The prospects of a Tea Party Republican knocking off an incumbent in Mississippi may raise false hopes for Democrats. House Republicans want to gut the Census budget...again. And the Secret Service wants analytics to detect sarcasm on social media. Good luck with that! This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, June 4, 2014.
ANY HOPE FOR DEMS IN MISSISSIPPI?: Sean Trende says it's a long shot: "Although there is still a runoff to be had, most analysts like state Sen. Chris McDaniel's odds for defeating six-term Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi in a few weeks...Democrats have a quality candidate in former Rep. Travis Childers. Childers represented the conservative northeastern portion of the state for a little more than two years in Congress, winning a special election and a general election in 2008 by reasonably solid margins. This has given Democrats some hope that they can claim the seat that Cochran wrested away from the Democrats in 1978...The best we can probably say of McDaniel is there are some danger signs for the GOP, but we will have to wait and see. But we should also ask: If he does “implode,” would it matter in Mississippi?... Mississippi is a conservative state. More importantly, it is a highly polarized state, where Democrats haven’t won a Senate or presidential race since 1982...Childers would have to fundamentally remake the political dynamics of the state to win. I won’t say that’s impossible, but it will be difficult....If Cochran had been unopposed in the primary, this race would probably be safely Republican. It isn’t anymore. With that said, it isn’t an automatic tossup either...Somewhere between 'Leans Republican' and 'Likely Republican' seems appropriate for now." [RCP]
Nate Cohn says no: "At first glance, President Obama’s strong performance in Mississippi, where he lost by just 11.5 percentage points in 2012, might suggest that the state is within striking distance for a strong Democrat against a Republican who may have weak appeal in the general election, like Mr. McDaniel. And Democrats have a potentially strong nominee, the former congressman Travis Childers. But there is no state more polarized than Mississippi. Eighty percent of voters are black or white evangelical Christian. And the problem for Democrats is that they’re on the wrong side of the ledger. In 2012, 50 percent of voters were white evangelical Christians, and they voted 95 percent for Mitt Romney. They form a nearly unbreakable bloc, and they’re augmented by the state’s deeply conservative non-evangelical white voters. Over all, Mr. Obama barely exceeded 10 percent of white voters, if at all." [NYTimes]
CENSUS FACES POSSIBLE TIGHTENED BUDGET - The Census budget is under attack once again. The Marketing Research Association raised the alarm in late May following efforts in the House of Representatives to make responses to the comprehensive American Community Survey voluntary instead of mandatory, and to set the Census Bureau's budget to $973 million, rather than the $1.211 billion proposed in President Obama's budget. The bureau's budget, which was $945 million for the 2014 fiscal year, was increased partially to help test new initiatives that could ultimately reduce the cost of conducting the Census. [Marketing Research Association here and here]
The cut proposed by the House "would cripple planning for the 2020 Census," Terri Ann Lowenthal of the Census Project, a Census advocacy group, told HuffPollster. "It's really puzzling how deep the cuts are at this point."
A proposal in the Senate, which goes up for an appropriations committee vote Thursday, calls for less steep cuts, coming in at about 5 percent below the Obama administration's proposed budget. Lowenthal said any cuts would come from a fund devoted to planning for the 2020 Census, as well as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the quinquennial Economic Census, and speculated that future Census planning would be likely be. "The risk Congress is taking is, it's trying to save money now," she said. "But to whatever degree the Census Department has to fall back on older, outdated counting methods, the cost of the Census down the road will go up."
POLLS SHOW PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR TRAILING - HuffPollster: "Democratic businessman Tom Wolf starts his challenge to embattled incumbent Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) with a lead of 20 points or more, according to polls conducted since Wolf handily won the May 20 Democratic primary. In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, Wolf leads Corbett by 53 percent to 33 percent, nearly unchanged from his margin in a February survey. Just 29 percent of voters rated Corbett favorably, and only 35 percent approve of his job as governor, with his cuts to education spending cited as one of the top reasons for disapproval….Two other surveys also show Wolf significantly ahead. An automated poll by the Democratic firm PPP gives Wolf a 25-point lead, 55 to 30 percent, over Corbett, while a second automated poll from Rasmussen finds Wolf ahead by 20 points." [HuffPost]
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WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-52 percent of Americans approve of General Shinseki's decision to resign as Secretary of the VA. [YouGov]
-Gallup's U.S. job creation index rises slightly above levels measured before the onset of the recession. [Gallup]
-Jonathan Bernstein argues that the results of Mississippi's first primary will serve as a wakeup call to mainstream GOP incumbents. [Bloomberg]
-Harry Enten finds that Democrats in Congress are more likely to use the phrase "climate change" than "global warming." 
-David Hill (R) sees national security as a potential wedge issue for Republicans. [The Hill]
-Mark Mellman (D) reports new evidence that isolationism is on the uprise. [The Hill]
-Philip Bump warns us to ignore early election returns. [WashPost]
-It sounds like the Boston Globe is going to be doing a lot of polling this Summer and Fall. [@CynthiaNeedham]
-The "assumptions" of statistical models, Andrew Gelman writes, "are the levers that allow us to move the world." [AndrewGelman.com]
-Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible is the word of God. [Gallup]
-The Secret Service wants to buy analytics software that can detect sarcasm on social media. [WashPost]