Holland camp takes issue with poll
TOPEKA — In the Kansas governor’s race, Democrat Tom Holland’s campaign is crying foul over a recent Rasmussen poll that showed Republican Sam Brownback way ahead.
“Nobody takes Rasmussen seriously. Nonpartisan polls clearly show that Kansans are fed up with Sam Brownback and his divisive Washington politics,” said Dana Houle, campaign manager for Holland.
Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of Rasmussen Reports, said in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World that he sometimes gets that reaction from candidates on the short end of his polls.
“Every year, when candidates have bad poll numbers they complain about the pollsters,” Rasmussen said. He said Republicans were on his case in 2006 and 2008 when his polls showed Democrats were on the verge of making big gains.
But Rasmussen has been criticized by some on the left that his polling skews toward Republicans. Some media organizations will not cite his poll results. But Rasmussen defends his polling accuracy, noting that his were among the first surveys showing Republican Scott Brown clawing into contention in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race for Edward Kennedy’s seat, which Brown eventually won, and Joe Sestak defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party primary.
Democrats in Kansas also criticized the Rasmussen poll because of a demographic detail of the survey that showed of voters 18-29 years old 100 percent strongly disapprove of President Barack Obama and 100 percent strongly favor repeal of the new health care bill. Democrats say that just isn’t likely, and wondered how many people 18-29 were actually polled.
When interviewed, Rasmussen said he didn’t have the details of the poll in front of him, but added that the number of 18-29 year olds surveyed in the Kansas poll could have been extremely low. As a general rule, he said, the number of likely young voters drops off from presidential election years.
In Kansas, Brownback, a U.S. senator who danced on the national stage during the last election cycle as a presidential hopeful, has a sizable advantage in name identification, money and party voter registration in the governor’s race.
The latest Rasmussen poll in the Kansas governor’s race showed Brownback with 59 percent and Holland 31 percent. The results were based on 500 likely voters, taken June 30, and with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
But Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City who has twice defeated incumbent Republicans, sees opportunity, and his campaign points toward Survey USA polling, which shows Brownback’s job approval ratings at 50 percent or below for the past four months.
Holland’s camp says he will be able to lure voters dissatisfied with Brownback once those voters know more about Holland.
Brownback’s campaign said whatever the polls say is irrelevant. “They don’t affect how the Brownback for governor campaign is working to share our message of growing the economy, improving education and protecting families,” the campaign said.
Rasmussen notes that between now and the Nov. 2 election is a long time in politics and a lot can change.
But he said one of the dominant features of the political landscape now is that this will be a a tough year for Democrats in state and congressional races.
On the national level, Rasmussen said that at this point the most likely outcome is that Republicans will gain a lot of seats in the House, but not enough to take it over.
In 1994, during former President Bill Clinton’s first midterm election, Republicans gained 54 seats and took control of the House for the first time in 40 years.
But Rasmussen said the political situation today is different from in 1994. Back then, many voters didn’t remember Republican control of the House and thought the GOP could do no worse than the Democrats, he said. But today, many voters remember the Republican-controlled House, and for many people, he said, “that’s not a pretty memory.”