A 2nd look at the polling numbers: Are Malloy’s re-election chances really in doubt? Yes, yes they are…
Last week, Republican Tom Foley told CT Newsjunkie Christine Stuart, “I’m planning to run for governor because I’m concerned about our state.” Apparently Foley has been meeting with various newspaper editorial boards to talk about his plans.
Two years ago, Candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy after getting 49.5 percent of the vote to Foley’s 48.9 percent.
According to the CTNewsjunkie article, it would appear the battle line will be between Malloy, whose stance is,” I enjoy this job a whole lot. I enjoy the challenge of the hard work and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished,” against Foley whose argument will be, “I told you so.”
In reality, the discussion about the 2014 gubernatorial race started heating up on election night 2012.
Even before the concession speeches had been given, the Chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party issued a press release saying, “Now that voters have spoken, here’s what we know — Governor Malloy wins, the Republicans lose, and the people of Connecticut win,”
Malloy himself told reporters that he felt vindicated by the election results.
Those events prompted a Wait, What? blog post on November 12, 2012 entitled, “Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results” – Really?
Using the most recent Quinnipiac Poll (Q-Poll) results, I presented data the indicated why Governor Malloy should be especially concerned about his re-election chances.
In fact, I concluded that he might even face a difficult Democratic primary should a fellow Democratic candidate decide to challenge him for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.
As if by magic, the next day, the Harford Courant’s Rick Green came to the Governor’s defense with his own blog post entitled, “What’s With That Malloy Surge!”
With no mention of my blog or the Quinnipiac Poll, Green found (or was given) a copy of pre-election poll conducted by a company called Public Policy Polling (PPP).
Unlike the Quinnipiac Poll who uses people to make the calls, the PPP poll uses an automated system in which the recipient of the call responds to the questions by touching numbers (i.e. if yes, hit 1).
Nonetheless, both the Quinnipiac Poll and the PPP poll were fairly accurate in their pre-election predictions.
Focused on just one of the questions the PPP poll asked, Rick Green wrote, “Public Policy Polling, which emerged as one of the most accurate pollsters of the 2012 campaign, now sees Gov. Dannel Malloy as a good bet for re-election. That’s quite a bump for a guy considered one of the more unpopular governors in the country over the last year and a half. In an interesting twist, Malloy can legitimately claim he pushed a reluctant state to accept the sort of increased taxes and cuts in spending that Congress and the president now face.”
“A good bet for re-election” was certainly a very different conclusion than the one I had reached the day before, when I wrote, “The truth is that Malloy and his political operation should be extremely worried about this year’s election results. When one in five Democratic voters has a negative opinion of Malloy’s job performance, it is definitely time to worry about the level of support among the Democratic base. This should come as no surprise to Malloy’s people, considering the way he has treated state employees, teachers and other core Democratic constituencies.”
At the time, some readers asked why there was a difference, considering both polls had the same projections for the Obama/Romney election?
I’ve been meaning to provide readers with a response.
Here is a quick summary of the situation;
The Courant’s Rick Green and Malloy’s operatives were relying on a question in the Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that wasn’t asked on the Q-Poll Survey. The question read, “Generally speaking, if there was an election for Governor today, would you vote for Democrat Dan Malloy or his Republican opponent?”
[Little did they realize that Dan Malloy and Governor Dannel Malloy are two different people].
The results were 48 percent said they would vote for Dan Malloy, his un-named Republican opponent received 37 percent, and 15 percent saying they weren’t sure who they would vote for.
Those numbers were interpreted as being positive for Malloy.
The truth is that political pollsters approach future elections in a variety of different ways.
When no likely opponent has been identified, some pollsters use the question that Public Policy Polling used. A question that asks whether a voter will vote for the named incumbent or some unnamed challenger.
An alternative technique, that often gets a different result, is to ask voters whether they will vote for the named incumbent or whether it is time for someone new to be Governor.
A third technique is to recognize that the head to head election is simply too far away to solicit meaningful results and instead those pollsters look at the incumbent’s favorability rating. If their rating is below fifty percent, most political consultants will say the incumbent is vulnerable and the more the incumbent’s popularity is over 50 percent the “safer” they will be perceived.
What Green and the Malloy people overlooked, although it was especially interesting, is that the Quinnipiac Poll and the Public Policy Polling Survey had very similar results when voters were asked about Malloy’s favorability.
In the Q-poll, Malloy’s job approval was a low 45 percent.
In the PPP poll, Malloy’s job approval was a similarly low 46 percent.
Of even more concern for the Malloy operation is that among Democrats, Malloy only had a 66 percent favorability rating in the Q-poll AND AN EVEN LOWER 62 percent favorability rating among Democrats in the PPP poll.
The Q-poll found that an unprecedented 1 in 5 Democrats disapprove of the job Governor Malloy is doing, while the PPP poll was even worse. The PPP poll found that a stunning 1 in 4 disapprove of Malloy’s job performance.
Below you’ll find a two part table that outlines the data in more detail. The first table is Malloy’s job performance rating from the Quinnipiac poll, while the second is Malloy’s job performance rating from the Public Policy Polling poll.While it is not “wrong” to test an incumbent’s rating against an unnamed opponent, the data suggests the results would have been different had the question been whether to re-elect Malloy or was it time for someone new.
|Q- POLL Malloy Job Rating October 2012||Total||Rep||Dem||Ind||Men||Women|
|Public Policy Polling POLL Malloy Job Rating October 2012||Total||Rep||Dem||Ind||Men||Women|
The results would have been different still had the question been, would you vote for Malloy or Foley?
However, the one thing we know is that both the Q-Poll or the PPP poll reveal that Malloy’s job performance rating is extremely low, and that was before voters had heard about the this year’s deficit and next year’s billion dollar budget shortfall.
In particular, for the general election, the most troubling point of all is the low favorability rating among independent or unaffiliated voters (Only 39 percent on the Q-poll and 40 percent in the PPP poll).
To win a statewide race in Connecticut, the Democratic candidate must carry virtually all the Democrats and a significant number of the unaffiliated voters. While a candidate doesn’t need to win a majority of the unaffiliated voters, he or she must do better than 40 percent.
President Obama, for example, received over 90 percent of the Democrats and, according to both the Q-Poll and PPP poll, was projected to get at least 45 percent of the unaffiliated.
Finally, as I said more than once, in my original post, there is still time for Governor Malloy to re-build his relationship with the Democrats and win over a larger percentage of the unaffiliated.
That said, there is simply no way to get around the fact that as people look to the 2014 gubernatorial election, Governor Malloy is very vulnerable in the general election and, as already mentioned, could even face a serious challenge if an aggressive Democratic candidate decided to take him on for the Democratic nomination.
The latest CTNewsjunkie article on Foley is here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/foley_vs._malloy_2014/
Rick Green’s “What’s With That Malloy Surge!” post can be found here: http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/ppp-whats-with-that-malloy-surge/
And my previous Wait, What post can be found here: “Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results” – Really?