Raleigh, N.C. – California Attorney General Jerry Brown is up by double digits over both of his potential general election opponents in the gubernatorial race. The man who currently holds that post, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is very unpopular amid a budget crisis.
Brown leads Meg Whitman, 48-36, and Steve Poizner, 48-32. Independents favor Brown over Whitman only 38-35, but 41-31 over Poizner. Whitman and Brown each pull 11% of crossparty support, but Brown pulls 12% of the GOP to Poizner’s 8% of Democrats.
Raleigh, N.C. – Jim DeMint’s poll numbers aren’t great but with an opponent who’s currently an unknown and President Obama unpopular in the state he leads by 19 points in his bid for a second term in the Senate.
43% of voters in the state approve of the job DeMint is doing with 36% disapproving. His reviews are as polarized as you would expect them to be. 67% of Republicans approve of him with 15% disapproving, while only 14% of Democrats like him with 59% disapproving. Independents are split right down the middle at 42%.
Jim DeMint continues to post pretty underwhelming approval ratings but with his opponent for the fall largely unknown at this point he holds a 19 point lead in his bid for reelection.
43% of South Carolina voters like the job DeMint is doing for them in the Senate while 36% disapprove. His reviews are predictably very polarized. 67% of Republicans approve of him with 15% disapproving while his numbers with Democrats are nearly a mirror image with 59% disapproving and only 14% giving him good marks. Independents split right down the middle in their opinions of him with 42% each happy or unhappy with the job DeMint is doing.
There are some signs that voters in the state are becoming a little frustrated with DeMint's increasing national presence. Only 38% think DeMint is spending the right amount of time focusing on representing South Carolina in the Senate while 39% think it's not enough. DeMint's constituents are cool to a potential 2012 White House bid. Only 15% want to see him run for President while 56% explicitly say they do not want him to. Even among Republicans just 24% would like to see him attempt to make that move.
DeMint leads likely general election opponent Vic Rawl 49-30. That 19 point lead for DeMint is a little inflated by Rawl's current anonymity. 82% of voters in the state say they have no opinion of him and part of the fallout of that is 30% of Democrats are undecided in the Senate race while just 11% of Republicans are. Assuming most of those voters come home to the party in the fall this race would look a lot closer but DeMint does lead 48-27 with independents and that would need to change for him to really be threatened in a state where there are more Republicans than Democrats.
Another thing working to DeMint's definite advantage is Barack Obama's lack of popularity in the state. Just 43% of voters approve of the job he's doing while 51% disapprove and it may be difficult for Democrats this year to topple Republican incumbents in states where the President has those kinds of poll numbers.
Still given DeMint's somewhat tepid approval ratings this is a race worth keeping an eye on. And to put Rawl's standing in perspective he's actually polling closer to DeMint than Blanche Lincoln was to John Boozman the last time we polled Arkansas.
Our polling is making it more and more clear: no one seems to want their home state politicians running for President in 2012:
-Last July we found only 27% of Louisiana voters thought Bobby Jindal should make a bid for the White House while 61% said he should not.
-In December we found 28% of South Dakota voters wanted John Thune to run for President while 55% did not.
-Also in December we found that in MN-6, the state's most Republican leaning Congressional district, only 32% wanted Tim Pawlenty to launch a national campaign with 50% opposed to the idea.
-And on our South Carolina poll this week there was only 15% support for a Jim DeMint 2012 campaign with 56% opposed.
It's hard to know what to make of these numbers. In the Jindal and Thune cases it may be an indication that voters want them to stay right where they are because they like them- they've posted some of the best approval ratings of any politicians in the country over the last couple years. Pawlenty and DeMint aren't all that popular though so voters in their states may just think they're not up to the task.
Voters also might be concerned that their politicians running for President could bring embarrassment upon their states. As someone who lives in the same county as John Edwards, I certainly can't blame them.
The big winner from the Republican primary for Governor in California? It might be Jerry Brown. The likely Democratic nominee, benefiting from bad feelings between Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, has commanding double digit leads over both of them.
Brown is up 48-36 on Whitman and 48-32 on Poizner. There are almost no races in the country this year where Democratic voters are more unified than the Republicans- in almost every case there are more Democrats voting for GOP candidates than vice versa. That's not the case in California though where Brown takes 79% of the Democratic vote to Whitman's 72% of the Republican vote and 78% of the Democratic vote to Poizner's 67% of the Republican vote. Brown is bucking another overwhelming national trend by leading both of the GOP contenders with independents.
These results aren't particularly surprising in light of what we found in our polling on the GOP primary in the race. Whitman voters have a very negative opinion of Poizner and Poizner voters have a very negative opinion of Whitman. That's a dynamic more often seen in general election contests than primaries, and it's hampering the ability of both Republican candidates to be competitive with Brown this fall.
Brown is not particularly popular with 37% of voters having a favorable opinion of him to 39% with an unfavorable one. Amazingly after Brown's decades in the California political spotlight 24% of voters have no opinion of him but that speaks both to the length of time since he last served as Governor and also how hard it is to really make an impact on voters in such a large state. Brown looks like Mr. Popularity though when his favorability numbers are compared with those of Whitman and Poizner. Just 24% of voters see Whitman positively, with 44% having a negative opinion of her. And Poizner's even a little worse with 19% holding a favorable opinion of him to 43% unfavorable.
Republicans are going to have a lot of healing to do in the general election if this is going to be a competitive race. For now Brown is a strong favorite.
Raleigh, N.C. – Barbara Boxer, California’s junior senator, leads all three of her potential Republican opponents by single digits a little over five months before the November election.
Boxer is ahead of leading Republican candidate Carly Fiorina by the slimmest margin of the three GOP contenders, 45-42. She leads Tom Campbell 47-40 and Chuck DeVore 46-40. Boxer wins 78-82% of her party’s vote, with the Republicans getting 82-87% of theirs, but she loses among independents by seven (DeVore and Campbell) or eleven points (Fiorina). Fiorina gets closest among women, losing with 40% to Boxer’s 46%.
Raleigh, N.C. – The Republican candidates have the upper hand for keeping the South Carolina Governor’s office in their party’s control this fall, although the margins are not overwhelming.
The strongest GOP candidate, at least until Monday, was Nikki Haley. She led Vincent Sheheen 44-34 and Jim Rex 45-36 in hypothetical contests. In both cases she held a solid advantage with independents and was able to win more crossover support from Democrats than her opponents were from Republicans.
Republicans are favored to keep the Governor's office in South Carolina under their party's control this fall but with most of the candidates still a blank slate to many voters in the state, Democrats at least have a shot at keeping it.
The poll, conducted before Monday's allegations of an extramarital affair, found Nikki Haley as the strongest candidate for the general election. She led Jim Rex 45-36 and Vincent Sheheen 44-34. In both matches she won independents by a healthy margin and won over more Democrats than she lost Republicans, an easy formula for victory in a GOP leaning state like South Carolina.
Doing next best against the Democrats was Henry McMaster, with a 42-36 advantage over Rex and a 43-36 one over Sheheen. Gresham Barrett also leads both the Democrats, although it's only by a 38-36 margin against Rex. Pitted against Sheheen it broadens to 43-33.
The best hope for Democrats remains if Andre Bauer could somehow come from behind to snag the GOP nomination. They both lead him with independents even as they simultaneously trail all of the other Republicans with them. While Sheheen and Rex can get only 5-11% of the Republican vote against Haley, McMaster, or Barrett they get 12-16% against Bauer. What it adds up to is a 40-38 Rex lead and a 38-38 Sheheen tie when they're matched against Bauer.
The Democratic candidates may have some room to grow. Right now neither of them is as well known as any of the Republican contenders. 67% of voters don't know enough about Sheheen to have formed an opinion and despite a term in statewide office 62% are ambivalent toward Rex as well. The eventual nominee's name recognition will obviously pick up by the fall and that could provide an opportunity to pick up more support.
Most of the Republicans candidates really aren't that well known either. 57% have no opinion about Barrett, 45% didn't have one about Haley when the poll was conducted, and 41% don't have one about McMaster. The only candidate with greater than 60% name recognition is Bauer and for him it's not a good thing as 50% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of him to only 21% with a positive one.
All things being equal a Republican is going to get elected as Governor of South Carolina, and that's what the poll numbers right now reflect with the contenders largely unknown. But candidates do matter and if the Democratic nominee ends up being far superior in the general election to the Republican one the party could pick this up. It may come down to whether the GOP nominates one of its 'safe' candidates in McMaster or Barrett or one of its 'riskier' ones in Bauer or Haley.
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