Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PPP Looks at the Recall Senate Districts

Above all, this data is fascinating in so far as it represents the rare occasion whereby state senate districts are given a thorough polling and then the results are made public. There's a funky chart you don't want to miss at the link, but here's the take-away:
"Vote Incumbent" and "Vote Democrat" summarize data from our most critical question. We asked poll-takers whether, in a hypothetical election that would be held later this year, they'd support the incumbent (whom we mentioned by name), or his/her "Democratic opponent." (This sort of question is often described as testing a "generic Democrat.") Here, the results give us reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Three Republican incumbents actually trail "generic Dem": Luther Olsen, Randy Hopper, and Dan Kapanke. Two more have very narrow leads and garner less than 50% support: Rob Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf. And one more, Alberta Darling, holds a clear lead but is still potentially vulnerable. (Two recall-eligible senators, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, sit in extremely red districts and look to have safe leads.) These numbers suggest we have a chance to make five and possibly six recall races highly competitive.
 Also worth noting:
One final detail: You'll notice that in the table up above, the last column reads "Number of Responses." That refers to how many people actually completed our poll when we called them. If you're familiar with electoral polling at all, those numbers are simply eye-popping, particularly for state senate districts. Our target was 600 to 800 respondents per poll, and yet we got well into the two thousand range for all but one of them (and even that outlier had over 1,300). What does this mean? The only reasonable conclusion is that an unusually high proportion of Wisconsinites are tuned into this conflict, and when given the opportunity to make their opinions heard, they jumped at the chance. While we can't yet say for sure whether the enthusiasm gap has been erased, we do know that folks in Wisconsin are very definitely paying attention.

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