Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trying to Understand the Polls

Drawing by Charlie Leck inspired by his friend, and reader, Morrow!

The signals are really mixed, depending on who is sending them!
by Charlie Leck

Here’s a look at some of the races I’ve decided to watch around the nation! I look at several polls when I advise you of these results and I’ll warn you when there are significant discrepancies. As they say, “read ‘em and weep!”

Minnesota Governor
The most recent polls vary greatly here – all the way from a Mark Dayton lead of 11 points to a Tom Emmer lead of 1 point. Who’s to be believed? It’s Rasmussen Reports that gives Emmer a 1 point lead. They are generally a Republican polling organization. I like to watch them. I like to analyze them. However, I don’t thoroughly trust them. There is no way Tom Emmer has a current lead in this race and there is no way Tom Horner, the Independent Party candidate is as far back at Rasmussen says – with only 9 percent support of those polled. Republicans are falling away from the radical Emmer in droves. It’s likely that the Minnesota Public Radio (University of Minnesota) Poll and the local newspaper poll (Star-Tribune) are closer to the realities. Here’s an averaging of what those two polls say:

Mark Dayton (Democrat) 38.5%
Tom Emmer (Republican) 28.5%
Tom Horner (Independent) 17.0%

I’m sure you notice that leaves about 16% of potential voters undecided. That’s big. That’s the target of all three candidates and enough to have a major impact on our North Country election.

However, here’s a caveat. These polls are a few days old now and Horner, in my estimation, is pulling voters away from each of the major party candidates. It’s unclear right now how many of those voters are Democrats. I think Dayton and Emmer are static where they are and Horner is pulling support in in rather big numbers. My bet is that the next polls will show him somewhere between 21% and 25% support.

Washington U.S. Senate
Only Rasmussen gives the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate a lead out in Washington State. Averaging the other leading polls shows Democrat Patty Murray with about 51.5% of those who plan to vote. That makes this very important race, in reality, a toss-up.

Wisconsin U.S. Senate
I consider Russ Feingold one of the really bright stars in the Democratic Party and an extraordinary U.S. Senator. He’s in a wild fight in Wisconsin for his seat. At the moment, he’s trailing Ron Johnson big time. Give Johnson an 8 point lead in our neighbor state. The White House doesn’t like what’s going on in this one and is now starting to throw some campaign support toward Feingold. Look for the President to make a couple trips out there to try to help.

Colorado U.S. Senate
It looks like Mike Bennet, the Democrat incumbent is going to lose this race. It means another talented guy is going to bite the dust. He trails the Republican, Ken Buck, by 7 points out there in the Mountain State and there aren’t a lot of undecideds to fight over. I’m calling a Buck victory out there. Damn!

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate
This state also looks gloomy for Democrats. Joe Sestak is looking weak in a dozen polls out there. I’d say he’s down by 6 points and there are not many undecided voters there either.

Kentucky U.S. Senate
Rand Paul, the darling of the Tea Party, has a solid 5 or 6 point lead in the Bluegrass State. The Democrat, Jack Conway, hasn’t been able to dent the lead that Paul is holding. Every single poll has Rand with 49% of the likely voters right now. Only one poll (SurveyUSA) puts Conway anywhere near Paul (and I don’t think much of that polling system).

California Toss-Up for Governor
Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R) are in a dead-heat in the California Governor race. CNN has Brown with a 9 point lead, but that’s too much of an aberration. Count on it: It’s a toss-up.

Republican Victories
It looks like the Republicans will win U.S Senate races in Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Ohio.

Democratic Victories
The Democrats will probably win in California (Barbara Boxer) and in New York (Kirsten Gillibrand).

Will Republicans take over control of the Senate?
At the moment I’d say the Democrats are going to lose control of the Senate but it will be very close. All of the following, toss-up states, must go to the Democrats for them to retain control: Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Washington and West Virginia.


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