If you thought the pollsters would close up shop and hang out on the beach in Florida (where else would a pollster go?) until 2014 you'd be wrong. PPP is already polling the 2014 gubernatorial races. Remember that most of the governors up in 2014 were elected in 2010, a huge Republican year. If 2014 turns out to be less Republican, some of them will be in trouble, as the first batch of PPP polls indicates.
|State||Governor||Incumbent %||Opponent %|
|Colorado||John Hickenlooper (D)||54%||33%|
|Connecticut||Dan Malloy (D)||48%||37%|
|Florida||Rick Scott (R)||44%||48%|
|Iowa||Terry Branstad (R)||49%||40%|
|Maine||Paul LePage (R)||41%||49%|
|Michigan||Rick Snyder (R)||47%||41%|
|Minnesota||Mark Dayton (D)||51%||38%|
|Nevada||Brian Sandoval (R)||55%||32%|
|Ohio||John Kasich (R)||44%||43%|
|Pennsylvania||Tom Corbett (R)||37%||47%|
|Wisconsin||Scott Walker (R)||50%||43%|
A word of caution is needed here. Beating a generic opponent is generally easier than beating a real one, assuming the real one is strong. If, for example, former Florida governor Charlie Crist decides to try to get his old job back, he is likely to do better than a generic Democrat since people can envision him much better than they can envision a generic Democrat.
The 2014 gubernatorial races are only 2 years away, but the 2016 presidential race is 4 years away. Nevertheless, PPP is already doing what it is good at, polling political races. In a test of Iowa, Hillary Clinton gets 58% in the Democratic caucuses, with Joe Biden coming in second at 17%, New York governor Andrew Cuomo coming in third at 6%, and senator-elect Elizabeth Warren at 3%. Nobody else hit 1%. If Clinton decides to sit it out, Biden jumps to 40%, with Cuomo at 14% and Warren at 9%. But remember name recognition is everything at this stage. Clinton and Biden have universal name recognition; the others are barely known outside their own states. That will change very fast when the show gets started. Here are the full results.
In New Hampshire, location of the first primary, Clinton's lead over Biden is even larger: 60% to 10%. While it is awfully early to say much, it seems clear that if Clinton wants the nomination, she will be tough to stop even though it is far from a done deal. Don't forget that in Dec. 2007, all the pundits were expecting a Clinton coronation in 2008. It didn't happen, but Clinton's popularity is now sky high and a lot of Democrats in 2008 thought it would be "historic" to nominate a black man. Very few will think it is historic to nominate an old white man (Biden), but quite a few might think it is time for a woman, especially one who lived in the White House for 8 years, served in the Senate for 8 years, and is on first-name terms with the leader of every country in the world.
While they were at it, PPP also polled Iowa Republicans. While the Democrats have a huge favorite in Hillary Clinton and won't have an ideological war even if she runs against Joe Biden since they agree on practically everything, the Republican situation is completely different. In Iowa, Mike Huckabee is at 15%, followed by a three-way tie at 12% for Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie. Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum came in at 11% and 10% respectively.
In the PPP poll of New Hampshire, the top finishers were Christie (21%), Rubio (14%), Condoleeza Rice (13%), Bush (11%), Ryan (10%).
It is doubtful that Bush will run. The name is just too poisonous although he might be able to do something no other Republican can do: make a big dent in the Latino vote since his wife, Columba, was born and raised in Mexico. Condoleeza Rice has been so clear that she is not interested, that it is hard to imagine her running. Besides, she is pro choice, black, and a woman, all of which would help her with the Democrats but are likely minuses with the Republicans.
It is much too early to say anything intelligent about the 2016 primaries, so something unintelligent will have to do. In 2012, conservatives were badly split over a bunch of candidates, including Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. This split allowed Mitt Romney, whose approval among Republicans hovered around 25% for most of the Spring, to win the nomination. While the Republicans were bashing each others' brains out over ideology, the Democrat coasted to an easy nomination. The same thing could happen again, with Clinton grabbing the brass ring in February with Huckabee, Ryan, Rubio, and Santorum splitting the conservative vote and letting Christie win, even though he is pro choice. It could be an epic battle worse than 2012. If this is the lineup of serious candidates, the Karl Roves of the world are likely to back Christie, since he is probably the most electable of the bunch. This would drive the tea party supporters bonkers, but if there is one moderate and multiple conservatives in the race, it will be deja vu all over again (with apologies to Yogi Berra).
For much of the year it appeared that Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode would pull enough votes from Mitt Romney in Virginia to throw the state (and possibly the election) to President Obama. It didn't happen. Obama won Virginia by 110,000 votes. Goode got 13,594 votes. In fact, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson did better than that in Virginia, picking up 30,437 votes. Together they had 44,041. If every one of those votes had gone to Romney, he would still have lost the state by more than 60,000 votes.
Here are the (almost) final election results, collected from a variety of sources. In principle, the Secretary of State's Website is the most definitive source, but a few of them, even now, don't have final results. The results are sorted by Obama's margin, with D.C. being his biggest win and Utah being his biggest loss. Here are the data in .csv format.
|Rank||State||Obama||Romney||Other||Obama - Romney|
From the table, it is easy to see that there are 10 blue states where the Democratic margin is below 8%. Republicans might be able to pick these off next time. In contrast, only one red state, North Carolina, is under 8%. So in 2016, the Democrats will likely be playing defense rather than offense.