Bruce Shuttleworth’s Final Poll Results of the 8th CD Democratic Primary Race (5/1-5/5)

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    After Bruce Shuttleworth dropped out of the 8th CD Democratic race two weeks ago, I asked him if he’d be willing to share the extensive (not to mention expensive!) polling which had informed his decision to do so. Today, we met for lunch, and Bruce shared some of the key results with me.

    The polling was carried out in early May (5/1-5/5) by EMC Research, and as Bruce put it, “provides an interesting snapshot in time”/”good lay of the land” regarding where the 8th CD Democratic race stood as of that time. In addition, the poll results help explain Bruce’s decision to withdraw from the race. Specifically, Bruce didn’t see a path to victory without “going negative,” which is not at all what he wanted to do. The poll results help explain why that’s the case, as you’ll see in the following data.

    Finally, Bruce wanted to emphasize that he wishes everyone still in the the race the best of luck, stressing that he will be very supportive of whoever the nominee turns out to be on June 10 — “may the best candidate win.” He hopes and plans to stay involved in public discourse on the issues he cares about – the environment, national security, health care, etc. – going forward.

    With that, here are the key results from Bruce Shuttleworth’s poll, which surveyed 400 likely Democratic voters in the 8th CD, and was conducted using extensive, live interviews. The overall poll has a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.9%.

    *How closely are likely voters following race?: 13% “not at all;” 35% “not too closely,”36% “somewhat closely;” 15% “very closely.”

    *Vote percentage “top lines” (without reading any bios or other comments about the candidates): Undecided 31%; Beyer 30%; Hope and Ebbin 9% each; Euille 8%; Chatman, Herring, Shuttleworth and Levine 3% each; Hyra 0%.

    *Name ID (prior to providing any information about the candidates): Beyer 71%; Euille 48%; Levine 46%; Chatman 43%; Ebbin, Hope and Shuttleworth 42% each; Herring 41%; Hyra and Korpe 16% each.

    *Favorable ratings (prior to providing any information): Beyer 49% (with 7% unfavorable); Euille 29% (6% unfavorable); Ebbin 27% (note: I didn’t get Ebbin’s, Hope’s or Herring’s “unfavorable” scores, but I got the impression that they were in the same range as the others — 6%, 7% or so); Hope 23%; Herring 21%; Chatman 18% (with 7% unfavorable); Levine and Shuttleworth 12% each (with 5% unfavorable for Levine and 4% unfavorable for Shuttleworth).

    *Vote percentages after positive messages read for Shuttleworth: Beyer 30%, Shuttleworth 15%, Hope 10%, Euille 9%.

    *Vote percentages after positive messages read for Shuttleworth and negative messages read for Beyer: Undecided 26%, Beyer 24%, Shuttleworth 17%, Hope 10%, Euille 10%, Ebbin 7%, Chatman 3%.

    So, the bottom line, as these numbers show, is that Bruce Shuttleworth didn’t see a “path to victory” simply by staying “positive,” and probably not even by going “negative.” In the “best case scenario” for him, he still trailed Don Beyer by 7 points, 24%-17%, after using both “positive” (for him) and “negative” (against Beyer) messaging. Given that, I’d have to agree with Bruce that he made a smart move to withdraw from the race when he did. Whatever you think about Bruce Shuttleworth, this Naval Academy and Harvard Business School grad is no dummy, that’s for sure.

    Finally, Bruce added that if Don Beyer does end up winning – and this poll certainly shows him to be the strong favorite as of early May – that he won’t be the “quintessential freshman congressman.” Instead, Shuttleworth said that given Beyer’s experience, connections, etc., he could be “quite effective from day #1.” Interesting.

    • predictions I’ve been getting from 8th CD Democratic folks recently. For instance, I got the following two predicgtions the other day:

      Beyer 52%, Ebbin 17%, Hope 16%, Euille 8%, Levine 4%, Chatman 3%, Hyra 0%

      Beyer 46%, Hope 20%, Euille 12%, Ebbin 10%, Levine 7%, Chatman 3%, Hyra 2%

      Based on Shuttleworth’s poll results and what I’ve seen since then (including TV advertising by Mark Levine), I’m now thinking something like this:

      Beyer 37%, Ebbin 16%, Hope 16%, Levine 15%, Euille 13%, Chatman 3%, Hyra 0%.

    • kindler
    • pashin

      Or…more exactly…do they differ from Shuttle’s?  

      Clearly, some are flirting with going negative.   But too much of that can backfire big-time with this primary electorate (cf. Areizaga-Soto v. Favola).

      Levine looks like he might be trying to expand the electorate with media buys – except his message is pretty targeted at base voters.

      Looking strictly at the math, it would appear that the most realistic challenge to Beyer would be if one (or more) of the next tier pulled out and actively threw their support behind one and only one alternative candidate. No overt signs of that, but there wouldn’t be, would there.

      One apparent anomaly in Bruce’s data is the VERY high name ID for all candidates given how few people are following the race closely. I would also note that your final conclusion for Euille does not track very closely with the earlier Blue Virginia polling that gave him only 13% in his home turf of Alexandria and rather less elsewhere in most other parts of the district.

      Anyway, food for thought, and many thanks to Bruce Shuttleworth for sharing.  

    • truthteller

      I think he actually may be wrong. Don spent most of 6 of the past 7 years abroad, has not stood for election since 1997, and some of his positions, particularly on welfare reform and progressive taxation are pretty far to the right of the Democratic base. If Beyer has an advantage, it is name familiarity among long time locals and older voters who are predictably more frequent voters. And while older voters who are well informed may be judicious in their choices, those who are just looking for a familiar name or “experience” may default to the Beyer lever without realizing that some of his positions and actions as LG were considerably to the right of the views of rank and file voters in the 8th.

      Beyer’s not my first choice by a longshot….. That honor goes to Patrick Hope who is a strong progressive with solid experience who stands up for the underrepresented, including people with disabilities and is arguably the Democrats most eloquent voice for health reform in the General Assembly! I stand strongly with Patrick and urge others to learn more about Patrick and support him!  That said I think that with the exception of Chatman, most of us will readily support whomever prevails in the primary