Saturday, August 07, 2010

SurveyUSA crosstabs show Dayton's strengths, Emmer's weaknesses

I wrote earlier about the topline results from the KSTP/SurveyUSA poll that was released Thursday. This poll showed Dayton lengthening his lead over his DFL rivals in the Tuesday primary to 16 points over Kelliher and 21 points over Entenza. Today SurveyUSA put up the crosstabs, and these add to a picture of consistent domination by Dayton.

DFL Primary Insights

Nearly every slice of the DFL electorate favors Dayton in the primary portion of this poll. One significant lead is among older voters (50% of 65+ voters favor Dayton,) but he leads in every age group. He also leads in every geographic region (fairly evenly), and absolutely dominates Kelliher and Entenza among lower income voters and voters who are not college graduates. In fact, Dayton beats Kelliher and Entenza combined among these voters.

Dayton's strategy of going heavy on television and light on field is still untested, so it may turn out that his poll results don't correspond to who actually votes on Tuesday. But with a lead like this, he doesn't have to have the best GOTV operation, just an adequate one.

There are some oddities in this poll that make me wonder. One is the 14% of the likely DFL primary voters who call themselves "Republicans" and "Tea Party Supporters." But before you start in with the sabotage narrative, Dayton finishes third among Republicans who say they will vote in the DFL primary. In fact, this is the only group in which Entenza and Kelliher lead Dayton, which is a dubious distinction for those campaigns.

General Election Insights

One of the claims made by the Star Tribune in the coverage of their August 1 poll caught my eye:
The poll also suggests that come November, Independence Party endorsee Tom Horner -- who trails the field -- could draw equally from Democrats and Republicans in a general election unless Kelliher is the nominee. In a Kelliher-Emmer match-up, Horner would draw far more from Republicans than from Democrats. That would be a change from the dynamic of previous elections, when Democrats have been more vulnerable to third-party candidates.
I thought at the time that this was a strong argument for Kelliher's prospects in the general election. The Star Tribune hasn't released the crosstabs for their poll, but the SurveyUSA poll guts this claim. In fact, it appears that Dayton has the advantage on this question. Not only does Horner get a smaller percentage of the vote in a Dayton-Emmer-Horner matchup, Horner draws more from Republicans and less from DFL voters. It's Entenza who suffers the most in this analysis, as Horner would actually draw more votes from DFLers than Republicans in an Entenza-Emmer-Horner match.

Emmer's biggest problem is tepid support among conservatives, Republicans, and TEA Party supporters. In all of these categories he underperforms consistently, no matter who he is matched against. Emmer gets only 70-71% of Republicans, 62-65% of conservatives, and 69-70% of TEA Party supporters against all three DFLers.

This means that for all of the premature postmortems being written by giddy DFLers, the Emmer campaign has plenty of time to right the ship and a strategy to solidify the base will solve a lot of his current weakness. Who knows whether the campaign shakeup that happened this weekend will do that, but it will certainly be a more experienced outfit with Sheehan and Georgacas running the show instead of Rep. Buesgens (who I will miss immensely.)

More so than Kelliher and Entenza, Dayton has succeeded in solidifying DFL support and attracting independent voters.

The battle with Emmer over independent voters will be crucial as we move into the general election. I can't imagine a world where Emmer fails to improve his numbers amoung Republicans, Conservatives and TEA Party supporters. In that case, Dayton's current lead among independent voters 44%-27% is the single biggest asset he has, if he survives the primary. But unless the DFL/MAK GOTV operation overwhelms his advantages, it appears likely that Dayton will be the DFL nominee.

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