Obama Hurt Deeds in Virginia

obama-deedsPollster Glen Bolger (a founding partner at my wife’s firm) looks at the data in the Virginia governor’s race and concludes that Barack Obama hurt Democrat Creigh Deeds.

At the end of tracking, we added some questions paid for by the Republican National Committee specifically to measure the Obama effect.

[…]

The dominant national issue at that time (and still) is health care. Only 44% of likely voters support the Obama plan, while 50% oppose it. Intensity is strongly against — 29% strongly favor/42% strong oppose. The question was worded:

“As you may have heard, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are preparing a plan to change the health care system. From what you have heard about this plan, do you favor or oppose Obama and the Democrats’ health care proposal?”

We also asked a message question that was stunning for two reasons. One, it was stunning in its rejection of the notion of the Democratic wave of 2006-08 is any lasting move, and it was stunning for how close it was to the final election margin:

“I’m going to read you two statements, and please tell me which one comes closest to your opinion.

Some/Other people say it is more important to elect a Governor who will help President Barack Obama implement his agenda.

Other/Some people say that it is more important to elect a Governor who will serve as a check and balance to President Barack Obama.”

Voters opted for the check and balance by a 55%-35% margin. Independents (who voted for Obama by one point in 2008 in Virginia) opted for a check and balance by an overwhelming 58%-25% margin. Throughout our tracking, we regularly found open-ended comments from Independent voters saying they wanted to balance the overwhelming power that the Democrats have in Washington. Given the absolute power the Dems have in DC, that is a very strong message for GOPers running in 2010.

We tested the impact of the Obama endorsement — 24% said they were more likely to vote for Deeds, while 32% were less likely. The minus eight increment on that can not be encouraging to the White House.

Finally, we tested a simple agree/disagree: “Creigh Deeds’ policies are too close to the policies of President Barack Obama.” Fully 52% agreed and only 30% disagreed. By intensity, 30% strongly agreed and only 9% strongly disagreed. Revisionists on the left are blaming Deeds for not embracing Obama enough, but Virginia voters did not agree. Among Independents, it was 52% agree/28% disagree.

His bottom line is that Obama’s “policies have put fiscal and economic messages back into play for Republicans.”

Presumably, by 2010, it will be even harder for Democrats to run against George W. Bush or the Republican Congress of 2006.  The degree to which Obama will be an asset or a liability to his party will, of course, depend on intervening events.  If we’re still looking at 10 percent unemployment next November, it’ll almost certainly be the latter.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    I don’t doubt that Republicans can create cognitive dissonance and frustration in the minds of many voters. Kinda sad, isn’t it?

  2. rodney dill says:

    … can create cognitive dissonance and frustration in the minds of many voters.

    Obama’s already doing that on his own… the Republicans only need to capitalize on the discord the libs are sowing.

  3. JKB says:

    Vote to put adult supervision in Congress

    That to me seems to be a viable slogan for 2010. It would help the Republicans but also some moderate Democrats. In all cases, it would be center to center right that would be helped.

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    The sad part Odo is the leadership of the Democrats are not listening to the will of the people and are calling names, those who disagree. Obama has been talking out of both sides of his mouth. It is not going to take republicans to point that out.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Vote to put adult supervision in Congress

    Hahahahaha…oh, you mean like John Boehner? Mitch McConnell? Pardon me for all the chuckling…

  6. Richard says:

    What’s sad to me is that this “overwhelming power that the Democrats have in Washington” has so far prevented them from passing a health care bill. I also haven’t seen any action on climate change and banking reform. Note that this comment does not make any value judgment on such a bill.

  7. just me says:

    They do have overwhelming power, the problem is that the power in their own party isn’t unified on how best to handle the big questions. They can agree that there are problems with healthcare, but they don’t agree on how to fix it.

    That’s the way it works.

    About the only thing the senate will have an easy time with are judicial appointments, everything else is going to cause tension.

  8. odograph says:

    Here’s the deal:

    If you understand this debt and credit crisis, you also understand there are no easy paths from here. The shallow response is to wind people up about the other guy’s plans, while carefully avoiding your own.

    Sure, Obama’s plan entails pain. It has to.

    (If you think I’m wrong, just describe your pain-free alternative.)

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Obama’s plans entail a government takeover of industry. Obama is a socialist at least and a Marxist at worst, or did he change when he became President? Check out all of his mentors, heros and associates. Do a background check on his advisors. From Frank M. Davis to Bill Ayers. Obama is not black he is red.

  10. odograph says:

    Yeah Zelsdorf, only if you are nutty enough to believe every other market democracy on the planet is “socialist at least and a Marxist at worst.”

  11. odograph says:

    BTW, Zelsdorf is describing exactly the cognitive dissonance of which I speak. He is vulnerable to words like “socialist” and “Marxist” to such a degree that he is drawn into a black and white parallel world. It’s an emotional world, where what something is called is more important than what it is.

    Loads of people, at the low end of the independent thinking scale, will think any new healthcare is “socialist” and “Marxist” while the Medicare status quo is somehow “free market.”

  12. Rick Almeida says:

    To be fair, ZRIII is a troll, and therefore doesn’t engage any ideas on their merits.

  13. odograph says:

    ZRIII is a troll, but a lot of people go to tea party protests … I think many are drawn into forgetting what they like (and what works) in a mixed economy.

  14. odograph says:

    Data point of the day:

    A Hewitt Associates study shows that 46 percent of workers with 401(k) plans who lost or switched jobs cashed the plans in, a trend that could lead to serious problems when younger generations of people working today reach retirement.

    A lot of pain going around.

  15. Franklin says:

    The two main things that I worried about when I voted for Obama were 1) his inexperience, and 2) the power that the Democrats got. But it was still preferable to the alternative, and with any luck both of those problems will be solved by 2012, if not 2010.

    By the way, I think Bolger’s conclusion is wrong – he is merely projecting there. Obama’s policies for the most part were expected, but moderates like myself want (and always have wanted) checks and balances.

  16. No good Deeds go unpunished?

  17. Steven Donegal says:

    “I’m going to read you two statements, and please tell me which one comes closest to your opinion.

    Some/Other people say it is more important to elect a Governor who will help President Barack Obama implement his agenda.

    Other/Some people say that it is more important to elect a Governor who will serve as a check and balance to President Barack Obama.”

    This is what I love (hate) about pollsters. They give people a choice of two positions, neither of which has any validity, and then ask them to choose. In what possible way, can the governor of Virginia help implement the Obama “agenda” (another great, loaded word) or serve as a check and balance? And then they draw weighty conclusions from the answers, which just happen to coincide with the views of the people paying for the poll.

  18. This Guy says:

    “…with any luck both of those problems will be solved by 2012, if not 2010” Franklin —

    This is Bolger’s point. Not sure why you echoed it, and then said you disagreed with it. His assertion is that moderates are swinging to McDonnell to add balance and that it is a trend that will carry into 2010…

    Steven Donegal — This is a pretty fair way to ask a question and as you can see, the sum does not equal 100%, so there was obviously a portion that said “Neither”, “Both”, or “Don’t Know”. The fact that 9 of 10 VA voters would commit one way or the other is evidence that each option actually has “validity”. Among Independents, there are more “don’t know” people as that group is less eager to commit to “extremes”, but here still more than 8 of 10 are able to choose one or the other. Writing these questions is not as easy as it may seem.

  19. Drew says:

    “Sure, Obama’s plan entails pain. It has to.”

    LOL Yeah, he boldly confronts the issue, claiming that only 3% of the taxpaying population will suffer a tax increase. All else? EZ street.

    Now THAT’s REALLY confronting the issue and giving Americans the hard medicine.

    ROTFLMAO

  20. odograph says:

    May 14 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.

    But yeah, let Obama eat the carry-over debt from the Bush administration, deal with the Medicare Drug Plan – and howl whenever “socialist” Obama edges toward taxes. That’s the ticket.

  21. Franklin says:

    This is Bolger’s point. Not sure why you echoed it, and then said you disagreed with it. His assertion is that moderates are swinging to McDonnell to add balance and that it is a trend that will carry into 2010…

    Just for clarity, I am disagreeing with what James called Borger’s bottom line: “Obama’s policies have put fiscal and economic messages back into play for Republicans.” What I am saying is that Obama’s policies haven’t changed my opinion regarding those Republican positions, at least not substantially. Perhaps *I* am projecting to think that most moderates feel the same way – we voted in Obama to make a correction, and at some point there will need to be another correction the opposite way.

  22. sam says:

    To be fair, ZRIII is a troll

    That’s a slur on trolls.

  23. Tlaloc says:

    Unconvincing blog post. POS (no, really, that’s their acronym) is an admittedly republican outfit that doesn’t seem to make any of their polling public (at least I can’t find any of their polling in the pollster listing of VA-GOV polls).

    So why are we taking this guy’s word for it that Obama hurt Deeds? If there’s anything this last election should have proven, it’s that there are republican pollsters willing to say anything their clients want (*cough* Hoffman +15 *cough*).

  24. floyd says:

    One obvious problem is that those in congress already see themselves as “adult leadership” at the expense of their constituents,whom they see as dependent children!

  25. anjin-san says:

    So why are we taking this guy’s word for it that Obama hurt Deeds?

    Well, Republicans are because it is what they want to hear. After 8 years of living in the Bush/Cheney bubble universe, they are in no hurry to embrace any sort of reality. Witness the canonization of Palin, a babbling dimwit on her better days…

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    Well, Republicans are because it is what they want to hear. After 8 years of living in the Bush/Cheney bubble universe, they are in no hurry to embrace any sort of reality. Witness the canonization of Palin, a babbling dimwit on her better days…

    lol, um who um is um the um guy um you um got um elected um?

    I know the telepromter don’t talk like this…….

  27. Bill H says:

    Agree with Steven Donegal’s point, and to go one further…

    People generally favor “checks and balances” in government. Our whole form of government is one of “checks and balances.” That is fundamental to our form of government, and I suspect many people are aware that it isn’t functioning very well. When people see that in the question, they are probably going to ignore the rest of the question and select the one that says,

    “I favor checks and balances.”

  28. James, when you write about polling, especially from your wife’s firm, you are writing away from your core competency and it makes the post week.

    The major findings from the poll is that Obama is theoretically a 20 point drag on Democrats, or at least Craig Deeds. Sounds reasonably on first glance, but let’s take a look at population composition.

    Obama won Virginia in 2008 by about 8 points. So if we had the same population, or at least a uniform and random reduction in turnout, the GOP could point to those results as a reason for their ability to flip at least 20% of the Dem coalition to vote Republican, and that would be a big deal.

    However, the 2009 Virginia electorate went to McCain by about 8 or 9 points. It was a much more Republican/conservative electorate.

    And shocking, Republicans don’t like Obama or Democrats in general. Run the headline, normal partisan affiliations predispose partisans to not like opposition politicians and policies.

    The more relevant question out of Virginia is how do the Democrats rally their base to give a rats ass — for it they can, 2010 is a normal mid-term with half a dozen to a dozen net lost seats. If not, then it is ugly for Dems.