The Public Policy Institute of California came out with its last pre-primary poll confirming that the Whitman-Poizner Republican gubernatorial race has closed considerably over the last two months. Whitman holds a 9-point lead over Poizner, including leading across the board in all demographic categories. Her lead has dropped dramatically since the March PPIC poll, which had Whitman ahead by 50-points.
The poll covered a lot of ground not only dealing with primary candidate races, but also potential match-ups in the general election, proposition campaigns and peeks ahead at proposition battles for November.
You can read more about all the poll results here.
But, let’s focus on the poll’s snapshot of the Republican governor’s race.
On Monday, the Small Business Action Committee and M4 Strategies issued a poll that showed Whitman leading Poizner by 17-points. That poll was dismissed by some; the guys at Calbuzz slapped us pretty hard, yesterday.
The question is, did the SBAC/M4 poll miss the standing of the campaigns or, perhaps, catch a shift in momentum?
Consider these facts. The PPIC poll ran from May 9 to May 16. The M4 poll started later, May 12, and also ended on the 16th, but skipped Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th.
The PPIC poll, while interviewing a couple of thousand people for all their questions, actually had a smaller sample than the SBAC/M4 poll on Republican primary races. M4 Strategies interviewed 600 actual high propensity Republican voters; PPIC interviewed 411 voters who stated that they were high propensity Republican voters.
The M4 poll had a margin of error of 4%; the PPIC poll for the Republican primary races had a margin of error of 5%. Thus, the two polls’ results could overlap within those margins of error.
SBAC/M4 may be measuring a momentum shift in the race.
Clearly, Steve Poizner had the momentum for quite a while, dramatically closing a 50-point gap.
However, the Survey USA poll showed Poizner within two points of Whitman on May 10. The PPIC poll, which started the day before and ran for a week, had Whitman leading by 9. The M4 Strategies poll, which started a couple of days later recorded Whitman’s lead at 17-points, the margin of error could mean 13 points. That is not unreasonable, especially, as Mark Baldassare, PPIC’s president and the chief of the organization’s polling noted, "This election is very much in flux."
What strengthens the momentum argument are the daily returns gathered by the M4 poll. Chris St. Hilaire, who oversees the poll for M4 Strategies, points out that Whitman gained strength over the course of the poll. The first day of the poll, Whitman’s lead was the same as what PPIC had at 9-percent. Her lead grew a couple of points the next day and after the two day layoff, when the poll resumed on Sunday, May 16, she gained an additional 5-percent.
Did the SBAC/M4 poll, being the latest poll in the field, catch a momentum shift? The next poll will probably tell us.