VA-05: I Will Make You Hurt

SurveyUSA (7/16-19, likely voters, no trend lines):

Tom Perriello (D-inc): 35

Rob Hurt (R): 58

Jeff Clark (I): 4

Undecided: 3

(MoE: ±4.1%)

Whoa — those are some dreadful numbers for Tom Perriello. But let’s first compare this poll to SUSA’s final poll of this race from 2008. In that one, SUSA’s likely voter universe was 40% Democratic and 38% Republican. This time, it’s 42% Republican and 27% Democratic. In 2008, SUSA pegged the electorate as 22% black — this time, just 13%. Furthermore, African-American voters give 27% of their votes to Hurt in this poll, a significantly higher share than the 13% given to Goode. Young voters, too, have completely flipped against Perriello; Hurt racks up a 62-30 lead among 18-to-34 year-olds after Perriello rocked Goode among those voters by a 61-34 margin two years ago.

Back in February, Public Policy Polling released a poll showing Perriello and Hurt tied. That poll, which used a slightly softer likely voter screen, had a 39D-35R sample, was 24% African-American, and had a sub-sample of 18-to-29 year-olds who favored Perriello by a slim 45-42 margin.

Which poll are you buying stock in?

100 thoughts on “VA-05: I Will Make You Hurt”

  1. PPP has both Democratic and black turnout figures above where they were in ’08, which could be the case in ’12 but not this year. SUSA has weird crosstabs as usual that suggest Perriello may be doing better than the poll suggests. What  I take from this poll, though, is that Hurt has consolidated conservative and Tea Party (over 85% of both). It was a real worry that the Tea Party crowd were going to sit this one out after the semi-moderate Hurt won the primary.

    I would characterise this race as Lean R now and give Hurt a 10 point lead.

  2. There is no getting around it, this absolutely sucks. It is happening to such a great guy as well. I even gave him twenty bucks and I am pretty conservative when it comes to donations. I want to believe PPP but in all reality a lot has changed since Febuary, Hurt just got a lot of exposure coming out of the primary and has higher name id now so the results are not completely unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong I want so badly just to dismiss these results and it could be a bad poll but chances are that a good Congressman is going down because of a bad year. The crosstabs are crazy as hell but it is SUSA so what do you expect? What a shame.  

  3. There is an enthusiasm gap, but that doesn’t equal unenthusiastic Democrats not going to the polls. I do have VA-5 listed high on my list of seats to turn over, but if it does flip, I don’t expect a lopsided result like this.  

  4. … days before the elections we will have 60 house seats with democratic incumbent with -20% or worse in the polls against the republican challengers.

  5. As an actual resident of Virginia’s 5th district, let me just say how unlikely this is. Even in the more rural area of the district where I am located, Perriello has a fairly consistent popularity base, and if you drive a short way into towns like Bedford, its even larger.

    Hurt being up a bit wouldn’t surprise me, but in a district where the GOP is very unenthusiastic about him (and considering I actually reside in his State Senate district, that’s saying something) and the Democrats are unusually revved up about Tom because of his health care votes and such, and with no top-ballot race to drive up turn out, I honestly believe that the 5th is less likely to be flipped back to red than almost any other dangerous district.

  6. Only statewide data available (AFAIK) from ’06 and ’08 CNN exit polls


    16% African American (AA)

    36/39/26 (D/R/I)


    20% AA

    40/33/27 (D/R/I)

    VA-05 has an AA population of 24%. VA as a whole has an AA population of 20% — a proportion differential of 4%


    1) The CNN exit polls are good

    2) AA turnout in VA-05 is in proportion to the whole state

    In that case —

    AA turnout in VA-05 in ’06 was 20%

    AA turnout in VA-05 in ’08 was 24%

    3) If we assume an unenthusiastic D electorate / enthusiastic R electorate relative to ’06/’08 — it leads to:

    Assumption 4) — lower AA turnout than ’06

    Then I can believe say an AA turnout in ’10 of say 16%, which is closer to Survey USA than PPP.

    Furthermore, Survey USA did well in its noted last poll in ’08 in VA-05. So their ’08 numbers for D/R/I probably was close to the actual voting electorate. Thus, based on

    a) the difference between the ’06 and ’08 statewide electorate — means a more R sample in mid-term elections

    b) Assumption 3 means a more R sample in ’10

    It is reasonable to assume some R advantage in likely voters in VA-05. However, I don’t see enough data to justify (or refute) the presumed 27/42/31 (D/R/I) split in that district.

  7. Having gone to school in the 5th and having worked for Perriello, the partisan split SUSA employs here just doesn’t jive with the reality there. Sure, this district is conservative but there is no way the gap will be THAT wide in November. Moreover, given the distaste over half the Republican base has for Hurt (he only received 48% of the vote in the primary, making me wish VA had a run-off system), I have a hard time believing he has already consolidated conservatives in the district to the point where he would win 95% of their vote with Clark on the ballot and leave only 3% undecided.

    I think it is much more likely that at this moment, in July, at least 10% of the electorate is undecided overall and that conservatives are also more undecided than this poll would have it appear. While this doesn’t mean they won’t mostly end up voting for Hurt, it also doesn’t preclude Clark causing him trouble.

    Additionally, there is zero chance that 27% of African American voters in that district are going to vote for Hurt. And don’t sleep on the Charlottesville turnout for Perriello as folks there are absolutely thrilled with his key votes so far. One can look at his fundraising success so far and see how he’s resonating with his constituents and with the national Democratic base.

    (crossing my fingers for Tom)

  8. According to the larger press release, even if this poll were re-weighted, Hurt would have an 11 point lead. Could this be an outlier? Sure. I doubt Hurt is leading by this much.

    Still, I think Perriello is in real trouble.  

  9. Polling showing outcomes favoring Ds or Rs this early are useless. We constantly see weird weighting and crosstabs producing even weirder results. Some firms seem to have an agenda to push a narrative, while others just seem to have issues, and rightfully so, in figuring out the configuration of the electorate over 3 months out. The only people who are seeing trends and where races stand currently are the campaigns who are on the ground, and even they don’t know how they will stand by election night.

    Perriello has every reason to be ranked at high risk of losing his race, but there is no reason to think he won’t break 40%; as he is an incumbent and more than credible in terms of electability. In this environment he probably should lose, but we won’t know until election night who gets their voters to the polls and how the independents will break.

  10. SUSA even mentions in there news brief that if the partisan split is even Hurt still wins by 11. Dissecting information from the cross tabs is risky too as the margin of error on those is huge. I remember the SUSA polls of the VA-Gov race had weird break downs in demographic cross tabs. In the end though their final margin was only 2 points off. SUSA has been ranked has one of the best, if not the best in Nate Silver’s pollster ratings so I’m inclined to believe them. Without a recent poll to compare this to we can’t know if this is an outlier or not yet.

    Based on evidence outside of polling I’d consider a 10 point gap more likely this November.  

    The PPP poll is almost 6 months old. If the information was unpleasant anyone could instantly disregard it based on its age. So I’m buying SUSA stock.


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