When was the last time a sitting Republican governor of Michigan was subjected to a primary?
Truthfully, I am not sure if it has ever happened. In 2014 it would likely succeed, according to polling by iCaucus that was completed on Friday and finalized this weekend. The scientific polling was done over a week targeting a specific group that will decide who is the GOP flag bearer going forward; active, educated and engaged republican delegates.
As a foreshadowing through early results had revealed, there is little question of where folks are at this point in time, and on the eve of Snyder signing Obamacare capitulation into law in Michigan. The polling shows Rick Snyder in disfavor with delegates, and unwelcome to nearly half. Less than 40% would NOT like to see a primary challenge.
Not surprisingly to this writer, the results are not as clear with Lt Governor Brian Calley, who has results that are within the margin of error. Outside of the polling there is a sense that many conservatives still find the problem to be with the governor himself, and Calley to be more incidental and possibly holding the governor to more conservative positions than he would be otherwise.
This might be the case, and might be seen as an additional reason to oust the governor who requires such 'care'.
Continued with SO MUCH MORE below the fold.
iCaucus released a press release this evening, with a complete breakdown and analysis.
I have been fortunate to have received a few updates as the results came in. Now it is complete and being made available for further analysis by those who use this data.
Survey Reveals Snyder and Calley Vulnerable to August 2014 Ouster
CEDAR SPRINGS - A statewide survey conducted in Michigan last week shows Governor Rick Snyder to be "clearly vulnerable" and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley to be "likely vulnerable" to being removed from the 2014 Michigan Republican ticket instead of re-nomination for a second term, according to Kevin Heine, Chief Strategist for iCaucus Michigan. This survey was paid for by iCaucus (a private, non-profit corporation headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming), and is not associated with any sitting elected official, any known or potential candidate for the 2014 election cycle, or any political party.
The survey sample consisted of 744 republican convention delegates and alternates, and was drawn from the master delegation lists for the last three Michigan Republican Party state conventions (May 2012, September 2012, and February 2013). This is the same delegation pool that elected Dave Agema as National Committeeman by a 7-to-3 margin, but also reelected Bobby Schostak as State Chairman (though by the much smaller margin of 3.86%). The survey was conducted during the timeframe of August 26th thru 30th, used email-link polling, and has a margin of error of ±4.08% at the 95% confidence level. (The survey sample includes 29 respondents from a test run conducted during the previous week.)
The impetus for the survey, according to Heine, was three things: First, an unconfirmed but very persistent rumor (circulating since early February) that multiple large-dollar donors to the state party have been approaching Chairman Bobby Schostak and threatening to withhold their regular contributions unless Snyder is replaced as the gubernatorial nominee. Second, the recent recommendation by the MIGOP Policy Committee to change the convention rules in a way perceived to favor incumbents and establishment favorites. And, third, the discussions over the past summer regarding potential challenges to the re-nomination of both Snyder and Calley.
Regarding the rumor, Heine said, "That isn't going to bother Snyder, because he's known for being able to self-fund; but if it's true, that has some really nasty down-ballot implications." Regarding the proposed rules change, Heine said, "This creates the public perception that the party's elites are maneuvering to box out the grassroots activists that they're going to need during next year's general campaign. We saw that happen during the Michigan Dele-Gate Fiasco last year, and I remember that one not ending well for a major player in the party establishment."
Heine had already addressed the ouster discussions last week in an interview with Kyle Melinn of MIRS, saying, "All of this talk over the summer about whether the Governor should or shouldn't be primaried is missing the answer to a critical question, which is whether or not he is even vulnerable. The dust up with the Medicaid expansion and everything else has ticked off the Tea Party movement, the liberty caucus, the grassroots, basically everyone not in the old guard of the party."
The reason for choosing the convention delegation pool as the population to be sampled, Heine said, is because, "These are people who are known to be informed, engaged, and motivated republican primary voters. They're also, for the most part, republican opinion leaders within their respective congressional districts. When they explain their rationale for how they intend to vote, it reflects that they've done their own research homework and formed an opinion largely independent of the party apparatus and mass-media advertising."
Respondents were asked to self-identify as "Conservative Republican" (46.91% of the total responses), "Liberal Republican" (1.75%), "Libertarian Republican" (26.48%), "Moderate Republican" (9.27%), or "Tea Party Republican" (15.59%), and then to offer an overall approval rating for Governor Snyder's first term. The approve/disapprove rating was gauged using a sliding nine-point scale, where 9 was rated as "absolute approval," 1 was rated as "absolute disapproval," and 5 was considered "neither."
Questions were asked about specific elements of Governor Snyder's first-term record, such as: budget matters, bills that he has signed into law as well as ones he has vetoed, state implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and his executive agreement regarding the NITC. Following these questions, respondents were asked to gauge whether Governor Snyder's first-term record (and by extension, Lieutenant Governor Calley's) invites a primary challenge.
The final section of the survey asked respondents to test Governor Snyder's viability against a few hypothetical primary challengers.
According to Heine, the sliding scale approach to gauging Snyder's approval rating provides a few advantages over the "deceptive dichotomy" of a simple approve/disapprove response option. "The only thing that the typical method does is provide a head count of how many people chose an option other than indifference. We still did that with this approach, but the average response - not even a half-point above the scale midpoint - indicates that, while a majority of the respondents approve of the governor's first-term record, that approval should be understood to be only barely so.
The other advantage of the sliding scale approach, Heine said, is that it provided a reality check to the baseline margin of error. "At a 95% confidence level, the response deviation (a measure of how much variation exists from the response mean) should be between 1.96 and 1.98. Here we have a full quarter-point above what we should have seen, so we adjusted the baseline margin of error (±3.63%) to account for that.
Following the approval rating, iCaucus asked six questions on specific aspects of Snyder's first-term record, tied either directly or indirectly to either the governor's positions on or actions regarding each issue. "It's interesting that, while a generic approval rating question produces considerable diffusion of opinion, questions on specifics coalesce opinion pretty reliably," Heine observed. "I mean, the average split across all six questions is just shy of 52 points, and the only one where Snyder receives favorable treatment is on acts that he's signed into law."
The "money questions" of the survey, according to Heine, were the two that asked whether the records of Snyder and Calley could be interpreted as inviting challenges to their as-yet-unannounced re-nomination bids. 48.39% of respondents agreed that a primary challenge to Snyder was warranted and reasonable, while 39.65% of those same respondents held the same opinion regarding Calley being challenged at convention. 38.71% of the respondents believed that a primary challenge to Snyder would be unwise or ill-advised, and 35.08% said the same thing regarding challenging Calley. The balance of the opinion on each question was unsure.
"We ran a ballot lead analysis on these questions," Heine noted, "and concluded that there's an 11% probability that the `oust vs. keep' split on Calley can be explained by sampling error. There is zero probability of the split regarding Snyder being so explained."
Of the seven hypothetical primary challengers offered by the survey (Dave Agema, Mike Bishop, Keith Butler, Betsy DeVos, Gary Glenn, Pete Hoekstra, and Bill Schuette), only Agema and Schuette polled better than Snyder:
Rick Snyder - 32.39%
Dave Agema - 42.34%
Undecided - 25.27%
Rick Snyder - 31.85%
Bill Schuette - 38.44%
Undecided - 29.70%
Of the other five, Glenn was the trailer who polled closest to Snyder (Snyder - 39.11% / Glenn - 30.78% / Undecided - 30.11%), and the Snyder-Butler head-to-head was dominated by the undecided opinion bloc.
"We also ran a ballot lead analysis on the Snyder-Agema and Snyder-Schuette matchups, and saw a 4% probability that Schuette's lead can be explained by sampling error. The probability of sampling error explaining Agema's lead is zero," Heine said.
Heine noted that not everyone who responded was included in the final cross-tabulation. "When we pulled the final crosstabs shortly before midnight Friday, we had 914 individual records, including a handful that had responded using bogus names or who weren't on the master delegation list (which we therefore excluded from our calculations). But we noticed that not everyone had answered every question, and we didn't see ourselves as obligated to accept incomplete work. Also, even though the survey nominally ended at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, we saw that responses were continuing to trickle in until about ten minutes before midnight, so we held off on pulling the final crosstabs in order to accommodate those late responses. Ultimately, 744 state convention delegates answered every question during the time the survey was live, and those were the responses we used in writing this report."
Heine concluded by noting that he needed to make one correction on the record. "The closing note to our survey, where we asked for feedback from the respondents, provided an incorrect date as the filing deadline to run for Precinct Delegate next year. The correct date, provided by one of our respondents, is Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 (having been changed by a law passed last year). I assume that applies to the rest of the partisan primary races, as well, but I haven't yet looked up the law for myself yet. Those wishing to run for publicly elected office next year (including Precinct Delegate) should probably take note."
A detailed report, which will include a district-by-district breakdown of the survey results, is due out later this week.
And we will make sure to get it out as soon as it is available.
These results show only two of the hypothetical challengers with margins sufficient to unseat Rick Snyder in a primary at this point. However, the underlying message is that Republicans are not happy with the direction Snyder is dragging the party. It seems nearly ANY properly financed contender with the abilty to deliver a conservative Republican message would clean his clock in a one-on-one contest.
In the meantime, it might be interesting to speculate on some possible media pieces based on simply the hypothetical of those results.