Whether it is the recency effect of the Republican National Convention, the personal narrative of the second half of John McCain’s acceptance speech, or, as suspected by Smart Politics, the selection of Sarah Palin to be McCain’s running mate, the McCain bounce which has been demonstrated nationally as well as in state polling is having the added benefit of giving GOP candidates a boost down the ballot.
For example, take two recent polls on the presidential and gubernatorial races by SurveyUSA in North Carolina and the State of Washington. In polling conducted after the RNC, momentum for the Republican gubernatorial candidates is taking place concurrent to McCain’s mini surge.
· In North Carolina, McCain has extended his lead over Obama from 4 points to 20 points from mid-August to today (SurveyUSA, September 6-8). In the state's open gubernatorial matchup, Democrat Beverly Perdue led Republican Pat McCrory by a 3-point margin in mid-August, but Perdue now trails McCrory by 8 points, 49 to 41 percent (SurveyUSA, September 6-8).
· In the state of Washington, McCain was down 7 points to Obama in August, and now trails by 4 points, 49 to 45 percent (SurveyUSA, September 5-7). Washington was home to the closest gubernatorial race in the country four years ago, and Republican challenger Dino Rossi now holds a statistically insignificant 48 to 47 percent lead in his rematch against Democratic incumbent Christine Gregoire (SurveyUSA, September 5-7). Rossi is up 3 points from nearly a month ago.
The internals of the SurveyUSA polls show one of the keys to the McCain/Republican bounce is – not surprisingly – among women. And what’s more interesting yet is this: both Republican challengers in these gubernatorial races are men running against female Democratic opponents.
In August, Obama led among women in North Carolina by a 48 to 46 percent margin; today, McCain leads 54 to 42 percent. In the gubernatorial race Democrat Perdue had led among women 52 to 38 percent in August, but now trails 46 to 45 percent to Republican McCrory.
In Washington, Obama led women by a 55 to 40 percent margin; today it stands at 49 to 44 percent. Democrat Gregoire had led women by a 54 to 44 percent margin in August, and is now even with Republican Rossi at 47 to 47 percent.
These polling numbers fly in the face of the stated positions of a number of commentators, bloggers, and academics who have protested that women could not possibly be swayed to vote for McCain because of Palin’s presence on the ticket (largely, because these pundits claim women would be voting ‘against their interests’).
The correlations above suggest otherwise, at least for the moment.
What these pundits and the political left have been slow to realize, or admit to themselves, is that many women (as well as men) are simply not that interested in politics or public policy. But they can be moved to vote or switch their fragile allegiances by major events; McCain’s selection of Palin was just such an event.