Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Graham Below 50%; NYC Mayoral Update

In Mayor, Polling, Senate on September 12, 2013 at 10:25 am
Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

A new poll shows South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) dropping below majority support in his battle for renomination in next year’s Republican senatorial primary. Graham, running for a third six-year term, is opposed by three Republicans, only one of whom has been elected to any office. The poll, however, possesses a significant methodological flaw, which could cast doubt upon the results.

The survey, from Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications (Aug. 25; 500 South Carolina Republican voters; released Sept. 5) posts Sen. Graham to a 42-13-10-7 percent lead over state Sen. Lee Bright, businesswoman Nancy Mace – the first female graduate from The Citadel – and businessman and former 3rd Congressional District candidate Richard Cash, respectively.

While Graham clearly has a large cumulative lead over his opponents, this study projects him far away from reaching the 50 percent mark necessary for clinching the party nomination without a run-off election.

Under South Carolina law, such run-off elections are generally held only two weeks after the primary vote. Considering that the 2010 federal MOVE Act requires a 45-day period for military and overseas voters to receive and return their ballots, it is conceivable that a court could force the state to schedule a longer time between elections, just as judges in at least New York, Texas, and Georgia have done. Should the run-off be rescheduled to create a longer election cycle, the conventional wisdom is such a change may help a potential Graham head-to-head challenger because the individual will have some time to raise the financial resources necessary to crystallize what would be a majority of primary voters who would not have voted for the senator.

The methodological flaw has to do with the single day in which all of the contacts were made. Normally, pollsters try to avoid weekend calling because it tends to skew the results. The pattern of people being at home and willing to answer a political survey tends to be different from those found during weeknights. The fact that the calling was totally completed on a Sunday doesn’t necessarily mean the results are wrong, but it is wise to look at the data results skeptically.

Sen. Graham may well experience renomination problems because he suffers significant negatives within his own party particularly in regard to his position on immigration and over judicial appointments. But, it will take more than this joint venture poll to definitively indicate that he is faring badly at this moment in time. More surveys must come to the forefront in order for us to obtain a clearer picture.

More on the NYC Mayor’s Race

As counting in the New York City mayoral race grinds to a halt, it remains unclear if NYC public advocate Bill de Blasio has won outright the Democratic nomination. He currently stands at 40.17 percent of the vote, barely exceeding the minimum 40% threshold to win the nomination. Several precincts remain to be counted along with provisional and absentee ballots. It appears we won’t have a resolution until the end of next week, and then beginning a full recount is a possibility. For his part, second place finisher Bill Thompson says de Blasio has yet to win and he will continue campaigning as if the Oct. 1 run-off election is going forward.

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