12 August, 2010

Kirk vs. Giannoulias -- The State of the Race

Rasmussen has released their August poll, and it shows Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias in a dead heat (40-40) for the Illinois Senate seat. This comes on the heals of two July Rasmussen polls, which showed Giannoulias with a slim leads of +1 (Kirk 39; Giannoulias 40) on the July 7 poll, and a slightly larger lead of +2 (Kirk 41; Giannoulias 43) on the July 26 poll (can't find the direct links to the polls, mostly because I was with crappy internet access at the time they came out, so you'll have to settle for the RCP Poll recap).

While both of the July polls were well within the margin of error for this race, the fact that Kirk has come back from the two-point deficit is a very good sign. Kirk's stumbling on the questions concerning his military record did hurt him, and the Giannoulias campaign has managed to be more visible with their candidate than they have in previous months, both of which served to raise his profile somewhat among voters. But as I've been saying for months now, polls conducted over the summer generally amount to little more than bragging rights, and that any true snapshot of the way this race is going won't be available until the late August and early Septembers polls start coming out.

I note that in July, several other polls (mostly Gallup) came out apparently showing a swing in sentiment among voters towards the Democrats, a trend which utterly evaporated once the August polls started coming out. One common theory going around is that Republicans tend to take July off for vacation, and that may have helped skew polling data towards the Democrats. If this is true (and I do think there may be some truth to this, though perhaps no more than a kernel), then that might partially explain the swing to and from Giannoulias between July and August. In any case, I will also note that I warned months ago that there would be some polling showing Giannoulias ahead at some point over the summer, and that everyone needed to wait until summer shenanigans were over before voters begin to settle down.

Rasmussen appears to have now switched to a twice-a-month schedule for polling on this race, which means that I would expect another Kirk vs. Giannoulias poll to be released before the month is out (say, around the 25th). My prediction is that it will show either a tie or Kirk with a slim lead.

More good news for Kirk.

"Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats – five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats – want to vote for Republicans. Voters in the four seats held by Democratic incumbents are unhappy with those incumbents and are in a mood for change."

U.S. SENATE BATTLEGROUND SURVEY (Public Opinion Stategies/Crossroads)
Crossroads poll: Dem Senate in peril, by Alexander Burns (Politico)

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