Monday, July 26, 2010

Congressman Jim Cooper is Vulnerable to Defeat

The Jeff Hartline for Congress campaign today released the results of a poll showing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, incumbent Congressman Jim Cooper is highly vulnerable to defeat this election cycle. The accompanying press release from Hartline for Congress makes the augment that Jeff Hartline is the only Republican candidate able to raise the funds to mount a serious general election campaign.

Regardless of which candidate you support, this memo is good news. We can beat Jim Cooper!

I have run into naysayers who say that we are wasting our time and that Cooper is unbeatable. A former member of the Davidson County Republican Party Executive Committee recently made this augment in response to a proposal posted on the 9-12 Project Nashville list serv. The proposal was to purchase anti Jim Cooper bill boards at prominent locations in Nashville and this former DCRP member discouraged this saying, "Jim Cooper is not beatable at this time." He went on to say, " this money is still better spent against a vulnerable liberal/Democrat or for an open seat in a swing district." And, "please don't waste your money on things that are not going to be fruitful and produce results. That would be a tragedy." This naysayer listed his degree in marketing to add weight to his advice.

Wilson Research Strategies is the firm that conducted the poll showing Jim Cooper is venerable. WSR is a reputable public relations firm and has done work for over 100 of the Fortune 500 and been involved in work for over 100 current and former members of Congress. Chris Wilson, the CEO, has an extensive background in campaign strategy, political media, and message development. He has an extensive background in polling and consulting prior to starting his own firm. The analysis from WRS is not just wishful thinking.

I am not certain that we can beat Jim Cooper. In politics one can never be certain but I am convinced that Cooper is vulnerable. I think that our candidate must present an alternative to the liberalism of Jim Cooper without coming off as extreme and our candidate needs to come out of the primary without having been bloodied excessively in the process and Republicans must open their wallet and fund our candidate. With the right message and money, I think we can beat Jim Cooper.

Below is the Wilson Research Strategies memo. The highlighting is mine.

DATE: APRIL 26, 2010

This memo summarizes key findings from a poll of 300 likely general election voters in Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District conducted March 22-23, 2010.

Key Findings

 Voters in the 5th District are actively seeking an alternative to Jim Cooper.
o Only 23% of voters are willing to re-elect Jim Cooper regardless of who runs against him.

WRS has found that incumbents who fail to achieve 30% on this measure tend to lose on Election Day.
o More voters (25%) would vote to replace Cooper regardless of who his opponent was than are willing to commit to re-electing him.

 Cooper can’t even manage a majority of the vote against a virtually-unknown
o Only 48% of voters say they would vote for Jim Cooper against a Republican candidate with almost no name identification.

With nothing to inform their decision other than their feelings about Cooper, less than half of voters are willing to support him.
o The effectively “generic” Republican draws 33% of the vote—as sign of how pro-Republican this year may be and a further danger sign for Cooper.

The more voters learn about Jim Cooper, the less they like him.
o After voters hear about Cooper’s healthcare vote, his vote for the Obama spending bill, and his cap-and trade vote only 38% would vote for him.
o In particular, voters cited Cooper’s vote for healthcare (38%) and his record of voting with Washington liberals in spite of his claims of being a “blue dog” (24%) as the source of their hesitation to re-elect Cooper.

Cooper’s hypocrisy in saying he is a “blue dog” at home and voting like a Washington liberal in Congress is a powerful and damning narrative once voters hear it. A campaign with the resources to push that message has a high probability of success.

Jim Cooper is that most common of species this year—an endangered Democrat. Cooper’s many liberal votes are enough to submarine his “blue dog” image and give a Republican an opening to capture the 5th District.

If Jeff Hartline can get his message out to Tennessee voters and rebut the desperate attacks that both Cooper and the Washington Democratic establishment are sure to launch against him, he has a clear path to victory in November.

Wilson Research Strategies conducted a research study of likely general election voters in Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District. Respondents were contacted by phone via a live telephone operator interview March 22-23, 2010. The study has a sample size of n=300 likely general election voters. The margin of error is equal to ±5.7% in 95 out of 100 cases. The sample was stratified to represent the district electorate based on race, age, gender, partisan identification, and geographic distribution.

About Wilson Research Strategies
Since 1998, WRS has been a leading provider of political polling for campaigns from Mayor and City Council to Governor and U.S. Senate in 47 states and several foreign countries. In 2007-2008 alone, WRS conducted polling in 252 races for campaigns, caucuses and independent expenditures efforts.

In addition to our political and policy research, WRS provides donor research to Christian and other not-for-profits and alumni research to colleges and universities. More than 200 Christian and other not-for-profit organizations around the country and dozens of large and small colleges and universities have relied on WRS’s data and analysis.

WRS’s corporate research arm has provided market research to more than 100 of the Fortune 500 and to hundreds of small and medium businesses nationwide.

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