Rasmussen: The National Mood
Mon October 2, 2006 8:55 am

Rasmussen has an interesting poll, not about specific races but about the general mood of the electorate. The surveys took place from mid-August to mid-September and involved 500 voters in 22 key states. This is a public opinion survey; I saw no indication that the field of respondents was restricted to registered or likely voters. These polls offer indications that might be important in the midterm elections. I say “might” because of the saying that “all politics is local.” Even as Oklahoma leads the nation in optimism about the war and the economy, its Democratic governor is a shoo-in for reelection.

The most optimistic states about whether America is winning the war on terror:
Oklahoma 59%
Texas 51%
Virginia 51%
Florida 48%
It’s no coincidence that two of the four have had governors named Bush.

The states with the least confidence that America is winning were:
Washington (39%)
Connecticut (39%)
New Jersey (36%)
You can see the problem Joseph Lieberman has in getting reelected to the Senate from Connecticut. He supports President Bush in the war, which the president says is crucial to winning the war on terrorism, in a state where there is little confidence in the results of the president’s war policies.

Other questions asked of voters in 22 states three questions: (1) Who do you trust more on the issue of the war in Iraq and national security, Bush or the Democrats? (2) Who do you trust more on the economy, Bush or the Democrats? (3) How would you rate the economy these days?

In nine of the 22 states, voters trust Bush more than the Democrats on the war/national security. Once again Oklahoma (59%) and Texas (53%) lead the parade. In four of the nine, however, Bush’s margin was a statistically insignificant one point. In states with crucial Senate races in which Republicans face strong Democratic challengers, Missouri favored Bush by two points (46-44), Virginia by one (46-45), and Ohio was a dead tie (44-44). In Pennsylvania, however, Democrats had a nine point edge in trust (42-51).

In trust on the economy, Bush fared better than the Democrats in only four states. Oklahoma (56%/38%) and Texas (50%/38%) gave Bush had a clear lead. In South Carolina and Tennessee, Bush had identical 46-44 leads. That Tennessee is swimming against the national current is important because of a close Senate race to succeed Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is not seeking reelection.

Oklahoma and Texas also had the rosiest view of their state’s economies. In both states, 47% of respondents described the economy as “excellent” or “good,” while 43% said “fair” or “poor.” Oklahoma had by far the highest proportion of “excellent” responses (21%). I was going to make a snide comment about Oklahoma here, but I thought I would do some research first; sure enough, Oklahoma State University’s “Economic Outlook Update” says that Oklahoma ranked third among states in personal income growth during the first quarter of the year, with the Southwest region leading the nation. This makes a big difference in a state that ranked 39th in average personal income in 2005. What the two states have in common, of course, is oil, and the price of crude is probably a lot more important in Oklahoma than it is in a more economically diversified Texas.

In none of the 22 states did respondents view the economy in a favorable light. Of the states with close Senate races, Ohio had the most pessimistic view: 28% “excellent” or “good,” 72% “fair” or “poor.” Here’s how the other key states in the race for control of the Senate fared:

Missouri: 34% favorable, 66% unfavorable
New Jersey: 36% favorable, 63% unfavorable
Pennsylvania: 37% favorable, 64% unfavorable
Tennessee: 42% favorable, 56% unfavorable
Virginia: 41% favorable, 58% unfavorable

Montana and Rhode Island, two other states where Republican incumbents are in close races, were not included in the poll.

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