Jack Conway and Dan Mongiardo are fighting over a new poll from Mongiardo's campaign that shows him with a 43-28 lead in their probable primary face off.
We polled in Kentucky last month, and although we didn't look at the primary match up we can break this down a little based on the data we did get.
Conway and Mongiardo have almost equal favorables among Democratic voters- 58% have a positive opinion of the Lieutenant Governor and 57% have one of the Attorney General. Mongiardo's negatives are slightly higher within the party at 18%, compared to 10% for Conway.
Although it's possible that primary voters like both Mongiardo and Conway but like Mongiardo a lot more, as the internal poll would suggest, it would nevertheless be unusual for a candidate to hold such a large lead against an opponent with the same level of favorables.
Where there's a bigger difference in voter perceptions about Mongiardo and Conway is among non-Democratic voters. While Mongiardo and Conway are basically equally popular among Democrats, Mongiardo gets much worse reviews from Republicans and independents. For instance both candidates are viewed positively by 35% of independents, but 48% have a negative opinion of Mongiardo compared to just 28% for Conway. It's a similar story with Republicans- slightly more- 21% have a favorable opinion of Mongiardo than the 19% who have one of Conway. But when it comes to levels of unfavorability with GOP voters Mongiardo is at 49% and Conway is at 34%.
How much does any of this mean? Probably not much with about a year to go until the primary.
-Approval ratings for Barack Obama and the state's Governor and Senators in West Virginia. His level of popularity with Democrats there is about the same as we found last week in Oklahoma so that probably tells you what you need to know.
-A look at whether North Carolinians think Sonia Sotomayor should be confirmed- the results so far have been a little surprising.
-Our second to last Virginia primary poll. That one's a surprise so far too although we'll be in the field a couple more days. Looks like the WaPo endorsement could really make a difference.
And the road to Omaha for the Tar Heel baseball team starts this afternoon so I'm off to see a thrilling Coastal Carolina-Kansas game before the main event tonight- go Diamond Heels!
Sometimes voters are undecided because they like multiple candidates in a race and can't make up their minds. And sometimes they're undecided because they don't know who any of the candidates are. The latter is the case in Virginia's Democratic contest for Governor.
Among the voters still undecided 66% don't know enough about Creigh Deeds or Brian Moran to have an opinion about them one way or the other, and 55% don't know enough about McAuliffe.
That's going to make late advertising crucial to winning those final votes. It's unclear who that benefits. On one hand you could argue that Terry McAuliffe has been on the air for months and not won these folks over, so the door is open for Moran or Deeds to earn their voters. On the other hand McAuliffe's considerable financial advantage will still likely make it so that he's more able to reach those voters with his message in the closing days.
Who are these remaining undecideds?
-They're disproportionately African American- 37%, compared to 27% of the overall primary electorate in our most recent survey. So far McAuliffe has had the upper hand with them so that could work to his advantage.
-They're disproportionately not from northern Virginia. While 29% of voters total in this race are, just 22% of the undecideds hail from the metro DC area. That's bad news for Brian Moran, who hasn't been able to get much momentum anywhere else in the state, and good news for Deeds whose weakest performance is in that region.
-They're more conservative and less liberal than primary voters as a whole. Among undecideds 27% are liberal and 22% are conservative, while in total 34% are liberal and just 14% are conservative. This could help Deeds, who does best with conservatives and worst with liberals, and hurt McAuliffe who does the best with liberals.
There's been a lot of speculation related to Democratic hopes in North Carolina next year predicated on whether black turnout will come close to matching its 2008 levels but another thing Democrats need to look out for is the voting patterns of the under 30 crowd- both whether they show up and whether they vote as strongly Democratic as they did last fall.
On our poll earlier this week Barack Obama got by far his best numbers from young people, with 58% approving of his job performance and just 34% dissenting.
But despite their like of the President those same young people weren't necessarily that supportive of giving him another Democrat to work with in the Senate:
-Elizabeth Edwards led 46-37, Richard Moore led 40-35, Cal Cunningham led 39-31, Dan Blue led 38-32, and Bob Etheridge led 35-34.
-Walter Dalton trailed 40-31 and Heath Shuler did 36-35.
Those levels of support for Democratic Senate possibilities aren't anywhere near the President's popularity. Just because young people like Obama doesn't mean they're going to vote universally Democratic so it's going to be important for their prospects of beating Richard Burr that whoever ends up as the nominee is someone who will a) appeal to young people and b) make an effort to turn them out.
Today's discussion at BlueNC about whether Heath Shuler is progressive enough to be deserving of a Democratic nomination for the Senate next year reminded me of the report we wrote about how voters define themselves ideologically within their parties last year. Among Democrats in North Carolina 35% are liberals, 46% are moderates, and 19% are conservatives.
What are the implications of that?
It means that for liberal voters to keep someone from being nominated they would have to be pretty universally supportive of another candidate or candidates. And since we showed yesterday that Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler are actually pretty popular with liberal Democrats at this point that doesn't seem a likely scenario.
It also means that if McIntyre or Shuler decides to make the race and has the support of the DSCC the chances of them not winning the nomination are pretty small. They each have plenty of money already and if they have institutional support behind them fundraising for any other candidates is going to be a tough proposition.
I'm not saying that's a good thing- I think Democrats would be best off next year with a candidate who can run against the Washington establishment- but that is how I see it playing out if a sitting member of Congress agrees to run.
Topline results are below. Full results, including crosstabs, can be found here.
Q1 North Carolina currently has a law that gives statewide judicial candidates the option of accepting public campaign funding if they agree to spending limits and refuse money from Political Action Committees. It also makes judicial elections nonpartisan and provides voter guides to explain judicial candidates’ qualifications. What is your position on this program? If you strongly favor it, press 1. If you somewhat favor it, press 2. If you somewhat oppose it, press 3. If you strongly oppose it, press 4. If you’re not sure, press 5. Strongly Favor ................................................ 24% Somewhat Favor............................................. 36% Somewhat Oppose ......................................... 18% Strongly Oppose ............................................. 6% Not Sure.......................................................... 16%
Q2 Were you aware of this law prior to this survey? If yes, press 1. If no, press 2. Yes........................ 48% No ......................... 52%
Last week we took a look at how North Carolinians view the N.C. Judicial Finance Reform Act, the official name of the full public finance system for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals elections. The results generally show that voters like the program, with 60% saying that they either strongly or somewhat favor it.
However, not everyone is sold on the effects that the law is having. While a whopping 71% feel like candidates cannot take money from lawyers without creating a conflict of interests, only 28% feel that the law, first put into action in the 2004 election, is helping to curb corruption.
Obviously the word "corruption" carries some weight that differentiates it from other forms of malfeasance, but look at the numbers. In 2002 40% of the money donated to state Supreme Court candidates came from lawyers. That number dropped to 11% in 2004 after the enactment of the law, with the majority of funds, 64%, coming from the program.
Clearly the respondents who said that money from lawyers undermines the system would be pleased with this data, but what explains the dropoff in those who think the law is actually working? It may stem from the fact that only 48% of voters knew the program existed before taking our poll.
The public finance system in North Carolina is a sound one, and the numbers are showing that it is effective. Maybe the laws that actually work don't get the same amount of publicity as those that fail.
PPP is best known for putting out highly accurate polling on key political races across the country, but we also do affordable private research for candidates and organizations. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a survey when one of the most reliable companies in the nation can do it for less?"