An analyst interested in the "campaign effects don't really matter" page of political science would likely suggest that Allen's mistake did not initially affect the race much. Allen continued to lead the polls until mid-October when Webb started to improve. Webb was consistently in the single digits of Allen in late August, but it's possible this was one of those races with long lines that slowly converged and they only converged just before Election Day, which would have happened anyway without gaffing, just because of the Republican outlook declined sharply in October 2006 across the country.
Regardless of whether this is true or not, the media coverage of Allen changed dramatically afterward, moving from being a confident incumbent to one who didn't grapple with his demographically changed condition. This change in media coverage, you might say, created an approval structure where more voters in Virginia were suddenly open to break with tradition and consider a Democrat like Webb.
That brings us to Georgia in 2020, another southern state with a growing number of well-educated suburban voters who seem to be on the same precipice as Virginia a decade ago. Perdue's racist gaffe, at first glance, seems to have the same effect. It has already changed a bit the way Perdue appears in the media and is likely to lead to some "Is this really what we want the face of our state to be?" to lead. among swing voters. However … there is one big difference here and that is that this incident occurs in mid-October, not mid-August. So there is much less time to have such internal discussions.
But – and this goes back to my original point – it may not ultimately matter whether or not this incident in Georgia actually happened in terms of the bottom line. Perdue's line and that of his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff came together months ago, pretty much as soon as the Democratic primary was over. This was already an extremely close race and, given the little time remaining, will continue to be an extremely close race where the real story is simply Georgia reaching a turning point where more colored people than highly educated white suburbanites outnumber the rest State.
Another factor is that there is actually a much more negative partisan polarization than in 2006; In other words, “breaking news” stories like this just move the needle less than the '00s (and certainly less than the 1980s or' 90s when a lot more people were willing to split tickets) because more people are firmly in the camp of one or the other party and cannot be convinced by the failure of one or the other candidate, because they already mainly pay attention to which party the candidates belong to. A great example of this is the only other “holy crap !!” story that surfaced recently in a Senate race and that is the leak of adulterous-sounding lyrics by North Carolina challenger Cal Cunningham.
Enough time has passed in North Carolina before it emerged that what might have looked like a bombshell once you woke up from a decades-long coma turned out to be largely non-citizens. Enough time has passed for that story to be fully reflected in the polls, and Cunningham's lead over Republican incumbent Thom Tillis is now six points, almost unchanged from history. Voters made up their minds about Tillis months ago, and new information telling a candidate's character doesn't really change the equation. Just like in Georgia, the real story in North Carolina is that it's at a similar demographic tipping point where the old Republican coalition no longer has a majority (partly because suburbanites move to Democrats, partly just because who is) move into the state who joins the electorate and who dies).
In any case, this is all a lengthy way of saying, “We don't know yet if the polls in Georgia will have changed. You will have to wait a week or two to really know.” Perdue's mistake was only a couple of times ago Days, so it will likely be almost a week before we see polls with all field data after last Friday. If you look at our Georgia averages without thinking deeply about the field data, you might think that Perdue actually benefited from this incident as it narrowly pulled back to the top in Georgia! (When actually every survey on our average was completed prior to the Friday incident.)
Perdue is currently up two points in our averages, compared to Ossoff's one point a week ago. Of the seven polls released this week, Ossoff led in three while Perdue led in four, with Perdue's largest lead (plus 8 in a University of Georgia poll) slightly larger than Ossoff's largest lead among them (plus 6 in a Quinnipiac poll). , that explains the change in position. This is all within the margin of error, and if you'd rather it be just "dead heat" or "near-tie" or whatever other media euphemism you like, please do so. (Just don't call it "statistical binding." It's not a thing.)
Let's see how the rest of the "Totem Pole" is doing this week:
Another race that has caused heartburn for the Democrats in recent weeks is Michigan, where Gary Peters is probably the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent (with the exception of Doug Jones in Alabama, who is more on the "possibly extinct" level). This week, Peters is on average eight points ahead of Republican opponent John James. And that despite a poll from Siena for the New York Times that found Peters' leadership at only one point. This was countered by a large number of surveys by competent but less touted pollsters such as Ipsos and Morning Consult, who found the race in the high single digits.
Don't get too comfortable, though, because another Trafalgar survey, conducted on Sunday, will soon be available in our database and will bring its average back down a bit. This, in turn, helps to add to my frequent nagging: If the polls shift in a race, it's often not because something big is happening in the race, but rather because of which pollers popped up that week and which models and which Models they have house prejudices look like.