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Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Iowa 2008 Presidential Poll--Des Moines Register

The biggest recent news in Iowa 2008 presidential politics is the new poll in today's Des Moines Register.
The Iowa Poll, conducted for The Des Moines Register by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines, is based on interviews with 600 Iowans age 18 or older who say they definitely plan to vote in the Nov. 7 general election.
The best news is that despite Bush's unpopularity, '08 looks promising for the GOP maintaining the White House. I know it's incredibly early and that these conclusions are drawn mainly by the crossover popularity of McCain and Giuliani, but at least it's looking like Hillary isn't positioned very well to be our next POTUS.
Giuliani and McCain are familiar figures who enjoy a reservoir of good will. However, they may be taken down a notch once the race crystallizes.

"We haven't seen the dirt fly in the nomination process. ... I think McCain and Giuliani will get dirty," said Georgetown University professor Stephen Wayne.

Experts say it's too soon to anoint anyone the favorite in a wide-open presidential race that's still two years away and features a long list of potential candidates from both parties.

But for Clinton, the Iowa Poll's findings raise warning flags, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Losing all four trial heats against Republicans - including Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee - feeds the doubts of those Democrats who wonder whether she is too polarizing to deliver a victory.
I'm not going to gloat on Romney beating out Hillary because I think Donald Duck would beat out Hillary in the same poll . . . just too many people hate her and would want ANYBODY else (however, poor Frist just eeked out a win by 1% over Billary). Also, these polls often shortchange guys like Romney with lower name-recognition.

The following figures are from the the article linked to above and shed some light on the poll results:

So, the "unsure" column is basically just name recognition. Nearly 70% of "definitely going to vote this year" Iowans don't know anything about Romney. That's good and that's bad. The bad is that obviously this will have to change if he's going to make a run (I'm not worried about this . . . as Gov. of Mass he's not on a huge national stage like so many others that have been included). The good part of not having strong name recognition is that there's plenty of room for growth . . . and grow he will in the minds and hearts of Iowans (IMO).

In fact, in those head to head match-ups of the four Democrats (Clinton, Vilsack, Kerry and Edwards) and the four Republicans (McCain, Giuliani, Frist and Romney) it is interesting that Romney is far and away the least well known of anyone included from either side. All four of those Democrats are well know getting an "unsure" percentage of 16% or below. On the GOP side, excluding people who aren't running for POTUS in 2008 (viz. Bush and Rice), Giuliani, McCain, and Frist are the three most known. Pataki was better known to Iowans, and it's interesting that Romney was even included in the head to head match-ups instead of Pataki. Shows that the people doing the poll realize that he's one of the strong frontrunners DESPITE his poor name recognition.

Bear in mind that the numbers quoted are not divided along respondent's party affiliation. We don't know the breakdown of who actually got polled. This would have been nice to have to help interpret the results. The "very unfavorable" is interesting. Romney's very low in that one at 4% which is great for someone who 1) has been right along Bush in his view on the gobal war on terror (GWOT), 2) is often best known for being a Mormon, and 3) has been so outspoken in the fight for the Marriage Protection Ammendment (i.e. anti Gay Marriage). Nearly all of these "very unfavorable" votes must come from political polar opposites.

I also found it interesting that Newt and George Allen were not included in the poll.

The article addresses the "name recognition factor" as well:

It's harder to get a fix on the popularity of five other potential Republican presidential candidates listed in the poll - New York Gov. George Pataki, Frist, Romney, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback - because large numbers of Iowans don't know them well enough to have an opinion.

Political observers look for Giuliani and McCain to lose some of their luster once the battle lines are drawn in the fight for the White House.

"Their greatest problem is getting nominated. It's especially tough for Giuliani, given his social issues positions, but it's also tough for McCain because of his maverick image," said Sabato, the University of Virginia political scientist. Giuliani supports abortion rights - a view not shared by many Republicans.

David Yepsen's companion piece had a great title "Poll brings pain for Democrats". He recognizes Romney's poor name recognition as well:

This survey is a further measure of just how unelectable Clinton may be. She loses Iowa, albeit by tiny margins, to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, two relatively unknown guys who lose the state to Democrats Vilsack, Kerry and Edwards.

Can anyone who knows anything about Romney really imagine him losing to Vilsack, Kerry, or Edwards? I sure can't!

As usual, Yepsen sees the bigger picture in the GOP primary race:

By contrast, the poll results could help Giuliani and McCain with rank-and-file Republicans who are looking for a winner. McCain gets criticized by some conservatives for not being conservative enough on issues such as treatment of terrorist detainees or illegal immigrants. Others are likely to remain troubled by things like Giuliani's support for abortion and gay rights.

For many of the social conservatives, those positions are heretical. To them, ideological purity is more important than electability, and that gives lesser-known GOP candidates an opening as the race unfolds.

Yep, Yepsen's talking about Romney.

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