Thursday, June 11, 2009

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (6/11/09)

[Click to Enlarge]

What some think New Jersey will be when it is all said and done, Virginia is now. A close race. As was the case earlier with the New Jersey gubernatorial race, FHQ is applying our graduated weighted polling average to the other high-profile race of 2009. In the Virginia gubernatorial race, though, there isn't any waiting. The rematch of the 2005 attorney general's race in the commonwealth ended as a dead heat and looks to be picking up where it left off now that both parties have settled in on nominees.

At the moment, based on the post-primary victory boost he received from at least one polling outfit, Creigh Deeds is ahead of Republican nominee, Bob McDonnell by the slimmest of margins; just a few tenths of a percentage point and well within the margin of error.

For this race, the rules are the same in terms of the implementation, but which polls FHQ is using are different than was the case with New Jersey. Whereas, uncertainty regarding the Republican nominee in the Garden state had been greatly reduced -- Chris Christie was always polling the best among the Republicans in the nomination race and had/has consistently been leading Corzine in the polls for months -- the uncertainty surrounding the Democratic nomination race in Virginia was much higher. Terry McAuliffe broke a three way virtual dead heat and took the polling advantage only to be overtaken by Deeds following the Washington Post's endorsement on May 22. To that point Deeds could hardly have been called a viable candidate in sight of McAuliffe's lead. That, in turn, affects the impact his lower earlier numbers would have on his averages were they to be included here. Viability is the concern here. Christie was always the seeming cream of the crop among New Jersey's GOP. But a similar phenomenon didn't take place in Virginia -- for Deeds at least -- until the sea change represented by the Post's endorsement. The endorsement's affect can be debated, but what can't be is how the polls shifted after that point. Direct effect or not, that is the point where the change began to appear in polls.

As such, FHQ will be using that date, May 22, as the point at which our examination of this race will begin. Yes, that gives but four polls (13 fewer than we have at our disposal in New Jersey currently) to look at, but those previous polls ground the Rasmussen poll that may prove to be nothing but a nomination-clinching boost. Time and additional polling will tell the tale in that regard.

As it stands now, that poll was enough to push Deeds into a very slight lead as the general election campaign gets underway. Again, updates will come as soon as new polling emerges in either of these races. Both, I think, are going to be good ones that'll help tide us over until the 2010 midterm festivities begin.

*The aggregation of polling comes to FHQ via the good folks at

Recent Posts:
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State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (6/11/09)

[Click to Enlarge]

Now that the general election showdown is set in the New Jersey governor's race, the time has arrived to dust off the ol' graduated weighted average of electoral college fame and apply it to the 2009 elections. The ground rules are the same as they were last year during the presidential election: recent polls are given full weight while past polls are given a progressively smaller weight. You can get a better ideas of the calculations here.

That said, FHQ should probably add a few caveats.

First, the map of New Jersey above is scaled on a red-blue gradient. The greater an advantage Chris Christie has, the redder the map will become. With a nearly ten point edge, that map is fairly red. Should the race tighten, the map will trend purple before becoming bluer in the event that Corzine is able to mount a comeback.

Also, we should note which polls are being considered. Our first inclination was to simply use the polls released since the primary phase was completed. However, given that Christie had been the frontrunner in the GOP race and polling ahead of the governor for most of 2009, it may be more instructive to include some of the past polls. For now we've included any poll conducted and released in 2009. That provides us with seventeen polls instead of the two we would have if we took just the post-primary polls. As such Christie's lead is a shade under ten points. [Incidentally, if FHQ were to have used just the two most recent polls, Christie's advantage would have stretched to 50.5% - 39.0%. It isn't, then, an inconsequential move to include the other polls. However, the extra information from the other polls allows us to control for any poll to poll fluctuations that may not reflect the true nature of the race.]

Finally, both races in New Jersey and Virginia (coming soon) will be updated when new polling becomes available. If 2005 polling is indicative, updates will be sporadic through the rest of the summer and pick up in September and October. I would also expect Virginia polling to increase in frequency this time around.

*The aggregation of polling comes to FHQ via the good folks at

Also, if you haven't already checked, the final, unofficial results from Tuesday's Democratic primary in Virginia are now up. The link is just below in "Recent Posts."

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Virginia is for Voters

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Virginia is for Voters: Results Edition

The results are coming in for the Democratic gubernatorial primary (and have been for well over an hour now). Just like last week, Jack was at the ready to provide us with a link to the results online.

Thus far, Creigh Deeds is doing his best to outdo even the best of the recent polling forecasts. Did I really say he'd underperform those numbers? Nah, that couldn't have been me. Oh.

June 11, 12:36pm: The final unofficial numbers are in:
Deeds finished up with just under half the total vote cast in Tuesday's primary. The state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate was 729 votes shy of that 50% mark.

10:42pm: Deeds' surge extended beyond votes. Google searches of the three candidates over the last thirty days are indicative; not to the level of recent polling or of the vote tonight, but indicative of Deeds supplanting McAuliffe as frontrunner in the race for the nomination.

10:16pm: While we await the results from the final five precincts, Christian Heinze over at GOP12 has some 2012 implications for us to ponder based on who is likely to be a McDonnell supporter:
"From a 2012 perspective, you can expect even more 2012 candidates to fundraise and stump for McDonnell, as they advance their message by advancing McDonnell's."
"It's been said many times, but only because it's true -- the 2009 race has big 2012 implications."

9:53pm: Parts of Isle of Wight County and Suffolk City in the 4th, parts of Mecklenburg in the 5th, one precinct in Alleghany County in the 6th and another portion of Alleghany County in the 9th are all still out at this point. Looking at the votes in already in those areas, it likely won't be enough to push Deeds over the 50% barrier.

9:38pm: Just eight precincts remain to be incorporated into the final unofficial tally, but we should note that of the 11 Virginia congressional districts, Deeds won 10. Terry McAuliffe won the 3rd (Richmond and Norfolk) by less than 1000 votes out of over 37,000 cast.

Deeds has been able to win everywhere in this primary, but can that success be extended statewide in the general? This is not a bad way to start. He may have done well enough to make his victory -- and not McAuliffe's polling collapse -- the story coming out of tonight. That won't hurt as the general election campaign begins.

9:34pm: Deeds is up to 49.79% with almost all precincts in. Whether the new Democratic nominee breaks 50% + 1 vote may be the most exciting counting of the night in this race. And no, that's not a good thing for McAuliffe or Moran.

9:24pm: Deeds' percentage was slowly declining toward 49%, but it has climbed back up to 49.49% with nearly 99% reporting. Will he get that majority? Like the 60 seats in the Senate, it won't matter much since the result is so decisive.

9:19pm: Nate Silver's got McDonnell or Deeds in the thick of 2012 and 2016 VP buzz given Virginia's new status as a swing state (see comment at 8:37pm on 538.). Who does that three or seven years in advance? Oh, I see.

9:11pm: Nevermind. Huckabee's got a new goal for McDonnell now that the Republican gubernatorial candidate cleared 5000 Facebook supporters. "...lets start new goal 10,000 by Friday at midnight."

9:10pm: On a related note, Mike Huckabee tweets: "Please help @bobmcdonnell reach 5,000 fans on FB by midnight..." Another sign of the changing dynamics of political campaigns.

9:06pm: Google Blast? Times, they are a-changin' on the campaign front. case you didn't know.

And remember folks, the 2009 uses of this web ad-buying technique are just test runs for 2010 and 2012. Just think of where things can go in just three more years.

9:02pm: Deeds is not only going to win, but he'll approach a 50% majority in a three candidate race. And with nearly 95% of precincts in, turnout might just hit 6%.

8:55pm: A few thoughts on the upcoming campaign from a comment earlier in the day:
"McDonnell has won statewide and is popular, but that win was by .01% or 323 votes. Let's say McDonnell's popularity gives him, what, a 5?, 10? point boost relative to that 2005 outcome. To what extent is that offset by the growth in registration between 2005 (4.4 million) and 2008 (4.9 million)? My guess is that that growth is more Democratic than it is Republican.

"But that brings us back to the turnout question. Turnout was nearly 45% in 2005 and I'd guess that it would meet or surpass that level this year given the stakes."
8:52pm: Well, perhaps I should have checked the newswire before I started. It may have saved me some typing. Deeds wins. Now we have a rematch of the 2005 attorney general race for November.

8:46pm: This pretty much says it all. Chris Cillizza of The Fix fame cited Fairfax County and Norfolk City as areas to watch as the results rolled in this evening. African American voters in Norfolk were crucial to McAuliffe's chances. Deeds is beating the former DNC chair there. In Fairfax, the populous Northern Virginia hotbed for Democrats, Moran was supposed to minimize Deeds advantage in order for McAuliffe to have chance. The result? Deeds again is prevailing with a portion of the vote closely mirroring his share statewide.

8:41pm: Deeds' home county, Bath County had 830 votes cast (nearly a quarter of all voters in the county). The final tally there? Deeds: 800, McAuliffe: 25, Moran: 5. That isn't a lot of votes, but percentage-wise, that's a home court advantage.

8:32pm: Well, at least turnout broke that 5% barrier.

...but not by much. Hey, there are still 15% of precincts yet to call their results in. We could see 6% turnout. Of course, FHQ should note that without party registration in the commonwealth, Virginia calculates turnout based on the total number of registered voters. Still, that's not a number you'd like to see in any election; democratic or otherwise.

8:20pm: With over 75% of precincts reporting, Deeds is up by a healthy margin. And that may be understating matters.

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Is a Week Old New? 2012 GOP Primary Poll

FHQ is late on this -- about a week late -- but we find it necessary to keep a log of 2012 polls even if it means a delay.

CNN released a second poll on the 2012 GOP primary race; an update from February.

Pollster: CNN/Opinion Research
Date: 5/14-17/2009
Sample: 1010 adults (nationwide phone survey)
Margin of error: +/-4.5 points
Huckabee -- 22%
Palin -- 21%
Romney -- 21%
Gingrich -- 13%
Other -- 10%
Jeb Bush -- 6%

Not included: Bobby Jindal (in February -- 9%)

This isn't exciting because there aren't many polls, but like the trial heats PPP is doing with Obama, I feel compelled to create a visual for this:
Palin and Huckabee slip some from February, but both are still very much clustered together with Mitt Romney atop the pack still. Much of that could be attributable to Gingrich's inclusion in the second poll. The former Speaker pulled in 13% while Palin and Huckabee lost 12% combined. That conclusion, though, is a leap of faith to some degree. What's interesting is that 10% of Republicans are still planning on supporting "somone else," a result that didn't change with Jindal being dropped and Bush and Gingrich being added. I wonder if that is Ron Paul? Some of it likely is.

But all of this is silly. The 2012 campaign hasn't started yet.

...or has it.

Hat tip: GOP12, which wasn't late with poll commentary on this one.

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Past is Prologue? The New Jersey Governor's Race

Virginia is for Voters

Virginia Democrats today will head to the polls to determine who will represent the party in the commonwealth's gubernatorial election against Republican, Bob McDonnell. Of the two gubernatorial races being held in 2009, Virginia's has been the more interesting one thus far, if only because of who is participating. New Jersey offers a vulnerable incumbent lagging in the polls, but open seat races, like the one in Virginia, bring the potential for dynamic, contested primary elections on both sides. Sure, McDonnell has been the de facto (or actual) GOP candidate for a while now, but the Democrats have former DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe in the race. Not only that, but he appears to have peaked too early, dropping precipitously in the polls during the last couple of weeks. The momentum for the moment rests with state senator, Creigh Deeds, who has matched McAuliffe's fall with a nearly identical rise of late.

The big question heading into today's vote is what turnout will look like and how the variation there could affect the outcome.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Ed Kilgore has a nice early voting counterfactual for the McAuliffe and Moran campaigns to ponder should they face the reality of calling either Deeds or each other to offer their concession and congratulations.

Update: CQ also has a nice round-up of the race this morning.

Polls close at 7pm tonight.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

The Calm After the... Well, It Wasn't a Storm.

...not in 2009, at least.

As we saw recently the clock is ticking on the frontloading bills proposed during 2009. The year's legislative session has ended in most states and the crucial cross-over deadline has passed in still more. That particular deadline is typified by what was witnessed in North Carolina in May. For example, a bill has to have passed in its originating chamber and have crossed over to the other legislative chamber for consideration by a particular point in the session. Bills that don't pass by that point are dead for the session.

And this rule came into play in several other states considering primary-shifting legislation in 2009. The catch is that there are several other states, like Georgia, where legislation is allowed to carry over from one legislative session to the next. The table below updates the one from FHQ's original post by adding in the cross-over and carry-over information.

Frontloading Bills (2009 Legislative Session)
Session Adjourns/Cross-over Deadline
HB 1021
May 1/none
moves presidential primary from first Tuesday in February to the Tuesday after the third Monday in May
HB 759/SB 2304
died in committee
May 8/none
moves presidential primary from last Tuesday in January to the second Tuesday in March
HB 848
carried over to 2010 session
April 4/March 12
moves presidential primary from first Tuesday in February to first Tuesday in March
HB 2308/SB 46
in committee/could carry over to 2010year-round
May 31/April 3
moves state and local primaries from first Tuesday in February to third Tuesday in March/first Tuesday in June
SCR 28
passed Senate, no action in House
April 29/Feb. 26
forms commission to investigate moving presidential primary
HF 31/SF 157
in committee/could carry over to 2010May 18/none
creates presidential primary and moves to first Tuesday in February
New Hampshire
HB 341
in committee/could carry over to 2010July 1/
March 25
allows only Iowa caucus to precede presidential primary
New Jersey
A 2413
in committee
moves presidential primary from first Tuesday in February to first Tuesday in June
North Carolina
S 150
in committee/could carry over to 2010early July/May 14
moves presidential primary from first Tuesday after first Monday in May to first Tuesday in February
North Dakota
SB 2288
May 2/Feb. 20
eliminates state involvement in presidential preference caucus
HB 1340
in committee/could carry over to 2010
May 29 22/March 12
shifts financial burden of presidential primary from state to state parties
SB 412
in committee/cannot carry over to 2010late June/none
moves presidential primary from third Tuesday in May to first Tuesday in February
HB 246
in committee/cannot carry over to 2010
June 1/May 15
moves presidential primary from first Tuesday in March to first Tuesday in February
Source(s): National Conference of State Legislatures,

With the cross-over information added, New Jersey and Oregon are the only states remaining with active bills to frontload their state's 2012 presidential primaries during the 2009 session. The drawback is that the bill in Oregon will have to be acted upon before the end of the session at the end of June. Otherwise the bill will die, and without a carry-over provision in place, similar legislation will have to be reintroduced the next time the legislature convenes. And though the Texas legislature has adjourned, the Lone Star state is in a similar position to Oregon in that there is no carry over there. The New Jersey bill, meanwhile, was already carried over from 2008 to 2009 and will expire when the members of the legislature stand for reelection in November.

However, in several states, 2009 legislation could carry over like Georgia's did. Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oklahoma could all have presidential primary-related legislation revived in 2010, though it is less certain in each than in the case of the Peach state.

All in all, it was a quiet cycle for frontloading. The legislature in Arkansas successfully repealed the Natural state's separate presidential primary and Hawaii Republicans adopted a February caucus to replace the Aloha state's May convention. But for the year after an election, that isn't all that surprising.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Past is Prologue? The New Jersey Governor's Race

I get the sense from the reading I've been able to do on the now-set New Jersey governor's race, that Democrats are of a mind that Jon Corzine will be able to come back and win the race in November. That idea isn't that far-fetched. New Jersey is a blue state, after all, and currently has a Democratic governor, two Democratic US senators and an 8-5 advantage in number of congressional districts held. Democrats outnumber Republicans there 33% to 19% among registered voters (with 46% remaining unaffiliated).

On top of that are the recent polling trends at the presidential level. At various points during the last two presidential campaigns (2004 and 2008) the Republican candidate has led or been tied in Garden state polling. George W. Bush was tied with John Kerry in a handful of New Jersey polls in October 2004 before Kerry won the state by seven points. Despite the fact that Kerry had dominated the polling there throughout, the margins -- or lack thereof -- fueled the perception that Bush and the Republicans were closing the gap there. Oppositely, John McCain was able to keep Barack Obama's lead in New Jersey within an arm's length early on, but that margin ballooned as the 2008 race headed down the stretch. Once October hit and the economy seemingly bottomed out, Obama's lead in polls grew to the mid- to upper teens and that is where the race ended up: Obama winning the Garden state by 15 points.

But what does any of that tell us about the 2009 gubernatorial race in New Jersey? Does the same sort of trend hold? Do we see Republicans doing well only to ultimately fail once ballots are cast? The first place to look is the 2005 race. Sure, the circumstances are different. That was an open seat race for example, but Jon Corzine will have competed as the Democratic candidate in both races. Just looking at the raw data, Corzine led throughout in the polling of the race. That lead fluctuated but was consistently in the upper single digit/lower double digit range for the duration. And once November hit, the current governor won by a little more than ten points.
So 2005 was not indicative of the small margin early/big margin late polling phenomenon witnessed in the 2004 presidential race. The striking thing as you look back beyond 2005 -- in terms of gubernatorial races -- is that there has not been a Democratic incumbent reelected governor of New Jersey since Brendan Byrne in 1977. The last Democratic incumbent that stood for reelection was James Florio, who lost to Christine Todd Whitman in 1993. Governor's races in New Jersey, then, may not be where the aforementioned pattern is witnessed.

There are, however, some interesting lessons to be learned from those particular races. It is fortunate that the Eagleton Center at Rutgers has a robust archive of the polls conducted on the gubernatorial races since 1973. Now granted, this is just one poll, but the series of them gives us some indication of what conditions were like during these election years. Ideally, we'd be able to get a sense of both what general polling looked like in the race as well as the approval level of the incumbent. In 2009, Corzine's approval -- or lack thereof -- will play a large role in determining the outcome of the race in November. And polling, relatedly of course, has favored the Republicans, specifically Chris Christie, throughout.

The Byrne example from 1977 is actually an interesting parallel. In May of that year, prior to the primary, only 27% of New Jersey voters supported Governor Byrne for reelection and 42% preferred the generic Republican. When Byrne was removed and it was a question pitting a generic Democrat against a generic Republican candidate, the Democrats had a 45%-20% advantage. Later on, in July, once Raymond Bateman became the GOP nominee, Byrne continued to trail in the Eagleton poll. By November, though, Byrne had completely reversed the trend and won by nearly 15 points. [You can read a much more thorough treatment of the dynamics of the race over at Blue Jersey from back in April.]

The 1993 race also offers some insight. In Florio's case, you have an incumbent Democrat who was in much better shape in the polls than Brendan Byrne was a decade and a half earlier. In the Eagleton polls conducted, Florio hovered around the 50% mark across all three polls with Christine Todd Whitman lagging behind, closer to the 40% level. The measure to take note of here, however, is the change in the undecideds. Contrary to what might otherwise be expected in a race involving an incumbent, the number of undecideds in the series of Eagleton polls rose as the race came to a close. That typically isn't the greatest indication of incumbent success heading down the stretch of a reelection effort. After all, incumbents are more a known quantity than their challengers are. And in this race, those undecideds seemed to have broken for Whitman in the end, or at least enough to tip the balance in her favor in a one percentage point victory.
Still, the Byrne example seems a better match in this case if only because the number of undecideds is likely to be rather small in a race with an unpopular incumbent. Either you still like him or you don't. A Byrne-like comeback is possible in 2009 as well, but it will be dependent upon Jon Corzine performing a balancing act between "defining" Chris Christie and smearing Chris Christie. The governor obviously has plenty of cash and is already on the air trying to do the former, but maintaining the perception that he is defining Christie and not trying to drag the former ambassador down to his (approval) level will be the true test; one made all the more difficult when the prevailing sentiment regarding the governor currently is negative. Christie is in the driver's seat, but he (or his campaign) has to be the one that is defining the race. "Not Corzine" may be enough, but we'll have to see how the race develops. Regardless, this one will be fun to track.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No Move is Good Move: Texas Won't Change 2012 Primary Dates in 2009

Yesterday was the final day of the Texas legislature's 2009 session, and with the adjournment came the death knell for one of the handful of frontloading bills (HB 246) proposed in state capitals during the year. The legislation would have moved the state's presidential primaries as well as those for statewide and local offices from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February in 2012 and beyond.

Unlike the case in Oklahoma (and several other states, for that matter), though, bills cannot be carried over from one session to the next. So, while the potential is there for the Oklahoma bill regarding parties paying for presidential primaries to have new life breathed into it in 2010, the frontloading bill in Texas will have to be reintroduced altogether. And it could be that since 201o is a reelection year for Texas legislators, they may opt to deal with issues other than the presidential primary; pushing that one on the backburner for another year until the issue is more salient in 2011. As we've mentioned here several times, Texas is still a Republican-dominated state politically and it would be hard to imagine a scenario where the Lone Star state allows the next GOP nominee to be chosen with out sharing its opinion first. HB 246 was a Democratic-sponsored piece of legislation, but it is certainly a measure that could very easily find Republican support down the road.

For the moment, though, we can go ahead and mark Texas off the list of prospective frontloading states for this year.

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The Democratic primary seems like a done deal, as embattled incumbent, Jon Corzine, is being challenged in the primary (just not seriously) while seeking a second term. On the Republican side, US Attorney, Chris Christie may also be a done deal in a primary match-up mainly against Steve Lonegan, among others.

This would set up an interesting general election, especially since Christie has been leading Corzine in the trial heat polls conducted thus far. In a blue state, though, November is a long way off. The office would be a major grab for Republicans if they can clinch it then. Curiously, the race was left off the latest Line on The Fix (with no comment on the reasoning, mind you). The race actually was taken out of the top ten gubernatorial races most likely to switch (partisan) hands in either 2009 or 2010. The polls tell me otherwise on this one. My question: Are there actually ten other races that are more likely to switch parties than New Jersey? Feel free to chime in on that in the comments section.

FHQ will be back later in the day with more (sometime) after the polls close at 8pm eastern. There won't be a run-off, so go ahead and cross that possibility off your list. Recount? It's possible, I suppose, but I wouldn't think it'd be expected in this case. Next week in Virginia may be a different matter.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

FHQ Hangin' Out in FL-08

...sans mouse ears.

FHQ is checking out a very limited area of Alan Grayson's district this week. The highlight thus far? Someone wearing a Reagan/Bush '84 t-shirt (Liberal friends, get your credit cards ready.). I never want to be someone who take the shirt off another man's back, but in this case, I was tempted to request/barter/buy said shirt. I suppose an '80 version may have been better, but that was a heck of a memento there. I may have been the only one to fully appreciate it.

Anyway, this is a long way of telling everyone that I'm not entirely certain how this will affect posting this week. Though, between juggling the parks and dissertation writing, it probably won't result in increased posting. We'll see.

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