Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Three Key Governor’s Races Narrowing

In Governor on November 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Now that the 2013 election is complete, the pollsters are back surveying races in states other than New Jersey and Virginia. Today, we cover some interesting numbers being returned in three competitive governors’ races.

Ohio

After seeing strong numbers come from Quinnipiac University in June (June 18-23; 941 registered Ohio voters) for Gov. John Kasich (R), the new Public Policy Polling data brings the race back to earth. Four and one-half months ago, the Q-Poll posted Gov. Kasich to a 47-33 percent lead over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D). The latest PPP survey (Nov. 5-6; 595 registered Ohio voters) paints a different picture. According to this poll, Kasich and FitzGerald are tied at 41 percent apiece.

The latter data, which is much closer to normal Ohio voting patterns than the earlier Q-Poll, may suggest the pro-Kasich data is an anomaly or simply that the climate has changed during the lagging interval. Most probably, the time scenario is the more accurate.

The series of polls indicate Ohio’s famous political volatility, and the fact that neither party can ever take the state for granted. The days of any Ohio statewide incumbent finding an easy path to re-election have passed. Gov. Kasich will be in for a competitive ride next year, but the mid-term turnout model and his incumbency will go a long way to providing him the needed edge for victory.

A competitive race will further slow his potential presidential run, too. The more tied down he finds himself in a re-election battle, the more difficult it will be to begin a national presidential positioning effort. Because New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) nailed down his re-election early, for example, he was able to use his statewide campaign as a launching point for the presidential effort. This new PPP data suggests Gov. Kasich will not enjoy such a luxury.

Maine

In 2010, Gov. Paul LePage (R) was elected in a three-way contest that allowed him to claim victory with only 38 percent of the vote. According to a poll released this week, this time from Public Policy Polling, the same scenario could repeat itself next year.

PPP (Nov. 8-11; 964 registered Maine voters) now forecasts Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) to be leading the governor by only two points, 38-36 percent, with attorney Eliot Cutler (I) claiming 15 percent of the respondents’ preferences. This small margin between the two major party candidates occurs even with Gov. LePage faring very poorly on the job approval question, 41:54 percent favorable to unfavorable.

Rep. Michaud announced last week that he is gay, so PPP asked the polling sample members if his sexuality will affect their vote for governor. Only 27 percent said the congressman’s revelation would make any difference, with 12 percent saying his admission makes it more likely for them to vote for Michaud, while 15 percent said they are less likely to do so. The remaining 73 percent said his sexuality makes no difference (71 percent) or are not sure (2 percent).

Pennsylvania

A preponderance of political analysts rate Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) as the nation’s most vulnerable governor. So, Harper Polling (Nov. 9-10; 649 Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters) tested the expanding Democratic primary field and found a tightening race.

Previously, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) held double-digit leads in polls taken earlier in the year. According to Harper, Schwartz still claims first place, but with a much slimmer margin. The results post the congresswoman to a 22-15-12-7-6-5 percent lead over former PA Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty, state Treasurer Rob McCord, ex-EP Secretary John Hanger, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, and former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, respectively.

With Corbett being an obviously weak incumbent, interest in obtaining the Democratic nomination has grown substantially. Therefore, expect this race to become closer and more intense as we move closer to the Pennsylvania primary next May.

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