October 04, 2005
Poll time

Some interesting poll numbers from Zogby at the Wall Street Journal (link via Kos). Let's start with the Texas Governor's race, where a three-way battle shows Rick Perry at 40.1%, Chris Bell at 27.2%, and Kinky Friedman at 18%. A separate poll shows Carole Keeton Strayhorn topping Bell 34.6% to 26%. Any numbers for Friedman are not included in that matchup, though the accompanying blurb alludes to Kinky getting "at least 18%" in "various potential three-way matchups".

Let's start by saying, once again, that Rick Perry's poll numbers suck. Forty percent? That number represents a drop from August, too, though whether it's due to him, Bell, Friedman, or random noise is anyone's guess. And while I believe Perry will get a bounce in approval ratings from his handling of Katrina, I don't think that will necessarily translate into votes. If this isn't rock bottom for him, I don't know what would be.

As for Bell, I think Greg is correct to suggest that this is mostly a function of name ID. It'd be nice if there were a Perry/Sharp pairing for comparison purposes, but there isn't. (A straight-up Perry/Bell poll would've been useful, too.) I note that Strayhorn does considerably worse against Bell than Perry does. I've heard a lot of people suggest that Rick Perry is the most vulnerable Republican statewide candidate. That's a view that I generally subscribe to, so seeing Perry do better against his likely Democratic opponent than Strayhorn makes me wonder. I suspect name ID is in play there as well, however, so I won't read too much into it for now.

Bell certainly has room to grow, once he has the money to run some advertisements and get his name out there. If one believes that this number represents Rick Perry's base of support, then what follows is that he ought to focus on the undecideds and the Kinky voters. That doesn't mean he should let up on Perry - it means he needs to convince the 60% of voters who are apparently already open to voting for someone else that he's the best alternative. I think for the most part his message is well tailored for that, but until more of the audience hears it we can't know for sure.

As for Kinky, eighteen percent is perhaps a little higher than I'd have expected for now, but it's in line with what I think he'd get if he does actually run. My reason for this is based on what I think the unshakeable support is for each party's candidate. For Democrats, I think it's in the vicinity of 35%, based on the results of the 2000 Senatorial race (Hutchison 65%, placeholder Dem 32%) and the 2002 Comptroller race (Rylander/Strayhorn 64%, placeholder Dem 33%; Lib and Green candidates combined for about 3% in each). For Republicans, I'll go with the 40% that Perry is currently pulling - obviously, they've done considerably better than that in real elections of late, but they've never had anyone quite as battered as the 2006 version of Rick Perry on the ticket.

The bottom line here is that if I'm right, that puts Kinky's ceiling at about 25%, which needless to say isn't going to be enough to win. I'm guessing that he didn't do significantly better than that 18% cited in any other "potential" (read: ain't gonna happen) three-way race, or Zogby might have played it up a bit. I also don't have a good feel for what his name ID actually is. Sure, he's a celebrity, but he's a niche celebrity, best known for raunchy music and mystery novels - in short, Schwarzeneggar, hell even Jesse Ventura, he ain't. I think he has the potential to go up, especially if Perry's baseline support isn't as solid as I think and/or if Bell can't get his name out there, and if he can steal some more disillusioned Perry voters away he could even make this a 30/30/30 kind of race, but I have serious doubts about that. I think he'll be more like Ross Perot, superficially attractive but ultimately someone who peaks early and tails off as the race wears on. Of course, that means he could have an effect on the race, especially if he cracks 20% at the end.

Let's move to the Senate race, where there's good news and bad news for Democrats. The good news is that Senator Supposedly Popular gets a maximum of 51.6% in the matchups they polled. Forgive me if I seem underwhelmed by that, given her alleged status as an electoral juggernaut. I suppose Zogby could be undersampling Republicans, and given that KBH pulled 55%+ in August, maybe this too is just random chance, but still. Fifty-one percent?

The bad news is that Zogby, for reasons unclear to me, is polling Hutchison against three Democrats who are known to be not running against her: Ron Kirk, who announced his non-candidacy months ago; John Sharp, who is now apparently a non-candidate for Governor; and Kirk Watson, who is a candidate for Senate, just not that Senate. Why they chose to do this and not ask about the one person who absolutely is running against Hutchison is one of life's little mysteries. I guess it's possible that they did do such a poll, and the numbers were so awful for Radnofsky that they chose not to publish the results on the free WSJ link. Call me crazy, but if that's true, then it sounds more like news to me than the equivalent of three fantasy football matchups for KBH. Given that, I'm sticking with the oversight explanation until I'm told otherwise.

Nationally, the news is pretty decent overall for Democrats, both in gubernatorial and senatorial races. Check it out, and check back next month so we'll know if we have any honest-to-goodness trends on our hands.

UPDATE: The Jeffersonian and DC9 weigh in.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 04, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

"Don't discount Kinky." - Gov. Jesse "the Body" Ventura

Posted by: Patrick on October 4, 2005 11:49 AM

Don't forget that Zogby had Kerry winning the election last November with those notoriously bad exit polls.

Posted by: Tim on October 4, 2005 12:40 PM

I think you under-cut Kinky in the sense that, if Bell does not emerge as a truly viable Democratic option, a lot of center, and center-left folks will vote for Kinky as the anti-Perry.

The question is how big the anti-Perry vote could get...

Posted by: Eric Berger on October 4, 2005 1:08 PM

The question is how big the anti-Perry vote could get...

Not big enough to carry an election against a candidate without major ethical problems or a major political fiasco (whatever one thinks of the special sessions, they pale in comparison to, say, Governor Blanco's dysfunction or Governor McGreevey's, umm, problems -- those are what I mean by major ethical problems and/or political fiasco).

The governor's hair isn't enough of a reason for a majority to vote FOR a candidate whose hair is less objectionable. The opposition candidate is going to have to offer a vision that resonates with voters to win, barring some unforeseen ethical or political revelation about Perry. If Friedman were to run as a Dem AND to come up with a compelling vision, who knows? That seems unlikely from what we've seen so far.

Posted by: kevin whited on October 4, 2005 2:13 PM

This is not a real poll it is an interactive, all internet poll. That's why the results are the way they are.

It explains why Kinky Friedman is so high when no other poll has him over 10%.

These results are bogus at best.

Posted by: Aaron on October 4, 2005 2:20 PM

I'd love to know what other polls Aaron is looking at, because I'll be damned if I've seen anything else out there that included Kinky in it. Nice try though.

Posted by: Karl-T on October 4, 2005 6:45 PM

"Don't forget that Zogby had Kerry winning the election last November with those notoriously bad exit polls."

You mean the ones that Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International conducted?

Posted by: Greg Wythe on October 4, 2005 7:33 PM

There's really only one reason Kinky won't be elected Governor:

He did not appear in 'Predator'.

Posted by: PDiddie on October 5, 2005 10:14 AM

So, PDiddie, are you saying that Carl Weathers would have a shot at it? This changes everything!

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on October 5, 2005 10:32 AM

There have been a number of surveys done by statewide candidates that have included Kinky in them.

Some of the results are even posted on Republican blogs.

But if Karl-T and those geniuses at BOR don't have the ability to find them, I'm certainly not going to point them out.

But if anybody here doesn't understand the differene between a real political poll and a Zogdy Interactive Poll, I suggest you get out of politics and take up gardening or selling insurance.

Nice try Karl-T to cover up your ignorance, but it won't work.

Posted by: Aaron on October 5, 2005 12:25 PM

I just did my own unscientific survey. I drove around Flower Mound Texas and looked at houses and the cars parked in front of them. About 2 percent of all of the homes I looked at (about one thousand) had either a Kinky for governor yard sign or a Kinky for Governor bumper sticker. I have not seen any yard signs for any other candidate, and I do know they are available. I have not seen a bumper sticker for any other candidate on a car, unless you consider a "Bush 04" sticker an automatic Perry endorsement, I do not. We Texans are sick of status quo, it just depends if we will get off of our butts and VOTE. I already did, yesterday.

Posted by: Joy on October 30, 2006 5:57 PM