Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Last Call For The Polls Moving Blue

All the three major polling statistical models for the Senate: WaPo's Election Lab model, NYT's Upshot Leo model, and Five Thirty Eight's model, have shifted significantly towards the Democrats keeping the Senate in November based on a series of polls out in the last two weeks.

Election Lab puts Democrats' chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent -- a huge change from even a few months ago when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control. (Worth noting: When the model showed Republicans as overwhelming favorites, our model builders -- led by George Washington University's John Sides -- warned that the model could and would change as more actual polling -- as opposed to historical projections -- played a larger and larger role in the calculations. And, in Republicans' defense, no one I talked to ever thought they had an 80 percent chance of winning the majority.)

So, what exactly has changed to move the Election Lab projection? Three big things:

* Colorado: On August 27 -- the last time I wrote a big piece on the model -- Election Lab said Sen. Mark Udall (D) had a 64 percent chance of winning. Today he has a 94 percent chance.

* Iowa: Two weeks ago, the model gave state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) a 72 percent chance of winning. Today she has a 59 percent chance.

* Kansas: Sen. Pat Roberts' (R) re-election race wasn't even on the radar on Aug. 27. Today, Election Lab predicts he has just a 68 percent chance of winning.

In addition to that trio of moves in Democrats' direction, Louisiana has moved slightly in Democrats' favor (from a 57 percent chance of losing to a 53 percent chance) as has North Carolina (a 97 percent chance of winning now as opposed to a 92 percent chance on Aug. 27).

By contrast, Alaska has moved in Republicans' direction (Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's chances of winning are down from 66 percent to 53 percent) and Georgia has become more of a sure-thing hold (a 91 percent GOP win versus an 84 percent hold).

Upshot's Leo model has also made big moves.  It has Republicans favored in 5 pickups, with Iowa and Alaska as tossups favoring the Dems: one short of what Republicans would need.  Five Thirty Eight has Alaska's tossup shaded towards the GOP, giving them six pickups, but Kansas, Alaska, Louisiana ans Arkansas are all in play for the Dems.

The bottom line:  Two weeks ago all these models had Republicans getting 6-10 seats.  Now it's 5 to 7 at most.

Expect more polling data as the weeks go by, but don't be surprised if the Dems start putting away races now that voters are paying attention.

I Sure Hate Obama. But I Love Obamacare

Anyone who thought poor white Kentucky voters would be grateful in any way, shape, or form to the Democrats and especially President Barack Obama for the Affordable Care Act knows absolutely nothing about political science, social science, or race relations in the Bluegrass State.

The Affordable Care Act allowed Robin Evans, an eBay warehouse packer earning $9 an hour, to sign up for Medicaid this year. She is being treated for high blood pressure and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, after years of going uninsured and rarely seeing doctors.

I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

Ms. Evans said she did not want the law repealed but had too many overall reservations about Democrats to switch her vote. “Born and raised Republican,” she said of herself. “I ain’t planning on changing now.”

You thought Obama was going to get credit for Obamacare here in Kentucky?  Suckers.

Why would people like Ms. Evans who are benefiting from the law vote for candidates who would dismantle it? Gov. Steven L. Beshear, one of the few Democrats forcefully promoting the law here, said many were driven by a dislike of Mr. Obama. A recent CNN poll found that only 33 percent of likely voters here approved of his job performance, and that 63 percent disapproved.

The campaign by the Affordable Care Act’s critics against it has been very effective in demonizing the phrase Obamacare and anything to do with the president,” said Mr. Beshear, who cannot seek re-election next year because of term limits. “So I think you find a reluctance on the part of people, even though the law is benefiting them, to publicly acknowledge it.”

You think a bunch of white voters in Kentucky are going to be grateful to a black President for any goddamn thing?  Tell me another one.

That message has not persuaded people like Billy Bishop of Lexington, who is retired and gets health insurance through his former employer. He said his out-of-pocket costs had risen sharply while his coverage had gotten worse. He blames the Affordable Care Act — particularly its expansion of Medicaid to many more low-income Americans.

I haven’t heard anything good about it, to be honest,” said Mr. Bishop, who has diabetes and heart stents. “I’ve heard with this, you can’t get doctors’ appointments and people get put on wait lists for surgery.”

Nonetheless, at the state fair, Mr. Bishop, 57, and his wife, Cindy, 56, stopped by an information booth run by Kynect, the state’s health insurance marketplace. Mrs. Bishop was curious about whether she could get less expensive coverage through Kynect, even though her husband refused to consider it for himself.

She took some brochures but said that regardless of what she learned about the cost, she and her husband would vote for Mr. McConnell. Mrs. Bishop said Ms. Grimes was “with Obama on everything,” and she called the president “the worst we’ve ever had.”.

They'd rather die than sign up for Kynect.  They will complain, lie, bitch, and moan every step of the way before they admit it's helping them.  They don't believe a word about Kynect...but they don't believe Mitch McConnell will repeal it, either.

But wait until Hillary starts running on fixing Obamacare.  Suddenly it'll be the best thing Democrats ever did.

Is Maine's Eliot Cutler The New Ralph Nader?

It sure looks like it.  The latest PPP poll finds incumbent Tea Party Republican Gov. Paul LePage only getting 42% of the vote.  But that might be enough as Democrat Mike Michaud has 43%, and independent Cutler has 11% of the vote, enough to spoil the race and keep LePage in power.

Public Policy Polling’s newest survey of the Maine Governor’s race continues to find a tight contest with Mike Michaud at 43% to 42% for Paul LePage. Eliot Cutler trails in a distant third at 11%. We attribute the closeness of the race to a continued split among progressive-leaning voters. Without Cutler’s presence in the race, his supporters would overwhelmingly choose Michaud over LePage; in a two way matchup between Michaud and LePage, Michaud’s lead would be 50/46.

The good news is Cutler's progressive supporters are realizing that if he stays in the race, LePage is going to win again.  They're starting to turn to Michaud:

Cutler is becoming a less viable candidate as we get closer to Election Day. When PPP started polling in this contest in January of 2013, Cutler was at 26%. By August of last year, he had dropped down to 18%, then to 14% this April, and now he’s at his lowest level of support yet at 11%. Cutler is in a distant third place even with independents, despite being an independent. 
53% of Cutler’s supporters say they would pick Michaud in a head to head contest, compared to only 32% who say they would vote for LePage. The support he’s pulling from Michaud could be enough to reelect LePage in this razor thin contest. 
Paul LePage is one of the most unpopular governors in the country, and most voters in Maine want to replace him. Given the closeness of the race right now, they will need to unify around one of the two candidates challenging LePage. This poll is further confirmation that Michaud is the only candidate with the support necessary to defeat LePage in November.

So that's good.  Mainers are starting to realize that Cutler's taking enough support from Michaud to give LePage the possible win, and they're moving to Michaud.  Hopefully this trend will continue, because LePage really is one of the worst Tea Party governors in the country right now and he has to go.

For that to happen, Cutler can't be allowed to Nader this one into the GOP column.


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