Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"A Lead As Thin As November Ice"

"In some ways, George Bush's lead is as thin as November ice."
--Dan Rather on Election Night 2004
Take the relentless ads by the League of Conservation Voters targeting Roy Blunt and the cadence of criticism building against Robin Carnahan for her silence on specifics . . . and toss it all out.
After ten months of early posturing and positioning, Public Policy Polling is here to report that nothing much has changed in Missouri's 2010 U.S. Senate race.
In January, Public Policy Polling gave Carnahan a immeasurable 1 point advantage. And in its latest survey, Carnahan maintains the same statistically insignificant lead. One point. 45-44, Robin.
At first glance, this has to be positive news for the Blunt camp. In this case, the tie goes to the battered. Blunt has had more to overcome in the first ten months and has sustained more fire from his foes.
"It is significant that the race is tied given the fact that Robin Carnahan's liberal allies have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in false and negative TV and radio ads attacking Roy Blunt," wrote Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer in an memo sent to media outlets Wednesday.

"Since April, six attack ads have aired including one paid for by environmental extremists that was airing while this poll was taken. These false attacks have been made without paid response by the Blunt campaign, the GOP or any group. These type of results give us reason for great optimism but this represents only a snapshot in time," Chrismer added.
Conveniently enough, there are plenty of other mixed signals in this poll -- enough to give every side something favorable to point to.
Carnahan holds a 10-point lead over Blunt on her favorability rating. Forty percent see her positively, compared to just 30 percent for Blunt. Yet Blunt wins independents handily, 44%-32%. That's partly, perhaps, because 58 percent polled say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic-controlled Congress.
"If Robin Carnahan had faced off against Roy Blunt in any election year between 1996 and 2008 she would likely have won given her superior popularity," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "But 2010 has the potential to be an extremely good year for Republicans, and that’s made this race highly competitive."
The most glaring portion of the poll is the GOP primary race, where the unknown, underfunded, often ignored Sen. Chuck Purgason is polling 16 percent against Blunt.
Sure, Blunt holds a 53%-16% advantage, as expected. But why, after Blunt cleared the hurdles of two credible Republican threats (Sarah Steelman, Tom Schweich), is a third -- Purgason -- polling in double-digits.
It's likely his votes are coming from the populist right, the section of the party that is fed up with bailouts, cash for clunkers and deficit spending. But 16 percent is a fair chunk of the GOP primary vote for a guy that's mostly been ignored by his opponent and the media.
Even more striking, is that Purgason polls pretty well against Carnahan, being that it's 11 months from the general. PPP has Purgason trailing the Secretary of State by just seven points (42%-35%) in November.
And you could make the argument that while much less known, Purgason carries much less baggage than Blunt, who can expect a barrage of negative ads to attack everything from his lobbyist ties to his bailout votes to what he had for breakfast while George Bush was president.
Chrismer said "we believe we are in an even better position than this poll suggests. But even this Democrat firm is showing this is a very close race."
But another political consultant tells The Notebook, "This is a really bad environment for Democrats right now, but Robin is still doing well in light of that. That's a good indication of the strength of Robin as a candidate, the weakness of Blunt, or both, depending on one's viewpoint.
A very close race -- But we didn't need a poll to tell us that.
PPP surveyed 763 Missouri voters from November 13th to 15th. The margin of error is +/-3.6%.

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