Why Catholic Voters Matter in 2006 and Beyond

[Cross-posted to Daily Kos, Street Prophets, and my unread, poorly-updated blog]

From a recent ABC poll (WARNING: PDF which I have had some problem opening in my browser, but can "save as" and open as a separate file):

More of a swing group is white Catholics. Their preference for Democrats has shifted from an 18-point margin in August to a mere two-point margin in September and back to a 22-point margin now. Where they end up is essential; along with independents, white Catholics historically have been a decisive group in election outcomes.

There's more...

MyDD Courage Campaign Poll: Question #9

Of all of the questions in the poll we released yesterday, I would like to draw people's attention to the open question asked of people who voted in the primary. It was question number nine: 9. Please tell me in your own words why you voted for (candidate in Q5). (Probe) Why else? The answers people gave to this question, which can be found in the crosstabs (and about which more info can be found here), were quite interesting. For starters, of the 477 people who answered this question, only 19 of them said something in relation to the culture of corruption. Also, only 79 people listed a single issue as the deciding factor in their vote. The vast majority of poll participants listed something less specific, such as ideology, partisanship, values, or character qualities of the candidates as the rationale behind their vote. Overall, specific issues did not seem to drive voters in this election.

This supports something I have argued on MyDD for some time now. While polls often force people to pick a single issue as their most important, most voters just don't think that way. If voters have to be prompted to list an issue as the determining factor in their vote, even if on an open end question they do not list an issue in an open-end questions, then I think it is safe to assume that one specific issue was not actually the determining factor in their vote. Instead, it just tells you that the poll asking them to list one issue is an example of flawed, D.C. based epistemology, where political knowledge is divided up into single, discrete issues because the majority of the professional political world is D.C. is based around single-issue advocacy. That might be the way people think about politics in D.C. because that is the way professional politicos in D.C. live, but I believe, and I think this poll shows, that just is not how voters think. While less than 20% of voters listed an issue, the vast, vast majority of people in this poll listed something else, usually ideology, partisanship, ideology or values as the rationale behind their vote. If people are not dividing themselves along single-issue lines, I fail to see how polls dividing them up along those lines does anything except intentionally delude us into greater ignorance on what does and does not motivate voters.

Oh yeah, and 4% of voters citing the culture of corruption despite the millions we spent on it? That isn't very good either.

Courage Campaign / MyDD Poll: Why Francine Busby Lost

Please continue to donate to the MyDD / Courage Campaign Polling Project. We need another $2,000 to complete testing on the accountability message we suggest at the end of the memo. This small amount of money could have a major impact on changing the way Democrats run campaigns in 2006. Donate today--Chris

Today, the Courage Campaign, a non-partisan, progressive 527 based in Los Angeles, and MyDD, a progressive blog devoted to analysis and commentary on political campaigns and infrastructure, announced findings today from the poll they commissioned in California's 50th Congressional District to determine why the national Democratic message centered on allegations of Republican corruption failed to give Francine Busby the seat formerly occupied by convicted felon, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Busby lost to Republican, Brian Bilbray in the June 6th election.

The poll was funded by the netroots, and was conducted by Wright Consulting Services. It was in the field from July 6, 2006 to July 27, 2006. The poll surveyed 503 people who voted in the June 6th special election, and included 188 people who voted in either the 2003 recall election (Schwarzenegger) or the 2004 Presidential election, but did not vote on June 6th. The margin of error for the entire sample of 691 is +/- 3.8%, and +/- 4.5% for people who voted. Smaller subsets, such as Republicans, Democrats and Independents, had higher margin or errors.

The questionnaire used for the poll can be found here:
http://www.mydd.com/images/user/217/CA_5 0_Post_election_Questionnaire_1.pdf

The full cross tabs for the poll can be found here:

Our finding from the poll are in the extended entry.

For further information, contact Chris Bowers of MyDD at chris@mydd.com, or Susanne Savage of the Courage Campaign at ssavage@couragecampaign.org

Update: Read the press release for the poll on Yahoo News. Check The Huffington Post for further commentary on the poll by Rick Jacbos of hte Courage Campaign.

There's more...

A Deeper Look Into the Generic Ballot

NPR has a new survey on the House out today that was conducted by Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glenn Bolger. This poll is particularly interesting because of the district level detail it offers on the generic ballot question. The poll only focused on the fifty most competitive districts this year, forty of which are held by Republicans, and ten of which are held by Democrats. Here are some of the findings:
  • In the fifty most competitive House districts this year, Democrats lead the generic ballot 48-41. While this is a smaller lead for Democrats than many national polls reveal, it is important to remember that this is primarily a survey of Republican-held.

  • When candidates are named across the fifty districts, Democrats lead 49-43.

  • Within the ten Democratic held districts, Democrats hold a whopping 60-29 advantage. This may only be a sample size of around 200, but these numbers show the tremendous strength of Democratic incumbents around the nation. We hold a 31-point generic ballot advantage in our ten most endangered seats? Amazing.

  • Within the "top tier" Republican held seats (not sure how many districts this included), Democrats hold a sizable 52-42 advantage in the generic ballot. These are the sort of numbers that make a takeover very likely.

  • Within the "bottom tier" of the competitive Republican held seats, Democrats still hold a generic advantage of 47-44. This is particularly amazing. This shows Democratic competitiveness across a wide swatch of districts.

  • Bush is at 45% "strong disapprove" in these districts, and only 24% "strong approve." Remember--these are in districts that Republicans hold.

  • Voters also indicate a high level of enthusiasm to vote, and Demcorats hold a significant edge in that category. However, I'll believe that when I see it, considering low turnout during the primary season so far.
All of this makes it no wonder, as Jonathan pointed out earlier today, that Republicans are not calling themselves Republicans in commercials and on their websites (even Tom Reynolds, chair of the NRCC). All of these figures continue to make me cautiously optimistic for November. What would make me really optimistic would be more independent polls showing Democrats ahead in trial heats, as well as increased Democratic participation within primaries over the next month and a half. We have most of the pieces in place for a big wave of anywhere from 20-40 seats this fall, but there is always that buzzing sound in the back of my mind that Republican defenses from gerrymandering to GOTV to the media to Swiftboating to voter suppression to money to fear mongering could keep us reduced to modest gains of only five to eight seats.

You can read the full poll results here (20 page PDF). The margin of error for the whole poll is 3.2, and for individual subsets it is larger.

Update: GQR has the full report here, including a list of hte districts surveyed.

MN-Sen: Kennedy Still Getting Trounced

Hot off the heels of last week's poll showing Amy Klobuchar with a commanding 19-point lead in the Minnesota Senate race, the DSCC has a new poll conducted by Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal (Mystery Pollster's firm) that shows Klobuchar up by a very similar, 16-point margin:Klobuchar: 50
Kennedy: 34
Other: 1
Undecided: 15 The poll was actually worse for Kennedy without leaners. Then, Klobuchar led 48-30, an even wider 18 point margin. So far, there have only been two telephone polls released on this race. One shows Klobuchar up 19%, and another shows Klobuchar up 16%. The Kennedy camp and the Minnesota right-wing will claim "bias." The truth, however, is that Mark Kennedy is not a very good campaigner, and the weakness of the conservative Minnesota netroots is starting to show.

In 2000, when Kennedy first ran for Congress, he won a squeaker with 48% of the vote in a district that Bush won by 13.8% in that same year (see district 2, 1992 redistricting data, in link). In other words, he under-performed Bush by over 13 points in 2000. He also under-performed relative to Bush in 2004. Now, when Bush currently has a 34% approval rating in Minnesota, we are supposed to throw away all polling on the race and believe that Kennedy isn't getting shelled? How can someone who consistently under-performs Bush possible be competitive in a state where Bush has a 34% approval rating?

I'm sure Kennedy has internal polling on the race. If his polls are so much better than this, then maybe he should release those polls to the public in order to show how wrong these other polls have been. But again, he hasn't done that. I wonder why.

Unless something dramatic happens, Amy Klobuchar is well on pace to become the next Senator from Minnesota, and Mark Kennedy's political career as an under-performing, conservative extremist will be over. It will also be nice that the vaunted Minnesota conservative netroots scene will look as ineffective as they really are. To name just a few, Power Line, Captain's Quarter's, and Lileks are major conservative blogs based in Minnesota. Just look at how much impact they are having.


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