Cross-posted at my blog: http://blog.thegolddome.com
Note to the media: There is an election in less than a month, but no one has deemed to do a poll about it yet.
The main reason is because most people think like Doug Gross and Jerry Crawford that Terry Branstad will be the nominee. Now Doug Gross has a vested interest, and Jerry Crawford probably hasn't been paying attention as Paddy O'Prado raced to third in the Derby and is looking to race in the Preakness — so let me tell them the Republican Primary for Governor is far from over. The other reason is money it can cost as much as twice as much to poll a primary universe as a general election universe because you run into so many people that aren't voting in the primary.
Either way, while Terry Branstad just might win on June 8, the concept that it is pre-ordained is not reporting or punditry. It is just lazy. But some are starting to get it: O. Kay Henderson mentions the oversight in a post yesterday.
So, for everyone but Kay, including the editors of the DMR, the staff at KCCI, and any other media outlet that might deem to poll this race, here are just six reason the CW that Branstad has this locked up is probably wrong:
1) Branstad's doing worse among every voter group — including Republicans. That's right if you look at the crosstabs on the Branstad/Culver and Brastad/Bob Vander Plaats in the new KCCI poll he's down amongst Republicans. Forget the 5 point drop amongst Democrats or the 9 point drop amongst independents, he dropped 4 points amongst Republicans with almost all of them going to undecided. While all of this is within the margin of error, it follows a trend in the rest of the data.
Here is just the numbers for the Republicans:
Branstad | Culver | Undecided
Feb: 89% 5% 6%
May: 85% 6% 9%
Change: -4% +1% +3%
Vander Plaats | Culver | Undecided
Feb: 72% 6% 22%
May: 78% 6% 16%
Change: +6% 0% -6%
So not only has Branstad come down, but Vander Plaats has gone up (and Roberts as well). More important, in the last poll Branstad preformed significantly better amongst Republicans — 17% better — now he's only doing 7% better (or within error in this subgroup).
2) He's doing worse after spending around $1 million. What makes the the across the board drop in the poll even worse for Branstad has been on the air for seven weeks! His first ran ads on March 26 and I've heard his buy started out at around $125,000 a week and it was about 6 weeks before the poll bringing his estimated media budget alone to around $800,000, nevermind the amount of money he's spent on the largest staff of any campaign, or even mail to Republicans, independents, and Democrats (see below). When you spend a million and your poll numbers drop that isn't great news.
3) Nothing is working for Branstad. He's changed his message from the backward looking “Comeback” to the creepy and dynastic, but forward looking “Vision 2020.” But, that new “Vision” isn't being echoed by his new TV ads. They are complete with decades old newspapers, video, and “accomplishments” saying that he can lead “Conservative Change.” None of which really make sense with the “reckless and irresponsible” line he repeated more than eight times against Culver in the last debate. Meanwhile their Google ads are focus on his old and laughably unspecific budget plan.
That is four to five messages in two months. Even Chet Culver who is supposed to be doing terribly hasn't switched things up so much staying with the boring, but consistent “Moving Iowa Forward.” He even has a contrasting message of Branstad moving backward. Either Tim Albrecht can't control the stuff coming from Doug Gross, his consultants, and Branstad himself or their polling is showing them the same things we saw in the KCCI poll. Considering I think time is good at his job and the new ads answer the charges leveled at him by Vander Plaats and the Iowa Democratic Party — I think it's the latter.
4) The only poll we've had on this race is incredibly biased. The Branstad campaign released the only poll in this race. It had him up 63 to 18 over Bob Vander Plaats. The new KCCI poll is an indication that landscape is likely to have shifted and this poll is of course unreliable.
5) Branstad is mailing and calling Democrats. That's right, he's not just reaching out to Independents before his primary to try and bring them in, but Democrats. Sources tell me the lists they used were so bad that multiple Democratic state legislators have received mail from Branstad. Why would he be wasting money on this before a Republican primary if not to try and expand the electorate?
6) Branstad is loosing his cool and is having health problems. While I am not going to make fun of Branstad being overweight like some Iowa bloggers — having heart surgery 5 weeks before an election is still tough for any candidate. I am sure he will be just as healthy, if not more, to continue to campaign. But his age shows compared to his campaigning 12 years ago. But, his blood pressure is probably more concerning for Branstad because he is getting angrier and angrier when people question him. Whether it was the first debate, second debate, or the Sioux City editorial board. He keep losing his cool when people mention his record and he's got one more debate left. The angry moment and this race could end in less than 30 seconds in the internet age.
Now this was all focused on Branstad and how he is not having the easy ride to nomination people expected. But Bob Vander Plaats has some signs of doing better than expected as well (beyong the poll).And not to mention I have always been worried Rod Roberts would make his way through and pull a Criegh Deeds to pull off a surprise victory and I think that his significant increase in name recognition is keeping that remote possibility alive.
So to sum everything up again: Media, please do your job, and poll the Republican primary.