Friday, January 23, 2015

Unlike Romney 3.0, Ex-Nominees Do Not Historically Poll Very Well In National Primary Surveys

Looking exclusively at losing presidential nominees, Al Gore's 2004 primary polling numbers most closely resemble Mitt Romney's current status among the 2016 GOP field. Of course, Al Gore never took the second plunge. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has stormed back onto the political scene in a big way this month, reaching out to former mega-donors, reassembling the 'old team,' and meeting with fellow potential major candidates. And as poll after poll has shown, rank-and-file Republican Party members across the nation have taken notice.

A surprisingly solid 59% of Republicans say they'd like for the former nominee, who attracted just over 47% of the popular vote in his failed 2012 bid, to give it another go in 2016. Only 26% think he should sit it out. Romney consistently sports the highest favorability ratings of the potentially large field of Republicans candidates, at least where it counts - among the base. Last but not least, he leads comfortably in every national horserace survey of the GOP primary taken to date.

That final fact is somewhat unique in a historical context, and especially so when looking back over the last thirty years. Ex-presidential nominees frequently pop-up in the following cycle's primary polling. But it's much less frequent that they cast such a dominating presence over the rest of the field, so consistently.

In fact, looking back at ALL twenty-one ex-nominee's polling performance in the following cycle's presidential primary in the modern polling era, former presidential nominees can be said to fall into three tiers.

  1. Tier 1 - this group of former nominees had no trouble recapturing the party faithful's hearts and minds for the second time in a row following their presidential loss. Qualification for membership in this group requires the ex-nominee poll in first place in at least half of the proceeding presidential primary surveys taken that include that candidates name. For example, because Mitt Romney has appeared in eight national 2016 GOP primary surveys to date, and has led in each, he would qualify for membership in this group. Other ex-nominees falling into this group are Al Gore in 2004, Richard Nixon in 1964, Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and Thomas Dewey in 1948.
  2. Tier 2 - this group of former nominees polled reasonably well in primary surveys taken after their presidential loss, almost always hitting double digits, even finding themselves at the summit of some random surveys. They fall short, however, of the polling status achieved by the failed nominees in the above group. Seven of the twenty-one ex-presidential nominees from 1936 to 2012 fall into this category.
  3. Tier 3 - ex-nominees in this group are defined either by their surprisingly shoddy, if not embarrassing polling performance in the following cycle's primary survey, or by their unwillingness to even entertain the idea of the presidency ever again, evidenced by their total exclusion from the proceeding primary's polling. Nine of the twenty-one ex-presidential nominees from 1936 to 2012 fall into this category. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In the Mitt vs. Jeb 2016 'Invisible (Polling) Primary,' It's Mitt By A Mile

A Jeb vs. Mitt rivalry has been the talk of the town of late. But as far as the Republican voting public is concerned, it's not even close. Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Ever since Jeb Bush made waves last month with an early announcement about his presidential aspirations, the media has cast the 2016 Republican primary race as a Jeb vs. Mitt slugfest in the making. Both seemingly giants in their own party, pundits can't help but lick their chops at the idea. For some, it's the political equivalent of the "immovable object" facing the "irresistible force." Except for one problem: the polling numbers don't quite match the hype.

In the first national survey of the new year regarding the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary, it's clear to see why the Romney circle is ramping up chatter of a third consecutive presidential bid.

According to Republican adults, not only is Romney more well-liked than fellow establishment bigwig Jeb Bush. But he is their preferred choice for the nomination by a shockingly wide margin, in the event the field is pared down to just the two of them.

When Republicans are asked: "If the choice was between Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, which one would you want to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016,"  60% pick Romney, while just 29% select Bush. Eleven percent are undecided.

Color me surprised. What gives? I think of Romney and Bush as being too very comparable guys. Both have near 100% name recognition among Republicans. Both have their roots in political dynasties. They have similar temperaments, ideologies, and fund-raising bases. What gives Romney such a huge advantage over Bush? Who knows? But what we do know is that Romney's superior polling position is evident in more ways than one

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hillary Clinton Exceeds Records Set By Her Husband Against Republicans In 2016, Says New CNN Poll

Hillary Clinton laughs with ex-Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. A recent CNN/ORC poll certainly gives her plenty reason to smile. Photo courtesy of Win McNamee/Getty Images

Still shaking off the sting of November's thumping, a recent CNN/ORC poll provided Democrats with some glimmers of hope. While most of the headlines generated by the poll were concerned with Obama's sudden surge in job approval, there was another eye-brow raising statistic in the release - Hillary Clinton positively dominates the entire 2016 Republican field, at a time when news of Jeb Bush's unofficial campaign launch has sucked up much of the media oxygen in the room.

So how does the recently much-hyped junior Bush stack up against the recently quiet ex-Secretary of State? Very poorly, actually.

If the election were held today, Hillary would win a clear majority of the vote (54%), while Jeb Bush just barely cross the 40% mark. Supposing the margin between the candidates holds, it would be the worst popular vote performance for Republicans in a Presidential election since Barry Goldwater's landslide 1964 loss.

And if Jeb Bush is not the Republican nominee, and you're a Republican voter, well...go ahead and bend over, per CNN, because 2016 is going to be a rough ride.

The tough-talking New Jerseyan, who most think is a shoe-in to run, trails Hillary by an embarrassing 56-39% margin. Candidates as diverse as Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz, all trail ex-Sen. Clinton by 20 points or more. Hillary even hits 60% in a head-to-head against Sen. Cruz.

If you buy the CNN/ORC numbers, Hillary's performance against all of these candidates is truly intimidating. Not only does she match her ex-two-term President husband's 1990s performance in many demographic metrics, she actually exceeds his showing in many more. Consider the table below, which documents the demographics in which Hillary Clinton performs exceptionally strong in the CNN poll, and compares her performance with past Democratic nominees for President dating back to 1972 (the beginning of the modern exit polling era). 

Exit Poll data courtesy of Best & Krueger's Exit Polls.

Clinton's performance against Jeb Bush among men, women, Democrats, and Independents, is the best performance for any Democratic presidential nominee since at least as far back as national exit polls track (1972). In other words, Hillary Clinton outperforms EVERY Democrat dating back to McGovern, in key demographics tested by the CNN/ORC poll. For example, she's up four among men, a feat not yet accomplished by any Democrat in exit polling to date. Only Bill Clinton came close to such an accomplishment when he carried the male vote by 3 points in 1992. But even then, that election is not directly comparable due to the unique strength of third-party candidate Ross Perot.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chris Christie's Republican Problem: A Year Of Scandal Damages His Ratings With An Already Suspicious Base

Chris Christie is the least popular Republican in the 2016 primary field, and that's according to Republicans. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are both popular with the base. Center illustration is courtesy of Daniel Adel. Illustration on the left is courtesy of Ismael Roldan. Illustration on the right is courtesy of DonkeyHotey.

In a July 2013 piece written on this blog, I suggested that a bipartisanly popular Governor Chris Christie would likely have a harder time winning a GOP primary than all three of his recent predecessors, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush. The hypothesis was based on an examination of all four politician's favorability ratings with members of their own party in the lead-up to the presidential primary.

Some, myself included, were surprised to learn that, despite home-state rockstar status in the wake of his handling of the Hurricane Sandy recovery, and a national favorability rating in the positive double-digits with voters of all stripes, Christie was in a worse position with his own party than known moderates that ran for President before him.

Flash-forward eighteen months to present day, and the situation has only gotten worse for Governor Christie. Not only did the Bridgegate scandal cause his home-state favorability rating to tumble hard back to earth, but his image has suffered nationally as well. No longer are Democrats giving him the benefit of the doubt - he's essentially any old Republican to them now. Independents, the group among whom Christie often saw his best numbers, now barely keep him above water.

But most important for his lingering presidential run, Christie is in a dangerously perilous position with the people he needs to win a primary - Republicans. In fact, his position is considerably worse than any one of the large pool of potential contenders bantered about by pundits. It's also considerably worse than serious contenders from years past, such as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani.

Christie's trouble couldn't be more apparent than in a recent Monmouth University Poll of fifteen possible Republican presidential candidates. He ranks second-to-last in terms of net favorability, beating out Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (who only 23% of Republicans are familiar enough with to rate at all; Christie, meanwhile, is the second best-known of the fifteen candidates tested, behind Mitt Romney).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A "firefight into a footnote." Why Mary Landrieu's Racially Tinged Runoff Strategy Won't Save Her

Sen. Landrieu appears with Hillary Clinton at a recent rally in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Gerald Herbert/A.P. The quoted portion of the title of this article is courtesy of a recent Sean Sullivan and Karen Tumulty piece for the Washington Post.

Sen. Mary Landrieu's campaign is flailing. Her ominous performance in the 2014 midterm, and her panicked (some would even call desperate) attempts at turning out black voters for the runoff this Saturday provide clear evidence of the perilous position she's in.

Just one month ago, Landrieu racked up her worst performance in her state's jungle primary since initially running for the seat in 1996. She captured just 42% of the vote, compared to her two main Republican primary opponent's combined 55%. Then, recently, came even more daunting news of her predicament - she was down in early voting in the runoff, as was African American turnout. As added insult, the DSCC has apparently chosen to stay out of the race all together.

To boot, of the five runoff surveys released since the November 4th jungle primary, Landrieu has trailed by no less than eleven points, and by as much as twenty-one points. That's near-irreversibly awful, especially for a three-term incumbent.

So it's no surprise Landrieu's latest campaign tactics have turned from merely aggressive, to potentially inciteful. Look no further than comments she made at a campaign rally just Tuesday, as reported by the Washington Post's Sean Sullivan, in which she claimed her Republican runoff opponent had been "disrespectful" to the Democratic President.

The inference she is making is clear. She was addressing a largely black audience, and was echoing comments originally directed at African-Americans in an ad by Democratic Congressman, Cedrick Richmond, who is also African-American.

When pressed further for an explanation of her comments, Landrieu explained:

"[Cassidy] refers to [Obama] by his last name. Constantly."

She added: "If you are going to refer to the president of the United States, he's at least earned the title that the people gave him when they elected him."

For what it's worth, Landrieu has had her own brushes with Presidential disrespect, according to the always objective Daily Kos.

But I digress. While Landrieu's campaign tactics as of late may seem off-putting, there's a definite purpose behind the attacks. The Democrat, if she has any chance of pulling off a miracle in Louisiana, is in dire need of historical black turnout, well beyond what was seen in the 2014 primary - or any recent statewide Louisiana race, for that matter. Why? Because in the 2014 primary, blacks comprised 65% of Sen. Landrieu's vote total, vs. just 2% of Bill Cassidy's.

In the 2014 primary, 29% of the primary electorate consisted of African American voters, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's office. Yet Landrieu still finished well below the 50% threshold she would need to avoid the runoff. Such a feat would have required black turnout to approach the 40% level. Unfortunately for Landrieu, polls just aren't finding that - in fact, they're finding nothing near what she will need in terms of black turnout to survive.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Did ex-Senator Udall's 'War On Women' Strategy Depress the Female Vote in Colorado?

Photo Courtesy of the NRSC

It's an interesting coincidence that female turnout, as a percentage share of the electorate, was the lowest nationwide in Colorado Tuesday night. Couldn't possibly have anything to do with the sharply negative ads in the state, largely directed at women, could it?

Nearly two years ago, Colorado's incumbent Democratic Senator was considered safe in a midterm election that would seemingly favor Republicans. Then came the backroom deal that propelled Cory Gardner to the nomination. Knowing that Gardner was their greatest political threat of the Colorado GOP bench, the Udall campaign began a focused effort on convincing Colorado women that the Republican nominee for Senate would eliminate their access to abortions and birth control. After the Obama/Biden campaign experienced some success with the so-called "war on women' tactic in 2012, Udall hoped to replicate their campaigns impressive performance among females by singing a similar tune.

This time, however, they were unsuccessful. Gardner has been declared the winner with 93% of precincts reporting.

Over time, Udall's single-issue focus on women's reproductive health drew criticism and ridicule from all political corners, most notably from local Colorado newspapers that historically bent Democratic. And indeed, Tuesday night's exit polling would indicate Udall's 'war on women' strategy failed. Though the Democrat did ultimately win the female vote, it was by a rather unimpressive 52-44%, especially when compared to Udall's seventeen point loss among Colorado males, or Beauprez's twelve point loss with women, or Buck's seventeen point loss with females in 2010.

But there appears to be another interesting side effect of the "war on women" overkill seen in the 2014 Colorado Senate race - women made up a lower proportion of the electorate as compared to men than in ANY other Governor or Senate contest that night, save only the Colorado Governor race.
Just 47% of Colorado voters identified as female, while 53% identified as male. For reference, the national exit poll taken Tuesday found women made up 51% of voters, with men at 49%. Even Alaska, where men outnumber women in the total population, found higher turnout among women in their Senate race (48%) than Colorado. Of the forty-one exit-polled contests on November 4th, women outnumbered men as a share of the electorate in thirty-two of them, or 78% of the time. Men outnumbered women in only four of them, or just 10% of the time. The five remaining contests split 50/50 between male and female voters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Once Thought Vulernable, Nikki Haley Looks Poised For A Big Win – But There’s A Caveat…

Photo courtesy of the A.P.

There was a time when South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley looked like she would have serious trouble in her bid for reelection, even as recently as this June.

Her problem was multipronged. First, she was never elected by an overwhelming mandate to begin with, kind of stumbling across the finish line in 2010 with an anti-climactic 51-47% victory during an incredibly favorable election cycle. That somewhat meek level of support transferred over into Haley's job approval ratings. Then came her frequent quarrels with the South Carolina legislature, a feature of her tenure which began early on after announcing she would be issuing "report cards" to S.C. lawmakers on criteria determined by her, and culminated in the summer of 2012 when the Republican legislature overrode a number of Haley's budget vetoes.

And of course, who can forget the proverbial cherry-on-top of her first two years in office - the hacking of four million South Carolinian's social security numbers.

All of those missteps aside, more recent events would tend to suggest that Haley is going to weather the storm.

Not long ago, Haley took the opportunity to barnstorm the state, bragging about future business investments that are expected to bring lots of job creation to South Carolina. Couple that with a steady unemployment rate decline from 10.5% upon taking office in January 2011, to 6.4% as of September, and a smoothly handled Senate confirmation process for the newly appointed (and popular) Sen. Tim Scott, Haley seems back in the game.

And polling bears that out.

A base that once appeared unsure of Haley from a polling perspective, has returned home in full. Republicans aren't the only ones to take note of Haley's accomplishments. Her job approval rating with ALL South Carolinians is the highest its ever been. Sixty-two percent of likely voters say the state's economic condition is getting better, versus just thirty percent who say it's getting worse.

Then come the head-to-head numbers, which seem to look better everyday. After starting out trailing her Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen in a 2012 poll, she's been ahead in every survey since. She's ahead by double-digits in practically all of the non-Democratic Party affiliated polls of likely voters. Gov. Haley leads 49-37% in the Ace Of Spades Decision Desk average, leads 50-38% in the Huffington Post Pollster average, and leads 50-37% in the Real Clear Politics average.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Republicans Are Coming Home To Roberts In Kansas...And Why That Might Not Be Enough To Win

Photo courtesy of Jim Richardson, National Geographic.
For months, buoyed by public polling, the media has been enthralled by the notion of a three-term Republican Senator from a deeply red Great Plains state losing to a now Independent, multi-millionaire ex-Democratic businessman. The Huffington Post Pollster average pegged Senator Pat Roberts at 39.8% in the average of polls at the beginning of this week, while his Independent opponent sat at a healthy 46.6%.

Now, with the inclusion of Wednesday's Fox News poll showing Pat Roberts ahead by five, and a CNN poll showing him up one point, the Kansas Senate race is tied in the Pollster average, and gives Roberts a 50/50 shot of holding on to his seat - quite the improvement from last week.

Why is Roberts seemingly closing so well, you might ask? Well, for the most part, his base appears to be returning home, after a weeks-long flirtation with Greg Orman. The two most recent polls finding Roberts ahead of Orman overall also found him performing better among Republican voters than in previous surveys. Orman's Republican support, once in the low-30 percent range, has been cut in half. Pat Roberts GOP support, once stuck in the 50 and 60 percent range, has swollen to over 70% (hitting a highwater mark of 84% in the new CNN poll).

another chart

But if Roberts is consolidating the Republican vote in a state with a Cook partisan voting index of R+12, a state where the Republican party identification advantage over Democrats hasn't dropped below R+19 in any exit poll since 1992, how is he still barely scraping by Orman?

The answer is two-fold: 1. Though Roberts has made significant inroads with Republican voters, he's not quite performing at the level of a typical Republican running statewide in Kansas. And 2. Orman's advantage among Independent voters is larger than any Republican or Democrat to run for statewide office in Kansas since at least 1992 (according to available exit polling).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What’s The Matter With…OKLAHOMA?!? Shock Poll Says Governor Fallin’s Fallin’

Photo courtesy of the

What a year, huh? Democrats are dropping off statewide ballots like flies. Bizarre 3-way contests are putting typically loyal partisan states in play. Once quixotic Independent bids are gaining real traction with voters.

And now, in the sixth year of an unpopular Democratic President's term, the Republican Governor of deep-red Oklahoma could be in real danger of losing her re-election bid, at least according to her Democratic opponent's pollster.

Clarity Campaigns, the internal polling firm for Joe Dorman, finds Governor Mary Fallin ahead just 47-45%, well within the survey's margin of error. Fallin's job approval rating is upside down, with 42% approving, and 46% disapproving.

How could this be, in a state with an R+19 partisan voting index (the third most Republican in the country)?

Oklahoma isn't just some squishy RINO state, like North Carolina. It is Tea Party through and through, more conservative than any one of the Romney-state Congressional contests going down this November. To beat a dead horse, Obama won just one-third of Oklahoma voters in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

What in the world could prompt such a state to even begin to consider throwing out not only their first female Governor, but one they elected on the first go-round, 60-40%?

Whatever their reasons, there is some evidence to suggest that MAYBE, just maybe something is awry in the Sooner State.

We'll start with the horse race polling. Two relatively dated surveys from Rasmussen Reports and YouGov found Dorman within single digits of Gov. Fallin. That's at least swinging-distance. Another poll, from a Republican firm, found the incumbent Governor sitting at just 44% with likely voters in a head-to-head with Dorman. The frothers at +Daily Kos  pointed out that Clarity Campaigns had previously found Dorman down just six points, in a poll that wasn't publicly released.

Last, but not the least important reason Fallin could be upset: she's no longer the popular figure she was when we last saw her as she comforted the citizens of Moore, Oklahoma, after a brutal tornado ravaged the town in the Spring of 2013. And her biggest decline appears to have come from Republicans and Independents. Indeed, take notice of this morsel from the Dorman internal memo, on why their candidate is doing so well:
"His coalition is built on a strong lead with Independents, winning 18% of crossover Republican voters, and a consolidated Democratic base."
All that being said, I'm not quite buying it. It just seems like fool's gold, even grander than the notion of Travis Childers offing Thad Cochran in Mississippi.

I'll grant that the Oklahoma Governor's contest feels closer than it should be, but we're still talking about Oklahoma - a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic President since LBJ. A state who's entire congressional delegation is Republican. A state that had a town that banned dancing!! But there are plenty more reasons than that to not buy the closeness of this race, like the fact that evidence of a Fallin implosion isn't all that solid.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are Democrats On The Verge Of Vanishing In The South? A Look How They're Performing With White Voters in 2014 Senate Contests

Come next month, the days when successful national Democrats were almost exclusively from the South may very well come to an end. Al Gore, left, and Bill Clinton, right, represent the last era of locally popular Southerners making the leap to the national stage.

The Democratic struggle to win over white voters was a well documented failure of the 2012 presidential election, in spite of their four point national popular vote win. Republican Mitt Romney carried whites by a 20-pt margin, a figure only exceeded by Ronald Reagan's landslide re-election in 1984.

But in the South, where a large number of heated 2014 Senate battles will be held in just five weeks, the white disdain for Democrats is even more pronounced.

Consider North Carolina, where Romney won nearly 70% of the white vote. Or Alabama, where he won 84%. Or Mississippi, where he carried roughly NINE in TEN whites! Even in tough years for Republicans, like 2008, they still perform stronger among white voters in the South, relative to how they do nationwide.

Given the large number of high-profile Southern senate races this Fall, I thought it might be interesting to check in on some of those GOP contenders, and compare how they're doing with white voters now to how other recent candidates performed.

Consider the Arkansas Senate race between Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton. In an average of polls taken since August (only those that provide racial demographic crosstabs), Cotton attracts 50% of white voters, while Pryor draws 36%. Though that margin surpasses Cotton's overall advantage over Pryor, it falls well short of McCain's 68% among Arkansas whites in 2008, and John Boozman's 65% in 2010. But the 2014 Pryor/Cotton race isn't comparable to those contests in the first place - it was never expected that Cotton would pull off a 20+ point victory.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Quinnpiac Poll Finds Gillespie Within 10 Points of Mark Warner - But He's Lagging With Republicans

Photo courtesy of the A.P.

A brand new survey out this morning from Quinnipiac University finds the former head of the RNC, Ed Gillespie, within reaching distance of popular Democratic Senator Mark Warner in the Virginia Senate race. Warner, who sports an impressive 52/34% favorability rating, only clocks in at 48%, while Gillespie attracts 39%.

Quinnipiac's previous Virginia survey from March found Gillespie trailing 46-31%, though that was among registered voters. The new survey was conducted among likely voters, so it isn't exactly comparable.

 Looking at the crosstabs, Warner has leads among women (50-37%) and men (46-41%). Despite trailing by nine points overall, Gillespie actually attracts more Independent voters than Warner, leading among this subgroup 43-41%. Of particular note was the passage below from the official poll release:
"Actually Gillespie is tied with Warner among independents but the incumbent's lead rests on Sen. Warner doing about 15 percentage points better among Democrats than Gillespie does among Republicans."
So Warner is doing a better job of consolidating his Democratic base than Gillespie is his Republican base. Warner racks up an astonishing 94% of Democratic voters. Compare that figure to Gov. Terry McAuliffe's performance with Democrats in the 2013 Governor race against Ken Cuccinelli, when McAuliffe captured 95% of the Democratic vote. That's the same percentage won by Tim Kaine and Barack Obama in their respective 2012 matches.

If you buy the Quinnipiac numbers, it appears as though Warner has maxed out his Democratic vote. But that isn't necessarily the case for Ed Gillespie.  The Republican is only capturing 78% of his base. That's significantly lower than where Ken Cuccinelli wound up in 2013 (92%), or even George Allen and Mitt Romney in 2012 (93%). In other words, Gillespie likely has room to grow.

Since Quinnipiac took the time to point out the basis Warner's lead is predicated on, let's consider how the survey would have looked had Gillespie performed as well among Republicans as Warner did among Democrats. In other words, what would the poll results have been if both Warner AND Gillespie attract 94% of their bases?

blog post

What was a 48-39% lead for Mark Warner becomes a 44-43% lead.

Obviously, the campaigns don't take place in a vacuum, and the numbers will shift between now and election day. But it is interesting to see how close of a race we could have assuming two things: 1) Quinnipiac's numbers are accurate, and 2) Republicans rally almost unanimously around Gillespie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Loving To Hate Pat Quinn: Why An Unpopular Democratic Governor Stands A Decent Chance At Re-election

Gov. Quinn struggles to meet-and-greet supporters as union members protest his policies at the 2012 Illinois State Fair. Photo courtesy of the A.P.

There have been twenty-two surveys of the 2014 Illinois Governor race since Republican businessman and challenger Bruce Rauner captured his party's nomination in March. Governor Pat Quinn has led in only two of them, averaging 39% across all twenty-two polls (a number that should strike fear in the heart of any incumbent).

The Huffington Post Pollster average puts the challenger ahead 46-44%, and gives Rauner a 53% chance of defeating Quinn in November - again, making it very clear that Quinn is receiving no benefit whatsoever from the power of incumbency. In fact, from a purely polling perspective, Quinn is one of the most vulnerable Governors and/or Senators in the country. His job job approval rating is awful (see here, here, & here as well). Only Tom Corbett, Sam Brownback, Dan Malloy, and Mary Landrieu trail their opponents by a larger margin on Pollster.

Fortunately for Democrats, Pat Quinn has proven himself quite resilient in the face of awful polling and brutal political headwinds before.

Look no further than four years ago, when after a bitter contest and razor-thin victory in the Democratic primary, Pat Quinn was elected to his own full term as Governor, having stepped into the role in 2009 after former Gov. Blagojevich was famously removed from office. His job approval ratings that year were disastrous, even on the eve of the election. The general election head-to-head numbers were horrendous. Of the thirty-three publicly released polls following the Feb 2, 2010 primaries, Quinn trailed his Republican challenger in ALL but two. The final Pollster average in 2010 found Bill Brady (R) ahead by eight points. The final RCP average found Brady up five points. Pollster and Real Clear Politics even picked up on a last minute surge for Brady! They were obviously wrong, as Governor Quinn went on to win 47-46%. And it was arguably the largest polling miss of the 2010 cycle (ranking right up there with the infamously incorrectly polled Nevada Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharon Angle).

Further complicating things for Republican chances at picking up this Governorship this year, the most prolific pollster to date in the Illinois race, We Ask America, has somewhat of a problematic track record, particularly in Illinois. Not to mention the fact that they make up 36% of all Illinois Governor polls taken since the March 18th primary. To date, their results have been highly favorable to Bruce Rauner. Out of their eight surveys taken since the March 18 primary, Rauner has led in all of them, by as little as three points, and as much as fourteen.

Great news for the GOP, right? Well, not when you consider that We Ask America's only two surveys of the 2010 Illinois Governor race found Republican challenger Bill Brady ahead by ten and fifteen points, the latter of which was Brady's largest poll lead of the entire cycle.

This isn't to pick on We Ask America. As noted above, all of the pollsters were off in this race in 2010. Rasmussen Reports final poll on October 20, 2010 found Brady ahead of Quinn by eight points, which also happened to be the final Pollster average. PPP, Fox News, YouGov, the Chicago Tribune, and literally every other pollster in the final weeks of the 2010 campaign missed the mark, and none of them projected the actual winner.

So while the Democrats are again in the position of having to defend an unpopular Governor and unpopular President in an unfriendly political environment, history would suggest you should not underestimate Governor Pat Quinn. In 2010, polling that consistently favored the Republican challenger the entire time wound up being wrong. Given that, Governor Quinn may be the happiest (and luckiest) vulnerable incumbent running this year.

One final note: the three most recent surveys are all good news for Gov. Quinn. The first Chicago Tribune poll of the cycle finds Quinn surging into an eleven point, 48-37% lead over Rauner - easily his largest lead of both the 2014 and 2010 elections. A Global Strategy Group poll done on behalf of the Democratic Governor Association also finds a rare Quinn lead of 43-40%. Finally, a nearly brand-new We Ask America survey actually finds Rauner ahead 44-41%, but notes that the new figures represent a significant tightening from their last poll just three weeks ago when Rauner led Quinn 46-37%.