Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

A Polling Trifecta

In Polling, Polls, Presidential campaign on September 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

An interesting set of three presidential polls was just released: a national survey testing the Republican candidates, which reveals a new leader and a surprise mover, and two key state general election studies that show President Obama barely clinging to a lead in two places that he carried comfortably back in 2008.

Fox News, contracting with both Democratic and Republican polling firms, which seem to have conducted a more methodologically sound survey than others emanating from the network in the recent past, shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney recapturing the lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The big mover, however, was retired businessman Herman Cain, who catapulted himself into a strong third position.

The pollsters, Anderson Robbins (D) and Shaw & Company (R), went into the field during the Sept. 25-27 period and questioned 925 registered voters. The error factor is plus or minus 3 percentage points 95 percent of the time. Of the group, 363 individuals are Republican primary voters. The results show that Gov. Perry took a hit from his poor debate performance before the Presidency 5 straw poll in Florida, and his lackluster showing at the event itself. Though Romney only gained one percentage point from the last Fox News poll, he secures first place with just 23 percent of the vote. Perry is next with 19 percent, dropping a full 10 points when compared with the Fox Aug. 29-31 survey. Cain captures a solid 17 percent, making him now a close third nationally, at least according to this particular poll. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the other significant mover. He grew from 3 percent to 11 percent during the interval between the two Fox polls.

These results are not particularly surprising. Perry has taken a media beating since the Presidency 5 debate and straw poll, so it was expected that he would fall to a diminished position in the ensuing national polls. Though Romney is leading, he continues to record stagnant numbers and still cannot break out of the low 20s. Considering he is the best known of all the Republican candidates, a standing of this level should not be seen as particularly encouraging.

The Cain numbers are interesting, and reflect that he’s receiving more positive exposure before a public that is clearly looking for a new option, but this result could also be short-lived. Next month’s polling data will show if Mr. Cain has staying power or if his current standing is simply an anomaly.

Turning to the two large-sample Quinnipiac University general election polls taken in Ohio (Sept. 20-26; 1,301 registered Ohio voters) and Pennsylvania (Sept. 21-26; 1,370 registered Pennsylvania voters), it appears that Gov. Perry is not the only candidate who is seeing his fortunes decline. Mr. Obama, who scored a 51-47 percent victory in the Buckeye State and a 54-44 percent triumph in neighboring Pennsylvania three years ago, fares considerably worse today against both Romney and Perry.

In Ohio, the President can manage only a 44-42 percent edge over Romney and a similar 44-41 percent advantage when matched up against Perry. Mr. Obama’s Ohio standing is reflective of his poor job approval rating, according to these Q-Poll results. By a margin of 42:53 percent, the Buckeye State respondents disapprove of the job he is doing in the White House. Potentially an even worse ratio from his perspective, only 43 percent of those surveyed believe the President deserves re-election, while a majority 51 percent say he does not.

The Pennsylvania numbers are strikingly similar to those found in Ohio. There, the President maintains an almost identical 45-43 percent spread against Mr. Romney, but does slightly better when matched with Perry, leading him 46-40 percent. Perhaps most surprising of all, Mr. Obama can only manage a three-point, 45-42 percent margin against defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his seat in 2006 by more than 17 percentage points.

As in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s job approval numbers in this critical political state are poor. The Pennsylvania respondents, by a margin of 43:54 percent, disapprove of his performance as President. And, his re-elect score is also similar to that found in Ohio. Among Keystone State voters, 44 percent say he deserves another term in office, while, again, a majority 51 percent of those sampled say he does not.

With all of the major candidates now seemingly on a bit of a downward spiral, the election of 2012 can be counted upon to be highly unpredictable as it moves forward.

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