Campaign polls, or other sponsored polling, often tries to do far more than that. They are released to establish a narrative.
Today, on a relatively slow polling day, we will explore some of those motives, because there are some pretty intriguing ones today.
On to the numbers:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (CBS News): Romney d. Obama (47-46)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (Fox News): Obama d. Romney (45-41)
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-45)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-46)
NATIONAL (YouGov): Obama d. Romney (47-44)
NEW JERSEY (Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (49-38)
NEW MEXICO (PPP): Obama d. Romney (49-44)
VIRGINIA (Rasmussen): Obama d. Romney (47-46)
FL-16 (Public Opinion Strategies for Buchanan): Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) 54, Keith Fitzgerald (D) 32A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...
NJ-SEN (Quinnipiac): Sen. Robert Menendez (D) 47, Joe Kyrillos (R) 34
WA-01 (DMA Market Research for Hobbs): John Koster (R) 30, Darcy Burner (D) 13, Steve Hobbs (D) 12, Suzan DelBene (D) 11, Laura Ruderman (D) 5
Of course, the easiest place to detect a motive for a poll's release is when a campaign or an interested organization is the one dropping the poll for public view.
As it happens, we get three of those "internal polls" today.
One of the three, a series of Senate polls conducted for the Chamber of Commerce, was not included in the Wrap because some basic ingredients (the name of the pollster, the towlines in one of the three states polled) are missing. But the motive for the release is far more transparent than the data itself. The Chamber wants it known that (a) a Republican takeover of the Senate is quite possible, if not probable, and (b) their candidates are in better position than other pollsters might suggest. The series of polls give three Democratic-held seats (Hawaii, Montana, and Virginia) to the GOP candidates by margins ranging from 5-7 points.
The second offering of the internal variety came from Washington state Democratic candidate Steve Hobbs, whose own polling puts him right in the middle of a trio of Democrats vying for the second slot in a "top two" primary in the newly drawn (and more conservative) Washington 1st district. One slot is preordained—the lone Republican in the mix (2010 WA-02 nominee John Koster) is guaranteed one of the two slots. So, Hobbs seemingly wanted it to be clear that none of the other Democrats in the field has even a marginal claim to being the frontrunner for the second golden ticket for November. An interesting secondary lesson from that poll was offered earlier today by our own David Jarman. He points out that looking at the combined totals for Suzan DelBene and Laura Ruderman (who seemingly are trying to attract the same voters), it becomes quite clear why Ruderman is targeting DelBene ahead of all others in the field.
The final offering comes from Florida veteran Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, who dropped an internal poll showing him way up on Democratic state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald. This release, ultimately, is a not-so-subtle attempt to quell the growing sense that this could be a sleeper House race, given Buchanan's relatively lackluster fundraising as of late, coupled with his ethical issues. It is no accident, I would submit, that team Buchanan felt compelled to share an internal poll showing the margin in this race exactly where it was early in the Spring. It is a clear effort to reassure supporters that there has been no measurable erosion despite some bad media cycles for the incumbent.
In other polling news ...
- That CBS News poll is somewhat of a rarity, in that it shows Mitt Romney staked to a lead. Sure, it is a statistically insignificant lead, but aren't most of them, at least recently? Inside the numbers, there are some data points that have to be of deep concern for Democrats and Team Obama. Nearly two-thirds of voters polled by CBS News think that the policies of the president contributed to the economic downturn. What's more: Voters are slightly more likely to say that Mitt Romney's presidency would improve their economic situation (32 percent) than to say that Barack Obama's presidency would do the same (26 percent).
- As for one of the other major national polls out today, Fox News has Obama +4. But you'd never know it, if you relied on ... ahem ... Fox News for your news. Check this out.
- PPP's new numbers out of New Mexico would probably be considered both surprising, and pessimistic, in the eyes of Democrats who have grown accustomed to seeing Barack Obama hold a lead of double digits in the Land of Enchantment. Nate Cohn of the The New Republic is a skeptic, pointing out that the PPP sample that created the Obama +5 result had a much closer spread in their reported 2008 vote preferences than actually existed in 2008. The sample was Obama +8 in 2008, when he actually won by 15. However, other numbers in the poll seem pretty decent—the liberal/conservative gap, if anything, seems friendly for Obama, and the partisan ID gap seems reasonable. I suspect, as Cohn does, that Obama might've caught a bad sample of Latino voters (I find it hard to believe his standing with this segment of the electorate has eroded since earlier in the year). Now, we can wait and see if future polling contradicts or confirms.
- Speaking of things in that New Mexico poll where we will eagerly await additional data, PPP finds an interesting and counterintuitive data point. They tested Libertarian (and former New Mexico governor) Gary Johnson. Conventional wisdom would dictate that Johnson, a one-time Republican and a brief entrant in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, would draw from Mitt Romney. But PPP found, conversely, that Johnson's 13 percent came incrementally more from Obama supporters (particularly Independent voters) than from Romney supporters. If true, this is really worth keeping an eye on.