The Brian Mudd Show

The Brian Mudd Show

There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. That's Brian's mantra and what drives him to get beyond the headlines.Full Bio


Q&A of the Day – Polling Politics

Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio with all the Republican momentum can anyone explain how Warnock, who barely won in 2020, is apparently up 10% over Walker? Does anyone really believe that? 

Bottom Line: With most of the key primaries which will impact Senate races across the country having now occurred, the Senate conversation, and specifically which party will control it, is one that’s heating up. And yes, political polling is likewise heating up and driving a lot of that conversation. At this point even Democrats are conceding that they’ll most assuredly lose control of the House in January, however they’re increasingly optimistic they’ll retain control in Senate. The reason, the perception Republicans nominated weak candidates in three key states which will be central to which party will control the Senate next year. Those candidates and states... JD Vance in Ohio, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia. You’d mentioned the momentum the Republican party appears to have, which is evidenced by Republicans currently favored on the generic ballot, a significant shift from the 2020 election cycle. The narrative for those who believe Democrats are well positioned is this. Republicans had a record setting 2010 midterm election cycle which resulted in the largest number of Congressional seats flipping parities and yet Democrats still managed to retain control of the Senate with 51 seats due to the perception Republicans nominated a few especially weak candidates in key states (and there’s a legit case to be made that was in fact the case). More recently this situation most certainly occurred in Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the country, in 2017 when Republicans nominated Roy Moore who was deemed so unacceptable by voters, that a liberal Democrat Doug Jones (who lost his re-election bid in 2020 by over 20-points) won the seat. So, could this year be a repeat?  

Specific to your question/point about Walker in Georgia, the 10-point polling deficit to the incumbent Democrat Warnock you’re referencing is the result of a recent Quinnipiac poll. Now you’ve rhetorically asked if the ten-point lead of Walker is believable. Your instincts are almost certainly correct here. Their track record in individual state polling is pathetic. This is a dynamic I covered in October 2020 when I pointed out this from their Florida polling results... Quinnipiac has had the worst track record of any pollster in Florida over the past decade. Quinnipiac’s Election Day polling has only accurately reflected the outcome in about a quarter of Florida’s statewide races starting with the 2010 election cycle. Yeah, they’ve had a 75% wiff rate in Florida. That’s hard to do. The odds are against any pollster being that bad. So no, I don’t take any statewide Q-polls at face value. That said there still is something which caught my attention within it. The Governor’s race shows a result that’s 10% different from a partisan perspective. The same Q-poll sample which resulted in a 10-point deficit for Walker showed a tie for the Governor’s race between incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp in a rematch with Democrat challenger Stacy Abrams. That kind of stuff does catch my attention and could lend credibility to the notion Walker may be perceived by voters to be a weak candidate. That type of dynamic is reflected in many prognostication sites currently as well.  

Nate Silver’s 538, which currently projects Governor DeSantis with a 95% likelihood of winning reelection this year, currently pegs Brian Kemp’s reelection odds at 85%. At the same time, Walker is currently considered the favorite over Warnock but with just 54% odds of winning his election. This speaks to two themes. First, clearly Quinnipiac’s polling is a ridiculous outlier erroring heavily on the side of Democrats yet again. There’s no way a tied polling result for Kemp would equate to an 85% likelihood of winning an election. This is even more obvious with Walker currently being considered a favorite to win his election despite a poll showing him trailing by ten-points. But what this also shows is another strong indication that Walker is currently in a considerably weaker position in his race, than Kemp is in his. Now, that is a dynamic that’s different than the narrative in Pennsylvania.  

In Pennsylvania, the Democrat candidate for governor is currently being given a 74% change of winning the election, while Democrat Senate candidate Fetterman is currently favored at 52%. In other words, Dr. Oz is, in theory, considerably better positioned than the Republican candidate for Governor. But here’s the challenge for Republicans in the senate. It’s clear at this stage of the cycle, despite having the advantage if elections held today, it's not a given they can even hold all of the seats they currently hold (PA is a GOP held seat currently), let alone pickup at least one net seat from Democrats to gain control. But, should multiple Senate races prove to be super close, it’s currently better to be a Republican than a Democrat. And that’s reflected in 538’s current projection which shows Republicans with slightly better than not chances of gaining control of the Senate- 53%, with 51 seats come January. So yeah, the Q-poll is almost certainly BS, but no, history suggests it’s not a given that GOP momentum alone will be enough to carry candidates like Walker. He’ll need to successfully work to win his election as will Oz and others.  

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