Clinton pollster Mark Penn claims, at a reporter breakfast, "I think you’re going to see as much as 24% of Republican women defect and make a major difference nationwide in terms of, I think, the emotional element of potentially having the first woman nominee."**
Obama pollster Joel Benenson (once a principal in Penn's firm) quickly responds with a memo calling Penn's claim "entirely baseless and refuted by a number of public polls."
The Washington Post's Jon Cohen provides some context, including the finding that a 24 percent showing among Republican women "would significantly outperform any Democratic candidate since 1972."
Mark Penn then blogs back: An unspecified internal poll shows Clinton's support increasing "to 13 percent" among Republican women, while undecided "surged to 11 percent, so a total of 24 percent would either vote for her or consider voting for her."
Ben Smith, who followed the story all day, concludes: "if we can get Joel Benenson and [Edwards pollster] Harrison Hickman blogs, this could get fun." Amen brother. Or maybe just occasional "Guest Pollster" gigs at a certain poll obsessed web site?
First Read reports a memo by Biden campaign manager Luis Navarro that cites recent polling to claim his candidate is sneaking up on Bill Richardson.
Marc Ambinder shares a memo from McCain advisor Rick Davis that "pours water on Giuliani's electability argument…or tries to anyway."
And in other news…
Frank Newport reviews "where things stand" in campaign 2008.
Gary Langer looks at the President's ratings and tells us "where he's at."
Kathy Frankovic considers Al Gore and the way perceptions can change as former presidents and vice presidents shift from political figures to "elder statesment" and back again.
Mark Mellman shares results showing Americans "overwhelmingly oppose key elements of the Bush administration's surveillance agenda."
David Hill argues that, despite "growing evidence that the Democratic Party will expand its majorities in both the House and Senate," voters will resist one-party control by the Democrats.
Evan Tracey reports that two thirds of the television ads of the Democratic presidential candidates have focused on health care and Iraq.
**The quotation comes from Ben Smith's blog and now reflects his "slightly corrected" version that is "slightly more hedged." The original version read: "You're going to see 24 percent of Republican women voters defect because of the emotional element of having a woman nominee." Thanks to reader rilkefan for the edit.