November 3, 2006

Chafee/Whitehouse Neck and Neck?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rich Lowry of National Review says internal polls are showing that the Chafee/Whitehouse race is much closer than any publicly released poll is showing…

This is what I'm hearing about GOP internals: In MO, Talent has now had two good nights in a row. He's up by two in the three-day average, up five in the two-day. In NJ, Kean is hanging in there, just down by two in the two-day. In MD, unfortunately, there's no sign yet that it's happening for Steele—he slipped a little from the night before. OH and PA, of course, are gonzo. In TN, Corker is up by one, but the public polls show him with a much bigger lead. In the internals, he continues to have just a slightly better fav/unfav than Ford. In RI—is this good or bad news?—Chafee is right there with Whitehouse, just .1 behind in last night's track. Finally, there's VA, where it's not looking so great. Webb was leading last night, and is leading in the two-day. (Sorry, nothing from MT.)
I’m assuming by “.1”, Lowry means 1 point down, or else Senator Chafee would be in the "gonzo" category.

I doubt, however, that any pollster knows how to take into account the effects the casino get-out-the-vote effort is going to have.


On the other hand, Senator Chafee claimed yesterday that his campaign is so broke, they're not actually doing any polls. From Steve Peoples of the Projo's new Political Scene blog...

"I am going to confess that we are so broke we are not polling," Chafee said this afternoon at the Federal Reserve restaurant, when repeatedly asked about his internal polling numbers. "We are using all our resources to influence voters."

Most competitive federal candidates continuously run internal polls to gauge where they stand....

Chafee said his campaign is depending on another campaign's internal polls for information, though he wouldn't acknowledge which one.

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No bias there, eh? EVERY poll, both state and national, has had Whitehouse with at least a four point lead.

Chafee is gone.

Kean is holding on? He is got, and Menedez is holding a strong lead.

Posted by: Matt at November 3, 2006 2:24 PM

I’ll admit my initial reaction is to find this poll hard to believe. Then again, I found the NRSC internals released just before the primary hard to believe too, and we’re talking about a much smaller swing here.

The X-factor is how much of a GOTV effort the Chafee campaign is able to put together, if any at all.

Posted by: Andrew at November 3, 2006 2:57 PM

This "internl" poll that Rich Lowry refers to is at odds with all the other surveys that have publicly released.

We don't know the details. On the other hand I don't have Lowry pegged as an egrigious liar, so I'll just factor it in and otherwise withhold judgment.

All I can say is that if Chafee wins next week a whole bunch of polling organizations are going to be very embarassed.

Posted by: Ken at November 3, 2006 3:02 PM

I think there is reason to keep an open mind on this race.

First, some of these published polls have unbelievably high "undecided" numbers. Why would there be so many undecided (but likely) voters? Sheldon has been in the public eye for over 15 years, as has Linc. I think this high undecided number casts some doubt on the accuracy of the poll.

Second, as I have often posted here and elsewhere, these candidates are very closely matched on a number of issues and characteristics. That being the case, I still think that the "likeability" factor can play a key role and, let's face it, Linc has it all over Sheldon on that factor.

If Linc pulls this off, we will just have to wait to hear all the "know-it-alls" (who have pronounced him dead) explain the result.

Posted by: brassband at November 3, 2006 4:04 PM


The difference might be that an internal poll takes into account the GOTV effort on turnout.

I’ve heard from multiple, unrelated sources not to count too much on a national turnout machine benefiting Senator Chafee, because it’s been sent to other places where Republicans are assumed to have better odds (VA, PA, MO, etc.). But if an honest, internal poll showing Senator Chafee doing better than he’s doing in any public poll really exists, the story is that Republican pollsters have been told to assume that some kind of GOTV program is in play.

Posted by: Andrew at November 3, 2006 4:20 PM

I have a mole in the Chafee campaign who says they brought in a wunderkind from just out of college to run the GOTV effort. He is mainly responsible for the landslide primary victory (or at least Chafee and Ian Lang think so). Look for the Chafee campaign to tone down the rhetoric over the weekend and direct ALL their forces (including communications, finance staff, and even the Senator himself) to making sure people get to the polls. They know they aren't winning anyone over anymore, so they are putting their fate in their wunderkind's hands to see if he can get 'em to the top. I don't know his pedigree but he worked for a political consulting firm hired by Chafee over the summer, and the camp hired him on.

Posted by: Ned Sebellius at November 3, 2006 6:02 PM

Let's wait and see whether the NSCC makes a last-minute push here. They cut him, Santorum, DeWine and Burns off in mid-October (while the Dem counterpart pumped big money into RI), but some new indie poll today had Burns within one point - will they spare resources from the Virginia-Tennessee-Missouri firewall for Chafee or Burns, who's getting rub from the POTUS this week?
Interesting point about the casino effect - if that effect helps Whitehouse, would it help Fogarty, too? From my POV, the power unions have abandoned Fogarty and are more focused on the casino.

Posted by: rhody at November 3, 2006 6:36 PM

I wouldn't expect much of a GOTV push from Chafee, and any at all would certainly be countered by the democrats massive GOTV this year in RI.

The democrat headquarters was absolutely overflowing with people yesterday.

Chaafee better focus on his own hometown, as he could even lose Warwick.

BTW, Obama is in town again today, that'll make headlines tonight.

Sorry link.

Posted by: Matt at November 4, 2006 8:23 AM

I hope everybody realizes this election is between a flawed Chafee, who votes right maybe 30% of the time and a fragrantly corrupt and unscrupulous union hack who will never vote right and will be in office 30 years. Everybody who supported Laffey needs to suck it up now and not let Whitehouse (and Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, etc) take over the Senate. The House is already GONE.

Posted by: Mike at November 4, 2006 10:24 AM

>>I hope everybody realizes this election is between a flawed Chafee, who votes right maybe 30% of the time and a fragrantly corrupt and unscrupulous union hack who will never vote right and will be in office 30 years. Everybody who supported Laffey needs to suck it up now and not let Whitehouse (and Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, etc) take over the Senate. The House is already GONE.

As if Chafee won't pull a Jeffords and become an "independent" or follow his heart and switch over to the Democratic Party?

As it is, this is functionally a Democratic primary than an election.

I'm writing in "George H. Bush" ... and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: Tom W at November 4, 2006 2:42 PM

I don't take it as gospel that a Senator Whitehouse, once in there, will remain there indefinitely. I certainly don't take it as a given that Republican control of the Senate will be determined by this one race alone. We're either going to stay pretty much where we're at, or we're going to take an absolute bath.

Chafee is honest -- he's an honest liberal. For a person such as myself, to whom ideology matters, I can't get past that. However, I am well aware that I am in the minority, so that plays to his favor. The only difference between him and Whitehouse, is current party affiliation. I say "current," as I share Tom's concern in that I do not feel confident that Chafee would remain a member of the Republican Party for the entirety of his term, should he be reelected. I consider him to be a man of his word. He has been asked to make that promise and has refused -- that means something to people like me. Just vote!

This isn't exactly a state secret, but Linc's going to need a lot more than just the "conservative" vote in order to pull this off. From my conversations with diehard conservatives, concerned about control of the Senate, I'm actually sure he'll pull a good part of the conservative vote. I just don't think it will be enough to save him. Some people will swallow the castor oil; some won't. For the last 6 years, he's been sticking it to conservatives -- what do you expect in return? You've heard the saying, "an elephant never forgets" -- there's a reason it's the Republican Party symbol.

I've seen just as many numbers as they have (possibly more, if they really aren't polling), and one thing is clear -- he needs to pull significant numbers of independents and Democrats to his side in order to win the general election. A solid GOTV effort could help him immensely. I'm not going to try to dissuade other conservative-minded folks to vote either way in regard to Chafee. If you're conscience permits you to do it, that's fine by me.

Chafee has two things going for him: his name and his personality. Those two things, at least to me, make this race competitive going into Tuesday. Without them, he'd be burnt toast. The other thing he could have going his way is the negative perception of Sheldon Whitehouse by many folks. He has the personality of a three week old turnip. He's also the same guy who lost a primary to Myrth York -- that takes effort. It will also be interesting to see if any of the last minute stuff about Roger Williams makes a difference. The other big "x" factor is any side effect of the casino vote. We know Harrah's is going to go all out to drag people to the polls anyway they can. We know how single issue voters tend to vote -- with little information and a lot of emotion. I think whomever the winner is, will win by a margin of less than 4%.

Posted by: Will at November 5, 2006 1:17 AM

"... fragrantly corrupt and unscrupulous union hack ..."

Good turn of phrase. Especially the adverb.

Posted by: SusanD at November 5, 2006 7:16 PM
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