Monday, July 24, 2006

New Polls and What They Mean

Lastest Update: The AG poll is out, and the results lead a reasonable person to conclude that the Survey USA poll has made an error in methodology. Get the story here.
UPDATE: KTHV has released a Survey USA poll that shows the Governor's race Bebee 48%, Hutchinson 38%. Survey USA has a fairly reliable track record WITHIN THE MARGIN OF ERROR. That margin is plus or minus 4%. Given the other polls, it is likely that this poll is an outlier and the actual race is an average of the three polls taken together. Call it 48% Bebee and 41% Hutchinson. I also recall that Survey USA divides the state into the Little Rock area and "other". Such a division could underweight the populous northwest region where Hutchinson is strongest.

In conclusion, I would like to see two more Survey USA polls to see if this track holds before I say it is time for the Hutchinson camp to be alarmed. With a 4% plus or minus margin the results could be 44% Bebee and 42% Hutchinson- and that does not even consider that they are underweighting the northwest.

Two new polls have been taken on the Governor's race. One is the Zogby Battleground Poll, which shows the race with Attorney General Mike Bebee with 48.1 percent and former Congressman Asa Hutchinson with 44.1 percent. 7.8% are undecided or perhaps prefer another candidate. The results are within the poll's margin of error.

The Rasmussen poll which showed Asa Hutchinson down by eleven points two months ago now has the race 47% for Bebee and 40% for Hutchinson with a 4% plus or minus margin of error. That poll has gotten drawn jeers in some conservatives circles for underepresenting republican voters. Regardless of whether the numbers are correct, the Rassumussen poll can still be useful in determining a trend. The trend is that Asa is ever so slowly closing the gap. Democrat partisians point out that Bebee is so close to getting over the magic 50% mark that it won't matter. Are they right?

(For analysis click "Monday" below" and scroll down, or if sent straight here just scroll down.)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The trend appears to be that over 50% of the undecideds are breaking for Asa, but not quite at a fast enough pace to get him over 50%. Superficially that would require three fourths of undecided voters to go for Asa. The margin between victory and defeat is tiny.

There is still a long way to go in this race, but right now it looks like the scales are ever so slightly in Bebee's favor. Several things could change this though, and a thumb is about to get put on those scales. More about that latter. First, what is going to decided which way that tiny gap swings?

One factor is turnout. Bad weather on election day might keep the weakly motivated home. But what things that WE CAN CONTROL effect turnout?

Boosting turnout usually means organization and firing your base up. Neither candidate seems to have an edge in the rare skill of firing up your base while not saying anything to spook undecided voters. It is a delicate balancing act, and so far both, especially Bebee, are leaning toward the latter rather than the former.

The Republicans may be counting on their organization to drive up turnout, reducing the perceived need to fire up the base. They have invested heavily in developing an information-driven organization to boost turnout. The Democrats only have such a system in some voting blocks.

The second factor is the ability to target undecided voters. In this category, the GOP may have an advantage. The reason is the same information system that was mentioned before. They can find that 7.8% undecided vote and lavish them with attention. I am not talking about sending them the same mass mailer everyone else is going to get. I am talking about one designed around their hot-button issues, followed by a knock on the door. This operation may have already begun. Look for the undecideds to break far onto Asa's side once this begins. A 75% capture of the swing voters may not be totally unreasonalbe in this situation.

Another factor is campaign funds available. This is different from cash raised. Spent money is spent. This is cash and assets on hand. Bebee has a 2-1 advantage in overall funds raised, but because his organization is not as lean, he has less than a 2-1 advantage in cash on hand. In addition, Hutchinson had a huge fund raiser with VP Dick Cheney last night and you can expect the gap to close.

Bebee's money is largely insider money, and that tends to come early. The "common man" money usually comes closer to the end. Asa should do better there. Bebee may wind up with a slight edge going into the Fall, but I now think that it will NOT be a significant advantage.

Earlier I mentioned a thumb on the scales. This thumb will actually prevent almost all of those undecideds from going to Bebee. The one thing that all out of state pollsters and too many observors in this state are overlooking is this thumb on the scales, and it is a GREEN THUMB. Green Party candidate and former state Rep. Jim Lendall will soon perform a smack-down on Attorney General Bebee in front of the whole state, with the able aid of Judge Howard. I refer to the ballot access battle.

Bebee, in his capacity as AG, is trying to defend the state's indefesible ballot access laws that require Lendall to get over twice the signatures as independent Rod Bryan to get on the ballot, simply because Lendall is running as the nominee of a new party. Bebee defended the law as recently as 2005 and will look like the very picture of a special interest politician acting for his own and his parties' benefit to keep everyone else off the ballot.

The main thing though, is that once Lendall gets on the ballot, he will capture a good chunk of those "undecided" because half of them are "undecided" in the sense that Bebee is too much the pawn of big business for their liking. In other words, Bebee is not "liberal" enough for them, but just a corrupt good-ole boy. A case can be made that he is beholden to corporate interest much more than is Asa Hutchinson.

If Bebee tries to move "right", that just gives Lendall more votes to take on the left. That is just what happened on the gay adoption issue, and Lendall will be watching like a hawk for another opportunity to peel votes away by standing up for unpopular leftist groups. If Bebee stays put, look for Asa to scoop up those rural voters who are the "conservative" undecideds.

With this green thumb on the scales, what does not grow is Bebee's share of the vote. He gets stuck at 48% or so. If Bebee gets stuck at around 48.5%, which will be very likely once Lendall is in the race, Asa is on track to catch him even if he never quite makes it to 50%.

2:36 PM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, this race is going to be very close, Asa is closing and he hasn't even begun to point out to people that Beebe doesn't think the state has any role to play in enforcing immigration, believes gay adoption is ok, anti-rural schools, and is 100% pro-choice. We have a great ticket and we need to rally - now is the time to get our people excited.

I honestly believe that God has brought this ticket together, there has never been a more "christian ticket" than this one. Let's now do our part.

2:38 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The Hutchinson campaign should not give up on voters that it ID's as hyper-liberal. Rather, it should give their info to the Lendall campaign and send those voters a letter stressing that Bebee is the one getting all the money from the big polluters.

The goal would not be to get a vote for Asa, the goal would be to pry a vote from Bebee. The idea is to make the uber-liberals feel "safe" for voting for Lendall. That is, even if doing so costs Bebee the election, it won't be so bad. To keep their idealistic uber-liberals in line, the Dems are going to try to hit the "fear button". They will do this by implying that the world will end if a "dangerous conservative like Asa" is elected.

By pointing out Bebee's flaws from the left's perspective, it will help in freeing them to vote Lendall even if it throws the election to Asa. Many uber-liberals are so mad at Bebee that they will do this anyway.

The rest of this campaign becomes about turnout and that 7.8% that is undecided. Part of them are urban moderates, part are rural conservatives, and part are uber-liberals disgusted with Bebee. If he plays it right, Asa can get two out of those three groups and send the rest to Lendall, leaving Bebee flat.

3:12 PM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:38, I couldn't have said it better myself. I have never been more excited about an election in my entire life! It's going to be one exciting November!

4:11 PM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is the methodology of the survey USA poll when polling women voters. They ask if they are pro-choice or pro-life. If they say "pro-life" Survey USA assumes they are not an "authentic" woman and hangs up!

7:46 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Even the Survey USA poll shows almost all of Bebee's lead is in the greater Little Rock area (plus White County no doubt).

That is just the vote Lendall and Bryan can best siphon off. They can run a central Arkansas campaign. Besides Fayetteville, all their voters are right there!

7:52 PM, July 24, 2006  
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