What does the Rasmussen weekly poll tell us about the contest for the Democrat nomination?

November 5, 2007


Some interesting theories about the Democrat contest

1. It is a footrace, not a tennis tournament.

Whereas the Republican contest is divided into two main blocs, with Giuliani and McCain fighting for the centre and Thompson, Huckabee and Romny fighting for the right, the Democratic contest is a three way fight. If you look at the weekly Rasmussen tracking polls since mid-March you will find that Edwards and Obama have a positive correlation with each other, suggesting that they are both fighting Hillary directly, rather than engaging in a battle for second place. If Edwards withdraws (or vice versa) you shouldn’t assume that Obama will narrow the gap with Clinton.

2. The contest hasn’t been competitive since June

At the risk of stating the obvious, this contest is not exactly close at the moment. According to Rasmussen, the last time Obama (or anyone else) got within single figures of Clinton was in early June . There has only been one weekly poll with Obama in the lead, and that was a measly two points in late April. Five out of the last six weekly polls have shown a Clinton lead that is 20% or greater. Obama has managed to hold a double digit lead over Edwards for five of the last seven polls.

3. The major candidates are hitting the same wall as the Republicans.

Despite the fact that the combined votes of the top three hit 79% as early as mid March, the combined vote shares of the candidates have been hovering around the 80% mark. Although it took the emergence of Mike Huckabee in August to put the GOP in a similar position, the four leading Republicans have the same combined vote share. This suggests that a fifth of the electorate in both parties is genuinely undecided, and will make up their minds in the last fortnight of the campaign.

4. Hillary Clinton seems to have a floor at 38%.

At the moment Clinton’s share of the vote has been extremely stable. You would have to go back to June to see her share of the vote go below 38%. In the last nineteen weeks her share of the vote has fluctuated by a measly 2.6%, with an average of 41%. This shows that nothing has happened in this contest in the last five and a half months that has changed the dynamic of the contest. Contrast this with the Republican contest, which has seen the rise and fall of Thompson and the rise of Huckabee.


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