Mason-Dixon: Kaine pulls into the lead.

Lest there be any question of who won last Saturday’s debate, a new poll by Mason-Dixon shows that Kaine is at 38%, Kilgore is at 37%, and Potts is at 9%. The Kilgore campaign can yammer all they want about who won, but between the analysis and public opinion, it couldn’t be more clear that Kilgore got his fanny whooped.

These new figures are a big shift from previous polls, which had Potts down around the margin of error and Kaine anywhere from 5%-10% behind Kilgore.

There are no individual trend lines — we don’t know if this is a result of Kilgore support shifting to Potts, if Kilgore supporters are breaking between Kaine and Potts, or if this is simply the result of increased name recognition for Kaine and Potts. This is early in the campaign, after all, when polls are really just name-recognition polls. With the two leading candidates both having short names that start with “K,” the electorate can’t be feeling too certain about the lay of the land. On the other hand, the debates may finally have taken this campaign’s exposure up a notch, to a point where people really are paying attention. If that’s so, this huge leap on the part of Kaine may represent a genuine gain.

It is clear, though, that voters are really connecting with Kaine’s issues, and ignoring Kilgore’s. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The poll indicates Virginians are mostly concerned about bread-and-butter issues that Kaine, playing defense on several cultural issues, would prefer to emphasize: education, transportation and jobs, among them.

Voters seem less interested in guns, gay rights, abortion and the death penalty, the hot-button topics that Kilgore has emphasized to excite the Republican base.

Interestingly, the poll shows that Potts is taking a bite out of Kilgore’s support, not Kaine’s — the opposite of what I’d feared.

Eight percent of the voters describing themselves as Republicans chose Potts; of the self-described Democrats, 5 percent did. Potts is backed by 14 percent of the independents, contributing to a comfortable advantage for Kaine over Kilgore with the swing voters.

That’s 60% more Republicans supporting Potts than Democrats, and a staggering 700% more independents.

In Charlottesville’s Daily Progress Bob Gibson writes:

[J. Bradford Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.] said that both Kaine and Kilgore have favorable name recognition, but Kilgore’s negative rating of 23 percent is more than twice as high as Kaine’s at 10 percent. He said Kilgore’s unfavorable name recognition jumped from 12 percent in September to 23 percent last week.

It seems that people just plain don’t like Jerry Kilgore. The doubling in his unfavorable rating in the past year makes that clear. I can’t blame them — I don’t much like him, either.

Regardless of whether this poll is a fluke (and, as a Mason-Dixon poll, there’s every reason to trust it), Kilgore is in a tight spot. His poor performance only looks worse through the lens of this poll. (If this campaign knew about this on Friday, that may help to explain the tension that resulted in a 50-year-old man from the Kilgore campaign assaulting a girl volunteering for Kaine.) The campaign is now perceived as having lost ground, and will come under some real pressure from their supporters to modify their tactics accordingly.

The people have spoken; the people, it seems, like Tim Kaine. (Jerry Kilgore was really onto something, I guess)

I trust the people. Always have, always will.

12 thoughts on “Mason-Dixon: Kaine pulls into the lead.”

  1. As a long time reader of your blog, this has to be the dumbest post yet. Foolish to think one poll is gold! Get real Waldo. This poll is a fluke, and when the other polls come out later it will show.

  2. Foolish to think one poll is gold! Get real Waldo. This poll is a fluke, and when the other polls come out later it will show.

    Hmmm…if only I’d acknowledged that there was the possibility that the poll was a fluke. If only I’d some addressed this chance, and described what that would mean, instead. If only I’d used some sort of language to describe how this poll fits into the trend line, and talked about the value of polling at this phase in the election.

    Oh. Wait. I did!

    That said, it’s Mason-Dixon — their reputation is tops. They don’t even push their leaners, as evidenced by the 16% marked as undecided. This isn’t some Survey USA outfit — they’re one of the best in the nation. The fact that you don’t like the results doesn’t make them valueless. If you’re aware of some weakness in the poll (small sample size, poor methodology, lack of external validity, etc.), I hope you’ll share.

  3. First, I never said I was a fan of Kilgore. The total sample numbers are less than 7 persons per county. The survey was conducted mid week and I consider that a bad choice(but thats me). The Bush Kerry battle had around 10 polls a month, and Kerry would be ahead in a couple, but when you average them all out Bush averaged leading by 2 or 3 points. Guess what-He won by 2 or three points. This race will be close till the end. I was just saying you Raised a lot of Kaine on the results of one poll.I really expected a more realistic response from a man of your education.

  4. The total sample numbers are less than 7 persons per county.

    Is that more or less than the sample numbers in the few previous polls? What is it that makes you think that the recent debates and that the press surrounding them wouldn’t have altered the support for each candidate? Was that not, after all, the goal of each candidate in holding the debate? Wouldn’t it be more surprising if, post-debate, there was no change at all in awareness of or support of candidates?

    In your estimation, is a Survey USA poll more or less reliable than a Mason-Dixon poll? Why or why not? Do other experts in the field agree with your conclusion?

    The survey was conducted mid week and I consider that a bad choice(but thats me).

    That’s odd — as a rule, that’s when telephone surveys should be conducted.

    The same poll showed that Mark Warner has the highest rating of any outgoing governor in the history of Mason-Dixon’s polling. Wouldn’t these results likewise be inaccurate, since they were gathered from the same people, using the same methodologies?

    I really expected a more realistic response from a man of your education.

    My education? I don’t even have a high school diploma. I just got my college degree a couple of months ago, at the age of 26. Perhaps you have me confused with somebody else.

  5. I’ve always said that the only poll that matters is the election (even the most “reliable” polls can fail). Don’t put any faith in these numbers, because, like the ones before them, they will change.

  6. I don’t think a single poll had Kerry ahead in Virginia last year. I know Rasmussen had him down 2 at one point.

    And SUSA’s internals were simply wrong with respect to minority turnout and voting patterns.

  7. SamAm, Kerry also lost by 8 points in Va. I don’t think this race is going to be that much of a runaway for either candidate so its possible for these polls to fluctuate. Lets see what the next few polls show. I also think people should remember the first SurveyUSA poll. We were up 8 in rasmussen then Survey said we were up by 4. The next poll SurveyUSA put out had us up 10 and the next Rasmussen had us up 6. Lets see what the next poll brings.

  8. This poll does has the ring of truth to it.

    Really, Kaine is not doing all that well. If you sort Potts’ support back out with 6 more points going to Kilgore and 3 points to Kaine, you see Kaine with 41 points which is about what anybody would expect a generic Democratic candidate to be pulling in Virginia.

    The operative factor in the race that the poll illustrates is not any remarkable strength in Kaine but rather an unusual weakness in Kilgore. Kaine may be the generic Virginia Democrat, but Jerry Kilgore is most certainly not the generic Republican candidate (which would usually be pulling around 46 points right now).

    Kilgore has major, major weaknesses compared to most Republican candidates for office at this level. His effeminate voice and mannerisms (a liability in its self) has led to bizarre and paranoid behavior regarding public appearances. I can’t think of any other candidate for Governor of any state in America who is pathologically unable to debate his opponent in front of television cameras.

    It’s not that Kaine is strong or that the Virginia GOP is weak. There are easily a dozen Republicans in Virginia who, if they had been nominated, would be trouncing Tim Kaine right now using the same issues and positions that Kilgore is.

    Tim Kaine has a very, very good chance of winning this election. But Democrats, please don’t kid yourself into thinking that this means you have some kind of a mandate. No George Bush antics. The GOP made a very serious mistake in nominating a candidate who is unable to perform the most basic duties required in a run for office (speak in public, appear on TV, debate the opponent). That’s all that this poll really means.

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