Useful and Not Useful Information About 2008

Nine months out from the start of the 2008 Presidential race, I thought I would produce this little guidebook for readers to sort out the useful information on 2008 from the not useful information.

Useful: Polls that examine the size of the anti-Clinton vote
We all know that Clinton is the frontrunner for 2008, and that she is going to top any poll among Democrats in every state in the country. Duh. What we don't know is the degree to which the people who are currently not opting for her in these polls are seeking another alternative. Some of the first information I have seen on this subject comes from Dick Bennet of ARG, and was posted earlier today on Political Wire (emphasis mine):Clinton may be the front-runner, but it is more in the sense of the 1976 or 1992 primaries. A large field will help her, but one candidate becoming the "anti-Hillary" will hurt her because she does not gain additional support as the field narrows. Our interviewers report that the intense negatives for Clinton reach across party lines as there are some Democrats with as strong reactions against her as Republicans, so the real race will be who can become the anti-Hillary the fastest. This is useful information about the potential campaign dynamic. That Clinton's support does not rise among voters even as the number of non-Clinton choices decreases tells us that 30-40% might be something of a limit to her "easy" support. Even as candidates drop out or fade, support for Clinton may not increase. This seemingly indicates that 60-70% of the Democratic electorate would seriously consider another candidate. Hillary might be vulnerable.

Not Useful: National telephone surveys
Here is some totally useless information about 2008:WNBC/Marist Poll. Feb. 13-15, 2006. Asked of Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide. MoE ± 5.

"If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are [see below]?" This is so useless I am not even going to show you the results here. There is no national primary. Why did Marist publish a national poll on the Democratic nomination this far out? For that matter, why did they publish a national poll at all when they have never conducted state polls of either Iowa or New Hampshire? Everyone knows that national polls before and after Iowa and New Hampshire are almost unrecognizable. Several candidates will drop out after those two primaries. Others will receive large boosts from the news coverage they will receive for doing well. It would have cost Marist the same amount of money to conduct an Iowa or New Hampshire poll as this national poll cost. The sad fact is that WNBC probably commissioned Marist to conduct this useless national poll instead of a useful statewide poll because a national poll has higher entertainment value. It wouldn't be the first case of poll whoring by MNBC / Marist.

Useful: Activist Straw Polls
Too large and too quick to be effectively stuffed, by far the best way to get a sense of how the progressive activist base is thinking is to check out the semi-monthly Dailykos 2008 straw polls. And if you want to get your finger on the pulse of the conservative activist base, then check out the 2008 straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

These polls do not give an accurate picture of national public opinion, but they do give some real insight into the potential dynamic of the 2008 campaign. These are polls of the people who will actually donate to, and volunteer for, Presidential campaigns. These are polls of people who pay attention to politics every day or every year, and who are highly influential among their family and friends when it comes to political discussions. These polls show us which candidates have the most upward potential in the 2008 campaign. They don't tell us what the campaign is like right now, but they do give us strong indications of what the campaign will look like in the future.

Not Useful: Trial Heats Without Favorables
"Not useful" might be a bit of a strong term here, but certainly favorable / unfavorable numbers would be a lot more useful right now in determining the possible dynamic of 2008 than would trial heats. The reason for this is that at this point in time, trial heats are basically measuring name recognition. The candidates with high name recognition, Clinton, Edwards, Gore and Kerry, (or McCain and Giuliani) will always do better in these polls than candidates with low national name recognition, such as Warner, Bayh, Feingold, and others.

Since trial heats are basically just measuring name recognition, wouldn't it be more useful to actually conduct a poll that measures the quantity and quality of name recognition? Knowing, for example, that Clinton has an 80 / 18 favorable / unfavorable rating among Dems, that Kerry has a 52 / 47, that Warner has a 12 / 3, and that Feingold has a 5 / 2 would tell us a lot more than any trail heat ever would (note: I'm just making these numbers up for the sake of argument). We would learn, for example, that Kerry would have no chance at all. We would also learn just how much work Warner and Feingold would have to define themselves. In other words, we would actually learn about hwo the campaign could potentially unfold, rather than just where it stands before it has even begun. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, to date there has not been a comprehensive favorable / unfavorable survey of the potential Democratic or Republican candidates. Instead, we are treated to a regular diet of empty-calorie trial heats.

Useful: Cash on Hand and PAC fundraising
If you are not a big netroots candidate, you are going to need a strong, already developed fundraising base in order to succeed in 2007-8. Hell, even if you are a netroots candidate, you are still going to need a strong donor base outside of the online community in order to make a strong campaign. However, since no one is "officially" raising money for a presidential run yet, it is best to get a sense of what donor base s/he has lined up.

On that front, here are two good sources for information on the shadow money race: Demcoratic PAC fundrasing and Open Secrets.

Not Useful: Congressional Vote Rankings
Some people may be into these, and I even have my own, but quite frankly there are so many of them from so many different organizations and they are all so opaque and riddled with questionable methodological issues that I just don't find them all thr>at useful. This is especially the case when considering that the Senate, the congressional chamber that produces by far the most Presidential candidates, is notoriously Byzantine in its rules and procedures.

But if you are one of the rare few for whom this is really your thing, go ahead and check out some of the latest from National Journal.

Tags: 2008, Fundraising, polls, Primaries (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Re: Useful and Not Useful Information About 2008

Excellent article with the exception of the "cash on  hand" section.  In the latest book, Get This Party Started, Democratic money comes tied to bad consultants and other constraints that create a Catch 22 for Democratic candidates - they can't win without that money, but they can't win with all the strings attached.  Cash piles next to Democratic candidates may indicate who will win the Democratic primary, but it tends to be the kiss of death for the party to win the November election.

by truthiness 2006-02-25 12:12PM | 0 recs
Chris, don't get me wrong,

I normally enjoy your posts, but it seems that you are in a meltdown with the idea of HRC being the nominee.

Breathe, dude.

by jgarcia 2006-02-25 01:02PM | 0 recs
Dude,

however hard you try, here is how the facts stack up:


  1. Hillary is far and away the front runner
  2. Gore is about the only one with a serious shot at challenging her to the nomination
  3. Warner has an outside shot, and Edwards and Feingold have a remote chance, but the odds are not very high that they'll outpace Hillart to the top honors

I'll give some numbers for the reader in my next comment.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 04:39PM | 0 recs
Some poll numbers

Marist poll numbers:

Links: pollingreport, Marist poll page.

Without Gore

40 -- Hillary Clinton
16 -- John Edwards
15 -- John Kerry
7 -- Joseph Biden
4 -- Wesley Clark
3 -- Evan Bayh
3 -- Bill Richardson
2 -- Mark Warner
0 -- Tom Vilsack
10 -- unsure

With Gore

33 -- Hillary Clinton
17 -- Al Gore
16 -- John Edwards
11 -- John Kerry
4 -- Joseph Biden
3 -- Wesley Clark
2 -- Evan Bayh
2 -- Bill Richardson
2 -- Mark Warner
0 -- Tom Vilsack
9 -- unsure

Netroots when Gore is included:
From a poll I did on 1/31/06:

Evan Bayh -- <1%
Joe Biden -- <1%
Barbara Boxer -- 3%
Wesley Clark -- 13%
Hillary Clinton -- 1%
John Conyers -- <1%
Howard Dean -- 3%
John Edwards -- 7%
Russ Feingold -- 22%
Al Gore -- 31%

John Kerry -- <1%
Dennis Kucinich -- 2%
Barack Obama -- 3%
Brian Schweitzer -- 3%
Jack Reed -- <1%
Harry Reid -- <1%
Bill Richardson -- 2%
Mark Warner -- 9%
Someone else -- <1%
Not sure -- <1%

264 votes total

With Marist now including Gore, about the only pollsters left omitting him are, ladies and gentlemen...

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 05:10PM | 0 recs
I believe these numbers support Chris's point.....

Try these polls with a much smaller set of candidates, say two, Hillary and someone else, and people will choose a third - other - rather than drive Hillary's numbers above the mid 40's.

by truthiness 2006-02-25 05:22PM | 0 recs
There is no evidence to arrive at Chris' opinion

The best you can do on that currently are Hillary's favorability ratings among Dems (and partially independents). From here:

Hillary's fav/unfavs (CBS poll, Feb'06):

               fav     unfav   undec   unsure  no ans.
ALL --          37     35     21     7     -    
Republicans --  14     66     12     7     1    
Democrats --    64     6     26     4     0    
Independents -- 30     36     24     10     0    

Polling 64% favorability among democrats I think will translate into 50+% support if the poll had only two options: 1) Hillary 2) someone else
(this is different from actually mentioning names of other possibilities).

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 05:38PM | 0 recs
That CBS poll is from Jan'06 not Feb'06

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 05:40PM | 0 recs
Where did you learn math?

If you average 14 and 64, you get 39, not 50.  I saw another poll that stated 45% of those polled said that they would NEVER vote for Hillary regardless of who was running against her.  Again, this, although not proof, still supports Chris's arguements.

by truthiness 2006-02-25 06:26PM | 0 recs
Haha, you're funny

At issue was the 2008 primary.

- Republicans will not get to vote in a Democratic primary (unless a handful of states allow that. do they?)

- Dems get to vote in the primary, and in some states independents are also allowed to vote. And, favorability doesn't translate directly in presidential preference. Hence there is no direct formula available here.

- Given all of these factors, and the specific numbers, I quoted a ballpark estimate of what percentage I thought would choose Hillary over "someone else".

Get it?

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Haha, you're funny

Yep, my bad, I was intertwining primary and general election topics....

Maybe Mondale can run as her VP, he too was very popular in Democratic primaries...

by truthiness 2006-02-26 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Where did you learn math?

I saw another poll that stated 45% of those polled said that they would NEVER vote for Hillary

That's again for the general election, and we are talking about the primary.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Some poll numbers

I am not an Edwards guy (I like HRC), but I do find it interesting from a political perspective that in the polls you cite, Edwards' support remain static, exactly the same.  Hmmmm.

I do agree about Gor being the only one.  Warner is a one-term gov of VA and was a businessman before that.  He doesn't have the pol experience nor the nat security cred to get nominated by democratic old ladies in IA who are very concerned about terrorists.

by jgarcia 2006-02-25 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Some poll numbers

I agree. Edwards's numbers staying the same is the most intriguing aspect of the poll.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-25 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Some poll numbers

Yes, it suggests he's got a loyal base to work from.  HE may turn out to be the alternative to Hillary in the field.  Who knows, but the dynamics are interesting.  Thanks for the numbers, btw.

by jgarcia 2006-02-26 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Some poll numbers

Thanks for the nice words.

I do not support Edwards for the nomination. There are many reasons why, but the most important one is the fact that he co-sponsored the Iraq War Resolution of Lieberman (equivalent to the house version was passed jointly).

But, if he is dead serious and sincere about the poverty stuff he keep yapping about, and gets a lot of things done on that front, I may start viewing him favorably.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-26 09:20AM | 0 recs
Under Estimate Warner at Your Own Peril

I agree that HRC is the frontrunner for the nomination and while I have few problems with her I do not think she can win a general election.  It is unfortunate but she is too polarizing.

While Gore is the new darling of the blogosphere, a lot of people remember the piss poor campaign he ran in 2000 despite the Nader lie that he and Bush were the same.  Let's face facts - it was his race to lose and he lost it.  I think that is the major explanation why Gore is at 17 despite 100% name recognition.  This is a bad sign for him in a primary.  Frankly, he should be a lot closer to HRC.

I think Mark Warner is going to emerge as the anti-HRC candidate and do not underestimate him.  I lived in VA for a couple of campaigns.  He is a very talented politician.

by John Mills 2006-02-26 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Under Estimate Warner at Your Own Peril

While Gore is the new darling of the blogosphere, a lot of people remember the piss poor campaign he ran in 2000 despite the Nader lie that he and Bush were the same.  Let's face facts - it was his race to lose and he lost it.  

You may not have looked athe 2000 election closely enough. There were many forces, and seemingly many shady undercurrents in that election.

The following were critical.

  1. Clinton scandal (which handicapped Gore by 10-20% points as early as 1999 March)
   2. Nader's lies that there wasn't much different between Gore and Bush, and some supporters of his recommending Bush over Gore
   3. MSM biases and relentless spinning (Rovian magic)

Yet, Gore he won the popular vote in 2000.

I think that is the major explanation why Gore is at 17 despite 100% name recognition.  This is a bad sign for him in a primary.  Frankly, he should be a lot closer to HRC.

How often have you seen him appear on any network/cable channels beginning 2001? People forget. If he got any MSM coverage, it was mostly negative MSM spins. Considering that, he is doing quite well at this point.

Thanks.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-02-26 11:45AM | 0 recs
Know A Bit About the 2000 Gore Campaign

I helped on the 2000 Gore campaign in Portland, OR where I was living at the time and the locals kept warning the national campaign that Nader was a problem in the state.  They kept ignoring them and ignoring them until about 3 weeks out the national campaign panicked b/c they realized Nader really was a problem.  They were able to pull it together, barely, and won the state by less than 10,000 votes.  This is a state no Dem has lost since 1984.  I know other people in other parts of the country who have similar stories.  This was symptomatic of how poorly run this campaign was.  

Another mistake - why didn't he demand a recount in the entire state of Florida instead of selected counties?  That was the basis of the legal challenge that made Bush President.

Based on my experience, no one can convince me that Gore didn't lose that race.  Sorry.  It was a bad campaign.

by John Mills 2006-02-26 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Know A Bit About the 2000 Gore Campaign

why didn't he demand a recount in the entire state of Florida instead of selected counties?

I don't that would've give Gore an overwhelming lead either (perhaps a narrow 1-2K vote lead), as subsequent media recounts went partly for Bush and partly for Gore. IMO, what was needed was to get undervotes examined and getting a fair and reasonable standard applied to those oversea ballots.

But you see, you can always second guess strategy after the fact. I wish that Boise did a better job in SCOTUS, but for his part, Gore did hire one of the most successful lawyers in the country to defend him.

Time to discuss what what lies ahead for the country, and there is no doubt in my mind that Gore is best qualified to lead the nation in the right direction.

by NeuvoLiberal 2006-03-01 02:41PM | 0 recs

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