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Some poll internals to chew on

We’re a week and a couple of days out from the gubernatorial primary, and it’s an otherwise slow news day, so what qualifies as news for me today is something I’d passed on last week regarding poll numbers.
These numbers are from Public Policy Polling, and they had Creigh Deeds gaining ground but still a good bit behind frontrunner Terry McAuliffe.
PPP had McAuliffe at 29 percent and Deeds and Brian Moran both at 20 percent in the poll released on May 22. A poll from earlier in May had McAuliffe at 30 percent, Moran at 20 percent and Deeds at 14 percent, so Deeds had made some clear movement as of this polling being done.

Public Policy Polling is due out for another pre-election poll next week.

McAuliffe has had double-digit leads in recent polls from SurveyUSA and Research 2000/Daily Kos.

Some analysis from PPP pollster Tom Jensen to give us something to chew on over the weekend:

– McAuliffe’s continued lead speaks to a savvy campaign strategy. In the places where none of the three candidates had a natural base- greater Richmond and Hampton Roads- he has made himself the candidate of choice. And in the places where Moran and Deeds do have a natural advantage- northern Virginia and the more rural parts of the state respectively- McAuliffe has done a good job of at least making himself the second choice even if he is not likely to score outright victories in those areas.

– Since going on the air Deeds has made significant gains Southside and in Hampton Roads and Richmond. He also now has the best favorability ratings of the trio, holding both the highest positives and the lowest negatives. Deeds’ spread is at 42/16, followed by Moran at 38/20, and McAuliffe at 37/36.

The reason that Deeds and Moran are having trouble catching up even with such a large swath of the primary electorate holding a negative opinion of McAuliffe is that neither of them has been able to break away with the support of the front runner’s detractors. Among people who view McAuliffe unfavorably Moran leads Deeds 40-35. The fact that those votes are splitting so evenly may end up being what hands the nomination to McAuliffe. A two way contest would likely be a dead heat at this point.

– Among the voters still undecided 66 percent don’t know enough about Creigh Deeds or Brian Moran to have an opinion about them one way or the other, and 55 percent don’t know enough about McAuliffe.

That’s going to make late advertising crucial to winning those final votes. It’s unclear who that benefits. On one hand you could argue that Terry McAuliffe has been on the air for months and not won these folks over, so the door is open for Moran or Deeds to earn their voters. On the other hand McAuliffe’s considerable financial advantage will still likely make it so that he’s more able to reach those voters with his message in the closing days.

– Who are these remaining undecideds?

They’re disproportionately African American- 37 percent, compared to 27 percent of the overall primary electorate in our most recent survey. So far McAuliffe has had the upper hand with them so that could work to his advantage.

They’re disproportionately not from Northern Virginia. While 29 percent of voters total in this race are, just 22 percent of the undecideds hail from the metro DC area. That’s bad news for Brian Moran, who hasn’t been able to get much momentum anywhere else in the state, and good news for Deeds whose weakest performance is in that region.

-They’re more conservative and less liberal than primary voters as a whole. Among undecideds 27 percent are liberal and 22 percent are conservative, while in total 34 percent are liberal and just 14 percent are conservative. This could help Deeds, who does best with conservatives and worst with liberals, and hurt McAuliffe who does the best with liberals.

– Brian Moran strategist Steve Jarding predicts turnout won’t exceed 200,000. Terry McAuliffe’s folks say it could reach as high as 350,000. It’s in each of their best interests to be right. Among the most frequent voters the race is essentially a three way tie with Creigh Deeds at 26 percent, McAuliffe at 23 percent, and Moran at 20 percent. Among the more sporadic ones McAuliffe is running away with it at 34 percent with Moran and Deeds well behind at 20 and 16 percent respectively. The fewer of those folks who turn out the better the chances of someone other than McAuliffe winning are.

– The Deeds problem: 67 percent of voters with a favorable opinion of McAuliffe are planning to vote for him, 50 percent of voters with a favorable opinion of Moran are planning to vote for him, but only 44 percent of voters with a favorable opinion of Deeds are planning to vote for him.

What’s going on here is that Moran and McAuliffe’s supporters hate the other candidate, but tend to be fine with Deeds because he’s stayed above the fray. For instance among supporters of McAuliffe Deeds’ favorability is 32/24 while Moran has a net negative ratio at 23/28. Among supporters of Moran the divide is more stunning: McAuliffe’s spread is 12/71, while Deeds’ is 44/17.
More at Public Policy Polling.


– Story by Chris Graham

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