July 3, 2015

Poll Watch: Gravis Florida Republican Presidential Primary

Jeb Bush 27.5% (23%)
Marco Rubio 23% (11%)
Rand Paul 8.8% (5%)
Scott Walker 8.7% (22%)
Carly Fiorina 6.2%
Ted Cruz 5.2% (2%)
Mike Huckabee 4.5% (10%)
Bobby Jindal 2.4%
Lindsey Graham 0.3%
Rick Santorum 0.1% (3%)
Unsure 13.3% (12%)


Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a random survey of 729 registered Republican voters in Florida. The poll has a margin of error of ± 3%. The poll was conducted using IVR technology, with the results weighted by anticipated voting demographics. Results may not sum to 100% because of rounding. Gravis contacted a random some [sic] of registered voter lists .

Polling was conducted 6/16-20. Results of the most-recent previous Gravis poll in Florida, per Argo Journal, are in parentheses.

Write-up and other polling results at the Gravis site.

  2:02 pm Poll Watch  

July 2, 2015

Webb Says: “I’m In”

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Webb announced via a blog post (kinda old school, Jim) — see it here.

It looked early on like Hillary Clinton’s ‘shock and awe’ campaign might have scared off all possible opponents, but perhaps her recent troubles are changing some minds. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see a centrist like Webb gaining much traction in a party as extremist as today’s Democrats.

  3:58 pm Jim Webb  

Christie Web Video: This Is For My Friend Larry Hogan

As a Maryland resident, this resonates and is a bit more personal for me. Christie did a lot to help Governor Hogan (R) get elected and, for those outside of Maryland who haven’t heard, he recently was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s good to see Christie standing with Hogan and publicly praying for him.

I ask our readers to please do the same. Thank you.

  2:06 pm Chris Christie  

Bush, Name Recognition, and Early Polls

There’s no question that Jeb Bush has received a bump in the polls after his long-expected announcement that he was running for president. That boost was necessary, because for four months Bush had been sliding in the polls — down from around 16-17% in March to around 10-11% in June, according to both the Pollster.com and RCP averages. Now, he’s back up to 13% at Pollster and 15% at RCP.

But there’s another dynamic going on when it comes to the level of Governor Bush’s support that I have noticed over the past couple of weeks, and it has to do with the polls themselves. I began seeing the possibility of a correlation between Jeb Bush’s support and the percentage of undecideds in a given survey. So, using the ten most recent polls, I graphed the numbers and came up with this:

bush v undecided

As you can see, the correlation was confirmed: as the percentage of undecideds went up, the support for Jeb Bush went down. Or, put another way, the harder a pollster pushed respondents to choose a candidate, the higher Governor Bush’s support went. It comes as no surprise, then, to see Bush’s support reach its apex in a survey that only allowed 1% undecideds, or to see his support fall into single digits when undecideds were allowed to be 20+ percent of the sample.

There is no such correlation between undecideds and any other candidate’s support. This suggests that much of Governor Bush’s support is soft and based solely on name recognition — a common assertion of polls conducted this early in a campaign, but now we have the data to back it up. Moving forward, a good way to judge Bush’s actual level of support (versus undecideds picking him because they recognize his name) will be to plot the new poll numbers on the graph above. If it differs in any significant way from the pattern shown here, then we’ll be able to discern real movement one way or the other.

  12:59 pm Jeb Bush, Poll Analysis  

Carson Raises $8.3 Million in Q2

The Carson campaign says they raised a total of $8.3 million in the second quarter from donations that averaged $50 per person.

That total is a highly impressive number for a second tier candidate who is not a well known political figure, and speaks to Carson’s grassroots appeal in this primary campaign. For comparison sake, $8.3 million is well over the total of every candidate not named Mitt Romney in Q2’11. Back then, Ron Paul had raised $4 million, Pawlenty brought in $3.7 million, and Gingrich ended the quarter with a $2.1 million haul. Romney landed $18.4 million.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign says she will report $45 million in donations for the second quarter, in a Democratic primary that has little to no real competition. That total sets a record for non-incumbent fundraising, but falls short of both George W Bush and Obama’s totals while they were running for re-election.

FEC fundraising reports must be filed by July 15. As more campaign numbers become known, we will break out a beloved feature and update the Race Fundraising Leaderboard so you can keep tabs on how the campaigns are faring.

2015 Q2 Fundraising Leaderboard
Rank Candidate Raised For Primaries Other Revenue Cash on Hand Debt
1 Carson $8.3 million
15 Walker
16 Kasich
  9:19 am Ben Carson, Fundraising, Hillary Clinton  

July 1, 2015

Rubio Makes Huge Ad Buys – For Five Months Down the Road

Marco Rubio is making headlines today for having the first major television ad buy of the 2016 primary — with the ads not due to air until five months from now, from late November through February.

The Florida senator has reserved more than $7 million worth of television ads in [Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada], a Rubio aide said, confirming an earlier New York Times report… Nearly $5 million of that money is poised to fund ads in Iowa…

Rubio had made about $5 million of the ad buys prior to today, but today he upped the commitments by another $2.5 million, adding several more media markets in South Carolina and one new media market in New Hampshire. The Rubio campaign must have really liked what they saw on their second quarter fundraising report.

This move is brilliant on several levels. First, it allows Rubio to get television time at cheap rates, before the prices are raised later in the year. Second, it allows him to select the time slots for the ads before any of his opponents are able to, giving him the most sought-after slots. And third, as the New York Times puts it:

In addition to the purpose of saving money, Mr. Rubio’s aggressive ad buying sends a signal to Republican operatives and donors that his team has a comprehensive strategy — not to mention the resources — to look ahead into 2016.

This plays perfectly into the strategy we noted below: lay low during the spring and summer, then campaign like mad and blast the airwaves in the fall and winter. With this impressively aggressive ad buy, Rubio appears to be following the plan to the letter.

  5:00 pm Campaign Advertisements, Marco Rubio  

The Primary Calendar: Strategy, Discipline, and Necessity

As we explored here on Race back in November, successful candidates for President generally view the primary calendar as unfolding in three phases:

There’s an old axiom in politics that voters don’t really start paying attention until Labor Day. Understanding that, then, we can roughly divide the primary calendar into three sections: pre-Memorial Day, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and post-Labor Day:

  • Pre-Memorial Day: Use this time to build your campaign team. Put the framework in place, fill it with talent, grease up the machine, and get ready to push the start button. This first phase is when you plant field offices, meet with early backers and surrogates, and most importantly, hire talent. At this early stage, the most important thing to do is build a lasting framework that will carry you through the next year and a half — and which will not require your attention during the crazier, busier seasons to come.
  • Memorial Day to Labor Day: Normal people don’t pay attention to politics during the summer months, so once you have a campaign framework in place take this time to do as many fundraisers as humanly possible. This is your chance to build a warchest with which to dispatch your opponents once the race begins in earnest. Lay low, don’t oversaturate, and fund that campaign.
  • Post-Labor Day: Campaign, campaign, campaign. This is when people start paying attention, so this is when you start introducing yourself to them. Media blitzes, interviews, ad buys, and public campaign stops in early primary and caucus states all start now and do not end until you bow out of or win the race.

These three phases might seem pretty obvious, but they’re not for many candidates. Without a long-term plan like this is place, many candidates will attempt to do all three things (campaign structure, fundraising, and campaigning) all at the same time, ending up doing none of the well. Additionally, many candidates will waste time holding public events and campaigning during the summer months, then enter the post-Labor Day race woefully low on funds (meaning they cannot campaign as much during the most important portion of the race because they will be fundraising) or having peaked too early with no way to continue momentum (see Romney, 2008).

Of course, none of these are hard and fast phases. They bleed together — every candidate will do some fundraisers during each stage, for instance, to keep the coffers from going empty. And media outlets will have dollar signs and ratings charts in their eyes, scheduling primary debates whenever they can throughout the calendar. But as a good general rule of thumb, sketching out a campaign according to that calendar is what leads to a successful nomination attempt.

Since we are in the middle of the second phase right now, it’s a good time to check in and see how our candidates are doing in following this framework. Obviously, with the primary campaign getting started late (by modern standards), phases one and two are blending together for many candidates. But the general principle is the same: do all the behind-the-scenes work before Labor Day, don’t oversaturate during the spring and summer, and then pull back the bow and launch strong in September. Generally speaking, this allows a candidate to peak at the right time and also allows him or her to build a sustainable campaign organization that will withstand the intense fall and winter months.

It also, as we will see front and center in the next week or so, allows them to report strong fundraising numbers when the FEC reports are due (they have to be submitted by July 15, but most candidates will announce their totals before that).

So right now, in other words, candidates should be cramming as many fundraisers into their schedules as possible, meeting with bundlers and donors and financiers, and building their infrastructure behind the scenes. None of that garners headlines or wins news cycles — but that’s the point: it’s not supposed to. Not yet.

It’s also the reason the polls at this stage don’t matter. Oh, sure, everybody says that about the polls early on in campaigns (especially the candidates who are trailing in them), but this year it’s even more true than usual. By this time in 2008 there had already been three debates and millions of dollars of advertising dollars spent. By this time in 2012, we had already seen two debates and a lot of political ads. This year? Zero debates and barely any ads (zero primetime television ads that I’m aware of). There has been no chance on a national stage for these candidates to introduce themselves yet, and no large events to shift the numbers one way or the other outside of individual campaign announcements.

Not all candidates are keeping their heads down and focusing on behind-the-scenes work, though. Many are out campaigning — and some are campaigning way more than others, breaking one of the cardinal rules of the calendar. Of course, some of these candidates with low name recognition (Fiorina, Cruz, Carson, et al) have to campaign in order to get people to start paying attention to them, which is the curse of the lesser known candidate. The calendar is never in their favor. But even some of the more well known candidates are wasting time right now on the campaign trail rather than doing the long, slow work of building the foundation for a successful campaign later on.

As one data point, let’s consider the state of Iowa. Courtesy of the Des Moines Register, here are the number of events each candidate has held in the Hawkeye State since March (with the number of events broken down by month afterward into Mar/Apr/May/Jun/Jul):

  • Huckabee – 39 events (6/4/9/13/7)
  • Santorum – 39 events (8/9/11/10/1)
  • Jindal – 28 events (1/5/3/5/14)
  • Perry – 24 events (5/5/11/2/1)
  • Cruz – 23 events (5/7/-/8/3)
  • Carson – 22 events (-/-/7/14/1)
  • Paul – 22 events (-/5/9/-/8)
  • Graham – 21 events (4/1/1/9/6)
  • Fiorina – 18 events (2/13/2/1/-)
  • Trump – 14 events (-/5/3/5/1)
  • Walker – 13 events (2/5/3/2/1)
  • Bush – 9 events (3/-/3/2/1)
  • Rubio – 6 events (-/2/-/2/2)
  • Christie – 5 events (1/-/-/4/-)
  • Kasich – 5 events (-/-/-/5/-)
  • Pataki – 2 events (1/-/1/-/-)

As you can see, Huckabee and Santorum have basically been living in Iowa, to the exclusion of ensuring their campaigns will remain viable long term. This communicates their obvious strategy: it’s Iowa or bust for these two with no plan beyond that. Given that they pull 5% and 4% support, respectively, in the latest Iowa poll despite pressing flesh for five months now would seem to indicate that they are headed straight for the bust column. Perry and Carson are in similar spots, with Perry saturating the state in May and Carson camping out there in June. Perry still only gets 4% in Iowa polls, where it looks like Carson’s campaigning is at least paying off with a small boost in support.

I’m more interested in the bottom of the list, however — the candidates who have basically ignored the state. Pataki’s numbers are to be expected, since he’s not going to compete in Iowa anyway, and Kasich and Christie are just now getting into the race. (They both held a number of events in Iowa in June.) But what of the other candidates? Specifically, the Big Three: Bush, Rubio, and Walker. All three have essentially ignored the state, especially in May and June. And all three are showing themselves to be more disciplined candidates than the rest of the field, taking time to do the fundraisers, hirings, and foundational work rather than hitting the campaign trail early. This is obviously tremendous news for Governor Walker; even while basically ignoring the state, he has a solid lead in Iowa. This also offers a glimpse into the Rubio campaign strategy – he’s saving the headlines and campaign appearances for later and focusing on other things right now. If he is indeed being informally advised by Romney and his team, this strategy makes complete sense: it’s the same one Romney used en route to victory in 2012. Bush is, of course, the big question mark: will he invest in Iowa at all during the later stages of the campaign? Or will he write off the state with token appearances and instead focus on New Hampshire?

So, I said all of that to say: it’s early. Disciplined, winning campaigns are doing what disciplined, winning campaigns do. Meanwhile, desperate second- and third-tier campaigns are doing what they do. It won’t be long until the wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak, and the long-term planning pays off over the short-term quest for headlines.

Nobody really pays attention until Labor Day anyway.

Poll Watch: Walker Continues to Hold Big Lead in Iowa, Trump Second

Quinnipiac Iowa Republican Caucus

  • Walker – 18% (21)
  • Carson – 10% (7)
  • Trump – 10% (-)
  • Cruz – 9% (12)
  • Paul – 9% (13)
  • Bush – 8% (5)
  • Rubio – 7% (13)
  • Huckabee – 5% (11)
  • Perry – 4% (3)
  • Santorum – 4% (2)
  • Fiorina – 3% (2)
  • Jindal – 3% (1)
  • Kasich – 2% (2)
  • Christie – 1% (3)
  • Graham – 1% (0)
  • Pataki – 0% (-)
  • Undecided – 5% (6)

Which candidates would you definitely NOT support?

  • Trump – 28%
  • Bush – 24%
  • Christie – 18%
  • Graham – 12%
  • Huckabee – 11%
  • All others – single digits

Favorability (Among Republicans):

  • Walker – 66/8 (+58)
  • Carson – 63/7 (+56)
  • Rubio – 60/13 (+47)
  • Jindal – 49/9 (+40)
  • Perry – 61/21 (+40)
  • Cruz – 58/19 (+39)
  • Huckabee – 61/28 (+33)
  • Fiorina – 36/8 (+28)
  • Santorum – 55/27 (+28)
  • Paul – 53/31 (+22)
  • Kasich – 20/11 (+9)
  • Bush – 46/42 (+4)
  • Trump – 42/47 (-5)
  • Pataki – 9/20 (-11)
  • Graham – 20/38 (-18)
  • Christie – 25/59 (-34)

Survey of 666 likely Republican caucus-goers was conducted June 20-29 and has a margin of error of ±3.8%. Numbers in parentheses are from the May Quinnipiac poll.

  9:13 am Iowa Caucuses, Poll Watch  

Poll Watch: CNN Shows Jeb Opening a Wide Lead Nationally, Walker & Rubio Collapsing

CNN/ORC National Republican Primary

  • Bush – 19% (13)
  • Trump – 12% (3)
  • Huckabee – 8% (10)
  • Carson – 7% (7)
  • Paul – 7% (8)
  • Rubio – 6% (14)
  • Walker – 6% (10)
  • Perry – 4% (5)
  • Christie – 3% (4)
  • Cruz – 3% (8)
  • Santorum – 3% (2)
  • Jindal – 2% (1)
  • Kasich – 2% (1)
  • Fiorina – 1% (1)
  • Graham – 1% (1)
  • Pataki – * (3)
  • Undecided – 3% (1)

Survey of 236 registered Republicans and 151 registered independent voters was conducted June 26-28 and has a margin of error of ±5%. Numbers in parentheses are from the May CNN survey.

General Election Matchups

  • Clinton – 54% (51)
  • Bush – 41% (43)
  • Clinton – 56% (49)
  • Rubio – 40% (46)
  • Clinton – 55% (58)
  • Christie – 39% (39)
  • Clinton – 57% (49)
  • Walker – 40% (46)
  • Clinton – 59% (-)
  • Trump – 35% (-)

Survey of registered voters was done June 26-28 and has a margin of error of ±4.5%. Numbers in parentheses are from the May CNN survey.

I’m assuming some kind of wacky sample here for Hillary to be beating everyone by 16-24 points, which is unheard of on a national stage and completely out of whack with the current polling averages showing a 4-10 point lead for Hillary.

  8:54 am Poll Watch  

June 30, 2015

Draft Biden?

Drudge (perhaps just trolling a bit) is headlining a story from RealClearPolitics about a movement to draft VP Joe Biden.

Most Republicans, of course, will laugh such a thing off, but I will laugh perhaps a shade less loudly. The history of incumbent VP candidates who seek the presidency has, in my lifetime, been not too bad.

1960: Richard Nixon tried to succeed the popular Eisenhower (despite Ike’s popularity, it should be noted that the Republicans had suffered an extremely bad defeat in 1958). Nixon lost in one of history’s closest elections.

1968: Hubert Humphrey, trying to succeed LBJ, was encumbered by a party fractured by the war in Vietnam, a disastrous convention, and a third-party movement that took the solid south and many blue-collar northern whites out of the Democrats’ decades-old FDR coalition. He started out way behind, but closed strongly and lost the popular vote by only 0.7%.

1988: Bush I, helped by a popular president, fairly easily won.

2000: Al Gore beat Bush II in the popular vote, and very nearly won the electoral vote.

Four data points over more than half a century are hardly conclusive, but they all do point in the same direction – a sitting VP will be a strong candidate, who will have a reasonable chance of winning in November. To the pols who will have to run down-ticket, this could look better than a weak Hillary Clinton, if she continues to stumble.


Note: This is not a open thread — there are several below.


  5:04 pm Uncategorized  

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