June 1, 2006

Club for Growth Poll Has Chafee and Laffey Tied

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to John E. Mulligan in the Projo

The conservative Club for Growth has released highlights of a poll that shows Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee in a statistical dead heat with his Republican primary challenger, Stephen P. Laffey.
Here are the numbers...
  • Sample size: 300, 84% Republican, 16% Independent
  • Statistical Margin of Error: 5.66%
  • Basic Result: Chafee 45.7%, Laffey 44.3%
  • Chafee Favorability: 45% Favorable/51% Unfavorable
  • Laffey Favorability: 52% Favorable/27% Unfavorable
Here are the reactions…
Chafee campaign spokesman Ian Lang said the poll shows the senator ``in a strong position to win the primary, despite being hammered'' by ads financed by the Club for Growth. Lang called the poll ``a best-case scenario'' for Laffey because the sample had a high proportion of Republicans.
Laffey's campaign said in a statement, ``There are good polls and bad polls, and we don't pay much attention to any of them.''

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Its June 1st and we have another poll.

Laffey's ads are hitting home.

Chafee is nowhere to be seen or heard. Laffey is all over the State campaigning with his wife and kids.

Chafee is unable to demonstrate that he is anything more than liberal tax and spend Washington insider. Laffey is a reformer who will work his tail off for the taxpayers. (PS. The bond rating just went up in Cranston again.)

Ian, independents gave Laffey an overwhelming victory just two years ago.

Does anybody hear an echo? Its traveling at the speed of sound and it will hit our ears on September 12th at about 9:15PM.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at June 1, 2006 12:34 PM

In RI, the filing deadline to run in a party primary is June 28 (the primary itself is on September 12), and the deadline to file as an independent is July 20. So Chafee has just under 4 weeks to decide to withdraw as a GOP Senate candidate (and refile as an independent); if he doesn't, I'm not sure if he would be able to run as an independent, since he would still be a candidate in the GOP primary. I think that the Club for Growth poll is correct in pointing out Chafee's unpopularity among the registered Republicans who will comprise the overwhelming majority of GOP primary voters in September, and Chafee would be smart to get out of the GOP primary now and file to run as an independent. A three-way race between Chafee, Laffey and Whitehouse would be a real nailbiter, with the winner getting no more than 40%.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at June 1, 2006 2:55 PM

The poll sample consisted of 84% registered Republicans and 14% Unaffiliated. Does anyone really think that 85% of the primary electorate will be registered Republicans when only 11% of RI voters are registered Republicans and this is the highest profile race in the state?

I would have thought Laffey would be up 10-15 in this poll. Yet Laffey is still polling behind Chafee despite the fact that it was funded by Laffey's biggest supporter, the Club for Growth and conducted by a consultant who has a financial interest in seeing Laffey do well. Perhaps that is why CFG didn't release all of its survey questions, only giving the head to head numbers.

This should be good for CFG's out-of-state fundraising efforts. CFG can now portray the race as being somewhat close to people who aren't familiar that the vast number of RI voters are unaffiliated.

Posted by: Anthony at June 1, 2006 3:28 PM

Anthony, how many unaffiliated voters in RI (which admittedly comprise around 50% of registered voters in the state) normally participate in GOP primaries? GOP primaries in RI are famously low-turnout affairs, and I can't imagine too many independents bother going out to vote on September 12 even if Lincoln Chafee's political future is on the balance.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at June 1, 2006 5:11 PM

So now we know pretty conclusively just why Chafee, the incumbent US Senator, in a primary no less, started running the negative ads. As has been said, you don't run negative ads if you are ahead.
This poll merely confirms what Chafee's own polls are telling him - he is in deep trouble.

Posted by: Jim at June 1, 2006 5:55 PM

The results from this poll are not terribly different from the last Rasmussen affair. It is probably safe to say that the race is indeed a close one at present. However, polls three months before an election do not mean very much. The trends are what matter, in my opinion. The results of the next cfg or Rasmussen poll will be a lot more telling.

Chafee's disjointed strategy with its recent slant towards the negative is not conducive to winning over independents. True independents will, as a rule, only vote for Chafee in a primary if he is seen as the best candidate in the overall field from an ideological standpoint. If voters want a real democrat, they will go for Whitehouse. If they want a real Reagan conservative, they will go for Laffey. Chafee's hybrid nature and lack of true ideology is a death knell in a primary, which attracts mainly partisan and informed voters.

Posted by: bountyhunter at June 1, 2006 6:46 PM

Poll is so meaningless because the elephant in the room in September is going to be the non-Republican party voter.

Anthony, very good point by you. A poll so heavily weighted with Republicans should show Laffey will a lead.

Laffeyites, please stop speculating (hoping) about Chafee running as an Independent. It only serves to expose your phoney machismo about Laffey's supposed strength in this primary.
You guys are worried. You should be.

Posted by: Tim at June 1, 2006 7:30 PM

Tim, maybe we should just let the Laffeyites have their day in the sun before they awake to reality in September.

As the election gets closer, CFG will probably conduct a poll with 95% registered Republicans so they can publish a headline that says "Laffey leads Chafee!".

Posted by: Anthony at June 1, 2006 9:28 PM

Why are you Chafee guys on this blog so obtuse? The highest RI Repub turnout ever was 45,000. The Almond -Matchley which was as high profile as this race. There are 70,000 Republicans in this state. The overwhelming percentage of Repub primary voters will be Republican. There are simply alot more registered Republicans who vote than there are independents who have a history of voting in primary let alone would be willing to vote in a Republican primary..do some past voting history analysis.

Now, this Club poll is quite cute on many levels. I have no idea what the demographic or geographic breakdown is, and that is always very important. But based on on past results, the CFG is an overly cautious pollster in its polling for its candidates. Lets, see Laffey is down by 1 point 100 days before the primary according to CFG. Hmm, Specter beat Toomey by 1 point at the end of April of 2004 in the primary. Yet in January 2004 (100 days before the primary) they had a poll showing Toomey behind by 23 points, 2 months before the primary in March they had Tommey down 10 points (you can find this on the internet).

The CFG likes to understate the support of their candidates. The CFG polls like to do this in order to help them raise money,(a tight race/underdog attracts donations, not one where Laffey leads by 10-15 points), and secondly to show momentum for their candidate. My guess is among Republicans Laffey is not ahead by 2 as indicated by CFG but by double digits (please see the New Republic article I cited before here on this blog discussing internal polling by both parties) which explains why Chafee is running attack ads first. You can rationalize all you want, but when the candidate himself runs a negative ad first their polling shows him behind or in real trouble of losing.

Keep hope alive Chafee guys.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at June 1, 2006 10:38 PM

Fred, what was the budget of the Almond/Machtley race? What is the budget of the Chafee/Laffey race? And you think Almond/Machtley is as high profile as Chafee/Laffey?

You're correct that undecideds usually roll to the challenger, although I doubt that anyone who is undecided at this point will actually vote. So it becomes a matter of who can do a better job of getting their people to the polls, Laffey or Chafee.

This race is still Chafee's to lose. Make no mistake, the primary is not a cakewalk and if turn out stays low, Laffey could pull out a win. Laffey's numbers in the primary and the general haven't moved. The closeness or lack of closeness of the various primary projections is determined entirely by the Republican/Unaffiliated mix that is projected.

However, the general election numbers are far more predictable and that is bad news for Laffey unless he can somehow create a three-way race to get Chafee and Whitehouse to split the vote.

Posted by: Anthony at June 1, 2006 11:38 PM

Fred, you also have to remember that the Dems had a pretty competitive gubernatorial primary in '94 (Myrth York taking out incumbent Bruce Sundlun by a margin well beyond what any polls indicated). Non-GOP voters were not a factor in Almond-Machtley.
Unless Whitehouse blunders or Sheeler catches fire, there's not a lot to keep Dems with a strong opinion about Chafee-Laffey at home.

Posted by: Rhody at June 2, 2006 1:30 AM

I partially agree that "Non-GOP voters were not a factor in Almond-Machtley." They were a factor, but not necessarily a deciding one. The main factor there was outsider vs. insider -- and the outsider won. Bennett vs. Carcieri = Ditto.

Here's something I learned from a very good friend "All things being equal, the most 'Republican' candidate will win the 'Republican' primary almost every time."

More importantly, I wouldn't presume that all those independents out there looking for a candidate to vote for are going to go out of their way to save Linc's bacon this time around. There's hardly a demographic group left that Chafee hasn't gone out of his way to alienate himself from. Sounds good for Laffey, real good.

PS Whether or not Chafee runs in the GOP primary, doesn't matter as much as you might imagine. Chafee has a certain number above which he's not going to get further support, and I can tell you that the number is definitely under 50%. I'm not going to elaborate more than that, lest I divulge anything I shouldn't. :)

Posted by: Will at June 2, 2006 5:07 AM

All I can say is that no matter the weather or other extraneous factors, I'm marching to the primary polls to vote for Laffey - I have real misgivings about him, and so may "sit out" the Senate race in November - but on a national level the Republican Party - particularly the Senate - needs to be purged of RINO's.

The Democrats have effectively purged their party of "moderates" (how many can you name?) and so have proved far more cohesive and effective than the "Republican majority" (which keeps having to "accommodate" its "moderates" such as Chafee, Snow, Collins, Specter, etc.).

Better to be in the minority with a dedicated cadre of real Republicans than the ideological mush we have now!

Posted by: Tom W at June 2, 2006 10:10 AM

Tom W.,
I disagree with you completely about it being better to have a solid ideological minority than to be in the majority, but be required to occassionally compromise.

However, I respect your decision to vote for Laffey. You understand the realities of the situation and are aware of the consequences should Chafee lose this primary.

Posted by: Anthony at June 2, 2006 11:20 AM


>>but be required to occassionally compromise

If that were all that was occurring, fine. But what we've been witnessing has been repudiation of principles.

Since when are Republicans supposed to be the party of pork-barrel spending / earmarks; presciption drug "benefits" (LBJ must be laughing his cosmic tush off over this one); and support for illegal immigrantion, including amnesty (and two years' off of their taxes - HOW DO I GET THAT DEAL)????

This while "Republicans" supposedly control the White House AND both houses of Congress? Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater must be rolling in their graves!

I can appreciate the argument that we need people like Chafee to keep a numerical majority, e.g., for committee chairmanships. Though I disagree with it - I can't say that it is in error - in some situations there can be more than one "right" opinion, even though diametrically opposed.

Let us not forget that with a united front we still got Scalia and Thomas in spite of not controlling the Senate at the time (if my memory is correct).

My best case scenario is that some "moderates" like Chafee lose in primaries (as Specter should have, and almost did, last round ... and probably would have if turncoat George W hadn't campaigned for him, as he is now doing for Chafee), but that the Republicans keep 51 Senate seats.

The GOP needs to learn that the "conservative base" cannot be taken for granted - much less sh** on over and over - and that "moderates" who stray too far will face a primary challenge from within their own party, and will lose because of the "conservative base."

Posted by: Tom W at June 2, 2006 4:08 PM

Rhody, we already established here months ago that Darrell West polls are worthless.

Sundlund was polling ahead of Yorke in '94 because the poll was Darrell West's.

Posted by: Warbucks at June 2, 2006 10:33 PM