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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

NC-08: Internal (D) Poll Shows a Competitive Race

Posted by James L.

When Iraq War Vet Tim Dunn dropped out of his bid to challenge incumbent Rep. Robin Hayes (R) in NC-08, outside observers such as CQ Politics (and, frankly, myself), were less than optimistic on the chances of Dunn's heir apparent, former textile worker and social studies teacher Larry Kissell. However, a new poll by Anzalone-Liszt Research, a Democratic polling firm, shows that CQ's decision to downgrade this race to Republican Favored over Leans Republican may be a tad premature:

Larry Kissell (D): 38%
Robin Hayes (R-Inc.): 46%

Hayes, as you may know, is most recently known for selling out his working-class constituents by switching his CAFTA vote from "no" to "yes" under intense pressure by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and that information was very likely included in an "informed vote poll" also done by Anzalone-Liszt, which produced these results:

Larry Kissell (D): 49%
Robin Hayes (R-Inc.): 42%

Now, I take polls by Democratic firms with the appropriate grain of salt, but informed polls such as this one require whole heaps of it. Still, there's plenty for North Carolina Democrats to be optimistic about in this new polling report (which will be made public tomorrow, apparently), including this nugget: Hayes leads Kissell by 89%-22% in name recognition, yet he still polls only 8 points ahead of Kissell in the head-to-head vote. Kissell has a lot of room to improve his name recognition in the district, while Hayes, as an incumbent, has pretty much hit his ceiling.

Still, knocking off Hayes would be a remarkable feat, given his $1 million warchest compared to Kissell's very humble $32,000 cash on hand in April (bear in mind, however, that Dunn only dropped out in late March). But in a district that only went to Bush by a 54-46 margin in 2004, and a disgruntled electorate, it's within the realm of possibility that Kissell could mount an upset this November. These numbers will undoubtedly help boost his credibility. (Hat tip to The Southern Dem)

(In other NC news, a poll by the same firm earlier this month showed Democrat Heath Shuler with a 45-43 lead over incumbent Rep. Charles Taylor.)

UPDATE: Steve Hudson, Communications Director for the Kissell Campaign, writes in to emphasize that the "informed vote poll" had no negative push to it, but instead, emphasized talking points from both candidates' campaigns. Fair enough, but I'd still take such polls with an appropriate grain of salt--no one gets the luxury of a capsule biography in the voting both. Still, it shows potential for Kissell to gain ground if he runs an effective campaign.

Posted at 01:33 PM in 2006 Elections - House, North Carolina | Technorati

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I heard murmurs about this poll this morning and am pleased to see that Tim Dunn's abandonment of the race hasn't completely destroyed Democratic prospects. On the other hand, this is the South, where I'm not necessarily sure if high name recognition helps you as a Democrat. From what I've heard, Kissell is more "progressive" than either Dunn or Heath Shuler. That could be very easy to demagogue and raise Kissell's name recognition in a bad way. I'm cautiously optimistic about our prospects here, but definitely consider it in the second-tier of pickup opportunities.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 04:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kissell used to be a mill worker until he was laid off, so it could be a compelling narrative given the demographics of the district. I was pretty pessimistic, too, but the grassroots down there clearly are passionate about him. I'd give him an outside shot if he can raise a decent amount of money.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 04:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I hope it moves competitive, but it seems unlikely. It leans Republican (although Gov. Easley won it), and the main reason that Dunn dropped out was poor fundraising. It seems unlikely that this would lead to big Kissell fundraising.

About the Shuler-Taylor race, to what extent is Shuler a self-funder?

Posted by: bosdcla14 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 04:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I take it that "informed vote poll" is a polite name for a "push poll". Indeed, 'heaps' of salt are required when considering the results from such a poll. However, any method of getting the Kissell name out there is a good thing, and that sort of poll gets it out in a helpfully contrasting light.

Posted by: RoscoeRoni [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 05:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks for posting about this and thanks for the nod. When looking at an informed poll it helps to know the order of the questions. Initial questions were asked before the information about each candidate was read.

This wasn't a push poll. An informed poll is one where a basic platform statement is read before asking about the vote.

I have it from a campaign insider that if Hayes saw the push poll numbers he'd cry.

Posted by: southerndem [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 05:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's what the BlueNC.com post said about the poll:

The informed vote poll is taken after a paragraph about each candidate is read to the voter. These paragraphs include platform statements and are not considered a negative push.

I couldn't say for certain how much of a push it is until I see the actual release, but one thing's for sure: you don't get a candidate blurb in the voting booth.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 05:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Actually the "informed vote poll" simply means that the pollster gives a very small paragraph of information about the candidates. It would read something like "Robin Hayes, a 4-term representative, is the heir to a hosiery factory owned in Concord, North Carolina. Robin Hayes has worked hard over the past 8 years to cut American's taxes and fight a successful war on terror" versus something like "Larry Kissel is a former textile worker whose job went overseas. He is running for Congress for what he calls bad trade deals such as NAFTA and CAFTA that have hurt American jobs, and criticizes Robin Hayes for his support of such deals."

you know, something simple like that.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 05:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The actual language for Hayes was:

Robin Hayes, a Republican, is a Congressman from Concord and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Hayes says he is pro-gun, pro-life and anti-gay marriage. Hayes says he has voted to cut taxes for working families, strengthen homeland security, and add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Hayes says we are fighting the war in Iraq so we don't have to fight it here at home. Hayes says he wants to continue fighting for the area's conservative values in Washington.

Just so you know...Democrats in the 8th are conservative Dems, so the pro-life, pro-gun and anti-gay marriage are in line with what many believe. On the other hand, the working class folks in the 8th know that Hayes lied and many are losing their jobs to free trade agreements. Larry is a deacon at his church and has strong family values. He's one of "them" while Hayes is a millionaire.

Posted by: southerndem [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 06:03 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I was just providing an example.... I didn't have the wording in front of me (wasn't it released later in the day?)

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 06:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

After Dunn dropped out CQ Politics had moved Hayes up to "Republican Favored". If they take note of this they may well decide to change it back to "Leans Republican".
Here's a new article on NJ CD-7, a similar type of poll, doesn't show Stender-D in the lead but shows her closing the gap against Ferguson-R, with Bush running a 66 to 33 point thick disapproval rating. Evidently, per the PoliticsNJ aricle, Cook has moved this race to the more competitive "Leans Republican" category:

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 08:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kain - oh..I knew you didn't have the language and were giving an example. I'm sorry...didn't mean to come across as rude.

I've had the poll since yesterday. The campaign called and offered to give me and the group blog I write for, BlueNC, a 24 hour exclusive on the poll numbers as a show of respect for all the posts we've written and promoted out in the blogosphere. I was very flattered, but I have just received a link to the poll. The pages were faxed to me yesterday.

Posted by: southerndem [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 08:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's a link to the poll that was released to the public. I have some other numbers that are in my post at BlueNC.

Larry Kissell Poll(PDF)

Posted by: southerndem [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 09:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I keep getting error messages when I post links to the pdf of the poll. If it doesn't show up here soon it's because I've given up. It is posted at BlueNC.

Thanks everyone for the attention you've given Larry Kissell. His campaign and everyone involved in helping all know that this is still a bit of an uphill battle, but when the 2004 numbers are compared to the 2006 numbers it's an amazing difference. These are listed in the diary at MyDD that is linked above.

I'm trying one more time....


Posted by: southerndem [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 09:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Heath Shuler/Charles Taylor race is a different kettle of fish, to be sure.

Hayes voted for CAFTA. This vote alone could sink him.

Taylor voted against CAFTA, but only after waiting to make sure it would pass. People in the district refer to it as his "botched CAFTA vote".

Kissell's a progressive while Shuler's a conundrum. Shuler's strong on progressive issues like national health care, education, labor, and the environment, but he's a social conservative with a southern Baptist bent.

Both Democratic candidates have excellent shots at unseating these incumbents

My blog, Scrutiny Hooligans, has a lot more info on the Shuler/Taylor race. Here's a link to a menu of posts on the race. Drama Queen, Martha P. Snead, and I have been blogging up a storm at BlueNC as well.

Thanks, everyone, for focusing on our North Carolina races. Democrats here are energized and ready to win.

Posted by: Screwy Hoolie [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 11:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ummm, you might want to check the actual ballot format for North Carolina before you suggest that voters never get candidate biographies or blurbs on the ballot. In California, candidates ARE allowed to give brief descriptions of themselves on the ballot: e.g., incumbent, teacher (or other occupation), community activist. One of the controversies in the CA-50 special election on the Republican side was that Bilbray would only list himself as an immigration control consultant instead of as a lobbyist. I believe that it was Roach who took it to court in the primary before the ballot was permanently set.

I need to revisit California election law on this. But in the legislative races, candidates are encouraged to abide by spending limits by being allowed to use the candidate statements. If they don't agree to abide by the limits, they then forego the opportunity to have the benefit of free information free information about themselves provided to the voters on the ballot.

Posted by: phonatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 01:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hmm, really? I had heard of listing the candidate's occupation (hence the Bilbray flap), but I hadn't heard of paragraph-long descriptions of candidate positions on any ballots for US Congressional races.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 03:56 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

No, paragraph-long blurbs may not be allowed, but that's why smart candidates carefully choose their descriptions so that they can send implied messages that they often campaign on. And when you can list up to four descriptions, you can send a lot of information. In Bilbray's case (he won against Roach's courtsuit), he is attempting to avoid the negative reputation of a lobbyist, but he is also trying to persuade voters that he is the best on the local hot-button issue of border control. The rationales behind such ballot descriptions resemble push polling far more than they do a well-constructed informed vote poll.

California ballots were a shock to me when I moved here from Illinois. I've learned that such differences affect vote outcomes just as much as a push poll affects an opinion survey. Just two years ago in this state legislative district, the winning Democrat won her primary partly by listing herself as a teacher or educator (which has high positives as a profession and sends implied messages about her support for education). How important was that? Her finances were low, and party insiders supported the other two candidates, a man and another woman. The other two "business" Democrats tore each other apart with well-financed campaigns. Enough voters were disgusted with the other two to turn to an unknown but positive alternative, the teacher.

Bottomline, my point is that we should know the actual ballot laws and rules for specific locales or else be asking the questions. The posting and a few comments suggest that push and informed vote polls don't resemble ballots because such information isn't allowed on ballots, and I have just given examples of how that may not be true. All I ask is that you show that that is the case in North Carolina and not take it for granted.

Posted by: phonatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 10:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't have the time to dig through the electoral law, but here's a sample NC ballot from 2004. Looks pretty bare and normal to me.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 12:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment