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TX 2014 Polling: Governor’s Race

We’ve had a few polls now on the Abbott vs Davis match-up:

  • A Texas Lyceum poll from September showed Abbott with an 8 point lead (Source).
  • A recent Texas Tribune poll shows Abbott with a 6 point lead [5 when the Libertarian is included] (Source).
  • And a PPP poll shows Abbott with a 15 point lead (Source).

The Texas Tribune and PPP polls show that Davis’ negatives have risen since she announced her candidacy. According to PPP, Davis is tied among independents and failing to win over weak R’s (Abbott is winning over more D’s than Davis is R’s).

It shouldn’t be surprising that Davis’ negatives are rising. They’ll most likely rise further as statewide voters are exposed - through negative/contrast ads - to her voting record and other issues. Unlike Abbott, who has been in statewide office for several years, most statewide voters are just now becoming acquainted with Davis, so you’ll see more change in her numbers.

You can view the Texas Lyceum poll here; the UT/Tribune poll here; and the PPP poll here. You can see all the polls in this race at RealClearPolitics.

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The Public Trust: Federal vs State/Local

Writing in Federalist #17, Alexander Hamilton posited that the citizens of each state naturally felt a stronger bias towards their local government than towards the national/federal government. He said, “It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object.”

Hamilton’s observations still seem to ring true after two centuries according to a new Pew survey:

Favourable views of all levels of government have declined since 1997, but local and state governments are still closer to the hearts of the citizenry (the exception appears to occur around 9/11).

Hamilton’s goal was to habituate the citizenry to a more favourable attitude towards the federal government; however, he’d be disappointed that it seems to be a losing battle for a variety of reasons at this stage.

(h/t: Washington Post)

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Charles Stewart has some good analysis of the early voting numbers from Florida on his blog - Election Updates. He notes the overall trend is that early voting is down from 2008:

The raw numbers are 1,364,574, with three days left to vote in 2012, compared to 1,995,399 in 2008.  So, overall, early voting is down by 31.6% compared to 2008.

Specifically, early voting is down in counties which gave Obama his largest majorities in 2008:

In this map, it is clear that turnout is down the most in two areas Obama was counting on significantly: Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, in the southeast, and Orange County, in the center of the state.

Mr Stewart offers a partial explanation for why the early vote turnout has declined since 2008:

Reducing the number of days for early voting has clearly reduced the number of early voters.

All of this makes the race in Florida very interesting. Republicans held the advantage in absentee ballots a few weeks ago, and according to Real Clear Politics, Romney holds a 1.4 point average lead in the polls.

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According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, one third of all Nevada voters have already cast their ballot, and turnout records are expected to continue to be broken in this second week of early voting.

According to figures released by the Nevada secretary of state’s office Monday, almost 374,000 people cast early ballots statewide through Sunday. Another 60,000 sent in absentee ballots, bringing total turnout in Nevada to 34 percent after the first nine days of voting.

Statewide, thirty-five thousand more Democrats than Republicans have already voted, and 77k nonpartisan/independents have cast their ballots.

President Obama defeated Sen McCain by about 13 points in Nevada in 2008 (Source), after Republican wins in 2000 and 2004 (Bill Clinton won the state in 1996).

This year, the Real Clear Politics average shows Obama with a 2.5 point lead over Romney in Nevada. Among the recent polls, the only one I have crosstabs for that also discusses the early voters is PPP, which shows that among those voters who have already voted Obama leads 61/39, while Romney has a 51/46 lead among those who have not voted (Source).

Romney is going to do a lot better in Nevada than McCain (and even when Democrats have won the state, as in 1996, Republicans have generally been much more competitive than McCain was, so don’t credit too much of Romney’s success here to Mormon efforts).

(h/t Paul Gronke)

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N. Carolina 2012 Early Voting

With over 700,000 in-person ballots processed in North Carolina (as of 10/24), the Democrats have the advantage in the early vote, and the 2012 vote is tracking closely to the 2008 results (Source):

Public Policy Polling shows that among those who have already voted Obama has a 15 point lead; however, Romney has a 5 point advantage among those who have not yet voted (Source). Obama and Romney are tied in N. Carolina at 48, which is similar to 2008 when Obama and McCain each had about 49 percent (Source). The Real Clear Politics average has a Romney with a 3.6 point lead (Source).

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Early Voting and Swing States

Gallup has been polling 12 “swing” states over the course of the campaign. Their most recent poll shows President Obama ahead of Romney by 2 percentage points among these swing state voters (Source). As I stressed during the Republican primary, early voting can give us an indication of who will win in these states, and that’s just as true for the general election.

Swing State Early Voting

Colorado - No excuse absentee ballots will be mailed 22 days before Nov 6th, which means people can begin voting presumably as early as the middle of October (Source). Early voting begins on October 22nd (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 4 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 9 points.

Florida - Has no excuse absentee ballots that will be mailed between Oct 2 - Oct 7 (Source). Early voting begins approximately Oct 27th and ends Nov 3rd (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 5 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 3 points.

Iowa - The first day to vote in-person by absentee ballot is next week: Sept 27th (Source). As of Sept 18th, there were 14,909 Republicans who requested absentee ballots vs 97,001 Democrats and 30,083 no party (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by less than 1 point. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 9 points.

Michigan - Michigan does not have early voting, but they do have excuse required absentee voting (Source). The first absentee ballots will be mailed September 22nd (Source).

  • 2004: Kerry defeated Bush by about 4 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 7 points.

Nevada - Has no excuse absentee voting and will mail absentee ballots beginning Oct 17th, and in-person early voting begins Oct 20th through Nov 2nd (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 3 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 7 points.

New Hampshire - Does not have early voting, but has excuse required early voting (Source). The first absentee ballots will be mailed September 22nd (Source).

  • 2004: Kerry defeated Bush by about 2 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 10 points.

New Mexico - No excuse absentee voting begins Oct 9th (Source). In-person early voting begins October 20th through November 2nd (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by less than 1 point. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 15 points.

North Carolina - Early voting begins on Oct 18th through Nov 3rd (Source). No excuse absentee ballots are available 60 days before a statewide general election (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 7 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about less than 1 point.

Ohio - No excuse absentee ballots are sent out Oct 2nd (Source). Early voting also begins on Oct 2nd and runs through Nov 2nd (Source). Franklin County has seen a large number of requests for absentee ballots: 8,893 Democrats, 12,124 Republican and 28,258 unaffiliated (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 2 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 5 points.

Pennsylvania - There is no early voting, but has excused required absentee voting (Source). The first ballots will be mailed out October 23rd (Source).

  • 2004: Kerry defeated Bush by about 2 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 10 points.

Virginia - There is no early voting, but has excused required absentee voting. The absentee ballots are sent out 45 days prior to the election, which means some people will start voting this month (Source).

  • 2004: Bush defeated Kerry by about 8 points. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 6 points.

Wisconsin - Early voting begins Oct 22nd before the election (Source). Wisconsin also has no excuse absentee voting, and the first ballots will be mailed out Sept 20th (Source).

  • 2004: Kerry defeated Bush by less than 1 point. 2008: Obama defeated McCain by about 14 points.

Why is all of this important? In 2008, “More than half of the ballots in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida were cast before Election Day, with Colorado leading the pack with 78 percent of total votes cast early” (Source). So, keep an eye on these states, and pay particular attention the responses of people who have already voted as we get closer to Election Day [Public Policy Polling has pretty good crosstabs on this].

One important note: military and overseas voters must receive their ballots 45 days prior to the election.

You can see the early voting policies for each state here.

If you know any of the missing info or see anything that is incorrect, let me know, and I will correct this post.

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I might be the only person in the blogosphere (or at least, one of the few) who defends negative advertising, and a recent survey by YouGov shows that voters aren’t necessarily turned off by negative ads - depending on their content. As the charts from YouGov show, voters find negative ads which point out differences between the candidates to be helpful; however, ads which criticize a candidate’s family to not be helpful (there are some other charts as well). As YouGov notes, positive ads usually only offer platitudes and little substance, whereas negative ads - more so if they’re done correctly - offer more information for voters about the candidates (because they’re telling you things about the candidate he/her wouldn’t say about themselves).

I’m not ashamed to be a fan of negative ads - with one caveat: they have to be factual. A negative that isn’t factual will not be effective and will backfire on the candidate.

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Presidential Politics: the Religious Voter

With the announcement that President Obama was giving his full support to gay marriage, there has been some speculation that he has damaged himself among black voters who oppose gay marriage (55 percent to 42). One Time contributor has said that Obama has made “a courageous bet that black voters won’t punish him.”

Except black voters have not been shown to vote on social issues, but rather on economic issues, particularly those related to poverty and low income.* As discussed previously on this blog when Gallup released their poll on religion and partisanship, the religiosity of black voters has little impact on their partisan voting behaviour, i.e., they will vote for the Democratic candidate regardless of whether they are very religious or non-religious. Indeed, black voters have voted in particularly high numbers for Democratic candidates since FDR, and exit polls in 2000, 2004 and 2008 showed black support for Gore at 90, Kerry at 88, and Obama at 95 percent.

On the other hand, evangelical voters are not wild about Romney - giving him less support (69 percent) than Bush (79) and McCain (73) - however, they support him more than Obama, and his support among evangelicals has increased from 40 percent in October 2011. You can read the results of that survey here.

Despite any distractions about religious voting demographics - whether it is black voters and gay marriage, or evangelicals and Romney - this election will turn on what is has turned since the Republican nomination began last year, and that is, the economy and the voter’s perception of it.

* I think some clarification is in order here. Voters at the lower end of the income spectrum make decisions based primarily on their economic situation. Since many black voters are unfortunately at the lower end of the income spectrum, their decisions, according to studies, are based on their situation, as with other low income voters.

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The 2012 Republican Veepstakes

One of the things we’re already hearing a lot about, and will continue to hear about until the GOP convention, is the debate - or rather, guessing - over who Romney will pick as his Vice Presidential nominee.

Every four years, various members of the media ask the same old questions, one of which is whether or not certain VP candidates will help the nominee to win particular states, specifically the home state of the VP nominee.

In May 1989, Robert Dudley and Ronald Rapoport revealed some interesting statistics about the perceived importance of regional importance in selecting a Vice Presidential candidate - they noted that between 1952 and 1980, only 1 ticket did not show regional balance and between 1884 and 1984 only 5 out of 52 tickets were not regionally balanced (American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 537-540). Their study showed that in these elections the VP nominee only made a difference in 3 elections (1892, 1968 & 1980), and thus was not a significant factor in voter choice. Lee Sigelman and Paul Wahlbeck came to a similar conclusion in 1997 (American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 4, pp. 855-864).

Recent polls would seem to confirm these studies. A poll by PPP showed that Romney received no bounce in Florida with Rubio hypothetically on the ticket (of course, PPP is a Democratic polling firm, and there have been accusations about bias in the past, but they have been fairly accurate during this primary cycle). Similarly, recent polling by Quinnipiac University shows that Ohio Senator Rob Portman would offer no help to Romney in this crucial swing state (Sources: CNN, Wall Street Journal).

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Gallup showing a dead heat in swing states

Gallup has been polling Obama and Romney head to head in 12 potential swing states. Their poll in March showed a big lead for the President, but as Romney has become the presumptive nominee (yes, Paul has picked up some delegates, but not enough yet to prevent Romney from getting the nomination), that lead has narrowed. Among voters who are certain they will vote for one candidate or the other, Obama has a 4 point lead.

A poll from George Washington University for Politico also shows a dead heat in the battleground states that will determine who the next President will be.

As discussed previously, Romney has a small margin for error, and a lot of money will be spent in states like Ohio and Virginia, not to mention some of the states out West.