Monday, December 12, 2011

ABC Debate December 10th Draws 7.6 Million Viewers – Poll Dec. 11th Gingrich Now Leads GOP Contenders Nationally by 16% with 8.7% Undecided


The Candidates at the ABC Debate - image: National Journal


ABC News hit the Debate Jackpot in viewership on Saturday night, drawing 7.6 Million viewers, beating out Fox’s 6.11 Million Viewers in September, and CBS’s 5.2 Million in November. Fox has a GOP debate scheduled for this Thursday, November 15th at 9 EST and as interest in the national GOP contest appears high, one can anticipate that at the least Fox will meet or exceed previous viewership. The ABC Debate, billed by some in the media, as “fight night” between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich may have fueled some of that viewership, however Gingrich appears to have gotten the best of the bunch by staying more positive and giving clear and measured answers to each of the opposition candidates who questioned his stance on several issues –specifically, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.

Romney and Paul are those perceived to be closest to Gingrich in the polls and scrambling to put up the numbers necessary to take Iowa, the first in the nation to caucus in January. With both Paul and Romney running negative ads against Gingrich (Romney using Surrogates), it was anticipated that there would be a downturn for Gingrich given the questions about his “conservatism” that were the topic of the ads. In the end however, when Gingrich questioned Paul on a point of historical accuracy, Dr. Paul had to agree with Gingrich. Further, Michelle Bachmann attacked both Gingrich and Romney for having the same political philosophy and not being a “true Conservative “by lumping them together as “Newt-Mitt” (or Mitt-Newt) which drew not a little laughter from the two. Romney replied that “Newt’s a friend of mine, but we’re not clones”, and never directly attacked the former Speaker throughout the debate. Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania, when asked where he found his Conservatism, answered in listening to tapes and reading books by: Newt Gingrich. All in all, December 12th was a good night for Gingrich to be viewed by seven million potential voters, given his stellar performance in the latest polling.

The latest poll coming from Poll Position (Crosstabs here in PDF) has Gingrich leading the pack by 16 points, across the political, age, gender and ethnic demographics. In this particular survey, there were 8.2% “undecided. However, as far as telephone surveys go (This one conducted for Poll Position by marketing firm Majority Opinion Research, shows equal numbers of political ideologies’ which is, in and of itself, interesting. In this case, Gingrich racks 21.4% of the Democrats surveyed, they also have the most “undecideds” at 14.2%, with Republicans at 9.1% and Independents at 5.4%. The closet competitor is Mitt Romney who takes 23.3% overall followed by Ron Paul, at 10.8%.
Compared to Gallup’s National Daily Tracking (from Dec. 8th-10th just prior to the debate), Gingrich led Romney 33 to 23, with Dr. Ron Paul at 9%. Although using the same methodology (phone surveys), but focusing only on the Republican and Republican leading independents in the polls, one sees consistency in the numbers only three weeks out from the Iowa Caucus.

How accurate are polls (state or national) at this point? See historical perspective of polling and analysis here from this blog focus on the 2008 polling and its accuracy in predicting Mike Huckabee’s win in Iowa four weeks from the beginning of the Caucus.

It is this opinion, that polling done within days of any political contest are the most accurate, and a great deal depends on the firm, and whether or not the data is weighted to accurately reflect the electorate. The polls referenced above, give an overview of the electorates choices nationally – it is the latest Iowa Polls that would matter most this close to the election. – this week. That said, at this point and time, with only three weeks to go in Iowa, Gingrich leads with enthusiasm among likely caucus goers by 44% to Ron Paul’s 31%, Mitt Romney at 28%(Des Moines Register.

It appears, at this juncture, with polls in the key early voting states of Iowa, NH and S.C., that Newt Gingrich, should the numbers hold and/or improve, should be well positioned going into Super Tuesday. If this is a repeat of 2008, it would then be a matter of time (March) before Romney exited the campaign. The fact that there is a robust and contentious GOP contest is not out of the ordinary as many in the media would have one believe. Historically, both parties have had their share of contentious general primaries, the most recent, in 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

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