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Morning Jay: California Polling, Castle Bows Out, and the Politics of the Census!

6:30 AM, Sep 30, 2010 • By JAY COST
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1. CNN/Time Oversamples Democrats in California?  Yesterday evening, the CNN/Time poll of the California Senate race found Barbara Boxer up nine points among likely voters over Carly Fiorina. 

Morning Jay: California Polling, Castle Bows Out, and the Politics of the Census!

Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina

That’s by about the same amount that John Kerry beat George W. Bush in 2004.  Yet Kerry defeated Bush among independent voters by a wide margin, 59-36.  In the CNN/Time poll, it’s Fiorina who has a lead over Boxer among independents, and a sizeable one at that, 53-39.  The poll also finds the two parties very well sorted, Democrats going for Boxer 93-5 and Republicans going for Fiorina 92-4. 

So, the only way to find a nine-point lead for Boxer is if the poll has a huge sample of Democrats.

Unfortunately, the CNN/Time poll does not give the Democrat-Republican-independent spread, but there’s another way to show the poll is sampling too many Democrats.  If we take the performance of Fiorina and Boxer among Democrats, independents, and Republicans, then use the exit poll data to get the party spreads for 2008, 2006, and 2004 – we should get a sense of just how big the Democratic overestimate is. 

That’s what the following­­­ chart does:


What’s the implication of this?  It’s simple: The CNN/Time sample is more favorable to the Democrats than even what happened in 2008.  If the partisan mix is recalculated to reflect the spreads in 2006 or 2004, then we have a dead heat in California.

Ditto the governor’s race, where Jerry Brown has a huge lead due in no small part to a more pro-Democratic electorate than what even happened in 2008.

Again, the story is the same.  The two parties are well sorted, and Whitman has a big lead among independents.  The only way to get a nine-point Democratic lead is to sample a more Democratic electorate than even 2008.

I appreciate the need for leeway in partisan sampling, but it seems quite unlikely that the 2010 midterm electorate will look like this. 

2. Castle Won’t Run As Write-In Candidate.  Word came late last night from the Hill:

Longtime Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) announced late Wednesday that he will not launch a write-in bid for Senate this fall, ceding the stage to Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell (R) and New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D).

Castle said he was "humbled" by the support and encouragement he has received since his primary loss to O'Donnell, but after giving a write-in bid careful consideration, he decided against it.

"I understand why people care so deeply about this election," Castle said in a statement released Wednesday night. "I listened closely to many viewpoints and carefully considered the option of staying in the race. Jane and I have been humbled by the strong encouragement from so many friends, colleagues and supporters to undertake this effort.  While I would have been honored to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate, I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans."

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