Thursday, May 14, 2009

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

"It is telling that Steelman initially performs nearly as well as Blunt, despite having a name identification 30 points lower . . . This speaks to Blunt's weakness."
The news that another poll shows Robin Carnahan leading both of her potential GOP opponents in the 2010 U.S. Senate race is no surprise.
The primary-less Secretary of State should come out ahead in most every poll for at least the rest of the year. After all, Republicans from the grass-roots (think Tea Party) to the upper echelons (think Sen. Danforth) are, should we say, sorting through their options.
But go inside the analysis and internal numbers of this Democracy Corps poll and you find the juicier data that will have Republicans conversing over drinks at Metropolitan Grill this weekend.
For instance, in the second paragraph of the analysis you come upon this sentence: "It appears as if (Sarah) Steelman may be the tougher foe with a stronger profile than (Roy) Blunt and the potential to run a fresh outsider candidacy that Blunt cannot offer."

Reads like a Steelman for Senate press release. But this a Democratic poll. That's a sentence you discuss in private staff meetings, not blast out to the public. So why would the Dems publish a poll making Steelman's case for her, and then leak it scores of reporters?

Why not just leave it at: "Carnahan licks 'em both. It don't matta." Maybe it's brutal honest analysis, maybe there's something more cynical at work or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.


Carnahan 46%, Blunt 33%, Steelman 22%

Carnahan's favorables are much higher than both her Republican rivals. Despite being state treasurer and running for Governor just last year, just half of voters have a good idea of who she is. She's largely undefined.

"It is telling that Steelman initially performs nearly as well as Blunt, despite having a name identification 30 points lower. This speaks to Blunt's weakness as a candidate," reads the analysis of the poll. "Steelman looks like the tougher candidate"

It continues: "The consummate political insider, Blunt is weighed down by his long history of voting the Republican Party line, his numerous votes to give himself pay raises while opposing a minimum wage increase and his leading support for the TARP bailout."

This Democratic makes the argument for Steelman without her making even a peep more about "white guys in suits."

Not surprisingly, the Blunt campaign isn't impressed.

"The timing of this poll is suspect and we would not be surprised if the same liberal group that ran this poll was working with the liberal group that falsely attacked Roy Blunt because he opposed an energy tax on Missouri families," said Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer in an e-mailed statement.

"Other public polls, including the one by Public Policy Polling and the controversial push poll by Wilson's Strategies have shown the race within the margin of error. In fact, every public poll has shown Roy Blunt as the strongest Republican candidate in a head to head race with Robin Carnahan," Chrismer added.

It's true that Blunt still comes closer to Carnahan than Steelman. But it's just by 3 points. In a static environment. Without television ads blaring about "Abramoff, bailouts and earmarks."

Parsing through the questions, there are glimmers of hope for the party with the blues. Give 'em generic party I.D. and the Republicans come out ahead 45-43%. It's still Missouri afterall.

Also, asked if you want someone who supports Obama -- it's a 49%-40% edge for the pro-Obama candidate. But Missouri was the only battleground state Obama lost in November. And dive further into the numbers and respondents are split between Obama as "making the right decisions" and "spending, borrowing and taxing too much." It's a 49%-49% tie.

Finally, the statements read about each candidate (pro & con) seem pretty fair after the first read.

Here's a sample of some of the positives and negatives presented about each candidate:

PRO-ROBIN: "Carnahan cracked down on companies that tried to take advantage of Missouri's senior citizens through investor fraud. In the Senate, she will work to rebuild the economy . .

ANTI-ROBIN: "If Carnahan is elected to the Senate, she will be a rubber stamp for Democratic Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid . . ."

PRO-ROY: "In Congress, he fought for and passed the largest tax cut for Americans in history so businesses can grow and create new jobs . . ."

ANTI-ROY: "For ten years in Washington, Blunt has voted down the line with his Republican Party. He voted with George Bush to stop an expansion of children's health care . . .

PRO-SARAH: "As State Treasurer, Steelman stood up to the Governor of her own party when he tried to use taxpayer money on a secret deal to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit . . ."

ANTI-SARAH: "Steelman supported massive health care cuts which have slashed or eliminated health care for four hundred thousand Missourians . . ."

The questions seem very pointed but fair. And overall, this poll may be more positive news for Steelman than it is for Carnahan.

Then again, if Mr. Tom Schweich decides to leap in over the next few weeks, throw it out the window.

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