Home 2013 races Virginia 2009 vs. Virginia 2013: Where Have All the Polls Gone?

Virginia 2009 vs. Virginia 2013: Where Have All the Polls Gone?

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I’ve noticed for a while that it seems like there have been very few polls of the Virginia governor’s race this cycle, but I had’t really looked into it. Until this morning, when I decided to check Real Clear Politics and see if my gut feeling was correct. Well, yes, it was. So far this summer (since June 1), these are the polls of the Virginia governor’s race.

*Quinnipiac (8/14-8/19) 48%-42% McAuliffe +6

*Quinnipiac (7/11-7/15) 43%-39% McAuliffe +4

*Roanoke College (7/8-7/14) 33%-39% Cuccinelli +6

*PPP (7/11 – 7/14) 41%-37% McAuliffe +4

*Rasmussen Reports (6/5-6/6) 44%-41% McAuliffe +3

That’s five polls of the Virginia governor’s race since the end of May 2013, with four showing McAuliffe ahead, and one not being a serious poll (NOT because it has Cuccinelli ahead, but because it’s been a piece of crap for years now).

In comparison, here are the polls from 2009:

*Washington Post (8/11-8/14) 54%-39% McDonnell +15

*Rasmussen (8/10-8/10) 49%-41% McDonnell +8

*Daily Kos/R2000 (8/3-8/5) 51%-43% McDonnell +8

*PPP (7/31-8/3) 51%-37% McDonnell +14

*SurveyUSA (7/27-7/28) 55%-40% McDonnell +15

*Rasmussen (7/14-7/14) 44%-41% McDonnell +3

*PPP (6/30-7/2) 49%-43% McDonnell +6

*Daily Kos/R2000 (6/15-6/17) 45%-44% McDonnell +1

*Rasmussen (6/10-6/10) 41%-47% Deeds +6

*SurveyUSA (6/5 – 6/7) 47%-43% McDonnell +4

*Daily Kos/R2000 (6/1-6/3) 46%-34% McDonnell +12

That makes 11 polls in 2009 from June 1 through August 23 (McDonnell led all of them except for, ironically, the most pro-Republican one, Rasmussen).

So…in 2009 there were twice as many Virginia Governor polls from June 1 until now as in 2013. It’s weird, because if anything you’d think it would be the opposite, as 2009 was a blowout and 2013 is a much closer, more interesting race. What happened?

I’m not totally sure, but a few things jump out:

 1) the Daily Kos/”Research 2000″ polling partnership died a nasty death (lawsuit settled in 2011); 2) SurveyUSA seems to have largely disappeared, for whatever reason; and 3) Rasmussen has been less active this year (note that Scott Rasmussen just left Rasmusssen Research to become a GOP pundit, which is what he should have been all along!). In addition, this year isn’t a “Tea Party wave” year, and I’ve always felt that the media drove the Tea Party phenomenon. This year, maybe the media’s bored, even with a Tea Party candidate (Ken Cuccinelli) at the top of the Virginia Republican ticket, and two just-as-extreme-if-not-more-extreme candidates (EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain) down ballot from him? Also, I wonder if the polling industry in general has pulled back a bit after 2012, when there was so much controversy over likely voter models, supposedly “skewed” polls (there was never any evidence of “skewing” against Republicans; that was all another right-wingnut fever dream)? Hard to say.

Whatever the reason, we’ve had less than half the polls of the Virginia governor’s race from June 1 to August 23, 2013 compared to the same period in 2009. Of the polls we HAVE had, the trends in the two cycles are wildly different: in 2009, consistent leads for McDonnell from start to finish (with that one weird outlier of Rasmussen on 6/10/09, right after Deeds secured the Democratic nomination); in 2013, every reputable poll (and again – nope, Roanoke College polls are not reputable) has had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli, albeit not by large margins.

Anyway, we’ll see if there’s a flood of polls after Labor Day. Last cycle, there were a whopping 29(!) public polls from 9/1/09 until the election.  I’d be shocked if we match that this cycle, but we’ll see soon enough…

  • glennbear

    Since NJ and VA are the outliers in when they elect governors I wonder if NJ has a similar decline in polling. My guess is that NJ has had an increase with Christie’s national notoriety. VA is not the national/beltway story that NJ is with Christie’s name being bandied about for 2016 which of course generates media interest and clamor for more polls.

  • totallynext

    Just saying!

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    The New Republic has a story on the internals in the Quinnipiac latest poll that shows McAuliffe ahead by 6. It appears that the poll is a good representation of likely voter pool for November. Even so, it is imperative that Democrats and those Republicans who haven’t drunk the tea-flavored Kool Aid redouble efforts to defeat Cuccinelli and gang this year. All the Republicans have to do is stay home. We Democrats need to volunteer for campaigns, talk to neighbors, and let as many people as possible know what a disaster the GOP ticket would be for the state.