Tags: Richard Burr

Why I Think Richard Burr Is Up by a Lot More Than 8 Points


The latest from the fellows at Public Policy Polling:

There’s good news for both Elaine Marshall and Richard Burr in PPP’s newest poll of the North Carolina Senate race.The good news for Marshall is that she’s picking up undecided voters and closing the gap against Burr. She now trails by 8 points, 48-40, after facing a 13 point deficit against Burr three weeks ago. She’s starting to shore up her support with the base, getting 73% of Democrats compared to 65% in the previous poll.

But looking at the history of this race . . .

North Carolina senator Richard Burr’s margin over Elaine Marshall in PPP polls this year: 8, 13, 5, 2, 5, 7, 1, 6, 5, 10.

Burr’s average lead in PPP polls: 6.2.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s margin over Elaine Marshall in all other polls this year: 14, 20, 24, 16, 9, 7, 10, 15, 10, 1, 14, 8, 18, 16, 16, 25, 10.

Burr’s average lead in all other polls: 13.7.

Oh, by the way, PPP did work for Marshall earlier this cycle. I also think this quote should be featured in every story that mentions PPP results in this race:

“We’re absolutely rooting in the race. We don’t want Richard Burr to get reelected. We wanted Obama to win last fall,” said [PPP's Tom] Jensen.

Tags: Elaine Marshall , Polling , Richard Burr

Should We Trust Internal Polls? Use Your Gut, I Say.


Charlie Melancon, Democrat of Louisiana, and Elaine Marshall, Democrat of North Carolina, offer polls indicating they have enjoyed surges in their Senate races against, respectively, Sen. David Vitter and Sen. Richard Burr. Melancon’s internal poll has him within 1; Marshall’s has her ahead by 2.

I myself will be waiting to see what other pollsters find; both Vitter and Burr have led consistently by modest to large margins, often double digits. I’ve said in the past, take as many grains of salt as you feel necessary when reading about a poll conducted for a campaign. Some consultants tell me that they never want their internal polls to presume anything too optimistically; they insist they want to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios.

Still, if a campaign’s poll gets released publicly, it usually is designed to demonstrate the candidate’s strength. (Then again, sometimes you’re Blanche Lincoln and you release internal polls showing yourself down 9 because things are so bad, you think 36 percent is a good number for a three-term incumbent. It’s sad, really.)

When I see a campaign’s internal poll showing them performing a few points better than non-campaign polls, I generally think, “Okay, that could happen, if they’ve got some really good get-out-the-vote programs in the works.” When the gap between the campaign polls and other polls is closer to double digits . . . come on, pal. Give us some results from this plane of existence.

Tags: Charlie Melancon , David Vitter , Elaine Marshall , Richard Burr

The Good News for Republicans in the Latest Fund-Raising Numbers


Looking around some more House races, there are a bunch of GOP challengers who are fundraising powerhouses similar to North Carolina’s Ilario Pantano, who’s outraising a longtime incumbent almost 2 to 1.

In Ohio’s 1st congressional district, Steve Chabot has more cash on hand than Democratic incumbent Steve Dreihaus. Republican Steve Stivers (yes, there are a lot of Steves in Ohio) has a nearly $300,000 cash-on-hand edge over the incumbent, Mary Jo Kilroy.

The self-financing of Rich Iott in Ohio’s 9th district is keeping him close to Marcy Kaptur, and Tom Ganley has self-financed his way to a big advantage in the 13th district over Betty Sue Sutton.

In an open-seat race in Pennsylvania’s 6th district, Pat Meehan is outpacing Democrat Brian Lentz. Between his $300,000 or so in self-financing and his $300,000 or so in donations, and his pre-existing name recognition, I have little doubt that former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan will be able to keep pace with Democratic incumbent Rep. John Adler.

When Cory Gardner has more than three-quarters of a million cash-on-hand, I figure he’ll be able to keep pace with Rep. Betsy Markey – it’s large, rural, GOP-leaning district in Colorado. Similarly, North Dakota’s a pretty inexpensive state, so Rick Berg’s $752,000 should provide a good bang for the buck up against incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy, with his $1.7 million.

Then there are bits of news like this: “North Carolina Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall has less than $200,000 in campaign cash. That’s $6 million less than her Republican opponent, Sen. Richard Burr.”

Tags: Cory Gardner , Jon Runyan , Pat Meehan , Rich Iott , Richard Burr , Rick Berg , Steve Chabot , Steve Stivers , Tom Ganley

Rasmussen North Carolina Poll May Have Us Wearing Neck Braces Soon


I noted yesterday that as responsive and open as Public Policy Polling is, I have to take PPP results in North Carolina with a grain of salt. They had incumbent Sen. Richard Burr leading Democrat Elaine Marshall by only 38 percent to 33 percent.

Today, Rasmussen finds Burr leading by 52 percent to 37 percent. Interestingly, Rasmussen had them nearly tied last month, a result that showed a huge bounce for Marshall.

I’ll have more on this issue in a bit.

Tags: Elaine Marshall , Richard Burr

Why I Can’t Put Much Stock in PPP’s Polls of Their Home State


Public Policy Polling offers numbers indicating that in their home state of North Carolina, Republican senator Richard Burr is only up 5 points over Democrat Elaine Marshall. They have Burr at 38 percent, 33 percent for Marshall, and a surprising 10 percent for the Libertarian candidate, Michael Beitler.

In a post–Research 2000 world, I don’t want any quibbling with a pollster to be misconstrued. I think the PPP guys are good guys with generally solid methods. But for not-so-well-publicized reasons, Republicans tend to perform poorly when PPP surveys their own backyard.

Burr’s last total in SurveyUSA: 50 percent. His last total in Rasmussen: 44 percent. His totals in the three preceding polls by Rasmussen: 50, 50, 51. Burr’s total in the four preceding PPP polls: 46, 43, 43, 41.

Is it possible Richard Burr is at 38 percent? I suppose; it is possible that PPP is using some sort of better voter screen than everyone else, and/or it’s possible that Rasmussen’s likely-voter screen is weeding out too many Democrats. But when a pollster has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t want a particular candidate to win, it’s time to exercise some skepticism. This was an issue last year:

The problem, Republicans say, is that PPP is no impartial observer. The firm makes its money by serving as the pollster to an exclusively Democratic roster of clients, ranging from members of Congress to dozens of state legislative and city council candidates. And CEO Dean Debnam has given generously to North Carolina Democratic candidates — including in races where his firm has conducted independent polling. In the heat of last year’s competitive Senate race between former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Democrat Kay Hagan, Debnam donated $5,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He also made two $2,300 contributions to Hagan’s campaign.

“We’re absolutely rooting in the race. We don’t want Richard Burr to get reelected. We wanted Obama to win last fall,” said [PPP's Tom] Jensen. “But our reputation is predicated on getting it right, and we’re not going to cook the numbers just to tweak Richard Burr’s nerves. They are what they are.” The firm’s unconventional method of serving partisan interests while conducting independent polls that are widely reported on by the media has raised hackles among Republicans like Burr, who are on the receiving end of bad numbers. At the national level, Republicans gripe that news outlets don’t always report on the firm’s Democratic background.

I like the guys at PPP, but at this point, you just can’t put too much faith in their North Carolina numbers, not until other pollsters start seeing similar numbers.

UPDATE: Also, note how their sample breaks down: 46 percent Democrat, 36 percent Republican, 18 percent independent. That’s a more heavily Democratic electorate than North Carolina had on Election Day 2008, when it split 42 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 27 percent independent.

Tags: Elaine Marshall , Richard Burr

North Carolinians to Democratic Senate Candidates: Who Are You Again?


In North Carolina, the thrill is gone:

Both Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham have lost name recognition during their run-off campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination. Compared to a poll taken just one week following the primary election, both Marshall and Cunningham’s popularity and recognition across the state have decreased, especially in the Charlotte area and western North Carolina.

Seventy-four percent of voters in North Carolina are unsure of their opinion of Cunningham and 62 percent of Marshall. This is an increase from 66 and 56 percent respectively in the week following the primary election. Voter turnout is typically lower in run-off elections as voter interest decreases.

The pollster finds incumbent Republican senator Richard Burr has “widened his lead against both Marshall and Cunningham, edging over Marshall 46–39 and Cunningham 46–35.” Topping out at 46 percent is usually mildly ominous for an incumbent, but it looks like either Democrat will need a surge to make this a real race.

Tags: Cal Cunningham , Elaine Marshall , Richard Burr

Some Chilly Poll Numbers in North Carolina Generate a Burr


A little while back, after I noted that Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, had “meh” approval ratings but seemed to lead healthily in any head-to-head matchups with Democrats, a reader in Raleigh wrote in:

Regarding your comment about Richard Burr’s “Meh” approval ratings, may I suggest you dig a bit deeper. I admit I am a big Richard Burr fan. I have met him a few times and family members are in a position to know what many Democrats think of his effectiveness.

The issue with Sen. Burr’s approvals are that many people have no opinion (vs. negatives). The reason is that he focuses on his job and North Carolina. Almost uniformly, Mr. Burr is considered a very hard working senator who has one goal – to help his state and constituents. Just ask Mr. Bowles, who has all but endorsed him.

Sen. Burr’s Rasmussen shares have been above 50% for over three weeks now as he has gone on the air. In my humble opinion there is every reason to expect them to remain there. Richard is no Liddy Dole!

I think this reader is largely right, but Public Policy Polling finds his lead shrinking:

Burr is now in a near tie with Elaine Marshall and barely ahead of Cal Cunningham following the May 4 primary. Marshall now trails Burr only 43-42, versus 43-37 last month. Cunningham lags 44-39 after losing 43-35 in April. Marshall does slightly better with Democrats and independents and about the same with Republicans as Cunningham. North Carolina voters’ opinions of how Burr is handling his job inched upward from a negative 32-41 in early April to 37-40 now.

Tags: Cal Cunningham , Elaine Marshall , Richard Burr

Better a Burr in the Saddle Than Under It


Tomorrow is primary day in North Carolina, and as in Ohio, most of the drama is on the Democratic side. GOP senator Richard Burr represents a weird case of an incumbent with genuinely “meh” approval ratings who looks pretty safe in head-to-head matchups; with Democratic opportunities to knock off Republican senators few and far between, the DSCC is clearly hoping they can jump-start some momentum in this state.

In the Democratic Senate primary, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall leads the polls over former state senator Cal Cunningham and attorney Ken Lewis. But if no candidate win 40 percent of the vote – a serious possibility if the polls are right – there will be a runoff June 22.

There are crowded GOP primaries against Democratic Reps. Larry Kissell and Heath Shuler. With no standout GOP opponents, the reelection prospects of the pair will depend largely on voter mood heading into November.

Tags: Cal Cunningham , Elaine Marshall , Heath Shuler , Ken Lewis , Larry Kissell , Richard Burr

Subscribe to National Review