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28 July 2006

Strategic Vision Poll for Michigan

Strategic Vision released a poll yesterday for the state of Michigan:
23. For the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Democrats Only)
Hillary Clinton 35%
Al Gore 15%
John Edwards 14%
Russ Feingold 7%
John Kerry 6%
Mark Warner 2%
Wesley Clark 2%
Joseph Biden 1%
Evan Bayh 1%
Tom Vilsak 1%
Bill Richardson 1%
Ed Rendell 1%
Christopher Dodd 1%
Undecided 13%
(emphasis added)

Senator Feingold's 7 percent is down from their last poll in May, when he had 9 percent. That said, I think it's important to note that the margin of error is 3 percent, so I'm not too worried yet. Instead, I think it would be helpful to look at how Feingold compares to other potential candidates.

To start with, I'm beginning to wonder why they include names like Christopher Dodd and Ed Rendell. Dodd has at least mentioned his potential interest in the race, but he's done nothing about it except campaign for Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont. (While I don't want to tempt fate, I have a sneaky suspicion that Dodd backed the wrong horse on that one.) As for Rendell, his potentially close battle for reelection got him dropped off most lists a while back, and I'm surprised to see him. For all intents and purposes, I think we could probably add the 1 percent they get to the Undecideds.

With the remaining choices, we have those with national name recognition (either ran for president before or was married to someone that did) and those that aren't really well-known outside their home states. We'll look at the second group first.

  • Former Governor Mark Warner is getting a lot of media attention lately, and it's clear he's positioning himself to be Bill Clinton II-- the moderate, southern governor that everyone likes. I have no doubt that when the primaries start, he'll be a major force. But he gets an unimpressive 2 percent.
  • Senator Joe Biden is a regular on the Sunday shows like Meet the Press and, although he ran in 1988, that was long enough ago that it doesn't count. Despite all he says about being the anti-Hillary and despite his foreign policy knowledge, he's not done a lot to get noticed as a presidential prospect. He got an unsurprising 1 percent.
  • Senator Evan Bayh was once seen as a rising star of the Democratic Party, and he's been fairly decent in the Senate, I think. He's supposed to be Mr. Electability, as an ex-governor of Indiana and good-looking, well-spoken guy. But despite his proximity to Michigan, Bayh got only 1 percent.
  • Governor Tom Vilsack was a big name in 2004, with the Iowa caucus being the first step to John Kerry's nomination. He was on the short list for Kerry's VP, and his position in Iowa is helpful in that swing state and the region in general. Unfortunately for him, Michigan Democrats don't seem to remember 2004's media buzz, or don't care. Just 1 percent for him.
  • Governor Bill Richardson's description reads almost exactly like Vilsack's-- potential 2004 VP, governor of a swing state, in an important region. Add in that he's hispanic, and he really might surprise some people. But apparently not in Michigan, where he got 1 percent.
  • Finally, Senator Russ Feingold. You already know all about him, and he got 7 percent. For those that have been adding as we went along, that 7 percent, small as it is, is more than all the others in this group combined. It's not his proximity to Michigan that did it; only the UP gets Wisconsin media, and it doesn't have enough of a population to make that big an impact in the poll. Even if that were the case, you'd think Evan Bayh would perform better. No, I suspect it's because Feingold has inspired us with his courage and his wisdom and his willingness to stand up for what's right.
But what about the potential candidates that have run before?
  • General Wesley Clark just barely makes this list because most people seem to have forgotten he ran in 2004. He's got the national security credentials, to be sure, but he lacks in experience elsewhere. Made lots of noise in 2004, but apparently Michigan voters have forgotten that. Well, all but the 2 percent he got.
  • Senator John Kerry has an advantage that's also a disadvantage. He's got almost 100 percent name recognition, but he's remembered as the guy that lost in 2004. Whether that's fair or not, he doesn't perform too well in these polls because there's a feeling that he's already had his turn. Personally, I don't see him rising much beyond his 6 percent.
  • Former Senator John Edwards also has the high name recognition, but without the problem Kerry has. People don't blame the VP nominee for losing an election, just as people didn't credit Al Gore for Bill Clinton's victory. Edwards has shown a lot of strength lately, and some say the primary schedule will help him. This early, his 14 percent is a respectable showing.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore shouldn't be in this poll. He says he has no plans to run, and so far, the Draft Gore campaigns have been unimpressive. I loved his movie, but his political career, at least with the presidency, is over for now. I could be completely wrong, but for now I'm not going to worry too much about his 15 percent.
  • Finally, we come to Senator Hillary Clinton. Just saying the name brings back fond memories of peace, prosperity, and general happiness. No wonder she got 33 percent in the poll-- the 1990s have never seemed so good. But saying her name also brings back memories of scandals and baggage that could be a big problem for her. Plus, she hasn't done much lately to excite the base, has she?
The fact that Senator Feingold is performing better than both Wesley Clark and John Kerry is incredible, considering how early it is and how unknown Feingold is. As for Clinton, Gore, and Edwards, their high percentages are the result of name recognition, not concrete support.

That doesn't mean Feingold is the leader. But in Michigan, he's certainly a strong contender.


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