Thursday, October 06, 2005

Poll Numbers: To Fret or Not to Fret

David at the Blue Mass Group has a post on the new UMass Lowell poll on the 2006 gubernatorial race. David is cheered by Governor Mitt Romney's low reelect numbers, not to mention Healey's poor showing, but he's understandably anxious that Democratic candidate Deval Patrick's numbers have stayed relatively flat despite campaigning full time since the beginning of the summer. Frederick Clarkson has a decent rebuttal on his site, claiming that it's too early to make any conclusions.

I've had a chance to look over the poll and it's very much in line with the Statehouse News poll released earlier this month, proving perhaps that the Zogby poll is for entertainment purposes only. Regarding Patrick's numbers, I tend to agree with Fred given that it's still over a year before the election and the field on either side is far from set. The trend lines for all the candidates are relatively flat. If one candidate was gaining traction at the expense of Patrick, then I might think that he had cause to worry, but it's silly to obsess over a fluctuation of only a few points. If anything, I think the stable results have shown that few people are thinking about the 2006 election, and they probably won't until next year. Patrick does, however, have a difficulty that other potential candiates Bill Galvin and Tom Reilly do not have. By virtue of their positions in state government, Galvin and Reilly have an easier job getting media coverage, particularly on television. Patrick will have a much harder time earning media until campaign season begins, and I think that's why his name recognition numbers are staying relatively flat.

Mitt's own pollster, however, is not worried about his candidate's dismal showing. The Washington Post's blog, The Fix has his reaction:

Neil Newhouse, a partner at the Republican polling firm of Public Opinion Strategies (and Romney's pollster), offered an interesting and thoughtful perspective on why Romney's numbers are where they are.

"Truthfully, the UMass poll showing a big Reilly lead is meaningless," said Newhouse. "The main reason why Mitt is trailing Reilly is that Mass voters have doubts as to whether he's running for reelection. Should he decide to run, the ballot will close overnight."
Frankly, I don't buy it. Romney is the incumbent and incumbents typically do not get a boost in polling when they decide to run for reelection as such runs are normally assumed. Voters in Massachusetts have already made up their minds on our governor whether or not he's made up his own.

Speaking of which, the Globe is reporting that Romney won't make his decision until late November. Let's make a bet. Which will come first: Romney announcing his election plans or the first snowfall of the season? The weather's been unseasonably warm lately, but Mitt's been pushing his announcement back since he first said he'd decide in the "summer".