Friday, September 19, 2014

TV Ads Work – Denver Post

Jeremy Meyer reports that nearly $13 million has been spent in 2014 on 23,000 political ads. About two-thirds came from “independent” outside groups. The amount spent on TV continues to climb ($10 million in 2010) in spite of fragmentation of television and many alternatives.

The reason is:

“TV persuades,” said political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “If Sen. [Mark] Udall wants to bombard suburban women, that is where he and his allies will spend. For a mass audience, if you’ve got a good message, you are doing TV.”

Ciruli also keeps predicting an end to the TV ad gravy train.

“My theory is that both the expense and the saturation will cause it to lower its persuasive power,” he said. “People will come up with ways to avoid it. ... But it hasn’t moved an inch so far. There is even more money being put into it.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Udall Challenge

Mark Udall is in a very difficult race for re-election. His share of the vote has exceeded 50 percent only once out of 15 surveys since March 2014. With massive negative advertising, Udall and supporting independent organizations have opened a gap of four points on average over Cory Gardner. But, as the Denver Post reported last week in their poll, the race could go either way.

Democratic senators in 2014 re-elections were elected, and in Udall’s case, first elected with President Obama during his election in 2008. And in spite of herculean efforts to separate from him, Udall is still highly affected by both the normal midterm association with the incumbent president and specific problems, such as ISIS, immigration and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • The President has lost the confidence of the public on foreign policy and his rush to catch up may not change enough opinions that the ISIS problem was partially his fault and, in any event, he was slow to react.
  • Immigration, which was to be a Democratic asset in this election with Anglo voters supportive of a path to citizenship and Hispanic voters anxious for a promised presidential remedy for large-scale deportations. Now, both groups are dissatisfied with the President as he has delayed his deportation relief and the surge to the southern border has shifted Anglo opinion to border enforcement from citizenship.
  • The ACA continues to be unpopular with the public. Pew Research reports it is approved by 44 percent of the public and disapproved by 53 percent.
The three issues have the possibility of pressuring independents to oppose Udall and Hispanics to just not vote.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Has the Wave Begun?

The Real Clear Politics generic ballot test average has just jumped from a percentage point for Democrats, where it sat for the entire spring and summer, to four points for the Republicans since September 6. The last time the Democrats won a single test was a USA Today/Pew Research poll on August 24. And clearly the President and foreign policy have been driving the polls with the President’s August vacation and the crisis in Iraq with television coverage of beheadings.

The generic ballot test, along with the presidential approval, contributes to the forecasting of the midterm elections.

Pew Research reports on September 12 that Republicans have a three-point advantage with likely voters on the generic ballot test. They point out that Republicans had a seven-point advantage in September 2010 when they retook the House and a six-point advantage just prior to 2010 Election Day.

Forecasting the U.S. Senate – Post-Labor Day

The New York Times forecasting unit, called The Upshot, gives Republicans a bare 51 percent advantage to win the six seats needed to take control of the U.S. Senate.

It had been more than 60-40 from mid-August to early September. But, as the forecast models have shifted from historic data (i.e., who won the state, Obama or Romney) to current polling, Democratic prospects have improved. Mark Udall is one of the Democratic incumbents who have moved from toss-up to likely winner in most forecasts. Each new reported public poll is increasing his odds of winning. He’s now 82 percent likely to win in the Upshot model. Although, they still have Udall on their competitive list.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ISIS and the Midterm Election – 9KUSA

Presidents can get a surge of support in national crises as they take action.
President Obama was overdue to look presidential as he did in his ISIS speech last Wednesday. However, early returns show no change in his approval numbers overall (42% average now) or in foreign policy (32% in WSJ/NBCpoll, 9-9-14; 34%, 9-13-14).
In a follow-up poll (9-13-14), the Wall Street Journal shows more than 62 percent of the public is supportive of the plan. But, 68 percent are skeptical it will work. If the plan has problems in implementation, Republicans and independents may fault him for poor leadership. Democrats, who are still mostly supportive of him, remain ambivalent toward more military action in the Middle East. Local Democrats, like Mark Udall and Andrew Romanoff, could suffer if the President’s leadership appears weak.
“The president is to some extent playing catch-up. The American people have moved in front of him,” 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli said. “Foreign policy could be an issue in a midterm election. That is fairly unusual. It happened in 2006. We were really angry with President Bush over the slow and agonizing course of the war in Iraq. This time it looks like it's moving in the opposite direction.”
The announcement of a strategy that has some preliminary support from Republicans could swing attention away from the speed of the response.
“We tend to rally behind our presidents when we feel there’s a crisis,” Ciruli said, with a nod the president’s sagging approval ratings. “I think there's a possibility that he could come out of this a lot better than he's been looking.”

Are Incumbents in Trouble?

In every recent election cycle it has appeared incumbent U.S. House members were in trouble and could be voted out of office simply because they were the current officeholder. It never happens, although there have been years when a few more incumbents lose primaries and general elections. But, it’s still a rare event.

The speculation has been stronger this year because incumbent approval and re-elect questions have been at historic lows. Also, the dislike of Washington D.C. in general and both parties is high, apparently mitigating the normal tendency in midterm elections to reign in the incumbent president’s party; i.e., in 2014 a vote against Obama and for Republicans, including incumbents.

In Colorado, do Republican Congressman Mike Coffman and Democrat Senator Mark Udall run with the 2014 incumbent disadvantage? Both of their opponents are making use of “it’s time for a change” and “Washington is the problem, not the solution” themes.

Some data:
  • Congressional approval 14%. Lowest Gallup midterm measure since 1974. Lowest point of 9% reported after shutdown in November 2013.
  • Disapprove own U.S. House representative – 51% (new record high) (ABC/Washington Post, 8-5-14)
  • “Most members of congress should be re-elected (19%). 50% say re-elect own congressperson. The last time this low was 1994 and 2010 when the House changed hands (Gallup, 8-18-14)
  • Favor parties: Democrats – 49%, Republicans – 35% (ABC/Washington Post, 8-5-14). Last low point for Republicans in favorability was the shutdown in October 2013 (32%) and impeaching Clinton in December 1998 (31%).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Panic in the White House – Foreign Policy

On September 9, there was more panic in the White House than at ISIS headquarters in Raqqa. The President’s team knew they were in trouble on foreign policy as his competence numbers kept falling over the summer. Democrats, like Senator Dianne Feinstein, took up criticism and the ongoing crises in the Syria/Iraq became personal and visual with the beheadings of Americans.

The administration’s political and foreign policy team saw their time was running out after the rapid criticism of the President’s comment that they lacked a strategy.

But it was the arrival of new round of polls that put the entire Democratic establishment on notice that foreign policy could become the coup de grĂ¢ce in an already terrible midterm election environment that finally rushed the President to announce he was shifting from his policy of restraint to one of action, even if cautiously defined.

Could foreign policy produce the wave?

Although most indicators do not show a wave of support for Republican candidates today and foreign policy is not usually an issue in midterms, the latest polls suggest the public is so concerned about the administration’s poor performance that they may take it out on Democrats in November.

The American people have moved much more rapidly than the administration on desire for a plan and leadership. President Obama and his team have been mostly on the defensive since the mixed signals and changed direction in the Syrian Red Line decision one year ago.

The headlines on September 9th, the day before the President’s speech, were a harsh judgment on this leadership:

ABC News, 9-9-14. Obama hits a new low for leadership, with criticism on ISIS and immigration alike:
  • 38% approve handling international affairs (down 8% since July)
  • 52% to 42% presidency more a failure than a success
  • 52% been too cautious with ISIS, 65% air strikes in Syria, 71% for general air strikes against ISIS
WSJ/NBC News, 9-9-14. Support grows for military action:
  • 61% military action against ISIS is national interest, only 21% supported action in Red Line in August 2013
  • Obama’s job approval 40%, foreign policy approval 32%
  • 47% feel less safe than before 9-11-01, up from 21% a year ago
  • 54% say Republicans more trusted to maintain a strong defensive
CNN Poll, 9-9-14. Finds majority of Americans alarmed by ISIS:
  • 70% say ISIS threat to U.S.
  • 70% believe ISIS could launch attack on U.S.
  • 76% support air strikes, but not troops on ground 61% to 38%
  • 30% president has clear plan to deal with ISIS
  • 43% approve role as commander-in-chief, 55% disapprove