If we take this week’s PPP poll numbers at face value, what good news and bad news can the candidates find in them?
Good News: He still leads in the race for the nomination, despite that the poll could not have come at a worse time for his primary #’s to be affected negatively by his position on the health care bill.
Bad News: Apparently his stance on health care reform has cost him support for the Democratic nomination, and there is no indication in the PPP poll that it gives him a leg up over Sparks in the general election matchups.
Good News: In the general election matchups, Sparks polls closer to each Republican than Davis does.
Bad News: Still a lot of ground to make up to secure the nomination.
Good News: What’s not good? He leads in polling for the GOP nomination, and he leads in head-to-head matchups with both Davis and Sparks.
Bad News: James and Bentley are still so undefined that it is hard to consider Byrne’s support solid.
Good News: Moore has done almost no campaigning, he has skipped forums, he hasn’t been on TV, and with that, he’s still polling at 23%, just a few points behind front-runner Byrne who is at 27%.
Bad News: He’s got tremendous name ID and most people have likely made up their mind about him. How will he grow support? Bentley or James could nudge him out of run-off.
Good News: Dark horse has grown his numbers.
Bad News: Still a long climb to make it into a run-off and has to hold off James too.
Good News: Definitely room to grow with Moore voters if he can convince them that he is the electable option.
Bad News: His biggest primary competitor for social conservatives is Moore, and Moore has a sturdy lead despite virtually no effort on his part.
Good News: Well… Kay Ivey is out of the race, and her supporters will go somewhere.
Bad News: No indication from his numbers that his campaign is connecting with anyone.
I enjoy being able to turn to people who think about matters like these professionally. From one, I received this.
Considering the Democrats’ primary…
On the surface these numbers are troubling for Davis. They show he’s not running away with the race and the healthcare vote and ensuing coverage did at least some temporary damage.
But even at this possible low ebb, Davis is still roughly breaking even with whites (29% Davis / 33% Sparks) and leading black voters 2:1 (48% Davis / 23% Sparks). If this is reflective of what happens in the primary, then Davis will win with room to spare.
Davis’ calculation has always been that it takes some short-term heartburn among the base to remain viable in the general election. And he is certainly getting some blowback from the base. The silver lining is that he has eight weeks for the Democratic primary electorate to settle down and focus on other issues, and since healthcare ultimately passed it’s easier to imagine primary voters getting over his apostasy than if it had failed.
And while Davis has seen some erosion in his vote, Sparks is still in the mid 20s – which is where polls have had him for months. Davis’ erosion has not yet become Sparks’ gain. Sparks certainly could benefit, but those voters could also slide back into the Davis column once the healthcare vote falls off the radar. Given Davis’ expected financial advantage, Sparks still needs some breaks to keep the fundamental advantages Davis has enjoyed over the past months from reasserting themselves.
On the Republican side…
Definitely good news for Bradley Byrne. It’s not a surprise that Moore is in the top tier of candidates, but James and Bentley are making efforts to break into that top tier. James and (presumably) Bentley – plus Byrne – are still unknown to a majority of the primary electorate so there is still room for them to grow their support.
Moore’s numbers are a disappointment. The conventional wisdom (that Moore’s campaign embraced) was that Moore started the race with a big lead, and his name-ID and loyalty with the GOP base virtually guaranteed him enough of the primary vote to get into a runoff. The PPP poll showed that Moore’s current support is only in the low 20s – and that’s with the other candidates still being unknown to a big chunk of the primary electorate. I’d assume that as Bentley, James, Byrne continue to gain name-ID that Moore’s vote will continue to soften.
If these numbers are to be believed, Byrne’s big lead over everyone but Moore and the ability to expand his vote among the 60% who don’t know him put him on the inside track to make a runoff. James and Bentley have to hope for continued erosion in Moore’s support to open the door for them, or they have to pro-actively take votes away from Byrne and Moore through negative ads.