Topline results are below. Full results, including crosstabs, can be found here.
New Mexico Survey Results:
Q1 If the Republican candidates for President in 2012 were Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney who would you vote for? If Mike Huckabee, press 1. If Sarah Palin, press 2. If Mitt Romney, press 3. If you’re undecided, press 4. Huckabee........................................................ 18% Palin................................................................ 32% Romney .......................................................... 33% Undecided....................................................... 17%
Q2 If you are a liberal, press 1. If a moderate, press 2. If a conservative, press 3. Liberal ............................................................. 5% Moderate......................................................... 28% Conservative................................................... 68%
In our national polling Barack Obama is running six points behind his 2008 performance right now. He beat John McCain by seven points and his approval rating is a net +1.
Our state by state polling though is finding that in states with a competitive 2010 race- defined as one where we've polled a Senate or Gubernatorial race in single digits since November- there's been a much larger decline in Obama's popularity. Across those eight states his approval has dropped by an average of 12 points.
The biggest decline in Obama's approval has been in Nevada where he won by 12 points in 2008 but where we now find him at a -8 spread. Harry Reid's troubles may have as much to do with Obama as they do with him. The other two states where Obama's seen the biggest decline have significant Hispanic populations as well- New Mexico where he's dropped by 18 points and Texas where he's dropped by 17 points.
If Obama's popularity has fallen at a faster rate in the 2010 battleground states it's obviously going to be harder for Democrats to win in them this fall.
Richard Burr's campaign would like to have you believe that his bad poll numbers are just a construct of liberal biased PPP. They even went and got a story written about it in Politico last summer.
I guess they're going to have to bash the highly nonpartisan Elon Poll now too. It finds today that only 24% of North Carolinians think that Burr deserves reelection, while 51% think it's time to give someone else a chance. Those are pretty devastating numbers.
I still think it's possible that this is going to be not exclusively an anti-Democratic year so much as an anti-incumbent year. That will still make for a tough cycle for Democrats since they account for most of the incumbents, but it also means you could see someone like Burr lose for reelection even as his party gains overall.
Mitt Romney is the early preference, by a small margin, among Republican voters in both Texas and New Mexico to be their 2012 nominee for President.
In Texas he gets 32% with Mike Huckabee right behind at 29%, and Sarah Palin further back at 23%. In New Mexico he receives 33% to 32% for Palin and 18% for Huckabee.
The internals of these polls suggests a path to the nomination for Romney: stay competitive among conservative voters while holding a large lead with moderates. In Texas the three are bunched up among conservatives with Huckabee leading at 32% to 30% for Romney and 27% for Palin. But Romney's blowing the other two out of the water with moderates, getting 40% to 22% for Huckabee and 13% for Palin.
It's a similar story in New Mexico. Palin leads Romney 34-31 with conservatives, but Romney has the overall advantage thanks to a 37-29 advantage with moderates.
In each state Romney is particularly strong with senior citizens, who tend to comprise a large portion of the Republican primary electorate. He has an 11 point lead over Huckabee with them in Texas and 13 point lead over Palin with them in New Mexico.
One of the more interesting things about Palin's numbers is that she performs worse with women than men in both states. In New Mexico she gets 33% from men and 31% from women, while in Texas she gets 26% from men and 21% from women. It doesn't appear she'd be able to count on a boost from Republican women in a hypothetical White House bid.
Obviously it's incredibly early and things will change a lot between now and 2012, but it's a good sign for Romney to have even this small early advantage in a couple of states that are a long way from home.
Both Democrats and Republicans in the state can genuinely spin that they're happy with how candidate filing went. Democrats, particularly on the House side, can boast that they minimized retirements, recruited good candidates where there were retirements, and will be able to play offense even in this tough political climate with credible challengers for a number of Republican seats. Republican can take credit for significantly reducing the number of seats where Democrats are running unopposed and getting candidates who came close to winning in the strong Democratic year of 2008 to give it another shot in a better environment for the party.
Here's a full rundown-
On the House side:
-The good news for House Democrats is that they only had two incumbents in really tough districts retire- Ray Warren and Bob England. Given the political climate that's a small number of defections and much better than the party is seeing at the national level. House Democrats also did a good job on recruitment- Walter Church Jr. is running to reclaim the seat his dad lost to Hugh Blackwell, Ann Newman is running for the open seat created by Jim Gulley's retirement, and the party also drew serious challengers to Sarah Stevens, Nelson Dollar, David Lewis, Paul Stam, and Tim Moore who represent the top tier of vulnerable Republicans.
-The good news for House Republicans is that they got candidates in numerous districts where they didn't field anyone in 2008, including some that are not overwhelmingly Democratic. They have candidates running this time against Bill Owens, for Russell Tucker's open seat, against Arthur Williams, William Brisson, Douglas Yongue, Nelson Cole, and Ray Rapp. Those folks all went unopposed last time and they all represent districts that have shown a willingness to vote Republican at least at the Presidential level. Whether the GOP can covert those federal level Republican votes to state level Republican votes remains to be seen.
Republicans also set up rematches in 4 of the 6 closest races they lost in 2008. Norman Sanderson will again take on Alice Graham Underhill, Stephen LaRoque's back for another try against Van Braxton, Rayne Brown will take another shot at Hugh Holliman, and Tim Moffitt will again face Jane Whilden.
-For Senate Democrats the good news is that while they did see a number of retirements in competitive districts, they also got highly credible candidates to run as replacements. The toughest Democratic hold is likely to be David Hoyle's seat, where Gaston County School Board chair Annette Carter is running. The next tier is the seats of Julia Boseman and RC Soles- former UNCW Chancellor Jim Leutze and former House leader David Redwine are running in those districts. And in the third tier of districts where Democratic retirements could give Republicans a chance- the seats of Tony Rand and Charlie Albertson- former House member Margaret Dickson and District Attorney Dewey Hudson are running. Those last two would likely only go Republican if this year's election was a wave of much greater than 1994 proportions.
-On the Senate Republican side, they have the same candidate running this time in the five districts where they came closest to winning but came up short in 2008. Louis Pate and Rick Gunn have clear primary fields as they try to upend Don Davis and Tony Foriest respectively. Bettie Fennell will try against at RC Soles' seat but faces Bill Rabon in the primary, Michael Lee is giving Julia Boseman's seat another try but will first have to get by Thom Goolsby, and Kathy Harrington has another chance at David Hoyle's seat if she can escape from a crowded primary with four candidates. All of these districts have pretty significant black populations and turnout patterns could be better for GOP prospects without Barack Obama on the ballot.
In the other three best Republican pickup opportunities- the seats of Steve Goss, Joe Sam Queen, and John Snow- there are 2, 3, and 2 candidates respectively seeking the GOP nomination.
It is going to be an unusually spirited election for a midterm in North Carolina this year.
The Kenneth Lewis campaign for Senate sent out a press release today accusing of us writing biased commentary against his campaign because we did a poll for Elaine Marshall more than three months ago and because my boss made a contribution to Cal Cunningham. This is about the millionth time we've been accused of bias for something or other in our history, it's just as baseless as all the other accusations, and I think our track record backs that up.
They specifically cited this post I wrote yesterday where I said I thought Cunningham and Marshall would break away from the Democratic primary field.
I do think that and I'm happy to say why. So far Marshall has raised $304,864 and spent 31% of it, leaving $211,113 on hand. Cunningham has raised $320,058 and spent only 5% of it, leaving $303,175 on hand. The Lewis campaign has actually raised the most at $327,047 but has already spent 66% of it, leaving only $116,456 on hand.
Spending two thirds of your money, without any of it having gone toward media or anything that would boost your name recognition on a broad basis, is the sign of an undisciplined campaign. It's the sign of a campaign that's spending way too much money on consultants and staff. If you've spent 2/3rds of your money by the end of January and are only polling at 5%, seven points behind a candidate who started out with similarly nonexistent name recognition and has spent no money, that's a very bad sign for your campaign.
Maybe all the money Lewis has blown through will have some positive impact that remains to be seen. Maybe he'll be able to recoup all the money he's already spent and remain financially competitive with the other candidates. But what I see is someone who's spent most of his money and is 24 points behind, and that's why I think he's unlikely to win, not because I'm biased.
Lewis makes the fourth statewide candidate in the last two cycles in North Carolina to blast us and accuse us of bias, joining Richard Moore, Bob Orr, and Elizabeth Dole. Moore, Orr, and Dole all lost badly. Blasting pollsters is the sign of a campaign in bad shape. Maybe Lewis will end up being a major factor in this race, and if he is we'll be writing about it. But for now I'm just calling it the way I see it with my goal being what it always is- to deliver accurate analysis of North Carolina politics.
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