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Senate polls today: CO CT IL NY OH PA WA WI WV RSS
Dem pickups: (None) GOP pickups: AR CO IL IN NV ND PA WV WI PDA

PW logo Emanuel Has a Campaign Team Ready Poll Shows Murkowski Leading in Alaska
Republicans Have Huge Lead Among Likely Voters Tight Race for U.S. Senate in Illinois
Rubio Pulls Away in Florida Democrats Lead in California

News from the Votemaster            

Redistricting Is a Political Issue in the Midwest     Permalink

A century ago the Midwest held 143 seats in the House. That is predicted to shrink to 94 after the 2010 census report is final. With fewer House seats comes less power on issues of regional concern, including the rule of heavy industry in the national economy, the role of coal in the national energy mix, and much more.

But in the shorter term, it is already affecting the midterm elections as each party is pointing out to its supporters and donors what losses of governships in key states like Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota would mean to redistricting plans, where governors generally get to accept or veto the district boundaries drawn up by the state legislatures. But even more concrete is that if Illinois, for example, is going to lose one of its 19 congressional seats, whose seat is it going to be? It is a game of musical chairs with 19 participants and 18 chairs. Many congressional candidates are motivated even more than usual to do well in the hopes of convincing party leaders that their districts should be kept intact.

RNC Will Not Deploy Staffers for Get-Out-the-Vote Operations     Permalink

Tradtionally, the Republican National Committee has sent its staff members out into the field to run get-out-the-vote operations, but RNC chairman Michael Steele has decided not to do that this year. Instead he will rely on mailings and other ways to communicate with voters. Typically candidates do not run their own GOTV operations but rely on the national parties to do this. No doubt Steele's decision--partly determined by the committee's poor financial situation--is going to raise some eyebrows in Republican quarters. However, unofficial groups, such as the one Karl Rove is running (and discussed here yesterday) may pick up some of the slack.

Poll Users: Buyer Beware     Permalink

This year has seen an explosion in polling from small unknown firms. Perhaps this is a good sign, but perhaps not. Let's look at one typical example. The Sunshine News has a story headlined "Poll: Obama, Dems Poised to Lose Grayson House Seat" today. Now Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has been a very outspoken Democrat, saying among other things that the Republicans' health care plan was for sick people to "die quickly." Needless to say, he is much hated among Republicans. Now comes a poll showing Grayson's opponent, Daniel Webster 7 points ahead, well outside the poll's 4% margin of error. Look's like Grayson's goose is cooked, no?

Well let's dig a bit deeper. First, the Sunshine News' slogan is "Fair and Balanced Florida News," suprisingly close to Fox News' slogan of "Fair and Balanced." Coincidence? You decide. Under the name, it displays "The Right Source for Business and Politics." Aside from the question of whether anyone can be "poised" to win or lose 5 weeks before the election on a 7-point difference in one poll, the entire tenor of the the article and most of the sources quoted say that Grayson is done--except that it is mentioned there is a TEA ("Taxed Enough Already") Party candidate on the ballot, Peg Dunmire, who is drawing 6% of the vote (probably entirely from Republicans) as well as another right-wing candidate getting 3%. If they pick up steam, it will help Grayson.

Now let's take a look at the polling firm, the Voter Survey Service. The last paragraph of the article mentions that it is a division of Susquehanna Polling and Research and that the calls were made from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Susquehanna is located. Very likely "Voter Survey Service" is just the brand name Susquehanna uses for some of its clients. What is known about this firm? From its own Website we learn that Susquehanna's clients include the Pennsylvania House Republican Campaign Committee, the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, the Atlantic, Bergen, and Somerset County Republican Committees, and a slew of candidates--every one of them a Republican. In addition to running polls, Susquehanna also runs focus groups designed to test campaign ads before running them. In short, it appears to be a firm whose goal is electing Republicans and if you are running a Republican state or county committee or campaign in one of the areas in which it operates, it looks like a fine company to do business with.

This is not to suggest that firms like Susquehanna are incapable of running accurate polls. But the numbers they give the state and county committees to guide their campaigns may not be the same as the ones released to the public. Internally, the committees and candidates really want to know the truth so they can spend their money wisely. But for public relations purposes, constantly repeating the idea that your horse is ahead and the other side is doomed tends to encourage your supporters and demoralize the other side. When people read about a poll, they rarely look at where it came from closely and, of course, never know about the poll's underlying demographic model or whether the numbers were plain made up. For this reason, veteran political observer Charlie Cook recently said "Probably 90 percent of the public polling in statewide and district races is mediocre at best, and much of it is very close to worthless." What Cook meant is that the polls are worthless if you are trying to get a good picture of how the race stands. The polls may be very valuable if the pollster's goal is to elect one of the candidates.

So what are we doing about this? The best we can do is simply ignore all the polls taken by partisan "pollsters" (really campaign consultants) like Susquehanna and not report them and not put them in the data base, despite their getting wide play in other media with an ax to grind. Perfect this is not since some pollsters may be a bit more subtle than Susquehanna about expressing what their real mission is, but it is hard to do anything else. So buyer beware.

National Journal Publishes List of 60 House Districts Most Likely to Flip     Permalink

The National Journal, a respected Washington publication, has released a list of the 60 CDs most likely to switch to the other party in November. The top five are TN-06, NY-29, LA-03, AR-02, and DE-AL. The first four are held by Democrats. The last one is the seat Mike Castle (R) vacated to run unsuccessfully in the Republican senatorial primary. The next four on the list also are four Democratic seats and one Republican seat.

Today's Polls: CO CT IL NY OH PA WA WI WV NM-01 NM-02 VA-05     Permalink

New Senate Polls

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I I-pct Start End Pollster
Colorado Michael Bennet* 43% Ken Buck 47%     Sep 25 Sep 25 Pulse Opinion Research
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal 49% Linda McMahon 46%     Sep 21 Sep 26 Quinnipiac U.
Illinois Alexi Giannoulias 40% Mark Kirk 42%     Sep 25 Sep 25 Pulse Opinion Research
New York Kirsten Gillibrand* 52% Joseph DioGuardi 41%     Sep 19 Sep 22 Marist Coll.
Ohio Lee Fisher 37% Rob Portman 50%     Sep 23 Sep 25 IPSOS
Ohio Lee Fisher 37% Rob Portman 50%     Sep 25 Sep 25 Pulse Opinion Research
Ohio Lee Fisher 42% Rob Portman 51%     Sep 27 Sep 27 Rasmussen
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 39% Pat Toomey 46%     Sep 18 Sep 23 Muhlenberg Coll.
Pennsylvania Joe Sestak 40% Pat Toomey 45%     Sep 24 Sep 27 Suffolk U.
Washington Patty Murray* 48% Dino Rossi 47%     Sep 25 Sep 25 Pulse Opinion Research
Wisconsin Russ Feingold* 44% Ron Johnson 52%     Sep 25 Sep 25 Pulse Opinion Research
West Virginia Joe Manchin 46% John Raese 48%     Sep 27 Sep 27 Rasmussen

New House Polls

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct I I-pct Start End Pollster
NM-01 Martin Heinrich* 50% Jon Barela 43%     Sep 25 Sep 26 PPP
NM-02 Harry Teague* 47% Steve Pearce 48%     Sep 25 Sep 26 PPP
VA-05 Tom Perriello* 35% Robert Hurt 58%     Sep 24 Sep 27 SurveyUSA

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Recent Headlines (clickable)

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