How to tackle (and possibly beat) Howard Coble

I came across an interesting memo put together for The Campaign For Primary Accountability (CPA) by Wilkins Perkins Allen (WPA) Opinion Research.  The memo, dated April 5, featured the results of a March 20-21 poll on the 6th Congressional District GOP primary featuring Guilford County commissioner Billy Yow, radio host Bill Flynn, and congressman Howard Coble.  The Coble campaign has been touting the poll of 300 residents, which found 64% for Coble, 11% for Yow, and 5% for Flynn.  The Flynn campaign challenges this poll, suggesting that (1) it included voters from the OLD 6th district, and (2) it was conducted before voters had really started paying attention to the race.

Here is some of the pollster’s analysis:

Coble starts off with a very good favorable-to-unfavorable ratio and a solid ballot score at 64%. That said, this is the same initial ballot we saw in OH-2 for Jean Schmidt.

Jean Schmidt was an incumbent member of Congress who was upset by a Tea Party-backed GOP challenger earlier this year.  Read On:

It’s unusual at this stage for a challenger to have such high name ID, as indicated by Billy Yow’s name ID (69%) and Bill Flynn’s name ID (40%).

However, Yow and Flynn’s high name ID isn’t translating into ballot strength, as they are only posting 11% and 5% initially.

The reason for this is their favorable-to-unfavorable image. A challenger should have a favorable-to-unfavorable image ratio in the neighborhood of 3:1 or better to be considered a clear alternative to a long entrenched incumbent. In the case of Yow, the favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is 1.5:1 and Flynn is 1.6:1.

As a consequence, neither Yow nor Flynn is viewed by the voters as a viable alternative, at least in this stage of the campaign.

If the Yow and Flynn campaigns decide to attack Coble, they will further damage their favorable-to-unfavorable image and will lose.

If the Yow and Flynn campaigns stay positive and build up their image with the voters, they could conceivably force Coble into a run off. But the Yow and Flynn campaigns must show themselves as a viable alternative to Coble before any 3rd party effort could have an impact.

The “informed ballot” shows this is possible, as after voters have heard some information about Coble that could potentially come up during the course of the campaign, Coble drops to 47%.