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SC-05: Spratt Leads Mulvaney by 7

by: James L.

Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 2:48 PM EST

Public Policy Polling (1/22-24, likely voters):

John Spratt (D-inc): 46
Mick Mulvaney (R): 39
Undecided: 15

John Spratt (D-inc): 46
Albert Spencer (R): 37
Undecided: 17
(MoE: ±4%)

I'd like these numbers if I were a Republican. Spratt, a longtime incumbent, is under the 50% danger zone mark, and his GOP opponents are still largely unknown, including highly-touted state Sen. Mick Mulvaney. (Interestingly, though, Mulvaney's favorable rating is in net negative territory at 14-24, which is not something you normally see for undefined challengers.)

Still, there are bright spots for Spratt in the poll. From Jensen:

-47% of Spratt's constituents think that he's ideologically 'about right' compared to 34% who think he's too liberal. That means a significant percentage of his constituents perceive Spratt differently than they do Congressional Democrats as a whole rather than lumping him in as 'just another one of them.' [...]

What does it all add up to? Spratt leads potential Republican opponents Mick Mulvaney and Albert Spencer by margins of 46-39 and 46-37 respectively. Spratt is actually winning more of the Republican vote than either of the GOP candidates is of the Democratic vote, an unusual trend in the south where many voters registered as Democrats frequently vote for Republicans at the federal level. That's an indication that Spratt is still in pretty strong standing with conservative Democrats and that his health care vote hasn't ended his ability to win over some of the more moderate GOP voters.

At the same time he does trail both Republican hopefuls with independent voters by 4-9 points. Those numbers don't seem so bad when you consider that Barack Obama's approval rating is a miserable 27/64 spread with independents in the district though. Spratt continues to earn a lot of support from voters not enamored with the President.

James L. :: SC-05: Spratt Leads Mulvaney by 7
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Not so bad
I'm not sure the 50% rule is that viable now. Lots of examples of Repubs being below it and winning comfortably the last two cycles. Obviously one to watch though.

Do you have some examples in mind?
[quote]Lots of examples of Repubs being below it and winning comfortably the last two cycles.

Can you give some examples?  

[ Parent ]
John Cornyn comes to mind
Saxby Chambliss, Dave Reichert, Michele Bachmann, Mark Kirk

[ Parent ]
Don Young
McConnell. Gerlach in 2006. There are plenty others.  

[ Parent ]
Can't beat somebody with nobody ...
... comes into play.  Nearly all of those names (in both posts) had weak opponents that couldn't exploit the incumbent's unpopularity.  

Below 50% approval is still a valid vulnerability indicator, IMO.  But, the opposition has to have the means (lack of baggage themselves, money, credibility, etc. ) to take advantage of the opening.  

[ Parent ]
It is a guide nothing more
Go back to 2006 when they saved lots of seats by a very narrow margin. And many of these Repubs will turn out to be duds too.

[ Parent ]
Just remember
The GOP won more than a few seats with sub-optimal candidates in '94. (Fore instance, Fred "Middle Class" Heineman.

[ Parent ]
I know, I know
Lower-tier candidates can win in wave years. All I was pointing out was polling doesn't automatically mean somebody is going to lose. Look at Richard Burr - he hardly breaks 45% but is likely to win. I would also argue that not all the Dems who lost to people polling below 50 were bad candidates at all. Ethan Berkowitz and Gary Trauner for example. Patricia Madrid made one mistake and it cost her. Same with Mike Hatch. Lois Murphy and Diane Farrell both raised lots of money. There are always plenty of factors that decide a race. The truth is bad candidates sometimes win and good ones sometimes lose.

[ Parent ]
I think
50% is a sign of POTENTIAL vulnerability, but usually isn't a sign of "OMG that guy's going to lose".

45% is the more valid stat, once candidates, especially incumbents, get below that then you know that their ceiling isn't that high, and that a very close race is at hand.  

40% is the mark where you look to primary somebody, or say that barring a poor campaign by the opponent, that you're going down.

23, Male, Democrat, OH-13

[ Parent ]
I agree and well put, although...
.. if the weak incumbent in question, definitely has a quality opponent, then I would say the word 'potentially' would in MOST cases actually be 'probable'.  

As for Burr, in 2006 or 2008 he would be absolutely ripe for the picking.  If he holds on, it will be because he was in the right party in the right year.  It won't mean that he wouldn't have still lost to AG Roy Cooper or somepone on that level, or near that level.  

[ Parent ]
I live in SC. and I have never even heard of ...
Albert Spencer.  You can count that as Generic R.

I don't know a lot about Mulvaney but he seems to be a Joe Wilson type.  That is to say, incapable of thinking for himself, and just mouths off conservative platitudes.  He was just elected to the SC Senate in '08.  

I think Spratt will pull it out in the end, but Spratt needs to not make any mistakes and take this VERY seriously. The DCCC needs to watch this closely and be ready to spend if the need arises.

Out of 6 House seats in SC, 5 will be seriously contested at the primary or general level. I can't remember that ever happening.    

Acceptable percentages
for current political climate. But there are similarities with 1994 - Spratt had difficult race then, winning by 52%

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