Something I've found interesting over the last few weeks is speculation about how President Obama will effect the race in Massachusetts. But why deal with guesses when we can learn from history? I took the raw polling data from the New Jersey and Virginia elections, both of which Obama campaigned in, and analyzed it. From it, one can safely guess what Obama's stumping will do for Coakley.
On October 27th, President Obama campaigned for R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor. On November 3rd, Deeds was handily beaten by Robert McDonnell (R). But what does that mean? Well, one look at this graph and the Obama Effect can easily be seen:
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As the graph shows, before the President campaigned for Deeds, polls showed McDonnell leading 54.6-40.6, or by 14%. When the election finally came, McDonnell won 58.7-41.2, or by 17.5%, three and a half points more than before Obama stumped for Deeds. In other words, the President did not have any effect on the election, and could possibly have pushed voters towards McDonnell.
But this is in Virginia, some might say. The election could have been a done deal, and thus could have negatively hurt turnout for Deeds. However, when compared to polling data from New Jersey, the Obama Effect can be more accurately quantified.
The race between incumbent Gov. Corzine (D) and Chris Christie (R) in New Jersey was much closer than the election of Virginia. On November 1, President Obama stumped for Corzine, hoping to push him above his Republican challenger. Much to the President's and Corzine's chagrin, Christie defeated Corzine by more than four percent. but what does this have to do with the Obama Effect? Well, take a look:Click for better quality
The trend from the graph is clear. The week before the election, before Obama campaigned for Corzine, Christie was in the lead 41.9-41.1, less than a single percentage point. Yet, on election day, Christie won 48.8-44.5, more than 4%.
So what does this all mean? I believe the data can speak for itself. In both elections, after Obama stumped for his candidate, their opponent increased in relative support by 3.5%. That is the Obama Effect. He does not help the people he campaigns for; it is very possible that these votes mark a repudiation of him.
Now we look at the Special Election in Massachusetts, in which Obama is stumping for Martha Coakley:
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So the day that Obama campaigns for Coakley, polls show her behind 51-46 to Scott Brown, a five point difference between the two. Now, factoring in the Obama Effect, I make a bold prediction: that advantage of five will raise to over eight percent when the election is actually held.
And what's more, it is not a wild guess. This is based off of solid polling data. Thanks to RealClearPolitics for the NJ, Virginia, and Massachusetts data.
Scott Brown has beaten Martha Coakley handily in the Massachusetts special election. Mr. Brown won the victory by approximately five percent, once again showing that his stumps for candidates do not work. The Obama Effect has struck.
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