Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Rasmussen: Kulo Gaining, GOP Flailing

In what hopefully will continue to be a monthly iteration, Rasmussen Reports has released a new poll on the OR goobernatorial race, along with some odds and ends on the national scene. If your political parachute is blue, the news is all good:
[The survey shows] incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski is on the move while Republican challenger Ron Saxton remains in limbo. The current survey shows Kulongoski ahead 49% to 35%...Kulongoski’s lead last month was 45% to 35%.

Saxton earned support from 41% of voters in May—immediately after his primary win —but he has since taken a tumble and is holding steady at 35% for the second straight month. Kulongoski’s numbers have risen steadily during that same period. Only two points separated the candidates in May; the incumbent governor now leads by double digits.
Twelve percent (12%) of voters report a very favorable opinion of Kulongoski versus 9% for Saxton. On the other side of the spectrum, 16% say they have a very unfavorable view of the governor and 22% say the same of his challenger.
Don't mind us as we offer a little "told you so" on this one; we minimized the long term effects after the primary and figured that Ted would bounce back from his low point, and that the deck remained stacked against both Westlund AND Saxton. Yay us. Look at those approval/disapproval figures! I wish Rasmussen had published the full result on that question, but it's still fascinating to see that almost one in four Oregonians "strongly disapprove" of Saxton.

There are still 11 weeks to Election Day, but as long as Ted doesn't do anything stupid, and Saxton continues to say dumb things to the electorate like "let's allow kids go to any school district in the Portland area!" (as he did in today's print version of The O Tuesday's Trib), Ted should keep his throne for another few years. Let's just hope he doesn't fade back into the woodwork once the election's over.

Also interesting in the poll are some questions that we rarely get to see solid Oregon-only numbers on:
Most Oregon voters (53%) strongly disapprove of President Bush’s job performance. Just 20% strongly approve.

When asked about managing the nation’s economy, 52% say they trust the Democrats in Congress more than the President. Thirty-three percent (33%) chose President Bush. Congressional Democrats also beat the president when it comes to matters of trust regarding national security and the war in Iraq (48% to 37%.)

Only 36% believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror. Thirty-five percent (35%) say the terrorists are winning and 26% say neither side has the advantage.
That's not a 53% total against Bush; it's a majority of Oregonians who strongly disapprove of the job he's doing. When half the electorate thinks you outright suck ass, you've come close to hitting bottom.

The usual rejoinder at this point to Bush ratings is that he can't run again; so what? It's a fairly strong polling truism that there is a relationship between Presidential approval and Congressional election turnover, although rarely if ever has a 2nd term President ever been anywhere near this low--so predictions are tenuous. But if there's no causality, there sure is a lot of correlation. Oregonians trust the Democrats in Congress over Bush by almost 20 points, and even on the President's former strength, national security/Iraq (a somewhat unwise polling conflation, I'll admit), Dems are favored by 11. As far as the outcome of the "war on terra" goes, over 1/3 of the state thinks the terrorists are winning--this despite the big splash made by the UK terror arrests. Thanks for the dead cat bounce, Mr. Prime Minister!

The most pressing statewide question on the heels of this report, is how voter unrest on national issues and disatisfaction with members of the GOP will translate in Oregon's legislative elections. With none of the federal or major statewide offices looking close, will voters move on to transfer their ire to Republicans in Salem? Still hard to tell, but various polls in individual races give hints that the potential is there. Democratic candidates in the state House and Senate would be wise to attempt the same thing their national bretheren are succeeding with: tying Republican candidates to the misdeeds and failures of their leadership. Rank and file GOP incumbents will not be well served by having their fealty to the Minnis/Scott team put under the microscope.