A Good National Poll

Cook / RT Strategies have conducted a very good national primary poll. It meets many of the criteria I included in my primary season polling wishlist earlier in the week: no Gore or Sharpton, second choices prominently displayed, crosstabs easily available, etc. I suppose it isn't really a surprise that the poll format I approve of most comes from Cook, since both MyDD and the Cook Political Report take election analysis seriously. That is more than you can say for most large news organizations, which happen to commission most of the national primary polls you see.

Cook / RT Strategies, 2/15-2/18, 390 Dems and leaners, MoE 5.0. Trend from Nov-Dec 2006.
Candidate1st ChoiceTrend1st + 2nd Choicew/o Clintonw/o Obamaw/o Edwards
Not sure111123181215
Note: I only listed candidates who received 5% or more under any circumstances. Dodd, Kucinich, Vilsack, and Gravel are combined with the "other" category.

Here are some quick thoughts on this poll:
  1. No evidence of an anti-Clinton vote. Clinton actually receives the majority of second-place votes from Obama supporters (55%), and a narrow plurality of second-place votes from Edwards supporters (25%). It is interesting that Obama supporters seem far more drawn to Clinton as a second place choice than are Edwards supporters.
  2. Top-tier dominates second place. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards supporters all give at least 75% of their second-choice support either to "not sure" or another top-tier candidate. Even Edwards has as many 1st place plus 2nd place votes as all non-top tier candidates combined.
  3. Richardson is the second tier. Richardson is clearly in a tier by himself right now, well behind the big three but well ahead of the rest.
  4. Clinton dominates "other" vote As more polls start to drop Gore from their questions, expect Clinton to continue to rise. Her gain in this poll was drawn almost entirely from "other," and she will receive the majority of support that would have gone to Gore in any poll that does not include Gore. Quite frankly, no national poll should include Gore. I really don't know how much clearer he can make it that he is not running before more polling firms start to wake up. No poll that includes Gore has any claim to offering an accurate view of this campaign.
Interesting stuff. I hope Cook and RT Strategies will conduct polls of Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early states as well. It is nice to see kindred spirits inject some life into the generally poor quality of primary season polling thus far.

Tags: Democrats, polls, President 2008 (all tags)



Clinton and Edwards both gained significantly...

...since Cook's Nov. 9-12 poll, with increases (+8 and +7) outside the margin of error.

I agree, Cook should poll Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

by MeanBoneII 2007-02-24 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

I like it when Cook stops by

by Bob Brigham 2007-02-24 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

He hasn't stopped by yet this year tho... (please prove me wrong Mr. Cook)

by MrMacMan 2007-02-24 10:50PM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

It is interesting that Obama supporters seem far more drawn to Clinton as a second place choice than are Edwards supporters.

I'd suspect that's because what Clinton and Obama have in common is that they're not the standard kind of candidate - first woman President, first black President. I'd bet Edwards supporters are either more motivated by policy or ideology - seeing Clinton as a DLC-type first of all, with gender less important, for instance - or, possibly, the kind of people who actively want a white male President. (I like Edwards and I certainly don't think he's courting that group but it'd be foolish to pretend they don't exist.)

by tatere 2007-02-24 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

There is the element that minorities (both African-American and Hispanics) are very drawn to Bill Clinton, which translates to a large share of the minority vote for Hillary Clinton at this point.  They are also more likely to be a core constituency for Obama, so there is natural overlap.  Many minorities would vote for either Clinton as the first choice, then Obama second, or Obama first, then Clinton second.  Edwards does not enter that picture all that much (IMO) which is why many current Obama voters are also warmed up to Clinton.  

by georgep 2007-02-24 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

You can add women to the base groups as well. Clinton and Obama have the biggest share of that group. It is a win win situation for Clinton and Obama. If either dropped out the other would be gain.

by robliberal 2007-02-24 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

In other words, the bad news for Edwards supporters is that should he gain strength and, say, eventually beat out one of the two (either Hillary or Obama,) the current supporters of HRC and Obama for the most part would just go to their number 2 choice (HRC or Obama,) making it extra hard on Edwards.

I have to tell you, faced with those odds and alignments, if Edwards CAN emerge as the winner in the primary season, he would really deserve the nod.  He is battling some heavy odds here.  It will be interesting to see what Edwards is going to do to make inroads into the minority/women vote as it currently is distributed.  

by georgep 2007-02-25 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

I would suspect that Clinton would be by far the chief beneficiary of the second-tier Bill Richardson vote as well.    

by georgep 2007-02-24 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

With the exception of the war, he wasn't in the Senate then, doesn't Obama and Hillary have a similar voting record?  

by Kingstongirl 2007-02-24 04:11PM | 0 recs
A Good National Poll?

Let's not get too carried away with the goodness of this poll. Some criticisms:

1. It's a national poll. Anybody polled Nevada lately? Hello?

2. There are only 390 responses. That makes it really difficult to say what's going on below the top lines.

3. Re: Gore, Cook could have put him in this particular poll since it's asking about second choices. Wouldn't that be interesting to know, where his supporters are going?

4. There's a question whether polls at this stage have any meaning beyond name recognition. I'd say they don't. This poll exactly tracks what a reasonable person could deduce about name recognition just watching the TeeVee. How about a poll that digs into the public's understanding (or lack thereof) about the candidates' various issues and platforms, to explore how much they're paying attention? For example, I'd like to see a question which asks the public, "To the best of your recollection, did {Senator Hillary Clinton, former Senator John Edwards, Senator Joseph Biden} vote for or against giving President Bush authorization to use military force in Iraq? (Voted For/Voted Against/Don't Know)."  And: "As you vote next year to select a Democratic presidential candidate, what issue do you expect will be the most important to you? (Iraq/Economy/Healthcare/Education/...)" And: "Please tell me whether you think any of the following people will influence your vote next year: journalists, friends or neighbors, co-workers, religious leaders, family members or relatives, Democratic Party leaders or officials, Republican Party leaders or officials, opinion writers or pundits, foreign leaders or officials..."

by BBCWatcher 2007-02-24 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll?

let me guess...you arent supporting Hillary? What a shock!  

This is an indicator of support, this is not 04, everyone polled knew the top 3.  The number polled is fine.  Obviously, the more - mo better, but it wouldnt change the current of support expressed.

by timlhowe 2007-02-24 06:04PM | 0 recs
What's interesting

about this poll, to the extent that national polls can be interesting at this point, is how close Obama and Edwards are, with or without Clinton in the race. Given that they'll be the last two standing, and that Obama has been getting tons of positive press, I'd say this is good news for Edwards.

by david mizner 2007-02-24 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: What's interesting

What?!  Theyll be the last two standing?  What u got plans?  Should we inform the Secret Service?  Or is it that you have secret knowledge, or maybe youre smarter than everyone else and can devine that Hill is doomed?

by timlhowe 2007-02-24 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: What's interesting

Smarter than everyone else? No, just not stupid enough to believe the hype. A centrist who's not a strong general election candidate? Sorry, not this year, not ever.

by david mizner 2007-02-25 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: What's interesting

Friend, this isnt just about enthusiasm, its about the math.  Polling shows that she would be a very strong general election candidate.  Not in a worthless match up with an unknown candidate, but in polls that show voters that would be drawn in by the first time there has been a viable candadicy by a woman.  Do you actually believe that the Clintons (both Bill and Hill) would run if they didnt see a way to win this?  They would not have chosen this road unless they knew the way to a victory.  They have too much to lose if they are wrong.  I know them to be incredibly smart about things.  President Clinton is beyond brilliant when it comes to strategy.  Do you actually believe you understand this election better than they?

by timlhowe 2007-02-26 10:48AM | 0 recs
Richardson at 5%?

As an avid Richardson supporter, I have trouble believing he's at 5%.  I tend to think the small sample size must be affecting things, because given the low level of coverage of his campaign, I can't imagine he's made that kind of jump already.  Most places I've seen having him at 2 or 3%.  But if that 5% starts to show in other Gore-less polls (I agree that Gore in the poll skews things) then that is great news for Richardson.

The fact that 75% of people have their first AND second choice in the top 3 just shows how nationally they are the only ones taken seriously at this point.  If Richardson's number continues to rise, the press will have to give him more attention, which in turn will help his credibility with the voters.

I think before that can happen though, the field has to thin a little bit.  After the Oscars are over, hopefully all the Gore rumors will be put to rest which should shift some focus.  With every day that passes, the entry of Wes Clark becomes less likely, which it should because outside of some sections of the blogosphere I just don't see there being much demand for his candidacy.  Dodd is losing his own state and while he seems like a good senator I don't see what he adds to the race so I think he's probably the most likely to leave next.  I was actually impressed by Biden's Nevada forum appearance, and while he could conceivably make a niche for himself as the foreign policy candidate, I think his loquaciousness will catch up with him sooner or later.  

When all this plays out, I see Richardson standing as the last man left in the second tier.  And if the top candidates keep beating themselves up like they have lately, the public may tire of them, as this is going to be an historically long campaign.  If Richardson keeps emerging above the din of the second tier, then he could really make some noise.

by NoahPinto 2007-02-24 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson at 5%?

The problem for the second tier is they do not have an opening unless one of the top 3 make a major mistake and the odds are against that. If Obama stumbles it becomes a two person race between Clinton and Edwards, if Edwards does not catch on it is a two person race between Clinton and Obama.    

by robliberal 2007-02-24 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Richardson at 5%?

I do agree that the most likely way to emerge into the top tier is for a top tier candidate to make a major mistake, though I don't think that's the only way.  At this point in the campaign, who would've thought Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter or Howard Dean (at least for a while) would emerge?  Because this primary has started so quickly, we tend to think minds are being made up right now, whereas most people really aren't paying attention. Money is a factor, but as long as you can remain competitive and inch up in the polls, a surprise finish in the opening race (whether that be Iowa or if it moves up New Hampshire) than candidates can emerge.  Before Iowa who was talking about Kerry and Edwards being the top 2 guys in the race?  Retail politicking still has a chance to impact this race before money and sheer name recognition takes over.

by NoahPinto 2007-02-24 10:48PM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

These national polls are worthless, worthless, worthless.  They are nothing but name-recognition contests.  The ONLY thing that matters is Iowa.  And everything will be shifting around so much from now until the Iowa caucus, there's just no reason to start paying attention until maybe 3 weeks before.

In fact, don't even waste your time watching polls in the other early primary states.  Whatever happens in Iowa will completely determine how every other state votes.  

by Will Graham 2007-02-25 03:22AM | 0 recs
Re: A Good National Poll

That is not supported by reality.  A typical Iowa bounce is 10%, but with the other states voting closer and closer to the Iowa date, that bounce promises to be even less this time around.  How is Iowa the decider here?  It provides a small bounce, that is all.  If the frontrunner wins Iowa, sure, that means that that person has the inside track for the rest.  Everybody else has to hope that Iowa gives a strong enough boost to overcome deficits that candidate has in other states.  

In other words:  Only to the frontrunner could an Iowa win be the "straw that broke the camel's back" for the other candidates.

by georgep 2007-02-25 04:59AM | 0 recs


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