With today's release of the latest PPP poll in Georgia, we now have three surveys conducted in the last week showing incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss with leads ranging from 3 to 7 percentage points over Democratic challenger Jim Martin in the Georgia Senate Runoff election that will be held tomorrow (all of the surveys are included in our Georgia Runoff chart). As PPP's Tom Jensen explains, the result in these surveys is highly sensitive to the African American composition either measured or assumed by each pollster, although the three public pollsters active in the last week are in rough agreement on the African American composition of tomorrow's electorate: PPP puts it at 28%, DailyKos/Research2000 at 27%, Insider Advantage at 23%. According to the network exit poll, Georgia's African American composition was 28% in the November 4 election.
What are the campaign's internal polls telling them? A fouth survey conducted a week ago by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Comittee also had Chambliss ahead, but by only two percentage points (48% to 46%), although the DSCC release included no information about that survey's racial composition.
For what it's worth, NBC's Chuck Todd had this to say this morning on MSNBC in a discussion about why President-elect Obama has not campaigned in Georgia for Martin (my transcript, no link):
Had Obama thought he could win this thing for Martin, had Obama thought he could drag Martin over the finish line, he would have gone down, he would have done an event [in Georgia]. But I talked to some Obama folks who said, "that's when you'll know whether we really believe we can win this thing is if we go." And the fact that they didn't go, tells you they think they're going to come four, five points short.
And speaking of inferring what internal polls are saying based on the actions of campaigns, consider the decision by the Chambliss campaign to bring Sarah Palin to Georgia to speak at four rallies today. For all the popular derision of Sarah Palin's future in Republican politics (see Doonesbury). the move by Chambliss to bring her to Georgia implies their internal surveys say Palin has continuing appeal to the conservative base in Georgia.
A handful of national surveys show that while Palin's popularity fell considerably among Democrats and independents since her debut at the Republican convention, Palin remains very popular among conservative Republicans. Specifically,
- 86% of Republicans interviewed in the 11/6-9 CNN/ORC survey rate Palin favorably.
- 67% of Republicans, and 73% of conservative Republicans, told Gallup (11/5-16) they would like to see Palin run for President in 2012.
- 77% of Republicans told CNN/ORC just before the election (10/30-11/1) that the would support Palin for president in 2012 if McCain was not elected this year; 46% said they would "strongly" support Palin in four years.
Those numbers tell us that Palin will likely remain a force to be reckoned with in Republican party over the next four years. It is worth remembering that Barack Obama's campaign demonstrated a new model of how to run for president. His biggest asset, especially during 2007, was his ability to draw large crowds to campaign rallies. The Obama campaign effectively harnessed that energy, using rallies to collect small contributors, email addresses and incoming text messages and ultimately to build the grassroots campaign that enabled him win the Democratic nomination. Obviously, Obama brought far more to the race than celebrity, but his campaign's ability to use that appeal to raise funds and recruit volunteers made the rest of his campaign possible.