SurveyUSA

VA-9 Update: Griffith Edges Ahead In Latest SurveyUSA Poll; Independent Does Boucher's Dirty Work And Takes Free Ski Vacations?

Republican House candidate Morgan Griffith, the House of Delegates Majority Leader, continues to gain momentum Virginia's 9th congressional district race. Starting off 20 points down in its first poll a few months ago, the last News7/SurveyUSA poll released a week ago shows a change in the numbers between long-time incumbent Rick Boucher and Delegate Griffith (see SurveyUSA for analysis).

Just a few weeks ago, Boucher appeared to be cruising to another term with double-digit leads. Each subsequent poll showed Griffith making progress until he was within striking distance, and now, possibly poised to a major upset. According to the poll, the race is too close to call as independents have shifted their votes to Griffith, and Boucher's lead among women has evaporated.

Here is a look at the results (see WDBJ.com/News7 for more):

Morgan Griffith (R): 47 percent

Rick Boucher (D): 46 percent

Jeremiah Heaton (I): 4 pecent

Undecided: 3 percent

Margin of error: 4.1 percent

But there's more to the story. The independent, Mr. Heaton, isn't only a wild card, he's more like a wild man. In the most recent debate, he relentlessly attacked Griffith on personal matters, including his wife, while nary a complaint against the incumbent. That's particularly odd, since since elections are referendums on incumbents. But the out of left field attacks on Delegate Griffith's family were over the top. It led to much suspicion in the local media about not only why Mr. Heaton made the attacks, but who put him up to it (see Roanoke Times). Adding to the intrigue was Mr. Boucher's "good cop" approach, which was strange considering his perilous position in the polls. But why do the dirty work if a rapid dog is willing to do it for you? 

But it wouldn't be the Fightin' Ninth if not for still more controversy. The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso recently reported that Mr. Boucher, on top of buying a new Fordwith campaign cash (see Not Larry Sabato), he's been vacationing in plush Rocky Mountain ski resorts on lobbyists money. Seems Mr. Boucher has parlayed his sellout of the coal industry into some influence among the special interests, basically flaunting it in a district that is seeing some of the worst economic conditions in the country.

It's all a Winter Wonderland to Mr. Boucher who seems more and more out of touch with his constituents. Will he be out of a job late tonight?

Will it only snow . . . or completely avalanche on Rick Boucher and the Democrats tonight?

Virginia News Stand: October 28, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  No Obama Affect

Looks like there won't be much of an Obama affect in Virginia. Despite at least a month of radio ads, two weeks of television ads, two appearances by Veep Joe Biden, and now a second campaign stop (not to mention all that DNC cash) for Creigh Deeds, four more polls (Rasmussen, SurveyUSA, Public Policy Polling and VCU's Commonwealth Poll) show not just a McDonnell landslide, but an unprecedented GOP landslide sweep. (The only other GOP sweep in Virginia history, in 1997, featured a close lieutenant governor's race won by John Hager over L.F. Payne.) Not that Obama seems to care. His speech in Norfolk was less than Obamaesque and not particularly rousing on the senator's behalf, with deprecating humor about not wearing his tie straight and something about his hair. It seems the best the POTUS could do was call him "not slick." About the last question that remains is whether the pending landslide will result in appreciable Republican gains in the House of Delegates. 

Meanwhile, the media hits keep coming from our Annual Gala Monday night. See the national attention we received from CitizenLink.org in our top story below.

News:

*Gov. Mike Huckabee Speaks at Virginia Gala (CitizenLink.org)

McDonnell's lead grows (Public Policy Polling Blog)

VCU poll gives Bob McDonnell healthy lead (Decision Virginia Blog/NBC12.com)

Polls: Big GOP lead in Va., N.J. tight (Politico.com)

News7 Poll: Republicans hold double digit leads in statewide contests (WDBJ-TV/WDBJ7.com)

Virginia Governor: McDonnell Stretches Lead To 13 (RasmussenReports.com)

Polls: Big GOP lead in Va.; N.J. race tight (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Deeds reaches for 'Obama energy' (Washington Post)

Obama rallies for Deeds in Va. (Washington Times)

At Norfolk rally, Obama urges backers to boost Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Obama makes pitch for Deeds at Norfolk rally (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

Attorney general rivals are worlds apart despite geographic ties (The Daily Press)

GOP adds $40,000 to Gear's re-election effort (The Daily Press)

Valentine, Garrett rack up campaign donations (Lynchburg News & Advance)

Your voting history could end up in the neighbor's mailbox (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Diradour drops bid to challenge Cantor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Hate-crimes bill spurs some worry from religious groups (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

National News:

Debating gay marriage (Washington Times)

Sabato's Crystal Ball In The Poll Vault

Over the last 24 hours two more polls were released, one by Democrat pollsters Public Policy Polling and the other by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ. Neither typically are considered top tier polls — not necessarily in the same league as Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen. But they have shown interesting, sometimes contradictory, results this campaign season. But now both show Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell with commanding double digit leads (14 and 19 points, respectively). Each also has the other two Republican candidates, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and attorney general nominee Senator Ken Cuccinelli (Fairfax), up by healthy double digit margins. Does the fact that these two newer polls to Virginia politics both show the same trend (though different margins) verify a trend? One who pretty much said so today was U.Va. political soothsayer Larry Sabato. On WRVA radio's Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett, he wouldn't go that far — yet. But he crept up to to the line, which, for Dr. Sabato, is saying a great deal. He said he would release his Crystal Ball's predictions next week.

Listen to Larry Sabato's interview (6:55) with Jimmy Barrett by clicking here.

Here is the analysis (including methodology) and internal numbers from the two polls, including from the polling organizations themselves:

Public Policy Polling 

McDonnell starting to pull away (PublicPolicyPolling.com)

Another Poll Suggests McDonnell Pulling Away From Deeds (CQPolitics Blog)

McDonnell up 12 pts. in new poll (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Both

McDonnell Opens Double-Digit Lead Over Deeds in Virginia (Politics Daily Poll Watch Blog)

SurveyUSA

Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #15927 (SurveyUSA.com)

SurveyUSA Shows McDonnell Clinging to a 59–40 Lead (National Review Online's The Campaign Spot Blog)

News7 Poll: Republicans hold comfortable leads in statewide contests (WDBJ7.com)

Virginia News Stand: October 12, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  The Debate/Mason-Dixon Edition

The news is almost all campaign, with several national articles (including the New York Times, which has two pieces — one specifically on Virginia, in the News section, and one on Virginia and New Jersey and their national implications, in National News) continuing to shine the national flood lights on the commonwealth. Tonight is also debate night, the first live televised one. Will Democrat Creigh Deeds apologize for his negative campaign? Will he finally explain his transportation and tax increase plans (his last attempt at explaining the latter was called "embarrassing" today by his patron, the Washington Post, and now has been turned into a new ad, which will begin running tonight).

Now the Dems, including DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, are targeting Senator Ken Cuccinelli. He began an ad they say is unfair and misrepresents Democrat attorney general candidate Steve Shannon's position on the special session that remedied a Supreme Court decision that would ceased prosecutions on drunk drivers and drug offenders. Hmmm. How do you misrepresent Shannon's view? Calling it a "political stunt" is pretty hard to misinterpret.

But the big news was the release of Mason-Dixon's first poll this campaign season. Mason-Dixon is the gold standard in Virginia political polls. The last poll it conducts, the Sunday before each election day, has never predicted the wrong winner, so it is awaited with baited breath. Its 2009 debut has all three Republicans leading: Bob McDonnell up by eight for governor, Lt. Governor Bill Bollingup by 13, and Cuccinelli up by seven. Not to be outdone, however, is SurveyUSA, which conducted another poll last week for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke and WJLA-TV in Washington (its fourth consecutive weekly poll). It was mostly drowned out by the Washington Post poll results, which showed all three Republicans up by nine. SurveyUSA has the three Republicans up by 11, 17 and 10, respectively. Details on everything mentioned above, and more, are below.

News:

Mason-Dixon Poll: McDonnell up by 8 points over Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch/Lynchburg News & Advance

Mason-Dixon Shows McDonnell by 8 (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Poll: GOP's Bolling, Cuccinelli lead (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia: 4 Weeks Until Votes Are Counted, Republicans Remain Poised to Win 3 Top Statewide Contests (SurveyUSA.com)

Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll (SurveyUSA.com)

Va. Candidates Meet Tonight in First Live TV Debate (Washington Post)

Debate a major moment in Va. governor's race (AP/The Daily Press)

Two State Races May Put Lens on Obama (New York Times)

GOP Launches New Ad on Deeds and Taxes (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Cuccinelli Airs New Ad; Shannon, Kaine Protest (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog

Kaine says Obama supporters key for Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Biden calls Virginia race winnable for Deeds.... (The Shad Plank Blog)

Debate in House race heats up over transportation question (Lynchburg News & Advance)

8th District candidates debate in Roanoke Co. (Roanoke Times)

Sexually explicit novel pulled from Roanoke school libraries (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

Democrats May Lose Two Governors Races (Reuters/New York Times)

McDonnell Holds GOP Comeback Hopes in Virginia; Dems Hope Deeds Bet Pays Off  (PoliticsDaily.com)

House Votes to Add Sexual Orientation to Law on Hate Crimes (Washington Post)

Analysis:

Republican sweep looking likely in Virginia (Josh Kraushaar/The Scorecard Blog Politico.com)

New Rasmussen Poll This Afternoon: McDonnell Up 51-42

We're awash in polls right now and the attending controversy they inevitably entail. But a new poll released a few hours ago may shed light on which polls are more accurate — or not (see Politico.com). Rasmussen Reports today released a poll that shows Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell leading his Democrat opponent, Senator Creigh Deeds, 51-42 (see RasmussenReports.com). Rasmussen's previous poll had the difference at only two percentage points, contributing to the perception of a tightening race. Subsequent polls from the liberal Washington Post (a four-point difference), which has endorsed Deeds, and Public Policy Polling, a Democrat leaning firm, (a five-point difference) confirmed that perception.

Yesterday, however, a SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll had the GOP ticket up by double digits. But it was largely ignored by the Mainstream Media because its results are out of line with the others. Now, the very reputable Rasmussen poll seems as close to the SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll as it does the PPP poll (which one Richmond radio station reported on for a full 24 hours). Furthermore, even the PPP poll has Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and attorney general candidate Senator Ken Cuccinelli up by eight and nine points, respectively, further validating the point of view that the GOP ticket has a significant lead.

Who's right — those who say it's close or those who think the GOP is on its way? We won't know until election day. But Rasmussen does have a track record. According to a testimonial on its Web site, it "produces some of the most accurate and reliable polls in the country today." None other than Virginia politico guru Dr. Larry Sabato said it.

Recent Polls

Two polls on Virginia's statewide campaigns were released within the last 48 hours: one, by the Democrat leaning polling firm, Public Policy Polling, and one by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ-TV. It is interesting to note that the PPP poll has received exponential media coverage, lasting well into the second day after it was released. The SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll was released last night but is hardly causing a blip on the Mainstream Media's radar screen. The most likely explanation is that the SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll seems out of whack when compared to other polls. While many have the governor's race in a four to seven point range, in favor of Republican Bob McDonnell, the SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll shows him up by double digits, as it does his running mates Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, running for re-election, and Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), running for attorney general. Still, that's never stopped the notoriously out of proportion Washington Post polls from getting top billing across the state. 

In what has gone practically unmentioned in the frenzy of the tightening of PPP's poll, however, is that it also shows Lt. Governor Bolling and Senator Cuccinelli leading by eight and nine points, respectively. So, we have a Mainstream Media cherry picking news even from the one poll on which it has focused. Not only that, but by its own admission, the PPP poll's "internals" do not show bad news for McDonnell. Among the fndings (see PPP Blog here):

52% of voters say they're very familiar with the thesis and McDonnell actually has a 55-41 {lead} with that group, reflecting the fact that Republicans are more engaged this year and following the campaign more closely. Deeds is up 56-41 with the 29% of voters who claim moderate knowledge of the thesis.

(Does this mean conservative voters are more informed, or just that they don't watch MSNBC?)

In another blog post,PPP's Tom Jensen writes that Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds leads among voters who were undecided a month ago by 35-32 percent, and lists this as an advantage for him. But it's within the margin of error and not enough to close the gap.

Back to SurveyUSA. Here's a link to its methodology and complete statistical breakdown. It survey 1,000 Virginians, 886 of them registered to vote, and filtered its responses to the 631 of them determined to be likely voters this November.

BREAKING: WDBJ/SurveyUSA Poll Shows GOP Ticket Up By Double Digits

A new statewide poll by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ (see here) released tonight shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell leading his Democrat opponent Creigh Deeds by a 55-41 percent margin. This is in keeping with all other recent polls that show McDonnell ahead, but differs significantly in its margin. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, seeking re-election, leads his Democrat opponent Jody Wagner by a 54-41 margin, and Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) leads Delegate Steve Shannon (D-35, Fairfax) by 53-42 percent in the attorney general campaign. Four percent remain undecided in the governor's race while five percent are undecided in the other two.

Here's the WDBJ video report:

McDonnell Delivers GOP Response To Obama's Weekly Address, Third Poll Shows Him Well Ahead In Governor's Race

What a 24 hours for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell: First, as reported in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot's Pilot on Politics Blog yesterday, a poll by the whack job leftist blog Daily Kos, conducted by Research 2000, has McDonnell up over Democrat Creigh Deeds by a 51-43 margin (see poll internals, here). This is on the heels of polls this week by WDBJ-TV/SurveyUSA that showed him up by 15 percentage points and Public Policy Polling (another liberal pollster) that showed him up by 14 percentage points. (These two polls also show Republicans Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli leading their Democrat opponents by double figures.)

Then, McDonnell was selected by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to give the Republican response to President Barack Obama's weekly radio/Internet address. In it, McDonnell puts some realism into the hype of yesterday's unemployment report (the rate went down, but 240,000 more jobs were lost) and spoke plainly and practically about the dangers of government takeovers of the energy (so-called "cap-and-trade") and health care industries, as well as enabling union dominance at the expense of employee freedom ("card check"); and a how dynamic society free of unnecessary government regulation and litigation can create a prosperous economy. 

Bob McDonnell points to positive policies that unleash freedom and creativity; "cap-and-trade" would put 1,500 Virginians out of work at the MeadWestvaco Plant in Covington.