This is, needless to say, some pretty big news on the polling front. You probably recall that several weeks ago (after the Arkansas runoff, but apparently motivated primarily by 538's pollster rankings) Daily Kos severed its relationship with its pollster, Research 2000. Today, based on a study by three prominent statistics experts, Daily Kos is alleging that something is seriously amiss with Research 2000's polling, suggesting that the conclusions do not seem to reflect truly random polling. While the discrepancies seem most obvious in the weekly tracking polling and not state-to-state polling, Daily Kos has disavowed all numbers produced for it by Research 2000.
While the investigation didn't look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we've written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling.
The gist of it is (as you might expect) best explained by Nate Silver, by excerpting the key graphics from the prepared report. The graphics show how R2K's weekly favorable numbers for Obama always seemed to move from week to week, usually by a small amount... which isn't indicative of a normal distribution. By contrast, Gallup's numbers form a very normal-looking bell curve, with a change of 0 being the modal amount of week-to-week change. The researchers who performed the poll also found discrepancies in rates of appearances of odd and even numbers (shades of Nate's takedown of Strategic Vision there).
Greg Sargent has details on the lawsuit that will be filed in short order by Daily Kos against Research 2000. For his part, Research 2000 head Del Ali tells TPM that he stands "unequivocally" behind every poll he produced, and is denying the allegations.
Needless to say, we at SSP have very much relied on the supposed quality of Research 2000's data, and will be watching further developments in this matter with great interest.
• AR-Sen: As predicted, labor doesn't look like it's going to kiss and make up with Blanche Lincoln. The SEIU says it won't back Lincoln in November, if nothing else, seeing as how they have races with better odds elsewhere that they need to deal with. PPP's Tom Jensen reinforces that point in a piece entitled "Write Off Lincoln," listing a handful of total sleeper races where the polls have been better for Dems than Arkansas.
• CT-Sen: Campaigns don't usually release internal polls showing them down by 13 points, but when all the public pollsters are showing you down by more than 20 after your blockbuster move failed and it's a last ditch effort to get contributors to not write you off, I suppose it makes sense. A Moore Information poll finds Linda McMahon trailing Richard Blumethal "only" 51-38.
• IL-Sen: Glad to see that the mainstream environmental groups are starting to see the big picture of how Washington works instead of reflexively endorsing moderate Republicans who occasionally pantomime throwing them a bone (see also Reichert, Dave). The Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, who've backed Mark Kirk in the past in his House races, will be going with Alexi Giannoulias instead this year.
• NH-Sen: This seemed more like a cry for attention than a well-thought-out campaign pre-announcement when it happened last week. So it's not surprising to hear that whistleblower/former state Securities chief Mark Connolly, after floating his name last week, has decided against running against Paul Hodes in the Dem Senate primary. (The same link also has a list of filings for New Hampshire's state Senate... although Blue Hampshire has that data in helpful table form. Most notable: a troubling Dem-held open seat in a R+4 district.)
• SC-Sen: That didn't take long at all, for the Democrats' baffling new Senatorial nominee, Alvin Greene, to slide into Scott Lee Cohen territory. With revelations this morning that he's facing felony obscenity charges, the state party is calling on Greene to drop out of the race. Mother Jones has some more detail on Greene that really plumbs the depths of his sheer unpreparedness for what he's gotten himself into. I have no idea whether he's a GOP plant (who got fronted the $10K filing fee to be a speed bump for Vic Rawl and wound up winning instead) or just a naif who accidentally wandered into the corridors of power, "Being There"-style, but either way, it makes for a great story.
• AL-Gov: It's official; Robert Bentley finished in 2nd place in the GOP gubernatorial primary, earning him a spot in the primary, and, as expected, Tim James will file for a recount. AG Troy King just issued an AG opinion clarifying the whole issue of whether an automatic recount applies here: no, it doesn't apply to primaries, so James is responsible for the cost of the recount himself. James still plans to do it, though, despite the cost of at least $300K.
• MI-Gov: Republican AG Mike Cox got endorsements from two key GOP power brokers: from the state Chamber of Commerce, and also from Dick and Betsy DeVos. I was a little surprised that the Grand Rapids-based Amway cult leaders didn't go with their in-house western Michigan U.S. Rep., Pete Hoekstra, but Hoekstra claims not to be surprised, probably suggestive of some interpersonal tension with the DeVos family.
• MN-Gov: Here's one more place the SEIU won't get involved: the DFL gubernatorial primary in Minnesota. All three contenders seem to be friendly with labor, so the SEIU didn't seem to want to play favorites in a field that's basically a tossup.
• OR-Gov: Now this is odd... while Oregon has a rather New England-influenced politics, there's no track record of quirky moderate independents running and winning there. Nevertheless, prominent local attorney John DiLorenzo is reporting a $150K loan from himself to his exploratory committee, in apparent preparation for a gubernatorial run.
• SC-Gov: I don't think the RGA could tip its hand any further than it did last night, all but endorsing Nikki Haley, who still has to get past a runoff against Gresham Barrett, saying "the voters made a clear choice" and "the outcome is certain." Barrett, for his part, is brushing that off and continuing to fight on.
• VT-Gov: You may remember Anthony Pollina, who ran as a Progressive and then independent in several gubernatorial races, going as far as to finish 2nd in 2008. Good news for Vermont Dems: Pollina isn't making a third-party bid, or even running for governor at all this year; instead, he's running for a state Senate seat. Also, it sounds like the local Dems and Progressives are getting smarter about not canceling each other out, as they plan to avail themselves more of "fusion voting" this year. (H/t terje; the whole comment is well worth a read.)
• AR-01: With the ink barely dry on Chad Causey's victory in the Dem runoff, the Rick Crawford campaign released an internal poll showing them with a lead over Causey. The poll by POS gives the GOP nominee a 40-34 lead. While the district has a strong Dem tradition, Obama's 54% disapproval in the district gives Crawford an opening.
• IN-03: There's a tally of 15 different Republicans seeking the GOP nod for the special election to replace the recently-resigned Mark Souder; the local GOP will meet on Saturday to choose somebody. The most prominent name is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who recently lost the IN-Sen primary, but the list also includes IN-03 primary loser Bob Thomas, two state Reps., Randy Borror and Wes Culver, and even a local TV anchor, Ryan Elijah.
• IN-09: Biden alert! The fundraiser-in-chief has added Baron Hill to his list of beneficiaries, and will be appearing on his behalf in Jeffersonville on June 28.
• PA-12: For his rematch against now-Rep. Mark Critz, Tim Burns is going to try a different campaign manager. Having lost by 9 in the special after seeming to lose the ground war, he parted ways with former chief Tadd Rupp.
• NRSC: John Cornyn admits that the NRSC's wide playing field this November isn't all good news, because their limited resources (currently $17.1 million) will be stretched thin. Somewhere Dino Rossi is thinking "Now he tells me..."
• Polltopia: Maybe the biggest story that people are following today is the quick decision, in the wake of the AR-Sen runoff polls (as well as MA-Sen, PA-12, and the AL-Gov D primary...), by Daily Kos to part ways with hired pollster Research 2000. However, Markos says the decision was more based on 538's aggregate pollster ratings than any one poll. There's no word yet on which pollster will be wearing the orange in the future. Mark Blumenthal has more on the decision, including R2K head Del Ali's response.
Terry Branstad (R): 46
Bob Vander Plaats (R): 31
Rod Roberts (R): 13
Rounding up the wave of Iowa polls that have been released over the past week, it doesn't look like former Gov. Terry Branstad has anything to worry about today. How about the general election? The results are pure yuck for Chet Culver.
Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 45 (44)
Bill Halter (D): 49 (47)
Undecided: 6 (9)
One caveat here is that this sample claims that they voted for Halter over Lincoln by a 48-46 margin (with 3% for D.C. Morrison and another 3% who didn't vote) in the first round of voting. Lincoln, as you recall, narrowly claimed a first place showing three weeks ago. However, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see enthusiasm among Lincoln voters dimming (especially after witnessing her sadsack runoff campaign), so these numbers may not be out to lunch at all.
DailyKos decided to take a pass on polling the general election match-ups this time, but that will be the next hot topic after Tuesday.
Joe Sestak (D): 43 (40)
Pat Toomey (R): 40 (45)
Undecided: 17 (15)
A nice post-primary bounce for Sestak here, whose favorables have risen to 48-30 (up from 39-26), compared to Toomey's 47-42. A key finding here is that Sestak draws Toomey to a 35-35 tie among independents, whose votes will be the key battleground in the fall. Fueling Sestak's rise is an uptick in support in Philly and its suburbs, and in Pittsburgh, where he now has a four-point lead (up from a six-point deficit a few weeks ago).
And, just because I'm curious to hear what you think, does anyone else agree with me that the breathless media hype surrounding the "Sestak job offer!!" is one of the most overblown stories in recent memory from a horserace perspective?
Richard Blumenthal (D): 52 (56)
Linda McMahon (R): 33 (34)
Undecided: 15 (10)
Richard Blumenthal (D): 52 (54)
Rob Simmons (R): 37 (35)
Undecided: 13 (11)
It was looking pretty dicey for a couple days for Dick Blumenthal, but we now have our second consecutive poll showing the state AG remaining remarkably unscathed by the brouhaha surrounding his Vietnam flap. (Quinnipiac gave Blumenthal a 25-point lead yesterday.)
His favorables are at a respectable 53-35, while McMahon only has a 31-37 rating -- not the place you want to be for a challenger. Maybe Rob Simmons was right? And speaking of Simmons, R2K also tested the Republican primary, finding McMahon ahead of Simmons by only 48-44. I'm not sure if Simmons would have dropped out if his own polling concurred with that result, but who knows. Quinnipiac pegged the primary at 43-29, but keep in mind that half of that sample was called on the day that Simmons dropped out.
Jack Conway (D): 41 (39)
Rand Paul (R): 44 (42)
Undecided: 15 (19)
Coming off a close primary victory, Jack Conway is more beat up than Rand Paul, holding a favorable rating of 48-43 compared to Paul's 53-33, but he's still holding the line reasonably well. Conway wins among Dem voters by 75-7 but is losing independents by 31-42. The congressional district breakdowns are interesting, too, with Conway winning only the Louisville-based 3rd CD (by 63-26) and pulling a 43-43 draw in Ben Chandler's 6th District. Conway's weakest spot is the Western/Central-based 2nd CD (which contains Paul's home base of Bowling Green), where he loses to Paul by 24-54.
Research 2000 for Daily Kos (5/24-26, likely voters, 5/10-12 in parens for general election match-ups):
Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 44
Bill Halter (D): 47
Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 38 (40)
John Boozman (R): 58 (54)
Undecided: 4 (6)
Bill Halter (D): 42 (41)
John Boozman (R): 53 (50)
Undecided: 5 (9)
Bill, finish her! This is the third consecutive poll from Research 2000 showing Lincoln fading in a head-to-head against Boozman, and her net general election favorability has dropped to a negative 21 points -- while Halter is still in the black by 10. While the runoff should still be an incredible dogfight, especially since Lincoln has the Big Dog, Bill Clinton, in her corner, I'm liking Halter's odds. And that means we may have a fighting chance of at least making a race of this state in November.
We should note, though, that R2K previously looked at the runoff question in a methodologically unsound snap poll for Democracy For America. That poll has Halter up by 48-46.
Research 2000 for Daily Kos (5/17-19, likely voters, no trendlines):
Artur Davis (D): 41
Ron Sparks (D): 33
Bradley Byrne (R): 29
Roy Moore (R): 23
Tim James (R): 17
Robert Bentley (R): 9
Bill Johnson (R): 3
In my role as Daily Kos contributing editor, I asked Markos to poll this race because of a string of stories (as well as rumors of polls) claiming that Rep. Artur Davis was suffering in his primary against Ag. Comm'r Ron Sparks due to his vote against healthcare reform. Of course, since this is our first poll here, it's hard to tell if there's any truth to this narrative without trendlines. On the one hand, perhaps not - Davis does, after all, have an eight-point lead. On the other hand, that doesn't seem so imposing, given that Davis has outspent Sparks by a large margin. In any event, the numbers are not too far off from a recent Davis internal, which had him up 46-33. Sparks hasn't released any of his own polls.
As for the GOP race, crazy Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore could make this interesting. If no candidate gets 50% on June 1st, there will be a run-off on July 13th. As you'll see below, Dems perform best against Moore, who is currently vying for the top spot with ex-state Sen. Bradley Byrne. Tim James, son of former governor Fob and notorious for his recent "This is Alabama - we speak English" is also in contention. The internal polling has been all over the map here, with James claiming the lead in one of his own surveys.
Artur Davis (D): 31
Bradley Byrne (R): 48
Artur Davis (D): 38
Roy Moore (R): 43
Artur Davis (D): 37
Tim James (R): 45
Ron Sparks (D): 40
Roy Moore (R): 41
Ron Sparks (D): 38
Tim James (R): 44
The numbers look pretty bad for Dems - but it's Alabama in a very difficult year, so you can't say any of this is unexpected. I do think there is something disturbing about these results, though. Sparks and Davis have almost identical statewide favorables - 42-38 and 44-40 respectively. Why, then, does Davis perform consistently worse across the board against all Republicans? Though Davis is African American, he and Sparks do equally well among blacks in head-to-heads with Republicans. But Sparks does consistently better among whites. In any event, Dems should still be rooting for a Roy Moore primary win.
R2K also looked at the sleepy Senate race:
William Barnes (D): 39
Simone De Moore(D): 11
William Barnes (D): 33
Richard Shelby (R-inc): 57
Simone De Moore(D): 27
Richard Shelby (R-inc): 62
Since we were already in the field, we were curious to know if Sen. Richard Shelby's teabagging opponent was getting any traction. Answer: no. In fact, Shelby's the only candidate among these four to have even filed an FEC report - and the 76-year-old Shelby has an amazing $17 million on hand.
Research 2000's new poll of California has, on the balance, good news for the Democrats. While Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer aren't putting up dominant numbers, they're winning by decent margins (as opposed to the last Field Poll, which had them losing). Also good news: Steve Poizner is gaining on Meg Whitman in the GOP gubernatorial primary, as many other polls have shown; he may not get over the top by June 8, but will certainly leave her bloodied and much poorer. In the Senate primary, Tom Campbell, the toughest GOPer for Boxer to face, is putting a little distance between himself and Carly Fiorina (although the big gainer seems to be Tea Party fave Chuck DeVore, still back in third place).
PPIC was one of a number of pollsters (like Field) showing Jerry Brown momentarily falling behind Meg Whitman a few months ago, when she was dominating the airwaves, which may even have rubbed off on Barbara Boxer; however, they've fallen back to giving the edge to Brown (which probably has more to do with Poizner nuking Whitman than anything Brown is doing, which is, as is his way, very little) and to Boxer. Check out the trendlines on the GOP gubernatorial primary here: they also have Poizner within about 10, down from a margin of about 80 million two months ago.
The attention-grabbing number here is in the GOP Senate primary, as they're pretty much the only pollster to give an edge to Carly Fiorina (who I think most Dems would prefer to see prevail, her self-funding capacity notwithstanding) instead of Tom Campbell.