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Reflection Time: A Few More Thoughts On The WISH-TV Guv's Race Poll

ThoughtbubbleAnd now, a few more thoughts on the WISH-TV gubernatorial poll numbers, which some of you may have seen published or broadcast in this form:

"A majority of people surveyed in a statewide poll released Wednesday like the job Republican Mitch Daniels is doing as Indiana's governor, but that doesn't necessarily mean they would vote for him.

"A total of 79 percent of those surveyed in a WISH-TV Indiana Poll rated Daniels' performance as fair, good or excellent. Thirty-seven percent rated his performance as good, while 34 percent rated it fair and 8 percent said it was excellent. Thirteen percent characterized his performance as poor and 8 percent were unsure.

"However, when asked if they would vote to re-elect Daniels if the election were held today, nearly as many said they would vote to replace him (37 percent) as to re-elect him (39 percent). That difference was within the poll's margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Another 21 percent said they would consider voting for another candidate, while 3 percent were not sure.

"The survey sample was 43 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat and 23 percent other."

First things first: If you spend any time whatsoever parsing polls, you know that the lede on this story isn't really accurate. Both the Guv's approval rating (45 percent) and his re-elect number (39 percent) are under 50 percent, which means less than a majority like the job he's doing, and less than a majority would vote for him if the election took place today.

(Typically, "excellent" and "good" get lumped together for the positive number, while "fair" and "poor" get lumped together for the negative number.)

Also important to note is that only 8 percent of people think the Guv's doing an awesome job. In contrast, 13 percent think he's performing poorly.

Now, many of you glossed right over the extremely good news -- the Guv's low, low numbers -- and started bickering about the primary numbers.

As you know, TDW, both as the blogmistress and in real life, is like Switzerland in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries, but here are a few things to consider as you non-neutral types arm yourselves with this polling data.

First, this was not an informed primary survey, meaning respondents were only given the names of the three declared candidates and asked to make a choice. (If WISH-TV had focused specifically on the gubernatorial race, the poll might have included a brief description of each candidate's background and then asked people to pick. But likely because WISH-TV is not made of money, and this poll covered a number of areas and included two oversamples, this is what we have to work with.)

Along those lines, bear in mind that unless you live under a rock -- and chances are you don't if you (a) have a phone; and (b) took the time to take this poll -- you know who Mitch Daniels is. And you have a moderately to strongly opinionated view of him and his first three years in office.

When it comes to the three Democratic candidates, if you live in Northern Indiana, you may have heard of former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson. If you live in Southeastern Indiana, you may have heard of Senate Minority Leader Richard Young. And if you live in Central Indiana, you may have heard of architect Jim Schellinger.

None of the trio has spent any money on paid media to date.

Which brings us to the head-to-head question pairing up Thompson and the Guv -- and the fact that we have no idea how Young or Schellinger would fare in a similar comparison.

What we do know is that Thompson is within eight points in this poll. That's good news because it shows a Democratic challenger within striking distance. And we should all be happy about that.

But at the end of the day, there are still a lot of unknowns out there, and it's impossible to predict what will happen when the Democrats in the race start spending money to publicly define themselves.

Now, for those of you who hate the idea of money in politics, sorry, but we won't win this race without it. You need look no further than the Guv's campaign report and supplemental filings to see that he's going to have plenty on hand to spruce up his image ("We've made tough choices, but we're moving in the right direction.") and create a new message ("Stand with me for another four years of progress.").

The Guv's campaign team is much weaker than it was the first time around, and he'll have three years of unpopular, poorly crafted policies on his record, but it would be a huge mistake to underestimate him, despite what these numbers show.

As we move forward, let's keep our eye on the prize: winning back the office and charting a better course for our state. Next November, someone is going to be well positioned opposite the Guv on the ballot, and that someone is going to need all of our support to get the job done. Let's limit our criticism to the guy who's been effing up our state since he took over in early 2005. Mmmkay?



"As you know, TDW, both as the blogmistress and in real life, is like Switzerland in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries..."


"Let's limit our criticism to the guy who's been effing up our state since he took over in early 2005. Mmmkay?"


It's way too early to be doing polls for 2008. Heck, we'll be at war with Iran by February so that'll change the mood about Republicans. Let wait until this time next year to talk about numbers.

Being "at war" with Iran would not be like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Polls now are just to justify continued media play (if any). For most people, reports like this sound like Charlie Brown's teacher lecturing...

"As you know, TDW, both as the blogmistress and in real life, is like Switzerland in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries..."

It appears from the end of your article that you are not the biggest fan of former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson. I do not know much about her. What are her pros and cons?

Hey there is criticism out there about whether or not Jim Schellinger has issued big policy statements, that he is ready to say exactly how he will move the state differently. Well, what about Jill? She spent three decades in politics and she should be well versed. Where are her policy statements? Where is her ten point plan for Indiana? Why all the pressure on Jim and none on the front funner and her brilliant co hort Ann Delaney

What about a ticket of Jill & Jim? Would that unite the Dems and provide a formidable opponent for Mitch & Becky?

Anyone have the numbers for Bayh and O'Bannon during their re-election campaign?

The D's have a history of so much infighting, the R's walk away with most of the elected offices. In my neck of the woods, that is. Please, keep the dirty laundry off the public line. If you all think Jim or Jill can win, then get behind them and don't throw stones at your own people. It's not convincing--the undecideds will vote elsewhere. We CANNOT tolerate another four years of his Mitchiness. For the sake of all Hoosiers, I hope Democrats will unite solidly behind their candidates.

Oh o.k. Maybe we should go back and look at the polls for the famous Kernan/Davis (I never passed up an ugly stick) campaign.

I agree with you, 12:33, except to say that the Republicans have their share of in-fighting, too. Heck, Eric Miller got almost a third of the primary vote in 2004 against the Guv.

It looks like the Pat Bauer, the Democrat controlled General Assembly, Monroe Gray, and the Democrat controlled City-County Council would love to have the "Guv's" numbers...


the only problem is that bauer is not elected statewide and Monroe is not elected city wide so those numbers are meaningless. Your beloved Gov has to run statewide and against an unnamed opponent he is at 39%, can you say Ernie Fletcher and Bob Taft.

In 1992 the GOP couldn't stop attacking each other, I'm surprised there wasn't a brawl at any of the primary debates.

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