Michigan Republican Party (MRP) activists would support National Republican Committeeman, Dave AGEMA and Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE over incumbent Gov. Rick SNYDER in head-to-head matchups, according to the results of a survey conducted last week by the conservative grassroots group iCaucus.
In a head-to-head question, Agema received 42.34 percent support from the 744 Republican convention delegates and alternates from the last three MRP conventions. Snyder was at 32.39 percent and 25.27 percent were undecided.
Schuette was at 38.44 percent to Snyder's 31.85 percent. Another 29.70 percent were undecided. One Snyder consultant immediately lambasted the survey in a memo as not being "accurate or legitimate."
The survey, given a margin of error of 4.08 percent, found delegates would support Snyder over 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Gary GLENN (39.11 to 30.78 percent) former Senate Majority Leader Mike BISHOP (36.83 to 24.19 percent), former Congressman Pete HOEKSTRA (47.04 to 21.77 percent), former MRP Chair Betsy DeVOS (40.59 to 18.41 percent), former National Committeeman Keith BUTLER (38.98 to 11.29 percent).
None of the aforementioned politicos have expressed an interest in challenging the Governor in 2014. In fact, no Republican has said they will challenge Snyder, although Kevin HEINE, chief strategist for iCaucus Michigan, said Snyder is "clearly vulnerable" and that as a result of the survey he's been approached by someone about a quiet fundraising effort to unseat Snyder.
"All of this talk over the summer about whether the Governor should or shouldn't be primaried is missing the answer to a critical questions, which is whether or not he is even vulnerable," Heine said. "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."
However, the poll didn't survey "likely Republican voters," who would participate in an August 2014 primary. Rather, 47 percent of respondents identified themselves as conservative Republicans and 26 percent identified as "Libertarian Republicans." Another 16 percent were "Tea Party Republicans" with the rest identified as "Moderate or Liberal" Republicans.
This fact was not missed by one Snyder supporter who questioned the value of results for that reason. Snyder would not be re-nominated at a convention. He would be re-nominated at a ballot box, but Snyder's head-to-heads were done with convention goers.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY, who would be re-nominated at a convention, was not matched up with head to heads.
To that, Heine responded, "'Republican voters' are those who self-declare as such at the polls, so that's not necessarily a reliable definition. The delegates are a reliable measure of the party base, in addition to being reliable Republican voters."
This, among other reasons, spurred John YOB of Strategic National and consultant of the Governor's campaign, said his own survey has Calley up 30 points over his announced opponent.
"I appreciate Kevin's hard work in fighting for conservative principles and the great work iCaucus has done in vetting candidates over the past couple of years," Yob wrote. "However, their efforts in statistically significant survey research leave much to be desired."
Yob also questioned the survey's lead-in questions.
First, Republicans are asked to rate Snyder's first-term performance in office. Fifty-six percent approve, while 34 percent disapprove. Only 12 percent agreed (71 percent disagreed) with Snyder vetoing the expanded CCW bill. Thirteen percent agreed with Snyder "openly criticizing" the Senate Republican Caucus and "going to Republican senate districts to pressure the Senators to support Medicaid expansion."
On the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), 30 percent support the Snyder signing an executive agreement with Ontario while 58 percent opposed it.
Of those asked, 76 percent support the "Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, a citizen-initiated statute that seeks to override Governor Snyder's veto of a senate bill that would have required insurance coverage for abortions to be by optional rider only." Only 8 percent oppose the Michigan Right to Life-led effort.
Following those lead-in questions, the "money" question asked was, "In your opinion, does Governor Snyder's agenda and record invite a primary challenge to his re-nomination in 2014?"
Of that 48 percent said yes, 39 percent said no and the rest were unsure.
When the same question was asked for Calley, 40 percent said yes while 35 percent said no.
Heine said that given that there's a declared challenger to Calley, Wes NAKAGIRI, a follow-up poll is called for.
Interestingly, Heine once worked for Strategic National, but has not worked with the firm since December. He has been with iCaucus since the summer. Yob called Heine "a tremendous activist" and iCaucus "an important resource."
However, he said anytime a survey is put out by a branded organization, those sympathetic to that organization are more likely to respond. He also questioned doing a survey over e-mail because it presents a flawed sample in terms of randomness.
Finally, he said the final question asks respondents if Snyder or Calley "invited" an opponent through their policies, which is not the same thing as whether you support a candidate.
"It is very possible that you think someone 'invited' an opponent, but still choose to vote for him or her," Yob wrote. "Most delegates will come to the conclusion that Brain Calley is a conservative voice in the administration and nominating another candidate could risk moving the administration toward less conservative policy."
Right. When you've got no better argument, attack the credibility of of survey. The last I checked, the convention delegation pool absolutely qualifies as "likely Republican voters" by definition. Also, because they're in the delegation pool, we know for a fact that these are actual Republican voters, as opposed to "Operation Schwartz" republican voters who cross over from the democrat ranks on primary day, because they've nothing better to do than to contaminate the republican primary results.
I can tell you for a fact (because I actually reviewed the crosstabs in detail before publishing the press release) that no more than a quarter of the respondents could be considered as sympathetic to the iCaucus brand, and that was supplemented by the feedback we received from the respondents (which I also reviewed). John also conveniently forgets to mention that I learned from him (and the operations staff at Strategic National) how to conduct these surveys, as well as the little fact that his counter-survey was conducted using e-mail link polling. Nor do I see any mention of any of the other questions that the survey was testing. Is this because they essentially confirm the iCaucus survey results?
No, Snyder won't be nominated at a party convention, but the same delegation pool that Mr. Yob just dismissed as irrelevant in next year's primary election will be the very people who state party will be counting on to drive turnout both in August and November of next year. We have a pretty good idea of what they think of the current ticket.