Monday, October 30, 2006

Kulo at 51% in Latest Rasmussen--UPDATE With Details

Update, 9AM 10/31--
The numbers are now up in the public area...

Update at the top, 230pm--
I'm putting the update at the top because with the help of Internet fairy godmothers, we have some of the details currently not in public release from Rasmussen on the goobernor's race.

As bad as the basic numbers look for Saxton, the peripherals are much, much worse:
44% Saxton
51% Kulongoski
3% some other candidate
2% not sure
With undecideds this low, leaners must have been included, so it's fair to say that Ted's solid support is probably in the 48-50% range--but it also means that Saxton's is also about where he's been before; 40-42%. And if anything, I find the "other candidate" numbers to be low by a couple of points (as a rule, unnamed "others" poll less well than actual names, and of course names are on the ballot), points that would ultimately come from Saxton in all likelihood. So you tell me: how on earth is he supposed to pick up any ground? Where is it going to come from? Firm Kulongoski supporters? Yeah, right--not unless it's disclosed that Kulo and Neil Goldschmidt had a secret "sleaze bachelor" pad together in the 80s.

Very favorable
Kulongoski 21%
Saxton 20%

Somewhat favorable
Kulongoski 38%
Saxton 26%

Somewhat unfavorable
Kulongoski 19%
Saxton 23%

Very unfavorable
Kulongoski 20%
Saxton 27%

Not sure
Kulongoski 2%
Saxton 4%
Put that together, and you get 59/39 for Kulo--absolutely the strongest numbers I've seen from Ted literally in YEARS--and 46/50 for Saxton. Fifty percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of him? Has a challenger for major office ever unseated an incumbent when half the people voting don't like him? Jesus, that's ugly. By the way, that's personal approval; on job approval Ted gets a similarly strong 57/41. Assuming that Survey USA's figures have been roughly correct for much of the summer and early fall, one can only conclude that Kulongoski has done an impressive job of fleshing out his accomplishments over the first term, and leveraging the difficulties of working with Karen Minnis and Wayne Scott against any disappointment with his relative level of success.

It's not like I haven't been bold as love to this point, with my firm belief that Ted has had little to fear from Saxton if he ran a competent campaign against the Faux Farmer, but this cinches it for me. Along with a rumored Hibbitts poll in the offing that puts Ted in the same 4-6 point lead as his last poll, I'll say it again: Ron Saxton has no shot in this race. Make sure to vote and encourage others to do so just to make sure, but you can bank this one next Tuesday.

[Original post follows...]
I have sketchy details, because the poll is still behind the Member's Curtain at Rasmussen Reports, but I know RealClearPolitics has a subscription, and they appear to have jumped the gun and released the numbers (which Scott Rasmussen sometimes lets people do). They show the most recent survey of 500 likely voters giving a 51% to 44% Kulongoski lead over Ron Saxton. It's unclear whether this reflects newly pushed "leaners" from the previous 47-42 lead for Kulongoski earlier in the month, or whether conviction has solidified, but as we head into the final week the incumbent looks well positioned to hold serve and capture another term.

If you read my stuff on polls, you'd find I give Rasmussen fairly serious weight in Oregon polling, moreso than either Hibbitts or Riley (although Hibbitts is reputable enough). I like them because they had an excellent track record in 04, seem well-disposed to covering statewide races, and offer extraordinarily stable results--there's never a crazy 10 point swing from month to month in a Rasmussen poll.

And true to form, while other polls have wobbled back and forth and given close results, over the course of eight months Kulongoski's totals had stayed in the high 40s, Saxton moving from mid 30s to low 40s as his name recognition grew and he ran some body blow commercials before Ted got on the air. The race stayed relatively stable, and Kulongoski was always in some kind of lead, usually outside the margin.

For them, then, this is just another poll of incremental movements. Ted picks up four points from last time, while Saxton gets two more for a net increase of 2 for Ted, up from 5 points ahead to 7. But being over the magic 50% mark is important, for it's some place the governor has not yet been. And I don't think it's a blip; this is what you'd expect to see from a Democratic governor in a Democratic state in a Democratic wave where the governor hadn't killed any hookers or pocketed any large sums--people fear change until they're totally disgusted with the status quo, then they figure they have nothing to lose.

In this sense, Saxton is looking a lot like Kerry '04, afforded the public's ear until the electorate (barely) decided there was too much risk in going with someone who didn't really sound like they had a workable plan--even if they weren't sure of the incumbent's plan, either. Except of course Saxton has never been ahead in this race, and Kulongoski hasn't been one-fiftieth as inept as Bush. But the principle is the same.

The mood given by the local media on the debates is one I tend to agree with: Saxton seemed awfully vague and ill-prepared when it came to substantiating his charges of waste and fraud that he could find to allow us more money directed towards actual services. If he'd actually given concrete examples, people might have glommed onto that. But when you don't know exactly whether he actually has any money to capture, it seems like a risk based on all the tax cuts he wants to pass. And more emotionally, Saxton says he's an independent kind of Republican--but do people really want to take the risk that he's just another Bush toady?

If this is indeed the end of Saxton's run, in the end his tightrope dance will be what killed him. He tries to claim the ability to be all things to all people, and suspiciously appears to be mouthing the words "trust me" even when he's not talking. And frankly, he really just doesn't have much of a coherent vision. Fair or not, the challenger has to offer a better solution, not just an even money chance at better luck next time. Saxton wants voters to roll the dice with him, and it doesn't appear that the last two weeks has caused people to want to put money down.

That's all my educated opinion, of course; let's return to the facts: with one week to go, a reputable and accurate polling service has Ted Kulongoski favored by seven percentage points, and capturing more than 50% of the vote. If these results persist until Nov. 7th, Saxton literally has no way to make up the deficit if he continues to be unable to weaken Kulongoski's position.