January 28, 2007 - February 3, 2007


Super Bowl Round-up

Two recent Rasmussen Reports automated surveys find:

  • 58% of football fans think the Indianapolis Colts will win this Sunday's Super Bowl while 39% think the Chicago Bears will win (conducted 1/22 through 1/24 of 555 "football fans").
  • 60% of Americans plan to watch the Super Bowl and 25% of those "will place a bet, participate in a pool or wager money on the game in any fashion" (conducted 1/27 through 1/28 of 1000 adults).

A recent Gallup survey of 1008 adults (conducted 1/25 through 1/28) finds:

  • 61% of football fans think the Indianapolis Colts will win this Sunday; 36% think the Chicago Bears will win.
  • Female Super Bowl viewers (at 44%) are twice as likely as male viewers (22%) to prefer watching the commercials over the game itself.

A recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey of 900 registered voters (conducted 1/30 through 1/31) finds:

  • 27% believe "God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event;" 66% do not.
  • 14% think God wants the Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl, while 11% think God wants the Indianapolis Colts to win.

POLL: SurveyUSA Kansas/Brownback

A new KWCH-TV/SurveyUSA automated survey of 500 adults in Kansas (conducted 2/1) finds that 50% think it's impossible "for someone to be both an effective US Senator and an effective candidate for President at the same time;" 48% think it is possible.

Party ID in States Shifted in 2006

Topics: 2006 , The 2006 Race


Democrats gained an average of 3.4% and Republicans lost 3.0% in partisan identification between 2005 and 2006, according to a new Gallup estimate based on over 30,000 interviews conducted throughout 2006. Gallup aggregated polls throughout the year to create estimates of party identification at the state level, as they did in 2005 and previous years. Gallup's report of the results is here.

The plot above shows how uniform the shift in Democratic and Republican partisanship was across the states. The colors of the points reflect the Democratic minus Republican balance in 2005-- the darker the blue the more net-Democratic identifiers and the darker the red the more net-Republican identifiers. Light or pale points are closely balanced states, as of 2005. The size of the points is proportional to the size of the state.

There is no apparent pattern to the shifts in partisanship: regardless of partisanship or partisan balance in 2005, states shifted by about the same amount in 2006. Likewise, Republican losses shifted uniformly. The +3.4 percentage point shift for the Democrats, and the -3.0 point shift against the Republicans produced a net -6.4 point loss for the Republicans in the balance of partisanship. The lower left figure in the plot shows that independents shifted more or less randomly between 2005 and 2006.

These shifts could, in principle, represent a non-trivial gain for the Democratic party. Recall that after the 2004 election there was considerable talk in Republican circles of establishing an "enduring Republican majority", a goal that seemed within the party's grasp though certainly not assured. That hope is clearly out of reach at the moment.

Before Democrats go wild with joy, there remains a question about the electoral impact of these partisan shifts. Party identification is the strongest single predictor of vote choice at the individual level. But the shifts in partisanship in the Gallup data do not predict the shift in voting for the U.S. House in 2006.

The bottom right figure above shows that the Republican U.S. House vote shifted more or less uniformly across states as well. However, when we look at the relationship between party id shift and vote shift across states, there is no relationship at all, as seen in the figure below.


Controlling for both Democratic gains and Republican losses doesn't add to the relationship. So the conclusion here is that both partisanship and vote shifted against the Republican party in 2006, but the variation in shifts appears to have been essentially independent between partisanship and vote.

Democratic gains and Republican losses in partisanship may affect the 2008 prospects in the House (and other) elections. But in 2006, it appears both vote and partisanship responded to conditions in the country without a clear impact of changes in partisanship on changes in vote.

Pres08: Fox Poll's Favorable/Unfavorable Ratings

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race


Fox News' new poll, completed 1/30-31/07, provides a new look at the favorable and unfavorable ratings of the leading presidential contenders. Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the pack in the balance of favorable to unfavorable ratings in the new Fox poll with 54% favorable to 24% unfavorable . John McCain enjoys a net-positive evaluation, though not as strongly positive as Giuliani, at 45%-29%. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton strongly divides voters yet manages a 50%-44% net positive rating. Less well known John Edwards has an 8 point net positive (41%-33%) while Barack Obama has the best balance, 41%-20% but the largest number of voters unable to rate him (38%.)

Three political figures have net negative ratings in the Fox poll. Mitt Romney is the least well known among all the candidates and suffers a net negative rating of 11%-22%, but with 67% unable to rate. Newt Gingrich, who has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the presidential campaign, suffers a 22%-49% net negative, while Al Gore, who seems quite uninterested in the race, has a somewhat better but still net negative 39%-51%.

(For comparison, see my similar analysis of an early January CBS News poll here. That post also discusses the plots and how to read them in greater detail.)


The extent to which partisans divide over the candidates is clear above. Hillary Clinton remains the most polarizing figure with strongly net negative views among Republicans, strongly positive views among Democrats, and a near balance yet net negative among independents. (The purple dot is independents, the black dot is the population as a whole, with the now conventional red for Republican and blue for Democrats.)

McCain and Giuliani do well among independents and even with Democrats. Gore and Gingrich in contrast both divide the electorate and manage net positives only among their own partisans. Edwards splits partisan camps, though not as strongly as Clinton and roughly balances the sides and among independents. Obama does quite well among independents, but is developing a Republican opposition. Romney remains a mystery to all partisan groups, which cluster and don't know him.


There has been some movement in the Fox ratings, but the most recent prior poll varies a great deal in how old it is. Clinton's most recent poll was just last October, and little seems to have changed. Several other candidates were measured in May 2006. But Edwards' last reading was in October 2004 (during his run for the Vice-Presidency) and Gingrich's dates back to 1998! So look at change with due caution.


Finally, the balance of not knowing the candidate versus knowing but not enough to rate them can be instructive. In the earlier CBS News poll, there was a clear differentiation between the better known and the lesser known candidates. The new Fox poll lacks almost all of the lesser known figures, so that pattern is less pronounced here than in the CBS data (here) Still, among these candidates, it is interesting the Obama now more closely resembles the better known candidates, while only Romney remains in the space occupied by the least known in the CBS poll.

POLL: Fox National Survey

A new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics national survey (story, Bush results, '08 results) of 900 registered voters (conducted 1/30 to 1/31) finds:

  • 38% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president; 54% disapprove.
  • 35% support "sending additional U.S. troops to Iraq to help stabilize the country;" 57% oppose.
  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 34%) leads Sen. John McCain (22%) and former Speaker New Gingrich (15%) in a national Republican primary.
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 43%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (15%), former Sen. John Edwards (12%), and former Vive President Al Gore (11%) in a national Democratic primary.

Two Sides of the Giuliani Coin

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Should he formally enter the race for president, Rudy Giuliani begins as a very popular figure among Republicans, according to the Gallup poll released earlier today. The perceived advantages of the former New York City Mayor over Senator John McCain on being "better in a crisis" (68% to 28%) and doing a better job on crime (78% to 17%) suggest an appeal is rooted in his identity as a "hero of 9/11 [and] a crime busting federal prosecutor," to quote today's article by Susan Page in USA Today. However, the far more important finding from that survey comes from this "money quote" from Page's story (thanks to Charles Franklin):

As fondly remembered as Giuliani is for responding to Sept. 11, however, most Americans don't know much else about him. Barely one in five Republicans knew that he supports abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples, the USA TODAY poll found. Nearly as many thought he was "pro-life" as said he was "pro-choice."

When they were told about his stance on those issues, his star dimmed. One in five Republicans said his views would "rule him out as a candidate" they could support. That included one-third of those who attend church every week, an important base of the GOP that makes up a third of party loyalists.

Another 25% of Republicans said his views made them less likely to support him, nearly double the proportion who said they made them more likely to support him.

For what it's worth, these are the sorts of questions that campaign pollsters tend to ask on internal surveys conducted early in the race. Campaign pollsters are less interested in early horse race numbers than in understanding how new information can change perceptions and support. Page's article did not include a link to those specific results, but Gallup typically releases results in separate results, so perhaps we will have more details later.

Consider the results Page discusses against these findings from the ABC News analysis of the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll:

McCain had his own difficulties with conservatives in 2000, and Giuliani leads McCain among conservative Republicans by 33 to 21 percent. It's among moderates that they're closer, 37-32 percent.

Giuliani and McCain also run about evenly among evangelical white Protestants, a core Republican group with whom McCain's had strained relations.

Most important, though, is Giuliani's advantage among committed Republicans, who, like their Democratic counterparts, are more apt to vote in primaries. Giuliani holds a 10-point advantage over McCain among this group; McCain, by contrast, runs quite competitively among independents who lean Republican. That was the case in 2000; his problem was that, outside of New Hampshire, not enough of them showed up to vote.

Given sample sizes, Giuliani's overall seven-point advantage over McCain among leaned Republicans is not significant at the customary 95 percent confidence level. Instead it's 82 percent likely that Giuliani has a real lead in the contest.

Collectively, these results support an intriguing possibility: Both Republican frontrunners may end up with problems with conservative, religious and/or committed Republicans, leaving a huge opening for a third candidate in the early primaries.

POLL: POS KY Governor

A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) survey of 500 likely Kentucky Republican primary voters (conducted 1/28 and 1/29 for the Northup-Hoover for Governor campaign) finds:

  • In a Republican gubernatorial primary, former Rep. Anne Northup ties incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher at 39%.
  • In general election match-ups, Northup runs a few points behind Democratic candidates State Rep. Jody Richards (39% to 45%) and businessman Bruce Lunsford (40% to 45%).

POLL: Rasmussen National Survey

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey ('08 analysis, campaign funding analysis, Iraq analysis) of 800 likely voters (conducted 1/29 and 1/30) finds:

  • Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani runs a few points ahead of both former Sen. John Edwards (47% to 45%) and Sen. Barack Obama (46% to 40%) in a general election match-up. A month ago, Giuliani lead Edwards by eight points (49% to 41%) and lead Obama by eleven points (50% to 39%).
  • 54% of Americans oppose "public funding of Presidential campaigns;" 26% favor it.
  • 37% believe the U.S. and its Allies are "winning the war on terror;" 32% believe the terrorists are.

POLL: Gallup Panel '08 (GOP)

A new Gallup telephone panel survey (conducted 1/25 to 1/28) asked 441 Republicans and Republican leaners to choose between Sen. John McCain and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani on 15 leadership traits and 10 issues. Among the findings (also summarized on Gallup's daily video briefing):

  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John MCCain among the panel when asked who "is more likable" (74% to 21%) and who "would be better in a crisis" (68% to 28%). He also leads McCain when asked who "would do a better job" on crime (78% to 17%), the economy (52% to 38%), terrorism (53% to 41%) and education (48% to 38%).
  • Sen. McCain leads former Mayor Giuliani when asked who "has higher ethical standards" (50% to 35%) and who "is more qualified to be president" (50% to 41%). He also leads Guiliani when asked who would do a better job on "relations with other countries" (54% to 37%), "the situation in iraq" (53% to 40%), and "moral values issues" (58% to 30%).

"I'm Competing with the Margin of Error"

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Today, the Hartford Courant (via Political Wire) brings us this perennial bit of political humor, the long shot presidential candidate whose total support fails to exceed the margin of error:

When pollster John Zogby asked a group of 339 likely Democratic voters earlier this month whom they wanted for president in 2008, one or two mentioned Connecticut's senior senator.

One or 2 percent mentioned Christopher Dodd?

No. One or two people, Zogby said.

"I'm competing with the margin of error in most polls," Chris Dodd grinned as he described his underdog status recently to a New Hampshire audience.

He should be so lucky. The margin of error was 5.4 percentage points.

There is one more thing perennial about long shots in early presidential trial heat poll questions. Consider these numbers, each the standing of the respective candidate from the Gallup Poll trial heat questions asked on surveys at about this time in each election cycle.**

  • 6% - George McGovern, August 1971
  • 3.5% - Jimmy Carter, February 1975
  • 2.9% - George Bush, January 1979
  • 1.6% - Gary Hart, December 1982
  • 3.0% - Bill Clinton, February 1991
  • 3.8% - John McCain, March 1999
  • 4.0% - Howard Dean, January 2003

Of course, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton went on to be elected President, and George McGovern won his party's nomination. George Bush, Gary Hart and John McCain all emerged as the principal challengers to the respective front-runners in each race, with Hart falling just a hundred or so delegates short of defeating Walter Mondale in 1984. While Howard Dean's campaign tanked early, he rose to 25% in the Gallup poll by December 2003, while John Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee, had fallen to just 7%.

The point is not that front-runners always lose. In fact, the early front runners probably win more often than not (an interesting empirical test for another post). The point is that writing off candidates now because they begin with support in the single digits is foolish. In almost every election, a long-shot candidacy that no one saw coming emerges from the single digits to compete with the front runners.

**I obtained the numbers from the subscription-only "Gallup Brain" search engine, which does not clearly display the respondent base (i.e. Democrats, Democratic primary voters) used to calculate the results. So it is possible these numbers may differ slightly from those published at the time.

Gallup on Party ID

Topics: Party Weighing

Yesterday, Gallup released a detailed report that pulled together 30,655 interviews conducted during 2006 to summarize the trends in party identification at both the national and statewide levels. Here is the lead paragraph from Gallup's Jeff Jones:

For the year, Democrats averaged a nearly four point advantage over the Republicans on national party identification and an even larger 10-point advantage when independents' partisan "leanings" are taken into account. In an analysis of 2006 partisanship at the state level, 33 states show a statistically significant advantage in favor of the Democratic Party, six states show a statistically significant Republican advantage, and the remainder can be considered competitive. Democratic strength in the United States has grown in each of the last three years. The trends are fueled more by movement away from the Republican Party and into independent status than by movement toward the Democratic Party.

Two other survey organizations -- Harris Interactive and the Pew Research Center -- also provide annual averages for party identification.** The following table, which shows the Democratic advantage on the standard party ID question asked by each organization shows the same basic trend. The Democratic advantage narrowed or disappeared (depending on the pollster) following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, but has increased for the last three years.


For the true junkie (or pollster), the Gallup report is well worth the click, as it includes average party ID values for all but five states and the District of Columbia (like most pollsters, Gallup does not include Alaska or Hawaii in national samples and the samples for Delaware, North Dakota, Wyoming and DC were still too small even with a year's worth of data.

**Harris has not yet released its report for 2006, and I calculated my own average for the 12 Pew surveys conducted last year. Keep in mind the Harris question differs slightly from the Gallup/Pew version and the results may also vary between pollsters due to "house effects," such as the number of respondents who are unsure or refuse to answer questions.

POLL: Gallup Panel '08

A new Gallup telephone panel survey (conducted 1/25 to 1/28) asked 504 Democrats and Democratic leaners to choose between Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and former Sen. John Edwards on 15 leadership traits and 10 issues. Among the findings (also summarized on Gallup's daily video briefing):

  • 61% of the panel think Sen. Clinton is the "most qualified to be president," while 21% think that of former Sen. Edwards and 13% think that of Sen. Obama.
  • 39% think Sen. Obama has "the highest ethical standards," while 28% think that of Sen. Clinton, and 24% think that of former Sen. Edwards.
  • Sen. Clinton leads Sen. Obama by over twenty points for who "would do the best job" on healthcare (67% to 17%), the economy (57% to 19%), and Iraq (47% to 26%).

Pres08: National Trial Heats

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race



This post will track the national Republican vs. Democrat trial heats for the 2008 presidential election. It will be updated in place so a link to this page will always come to the most recently updated trial heat data.

Polling has avoided trial heats among the least known candidates so far. More will be added as data become available. Likewise the trend line is only estimated and plotted when there are at least 12 data points to fit. If there are fewer, then only the points are plotted.

More on Obama & Clinton by Race

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Ever since polls from ABC and CBS News showed Barack Obama trailing Hillary Clinton among black Democrats when asked about their preference for the 2008 presidential nomination, pundits have speculated about the why. Much of that speculation centers on Obama and his racial identity. Can Obama "appeal to blacks ?" How does he "define and approach race?" Are black voters responding to the details of "his unconventional biography" or simply the sense that he seems "culturally kind of white?" Kaus & Wrightvia Kaus ). This speculation largely dismisses simpler explanations for the poll results that strike me as more powerful: Obama does not yet enjoy Clinton's name recognition. More important, Hillary Clinton begins not only with strong popularity of her own among black Democrats, but also the perception that she -- unlike Obama -- has "the right experience" to be president.

In my post on the CBS News poll, I discussed the Clinton and Obama favorable ratings among registered Democratic primary voters, pointing out that despite the recent coverage, large numbers of Democratic primary voters do not yet know Barack Obama well enough to rate him. Some readers wondered how those favorable ratings compared by race, and I did to, so I emailed the CBS Polling Director Kathy Frankovic, and she graciously provided the following tabulations:


The results are essentially the same for both white and black Democratic primary voters: More than half either say they "do not know enough" about Obama to rate him or say they are undecided. Obama's favorable rating among blacks (43%) is statistically indistinguishable from his rating from whites (41%), his unfavorable rating among whites. His unfavorable rating is tiny (4%) among white Democrats, virtually non-existent (1%) among blacks.

Clinton, on the other hand, receives a higher favorable among black Democrats (66%) than among whites (56%). Her unfavorable rating from black Democrats (4%) is less than a third of her negative marks from white Democrats (15%).

The CBS survey also has more specific questions about both Obama and Clinton, one of which highlights a key Clinton advantage: When asked if "Hillary Rodham Clinton has the right kind of experience to be a good president," 83% of Democratic primary voters say she does, 10% say she does not, and 7% are unsure.

When asked the same question about Obama, 39% of Democratic primary voters are unsure -- roughly the same number that say they do not know him well enough to rate him. But those willing to rate him are divided; 34% of the Democratic primary voters say he has the right experience, 27% say he does not.

Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to ask for these results by race, but it does not seem much of a stretch to conclude that issues of recognition and perceived experience -- rather than racial identity -- explain more of the current standings than perceptions of Obama's racial identity.**

Of course, it is always worth the caveat that we have a long, long way to go. Obama and other candidates will gain recognition, perceptions of them will likely change, as will the results of horse race polls.

Also, two technical notes about these findings: CBS News deliberately "over-sampled" African Americans to obtain an adequate sample size, but then weighted the sample of adults to reflect the actual racial composition of the U.S. adult population. Also -- unique among the national public polls of late -- CBS screened not just for Democratic identifiers but for Democrats who said they typically vote in Democratic primaries or caucuses.

POLL: Sienna NY Primary

A new Siena Research Institute statewide survey of 625 registered voters in New York state (conducted 1/24 and 1/25) finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (58% to 11%) for the state's Democratic nomination; Clinton leads Obama (78% to 13%) among African American Democrats.
  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (47% to 20%) for the Republican nomination.

POLL: Rassmussen National Surveys

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 800 likely voters (conducted 1/24 and 1/25) finds:

  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani runs six points ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton in a national presidential match-up, while Sen. John McCain (45%) and Sen. Clinton (44%) are in a statistical dead heat.

A second automated survey of 579 likely Republican primary voters (conducted 1/22 to 1/25) finds:

  • Giuliani leads McCain (29% to 19%) in a national Republican primary; former Speaker Newt Gingrich runs at 16%.

POLL: Quinnipiac OH Survey

  • A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey of 1,305 likely Ohio voters (496 Democrats, 455 Republicans; conducted 1/23 to 1/28) finds:
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 38%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (13%) and former Sen. John Edwards (11%) for Ohio's Democratic presidential nomination.
  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani runs eight points ahead of Sen. John McCain (30% to 22%) for the state's Republican presidential nomination.
  • In general election match-ups, Sen. Clinton runs a few points ahead of former Mayor Giuliani (46% to 43%) and Sen. McCain (46% to 42%).

POLL: SurveyUSA NH Primary

A new WBZ-TV/SurveyUSA automated survey of New Hampshire among 412 likely Republican primary voters and 582 likely Democratic primary voters (conducted 1/26 to 1/28) finds:

  • Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 33%) and Sen. John McCain (32%) are in a statistical dead-heat for the Republican nomination; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails with 21%.
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 40%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (25%) and John Edwards (23%) for the Democratic nomination.

ANALYSIS: Gallup Economy

Additional analysis from the recent Gallup national survey among 1018 adults (conducted 1/15 to 1/18) finds:

  • 50% of Americans say they are financially "better off" than they were a year ago; 30% say they are "worse off."
  • 65% expect that at this time next year they will be financially better off than they are now; 19% expect they will be worse off.

POLL: BrownU RI Poll

A new Brown University statewide survey of 475 registered Rhode Island voters (conducted 1/27) finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama 33% to 15% in a contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • 50% say "things in Rhode Island are going in the right direction;" 34% say things are on the "wrong track."

POLL: Selzer Iowa Survey

A new Selzer & Co. statewide survey of 800 Iowa adults (conducted 1/21 to 1/24) finds:

  • 68% think the country is ready for an African-American president, and 55% think the same for a woman president.
  • 47% think it is a bad idea for former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to run for president; 40% think it is a good idea.

Note: this is a survey of all Iowa adults and not likely caucus goers.

POLLS: Rasmussen Analyses

Three new analyses from recent Rasmussen Reports automated surveys find:

  • Among 435 likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 33%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (19%) and former Sen. John Edwards (10%) in a Democratic national primary (conducted 1/15 to 1/18).
  • Among 800 likely voters, 60% believe it is either very likely or somewhat likely that the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee will be a white male (conducted 1/22 and 1/23).
  • Among 800 likely voters, 33% believe it is very or somewhat likely that "the increase in troops sent to Iraq will lead to the reduction of sectarian violence in Baghdad," 62% believe such a reduction in violence is not very or not at all likely (conducted 1/24 to 1/25).

POLL: Newsweek/PSRA National Survey

A new Newsweek/PSRA national survery (story, results) of 1003 adults (conducted 1/24 and 1/25) finds:

  • 30% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president; 64 % disapprove
  • 53% think Bush will be seen as a "below average" president, 14% say "above average" and 30% say "average".
  • In national general election match-ups, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each run a few points ahead of either Sen. John McCain (both by 6%) or former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (both by 3%).