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.