Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ayotte Up Big in New Hampshire



The latest poll, by Democrat pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Kelly Ayotte with a huge lead in the New Hampshire Primary:

In a year when one establishment Republican Senate candidate after another has fallen victim to an insurgent Tea Party challenger, New Hampshire front runner Kelly Ayotte has found the solution: become the Tea Party candidate herself. Ayotte holds an overwhelming 47-14 lead over her closest challenger, Bill Binnie, thanks in part to a 55-12 lead with the primary voters who consider themselves to be a member of the Tea Party.

Ayotte's lead over the GOP field is pretty thorough. She's been able to unite the various factions of the party around her. She's up 48-12 with people who think the party's too liberal, 38-14 with people who think it's too conservative, and 53-15 with ones who think it's the fine way it is. She's the overwhelming favorite of Tea Partiers but she's also up 46-17 with folks who don't consider themselves Tea Party members and 41-10 with those who aren't sure. And she pairs a 43-16 advantage with conservatives with a 48-14 ones with moderates.

[...]

Ayotte is up 53-11 with those who say they're positively influenced by a Palin endorsement. But she's also up 41-16 with those who say it's a negative and 47-16 with those who say they could care.

This is quite interesting coming from PPP. In a post yesterday, Ian noted that PPP was using rather convoluted logic to claim that Governor Palin's endorsement of Kelly Ayotte was actually hurting the Ayotte campaign, albeit in the general. Ian did an excellent job of poking holes in this meme and pointed out that, even accepting PPP's logic, Governor Palin's endorsement is at least as helpful as President Obama's. Ian was not the only one to find fault with PPP's analysis of their own poll. Liberal Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic (home of Crazy Andy) also wasn't buying PPP's spin that Palin's endorsement in any way hurt Ayotte:

I don't see the connection, or much actual movement. Logically, one cannot connect any appreciable drop in Ayotte's numbers to one thing that happened so recently; this is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. PPP covers themselves by modifiers, as in, "Palin's endorsement may well be playing a role in this." Maybe. The poll suggests that most independents -- those famous New Hampshire independents, that 50 percent of New Hampshire voters -- are less willing to vote for a candidate who gets the support of Sarah Palin. That's an interesting data point, but it screams for more information: of Republican-leaning independents, how salient is this belief? And since PPP last polled in April, why isolate Palin's endorsement as the thing that has damaged Ayotte's standing among moderates? Nothing happened for three months, and suddenly Palin makes Ayotte a Mama Grizzly, and suddenly Ayotte's ratings drop?

Jim Geraghty of the National Review has more analysis on PPP's New Hampshire poll:

I have gotten to the point where when I see good news for a Democrat candidate in the PPP poll, I figure it’s probably just a shift in the partisan divide in their polling sample.

One of my regular correspondents, Number Cruncher, checks in on their latest numbers in New Hampshire:

They blame Palin for the reason why Kelly Ayotte, has lost, four of her seven point lead over Paul Hodes. However, in reading the poll I think a more obvious answer can be deduced once you read the cross-tabs.

First, I checked the “Who did you vote for last time”, I always find this one interesting, because about 6% of people forgot they voted for Obama. This cross-tab is the one I read for my own amusement.

So next we go to Obama personal approvals: While Obama is slipping nationwide, somehow he has made a remarkable turnaround if you trust PPP’s latest poll. In fact his Approve/Disapprove is at a far more respectable 49-47 (+2); in the prior poll it was 47-48 (-1). Could all those polls across the country be wrong? We have a three point turnaround to the positive — hurray the recession is over! I wonder how that would play into Ayotte losing 4 points over April?

Next stops are Party ID and Political Philosophy, both trending more favorably for Democrats and Liberals since the April poll.

PPP Party ID in July: 35% Democrat, 29% Republican, 36% Other (D+6).

PPP Party ID in April: 32% Democrat, 30% Republican, 38% Independent (D+2).

That alone should pretty much tells you why Ayotte lost 4 points. For the record, the exits in 2008 indicated party ID to be Democrat 29%, Republican 27%, and Independent 45%. (D+2).

Next stop: What is your political Philosophy?

In April: 37% Conservative, 20% Liberal, and 43% Moderate

In July: 30% Conservative, 23% Liberal, and 47% Moderate.

So let me get this straight: Liberals have gained 3% and Conservatives lost 7% since April? For the record, the exits in 2008 showed 26% Liberal, 28%, Conservative, and 46% Moderate. In 2004 the exits indicated 30% Conservative, 21% Liberal, and 49% Moderate. Even if PPP argues that their more recent poll is more in line with past elections, it doesn’t change the fact that the reason Ayotte’s polling numbers decreased is that PPP samples 7% less Conservatives and 3% more Liberals. Simply put, its not Palin who caused Ayotte’s polling numbers to go down, rather it’s that PPP sampled more liberals and Democrats this time around than they did in April.

I guess when you’re a partisan pollster you can take a poll and tell whatever story you want. PPP is a Democrat pollster. That being said: I find it interesting that a Democrat pollster is so interested in discrediting Palin from endorsing candidates. If she is truly so polarizing and thus a drain on Republican candidates, why not just keep your mouth shut?

Why indeed? Geraghty also takes issue with PPP's findings that show Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown with significant leads in California in their races. Read the rest of his piece here. It's important to note that New Hampshire is a notoriously unpredictable state as history has shown. Pat Buchanan won 40% of the vote in the 1992 New Hampshire Primary against a sitting president, and actually won in 1996 against Bob Dole. Anything is possible in the volatile Granite State. Many tax refugees from Massachusetts have moved into the southern part of the state, further adding to the volatility. In short, there is no data whatsoever to back up PPP's claim that Governor Palin is hurting Kelly Ayotte by endorsing her, as even Democrat Marc Ambinder admits. Any claim to the contrary is, to use a technical term, poppycock.

(h/t Sheya, Peter S.)

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