Whit Ayres, Jon McHenry, and Dan Judy just completed a series of polls in twelve key congressional districts on the East Coast. (Another two batches of polls in the near future will look at key races in the heartland and West Coast.)
Their polls, conducted for American Action Forum on July 28, 29, 31, and August 1, with 4,800 likely general-election voters — 400 each in Connecticut’s 4th and 5th districts, Florida’s 24th district, New York’s 20th, 23rd and 25th districts; Pennsylvania’s 3rd, 10th, 11th, and 12th districts; Virginia’s 5th district; and West Virginia’s 3rd district — show competitive races throughout the East. In aggregate, they find 35 percent of the voters in these districts say their representative deserves reelection while 52 percent say it is time for someone else.
Beyond the deserves reelection figure, the key results from the surveys are:
1. Voters say the country is on the wrong track by a nearly three-to-one margin. Sixty-eight percent of the likely voters in these districts say the country is off on the wrong track, while just 24 percent say the country is heading in the right direction.
2. The economy is the most important issue in a top-of-mind measure, while controlling government spending and making Washington, DC accountable are also important in a closed-ended question. Forty-eight percent of voters say the economy is the most important issue facing the country in an open-ended question. When presented with seven options in a closed-ended question, 26 percent of voters say “creating new jobs” is most likely to affect their vote for Congress, 21 percent say “controlling government spending,” and 19 percent say “making Washington, DC more accountable” are the issues most likely to affect their vote for Congress this fall.
3. A plurality of voters prefers a Republican on the generic ballot test. While each of these twelve districts have Democratic incumbents, voters in these districts prefer a Republican to a Democrat as their next congressman by a 38 to 31 percent margin.
4. President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are both viewed unfavorably in these districts. Voters in these districts give Barack Obama a 43 to 50 percent favorable to unfavorable rating and give Nancy Pelosi a 27 to 57 percent rating.
5. A majority of the likely voters in these districts opposes the health care reform plan. Voters oppose the new law by a 51 to 39 percent margin, including 40 percent who strongly oppose it.
All respondents were selected randomly from a list of registered voters in the district, and indicated they are likely to vote in the elections for Congress this fall, and interviews were conducted by live interviewers. Quotas in each district — CT 04, CT 05, FL 24, NY 20, NY 23, NY 25, PA 03, PA 10, PA 11, PA 12, VA 05, and WV 03 — were set by gender, age, and county consistent with past participation in the district. Each district included 400 interviews, for a total of 4,800 interviews in the region.
DISTRICTS WITH THE DEMOCRAT COMFORTABLY LEADING:
Connecticut 5: While challenger Mark Greenberg has just 53 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Chris Murphy’s 95 percent name recognition, Murphy falls short of 50 percent with a 49 to 39 percent lead.
(A complication in the above poll: Greenberg lost the primary after this poll was conducted; Sam Caligiuri is the GOP nominee in this district. It is possible, although not that likely, that he’s polling at significantly different level than Greenberg.)
West Virginia 3: Rep. Nick Rahall with a comfortable lead over the lesser-known Spike Maynard. Rahall has 97 percent name recognition, compared to Maynard’s 72 percent, and leads on the ballot by a 53 to 37 percent margin.
DISTRICTS WITH THE DEMOCRAT NARROWLY LEADING:
Connecticut 4: Despite challenger Dan Debicella having just 35 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Jim Himes’s 93 percent name recognition, Himes leads by a slim 46 to 42 percent margin.
New York 20: Despite challenger Chris Gibson having just 37 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Scott Murphy’s 91 percent name recognition, Murphy leads by a slim 45 to 40 percent margin.
New York 23: While challenger Matt Doheny has just 48 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Bill Owens’s 87 percent name recognition, Owens manages just a split of the vote with 41 percent to 39 percent for Doheny.
New York 25: Despite challenger Ann Marie Buerkle having just 50 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Dan Maffei’s 90 percent name recognition, Maffei leads by a slim 44 to 41 percent margin.
DISTRICTS WITH THE GOP CHALLENGER NARROWLY LEADING:
Florida 24: Despite challenger Craig Miller having just 28 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’s 88 percent name recognition, Miller leads by a slim 44 to 41 percent margin.
Pennsylvania 3: Despite challenger Mike Kelly having just 62 percent name recognition, he leads Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper by a 52 to 38 percent margin.
Pennsylvania 10: Despite challenger Tom Marino having just 59 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Chris Carney’s 94 percent name recognition, Marino leads on the ballot by a 52 to 37 percent margin.
Pennsylvania 11: Challenger Lou Barletta’s 93 percent name recognition is very similar to Rep. Paul Kanjorski’s 96 percent, and Barletta holds a 52 to 41 percent lead on the ballot.
Pennsylvania 12: Challenger Tim Burns’s 84 percent name recognition is almost identical to Rep. Mark Critz’s 82 percent, and Burns leads on the ballot by a slim 44 to 40 percent margin.
Virginia 5: Despite challenger Robert Hurt having 75 percent name recognition compared to Rep. Tom Perriello’s 95 percent name recognition, Hurt leads by a 49 to 43 percent margin.
Kudos to American Action Forum for helping us get a sense of how things stand for the GOP at this moment: facing opportunities for enormous gains, but with a lot of work still ahead of them.