How about now?
Have the ideas proffered by Bob McDonnell in his thesis and covered widely this week sunk in among likely voters? More importantly, has it had any impact? The Rasmussen poll that was in the field on the Monday after the news broke showed very little, if any movement away from McDonnell or toward Deeds since the previous survey of the state from the polling firm. The same is true of the Survey USA poll that was released on Friday night (before a holiday weekend!?!).
|2009 Virginia Gubernatorial Race Polling|
|Poll||Date||Margin of Error||Sample||Deeds||McDonnell||Undecided|
|Survey USA||Sept. 1-3, 2009||+/- 4%||611 likely voters||42||54||4|
Since the firm's last poll in the race (in late July), there has essentially been no movement. Sure, it appears as if there has been a slight shift toward Deeds -- the gap has closed in the interim period from 15 to 12 points -- but that movement is within the margin of error.
So the thesis has had no impact?
Well, it looks that way doesn't it? But let's look a bit more closely at the toplines of this poll. What segment of the likely voting population would be expected to be most affected by the news of the thesis. Other than Democrats, the most obvious answer is women (Yes, there is a fairly broad overlap between the two.). The underlying "a woman's place is in the home" theme that peppers the thesis would hypothetically motivate women (on average) to want to vote against Bob McDonnell or say they would.
But what do we see in the latest Survey USA poll? First of all, women in this sample actually prefer McDonnell to Deeds by a margin of seven points. And secondly, that has increased since the firm's last, pre-thesis poll in July. Now, this is a finding that runs counterintuitively to what we know of electoral politics. Typically, women side with the Democratic candidate. That varies from race to race, but more often than not that gender gap is present to some extent. Before we dismiss this poll -- something FHQ wouldn't do anyway -- let's look at some other recent polls and how the samples broke along gender lines.
This isn't an exhaustive examination, but let's look at this trend in the polls conducted during and since August. The polls for which we have data in that period are the Public Policy Polling survey conducted last weekend and the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll done earlier in August. The Washington Post poll, though it released a ton of data, did not include the gender breakdown and the two Rasmussen polls* are excluded. For good measure, let's throw in that July Survey USA poll and the earlier August poll from PPP.
PPP (early Aug.):Honestly, those results are all over the place; especially those PPP numbers. They represent the two extremes, +12 McDonnell (in the early August poll that showed McCain voters outnumbering Obama voters by 11 points in the sample) to +9 Deeds in their latest poll. Granted across all of these polls, we're talking about subsamples, but on gender; not on something like liberal Republicans who voted for Obama, for example. It's a healthy subsample in other words. If we simply average the spreads in these five polls (not accounting for any kind of decay in the polls' weights over time) we find McDonnell ahead by about 3 points among women. At least that gives us some baseline for comparison. It provides us with enough information to say, "Well, it looks like this recent Survey USA poll shows a but more support for the Republican than average."
The bottom line is that this is still a somewhat striking result given what we know of the gender gap. However, at least we have some context now.
Gender wasn't what Survey USA thought was interesting in this particular poll. To the firm it was about the 2008 vote choice of the respondents in the sample. "Of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and who are judged by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in November 2009, 13% cross-over for McDonnell, twice the number of McCain voters who cross-over for Deeds." Yeah, that catches your eye, too. I'd really like to see those cross-overs isolated (talk about a subsample) just so we can see what the characteristics of a typical Obama-McDonnell or McCain-Deeds respondent are.
That may be asking too much.
For the moment, though, it looks as if McDonnell has yet to be affected by the thesis revelation. It still feels too early to me for there to have been an effect. [This coming week's polls will be indicative.] That hunch is conditioned by the presence of the story to some extent. If it continues to get play in the media, that obviously increases the chances that it will potentially have an effect (exposure theory). Of course, the more polls released that show no impact, the better for McDonnell. That will serve to shift the narrative away from his previous writings.
*Yeah, I'm still too cheap to pony up for the Rasmussen subscription that would provide me with a more in-depth series of crosstabs for these polls. If you're reading this, have a Rasmussen subscription and would like to share that gender information with our readers, just drop a comment in the comments section below.
The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter (Aug. 2009)
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/2/09)
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/1/09)