Major Pain Ahead for Dem House Incumbents: GOP Pollster

Ayres, McHenry & Associates (R) for the American Action Fund (7/28-8/1, likely voters, MoE: ±4%):


Jim Himes (D-inc): 46

Dan Debicella (R): 42


Chris Murphy (D-inc): 49

Mark Greenberg (R): 39

One complication, though: Greenberg lost his primary to state Sen. Sam Caligiuri.


Suzanne Kosmas (D-inc): 41

Craig Miller (R): 44


Scott Murphy (D-inc): 45

Chris Gibson (R): 40


Bill Owens (D-inc): 41

Matt Doheny (R): 39


Dan Maffei (D-inc): 44

Ann Marie Buerkle (R): 41


Kathy Dahlkemper (D-inc): 38

Mike Kelly (R): 52


Chris Carney (D-inc): 37

Tom Marino (R): 52


Paul Kanjorski (D-inc): 41

Lou Barletta (R): 52


Mark Critz (D-inc): 40

Tim Burns (R): 44


Tom Perriello (D-inc): 43

Rob Hurt (R): 49


Nick Rahall (D-inc): 53

“Spike” Maynard (R): 37

48 thoughts on “Major Pain Ahead for Dem House Incumbents: GOP Pollster”

  1. The one that surprises me the most here is CT-04; I hadn’t even considered that  as one to watch. Also, I highly doubt that the PA-03 and PA-08 numbers are accurate–if the Republicans are leading, it’s not by double digits. Everything else seems reasonable to me though.

  2. that I believing a GOP poll conducted for a PAC. Those Dahlkemper and Carney numbers in particular just seem absurd. Same with Mark Critz. And I’m pretty sure Doheny and Doug Hoffman will both be on the ballot in NY-23, which’ll give us a Maes-Tancredo sort of effect.

    Still, I’m really hoping that my post-Labor Day scenarios will come true, when Democrats begin to nuke the airwaves with their superior stockpile of cash. Democratic enthusiasm has a lot more potential to grow compared with the GOP; I think strongly countering Republicans’ demagougery and bullshit claims could give our side a significant boost. Remember, it’s not like Republicans are popular like Obama and Dems were pre-2009.

  3. what I call a major pain.  Even the GOP pollster is showing the Democrat ahead in several of those races, and comfortably so even in “red” districts like WV-03.  And Periello down by only 6 is much better than that SurveyUSA poll showing him losing by about 20 points.

    I’m not exactly buying their numbers for Pennsylvania.  The former “third Senator from Pennsylvania” will surely be doing some campaigning in that state, and given the margin Critz won by in the special election, and not having really done much in the House that’s considered “liberal”, I’m wary of those numbers too.

  4. Carney has WAY more cash than Marino and votes his district.  Marino will be swamped.

    Also, Critz will win again.  Somebody who lives in PA-12 who is a friend of mine says that a lot of people there think Burns is a “smacked ass” (their words, not mine) because he thought the special election would be a cake walk, nationalized the race, and made veiled insults at Murtha’s legacy.

    Finally, it’s nice to see Perriello down only 6 in this poll.  Hurt is ducking debates and the media is noticing.  He committed to, then withdrew from the traditional Candidate Forum, the first time a candidate has done that since ’96.… The reason why he won’t debate Perriello is supposedly because he doesn’t want the Indie candidate to be present.

  5. Not buying those numbers one bit. Hell, Critz beat Burns three months ago by 7.5%. Maybe he went back in time and voted for HCR.  

  6. these numbers are accurate, and it is very questionable that they are, then we are SCREWED. I mean we will lose 50-60 seats if this is true. Thing is it is a GOP internal conducted for a pac. I’ll believe it when I see it.  

  7. Conservative activists touted them with all their muster and now leave them to wither.  I’m saying this because the two’s fundraising has been anemic and they’ve become afterthoughts.

  8. Another poll out recently had Dahlkemper slightly ahead.  I don’t believe the PA-10 numbers for a second.  Carney might lose, but he’s not losing now by that amount.  Others have pointed out the ridiculousness of PA-12.  FL-24 is actually good news.  The others are in the realm of possibility.

    I’d like to know their screen for likely voters.  Probably worse than Rasmussen’s.

  9. I didn’t really think these looked too bad to be honest.  Everything outside PA looks good really.  And we know that Republicans feel PA will be their lynchpin this November.

    PA is going to be tricky.  The GOP could win the governor’s race by 20 points or 8 points, it will just matter how the race closes.  The Sestak-Toomey race will be a nailbiter but it could swing back to Sestak post-Labor Day.

    The subsequent house races could be hurt by the top 2 races.  A 20 point win for Corbett in the Guv ravce could push Toomey across the finish line, and take down Critz, Kanjorski and Dahlkemper in the process.  

    Its very important the DGA keep the PA Guv race close to help Onorato but also Sestak and about 5 house candidates.

  10. before you get too optimistic do not forget this is a gop internal conducted for a right wing pack. Just saying.  

  11. The PA-12 poll doesn’t make a lot of sense.  What’s changed since May that would turn a 7-point win into a 4-point deficit?

  12. I’m having a hard time buying a lot of these polls.  I know Kanjorski is in trouble, but I can’t see him being down 11 points in a district that Obama won by 15 points.  That just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that in many cases, Republicans have had a contested primary to deal with, so they’ve been on the airwaves already.  Few Democratic incumbents have had to deal with a serious primary challenge, so there’s really been no need to hit the airwaves just yet.

  13. when spread over the 50 or so races where Ds are vulnerable.

    My guess is that to save the majority in the House, OfA will have to have a significant effect.

    (Though we’re getting an unintentional assist from some R candidates.)

  14. Kanjorski trailed in poll after poll in the home stretch of 2008, but was bailed out by sky-high Dem turnout.

    With a depressed base, independents in revolt, and a serious case of Kanjorski fatigue, I can easily see Kanjo trailing by a decent margin. This is one of those districts that I’ve already begun to mentally write off.

  15. The lagging name recognition for most of these Republicans. On the face of it that might be considered a worry because they are already performing well. But it cuts both ways. It is up to Dem incumbents and the DCCC to use their financial advantage to define them in a negative light. Though the generic overview is awful lots of these races are only now beginning to fully engage. The GOP saved a good few seats in both 2006 and 2008 by running good, localized campaigns. Many Democrats can do the same over the next couple months or so.

  16. I just wish it were 2012 already. :(   I had an epiphany the other day that if the Iraq War never happened, we wouldn’t have won 2006 in any big fashion, the GOP would have still been in charge  which would have made 2008 like a 50-seat gain and given us the mandate to actually fix the economy.  We blew our political load too early.  ( I also have a hot-potato analogy if ejaculating is too tasteless.)

  17. is that, really, this is generally a Democratic district.  This isn’t a case of an incumbent Democrat getting smashed in a red district.

  18. Most Democrats haven’t yet bothered to define their opponents yet.  Any sort of negative publicity would have come from primary fights, where in many cases (at least in Tennessee) this year they’ve just been trying to show that one candidate is secretly a Democrat.

  19. ref http://www.swingstateproject.c

    where Perillo was down by 23.

    which is especially hopeful news as this is effectively an R internal. It certainly raises the question whether the SUSA poll cited is an outlier.

    Of course, it’s statistically possible that this R internal could be an outlier relative to the other races too.

  20. if you’re right, because I find it very hard to believe that OFA will deliver much for Democratic House incumbents.  

  21. IMO, all the PA polls are off except for possibly the Kanjorski one.  Carney has 60 times more cash on hand than Marino according to the last report and can swamp him.  Dahlkemper has been shown slightly ahead in some polls.  Tim Burns lost his momentum.

  22. Oh how I wish I had a cached link to the three rounds of massive House polling they did in 2006, first in September and then in October.  The numbers looked great for us.  But ultimately, a lot of their polling was wrong.  Some of it was wrong merely on the margin of Democratic victory or defeat, but quite a few were wrong on the outcome itself.

    Their last round of polling, in late October, had Christine Jennings and Angie Paccione and Tammy Duckworth winning, and all lost.  They had Dave Loebsack losing, and he won.  And their margins were off on several others, such as in giving Joe Courtney a comfortable lead when he barely eeked it out by less than 100 votes.

    We are, indeed, in trouble, and it’s been true a long time that House control is a tossup.  This round of PAC polls only confirms that, it doesn’t say things are any different than we already knew.

    That said, their polling in individual races can be way off, so don’t take a poll in any particular race too literally.  After all, SUSA just had Perriello down 23 a month ago, and they’re independent and polled for the local media, not for partisans.  And yet, this partisan GOP polling now shows, against interest when compared to SUSA, Perriello down only 6.

  23. Like NY-20 (Murphy), FL-24 (Kosmas) and VA-5 (Perriello) which is good news since SUSA poll had him down by 20 points. Bill Ownes poll is moot because they didn’t poll Doug Hoffman. PA-11 I see Kanjorski losing but not by that much. The rest is BS because I don’t see Dahlkemper down by that much, Critz being down by 4 is a joke and Carney had a bigger money advantage Marino and will smash with that. I disagree with you Paleo that Carney will lose and I doubt Maffei is only up by a couple of points. These plls are very questionable and I cant wait until Kos starts polling House races regularly with PPP because i’m really tired of disecting polls from partisan and questionable sources.

  24. But in my opinion Carney has been better at settleing in as in incumbent and he has a huge cash advantage on Marino. But I see your point.

  25. No we didn’t. We couldn’t predict that the Iraq War would go to hell so quickly, Bush and the GOP to become as popular as the plague and us to be swept into the majority. No Andrew we didn’t blew our lod too quickly. This just happened. Think of it this way, 2008 is in lass than three months and 2012 will come around and well be okay. Just hang in there. I am barely hanging in but i’m trying.

  26. It just doesn’t pass the laugh test that a scandal-free incumbent Congressman would be down 23 in July against a state legislator.

    That said, as I always say with Rasmussen and said regarding that SUSA poll, if they say a race everyone figures to be close is a 20-pointer, you know that’s laughable, but you can assume also the poll is not off BY 20 full points.  So Perriello down 6 is very credible and in fact heartening in this environment, in that district, and with his voting record.

  27. House races are very difficult to poll accurately, and media organizations who are the usual clients for public polls mostly aren’t willing to spend money on them.  SUSA gets a lot of contracts for House races because robopolling is cheap, but even SUSA is getting hired only for a small fraction of competitive races.

  28. PPP does alot of House and with Kos aligning them as their pollster you’ll see alot of PPP House polls commissioned by Kos.

  29. …it is completely consistent with polling before the special election.  All those polls, too, had Critz down by single digits.

    The polling was all wrong partly because the turnout model was a little more Democratic thanks to the special coinciding with the primary, and partly because the polls just misfired on voter intentions which happens sometimes and is a common problem in special elections.

    Now, we have a political environment that frankly has deteriorated for Democrats, so it makes sense the polling models would reflect that.

    I don’t doubt at all that Critz is more likely than not to beat Burns again.  But I also don’t diss this poll, given what the polling was like in the special.

  30. You are buying the GOP spin on the primary. There was clear proof that the special actually drove turnout in the primary rather than the other way round.

  31. …I said the primary turnout “partly” affected the special election turnout model, and I think that’s true.  Let’s say the Dems had presumptive nominees with no serious challenge for Senate and Governor going into the primary, and I think Critz wins clearly by less than 8.

    But “less than 8” is still a win, and still significantly outperforms all the polling in that race except Critz’s own internal polling which did, indeed, show him with a comfortable lead late in the game (and we therefore laughed it off under the “totality of polling” rule, which obviously is not ironclad and in this case the anomaly was to our benefit).

    As far as your point that the special drove primary turnout rather than vice-versa, I had not read that, but I could find it believable given the saturation TV advertising the special had.

    All I’m saying in my bottom line is that the latest poll is credible insofar as it mirrors the polling before the special election, and it just goes to show we need not either diss the poll or believe Critz won’t win.

  32. John McCain asked Chris Carney to switch parties. Not some generic Republican, but John freakin’ McCain. To me, it’s a no-brainer that all Carney needs to do to establish his bipartisan credentials is run an ad saying, “I’m so effective at working across the aisle, even the Republican nominee for President wanted me on their side.”

  33. Which is why I’m somewhat more pessimistic about the House than others here are. If you look at it race by race it’s hard to see Republicans gains of more than 30. But look at generic ballot numbers and the picture is a lot worse. The problem with believing the individual polls is just that, as you point out, House race polling is extremely difficult.

    In both 2006 and 2008, while people forecast the relative numbers correctly, based on models and, yes, on the individual races, the actual races that we won and lost were often quite surprising.

    Of course, projections can also come in on the high end. We actually underperformed in the House in ’08 — a lot of forecasts had us picking up another 25-30 seats, and we actually just picked up 20.  

  34. Which is why top pollsters reuse to poll them (thank Christ for PPP). They cost alot and because of the dynamics of the district it’s hard to peg down accurate and as a result the only polls we see are from internals from campaigns that I don’t trust of polls from partisan pollsters that I don’t trust either.

    It’s because of polls that the dynamics of the ’08 results were suprising for us like you included. We lost seats we thought we would won and won seats that we thought were out of reach and seats we wrote off eons ago we came close to winning. I’m not pessmitstic like you are and that’s because I don’t look at the generic ballot to find my results because it’s unreliable. There has been many elections when the GOP power we led the ballot and Newt Gingrich and Denny Hastert were still running Congress. My point is look at these races race by race to find the light and you’ll see what I see: The GOP picking up about 30 seats in a net gain.

  35. I like them but their house polling leaves something to be desired. Even if you forgive them for NY-23, which I do, they also didn’t do well on PA-12.

  36. They’re just hard to do, period.

    PPP isn’t any worse than the other few who try.

    My only beef with PPP is the same beef I have with all pollsters, that they take their own numbers too seriously and too literally, without ever admitting, perhaps even to themselves, that their own numbers might be off for one reason or another.  PPP is most guilty of this with their projecting ahead to 2012, trying to make arguments about 2012 based on their polling today that produces turnout models wholly incompatible with what everyone knows a Presidential election turnout model looks like.

    And another example was Mason-Dixon’s late July Nevada poll, particularly their Senate numbers.  They went from 43-36 Reid in early July to 44-43 Reid in late July, and Brad Coker was quoted as saying something that effectively meant he believed there was real movement in 2 weeks’ time.  Never mind that polling itself so far from an election has volatility that’s normal in random sampling, and that nothing had happened in those 2 weeks in July, advertising or otherwise, that would have argued for any Angle surge.  It was such blatant dishonesty about Coker’s own numbers that it made me cringe.

    I’ve reached the point that I no longer read polling memos by pollsters except to the extent they comment on something they didn’t reveal in the crosstabs or turnout model.

  37. House races are very hard to poll, House races on special election are even more difficult. Give PPP for atleast trying.

  38. Esspically with PPP. I like PPP and trust their numbers but the problem with Tom Jensen is what you said:

    “they take their own numbers too seriously and too literally, without ever admitting, perhaps even to themselves, that their own numbers might be off for one reason or another.”

    That’s the one thing I don’t like about Jensen and even other pollsters, they think there poll is very accurate and there analysis is spot on even when it isn’t and they won’t admit when they screw up, I don’t blame you for not reading the polsters memos because they constanly flip flop from time to time. A Dem is leading by 1-2 points they write it’d bad news for the GOP the Dem has the momentum. If a Dem is down by say 3 then the Dem is toast, turnout will be low for that Dem and the GOP with cruise to victory. It makes my head spin. Thats why I just look at the poll numbers and nothing. I don’t bother reading the memo and I don’t blame you for doing the same.

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