I'm still scratching my head over this one.
Republican congressional candidate Nick Jordan released an internal poll, with the theme that it's great news for his campaign. But it's not great news. It's not even good news. It's bad news, and both the results and the campaign's separate, odd decision to release the poll give us yet two more reasons to vote for somebody else in the August 2010 primary. The poll is done by a reputable firm, and the respondents were likely Republican voters (as opposed to "registered voters" or "adults"). The results:
- Jordan has a total name ID of 69%. Name ID means whether a voter at all recognizes the politician's name.
- 40% have an opinion of Jordan. 35% have a positive opinion, and 5% have a negative opinion. To be clear, this 7:1 favorable ratio is very good, but this kind of ratio never lasts. It also tells us that Jordan is not well-known. Polling companies almost always ask whether an opinion is "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable." It says a lot that Jordan did not release these "hard vs. soft" favorability numbers. Once a politician is sufficiently well-known, negatives will go way up. Typically, it's common for negatives to be at least 30%, and it's rare for positives to be above 60%. For an example, look at SurveyUSA's most recent numbers for Senators Brownback (56-37% postive/negative) and Sen. Roberts (52-40%); I want to go out of my way to emphasize that compares two different polling companies' polls is rarely comparing "apples and apples" because of methodology and sample size.
- If the primary election were held today for the 3rd District race, the breakdown is:
- 27% Jordan
- 9% Rep. Kevin Yoder
- 5% former Rep. Patricia Lightner
- 5% Charlotte O'Hara
- Four candidates at 1% each
- What Jordan doesn't remind us: that means that almost 50% of voters are undecided.
- Note: we also don't know how many voters are "definitely Jordan" or "would consider voting for somebody else."
- Among self-identified "conservatives," Jordan receives 31% of the vote.
Why is this bad news? Jordan should be almost as well-known as Senator Brownback, who has been in state-wide office as long as Jordan has been elected.
For many candidates, including myself, we'd be thrilled to see these numbers across a geographic area that includes one-fourth of the state's population. But Jordan held a state senate seat for 13 years, and that's 1/10 of the congressional district. This means that while the AVERAGE name ID may be 69%, Jordan's name ID may be in the 80s in his state senate district, but only in the 50s elsewhere.
But what makes almost irrelevant the past elected experience of Jordan is that he spent $1.2 million dollars in his 2008 campaign against Democratic incumbent Dennis Moore (who is not seeking re-election in 2010). He should be near-universally known, especially among likely Republican primary voters.
This is from Jordan's polling summary, and it's somewhat accurate: "And, here again, in an eight-candidate field, a 40% vote share almost guarantees winning the nomination." Yes, that's very true, and Jordan should today be well above that 40% number. Instead, he's sitting at a mere 27%, and it's likely that a good number of voters among that 27% are willing to consider other candidates, once those candidates become better known.
I'll give you two more examples of polling, as reference points. I had mentioned both polls in this April 2009 post at Red County.
For one, look at this SurveyUSA poll from 2009, testing Senator Brownback against Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, in a hypothetical primary for governor. The results:
- Brownback was ahead by an enormouos 64-17%, with only 20% undecided.
- Brownback captured 73% of the self-identified conservative vote.
And two, in 2009 I personally ran a poll, among likely 2010 voters in portions of Johnson County. Keep in mind this was among all voters instead of only-Republican voters, and likely general election voters instead of likely primary voters. The differences are that a Republican politician's lowest numbers will be among the general electorate, and he or she will be best known among likely Republican voters. Some of the name ID results included:
- Peter Jouras 35% (Jouras was a first-time candidate for JCCC Board, you may recall his many large signs; he came in 5th/10 when top 4 won)
- Benjamin Hodge 51%
- Ron Thornburgh 54%
- Jerry Moran 47%
- Todd Tiahrt 42%
Keep in mind two things when looking at the above numbers:
- My poll was done in early 2009, before Moran or Tiahrt had ever campaigned in our area.
- I had spent less than $40,000 over the past five years, in total, for all of my campaigns.
As I've said before, former State Senator Nick Jordan is a great guy and a man of high character. He has a record of voting right on what used to be called "traditional social issues": issues like abortion and marriage. I wrote "what used to be called traditional social issues;" what I mean is that, increasingly, we can add "the role and the size of government" to the list of "social issues" that are important to voters. And my belief in the proper, limited, constitutional role of government, along with a look at Jordan's record, lead me to decide that Nick Jordan is not conservative, that he may not even be aware he's not conservative, that he wants government to be intimately involved in the economy, that he will ignore the US Constitution (see, in particular his authorship of a state eminent domain bill), and that he will damage the conservative movement by being yet another DC Republican who talks a good game on "limited government" but then loses credibility among independent voters by spending too much money.
Lastly, I must ask: how can we trust Nick Jordan to be in touch with Republican voters, when he thinks that we should be impressed by these poll numbers?
Here is the PDF link to the detailed results of the poll, paid for by the Jordan campaign and performed by Public Opinion Strategies.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).