In politics, it’s common for campaigns to release an internal poll if it paints a good picture for their candidate: she’s ahead, he’s closing fast, and so on.
It’s less common for one candidate to call out another candidate’s poll as “mush.” But we got both this week.
Daniel Cameron’s poll
The Cameron campaign released a poll from Meeting Street, a market research company from South Carolina. Their work includes “companies, causes, and candidates.”
538’s ratings of pollsters gives Meeting Street a provisional grade of B/C, due to the small number of political polls — only 4 — that Meeting Street has conducted. According to 538, Meeting Street has called only 50% of races correctly. So, consider all of that as I share what they said.
According to their report (included below), they polled 500 Republican primary voters in Kentucky, with a margin of error of ± 4.38%. Some of their findings:
- Cameron has high name recognition – 81% of those surveyed have heard of him.
- He has high favorables, especially compared to the other candidates:
- Daniel Cameron 62%
- Ryan Quarles 28%
- Kelly Craft 22%
- Mike Harmon 17%
- Eric Deters 10%
- Alan Keck 7%
- Trump remains popular with the Republican base in Kentucky, with 88% approval rating.
- Cameron leads the Republican field in the governor’s race, with 39% saying they would vote for him if the election were held today. Quarles and Craft get 8% each, the other candidates 2% or less, and 38% are undecided.
Their report concludes thusly: “The data is crystal clear: Daniel Cameron is the best known and best positioned candidate in the Republican primary race for Governor. Cameron is well-known and well-liked among primary voters, and voters give him a 31-point lead over his closest opponent.”
Eric Deters poll and email
Yesterday, we received a press release from candidate Eric Deters, touting his campaign’s polling results. Rather than summarize it, I’m just going to include the graphic that was the actual content of the email. Note the comments on Cameron’s poll.
A few closing thoughts
- Top-line-only results are good for headlines, but not for actual reality. When looking at these stories, you’ve got to be “survey savvy” – what questions were actually asked, to whom, by whom; how was the survey conducted; what are the results by age, gender, and so on (cross-tabs). Since all we have are the top-line results, there’s less reason to trust them.
- Cameron should have great name recognition – he’s in the headlines regularly because of his position. Note that the report doesn’t mention the name recognition of the other candidates; perhaps a few of them also have pretty high name recognition?
- I agree with Deters that while Cameron’s lead is possibly true at this point in the race (due to that name recognition), I also think it is incredibly soft – like mush. Again, since we have no info other than the top line, we don’t know how firm any of that support really is. And, it’s early days; voters won’t really start making decisions about the primary until March or April. In the end, I think 39% may be Cameron’s ceiling, which means that if there were an actual run-off, he would lose.
- But remember, unless the legislature changes the rules (which they are supposedly considering), Kentucky is a plurality election state, meaning that whomever gets the most votes wins, even if that number is less than 50%. So, with the crazy field the Republicans are dealing with, Cameron could indeed win with much less than a majority. Another candidate (Quarles? Craft?) would have to become the obvious alternative and turn it into basically a two-person race. That remains to be seen.
- As for Deters’s strategy, I think he has described it well, and chosen the only strategy that has a hope of working: draw all the MAGA crowd to his campaign, add in the voters who dislike McConnell, and see if he can be the one with the majority of the votes, while the other candidates split up the “traditional” Republicans. At this point, name recognition and funding are preventing that from happening.
Finally, let’s just name it: for political junkies like myself, this Republican primary is going to be loads of fun to watch and analyze. Get your popcorn, and let the games begin.