluations of news organizations' practices. Fully 63% of Americans who count Fox as their main news source say news stories are often inaccurate – a view held by fewer than half of those who cite CNN (46%) or network news (41%) as their main source.
Similarly, Fox viewers are far more likely to say the press is too critical of America (52% vs. 36% of CNN viewers and 29% of network news viewers). And the Fox News Channel audience gives starkly lower ratings to network news programs and national newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
And why do Fox viewers feel so put upon?
Politics plays a large part in these assessments – Republicans outnumber Democrats by two-to-one (43% to 21%) among the core Fox News Channel audience, while there are far more Democrats than Republicans among CNN's viewers (43% Democrat, 22% Republican) and network news viewers (41% Democrat, 24% Republican).
It's no wonder Roger Ailes can double as the network head and Rudy Giuliani's principal advisor. More from the poll:
Not surprisingly, the Fox News Channel audience is far more likely to say that news organizations have been unfair in their coverage of George W. Bush (49%) than those who cite CNN (19%) or network news (22%) as their main news source.
Further analysis of the data shows that being a Republican and a Fox viewer are related to negative opinions of the mainstream media. The overlapping impact of these two factors can most clearly be seen in the favorability ratings of network TV news, major national newspapers, and the daily newspapers that respondents are most familiar with. For all three, Republicans who count Fox as their main news source are considerably more critical than Republicans who rely on other sources. For example, fully 71% of Fox News Republicans hold an unfavorable opinion of major national newspapers, compared with 52% of Republicans who use other sources, and 33% of those who are not Republicans.
Of course, none of that makes it into Breitbart's news churner, let alone Drudge's.
Quinnipiac is out with three new swing state polls that offer still more good news for "your girl," Hillary Clinton. She's leading the front-runner among the GOP Geriatric Drill Team, Rudolph "The Inbreeder" Giuliani in three key states:
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has inched ahead of her top Republican foe, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in Florida and Pennsylvania, and ties Giuliani in Ohio, her best showing so far in the three states as many voters re-evaluate their previous negative impression of her, according to Quinnipiac University's Swing State Poll, three simultaneous surveys of voters in states that have been pivotal in presidential elections since 1964.
Sen. Clinton has increased her substantial Democratic primary lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to 25 points in Ohio, 16 points in Pennsylvania and 30 points in Florida, the first big state to hold a primary, scheduled for January 29, 2008, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Giuliani is treading water in the Republican primary, holding leads over Arizona Sen. John McCain or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson of seven points in Florida, 18 points in Ohio and 13 points in Pennsylvania.
Head to head matchups show:
Florida - Clinton tops Giuliani 46 - 44 percent, flipping a 46 - 44 percent Giuliani lead July 23; Ohio - Clinton ties Giuliani 43 - 43 percent, compared to a 44 - 42 percent Clinton lead July 12; Pennsylvania - Clinton edges Giuliani 45 - 44 percent, compared to a 45 - 45 percent tie June 27.
Another important factor for Hillary is that her negatives are declining, particularly among independent voters, as many are apparently taking a second look at her, proving again that as I've said frequently on this blog, Hil has won every single one of the debates, and come out of the snipe fights with Barack as the heavyweight, because she's proved her toughness and foreign policy credentials, even when taking positions unpopular with the viewing or attending audience on debate night. It sounds middling, But Hil raising her favorables to 50 percent in this poll is significant for her.
On the GOP side, Q-pac finds that:
"Mayor Giuliani's lead remains solid among Republicans. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's surge in the polls has stalled, perhaps because he has yet to announce. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain, whose numbers have been going down in most recent polls, is showing new signs of life in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains largely unknown."
And that despite all the cash Romney is spending on ads in key states, including here in Florida.
The poll isn't all good news for the front running Dem:
On the eve of the first debate for the Democratic candidates before homosexual rights activists, the poll shows backing from gay rights groups has no effect on most voters. But among the roughly 40 percent who say it might have an impact on their decision, support of a gay rights group, depending on the state, turns off from two to almost four times as many voters as it attracts. On a net basis it makes more independents less likely to vote for such a candidate.
Endorsements from business groups and abortion rights groups also make voters less likely than more likely to back a candidate. The backing of labor groups is a big plus for candidates.
In other words, Thompson, at least pre-announcement, is a bit of a slow barge. Giuliani I think has peaked. Let's see if he can restart his cousin-marrying, wife dumping, fascistic, illegal immigrant haven, switch-hitting, flip flopish, sadistic engine. Ahem...
31: The percentage of Americans according to a new ABC/WaPo poll who say the Supreme Court is leaning too far to the right (BTW Bush's approval rating in that poll: 33 percent, with 65 disapproving -- 52 percent strongly so... the highest strong disapproval Bush has faced since he took office.)
Other tidbits from the poll:
58 percent strongly disapprove of the situation in Iraq (68 disapprove period), and a record 56 percent disapprove of the U.S. "campaign against terrorism." Interesting... both all-time highs for those questions.
64 percent disapprove of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, with 34 percent approving; and 51 percent disapprove of the job Democrats are doing, with a much more respectable 46 percent approving. i'd wager that most of the Dems' disapproval stems from their failure to really take on (if not take down) this president. Evidence of that: 63 percent disapprove of the Dems' handling of the situation in Iraq, though the public prefers the Dems to handle Iraq over President Bush by a margin of 55 to 32 percent, and 59 percent of respondents favor withdrawing U.S. troops from the conflict.
With Al Gore counted out of the race (he says he's not running, so why count him in? Ditto Thompson and Gingrich, although at least Thompson is a likely entrant, probably sometime soon...) Hillary expands her lead over Barack Obama in the Sunshine States by five additional points.
On the GOP side, the big story is the continued insurgency of Fred Thompson, which does not appear to be anywhere near its last throes. Thompson has shaved Rudy Giuliani's lead in the state down to a nub, and if and when he enters, he apparently has the effect of bisecting the religious white male vote, giving abortion-averse but terrorism-fearing Republican men someplace else to go.
This morning, Phil Hendry, the right wing self-described Democrat who inexplicably has been added to the early morning lineup of the Clear Channel station that runs Air America and Jones Radio Networks programming here in South Florida, predicted that Clinton and Giuliani would ultimately be the nominees, and that despite his preference for Rudy, Hillary would likely win the White House because she represents "just enough change" to move us away from George W. Bush's problems, but not so much that it makes people uncomfortable.
New polling numbers are out! Yes, for me that's akin to Christmas ... I've got issues... and here's how we're looking:
In New Hampshire, it looks like Guy Smiley has flip flopped into voters hearts, following the latest presidential debate. He's now ahead of the pack, with 27 percent in a new Franklin Pierce/WBZ poll, to Rudy Giuliani's 18 and Baghdad John's 17 percent.
A new Mason-Dixon poll concurs, showing Romney ahead for the GOP and Hillary continuing to rule the Democratic primary, with 27 percent and 26 percent respectively. In that poll, the GOP field is equally shaken up:
I think Pat Buchanan is right to peg Romney as the man most likely to win the New Hampshire primary.
The Fred Thompson factor...
New polls on the GOP side find one clear trend: Thompson is rising. He's tied with Giuliani in the latest Rasmussen poll, and just six points behind Rudy in a new LAT poll -- almost a statistical tie. Polls aside, Thompson is sucking the air out of many of his officially running rivals, particularly Rudy, who is slowly sinking like a leaky balloon, into the twenties, though still in the lead.
Meanwhile, on the Dem side, Hillary continues to maintain her lead, and surprise surprise, it's because of her strong support from women. No news there.
He's not yet running, officially, but the actor playing the part of Ronald Reagan in the GOP primary is already making waves in the polls.
The new ABC News/WaPo poll is out, and it has good news for Hillary, bad news for pretty much everybody else. From ABC:
A softening of underlying confidence in Rudolph W. Giuliani, including some damage on the abortion issue, could hearten his current -- and future -- opponents for the Republican presidential nomination.
Giuliani's hardly in trouble; he maintains large leads over his opponents on key personal attributes including leadership and electability. But he's lost ground on empathy, honesty and inspiration; his support is not strong -- and a third of Republicans now flatly rule him out because of his position on abortion, up from just under a quarter earlier this year.
Giuliani remains the Republican frontrunner, with overall candidate preferences stable compared with an ABC News/Washington Post poll in mid-April. But just 36 percent of his supporters are "strongly" for him, and his backing is notably lower among conservatives -- a core Republican group -- than among moderates. Indeed, it's moderate Republicans (and the party's relatively few liberals) who propel Giuliani to a clear lead.
On the Democratic side of the 2008 contest, Hillary Clinton continues to lead on most personal attributes and in voter preferences alike, with no significant changes in her or Barack Obama's positions. Support has slipped slightly for John Edwards.
Clinton owes her frontrunner status to women; they're much more apt than men to favor her for the nomination, and significantly more likely to pick her from among the leading candidates as the best on a range of personal attributes. Democratic women, for example, are 16 points more likely than men to pick Clinton over Obama as the "most inspiring" candidate. (Men are nine points more likely than women to pick Obama as inspirational.)
And 53 percent of Clinton's supporters are "strongly" for her, substantially higher, for example, than Giuliani's strong support.
A potential concern for Clinton is that she does best with less-educated Democrats, whose turnout is less assured; another is that Obama leads her on honesty and trustworthiness. Still, experience is her trump card, she remains competitive with Obama among African-Americans, does best with committed Democrats (as opposed to Democratic-leaning independents) and stands the most to gain if Al Gore stays away.
More details on the poll from PollingReport.com (Dems here, GOPers here), show that with the undeclared candidates, Gingrich and Fred Thompson are taking support from basically all of the frontrunners, Romney is stagnant, and on the Dem side, Edwards is slipping. None of the second tier candidates is moving, even a little. It's still the same seven: Hillary, Barack, Edwards (fading), Giuliani (fading), McCain (fading), Romney (fading) and the actor playing the part of Ronald Reagan, fred Thompson.
Digging deeper into the poll, we find that the "rejection rate" for John McCain is spiking, with roughly half of voters ruling him out as a presidential candidate. More on the rejection rates (the percentage saying they definitely wouldn't vote for a given candidate):
Romney - 54 percent (includes a third of Republicans)
McCain - 47 percent (up from 28 percent)
Cllnton - 45 percent (unchanged from a year ago and includes just 15 percent of Dems, and she has the highest locked in vote of any candidate of either party at 27 percent)
Giuliani - 40 percent
There's much more polling goodness. Read the full questionnaire here.
Rudy Giuliani says George W. Bush will go down in history as a great president. Unfortunately, Rudy is very much alone in that belief. But for a few stalwarts, most Americans believe Mr. Bush to be an abject failure. In fact, only 28 percent of Americans int he latest Newsweek poll approve of the job Bush is doing as president. In the same poll, any of the top Democratic contenders would beat any of the Republicans, Rudy included, if the presidential election were held today. No surprise there. (One possible surprise, Barack Obama, who is becoming the darling not only of the media, but also of some prominent former Bush Republicans, does the best of the top tier Dems against the GOP's top guns.)
No surprise, Barack Obama wins the South Carolina stream of consciousness poll, which is heavily weighted toward Black Carolnians. But Hilary still wins the day, having come off the most prepared and presidential in last night's debate. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Meanwhile, surprise! The day after the debates, the Bush administration announces a major terror arrest! ... and there are big, nasty terror plots afoot in Saudi Arabia!!! See the media pant like a trained puppy over this one, but sorry guys, I've seen this movie before.
Well now, we've got ourselves a presidential race.
John McCain is taking off the gloves, dinging Giuliani, distancing himself ever so gently from the president and the war, and even calling for the head of Alberto Gonzales (guaranteeing that he stays in the first tier of the news cycle going into the Sunday Shows. Smart.) As badly as McCain is doing right now in the polls and the "money primary," don't count this guy out just yet. Baghdad John wants to be president probably more than anyone in this race on either side, and he has surrounded himself with the worst attack dogs from Bush-Cheney 2000 and the Swiftboat cause. He will scratch out the eyes of every other Republican and crawl through broken glass before he gives up the ghost. Hell, he has to fight. He's as old as sin, and this is his last shot.
By the way, the new NBC/WSJ poll is out of doors, and get a load of Fred Thompson! He's not even running and he's already within 5 points of McCain...
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, Hils and Barack are squeezing closer together in the same poll, but Obama continues to have the big mo. His newest devotees? Bush pioneers.
Back to that poll for a minute. It shows just 22 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in the right direction, and a clear majority (nearly 6 in 10) wanting the Dems to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Oh, you little surrender monkeys, you American people...
The Dems debate tonight in South Carolina. It's their first go, and hopefully won't be too deadly boring.
"Rudy's arrogance has gotten the best of him," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.
"How can the man who failed to prepare NYC for a second attack after the first one, quit the 9/11 commission because he was too busy raking in money from sketchy business deals, can't assess if the surge is working or if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons claim that he will keep America safe?"
Dusting off his best FReeper imitation, Giuliani told an enthralled crowd of fear-addled, rage addicted New Hampshire GOPers:
"This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!" Giuliani said in his speech. "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!"
Is this a political campaign, or an audition to be a fill in host for Michael Savage? Moving right along:
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united."
"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change."
I give Barack a B+ for his response. Hillary's, with the me-too-FReeper opening? I give a C, with the caveat that she has to play Margaret Thatcher in this movie in order for it to get green lighted.
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.
"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."
Meanwhile, John McCain did his big announce today, complete with a nice little dig at Rudy:
[The American people] ...won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.
And the latest NBC News poll reads as follows:
Just before Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.
There's also an NBC News poll that comes out this evening that will show Giuliani losing support, down from 38% to 33%, McCain losing two points, down frmo 24% a month ago to 22% and Fred Thompson going to zero to 17%.
A recent Pew poll shows how party idenfication has shifted away from the Republicans, with 50 percent of respondents self-identifying as Democrats versus 35 percent self-identified Republicans, when the two parties were dead even just five years ago. Addressing the issue, Andrew Sullivan just described it as "cultural death" to be a young Republican now, because he says, the party is identified as the "mean party," the "nasty party," the party that divides people, etc (he says he was a young conservative back when it was cool...) And then the other panelists on the "Chris Matthews Show" added, they're also seen as the incompetent party. Not a good look. More on the Pew poll here. The poll also shows Americans becoming less religious, less culturally conservative, and less certain that "peace through military strength" is a viable proposition. In other words, the culture wars, broadly defined, have in some was blown over, after tremendous heat. Ironically, it was a Republican presidency that appears to have broken the dam, in favor of Democrats, and a more liberal, "European" view of the world on the part of a growing number of Americans.
Tomorrow, March 19, 2007, will mark the four-year anniversary of the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Four years ago tomorrow, I was sitting in a newsroom at an NBC affiliate in South Florida cringing, as some of the people around me cheered the commencement of "shock and awe." The atmosphere at that time, was "we're gonna get the sonofabitches that got us on 9/11" ... that and the resplendant graphics and potential ratings coup for the network that was gonna keep the tube sizzling for months! This was a television war -- complete with dramatic images (Saddam's statue being toppled by around 100 Iraqis, whom we later learned were itinerant young men gathered in Firdos Square by American troops, while less than a mile away, their fellow Iraqis were fighting a guerilla war against coalition soldiers and taking bombardment by U.S. airstrikes... Jessica Lynch bravely emptying her rifle as she and her fellow support troops were captured by the enemy ... of course, that turned out not to be true either ... and of course, that "shock and awe" that was supposed to take out Saddam Hussein and his sons on the first day of the conflict, and by such drama, ending it. Well, we all know how that turned out...)
Four years later, what we're left with are the deaths, of Americans and Iraqis, the mistakes, the bungling, the tawdry execution of Saddam, the protests, the politics, and the excuses, which continue to be marketed on behalf of the Bush administration by such reputable characters as Tom Delay, who along with Richard "there's be a boulevard in Baghdad named for George W. Bush" Perle was demolished this morning on Meet the Press -- despite the best efforts of Tim "Scooter's Alibi" Russert to save them -- by retired Navy Admiral and current U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Win Without War director Tom Andrews on the subject of whether the Iraq war made sense in 2003, and whether our remainig there makes sense now. (Best like of the morning came from Andrews, who said he'd much rather take military advice from Admiral Sestak than from Delay...)
Which brings us back to the body count. So far, The Pentagon has confirmed the deaths of 3,204 American servicemen and women as of March 17th. Add to that the 14 pending confirmation which were reported over the last several days, and you're left with a U.S. military death toll of 3,218. On the Iraqi side, estimates range from around 60,000, to 600,000, depending on which study you believe, plus some 2 million refugees (remember when Don Rumsfeld congratulated himself on there not being a refugee crisis? Those were the days...)
If you map out the U.S. casualty count, you find the numbers are heaviest in the blue states, with the exception of Texas. The highest rate of death among American servicemen to date has been in California, where 334 Americans have died in service during the war, followed by Texas (289), Pennsylvania (156), New York (145), Ohio (142), Florida (130), Michigan (125) and Illinois (119). These are the "red states" of the casualty count map -- those with 100 fatalities or more. The states with the lowest numbers happen to be in the middle part of the country -- the politically red part of the map (the deep and middle South included), where political support for the war remains strongest. In fact, the lowest body count of all is in Washington D.C., where so far 3 brave troops have been lost -- one less than in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, and two less than American Samoa.
Perhaps it's a crass way of looking at it, but one wonders if Joe Lieberman is able to be as enthusiastic about the war as he is because his state has lost 24 troops as opposed to 240, while places like Barack Obama's Illinois and Hillary Clinton's New York have borne a much heavier burden (keeping in mind that even one serviceman or woman is too much to lose, for that person's family, and for the country.)
Taking a closer look at Florida (home to the sixth largest casualty count), since that's where I live, the deaths traverse the state, from Apopka to Daytona to Carol City, Gainesville and Hialeah, but the largest numbers have been troops from Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa (the latter being a big military town).
Breaking down the deaths by ethnicity, you find that just over 74 percent of the American dead were white, another 11 percent Latino, 9.7 percent Black, and 1-2 percent apiece were Native American, Asian or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (another 2 percent undetermined). Black enlistment has plunged over the last five years, as distrust of the Bush administration has kept many young Blacks from enlisting, even after the initial enlistment rush across all ethnicities after 9/11. (Fatalities by sex are more outsized -- women make up just 2.2 percent of the dead, though that translates to 72 American women, plus four women from other countries.)
What's even more outsized, when you look at the statistics, is the toll the war has taken on the United States Army and Marines, which have borne the brunt of this war, losing 1,681 and 788 members respectively, thus far. That's not unusual because this has been a ground war, but what's also disturbing about the numbers, is the heavy toll on the Army National Guard (412 deaths), Army Reserve (106) and Marine Reserve (118), which are so critical to our security here at home. It should not be ignored, of course, that the Navy (58 - including several Navy Seabees from here in Florida), Naval Reserve (13), Coast Guard (1), Air Force and Air National Guard (2) have also taken losses in the war, and their sacrifices are just as important, and just as painful for their families.
And then there is what you might call the "mercenary war." Don Rumsfeld as head of the DoD presided not just over the inexplicable "light force" approach to waging a ground war, but also the Bush administration obsession of privatization, which included the deployment of private contractors to do many of the jobs that used to be done by members of the military. As such, 389 civilian contractors (some former military, some just entrepreneurs or truckers) have lost their lives in Iraq, some in dramatic fashion, like the four contractors who were murdered, burned and then hung in Fallujah, or those beheaded by insurgents, but most without much fanfare in the U.S., and with only their families to mourn. Many would argue that most died unnecessarily, mostly at the hands of roadside bombs, but increasingly, due to small arms fire, or more disturbingly, helicopter shoot-downs by insurgents.
If you really want to be disturbed, look at a chart of fatalities caused by IEDs month to month, and watch how they've skyrocketed since the supposed end of the war when Bush declared "mission accomplished" on May 1st, 2003 aboard the Naval carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln. There have been 37 such attacks so far in March, more than took place in any month in the first year and a half of the conflict.
Washington, DC-Six senior retired military officers today sent a letter to Capitol Hill expressing support for immediate action to protect our troops in an effort supported by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the National Security Network.
Text of the letter:
Dear Members of the 110th Congress,
We are writing to urge you to take immediate action to protect our troops.
We are concerned that the plan to deploy additional troops to Iraq, coupled with the serious readiness deficiencies, have left our armed forces in a state of emergency.
The situation in Iraq, grave and deteriorating, is troubling to us both as former military commanders and as American citizens. Top military officials have consistently acknowledged that the repeated and lengthy deployments are straining the Army, Marine Corps and Reserve and National Guard forces, and are taking a heavy toll on critical warfighting equipment.
We urge you to put pressure on the Iraqi government to take control of their own country and relieve the burden from American troops by setting a clear and definite timeline for a phased and deliberate redeployment of American combat forces from Iraq by no later than August 2008. We urge you to ensure that our troops meet the readiness standards required to protect Americans both at home and abroad. We urge you to ensure that those who serve in the name of this country receive the health care and support they need when they return to us.
Thank you for your consideration of our views. We look forward to working with you.
Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, Ret.) Former President of the National Defense University
Brigadier General John Johns (USA, Ret.), PhD Former Combat Arms Officer; Professor, national security strategy, National Defense University
Colonel Richard L. Klass (USAF, Ret.)
Captain Lawrence Korb (USNR, Ret.) Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Logistics), 1981-1985
Major General Mel Montano (USANG, Ret.) Former Adjutant General of New Mexico
Lieutenant General William E. Odom (USA, Ret.) Former Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Army, and former Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, 1977-1981
We'll have Dr. Korb on the morning show tomorrow to discuss the state of the war, along with James Paul of the Global Policy Forum, which is issuing a damning report on the state of the war to date, as well as D.C. businessman Yasir Shalal, a board member of the Iraqi American Alliance, who has family still in Iraq, as well as family who has fled the country to neighboring Jordan or elsewhere to escape the chaos the war has caused.
And last but not least, the latest poll numbers, starting with CNN:
The CNN poll of 1,027 adults was conducted March 9-11 by Opinion Research Corp. The sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
According to the results, 35 percent of Americans are confident about the war, the poll said. When the war began, 83 percent of Americans expressed confidence in the campaign.
Similarly, 30 percent of those polled this month said they were proud of the war, as opposed to 65 percent who expressed that sentiment in 2003.
The poll also showed that 33 percent of Americans are afraid of the war and 55 percent are worried by it. Those percentages are roughly the same as they were four years ago.
Sunday's results came on the heels of a Saturday release indicating that years of war had whittled away at Americans' support for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the Iraq war began, 68 percent of Americans said they felt the situation in the country was worth fighting over. Now, 61 percent of those surveyed say it was not worth invading Iraq, according to the poll.
That survey of 1,027 adults by Opinion Research Corp. was conducted by telephone March 9-11 as well. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll showed that support for the Iraq war had dwindled to 35 percent. In 2004, support for the war was about 56 percent. Last year, the number dipped to 37 percent, and today about 35 percent of Americans say they support the war, according to the poll.
Support for the war in Afghanistan also has seen a considerable decline as 88 percent of those polled in 2001 said they were behind the conflict. This month's poll indicates that support lingers around 53 percent.
Also, according to the poll, about 55 percent of Americans feel the war in Afghanistan is "going badly," according to the poll.
BTW, the CNN poll also found that a majority of Americans favor Congress, not the president, setting Iraq policy at this stage. Other poll results on support for the war:
The latest poll put Clinton at 36 percent, Obama at 24 percent, Gore at 14 percent and Edwards at 12 percent. None of the other Democrats running received more than 3 percent. With Gore removed from the field, Clinton would gain ground on Obama, leading the Illinois senator 43 percent to 27 percent. Edwards ran third at 14 percent. The poll was completed the night Gore's documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Academy Award.
Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December, but the shifts among black Democrats were dramatic. In December and January Post-ABC News polls, Clinton led Obama among African Americans by 60 percent to 20 percent. In the new poll, Obama held a narrow advantage among blacks, 44 percent to 33 percent. The shift came despite four in five blacks having a favorable impression of the New York senator.
African Americans view Clinton even more positively than they see Obama, but in the time since he began his campaign, his favorability rating rose significantly among blacks. In the latest poll, 70 percent of African Americans said they had a favorable impression of Obama, compared with 54 percent in December and January.
Coupled together, the sudden emergence in the polls of Al Gore (who got more Black votes in 2000 than any presidential candidate ever, and the continued sizzle of Barack Obama are bad news for the Clinton campaign. Luckily for her, she has the name ID and the cash to go the distance, and no one else in the race can say that, at least not now. One piece of good news for Hil in the poll:
Her position on the war in Iraq does not appear to be hurting Clinton among Democrats, even though she has faced hostile questioning from some voters about her 2002 vote authorizing President Bush to go to war. Some Democrats have demanded that she apologize for the vote, which she has declined to do.
The Post-ABC News poll found that 52 percent of Democrats said her vote was the right thing to do at the time, while 47 percent said it was a mistake. Of those who called it a mistake, however, 31 percent said she should apologize. Among Democrats who called the war the most important issue in deciding their 2008 candidate preference, Clinton led Obama 40 to 26 percent.
Something to hold onto at Camp Hillary, where they're still smarting from that recent dust-up with Barack.
Do people lie to pollsters? Old, twice-divorced, smoking Mormons sure hope so!
The new AP/WaPo poll is out, and it has some interesting info about people's attitudes regarding the current president, and a future president to be. First, on the future:
21. On another subject: I'm going to read a few attributes that might be found in a candidate for president. Please tell me if each would make you (more likely) to vote for that candidate for president, or (less likely) to vote for that candidate, or if it wouldn't matter.
2/25/07 - Summary Table
a. someone who is a woman More: 14, Less: 13, wouldn't matter: 72 no op: 1 b. someone who is black More: 7 Less: 6 Wouldn't matter: 87 no op: * c. someone who is a Mormon More: 4 Less: 29 Wouldn't matter: 66 no op: 1 d. someone who is over age 72 More: 3 Less: 58 Wouldn't matter: 39 no op:* e. someone who has been divorced twice More: 3 Less: 26 Wouldn't mat: 71 no op:1 f. someone who smokes cigarettes More: 2 Less: 21 no mat: 77 no op: *
The worst news in the poll is for John McCain. It seems the worst thing a candidate can be in the eyes of the voting -- or at least the poll-taking public -- is old. A whopping 58 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is over 72 years of age. McCain is 71, and looks every freaking day of it.
Also on the no-no list for voters: being twice divorced. 26 percent of voters were sour on that. Sorry, Rudy. (Lucky for Rudy, the WaPo didn't ask how voters felt about a candidate who once was married to his cousin ... )
On the female question, poll respondents have become considerably less unlikely to support a woman for president over time. When the question was asked in May of 1988, 25 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who was a woman. Now, it' sdown to 13 percent, with a high 72 percent saying it "wouldn't matter."
On the race question, 27 percent of respondents in May 1988 said they would be less likely to support a candidate who is Black, versus just 6 percent now. It's on this question that the cynic in me is tempted to ask whether people are as willing in 2007, to tell pollsters honestly, that they would have a problem supporting a Black candidate. I'm tempted to believe that the number who would have said trouble is considerably higher than 6 percent...
Moving on to the Mormon question, there is a sizeable minority of respondents who apparently have closed that door, with 29 percent of respondents less likely to give a Mormon candidate a chance, and a whopping 60 percent of those who said they would be less likely, adding that there is, in fact, "no chance" that they would vote for a Mormon for president. And 29 percent of the "no Mormon" respondents said they feel that way because they are "uncomfortable with, or dislike" Mormonism (6 percent went with the polygamy angle.) Not good news for Mr. Romney, who's internal strategy memo made the BoGlobe today, elucidating the fact that "electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed." A salient bite:
The plan, for instance, indicates that Romney will define himself in part by focusing on and highlighting enemies and adversaries, such common political targets as "jihadism," the "Washington establishment," and taxes, but also Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "European-style socialism," and, specifically, France. Even Massachusetts, where Romney has lived for almost 40 years, is listed as one of those "bogeymen," alongside liberalism and Hollywood values.
Indeed, a page titled "Primal Code for Brand Romney" said that Romney should define himself as a foil to Bay State Democrats such as Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry and former governor Michael Dukakis. Romney should position himself as "the anti-Kerry," the presentation says. But elsewhere in the plan, it's clear that Romney and his aides are aware he's open to the same charge that helped derail Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004: that he is a flip-flopper who has changed positions out of political expediency.
Also interesting in the poll, and this one's for Barack Obama, is the rather sizable percentage of voters who said they could not support a smoker (21 percent).
One good piece of news for Hillary Clinton, I suppose, is that of those respondents who said they would be less likely to support a woman candidate, only 15 percent said it was because they didn't like Mrs. Clinton in particular. Twice that number -- 31 percent -- said it was because they simply don't think a woman can do the job. How nice.
Next, on the ever present subject of President Bush: two thirds of respondents disagree with his decision to surge 21,500 troops into Iraq, including 56 percent who "strongly disagree." And 58 percent support John Murtha's idea of limiting U.S. troop activities in Iraq to training Iraqi troops, plus guaranteeing rest time for the troops who've already served in theater. By 51-46, respondents opposed the idea of limiting funding for the Iraq war. Two thirds support the idea of "reducing U.S. military and financial support for the Iraqi government if the Iraqis fail to make progress toward national unity and restoring civil order," however, and by 53-46 percent, respondents favored setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
And there's this:
18. Overall, do you feel that you can or cannot trust the Bush administration to honestly and accurately report intelligence about possible threats from other countries?
Can Cannot No opin. 2/25/07 35 63 2
Which is probably why respondents split right down the middle, 47-44 in favor, on the question of whether the Bush administration has the evidence to support their allegations about Iran's meddling in Iraq.
Go figure. For the WaPo's analysis on the poll, click here.
Other polling fun: Watch out mama, here comes Obama ... in the Zogby poll dated February 26, Hil's lead in the Dem primary is now 33-25. Barack was at 14 the last time the poll was done.
First, a CBS News poll finds Democrats favor Hillary by a wide margin over Barack. No surprise there, since Mama is the Big Dog in the race. And as for Black respondents ... well ... they prefer Hillary too, by 51 percent to just 28 percent. Clearly, Obama has some work to do among African-Americans, who seem to be suspicious of his ... how to say ... lack of overt Blackcentrity...
The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown in creasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s han dling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, ac cording to the 2006 Military Times Poll.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll re spondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.
Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slight ly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While ap proval of the president’s war lead ership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.
Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
Another interesting bit of info from the article, two thirds of those surveyed in the poll have been deployed to Iraq at least once. But in the overall active duty force, an incredible 72 percent of U.S. military personnel have been deployed at least once to Iraq. Bush's approval rating among the military remains relatively high, at 52 percent according to this poll, but that's down sharply from 71 percent in 2004. And then there's this:
While Bush fared well overall, his political party didn’t. In the three previous polls, nearly 60 percent of the respondents identi fied themselves as Republicans, which is about double the popula tion as a whole. But in this year’s poll, only 46 percent of the mili tary respondents said they were Republicans. However, there was not a big gain in those identifying themselves as Democrats — a fig ure that consistently hovers around 16 percent. The big gain came among people who said they were independents.
Similarly, when asked to de scribe their political views on a scale from very conservative to very liberal, there was a slight shift from the conservative end of the spectrum to the middle or moderate range. Liberals within the military are still a rare breed, with less than 10 percent of re spondents describing themselves that way.
Interesting. How did the media fare?
The poll asked, “How do you think each of these groups view the military?” Respondents over whelmingly said civilians have a favorable impression of the mili tary (86 percent). They even thought politicians look favorably on the military (57 percent). But they are convinced the media hate them — only 39 percent of mili tary respondents said they think the media have a favorable view of the troops.
Ouch! And what about the leadership in Washington?
The poll also asked if the senior military leadership, President Bush, civilian military leadership and Congress have their best in terests at heart.
Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed said the senior military leadership has the best interests of the troops at heart. And though they don’t think much of the way he’s handling the war, 48 percent said the same about President Bush. But they take a dim view of civilian military lead ership — only 32 percent said they think it has their best inter ests at heart. And only 23 percent think Congress is looking out for them.
Actually, I think the fact that fewer than half of respondents thought the president has their best interests at heart is shocking, while the Congressional number isn't really surprising, given the clear fact that it's the military contractors the 109th Congress showed the greatest concern for over...