Political Miscellania 10\6\10
A roundup of recent political news.
1. I am not a witch! Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” opening salvo in her ad campaign. Normally an ad from a candidate denying she is a witch would be the last thing heard from a campaign doomed to defeat and oblivion. However, these are far from normal times. O’Donnell does two things with this ad. First, she shows the public that she is a real person and not the cartoon character created by the mainstream media and the denizens of the Left, and she begins to position herself as what she is: the ultimate outsider. Not a bad strategy in a political year that will be kind to outsiders and cruel to insiders.
2. Gallup Poll-Gallup for some reason has been late this year applying a likely voter screen in their polls. The closer you get to an election the more reliable likely voter polls get, and the less reliable registered voter polls are. In a high turnout election, Gallup predicts a 13 point Republican advantage among likely voters and in a low voter turnout election Gallup predicts an 18 point Republican advantage among likely voters. Go here to read the results of the poll. For comparison’s sake, in the 1994 election when the Republicans took both the House and the Senate, in the Congressional elections the GOP had a six point advantage on election day.
3. Democrat Comeback?-Right on cue organs of the mainstream media are beginning to crank out stories about how the Democrats are beginning to gain momentum and are coming back. In any year when the Democrats are behind the electoral eight ball, these stories are predictable staples from the Democrat partisans who tend to make up the overwhelming majority of members of the Fourth Estate. One springboard for this type of story are stacked polls, like the ABC Washington Post poll dissected by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.
And how did the Democrats manage this rather remarkable comeback? Well, the WaPo/ABC pollster managed to find their usual sample gap. They went from a 31/25/39 D/R/I split in September in the general sample and 31/26/37 among registered voters, to 33/23/29 in the general sample and 34/25/37 among registered voters. That nine-point advantage to Democrats among RVs is almost twice what it was in the previous sample.
To believe that this represents the electorate, we would have to believe that (a) Democrats have had a big month in attracting voters to their banner, (b) Republicans somehow lost a bunch of voters in the same period, and (c) Democrats now have an advantage outstripping their 2008 situation when they won the presidency by seven points in the popular vote. Not even their own poll supports any of those conclusions, and both Gallup and Rasmussen this year put the partisan ID split among the general population at between 1.5 and 3 points.
Another point: the article discusses the “likely voters” that give the GOP a six-point edge on the generic ballot. That’s down from 13 points in September, by the way, which comes from having three points more Democrats and one point fewer Republicans in the sample, as well as two points fewer independents, but that’s not the main issue with this calculation. Nowhere in the polling data does it show how the pollster determined the likelihood of respondents to vote — or what the sample breakdown of that group actually is.
This isn’t a predictive model for a midterm election in four weeks. It’s a narrative support device, conducted to allow media outlets to report that Democrats are making The Big Comeback and help them rally the troops.
4. Where the Election Stands. The election stands where it has stood since the Spring of this year: A poor economy combined with very unpopular policies stand ready to drive voters to hand the Democrats their worst defeat since 1994. Jay Cost, one of the sharpest observers of the political scene gives a useful overview here of the current state of the midterms less than a month out from election day:
My point here is much more modest: this kind of +10 (Republican) result is a distinct possibility, not just a flight of fancy. The assumptions it requires are based on hard data – from the polls, previous results in a bellwether state, and recent midterm returns – not on pie-in-the-sky. I think it helps explain why, with just a month to go, Democrats seem to have given up on appealing to non-partisans and instead are working furiously to gin up the party base with lots of red meat. It explains why they are shifting money from Kentucky to Connecticut. It explains why Gallup is talking about a double digit GOP win.
5. Class Act– Doug Hoffman in New York 23 has withdrawn from the race. He of course was the tea party candidate who lost the special election earlier this year to fill the seat. Hoffman was the Conservative Party candidate going into the general election, but had failed to win the GOP primary. He explained today his reasons for withdrawing:
“I entered the 23rd Congressional District race for the good of our nation and to represent the common sense beliefs and values of the voters of upstate New York. Our nation is at a crossroads and it is imperative that on Election Day we wrest control of Congress from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority.
“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District. So today, I withdraw as a candidate from this race. Under New York State Election Law my name cannot be removed from the Conservative Party line on the ballot. However, I strongly urge and request that my supporters not vote for me and certainly not vote for the Democrat or Working Families Party candidate.
“Matt Doheny and I may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race. Now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation. So today, I am asking all my supporters to cast their vote for Matt Doheny on Election Day,November 2nd.
It is rare for a politician to put aside personal ambition for what he perceives to be the good of the nation. Doug Hoffman is that type of rare politician.