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September 01, 2011

Screwy Poll? Perry Leads Obama, All Other Candidates (Including Romney) Trail Him
Update: Not Such A Screwy Poll At All

FYI, I think this poll is off. Polls have repeatedly shown that Romney is very competitive with Obama -- in fact, he's been the most competitive, beating him in the most polls, and by the largest margins.

A new Rasmussen poll seems to be a very Obama friendly one, as Perry just squeaks him 44-41, and Romney loses, 43-39.

Update: In the original post, I doubted this finding, because other polls put Romney ahead of Obama.

But Rasmussen never has. Prior to this poll, Rasmussen -- oddly, Republican-leaning Rasmussen -- has always had Obama ahead in head-to-head match-ups, against any candidate, except, apparently, for a period earlier in the year, where Romney edged Obama:

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney currently trails the president by four percentage points, 43% to 39%. That’s a slight improvement for the Republican compared to a week ago. Earlier in the year, Romney held a one-point edge when matched against the president. Prior to today’s release, that was the only time a named Republican has held any kind of lead over President Obama.

So this doesn't seem to be a "screwy poll" from Rasmussen per se; Rasmussen has consistently shown an edge for Obama, for whatever reason. This poll is not inconsistent, then, with previous Rasmussen polls -- although it is different from the findings of other polls.

Not sure why Rasmussen shows Obama performing generally better than more liberal-leaning polls do. I hope Rasmussen is wrong, for once.

Thanks to tasker for pointing that out. As my previous belief that this poll must just be a bum finding seems wrong, or wrong-ish, I've cut my previous argument about that and put it in the "continue reading" section.


Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann is running an ad against Perry, stating that he "doubled" state spending in ten years, and his latest budget isn't balanced.

I can't spin that because I don't know Perry's response. Texas has grown in ten years, but its population sure hasn't doubled. One big cost -- spending more on schools -- was court ordered, with the government directed to simply come up with funding options, but I don't know how much that actually contributed to government spending.

This is a point JackStraw makes about Perry vs. Romney, frustratedly, and sometimes angrily: That Romney's flaws are widely known and hence baked in the cake, whereas each new White Knight candidate has flaws (as they all do) that we just know about yet.

That's mostly true but also not true to an important extent: Actually, we don't know all the flaws of Romney yet, because, for example, we haven't looked at his job growth or GDP growth under his tenure very carefully yet.

The same for Bachmann, too. We know many of her drawbacks (like, she's only been in Congress since 2007, and then decided to run for president four years later, without even any leadership experience in a deliberative body containing hundreds of nonentities). But all of them...? I don't know.

Coulter has a neat point. She says that in a conservative state like Texas, where a conservative governor should in theory be capable of pursuing a perfectly conservative agenda, there is "no room for error," that is, no excuses to be made for Perry. She contrasts this with a blue state governor, such as her crush-groove Chris Christie or Romney, who governed in a hostile liberal environment, and whose deviations from conservative doctrine can be excused... to some extent.

It's not as black and white, or red and blue, as Coulter's formulation has it, though. There are liberals in Texas; elections are won 55-45 or 60-40 in a blowout, not 80-20 or 90-10. Furthermore, many alleged conservatives vote Republican and say they want limited government, but actually like government spending, so long as it flows into their pockets.

There are a lot of very inconsistent Republicans who define government spending on anyone else as creeping socialism but define spending on themselves as... well, not government spending. Just good old fashioned common sense.

Texas is a majority Republican state; I don't know if it's truly a fiscal-conservative majority state. I'm not sure we have any of those.

I don't know what Perry will say about the spending. I suppose we soon will.

Club For Growth: Actually, Perry's Record For Restraining Spending Is "Excellent:" This is Club for Growth, an organization which has only two main issues: taxes, and spending.

On spending, they say Perry did a good job holding the line:

Governor Perry’s record on spending generally reveals fiscally conservative tendencies and a commitment to reducing the size of government that are in tune with the conservative nature of a state like Texas. However, Perry has also created well-intentioned, but misguided state-funded subsidy programs to attract corporations to Texas that again indicate that Perry doesn’t necessarily fully rely on free-market principles when he makes economic decisions...

Well... that's his poaching-companies-from-other-states thing. I don't know if this is "misguided," myself. He did bring a lot of employers to Texas from other states.

Either way, he won't be able to do that as President, obviously.

State spending grew from $30 billion in FY2002, the first half of the biennium budget passed under Perry, to $39.4 billion in FY2010, a 31% increase in nominal terms over the nine years. However, when looking at Texas’s spending on an annualized basis, spending increased an average of 3.9% per year, which is excellent compared to the state’s average annual population plus inflation growth rate of 4.2% over the same time period.

So spending actually grew more slowly than population growth plus inflation. And Club for Growth rates that as "excellent."

One reason for the slow growth of state spending was because Governor Perry made frequent use of his veto power. Another is the existence of a conservative Texas legislature. During his tenure as Governor, Perry vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spending, perhaps even a lot more. It is important to note that it is difficult to give Perry credit for a specific dollar amount of vetoes due to the complexities of the Texas budget process. Some of the Governor’s vetoes were on spending bills contingent on bills previously struck down by Perry. Other vetoes killed legislative language from budget bills which authorized spending from separate bills that never passed. Regardless, a review suggests that Perry did aggressively look to cut spending with his veto pen.

I'm not sure where Bachmann gets her "doubled" spending claim. FWIW, I don't think this is a "lie" -- I think there are different ways to calculate this, and I have heard claims such as hers elsewhere. I think she probably has a good-faith basis to make a "doubled" claim, but Club for Growth -- a disinterested party -- doesn't seem to credit whatever method of accounting she's using to get to a "doubled" claim.

Thanks to Kratos for the Club for Growth tip.

Perry's Borrowing: This is sort of odd. Texas has $6 billion in a Rainy Day Fund, and you'd think that in the worst recession since the Depression (or a second Depression), they'd decide... "It's raining."

But Texas has decided to keep the Rainy Day Fund funded.

So while Texas borrows to make up gaps in the debt, they actually still have that $6 billion Rainy Day Fund.

But apparently in two years, they will have to tap most of that fund, based on current budgeting:

Heading into the legislative session, the governor made keeping the fund under lock during the forthcoming budget battle the 11th commandment for fiscal conservatives. The Legislature, flush with a newly obtained supermajority in the House, followed his lead. Both chambers employed two core arguments to swat down proposal after proposal from Democrats to use the money to shore up government services: that the governor would veto any bill using the Rainy Day Fund in the upcoming budget, and that the money was already obligated.

The shortfall, according to the article, is mostly due to Medicaid spending increases (mandated by the government, plus the general out-of-control nature of Medicaid). Depending on how Medicaid actually shakes out, a legislator says.

Democrats are complaining that teachers are losing their jobs as the Rainy Day Fund remains a protected political pool of money, so it doesn't seem like Perry's going spending-crazy here.

Original Argument That This Poll Was Likely In Error:

Romney has suffered no big bad news that I can remember. His biggest stumble was the poorly-worded negative-ad-bait "Corporations are people, my friend," but I can't imagine that took 10 points off his polling. I don't think there has been any widely-seen negative ad about it-- it's just the sort of thing liberal bloggers pounce on, and their readers were not going to vote for Romney anyway.

Some populist conservatives might not have liked the statement, but 10 points' worth? Doubtful.

The only explanation I can think of is that Romney had been considered a place-holder, a generic Republican who just happened to have a name, and so polled the best, and now that many conservatives have found a candidate they prefer, Romney's support (which wasn't real support) fell.

But I don't believe that explanation. There's a much more attractive one: This poll, like one in 20 polls, is simply wrong. Mathematically, polls are at 95% confidence to be within the margin of error; that means 5% of time they'll be outside it, and sometimes way outside it.

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posted by Ace at 12:26 PM

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