February 4, 2007 - February 10, 2007


Update: Economic Angst

Gallup's Frank Newport responded yesterday to my comments on his original "Gallup Guru" post on whether "middle class angst" on the economy might present an opening for Democrats in 2008. Newport originally argued Gallup data paints a picture of "rising economic positivity," and found little evidence that economic worries would translate into a major issue for Democrats. I suggested that concerns about Iraq might translate into economic worries, quoting several campaign pollsters who related voter worries that resources and attention directed at Iraq might lead to economic difficulties down the road.

The big shortcoming of my argument, admittedly, is that it was based mostly on the testimony of the campaign consultant pollsters rather than on survey data. I looked, briefly, but found nothing supportive in the public domain. Newport made this point in a gentlemanly way:

[I]t isn't clear to me why - if the "Iraq leads to economic worries" scenario is true - our ongoing economic measures have not reflected it. Whatever the cause, it would seem that if Americans are truly worried about economic issues, they would express that worry in both closed-ended and open-ended questions in our surveys. (If these concerns do begin to show up in the future in our data, then we'll deal with them then. We just don't see it at this point).**

That's a fair point. However, I submit this result from the 2006 national exit poll: More voters told exit pollsters they considered the economy "extremely" or "very important to their vote (82%) than said the same about the Iraq war (67%). The economy also beat Iraq (39% to 35%) as an "extremely" important issue, and voters who expressed extreme concerns about either concern voted for Democratic congressional candidates by wide margins.

It may also help to consider the campaign themes of some of the Democratic candidates that helped win control of the Senate, such as the signature ad by Ohio's Sherrod Brown, or the closing arguments of Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb. The Brown campaign emphasized trade policy, of course, but all three feature the common theme broader than the Iraq war: "Those in power" are not "on our side." They have misplaced priorities that "failed to protect working people."

I still agree with Newport that the Iraq war remains the "driving issue" of our politics, and that falling gas prices have helped economic confidence rebound slightly since the summer. We disagree, but only mildly, on whether classic economic confidence measures may be missing the potential for an "economic angst" argument.

**Update: Newport added a footnote this afternoon:

An update on the on-going discussion on economic angst. Gallup's February read on economic conditions in the country have retreated some from their January high points. (Full analysis to be posted at galluppoll.com on Monday). Americans' rating of current economic conditions, although still higher than the 2006 average, are down from January.

POLL: Zogby IA/NH Dems

Two new Zogby telephone surveys of 500 likely Democratic voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire (conducted 2/7 through 2/8) find:

  • Among likely caucus goers in Iowa, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards are tied at 24%; Sen. Barack Obama runs at 18%.
  • Among likely primary voters in New Hampshire, Clinton's margin over Obama (27% to 23%) falls within the poll's margin of error; Edwards trails with 13%.

Bialik on Nielsen's New College Numbers

Carl Bialik, the "Numbers Guy" at the Wall Street Journal, devotes his column this week (free to non-subscribers) to a change in the Nielsen television ratings to include college students living in dorms. Not everyone realizes that the Nielsen ratings are based on a random sample survey - a randomly selected panel of households that agrees to let Nielsen monitor its viewing habits. According to Bialik, while the inclusion of roughly 2.1 million college dorm residents into the Nielsen sample has increased the audience size estimate for some shows among 18-24 year olds by as much as 60%, it is based on a very small sample:

[T]o calculate these estimates, Nielsen is extrapolating from the viewing habits of just 130 students around the country who have agreed to have electronic monitors installed in their dorm rooms. That means the decisions of a handful of those students can lead to a huge swing in ratings -- that 163,000 jump for "Drawn Together" was based on 12 people in Nielsen's survey group who tuned in to the show.

Bialik's piece explains the mechanics of the Nielsen ratings and goes into depth on the question of whether that sample of 130 is large enough. A Nielsen spokesman says the sample is "adequate, but some academic statisticians Bialik talked to had doubts.

Statisticians I've spoken with told me national surveys typically include at least 500 people, to limit the margin of error. (An ongoing Princeton University survey of college students, examining minority students' academic progress, tracked about 4,000 students.) Political pollsters often survey just 1,000 or so people to determine broad national trends, but sampling error is less of a problem when respondents are choosing among two presidential candidates. It's a different matter when asking someone which of 100 or more channels they are watching. Mr. Holmes said Nielsen isn't calculating a margin of error for the college group.

News reports and promotional press releases usually don't make it clear how small samples can influence ratings. They sometimes crown networks, shows and personalities as winners based on differences of just 0.1 rating point (representing about 110,000 households). "The ratings just aren't accurate to that point," said Lynne S. Gross, professor of radio, TV and film at California State University, Fullerton. Nielsen's Mr. Holmes said the company supplies information to clients that would allow them to calculate an overall margin of error that they could publicize.

It's a fascinating column. Go read the whole thing.

Update: Harris on Party ID

Last week, I noted the release of a report by the Gallup Organization on long term trends in party identification. The Gallup surveys in 2006 showed a slight gain in the Democratic advantage over Republicans, increasing from 0.4 to 3.9 percentage points. An average of the surveys done by the Pew Research Center showed a similar trend, but Harris Interactive - which also puts out an annual party ID average - had not yet released data for 2006. Well, Harris posted its 2006 report on Wednesday, and it confirms the trends in the Gallup and Pew data:

The Harris Polls conducted by telephone in 2006 show the Democrats continuing to increase their lead over Republicans in party identification. Currently, the Democrats' lead over the Republicans is nine percentage points, up from six percentage points in 2005 and three points in 2004. This is now the largest Democratic lead since 1998, when it was also nine percentage points.

See the Harris report for complete details on their 37 years of trend data on both party identification and self-reported ideology.

Here is the table from my January 31 post, updated to include the new Harris data:


POLL: Harris National Approval Ratings

A new Harris telephone poll of 1004 American adults (conducted 2/2 through 2/5) finds:

  • 32% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 67% disapprove. Approval among Republicans is 64%, and among conservatives is 52%.
  • 38% approve of the job House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing; 45% disapprove.
  • 62% say things in the country have "pretty seriously gotten off the wrong track," while 29% say "things in the country are going in the right direction."

National Support for 2008 Presidential Candidates

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race



This post is your one-stop update on the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential primary national polling. (STATE primary/caucus polls will also have a space, but not yet. Soon. Real Soon.) The graphs will be updated in place as each new poll is completed. The top four candidates (based on the polls) in each party get a graphs to themselves, as above. ALL candidates in each party appear in larger graphs below. Click on the graphs once or twice to see the full resolution version. These include drop-outs as well as currently active candidates, plus a few non-candidates such as Rice and Gore (at least as of today.)



POLL: PPP NC Primary

A new Public Policy Polling automated survey of 735 likely Republican primary voters and 584 likely Democratic primary voters in North Carolina (conducted 2/5 through 2/6) finds:

  • Among likely Democratic primary voters, former Sen. John Edwards (at 34%) runs a few statistically insignificant points ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton (31%). Sen. Barack Obama trails at 18%.
  • Among likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 31%) runs ahead of former House Speaker Newt* Gingrich (25%) and Sen. John McCain (20%).

* Typo corrected

Update: Mark has posted a response to the comment by Thomas.

POLL: ARG Statewide Surveys

New American Research Group statewide surveys of 600 likely Republican primary voters and 600 likely Democratic primary voters in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut (conducted 2/2 through 2/6) finds:

  • Among likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama in Maine (41% to 17%), Massachusetts (35% to 42% 24%), Vermont (37% to 19%), and Connecticut (40% to 10%), while Obama edges out former Sen. John Edwards by a few insignificant points in all four states.
  • Among likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain in Maine (33% to 22%) and in Connecticut (32% to 21%), while McCain and Giuliani are statistically tied in Vermont (30% to 29% respectively). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (at 38%) leads Giuliani (22%) and McCain (20%) in Massachusetts.

POLL: Quinnipiac PA Survey

A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey of 1014 registered voters in Pennsylvania (conducted 2/1 through 2/5) finds:

  • Among 442 registered Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 37%) leads Sen. Barack Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Sen. John Edwards (all at 11%) in the Democratic primary.
  • Among 438 registered Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 30%) leads Sen. John McCain (20%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (14%) in the Republican primary.
  • In general election match-ups, McCain runs slightly ahead of Obama (46% to 39%) and Edwards (47% to 42%), while Sen. Clinton runs at a statistical tie when pitted against McCain (45% to 46% respectively) and Giuliani (44% to 47% respectively).

POLL: Rasmussen Romney vs. (Part II)

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey conducted 2/5 through 2/6 among 800 likely voters nationwide finds former Gov. Mitt Romney trailing former Vice President Al Gore (38% to 52%) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (41% to 51%) in general election match-ups.

POLL: Gallup Success in Iraq

Additional Analysis from a recent Gallup national survey (analysis, video) of 1008 national adults (conducted 1/25 through 1/28) finds:

  • 69% of Americans "define success in Iraq as a stabilization of the country including a stable Iraqi government, Iraqis running their own country, making Iraq secure, peaceful coexistence between the warring factions, and a democratic government in Iraq."
  • 57% think it is unlikely that the U.S. will be able to achieve these goals.

Update: Gallup on Giuliani's Social Views

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

An update on my post last week on a new USA Today/Gallup poll that tested awareness of Rudy Giuliani's positions on social issues among Republicans: Today, Gallup released their own analysis of the questions mentioned briefly in last week's article by USA Today's Susan Page that provides the complete text of the questions.

The Gallup analysis includes one added bit of detail about the question that asked Republicans how they would react knowing that "Rudy Giuliani supports civil unions and is pro-choice on abortion." They tabulated the results among those currently supporting Giuliani on the Republican primary vote preference question:

Of those favoring Giuliani in the two-way match with McCain, a little over one-third say they would either rule out voting for Giuliani entirely (10%) or be less likely to support him (25%) as a result of knowing his positions on abortion and same-sex civil unions.

The analysis also included the full text of questions probing awareness of Giuliani's positions on abortion and civil unions for same sex couples. Actually, Gallup asked the same questions about both Guiliani and John McCain, and in each instance an overwhelming majority of voters are unsure of the candidate's position:


The results above should not surprise, although it is worth remembering that Gallup asked these questions of all Republicans and those independents who say they "lean" Republican, making no attempt to select likely primary voters. While the smaller population of Republican primary voters is probably better informed, the difference is likely one of degree. Primary or not, most voters know little about the issue positions of even the best known candidates.

POLL: AP/Ipsos Cuba Relations

A new AP/Ipsos national survey (story, results) of 1000 adults (conducted 1/30 through 2/1) finds:

  • 62% of Americans think the U.S. should "establish diplomatic relatuibs with Cuba;" 30% think the U.S. should not.
  • 48% think the U.S. should continue "the trade embargo with Cuba;" 40% think the U.S. should end it and "permit normal trade."
  • 64% have an unfavorable opinion of Cuban President Fidel Castro; 6% have a favorable opinion.

POLL: Ayres, McHenry & Assoc. South Carolina GOP Primary

A new Ayres, McHenry & Associates statewide survey of 500 likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina (conducted 1/24 through 1/28) finds:

  • In the Republican primary, Sen. John McCain (at 29%) leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (20%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (14).
  • 56% of likely Republican primary voters think global warming "probably is happening;" 29% think it "probably is not happening."

Pew: Can We Trust What Polls Say About Obama's Prospects?

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Against the backdrop of Barack Obama's strong showing in recent national general election head-to-head polls, the Pew Research Center's Scott Keeter and Nilanthi Samaranayake have posted a lengthy analysis of whether polls can be trusted to measure support for African American candidates. They provide data from a series of statewide races pitting black candidates against white in the 1980s and early 1990s in which surveys consistently underestimated support for the white candidates. However, they also show that polls conducted in five races last year generally avoided such problems, while national polls show growing willingness of Americans to support an African American candidacy. Their conclusion:

Taken together, the accuracy of the polling in these five biracial elections suggests that the problems that bedeviled polling in the 1980s and early 1990s may no longer be so serious. This change is not a result of broader improvements in the methodology of election polling; most election polls in the earlier period were competently done and generally performed well in predicting election outcomes.

The experience of the 2006 elections indicates that racism may be less of a factor in public judgments about African American candidates than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

The Pew analysis provides the most comprehensive listing I've seen of how polls have performed in such races and is therefore well worth the click for those scrutinizing the early 2006 horse races results.


A new University of New Hampshire statewide survey (story, results) of 353 likely Democratic primary voters and 311 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire (conducted 2/1 through 2/5 for CNN/WMUR-TV) finds:

  • In the Democratic primary, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 35%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (21%) and former Sen. John Edwards (16%).
  • In the Republican primary, Sen. John McCain and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani are statistically tied (at 28% and 27% respectively). Former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 13%.
  • 74% of likely Democratic primary voters have a favorable opinion of both Edwards and Sen. Clinton; 67% have a favorable opinion of Obama.
  • 70% of likely Republican primary voters have a favorable opinion of Giuliani; 59% have a favorable opinion of McCain.

POLL: Harris Interactive 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

A new Harris Interactive online survey of 2337 adults (conducted 1/11 through 1/18) finds:

  • 36% of Americans favor the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; 46% oppose.
  • 55% believe gays and lesbians "should be allowed to serve openly in the military," 19% believe they should be allowed to serve "only if they keep their homosexuality a secret," and 13% believe they "should not be allowed to serve in the military at all."

POLL: Quinnipiac FL Survey

A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey of 1003 registered voters in Florida (conducted 1/29 through 2/4) finds:

  • Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (49% to 13%) for their party's nomination. Former Sen. John Edwards trails at 7%.
  • Among Republicans, Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 29%) runs ahead of Sen. John McCain (23%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (14%) for their party's nomination.
  • In statewide general election match-ups, McCain vs. Edwards (43% to 42%), McCain vs. Obama (42% to 40%), Clinton vs. McCain (47% to 43%), and Giuliani vs. McCain (47% to 44%) are all statistical dead-heats.

POLL: Rasmussen Romney Survey

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 800 likely voters (conducted 2/2 through 2/3) finds:

  • 35% of Americans have a favorable view of former Gov. Mitt Romney, 31% have an unfavorable view, while 34% "don't know enough about Romney to have an opinion one way or the other."
  • Romney trails Sen. Barack Obama (36% to 50%) and former Sen. John Edwards (34% to 52%) in national general election match-ups.

Economic Anxiety and the Middle Class

Last week, the USA Today "Gallup Guru" blog of Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport took up the issue of economic anxiety among the middle class. Newport argues that the "rising middle class economic angst" claimed by various Democratic leaders has little support in recent survey data. While Newport is certainly right that traditional measures of economic confidence have been on the rise, he may miss the role that the Iraq war and energy prices have had in creating anxiety about our economic future.

Newport's central argument is that on most questions about the economy, Americans are now more positive than they have been in six or more years:

Perhaps most telling is a long-term question that asks Americans if their personal financial situation is better or worse than it was a year ago. Fifty percent say that they are better off, 30% worse off and the rest say they are the same. These may not seem like stunningly positive statistics, but this marks the most positive read on this measure since 2000, at the tail end of the dot.com boom. In February of 2006, for example, only 37% said they were better off. In April of 2003, the better off number was 32%.

The regular Consumer Confidence measures reported by ABC News and the Washington Post shows much the same thing.


Newport also points out that Iraq, not the economy is the central concern of most Americans:

Only 17% of Americans in fact mention any type of economic problem in response to the question: What is the most important problem facing the country today? Although that's partly the result of the overwhelming dominance of Iraq in people's minds, it simply doesn't suggest any great economic anxiety at the moment.

Except that in an indirect way, Iraq does translate into economic insecurity. At the post election conference sponsored by the Cook Political Report that I attended back in December, James Carville asked pollsters present what role the economy played in the 2006 election. All four agreed that the economy was a factor, and that the traditional economic measures were missing the particular flavor of discontent that worked to the Democrats advantage.

Republican Neil Newhouse argued that the discontent was not about jobs or the stock market, but rather about the costs of health care, energy, housing (including mortgages) and unease over layoffs. More important, perhaps, Newhouse argued that voters "linked Iraq" to their sense of economic unease. They may tell pollsters that they are doing well now, but also worry that the resources and attention directed at Iraq might lead to economic difficulties down the road.

Democrats Stan Greenberg and Harrison Hickman both pointed out that the economic pressures Newhouse discussed (gas prices and worries about health care costs) were most dominant in rural areas and with non-college educated voters. Greenberg discussed and tested some of these themes in this post election survey and report. While I have not seen one survey question that confirms the linkage from Iraq to the economy, economic concerns anxiety was mentioned often as a reason to vote Democratic. Greenberg found that 45% of Democratic voters (or those who considered voting Democratic) agreed that "changing our economic policies so that middle class families can prosper again" was "one of the top few reasons" for their vote. Three out of four (75%) named that statement as at least "near the top" of their concerns.

Update (2/9): Frank Newport responds here, more thoughts from me here.

POLL: Rasmussen GOP Nationwide Primary

Additional analysis from a recent Rasmussen Reports automated survey of likely Republican primary voters nationwide (conducted 1/29 through 2/3 finds former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 27%) running ahead of Sen. John McCain (19%) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (13%) for the Republican nomination.

POLL: Gallup Job Approval

A new Gallup national survey (analysis, video) conducted 2/1 through 2/4 among 1007 adults finds:

  • 32% of Americans approve of Bush's job performance, "down slightly from his readings in January, and is within one point of the low rating of his entire administration." 65% disapprove of his job performance.
  • On the issue of terrorism, 46% approve of Bush's job performance; 52% disapprove
  • On the situation in Iraq, 26% approve; 72% disapprove.

NAES Data for 2004

Topics: The 2004 Race

I need to take a moment to note something I overlooked during the very busy final days of last fall's campaign. In late October, the National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES) released its complete respondent level data collected during the 2004 campaign, which can now be purchased for $35 on CD-ROM along with a textbook on how to analyze the data, Capturing Campaign Dynamics 2000 & 2004.

For those unfamiliar, NAES is an academic survey project that conducted a nightly telephone tracking survey throughout both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns. The 2004 tracking started in October 2003 and continued nightly through mid-November 2004, completing 81,422 interviews as part of their national "rolling cross sectional" design. The details are explained on their methodology page, but the gist is that they applied the most rigorous methods of telephone survey research, and the net result is (as the book jacket claims) "the largest studies ever undertaken of the American electorate. It averaged more than 160 interviews per day (about 5,000 per month) during the primary season, and 300 per day (nearly 9,000 a month) during the final two months of the campaign.

The 2004 project also includes additional data sets: NAES interviewed special "over-samples" among voters in New Hampshire just before the primary and in the households of in active duty military personnel in the fall. They also conducted panel studies (which interview the same individuals before and after an event) to track changing opinions during the political conventions, the debates and the general election itself.

And to be clear, the CD that comes with the new book includes all of the data from both the 2000 and 2004 surveys, over 200,000 interviews in all. As a tool for academics and political junkies that know their way around statistical software, there is nothing else quite like it.

POLL: Crain's NY Statewide Survey

A new Charney Research statewide survey conducted for Crain's New York Business among 600 registered voters in New York State finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (53% to 32%) and Sen. John McCain (55% to 26%) in hypothetical general election match-ups.
  • Sen. Barack Obama leads former Mayor Giuliani (42% to 31%).

POLLS: Rasmussen National Surveys

A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey among 800 likely voters (conducted 2/2 through 2/3) finds:

  • 57% of Americans say it is likely that "the United States will be at war with Iran within the next year;" 75% say it is likely that "Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons.
  • 71% believe Democrats are likely to retain control of Congress after the 2008 elections.
  • 49% have a favorable opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while 40% have an unfavorable opinion.

A second Rasmussen Reports automated survey among 448 likely Democratic primary voters nationwide (conducted 1/29 through 2/3; released 2/5) finds Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 34%) leading Sen. Barack Obama (18%), former Sen. John Edwards (10%), and former Vice President Al Gore (10%) for the Democratic nomination.

POLL: ARG Iowa & New Hampshire

Two new American Research Group statewide surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire (conducted 1/31 through 2/1) find:

  • Among likely Republican Iowa caucus goers, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 27%) runs a few points ahead of Sen. John McCain (22%). Among likely Democratic caucus goers, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 35%) leads former Sen. John Edwards (18%), Sen. Barack Obama (14%), and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (12%).
  • Among likely Republican New Hampshire primary voters, Sen. John McCain (at 27%) runs seven points ahead of both former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. Mitt Romney (both at 20%). Among likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Clinton (at 39%) leads Sen. Obama (19%) and former Sen. Edwards (13%).