"Dems Surging In Ohio"
by Todd Beeton, Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 04:37:08 PM EDT
So says the headline of the latest Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,430 Ohio voters taken between August 28 - September 3.
How is this surge measured? First of all, as has been diaried ably earlier today, the head-to-head match-ups among the top three candidates of each party now almost all favor the Democrats (only exception being McCain over Obama by 1 point.) Notably, all three top Democrats now beat the traditionally strongest Republican, Rudy Giuliani: Edwards by 9 points, Clinton by 7 points and Obama by 1 point. This contrasts with just a few months ago when Giuliani was leading all three -- in April, he led Clinton by 5 and Obama by 8 and in March, he led Edwards by 8.This is an astounding turnaround, but instead of focusing on the electability issue, which is the focus of much of the discussion of these numbers, I'd like to look at what's actually driving these numbers, the factor that Harris Interactive (via Advertising Age) says "predicts how [people] will vote far better than polls in which they declare their voting intentions": favorability ratings.
What makes favorability ratings so important for Harris Interactive researchers is that they measure the emotional engagement a candidate has with the electorate, which, as Drew Westen also asserts in his excellent book The Political Brain, is a much better indicator of how someone will ultimately vote.Ad Age takes us back 3 years:
As the 2004 race drew to a close, the marketing researchers (as opposed to the political pollsters) at Harris Interactive were actually coming to a different conclusion. While Harris Interactive's online poll showed Mr. Kerry ahead in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, engagement numbers in the separate Harris/ARF online poll indicated, correctly, that he'd only win Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, take a look at how the favorability ratings (fav/unfav) of the top presidential candidates of both parties have shifted over the past few months in order of largest net favorability gains (majorities didn't know Thompson and Romney well enough to register ratings.)
|Candidate||Sept. 6||July 12||May 16||Net Change|
Note that this is the first time that Clinton's favorability has been over 50% and Giuliani's has been under 50%. Clearly, the more voters get to know these candidates, their previously majority-held preconceptions (in Rudy's case, positive, and in Clinton's case, negative) get reversed. It's also interesting that McCain is seeing an uptick, certainly reflecting the sentiments of the Luntz post-debate focus group last night where people appear to be giving McCain a second (or third or fourth) look. And then of course, there's the Edwards surge, which so far is not reflected in his Ohio Dem primary numbers (he's in 3rd at 11% -- actually slightly down from May -- although keep in mind that Gore is included) but a surge there is something to look for.What we're seeing here, folks, are blue state-like numbers.