Monday, August 09, 2010

Should Marshall want Obama to help? Might help, analyst says

If you missed last week's political flap over whether N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall wants President Barack Obama's campaign help this year in her bid to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, you missed what looks like a pretty big gaffe. Marshall declined to say in a recent interview whether she wanted Obama's help, and the exchange looked pretty lame. Later she tried to fix the damage, issuring a statement that she would welcome his help. Republicans loved it -- and followers of NC politics can already hear the question: Where do you stand, Elaine?

But Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling looked more closely at the numbers, and concludes that Marshall might benefit in a small way from embracing Obama's help despite the fact his numbers are not good. Why? Because among those undecideds who might vote for Marshall, Obama did very well in 2008. Among those unlikely to support her anyway, embracing Obama's help wouldn't hurt because she wasn't likely to draw those votes.

Here's Jensen's take:

There was a bunch of hubbub Friday about whether Elaine Marshall would or would not want to campaign with Barack Obama. Should she want to? Our numbers can make an argument in either direction but ultimately the answer is probably yes.

In June we found that 30% of voters in the state would be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by President Obama while 47% said they would be less likely to and 21% said it wouldn't make a difference either way. Republicans (80%) responded more negatively to an Obama endorsement than Democrats did positively (50%) and 46% of independents said they'd be less inclined to vote for someone endorsed by Obama to only 18% who said more likely.

If you look at those numbers in a vacuum the obvious conclusion would be that Marshall shouldn't let Obama anywhere near him. But another angle to look at it from is who the undecided voters are in the Senate race. Right now 49% of them are Democrats and only 30% are Republicans. They voted for Obama by a 51/43 margin and they still approve of him 48/44. With the folks who haven't decided how to vote yet Obama's a net plus.

You could make the argument that bringing Obama in might hurt Marshall with the folks supporting her who disapprove of Obama but there basically are none of them- only 4% of voters who disapprove of Obama are planning to vote for Marshall. And similarly only 5% of voters who do approve of Obama are planning to vote for Burr.

All in all it doesn't make a big difference either way but Marshall could probably get some small benefit from Obama.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Hope & Change.....

B. Brown said...

You didn't take the analysis far enough. As an Obama supporter, if Marshall takes the Blue Dog route and runs away from the President, I won't support her at the ballot. I will still vote because I have voted 100% since I first voted for Nick Galifianakis against Jesse Helms. I will just skip over that box on the ballot. A gutless Democrat or a Republican? There's not a lot of difference in the results.