On Wednesday I posted numbers culled from the second quarter
Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings by the Democratic presidential
campaigns to see how much they spent on their pollsters. Today, let's take a
look at the Republicans.
All in all, the Republican candidates have spent less on polling
in recent months than the Democrats, though that is largely because they have
also been raising less money. The polling expenditures for candidates of both
parties were roughly proportional to the amounts raised and spent, although as
a percentage of all second quarter expenditures, Clinton, Obama and Romney devoted
more to polling than their rivals.
The table that follows shows disbursements or debt logged in
the second quarter (April through June) for the various campaign pollsters, as
well as amounts categorized as "polling" or "survey research" in their
financial reports. The table has no entries for Sam Brownback, John Cox, Jim
Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo or Tommy Thompson because
if these candidates had no polling expenditures that I could identify. And, of
course, Fred Thompson has not yet declared his candidacy and so has no
Obviously, the Romney campaign spent much more on polling in
the last quarter than any of the other Republicans, although Romney's
polling budget is roughly in line with what the Obama and Clinton campaigns spent last quarter.
Finally, an important caution about all of these numbers: The
line between payroll, travel reimbursement, "consulting" and polling services can be blurry, and the
variations in the way the campaigns account for such expenses makes apples-to-apples
comparisons by category very difficult. For example, pollster Lance Tarrance
served as senior strategist and research director for the McCain campaign, and
payments to him were listed under the "payroll" category. Does that expense
qualify as the sort of "consulting" that pollsters typically provide to
On the other hand, notice that the Giuliani campaign
reported spending only $78,283 on "survey research," but paid $289,950 to their
polling firm, the Tarrance Group (the firm founded by Lance Tarrance but now
run by his former partners). That discrepancy results because the Giuliani
campaign categorized most of they payment to their pollster as "political
strategy consulting." So in this case, I assume that "consulting" probably
included the cost of actual survey work.
Additional results from a recent CNN/WMUR statewide survey of 524 adults (conducted 7/9 through 7/17 by University of New Hampshire's Survey Center) finds:
Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen leads Sen. John Sununu 54% to 38% in a general election match-up for U.S. Senate. Sununu edges out Katrina Swett, Mayor Steve Marchand, and former astronaut Jay Buckey in other general election match-ups.
43% view Sununu favorably, 35% view him unfavorably, and 13% are neutral.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation statewide survey of 1,052 adults in South Carolina (conducted 7/16 through 7/18) finds:
Among 380 likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama 39% to 25% in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails with 15%, former V.P. Al Gore with 10%. Without Gore, Clinton leads Obama 43% to 27%.
46% of Democrats say they "definitely suport" their candidate; another 46% say they may change their mind.
Among 432 likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (28% to 20%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. Fred Thompson trails with 17%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich with 6%.
32% of Republicans say they "definitely support" their candidate; 57% say they may change their mind.
View all South Carolina Primary poll data at Pollster.com:
Among 1,041 adults nationwide, 25% say they or someone in their household are "planning to buy the new Harry Potter book;" 74% say they are not (conducted 7/13 through 7/16 by the Pew Research Center; article, results).
Among 1,000 adults, 76% have not read any of the Harry Potter books while 10% say they have read all of the books (conducted 7/13 through 7/14 by Rasmussen Reports).
The Numbers Guy Carl Bialik -- channeling a cunning use of Specialis Revelio "remedial math" -- explains how 1,200 copies, not 120 copies, of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have been prematurely distributed.
By Brent Seaborn
Director of Strategy
Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee
Despite assertions to the contrary on this site, the Giuliani campaign is in a very strong position at this point and is clearly best-positioned to win the primary. Let me point out a few differences between the McCain and Giuliani trend line:
When Mayor Giuliani first announced his candidacy for president, he received a considerable bounce in the polls. We anticipated that the race would close after our initial bounce -- in memos written on March 22 and June 22. I wrote, at the time, we should expect polls to tighten, as they have.
As the race developed early in the spring, the race quickly but briefly, developed in to a two-way race, and our initial bounce extended into the beginning of this two-way race. The two-way race divided most of the Republican primary vote between 2 major candidates -- the nature of a two-way race generally forces undecided or leaning voters to make a choice between the leading candidates and many broke our way.
As McCain's trend line declined Mitt Romney's slowly rose and Fred Thompson entered the race. Senator McCain is still a candidate for President and continues to receive a substantial vote share.
Fred Thompson now seems to be the beneficiary of an announcement (or pre-announcement) bounce. And Fred Thompson's entry to the campaign has effectively made this now a four-way race.
After months as the frontrunner and the addition of a fourth candidate to the GOP primary it is notable that we are in roughly the same spot we were in before our bounce and when this was still a three-way race. In a four-way (or as your graph suggests a five-way race), a trend line from the first of the year until now, excluding our "announcement" bounce, is virtually flat.
I also note this paragraph:
"Are there any bright spots for Giuliani, other than money? Yes. There is a hint in the data that his decline may have slowed and support stabilized in the last month. In the first plot above, the blue line is my standard trend estimator which is rarely mislead by "blips" in the polls, but which is also a bit slow to be convinced that a change of trend has occurred. The red line in the plots is my more sensitive estimator-- quicker to notice a change, but also more easily fooled by "changes" that turn out to be phantoms. The red estimator has flattened out recently for Giuliani, and currently sees relative stability at about 26%. The blue estimator instead sees continued decline and a current level just under 25%. If the red estimator is right (and it often isn't) then perhaps the worst days of declining support are now behind Giuliani, at least nationally. If so, his campaign can try to get the trend moving up instead of down, but at least the decline has stopped. Unlike McCain, Giuliani has the money to try to make the numbers turn up."
I believe this is more than a blip. The red trend line will begin to pull the blue line up to meet it. In fact, if one looks at major media polls over the last month most of them show Rudy Giuliani receiving 30% or more of the GOP primary vote. In fact the mean of the major media polls over the last month is 29%.
Newsweek 6/20-6/21: RWG 27%
CNN 6/22-6/24: RWG 30%
FOX 6/26-6/27: RWG 29%
CBS 6/26-6/28: RWG 34%
USA Today/Gallup 7/6-7/8: RWG 30%
AP 7/9-7/11: RWG 21%
Gallup 7/12-7/15: RWG 33%
FOX 7/17-6/18: RWG 27%
Major media polls actually show Rudy Giuliani ahead of even the red tend line. And I would add that the red trend line, at this point in the race, disproportionately accounts for the Rasmussen Polls that by their regularity are a drag on Mayor Giuliani's trend line.
Overall, we are very pleased with our performance in national polls. We are aware we will continue to face challenges and the race will likely continue to close. But we believe we have a real and solid base of support and we will remain competitive as this race evolves.
Additional results from the recent CBS News/New York Times national survey (CBS story, Bush results, Clinton results, Primary results; NYT story, results) of 1,554 adults (conducted 7/9 through 7/17) finds:
29% approve of the job George Bush is doing as president; 64% disapprove.
Among 560 Democrats asked to choose between three candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (43% to 24%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 16%.
Among 474 Republicans asked to choose between four candidates, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (33% to 25%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 15%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 8%.
If Clinton is the Democratic Party's nominee, 63% think it is likely "she will win the presidential election in 2008;" 35% say not likely.
Kathy Frankovic, the polling director at CBS News, pays
tribute to survey interviewers in her weekly column, which includes a rare
public** description of the interviewing process behind the CBS News/New York Times poll:
Interviewers for the CBS News/New York Times Poll work at
our own interviewing facility in New
York. They make their calls from a room in the CBS News
that has been equipped with more than 50 phone lines and computers, just a few
floors away from the poll's offices. This ensures frequent communication and
feedback between interviewers and analysts; it also provides the flexibility to
react quickly to news events.
Our interviewers are among the most experienced in the business. They reflect
the racial and ethnic composition of the New
York area. Some are retired from other jobs, some
work as interviewers full-time, both for us and for other interviewing
facilities, and some are actors who use interviewing as a way of financing the
down times in their careers. Nearly half of our current active interviewers
have worked for CBS News and the
Times for more than eight years. Our interviewers are a dedicated and talented group.
With the apparent imminent demise
of the in-house interviewing capability of the Los Angeles Times poll, CBS now stands alone (to the best of my
knowledge) as the only media poll sponsor that does its own telephone interviewing.
The others use outside research firms or call centers to conduct their surveys.
**Although I had not seen the CBS interviewing procedures described before, Kathy Frankovic points out via email that they had "never been a secret" and that she has often discussed them publicly.
A new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics national survey (story, results) of 900 registered voters (conducted 7/17 through 7/18) finds:
32% approve of the job George Bush is doing as president; 61% disapprove.
Among Democrats; Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (39% to 23%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards and former V.P. Al Gore both trail at 9%. Without Gore, Clinton leads Obama 41% to 25%.
Among Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 27%) leads both Sen. John McCain and former Sen Fred Thompson (both at 16%) in a national primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 9%.
General election match-ups:
Giuliani 41%, Clinton 46% Giuliani 41%, Obama 45% McCain 42%, Clinton 45% McCain 37%, Obama 47% Thompson 38%, Clinton 47% Thompson 32%, Obama 48%
The latest automated SurveyUSA poll in the Kentucky
Governor's race provides us with one of those classic conflicting poll stories
that we just love here at Pollster.com, because it illustrates how small differences
in methodology can have a profound effects on the results. In this case, SurveyUSA
shows Democrat Steve Beshear leading incumbent Republican Ernie Fletcher by a
23 point margin (59% to 36%) with only 5% undecided. Meanwhile, an InsiderAdvantage
poll conducted a week earlier shows Beshear leading by just three points (41%
to 38%) with a much larger number (21%) in the undecided category
What explains the difference? Continue after the jump for
more explanation, but my best guess is that the solution can be found in this
conundrum: On a poll, "undecided" means something different than "still trying
The first round of results from the new CBS/New York Times national survey (CBS Iraq results) of 1,554 adults (conducted 7/9 through 7/17) finds:
34% say the U.S. should "remove all U.S. troops from Iraq," 29% say "decrease the number of U.S. troops" in Iraq, 18% say "keep the same number," and 12% say "increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq."
61% say Congress "should allow funding [for the war in Iraq], but only on the condition that the US sets a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops," 28% say they "should allow all funding for the war without any timetable conditions," 8% say they should block all funding "no matter what."
A lawsuit accusing Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton's chief strategist of illegally intercepting e-mails has been
withdrawn, and the legal battle between him and former associates has been
resolved, the parties said Wednesday.
The claim of illegally intercepted emails had come from
former Penn Schoen Berland employee Mitchell Markell. As Politico's Ben Smith observed,
reading a statement from Markel posted by The
Politicker, Markel did a bit of channeling of Emily Litella:
From the statement:
Markel noted that he now realizes that he had
voluntarily given PSB access to the emails which they were entitled to read.
Among 822 likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (35% to 28%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%, former V.P. Al Gore at 13%.
Among 560 likely Republican primary voters, former Sen. Fred Thompson edges out former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (29% to 28%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 17%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 9%.
Two new polls find higher approval ratings of President Bush than last week, and both polls are above trend, lending more support for the suggestion I made here last week that we may be seeing a leveling off of the recent decline in Bush approval.
Gallup's new poll, taken 7/12-15/07 found approval at 31%, disapproval at 63%. A Zogby/Reuter's poll conducted 7/12-14/07 has approval at 34%, disapproval at 66%.
With the addition of these polls, the trend estimator is now 29.1%. More importantly the evidence of a change in trend, while still not conclusive, is beginning to be visible even with the standard, stable blue line estimate. The blue trend estimate now shows just a bit of a bend in recent estimates-- what had been declining at a constant rate since April now suggests a change. The more sensitive, but easily confused, red estimator has clearly taken an upward tick. While red is often fooled, and we should not be justified in claiming clear evidence for a turnaround, the indications are now in that direction for the first time in four months.
With only the latest four polls showing this move up, we should be cautious. Usually it takes about 12 consistent polls to be confident of a change in trend. But if we are reading early tea leaves, they suggest that the President's recent precipitous decline may be stabilizing.
A new Greg Smith & Associates statewide survey of 400 likely voters in Idaho (conducted 7/11 through 7/13) finds:
Among 156 Democrats, former V.P. Al Gore (at 31%) leads Sen. Hillary Clinton (23%), Sen. Barack Obama (22%), and former Sen. John Edwards (10%) in a statewide primary. When Gore is excluded, Obama edges out Clinton 33% to 31%.
Among 244 Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney (at 38%) leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (20%), former Sen. Fred Thompson (18%), and Sen. John McCain (14%) in a statewide primary.
Greg Smith writes, "I must warn you that we are dealing with smaller than usual sample sizes -- thus, caution should be taken in interpreting the results. However, the samples do in fact consist of respondents who were randomly selected and statistically representative of Idahoans statewide, and the study findings presented here are projectable to Idaho Republicans and Democrats statewide."
New analysis from a recent Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 1,200 likely voters (conducted 7/13 through 7/15) finds:
Today's Senate vote on troop withdrawal "closely reflected public opinion on this issue. A Rasmussen Reports survey released on Monday showed that 53% of Americans wanted the Senate to pass such legislation while 37% were opposed."
I spent much of yesterday poking around the presidential
candidates disbursement forms looking at what the pollsters received, having
had my appetite whetted by the coverage over the last few days by the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder (here,
and the Washington Post's Anne
Kornblut. My interest, not surprisingly, is in the
disbursements to pollsters which were quite large in the second quarter of
I discovered, among other things, that the Federal Election
Comission web site has vastly simplified the process of digging into the
candidate filings - at least for the presidential candidates - with a spiffy
new reporting page
that provides thematic maps showing the geographic distribution of
contributions for each candidate. Click a little further on that page (the
candidate's name, then the "current presidential filings" for that candidate)
and you will find easily navigated pages showing (among other things)
disbursements and debts subtotaled "by purpose" and "by vendor."
I culled these for payments itemized for "polling" or to the
individual pollsters. One challenge in this exercise is that the totals for
"polling" in the "by purpose" summaries rarely match the specific disbursements
to the individual pollsters because payments to pollsters often include funds
accounted for as "consulting" as well as reimbursement for travel expenses. And
the campaigns appear to differ in the way they categorize these expenses. Finally,
the disbursements for "polling" do not include polling bills received but not
yet paid - those are under "debts."
With those caveats out of the way, here is what I found. I'll
cover the Democrats in this post and the Republicans in a subsequent post. First,
the two big spenders on polling, Clinton and Obama.
Not surprisingly, the two biggest fundraisers during the
second quarter - Clinton and Obama -- also spent (or accounted for) the most polling.
campaign shows $729,021 in payment or debt to its pollsters** compared to the
$655,526 listed for the four pollsters engaged by the Obama campaign.
Setting aside the amounts, the most striking thing about
these reports is contrast between the Clinton and Obama campaigns in the way
they are dividing up the work and the implied generational shift in the
pollsters working for Obama.
Mark Penn, who has been polling for political clients since the 1970s,
is handling virtually all of the Clinton
survey research. Bendixen &
Associates, the firm of pollster Sergio Bendixen, specializes in
"multilingual" research and and "Hispanic marketing." The $30,000 debt to that
firm is most likely for a survey of Hispanic voters.
On the other hand, the Obama campaign is dividing its
polling dollars among four lesser known consultants who collectively represent
a new generation of rising stars that have emerged from more established firms.
The four are Paul Harstad, the
pollster for Obama's 2004 Senate campaign with roots at Garin-Hart Research; Cornell Belcher
who served as an internal pollster at the DNC in recent years but previously
worked for Diane Feldman; Joel
Benenson, who served as internal manager of the Clinton-Gore polling in
1996 for Penn & Schoen and whose firm polled for several hotly contested
Senate races in 2006; and a new addition, San Francisco pollster David Binder.
From the dollar amounts alone, it is impossible to tell exactly
what the candidates are paying for, but the total amounts suggest quite a bit
of activity for Clinton and Obama. Most
likely, both campaigns have invested in some combination of focus groups, long
benchmark surveys and very large sample micro-targeting surveys Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Both have
probably also conducted benchmark surveys in those early states (such as California and Florida)
that they are considering targeting with paid communications before the Iowa
This is all speculation, of course, although TPMCafe's Greg Sargent
this clue back in February: "Benenson will be in charge of polling for the key
primary state of New Hampshire, while Belcher
will poll South Carolina and Harstad will poll
Ben Smith at first speculated
that Binder would be the "California pollster," but later updated: "A reader
tells me Binder's work for Obama is actually focus groups, and that he works on
the campaign nationally rather than just in California."
The bottom line is that these two campaigns now know a lot
more than we do about how likely voters in the early states react to the
Democratic candidates and their messages.
Here are the expenditures by the rest of the field:
For these candidates, expenditures during the second quarter
are not necessarily a good indicator of how much polling they have done to date.
For example, the Biden campaign reported
no polling expenditures in the second quarter, but over $200,000 paid to
pollster Celinda Lake in the first quarter.
The generational contrast to the Obama pollster crew is also
present here. The lead pollsters for Edwards (Harrison Hickman), Richardson
(Paul Maslin), Biden (Celinda
Lake) and Dodd (Stan
Greenberg) were all name partners in campaign polling firms in the 1980s (and,
interests disclosed, yours truly
managed to work for all four between 1986 and 1991).
Next up: pollsters for the Republicans.
**Update: Lynn Sweet reports
that "some of" the payment and bet to Penn's firm "may be for direct mail
services, not polls."
"Bush's 26th quarter as president ends on July 19, and it is the worst he has had in terms of his average approval rating. The quarter's 31.8% approval average is more than three percentage points below his previous low, and ranks in the bottom 5% of all quarterly average ratings for presidents since 1945."
30% of Americans approve of the job Dick Cheney is doing -- "the lowest of his entire tenure as Bush's vice president;" 60% disapprove.
A new SurveyUSA automated survey of 560 likely voters in Kentucky (conducted 7/14 through 7/16) finds Steve Beshear leading Gov. Ernie Fletcher 59% to 36% in a statewide gubernatorial general election match-up.
Last week I looked at the collapse of the McCain campaign. Not the collapse of money and staff, but the loss of public support that is at the root of the campaign's failure. Judging by the trend we've seen in McCain's support since November that failure has been clearly coming for some time.
But what about the Republican "front runner", Rudy Giuliani? While he has consistently remained ahead in polls of Republican voters, and his campaign is in infinitely better financial shape than McCain's, Giuliani's trend in support is eerily similar to McCain's downward trajectory.
Since early March, Giuliani's support has fallen by an estimated 8 percentage points. McCain's fell by 10 points since January. And the rate of decline has been a bit steeper for Giuliani than for McCain. The saving grace for Giuliani has been that he started his decline from a higher point, around 33%, while McCain's slump started down from 25%.
Giuliani's national slide is also mirrored in the early primary states, as is the case with McCain.
If Giuliani's decline is a little less dramatic in the states than has been McCain's, his situation is still grave in comparison to the rising candidacies of Romney (in IA and NH) and Fred Thompson (nationally and in FL and SC).
Were it not for the fundraising success of the Giuliani campaign, and its cash on hand ($15M), the analysis of his situation would be far more pessimistic than recent accounts have made it sound. In part the recent intense focus on McCain may have distracted analysts from the similar trends for Giuliani, but the attention should now shift from McCain being forced to take public transportation between campaign events to the prospects of the other candidate the press has labeled the Republican "front runner".
Are there any bright spots for Giuliani, other than money? Yes. There is a hint in the data that his decline may have slowed and support stabilized in the last month. In the first plot above, the blue line is my standard trend estimator which is rarely mislead by "blips" in the polls, but which is also a bit slow to be convinced that a change of trend has occurred. The red line in the plots is my more sensitive estimator-- quicker to notice a change, but also more easily fooled by "changes" that turn out to be phantoms. The red estimator has flattened out recently for Giuliani, and currently sees relative stability at about 26%. The blue estimator instead sees continued decline and a current level just under 25%. If the red estimator is right (and it often isn't) then perhaps the worst days of declining support are now behind Giuliani, at least nationally. If so, his campaign can try to get the trend moving up instead of down, but at least the decline has stopped. Unlike McCain, Giuliani has the money to try to make the numbers turn up.
But to make his campaign surge, Giuliani has to face the rise of Fred Thompson, whose trend estimate is now up to 20.1% nationally and with a very steady upward trend since May.
Thompson is also trending up in Florida and South Carolina, while Giuliani slumps in those states. And his prospects against Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire are looking poor as well. So while the national trend may be stabilizing, the Giuliani campaign is confronted with serious challenges in at least four of the first five states.
Let's check back in on this around Labor Day and see if the trend lines above have crossed. If they have, the second Republican "front runner" will have stumbled.
A new Zogby telephone survey of likely voters (conducted 7/12 through 7/14) finds:
Among 396 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (37% to 25%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 11%, former Gov. Bill Richardson at 3%.
Among 364 Republicans, former Sen. Fred Thompson edges out former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (22% to 21%) in a national primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 11%, Sen. John McCain at 9%, former Gov. Mike Huckabee at 5%.
A new Gallup national survey (2008 results; McCain results) of 1,001 adults (conducted 7/12 through 7/15) finds:
Among 417 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (30% to 20%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 16%, former Speaker Mitt Romney at 8%.
Among 483 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama 34% to 25% in a national primary; former V.P. Al Gore trilas at 16%, former Sen. John Edwards at 9%. Without Gore, Clinton leads Obama 40% to 28%
"If McCain were to withdraw from the race for the Republican presidential nomination -- something he claims to have no intention of doing -- frontrunner Giuliani's position would be strengthened, with Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney continuing to run far behind."
If from the last four Gallup surveys (from June and July) votes for McCain were reallocated to second-choice candidates, Giuliani would lead Thompson 38% to 19%. If McCain were included, Giuliani would lead Thompson 30% to 17%.
Congress appears to be less than the sum of its parts. Current approval of the job Democrats are doing in Congress has a current trend estimate of 34.5%, while the estimated approval of Republicans in Congress is 28.8%. But overall approval of Congress has sunk to a miserable 22.6%, less than that of either party.
Disapproval of Congressional Republicans remains a good deal higher than for Democrats due to a higher "don't know" rate in evaluating the Democrats. Disapproval of Republicans is at 64.8% while disapproval of Democrats is at 51.5%. Approval of both parties has been trending clearly down since January, while disapproval has trended up over the same time for both parties.
Amid the stories noting that approval of Congress is now below that of President Bush, it would be good to recognize that such simplistic comparisons are dangerous. Voters carry a generally negative view of the institution on Capitol Hill. Divided by parties, support is a bit higher.
Still, neither party can be comfortable with their current approval ratings. Republicans should note that they continue down despite enjoying a new Democratic majority to target for criticism. And Democrats should take little comfort in the small advantage they hold in approval. Democratic approval is trending down a bit faster than is Republican approval. Neither seems to have sold the public on their legislative agendas.
(Technical Note: The amount of polling on Congressional parties is more limited than one might wish. These trend estimates are based on all available polling, pooling the data to get better estimates than from any single poll. Individual polls, such as the new Harris Poll taken 7/6-9/07, produce somewhat different results, as seen by the spread of points around the lines in the figures. Harris, for example, found Democrats in Congress at 31% positive, 64% negative, while Republicans were at 21% positive and 76% negative. They found overall approval of Congress at 24% positive and 72% negative.)
A new NY Daily News national survey of 600 registered voters nationwide (conducted in 7/10 through 7/12 by Blum & Weprin Associates) finds Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 40%) leading former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (33%) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a nationwide general election match-up.
Two new polls at the end of last week find approval of President Bush a bit above recent trend estimates. The Associated Press poll, taken 7/9-11/07, found approval at 33% with disapproval at 65%. A Newsweek poll taken 7/11-12/07 got approval at 29%, disapproval at 64%. Prior to these polls the trend estimate was 27.2%. With the two added, the trend estimate now stands at 28.0%.
This is the first time we've seen a pair of polls above trend in a while. Balance above and below trend has been the recent rule. For AP, this is a 1 point gain from their early June poll, while for Newsweek it is a 3 point gain over the previous week. Neither would qualify as a statistically significant change.
I'm normally quite cautious about suggesting a change of trend based on only two polls. That caution is especially important here because the AP result at 33% is right on the margin of the 95% confidence interval, as close to an outlier as you can get. Indeed, without the Newsweek poll, AP would be a bit outside the 95% confidence interval.
But tossing caution to the wind for a moment, it wouldn't be a surprise if the President's sharp decline is due for some leveling out. Approval was stable from December through April, starting down around April 24th. Since then it has been sinking at a nearly constant rate for over two months. This has brought the trend in approval solidly into the 20s for the last 10 polls, not a simple "blip" down. But to sustain approval this low requires Republican support for Bush sinking below 60% or Independents sinking to the mid-teens. Democrats are already below 10%, so can't contribute much to further decline.
Recent polls from Newsweek, CBS and Gallup have found Republican approval between 60% and 68%. Independents have ranged from 18% to 26%, and Democrats from 7% to 10%. Gallup has a nice graph of trends by party identification here, indicating more of a downward trend among Independents, and a smaller but still noticeable decline among Republicans. Democrats have been fairly flat. Gallup's support among Republican's tends to the high end of the range across polls, probably due to different question wording for partisanship. (Gallup's long standing partisanship question emphasizes current feelings: "In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?". Some others stress the longer term "Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or what?".)
The question is whether Republicans are yet willing to reduce their support for President Bush still further. Republican Senators have begun a series of breaks with the President over Iraq policy and could signal to the grass roots that it is time for an end to unconditional support for Bush. On the other hand, Republicans in the House have retained their unity in support of the President's Iraq policy and so far Republican presidential candidates have refused to repudiate the President. With the divisive immigration bill behind him Bush may be able to sustain a new plateau in partisan support leading to a flattening out of his approval trend.
That assumes independents, or at least 20-25% of them, will also stay on board.
The other reason to think we may have reached a new plateau is that both the AP and the Newsweek polls are normally a bit below the trend estimate. AP is normally .93 percentage points below trend, while Newsweek averages 1.15 points below trend. While either current poll could well be randomly high and their next results return to below trend, these are not polls we usually expect to run above trend.
So the current estimate at 28% approval still signals deep trouble for President Bush, and the trend may remain in the 20s. But to sink much more is going to require a significant desertion by Republicans and/or Independents, moving below their current levels of support. The most likely way for that to happen is for Republican leaders to turn against the President. Will they?
A new Research 2000 statewide survey (primary results, senate results) of likely voters in New Hampshire (conducted 7/9 through 7/11 for The Concord Monitor) finds:
Among 400 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton edges out Sen. Barack Obama (27% to 23%) in a statewide primary; former V.P. Al Gore trails at 14%, former Sen. John Edwards at 10%. With Gore excluded, Clinton leads Obama 33% to 25%.
Among 400 Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (28% to 21%) in a statewide primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 18%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 11%. When Thompson is excluded, Romney runs at 29%, McCain at 23%, and Giuliani at 22%.
Among 600 likely general election voters, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen leads Sen. John Sununu (56% to 34%) in a hypothetical senatorial match-up.
View ALL New Hampshire Primary poll data from Pollster.com: