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Monmouth University Polling Institute

U.S. Senate & Congress

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Democrats hold big leads in both races; O’Donnell unqualified for Senate

In the election for U.S. Senator from Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons holds a 19 point lead over Republican Christine O'Donnell.  The Monmouth University Poll  also finds that the majority of likely voters in the Diamond State feel that O'Donnell is not qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Among likely voters, 57% say they will vote for Coons compared to 38% who support O'Donnell.  While the race is basically tied in the southern part of the state (i.e. Kent and Sussex counties) - 46% for Coons to 47% for O'Donnell, the Democrat holds an overwhelming 63% to 33% advantage in New Castle County.

Coons is viewed favorably by 50% of the electorate and unfavorably by 33%.  By comparison, O'Donnell has an upside down personal rating of 31% favorable to 58% unfavorable.  The difference is even more stark when the question involves the candidates' qualifications to serve.  While nearly 2-in-3 (64%) likely Delaware voters say Coons is qualified to be a U.S. Senator, only 1-in-3 (35%) say the same of O'Donnell.  Fully 57% say she is unqualified for the job.

Delaware voters' opinion of O'Donnell is in sharp contrast to their view of her GOP primary opponent, outgoing Congressman Mike Castle.  Likely Delaware voters give Castle a positive 56% favorable to 29% unfavorable rating.  Among that group of voters with a favorable opinion of Castle, most say they intend to vote for Coons (74%) rather than O'Donnell (20%).

"What looked like a probable Senate pick-up for Republicans has quickly slipped from their grasp.  In fact, with Mike Castle off the ballot for the first time in years, Delaware may provide one of the only opportunities for Democrats to flip a House seat this year," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll finds Democrat John Carney holding a 53% to 44% lead over Republican Glen Urquhart in the race to fill Castle's House seat.  Carney has a 58% to 40% advantage in New Castle County, while Urquhart has a 51% to 45% edge in Kent and Sussex.

The Delaware House candidates are less well-known than the Senate candidates.  Carney has a 49% favorable to 24% unfavorable rating, with 27% offering no opinion.  Urquhart has a 36% favorable to 25% unfavorable rating, with 39% offering no opinion.

Although Delaware voters have a slight preference for seeing the Republicans (45%) rather than the Democrats (41%) in charge of Congress next year, they tend to hold a negative view of both parties - 40% favorable to 52% unfavorable for the GOP and 43% favorable to 50% unfavorable for the Democratic Party.  The Tea Party movement also gets a net negative rating of 36% favorable to 57% unfavorable.

The poll also found President Barack Obama with an upside down job performance rating among likely voters in Delaware - 44% approve to 50% disapprove.

The Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by automated telephone interviewing with 790 likely voters from October 8 to 11, 2010.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     If the election for United States Senator from Delaware were today, would you vote for Christine O’Donnell the Republican, Chris Coons the Democrat, or some other candidate?   [At this moment, do you lean toward Christine O’Donnell or lean toward Chris Coons?]  [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

2.     If the election for United States House of Representatives from Delaware were today, would you vote for Glen Urquhart the Republican, John Carney the Democrat, or some other candidate? [At this moment, do you lean toward Glen Urquhart or John Carney?] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]


3.     Is your general opinion of Christine O’Donnell favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of Christine O’Donnell?  

4.     Is your general opinion of Chris Coons favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of Chris Coons?


5.     Is your general opinion of Glen Urquhart favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of Glen Urquhart?

6.     Is your general opinion of John Carney favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of John Carney?

7.     Is your general opinion of Mike Castle favorable, unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of Mike Castle?


8.     Is Christine O’Donnell qualified or unqualified to be a United States Senator?

9.     Is Chris Coons qualified or unqualified to be a United States Senator?

10.   Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?

11.   Who would you rather see in control of Congress next year – the Democrats, the Republicans, or does it make no difference?


12.   Is your general opinion of the Democratic party favorable or unfavorable?  

13.   Is your general opinion of the Republican party favorable or unfavorable?

14.   Is your general opinion of the Tea Party movement favorable or unfavorable?

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.  The poll was conducted on October 8-11, 2010 with a random sample of 790 likely voters in Delaware.  The sample was drawn from a list of households with voters who cast ballots in at least two of the last four general elections and further screened for those who say they are either “certain” or “likely” to vote in this November’s election.  The voter list was obtained from Aristotle, Inc. and automated voice interviewing services were provided by Survey USA in Clifton, New Jersey. 

For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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- Monmouth University Polling Institute