We Ask America picks up its Big Ten presidential series with the two bookends of the mix: Virginia and Colorado.


Virginia also has a barn-burner race for the U.S. Senate (that may be greatly influence by the presidential election) pitting Republican former Senator George Allen against Democrat National Committee Chair and former Governor Tim Kaine. Allen lost in 2006 to a relatively unknown Democrat, Jim Webb, after Allen became a YouTube star from a video where he uttered a term used as a racial slur (Allen denied he meant the negative connotation). While many lay blame on that video for his loss, he was actually losing ground Webb before it surfaced. Now, after a single term, Webb is stepping down and Allen is trying to earn his way back into the world’s most exclusive club.

As in all of the series of states we’re polling by automated means, after qualifying each individual in regards to ability (registered) and intention to vote this fall, we asked the following straightforward questions:

If the election for president were held today, for whom would you vote?
And in Virginia:  If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, for whom would you vote?

The options were randomized followed by the “undecided” choice. We then followed up with our demographic questions that include gender, age, and political party I.D. Weighting occurred if any of those demographic questions fell out of the norm. Here are our results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/25/2012 - Participants: 1,106 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.95%
Barack Obama43.3%
Mitt Romney48.0%
George Allen44.0%
Tim Kaine35.0%

While Mitt Romney is enjoying a close lead, George Allen may have found his bearings in Old Dominion. The recent shift toward Romney we’re seeing in Virginia and a number of other key states this year will keep us watching closely to see if it sticks.


With a churning but–at times– fairly even split of Democrats, Republicans and free-wheeling Independents, Colorado is as politically intriguing as any state in the nation. In a state where military retirees rub elbows with laid back ski bums, a majority of Coloradans had voted for Republican presidential candidates for nearly three decades until Bill Clinton broke onto the scene. Still, George W. Bush narrowly won the state twice, but in 2004–while Bush narrowly captured the majority–Democrat, Ken Salazar won a U.S. Senate seat and his brother John Salazar won a seat in the U.S. House, and Democrats captured both chambers of the state legislature. So in some ways, Colorado is the quintessential swing state where no party ever gets a good toe hold on the craggy political slopes.

Here are last night’s numbers on the presidential race:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/25/2012 - Participants: 1,083 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.98%
Barack Obama46.6%
Mitt Romney43.0%

Obama won Colorado by nine points in 2008,  and is now leading Romney by the margin of error. The Rocky Mountain’s State’s electorate can turn on a dime, though, and this is one area that we’ll continue to probe up until Election Day to see whether the president pulls away, or Romney claws his way back.


We kick off our “Big Ten” series with polls in Iowa and Michigan. Both states were once viewed as likely to vote in favor of re-electing President Obama, but recent economic and political circumstances have tightened up things among the electorate.

As in all of the series of state’s we’re polling by automated means, after qualifying each individual in regards to ability (registered) and intention to vote this fall, we asked the following straightforward question:

If the election for president were held today, for whom would you vote?

The options of Obama or Romney were randomized followed by the “undecided” choice. We then followed up with our demographic questions that include gender, age, and political party I.D. Weighting occurred if any of those demographic questions fell out of the norm.

In Iowa: President Obama is holding a small lead:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/18/2012 - Participants: 1,086 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
 Barack ObamaMitt RomneyUndecided
ALL VOTERS45%44%11%

While in Michigan, our poll confirms what others are seeing: a very close race with Romney ahead by less than the margin of error:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/18/2012 - Participants: 1,010 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
 Barack ObamaMitt RomneyUndecided
ALL VOTERS43%45%12%

These early polls must be viewed as snapshots during a long and tedious roller-coaster campaign. The latest economic hiccups fueled by Euro worries aren’t helping the president, who has also chosen the early goings to announce his positions on same-sex marriage and immigration. In the meantime, Gov. Romney–unfettered from fellow GOP challengers nipping at his ankles–has changed whisper campaigns from “Obama could lose” to “Romney could win.”

The Michigan results are particularly intriguing. While Romney can lay claim to Michigan roots, it didn’t seem to help him greatly in the Primary, and President Obama’s economic recovery program that bailed out the auto industry should arguably give him a leg up here. The fact this this and other polls have the race so close at this point doesn’t bode well for conventional wisdom in the Wolverine State.

Iowa–the state that helped launched President Obama’s political rocket ship–may be reacting to the loss of ethanol subsidies and the president’s stance on same-sex marriage (remember that Iowans voted three judges out of office after they helped legalize gay marriage).

While it certainly is too early to declare a new election paradigm, pundits who say this election is going to be among the closest in history may just turn out to be right.

Our own Big 10

Most of you who follow our polls know that we hale from the heart of Big Ten country (their HQ is just up the road from us). So we just cannot resist the comparison to our latest polling adventure: a look at what we deem are the most crucial ten states for the Presidential race. And just like the Big Ten, we might add one or two as we zero in on November 6.

Our personal big ten states include:

Virginia: We’ll respect Virginian’s prerogative to pay homage to our Founding Fathers by referring to themselves as a Commonwealth. Some believe the presidential race in Mr. Jefferson’s venue may well decide who resides in the White House as well as control of the U.S. Senate. We’ll be polling both.

Pennsylvania: Once thought to be solidly in President Obama’s corner, Pennsylvania is now seems to be edging red, especially outside of Mr. Franklin’s hometown. Many report that Western PA and the areas of King Coal are strongly moving against the President.

Florida: The Sunshine State has multiple political personalities. The Sweet Tea Line–everything north of Orlando–acts more likes its southern brethren. South of that line lies the Land of Snowbirds–those from the Midwest who migrate during the nasty winter months to lounge among the palm trees and endless golf courses. And then you have Miami. Nuff said. The New York Times‘ Five Thirty Eight gives Romney a 63.4% chance of winning this important state–a bit high in our book.

Michigan-Wisconsin-Ohio: The Big Three of our big ten are states the President must have in his column. Michigan and Wisconsin have trended Blue in recent years, while Ohio always is considered a toss-up. But all the fuss over the Wisconsin recall, a rebounding Michigan economy and Ohio…well… just being Ohio makes all three great political theater.

Iowa-Missouri: While most have Iowa in the toss-up category, we think Missouri, a state Obama lost by fewer than 4,000 votes should not be overlooked if the President can motivate the urban areas to offset the very red parts rural areas. Plus a tense Senate race awaits us in the Show Me State after the Republicans pick their candidate in August. Iowa, the conservative state that launched Obama’s political career in 2008, seems to still like their President. But issues like same-sex marriage and the loss of ethanol subsidies may make the President’s job a bit harder. Remember that in the 2010 election, the public summarily dismissed three Supreme Court members who ruled in favor of same sex marriage. A Field of Dreams for Romney? We’ll see.

Colorado-Nevada: These two key western states round out our list (Colorado edged out New Mexico at the last minute). Both considered by some as Purple due to the relatively even and contentious split between the two parties. We agree with those who believe that President Obama is the early favorite to take these two states; the NY Times gives Obama a 56.9% chance in Colorado and a whopping 68.2% probability in Nevada. But the pendulum of opinion may be swinging back far enough to make Colorado and Nevada interesting.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you make a case that piques our interest for one or two more states, we may add them. The real Big Ten was persuaded by Big Bucks to swell to twelve teams. All we ask for is a compelling reason.

Tomorrow: Iowa & Michigan poll results.




IL-13 up for grabs

Congressional Democrats hoping to make gains in Illinois were handed a surprise in early April when six-term Representative Tim Johnson (R-Champaign) unexpectedly announced that he would resign at the end of his term. Johnson is known for being quirky, extremely bright and hard working–he’d call hundreds of random constituents a day just to ask them if there was anything he and his staff could do for them. The rail-thin fitness buff often looked disheveled and came across as brusque, but was a non-stop campaigner when he put his mind to it; think of a human Q-Tip crossed with the Energizer Bunny.  Johnson was lined up to take on the new 13th Congressional District–drawn to lean slightly Democratic (+1), and his opponent was Democrat David Gill, a Bloomington physician, whom Johnson had thumped in three previous elections in the more GOP-friendly 15th District. Most area analysts believed that Johnson would once again win in the fall–perhaps not by as large of a margin–but no one expected an upset.

Johnson’s exit caught area Republicans by surprise, and the quickly assembled candidate-vetting process produced a wide array of wannabe replacements…including former Miss America Erika Harold. But the ultimate selection went to Rodney Davis, an affable staffer for Congressman John Shimkus and a highly respected figure among state party officials for his organizational prowess and ability to work with all factions of the Republican base. But due to the surprise nature of Johnson’s announcement, Davis is forced to play catch up with Gill, and the 13th District went from a fairly safe GOP “keep” to an open seat in a district leaning ever-so slightly left.

Gill recently released a poll showing him with a 10-point lead over Davis, but the data was collected almost a month before the selection process completed when Davis was only one of many seeking the spot. In that time period, the intrigue of the selection  process (aided by the presence of Miss America) and Davis’ ultimate selection gave the Republican a large amount of earned media. Davis recently kicked off an ambitious tour of this district which included Champaign, Decatur, Springfield and points west.

Gill’s release of his early, pre-opponent selection poll prompted us to get into the field to ask the new IL-13 voters whom they prefer at this early stage of the game. Here’s what they said:

Poll type: Automated Date: 6/7/2012 - Participants: 1,299 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.79%
ALL VOTERS47%38%15%
DEM. ONLY15%76%9%
GOP ONLY83%6%11%

Since our sample was evenly divided between the two parties and Independents (one-third Dems, one-third GOP, one-third Ind.), Gill is probably a point or so closer than this nine-point spread. Still, this isn’t good news for him. Gill is well-known among a large portion of the Democratic base of IL-13 (especially in the Champaign-Urbana area) due to the fact that he won the Silver Medal in three out of the last three elections. Plus, Gill barely won the March Democratic primary in a real squeaker where he was not the Party’s Chosen One. His openly bitter post-primary attitude has left a lot of area Dems unimpressed. Those wounds may heal, but in the meantime, Davis has received a lot of earned media in the last month. Gill hasn’t had a real chance to “define” Davis yet, so this one is like trying to decide the winner of a horse race a few seconds after the gate opens.

Davis is out to an early lead, but expect Gill to go the whip sooner than later.


When it became clear Tuesday evening that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would survive the recall process against challenger Tom Barrett, cable network talking head turned to the key question for many politically minded Americans: what will Wisconsin’s affirmation of Walker mean to the presidential race this fall? Some pundits immediately turned to exit poll results from that day showing that President Obama had nine-point lead over challenger Mitt Romney. But those exit polls were lousy (yeah…we weren’t so great either) and indicated a too-close-to-call election result that night. Oops.

So, once again, we ventured into the Dairy State to ask the vibrant and unpredictable electorate this question: If the election for President were held today, for whom would you vote?

Here’s what they said:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/6/2012 - Participants: 1,270 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.75%
ALL VOTERS48%43%9%
WOMEN ONLY54%37%9%
MEN ONLY42%49%9%

As we’ve seen elsewhere, President Obama is twice as likely to receive  support from Republicans (11%) than Romney is from Democrats (4%), and Independent voters are evenly split. Note that when we asked political party affiliation, this sample had 37% Democrats, 33% Republicans and 30% Independents. We also note with interest the gender gap between the two candidates…a result that is echoed throughout our recent privately conducted polls elsewhere in the nation.

Clearly, Walker’s success will keep Wisconsin on the list of possible bellwether states–something that many considered unlikely a few months ago. And if these numbers hold up, there will undoubtedly be a trove of Obama voters who also supported Gov. Walker in his recall election.

It’s too early to tell if Wisconsin is turning a little redder or not. But it sure isn’t getting duller.


Who Survives?

Our final poll in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election comes after an impressive debate performance by Democrat Tom Barrett — who may have saved his best for last. The highlight for many viewers was when Barrett took beleaguered Republican Gov. Scott Walker to the woodshed for airing a very tough ad that displays an image of a severely beaten child who later died of his injuries, suggesting that as Milwaukee mayor, Barrett’s police department “didn’t consider it a crime.” In reality, the person who beat the child was arrested but escaped prosecution through a bureaucratic blunder not of Barrett’s doing. Barrett’s outrage was punctuated with this zinger: “I have a police department that arrests felons. He [Walker] has a practice of hiring them.”  That line, of course, refers to the ongoing “John Doe” investigation that has resulted in the arrest of a number of Walker’s former aides for their alleged role in embezzling funds raised to help veterans and their families. (You can read the details of that investigation here.)

So, as fireworks continue to explode over the political horizon in the Dairy State, we asked 1,570 likely voters who they support in the June 5 election. Here are the results.

Poll type:: Automated Date: 6/3/2012 - Participants: 1,570 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.5%
ALL VOTERS*54.10%41.56%4.34%

Those surprising results would project at a 56-44 final win for Walker. HOWEVER, while Walker continues to lead Barrett, we once again caution readers that this is an extremely difficult election to predict. Turnout is king in all elections, and it may be even more important in this one. Wisconsin’s labor movement is keen to get as many of the anti-Walker voters to the polls as possible and have displayed the ability to rally their troops effectively. And Wisconsin regulations allow Election Day voter registration with a minimum of residency documentation–something that has both sides whispering of potential abuse from their opponents.

Too many polls have been conducted showing Walker in the lead (even Barrett’s own poll shows him trailing) to disbelieve the sentiments displayed in the results. But Walker’s continuing problem with the John Doe investigation and a bit of swagger among his supporters could–possibly–keep some of them home. Then again, Barrett’s aggression that he displayed in the final debate may have come too late.

At any rate, it may be appropriate to say that there could be no winner in this election–only a survivor.