Posts Tagged ‘gallupguru’

“Two interesting and interrelated questions about the Mike Huckabee boomlet,” writes Frank Newport in a sentence without a verb that begins a USA Today GallupGuru post titled Timing and the Mike Huckabee Boomlet

First, has Huckabee peaked? And second, has the Huckabee boom come a few weeks too early to be maximally effective for his campaign?

The (truly) extraordinary national news media focus on the Iowa caucuses at this point is bound-up in the presumption that the results there on Jan 3rd will dramatically affect the mindset of voters who are not in Iowa.

Newport is careful with his language—presumption is correct. Especially in Romney’s case. If Newport is correct that performance in Iowa predicts performance in later primary contests, then Romney’s performance predicts disaster regardless of the outcome in Iowa.

… The key question: Will Huckabee become the GOP front-runner if he does well in Iowa?

In a way polling has given us a mini-preview of the answer to that question in the last few weeks. We’re seeing now a pre-creation of the process that will occur if Huckabee does well in Iowa. Republican voters across the country are getting a preview of the type of exposure to Huckabee they will get in earnest if he is the big news story coming out of the Jan. 3rd caucuses.

To be sure, as a result of this early pre-creation of a strong Iowa caucus showing, Republican voters have indeed elevated their views of Mike Huckabee. He is for the most part not campaigning in any states other than a select few with early caucuses and primaries. But Huckabee’s name ID has essentially doubled nationally from 31% in August to 58% today. His standing as first choice among Republicans for their party’s nomination has gone from 1% to 16%.

Our question: If this is the case for Gov. Huckabee, has the polling then also given us a mini-preview of Romney’s performance should he take Iowa? Regard: Romney led in the polls for months in Iowa, often by double digits, occasioned by massive media attention. Yet unlike Gov. Huckabee, Romney’s name ID never doubled, nor did his standing markedly improve. By Newport’s criterion Romney is doomed.

The unknown factor: to what degree will this momentum continue?

The unknown factor for Romney: why did no momentum ever develop after months of leading in the polls in Iowa?

We have a hint of an answer in our latest USA Today/Gallup poll. The Huckabee boomlet, so to speak, has to some degree apparently leveled off. Huckabee’s image has actually become a little more negative over the last two weeks. His favorable number gained only 1 point from early December to this past weekend. His unfavorable number went up by 6 points. And his share of the GOP vote stayed exactly the same, at 16%.

The data from other national polls on Huckabee are mixed. Some conducted over the last two weeks show Huckabee almost tied with Rudy Giuliani. Others — like our USA Today/Gallup poll – show that Giuliani maintains a modest lead over Huckabee and the rest of the pack. (We are about to go through a period of data-deprivation as pollsters pull back from interviewing between Christmas and New Years.)

But our data suggest at least the possibility that at the national level Huckabee has peaked. It’s possible that the potential energy caused by a Huckabee win or strong showing in Iowa next month is already built into our data as a result of his pre-vote strength. This in turn could suggest that the impact of whatever happens as a result of Iowa on Jan. 3rd on Huckabee’s national numbers may not be all that big.

Yuh-huh. The same would follow for Romney, who has been building up expectations in Iowa for months and months.

There’s another interesting factor here.

I’m not sure that Huckabee’s staff is all that estatic that their candidate is getting so much national play more than two weeks before Iowa. The potential trouble is the fabled expectations game. Anything less than a strong victory in Iowa could now be interpreted as a weak showing, a slipping, a weakness, a problem. The surprise factor in Huckabee’s ability to garner the support of GOP voters in Iowa is already out there. A strong showing is now expected.

Most campaign professionals would much rather have low expectations and exceed them than to have high expectations and underperform them. (Of course, having high expectations is in some ways a good problem to have. Ron Paul would love to have higher expectations of his performance in Iowa at the moment, I imagine). But it all plays to the critically important question of how the Iowa caucus results will play out at the national level … etc.

We have argued that Gov. Huckabee’s rise is an artifact of—or a reaction to—Romney’s near saturation of Iowa’s media markets. See:

What should interest Romney-observers is Romney’s grim and hysterical over-reaction to the cresting of Gov. Huckabee’s “boomlet.” Imagine the benefit to Romney’s stature had he welcomed Gov. Huckabee to join the discussion of issues in Iowa. Instead, an angry Romney puffed up like an obscenely distended blowfish and nearly burst because of a statistical anomaly that he himself created, a rival candidate who never had a chance and who should have been left to his own devices. See:

Rubin: Romney’s negative advertising in Iowa evidence of the campaign’s disarray

Now Romney is confronted by the grim task of managing what will be a fierce backlash against his pointless attacks. Here is but one example that we found at random:

… I also want to note that I have long held Mitt Romney as a viable second choice for me if Huckabee were not in the race. However, with the increasingly negative tone of Gov. Romney’s attacks against Huckabee I am beginning to believe that I might not be able to support Romney at all … even if he becomes the eventual nominee. I am very concerned and bothered by the reactions I have seen from Gov. Romney and the conservative media (Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh, Hewitt, et. al.). It seems that the depth of camaraderie they claimed with those of us in the social conservative movement may instead be as shallow and meaningless as the Clinton’s wedding vows. These conservative pundits are perilously close to causing a rift in the GOP that they may not be able to mend …

yours &c.
dr. .g.d.


“One of the most regular and predictable behaviors on the part of political candidates and their handlers is the ritual of denying the importance of polls,” writes the estimable Frank Newport for USA Today’s GallupGuru in a post titled Romney and Obama campaign handlers: Ignore the polls!

That’s particularly true, of course, when the candidate is down in the polls.  I wait each year for candidates to cry out on the stump:  “The only poll that matters is on Election Day!”, as they warn supporters not to believe or not to pay attention to what the pollsters find.

We have a couple of these predictable examples in the last several days.

A strategy memorandum from Alex Gage of the Romney for President campaign found its way onto the Internet.  The purpose of the memorandum appears to be an attempt to keep supporters’ spirits up in the face of pretty sour national poll numbers.  (As Gallup Guru loyalists will know, Romney is lagging now in 4th place among Republican candidates, behind Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain, and just a few points ahead of Mike Huckabee).

Gage says:  “We also know there will be an endless stream of state and national polling and many in the media will also obsess over Gov. Romney’s standing in them.”  And “…we will not be measuring ourselves through the lens of national polls and we do not expect to be competitive in them”.  And “We should not expect him (Romney) to be competitive in national polls with better-known celebrity candidates like Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain until after Iowa and New Hampshire”more

We commented on Gage’s desperate attempts to keep the few Romney supporters there are from breaking ranks and fleeing into the warm embrace of more viable, and less ethically questionable, candidates:

death by internal memo: how the Romneys assuage themselves for their massive and accumulating losses

Back to Newport:

… It is of course true that the candidates’ standings in the polls can (and most probably will) change as the campaign progresses.  Changing voters’ minds is the whole purpose of presidential campaigns, and the reason why candidates raise and spend millions of dollars on advertising and are now spending most of their waking lives making speeches in front of small crowds in rural towns in Iowa and New Hampshire.

So we have to grant Romney and Obama’s campaign strategists the point that their candidates’ relatively poor showing in the current national polling is not necessarily permanent.  It can change.  These two candidates can charge from behind to win.

But the national polls raise important questions for the Romney and Obama campaigns.  It’s not as if these two have not been campaigning already.  They are both in essentially full time campaign mode.  And while most of their efforts have been spent in the early primary states, there has been intense and continuing national media news coverage of their efforts.  Both have been all over national television, in newspaper coverage, and both have appeared on the cover of national news magazines.

Yet through all of this, they have barely moved the numbers among members of their party.

The national numbers must be particularly disappointing to the Romney campaign team.  While Romney strategist Gage dismisses Giuliani, McCain and Thompson as “celebrity candidates”, it’s important to note that in fact Romney is at this point still better known that is Thompson nationwide, and Thompson’s name ID among Republicans is just 4 points higher than Romney.  Yet Thompson gets 22% of the Republican vote in our latest survey compared to 7% for Romney.

A second disappointment for the Romney campaign that is difficult to dismiss is the fact that Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president.  Our mid-September poll shows him with a 27% favorable and 35% unfavorable rating.  That makes Romney the only candidate we tested (including Hillary Clinton) who has a higher unfavorable than favorable rating. Among Republicans, while Giuliani’s favorable to unfavorable net difference is +54, and McCain’s is +47 and Thompson’s is +45, Romney’s is +19.  In other words, Romney is much less well liked among Republicans nationally than any of his three chief competitors.

Plus, as my colleague Jeff Jones has pointed out, Romney has a significant problem among highly religious Protestant Republicans – who will form a not insignificant block of voters in some early primary states.

So while the national polls may change, particularly if – as Romney strategists hope – he does well in Iowa and New Hampshire, there are substantial enough problems now with his standing nationally to cause significant concern more [Emphases ours]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.