10-22 New Polls Analysis-Carson leads Trump in Iowa, Wisc., Sanders edges higher as Benghazi hearings start
Thursday, October 22. New State Polls from Iowa and Wisconsin: Carson overtakes Trump. Rubio moves up.
Quinnipiac’s poll in Iowa and the Wisconsin Public Radio/Norbert poll in Wisconsin spell bad news for Trump, upswings for Carson and Rubio. First the bottom line data. Carson has pulled ahead of Trump in both Iowa and Wisconsin, by 28 percent to 20 percent and 20 percent to 18 percent respectively. Rubio has moved up in both polls, garnering 13 percent in Iowa and tying Trump for second place with 18 percent. More detailed analysis of the Iowa poll’s raw data is even more problematic for Trump’s campaign. For even though he leads Carson in terms of who can better handle the economy, taxes and illegal immigration, fully 30 percent of those polled chose Trump as a candidate that they definitely could not support for the Republican nomination. (Bush was second in this to-be-avoided negative category with 21%). Only 4 percent chose Carson. Women and social conservatives gave Carson a big boost. Respondents who identified themselves as Tea Party’ers favored Trump. Those who identified themselves as Born again evangelists, Tea Party, and Very Conservative had much higher “favorable” views of Dr. Carson as compared to Donald Trump. Only 3 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about Trump to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. This supports findings from national polls discussed below and spells trouble for the boisterous Trump and his seeming-to-insult-everybody campaign. Surely his style has gotten him a lot of media attention–I’ve heard figures of 90 percent of media comments about the race)–but, the question of how long it would be before that style would turn off voters appears to be in the process of being answered in Iowa.
Wednesday, October 21–Flash Update!
There are a couple of pieces of new information that are important. First of all, Joe Biden announced that he has decided against running for his party’s nomination. As yesterday’s analysis of the poll numbers, below, indicated a very steep uphill climb for Biden, this is not at all surprising to me. Biden’s only chance, practically speaking, was if Hillary stumbled badly in her testimony before the Benghazi Committee, or if Republican attacks on her trustworthiness continued to erode her match-up numbers versus whomever emerges in the Republican field as the likely nominee. Should that happen it is possible, although unlikely, to have a deadlocked convention where no candidate receives the majority of delegates votes. After a varying number of ballots without a winner, delegates are no longer bound to vote for the candidate that they were pledged to through the Primary or Caucus votes. Biden could conceivably launch a write-in campaign in states which permit this. Remember Jerry Brown won the 1976 primary in Maryland through a late write-in campaign. Some states who select their delegates through a party caucus often have a shorter period in which supporters for a candidate must list them–in some states it’s only 21 days. Bottom line: in the long-shot event of a drastic collapse in Hillary’s general election poll support, there are avenues for a late Biden entry. Meanwhile, on the eve of her important Benghazi testimony, Joe Biden’s announcement enhances Hillary’s already overwhelming lead for the party’s nomination.
Wednesday saw a few new polls that reflect some changes in momentum. WBUR (a Public Broadcasting station associated with Boston University) released a new poll for the New Hampshire Democratic primary, and it reveals Hillary moving into a 4 percent lead over Sanders. This is an upward change of 7 percent over their previous poll.
On the Republican side, The ABC/Washington Post Republican poll was released Wednesday. This national poll had shown Trump with his highest numbers in their last report, five weeks ago. Trump still holds an 11 percent lead over Ben Carson. Trump’s voter preference level was 32 percent. This represented a slight decline from 34 percent in the September poll. At that time, however, his lead over Carson was 16 percentage points. Bloomberg and The Boston Herald reported results from their New Hampshire polls. Trump leads Dr. Carson in both polls 24 to 17 percent, and 28 to 16 percent, respectively. The remainder of the hopefuls are bunched together with the third place candidate receiving 10 percent support in both polls. The Herald’s last poll was in August, so recent trends are impossible to determine. In the Bloomberg poll, Trump’s lead over Carson of 7 percent dwindles when the respondents first and second choices were combined. This resulted in a lead of only 1 percent for Trump. State polls, especially, are subject to wide swings this early in the campaign. The reason becomes apparent when Republicans in the Herald poll were asked whether they were following the race and only 45 percent said they were following it very closely and 55 percent were following it “only somewhat” or “not that closely.”
Late Tuesday, October 20.
The opening Democratic debate is now in the rear-view mirror. The first polls* since then are out and they show Hillary and Sanders basically unchanged from where they were going into the debate. Joe Biden has lost a little ground. What change is apparent shows Hillary, on the eve of her potentially game changing testimony before the hostile Benghazi Committee, edging oh-so-close to an insurmountable majority support. That, even with Joe Biden’s name included. If he chooses not to throw his hat in the ring, Hillary goes well over the majority level. Yet the problematic nature of Trey Gowdy’s (Chairman of the controversial Benghazi Committee) non-stop attacks on her use of a private email server, which showed up in Clinton’s poor “trust” numbers, continue. They are manifested in poor match-up numbers against the leading Republican hopefuls. Indeed, Hillary does worse in those match-up polls than her distant rivals Sanders and Biden. The latter is expected to make an announcement one way or the other shortly. The numbers, which we’ll analyze shortly, must give Biden considerable pause. Though the political nature of Gowdy’s “investigatory” leaks has been asserted by many, including two prominent Republicans and one of his own former investigators, that fact doesn’t yet appear to have reached the all-important non-committed voters. This phenomenon alone, however temporary it may prove to be, gives hope to Joe Biden’s supporters. Details and more analysis below.
Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson have moved far in front of the field in these early polls. Trump’s numbers continue on top, but have remained in a narrow range, and, nationally at least, he thus far hasn’t been able to rise even close to one-third of the Republican voters, and a majority of delegates will be needed for any candidate to achieve the Party’s nomination. Dr. Carson has solidified his move into a close second place and one poll, a week ago even had him leading Trump. The rest of the field, thus far, are bunched together, with third place reaching a high, and in only one poll, of thirteen percent. Trump’s polarizing campaign has hurt his favorability ratings. As with Hillary on the Democratic side, Trump’s low favorability numbers appear to have translated into lower match-up numbers as compared to some of his rivals for the Republican nomination, which suggests that, also like Hillary, undecided voters have reservations about him as President. However, for the moment, with the next debate not until October 28, only Dr. Carson seems to have been able to gain any traction against Trump.
Details and analysis:
The polls all agree that Hillary has a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders. Four national polls have reported their post-debate numbers. On Mon., Oct. 19, Monmouth and CNN reported and had Hillary leading Sanders by 27 and 16 percent, respectively. On Tues, Oct. 20, ABC/Washington Post and NBJ/Wall Street Journal polls reported Hillary’s lead over Sanders at 31 and 20 percent. Even with Joe Biden listed, and he received support in all four polls in the narrow range of 15 to 19 percent, Hillary’s numbers were 45 to 54 percent. In the CNN poll, Sanders’ support rose 5 percent from their previous poll, and the Boston Herald had him winning in New Hampshire by 8 percent with Biden’s name included on the ballot. The latter received 19 percent in the Herald poll. However, that good news for Sanders in N.H., was partly offset by the more respected Boston Globe’s poll, which showed Clinton moving into the lead there by 2 points. Sanders has been benefited and hurt by his low name recognition outside of his home New England base. Perhaps the Saturday Night Live’s Larry David’s parody of Bernie at the debate will help. He has a down-to-earth image that some voters identify with, yet it’s my strong belief that as Sanders gets known by the rest of the country, his self-proclaimed Socialist sobriquet will doom his candidacy. I expect that instead of being viewed as an alternative to Hillary, he will be viewed as a Socialist, and therefore as just a niche candidate.
Perhaps if he announced his candidacy as the mainstream alternative to Hillary, Joe Biden might pick up some additional support. Most observers believe that Biden and Hillary draw support from the same population. That suggests both that if Biden decides not to run, Hillary’s numbers would be enough to assure her of the nomination, and, if he does throw his hat in the ring, Biden’s candidacy would have a steep uphill climb–unless Hillary stumbles badly in her testimony before the Benghazi Committee. I’m sure Biden will take this into account in making his decision. Remember, it will be the public’s perception of her trustworthiness and innocence of any criminal misdoings that will count and not just the view of experts about her testimony. The simple fact is that most of the undecided voters, the bloc of voters that really count in this matter, won’t be tuning into the hearings. We likely will not know the real effect of Hillary’s testimony until after the social and television media filter reports of what happened through their lens, and her PACs’ advertising about it makes its impact. Some Republican PACs, such as the one Karl Rove does his dirty tricks for, will at the very least mimic Fox’s translation of the Justice Department’s looking at the use of Hillary’s private server into an “under criminal investigation” charge. How all of this affects the undecided voters is likely to be a game-changer and both sides understand this, so expect the sparks to be flying by the end of the week. Surely Joe Biden doesn’t wish a negative outcome from Hillary’s testimony, but it is likely to be the one possibility that could lead to his winning the nomination. Match-up polling indicates that Biden does slightly better than Hillary against both Trump and Carson. I would suggest that this is only an illusion, at this time, since as a non-candidate, Biden hasn’t yet received the barrage of personal attacks from the Republican machine that he surely would as a viable candidate. Reportedly his decision is imminent.
Jim Webb, the Republican-turned-Democrat, didn’t receive a friendly response from the audience present, or the television talking heads after the debate. Tuesday, he withdrew from the campaign amid rumors of a run as an independent, taking his 1 percent support with him. More than once, general elections have been won or lost by one-percent or less.
Donald Trump has received support in the 30 to 38 percent range in selective state polls. Since these are mostly in states where he has campaigned hard, it gives some of his supporters hope. His national numbers, however, though holding their own, and even rising by a point or two in some polls, still languish in the 22 to 28 percent range, well below the majority threshold necessary for nomination.
Trump regularly encourages some of the more marginal candidates, in terms of polling numbers, to drop out of the race. Yet the data shows him doing worse than his competitors when the polls ask respondents who their second choice is. Trump also has the highest unfavorable ratings, along with Bush, among Republicans. What is more, when they expand the sample to include non-Republicans, his favorability numbers are much worse. Combined with data that shows that virtually all of the Republicans polled have heard of him, and nine out of ten of those have already formed an opinion about him, it is difficult to imagine how he could reach a majority of delegates at the convention. Some feel that his best chance to improve his standing would be if Ted Cruz were to withdraw from the race. On the other hand Cruz supporters feel the same way about Trump.
Trump gets no solace from match-up numbers either, as he does the poorest of any of the leading Republican hopefuls when pitted against Hillary in the polls. Trump does benefit from the calendar, which has New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada primaries–states in which he polls well–early in the primary season (they are the second, third, and fourth primaries).
At first blush, Dr. Carson’s religious theme’d campaign would seem to relegate him to a niche constituency. However, the recent blessing placed upon his candidacy by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox television network, among other media that he controls, appears to have translated into more attention being placed on his candidacy by those media outlets. Though his second performance in my eyes was amateurish, it didn’t seem to hurt him and his polling numbers have increased of late. In addition, Carson’s favorability numbers are high, suggesting that his candidacy must be taken seriously. Until one of the pack of more mainstream hopefuls demonstrates a surge of poll support, one must conclude that the Republican nomination is still a wide-open race. All eyes will be on the third Republican debate.
As for the others in the Republican race, Carly Fiorina’s support showed a little surge immediately following the second debate and her confrontation with Trump, but that seems to have disappeared. Marco Rubio, in some polls, has moved into third place, but a distant third. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush follow, but their campaigns have yet to gain traction. The others are bunched in the polls vying for sixth place. I have seen no reason why their candidacies should suddenly take off, and it’s likely some will quit the race following the third debate if their performance doesn’t change that view.