Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Will History Repeat in Alabama?

In Governor, House, Polling on November 1, 2013 at 10:42 am
Bradley Byrne

Bradley Byrne

According to a brand new flash poll, history may repeat itself in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District special run-off election scheduled for next Tuesday.

In 2010, Alabama state Sen. Bradley Byrne scored 27.9 percent of the statewide Republican gubernatorial vote to finish in first place and advance to the two-person run-off election. He was paired with Tuscaloosa dermatologist and state Rep. Robert Bentley, who qualified for the secondary vote with the barest of margins over the man placing third, Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James. Backed by the various Tea Party organizations and his strongly conservative base voter, Bentley soared past Sen. Byrne to capture a 56-44 percent Republican nomination run-off victory, and then was elected governor in the general election.

Now, as a candidate in the special congressional election for resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) former position, Byrne again placed first in the original primary, garnering 35 percent of the total Republican vote. He faces businessman and conservative activist Dean Young, who scored 23 percent on Sept. 24, but is now running much closer according to late race polling.

Byrne is leaving no stone unturned in this run-off campaign, employing aggressive fundraising and advertising techniques, capturing more endorsements, benefiting from outside independent expenditure advocacy, and attracting establishment Republican support. But, according to a new Cygnal consulting firm flash poll conducted on Oct. 30, Byrne has dropped behind his opponent, Young, by a 43-40 percent margin, and 45-42 percent when only self-described “definite voters” are tabulated. The other publicly released poll, from Wenzel Strategies (Oct. 6-8; 412 Republican voters), also detected a tightening from the Sept. 24 primary, but still projected Byrne to be holding a lead beyond the margin of error (44-37 percent).

Brent Buchanan, the managing partner at Cygnal released the methodology of his new poll, which questioned 1,027 voters of 50,950 individuals who comprised the group quantitatively profiled as special election voters. They further segmented the respondent universe into those who say they are “definite” about voting in the special congressional election (930 of the 1,027).

Though Young seems to have little going for him in the way of a professional campaign, he does command a strong grassroots organization, but will this alone be enough to propel him to victory once the ballots are cast? The tale will be told on Tuesday.

Two New Gubernatorial Polls in Wisconsin and South Carolina

Marquette Law School, which was very active in polling during the 2012 recall campaign against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), has released a new gubernatorial poll. The current data (Oct. 21-24; 800 registered Wisconsin voters) again shows Walker maintaining only a small lead over his likely Democrat opponent.

According to this survey, the governor leads newly announced businesswoman Mary Burke (D) 47-45 percent. Walker’s job approval rating stands at 49:47 percent favorable to unfavorable. The poll provides additional evidence that the polarized Wisconsin electorate around Walker remains as such.

In South Carolina, a second poll in as many weeks gives Gov. Nikki Haley (R) poor favorability ratings, but this one still posts her to a comfortable re-election lead. Harper Polling (Oct. 27-28; 676 registered South Carolina voters) actually detects her approval falling into negative territory (42:43 percent favorable to unfavorable) but stakes her to a 48-39 percent advantage over state senator and 2010 gubernatorial opponent Vincent Sheheen (D). haheen already has announced his intention to seek a re-match in 2014.

Last week, Clarity Campaigns only forecast a 44-40 percent Haley advantage.

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