Friday, November 14, 2003

Poll Analysis

Kos post's the new national Gallup poll on the Democratic presidential primary race. It is not showing a significant amount of movement; Dean is up but that is most likely statistical noise, Lieberman moved up a little and that is probably real, while Clark, Gephardt and Kerry are staying around the same levels of national support. I agree with the Kos disclaimer that national polls at this time are almost worthless as a predictor of the primary winner.

However we can learn a couple of things from the national polls. I commented on the capture rate of first choice votes to name recognition. Right now the field looks like this in terms of capture ability:

Dean: 36.9%
Clark: 26.9%
Lieberman: 21.7%
Gephardt: 19.7%
Kerry: 18.8%
Edwards: 16.7%
Kucinich 15.0%
Braun: 10.8%
Sharpton: 9.6%

What can we learn here; first we see that Dean has the best operation of converting casual examiners of the political process into supporters. This fact, in conjunction with Dean's compartatively low name recognition(L@69%,G@61%,K@55%,C@52%,D@46%) indicates a strong possibility of future growth for Dean as people get to know him better. He has the largest group of voters who are unfamiliar with him and he has a past history of doing a good job of persuading these voters to support him. Dean with his money advantage and his grassroots advantage should be able to exploit this opportunity effectively.

Clark has the second best capture rate, but he faces several problems in going head to head against Dean on this metric. First he is only 72% as effective in capturing first choice votes as Dean to people who know him. Secondly, he has to make up a good chunk of ground to catch Dean so he either needs to prevent Dean from reaching out in name recognition, get Dean's negatives to massively increase, increase his capture rate or some combination of the three. He has a grassroots force that may be useful in improving Clark's capture rate, but fundraising problems in comparison to Dean and the compressed primary schedule makes this a difficult task for Clark.

Lieberman has to be reasonably happy with this poll as he is doing a good job of being no worse than a good second choice for quite a few Democrats. His capture rate is compared to both Dean and Clark, but better than anyone else in the field. He has the same problems as Clark in trying to match Dean's ability to capture new voters, but it is worse as he has a much smaller field of voters who do not know who he is.

This same analysis applies to Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards. Kerry has the most room to grow, but he is only half as efficient as Dean is in capturing new voters. Edwards at this point is having problems getting people to recognize who he is, and even when they do, they do not like him enough to make him a first choice vote. He should consider getting out of the race soon.

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