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July 30, 2006

A Twisted Webb

The spin continues at Raising Kaine, concerning the now infamous Mason-Dixon poll that has Senator Allen leading by 16-points.
*For an incumbent like Allen, with 97% name recognition (according to the poll), to be under 50% is very, very bad news.

*People simply don't know Jim Webb yet. As J. Bradford Coker, Mason-Dixon managing director, said, "It's only July...Undecided voters tend to go more for the challenger than for the incumbent."

*Mason-Dixon didn't "push" undecideds to make a decision at this point. According to UVA political scientist Larry Sabato:

..once the undecideds are properly allocated, Webb is almost certainly over 40 percent, not this exceptionally low 32 percent. Right now, it’s an 8 to 10 percent race, with Allen out front holding a shaky majority.
Lowell keeps up the spin and forgets a few key factors. Allen is below 50% with 97% recognition, but Webb's recognition with 100 days before the election is very low, and with so little money, he will have a difficult time getting his name out. Allen may not need a huge jump if people are unfamiliar with Webb. And he tries to quote Larry Sabato, but let's break down the numbers to see how he could possibly see James Webb down only 8-10 points. Allen has a 16 point lead in this poll. For Webb to get to 8 points below from the currently 20% undecided, he would need to take more than 70% of the undecided vote, which is difficult enough to do with more name recognition than Webb has; can people unexcited about a candidate really be counted on to come out to the polls voting 3 out of every 4 people for one candidate? By simple probability, this is incredibly unlikely, and even with a few things going James Webb's way, he still could not hope to pull in so many votes. And even taking other polls into consideration (as well we should, since one poll is a terrible measurement), Allen maintains a double-digit lead in most others with far smaller percentages (3-10%) of undecided, again needing large numbers to swing for Webb amongst those undecided voters for Webb to win. Until I start to see polls that suggest leads of 5% or less (where a poll means less than nothing), I will not understand how anyone can give James Webb a shot.

Certainly, this race is not over, and George Allen's campaign should only kick into the next gear to build on that lead over the next few months, but it is simply irresponsible for Lowell to suggest that this poll is anything but disappointing for James Webb and state Democrats. Rather than running these fluff pieces, Lowell would do better to spend more time and effort getting James Webb more money; certainly, he appears to have done a lot of work on that, but how much more money could Webb have if Lowell did not obsess with how a bad poll is actually good.

And soon please Lowell; I cannot be the only one getting dizzy.

UPDATE 1:55 PM: It does appear that some Democrats understand Webb's big problem right now. And yet, Lowell still thinks that press releases will do the trick. Pardon me while I laugh.