February 18, 2007 - February 24, 2007
A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 800 likely voters (conducted 2/21 through 2/22) finds:
- Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 52%) leads Sen. Hillary Clinton (43%) in a nationwide general election match-up.
- A similar general election match-up pitting Giuliani (at 46%) against former Sen. John Edwards (44%) shows a statistical dead heat.
A recent ABC News national survey (story, results) of 1007 adults (conducted 2/15 through 2/19) finds:
- A 23% plurality of Americans think Letters from Iwo Jima should win Best Picture; 20% choose The Departed. In 2006 and 2004, the top choice of ABC News survey respondents won Best Picture (Crash and The Return of the King respectively).
- Among women, 23% think Little Miss Sunshine should win Best Picture; 21% think The Queen should.
A recent Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 994 movie fans (conducted 2/14 through 2/18) finds:
- 15% want Little Miss Sunshine to win Best Picture, closely followed by 14% who want The Departed to win.
- 28% want Will Smith to win best actor for The Pursuit of Happyness; 17% want Meryl Streep to win best actress for The Devil Wears Prada.
- 49% have a favorable opinion of Sunday night's host, Ellen DeGeneres, while 37% have an unfavorable opinion of her.
A recent MSN/Zogby online survey of 9765 adults (conducted 1/17 through 1/22) finds:
- 57% of Americans say they won't watch the Academy Awards on Sunday.
- Among those who will watch the show, 30% will tune in to see if their Oscar picks are correct.
- 19% say they use the nominees and winners to determine which movies to see. Men are more likely than women (24% to 17%) to say the awards can "sway their movie choices."
Additional analysis from thirteen recent Gallup national surveys of 12,061 adults including 303 Jewish Americans (conducted 2005 through 2007) finds:
- 77% of Jewish Americans think the U.S. "made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq;" 21% think it was not a mistake.
- 89% of Jewish Democrats oppose the war, while 78% of non-Jewish Democrats oppose the war.
- 65% of Jewish non-Democrats oppose the war, while 38% of non-Jewish non-Democrats oppose the war.
- Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones writes, "Among the major religious groups in the United States, Jewish Americans are the most strongly opposed to the Iraq war."
A new Moriah Group/Public Opinion Strategies (R) national survey (release, results, Charles Franklin's analysis) of 800 registered voters (conducted 2/5 through 2/7) finds:
- 38% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president; 60% disapprove.
- 57% support "finishing the job in Iraq, that is, keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people."
- 60% say "Iraq will never become a stable democracy."
Polling on the Iraq war inevitably become entangled with the politics of the war, with partisans seizing on results that support their preferences. This was vividly demonstrated this week by a Public Opinion Strategies (POS) poll conducted for The Moriah Group, a Chattanooga-based strategic communications and public affairs firm. (N=800, MOE=3.5%, conducted 2/5-7/07.) The POS press release is here. POS is one of the top Republican polling firms in the country.
After a New York Post story on the poll a variety of blogs on the left and right picked up on the results. See (here, here, here and here.) The Media Matters site posted an extensive critique of the poll and coverage of it here.
The ironic bit is that the poll isn't far out of line with other polling that has asked somewhat similar questions, yet those previous polls have not touched off a flurry of debate about opinion on the war. Rather, the strongly worded interpretation of the results, both in the POS press release and in the New York Post story, has provoked a reaction out of line with the novelty of these finding.
A further irony is that the POS survey uses wording for some options that seems likely to draw opinion towards those alternatives rather than others, and yet the results are only modestly different from previous polling. Whatever bias may exist in the wording, it did not produce results dramatically different from others we have seen in the last three months.
How questions are phrased, including about Iraq, can certainly affect the results. For comparison then, it helps if we can look at questions that pose reasonably similar alternatives, even if worded a bit differently. Let's look at how the recent polling has approached the question of what to do in Iraq. Eight recent polls plus POS have asked questions that address the choice among "immediate withdrawal", "withdrawal by a certain date", or "maintain troops until Iraq stabilizes." Some of these also include an option to "increase troop levels".
The POS question is
Which one of the following statements regarding the US involvement in Iraq do you MOST agree with...
1) The US should immediately withdraw its troops from Iraq.
2) Whether Iraq is stable or not, the US should set and hold to a strict timetable for withdrawing troops.
3) While I don't agree that the US should be in the war, our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security to their country.
4) The Iraq War is the front line in the battle against terrorism and our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security to their country.
(The numbering of options is mine, for clarity.) It is a reasonable criticism of this question that options 3 and 4 offer elements that might be expected to draw respondents. Option 3 invites an expression of opposition to the war while supporting continued troop presence, and option 4 links the war explicitly to the war on terror as a rationale for maintaining troops. At the least, we might think this wording would increase support for the third and fourth options.
Other polls have phrased things differently while getting at the same policy options. For example, Fox puts the question as
Thinking about the situation in Iraq, do you think the United States should:
1. pull out all troops immediately,
2. pull out all troops gradually over the next year,
3. pull out after Iraqi troops are capable of taking over or
4. send more troops?
Here option 1 is essentially the same as the POS option 1. Option 2 is worded differently but amounts to the same policy option of withdrawal over a fixed period of time. And options 3 and 4 together are an expression in support of continued presence until the Iraqi's are able to take over. (One can argue if more troops is the same as continued presence, but I'm willing to argue that in this context.)
Gallup has offered a similar set of four options:
Here are four different plans the US (United States) could follow in dealing with the war in Iraq. Which one do you prefer--
1. withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately,
2. withdraw all troops by January 2008--that is, in 12 months' time,
3. withdraw troops, but take as many years to do this as are needed to turn control over to the Iraqis, or
4. send more troops to Iraq?
Again there are some variations in wording, but a similar thrust.
The George Washington University Battleground poll, conducted jointly by the Republican Tarrance Group and Democratic Lake Research Partners uses this wording:
As you have probably heard, there has been a lot of debate over the past few months about what the United States should do about its troops that are currently stationed in Iraq. I am going to read you four proposals on this issue. Please tell me which one comes closest to your own....
1. The US should begin immediately withdrawing all troops from Iraq. This is now a job for Iraqi forces to handle.
2. The US should set a date certain, no more than one year from now, when all troops be withdrawn from Iraq. This process should begin with some troops coming home immediately.
3. The US should keep its forces in Iraq until our military leaders there confirm that the situation in Iraq is stable enough that extremist forces will not be able to seize control once US troops leave.
4. The US should temporarily increase the number of troops in Iraq to help stabilize the situation more quickly.
Finally the Pew Research Center asks two questions:
Do you think the US (United States) should keep military troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized, or do you think the US should bring its troops home as soon as possible?
(If bring troops home as soon as possible): Should the US remove all troops from Iraq immediately, or should the withdrawal of troops be gradual over the next year or two?
Combining the Pew responses we get three categories for 1) immediately, 2) within a year or two, and 3) keep troops until stabilized.
The variations in question wording mean exact comparison is not possible, but the categories are reasonably similar in the policy options they offer.
For comparison, I combine the last two options of the POS survey. Both say we should continue a troop presence in Iraq until the country is stabilized though they offer different rationales for that presence. Similarly, I combine those options in other surveys that say we should remain until the situation is stable or we should send more troops. Again either option implies a continued presence. This gives three policy options that are comparable across all nine polls, regardless of wording:
1) Immediate withdrawal
2) Withdrawal within a specified time frame
3) Continued presence until Iraq is stabilized
The graph at the top shows the results of this. While there is variation across the polls it is modest compared to the stability of results. The immediate withdrawal option wins from 12-21% support, and averages 16.5%. Between 28% and 40% favor withdrawal by some deadline, with an average of 34.1% choosing this option. And those favoring continued presence in Iraq range from 42% to 53%, and average 45.5%.
The POS survey is a little higher (at 50%) for the combined options 3 and 4, but still only 4.5% above the average for this question. (The average is 44.9% without the POS poll.)
The POS result of 17% for immediate withdrawal is close to the 16.5% average, and POS's 32% for withdrawal by a deadline compares to an average of 34.1% preferring that option. (Removing POS from the averages results in 16.4% and 34.4%, not an appreciable change.)
So we return to the irony. Despite question wording that seems extreme compared to the other pollsters here, POS got at most a 5 point increase in support for keeping troops in Iraq until the country is stable. And the POS question produced very little difference from the average results for immediate or timed withdrawal. So critics who have jumped on the question wording bandwagon may be right about the wording, but they are substantially wrong about the effect.
One of the most annoying aspects of question wording effects is that sometimes they are large when you don't expect it, and sometimes they are small even when you are sure they should be large.
It is similarly ironic that those who delighted in the POS results were oblivious to the fact that there was not really any new news here. Apparently other pollsters from the "drive-by media" and elsewhere had been reporting substantially the same results for a while now.
Finally, the results of this question are: 49% withdraw immediately or by a deadline, and 50% stay until Iraq is stable. I'd say a 49-50 split isn't a strong indication of overwhelming support for either side. (There are other questions in the survey that address different issues-- some are more supportive of the war and some are less. Towards the high end is "I support finishing the job in Iraq, that is, keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people" 57% agree. But also: "Iraq will never become a stable democracy", 60% agree. Picking which results you like while ignoring the ones you don't may be good politics but it is bad polling analysis.)
If we phrase the question differently do we get different answers? Sometimes. I could illustrate that with other questions about Iraq easily. Opinion about the war is complex, with shifting coalitions of supporters and opponents depending on how questions slice the policy options. And sometimes choice of wording plays a substantial role in that. But not this time.
- Charles Franklin
Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.
A new Strategic Vision (R) statewide survey of 600 likely Republican caucus goers and 600 likely Democratic caucus goers in Iowa (conducted 2/16 through 2/18) finds:
- Among Democrats, former Sen. John Edwards (at 24%) runs slightly ahead of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (both at 18%). Former Gov. Tom Vilsack runs at 14%.
- Among Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 29%) leads Sen. John McCain (22%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (11%).
- 64% of Democrats and a 48% plurality of Republicans "favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months."
Additional analysis from a recent Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 800 likely voters nationwide (conducted 2/14 through 2/15) finds
- Sen. Chuck Hagel trails Sen. Hillary Clinton (40% to 48%) and Sen. Barack Obama (34% to 50%) in general election match-ups.
- 49% don't know enough about Hagel to have favorable or unfavorable opinion; 56% aren't sure where he belongs on the ideological scale.
Additional analysis from a recent CBS News national survey of 1142 adults (conducted 2/8 through 2/11) finds:
- 47% of Americans think Hollywood celebrities should "get involved" in politics while 48% think they should "stay out." In 2003, 54% to 38% thought they should get involved.
- Republicans (at 67%) are more likely than Democrats (34%) to say celebrities should stay out of politics. Independents are evenly divided at 46%.
- Men (at 54%) are more likely than women (42%) to say celebrities should stay out of politics.
Additional analysis from a recent CBS News national survey of 1142 adults (conducted 2/8 through 2/11) finds that 21% of Americans say they are currently caring for an aging parent or have cared for one in the past; 43% of those say it has caused disputes among family members.
A new SurveyUSA automated survey of 500 adults in Utah (conducted 2/20) finds:
- 55% of adults in Utah believe former Gov. Mitt Romney's "Mormon religious affiliation" will hurt his chances of being elected president; 15% believe it will help; 28% believe it will have no effect.
- 10% think "the LDS faith" is well understood by most Americans; 82% think it is not.
A new Quinnipiac University national survey of 1536 registered voters (conducted 2/13 through 2/19) finds:
- Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 38%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (23%) and Vice President Al Gore (11%) in a national primary. Former Sen. John Edwards trails at 6%.
- Among Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 40%) leads Sen. John McCain (18%) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (10%) in a national primary.
- General election match-ups show Giuliani leading Clinton (48% to 43%), Giuliani leading Obama (47% to 40%), and Giuliani leading Edwards (48% to 40%). Match-ups pitting McCain against Clinton (46% to 44%), McCain against Obama (43% to 43%) and McCain against Edwards (43% to 42%) are all within the margin of sampling error.
Last week I wrote about the new Fox poll on support for six presidential candidates. Fox asked if you would "definitely" vote for, "might" vote for, or "would not vote for under any circumstances" each of the candidates. The question is framed in general and offered to all respondents, so the frame is in a general, rather than primary, election. This speaks to the electability issue.
Today I follow up on that post with a look at how candidate support varies by party identification. Not surprisingly Republicans are more likely to say they would vote for Republicans and not for Democrats and vice versa for Democratic partisans. By looking within partisan camps the questions throw light on how partisans may view the desirability of alternative nominees.
The plot above puts the previous results in partisan perspective. While there is a strong partisan bias, not surprisingly, there are still surprisingly few respondents who say they would "definitely vote for" candidates of their own party.
On the Republican side, more Republican partisans say they would "definitely" vote for Giuliani than would "never" vote for him. But this is not so for either McCain or Gingrich (and by a wide margin for the latter.) Among Democrats, a plurality would "definitely" vote for Clinton rather than "never". In this Clinton has the largest margin among the six candidates. Obama's "definite" supports only barely exceed his "never" critics (among Democrats!), and Edwards falls well short of a plurality of "definite" support.
As we've seen in previous analyses, Clinton is the most polarizing of the six candidates. Republicans respond 79% "Never" and less than 5% "definitely", with only 15% saying they "might" vote for her. Among Democrats, only 17% say never while 32% are definite supporters, with 48% saying they might vote for her. While the potential support is large, the actual opposition is very strong. Independents fall between, 39% never, 19% definite and 40% might. This puts Clinton solidly in the lead among her partisans, but with very strong opposition among Republicans. No surprise there.
Neither Giuliani nor McCain draw the same strength of Democratic opposition that Clinton does from Republicans. To be sure between 55% and 60% of Democrats say they would never support either of these, but that leaves a substantial number of Dems who would at least consider one of these Republican contenders. Giuliani does relatively better among Independents, with 30% saying they would never support, and 12% definite.
McCain on the other hand faces more opposition from Independents than we might expect given his 2000 reputation for appealing to independents and Democrats. Among independents 42% said they would never vote for McCain, while only 7% said they definitely would. So a supposed strength of the McCain campaign looks in these data to be far from a source of confidence.
Former speaker Gingrich may yet emerge as a credible candidate, but his current polling does not support a belief that he would be a particularly strong candidate even among Republicans, and certainly not among independents or Democrats. As with all these early polls, much change can yet occur, so these results should not be interpreted as predictions of future outcomes. But they do show that Gingrich has much to accomplish if he is to win over supporters from both inside and outside his party.
The ratings of Barak Obama show relatively high "might" vote for responses, as we would expect from a relative newcomer to national politics. His very slight edge among Democrats leaves him with deficits among independents who remain persuadable, and Republicans who are as opposed to him as they are to Edwards but not so opposed as to Clinton.
Edwards, who has often been viewed in the press as an attractive candidate with positive images left over from his 2004 campaign does not come off so well in these data. Democrats are more opposed than supportive, and independents do not appear to be drawn to him at this point.
What about those who "might" vote for these candidates? How do they alter the positions?
The closer to the lower left corner the points are, the more respondents said they "might" vote for the candidates. In all six figures it is apparent that this represents a large segment of the population. These "persuadable" voters could certainly change the landscape as they make up their minds.
One way to look at this is to add the "mights" in with the "definite" supporters to see the MAXIMUM level of support for each candidate. The figure below does this.
With the potential supporters added in, all candidates move close to the diagonal line, which is the limit of possible support, given the level of "never" responses. This doesn't change the relative ordering of the candidates on the opposition (vertical) dimension, but it shows potential growth in support for each. For candidates such as Obama and Giuliani the potential upside is great. For Gingrich it is most limited, while Clinton can benefit a lot among Democrats, not so much among independents and little among Republicans. McCain's potential is also substantial, though perhaps not as much as Giuliani's. Edwards falls between Obama and Clinton in potential.
Of course, this is the MAXIMUM gain for each candidate, and since not all of those who say they "might" vote for a candidate will in fact, the truth lies somewhat short of this rosiest of outcomes.
The partisan camps clearly align with their party's candidates, but the lack of overwhelming support within any camp clearly shows that this race is not solidly locked up within parties, let alone in the general election. And, we've yet to hear from those in single digits who will not stay there forever, if past elections are any indication. Stay tuned.
- Charles Franklin
Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.
A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of likely primary voters nationwide (conducted 2/12 through 2/15) finds:
- Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 28%) runs slightly ahead of Sen. Barack Obama (24%), and former Sen. John Edwards (11%) and former Vice President Al Gore (10%) trail in a national primary.
- Among Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 33%) leads Sen. John McCain (19%), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (13%), and former Gov. Mitt Romney (8%) in a national primary.
A new WNBC/Marist College national survey of 978 registered voters (conducted 2/12 through 2/15) finds:
- Among Democrats and Democratic leaning independents, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 37%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (17%) in a national primary. Former Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. John Edwards trail at 11% each.
- Among Republicans and Republican leaning independents, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 28%) runs slightly ahead of Sen. John McCain (21%) in a national primary. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (11%) and former Gov. Mitt Romney (10%) trail.
- General election match-ups pitting Giuliani against Clinton (47% to 45% respectively), Clinton against McCain (46% to 46%), Edwards against Giuliani (44% to 44%), McCain against Obama (44% to 41%), and McCain against Edwards (44% to 43%) are all within the margin of sampling error.
A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey of 1087 registered voters in Connecticut (conducted 2/9 through 2/12) finds:
- 24% of Connecticut voters approve of the job Bush is doing
as president, 72% disapprove.
- Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 33%) leads Sen.
Barack Obama (21%) in the Connecticut primary. Among
Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 43%) leads Sen.
John McCain (27%).
More than any recent election, the 2008 presidential contest raises the issue of whether Americans are ready to vote for a ... (woman, black, Hispanic, Mormon) for president. In 1960 Kennedy's Catholicism was a key question. In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro gave us the possibility of a woman a "heart beat away", if not quite in the oval office. With at least four "group" members in the race this year, the question of what groups are acceptable and not is again before us.
The data are pretty clear that women and African-American's have gained acceptance, at least in the abstract. In data collected since 1956 by Gallup, and more recently by a variety of other pollsters, we can track changes over time to the question (as phrased by Gallup):
If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be ______, would you vote for that person?
Most pollsters use a similarly worded question. (Interestingly Gallup used "well qualified MAN" rather than "person" until the 1990s, except of course when asking about a female candidate.) The graph above shows trends in these questions for all groups and all pollsters I could find since the 1950s, 144 questions in all.
The striking effect of Kennedy's campaign and election is clear. While about 70 percent of the public said they would vote for a Catholic from 1955-1959, this jumped over 10 points following Kennedy's election. (62% said they would vote for a Catholic in 1940, the earliest poll I could find.) Since then it has gradually risen to a plateau in the mid-90s, though still slightly below the number comfortable voting for a "Baptist", the long time favorite in this graph.
Support for Jewish candidates has remained a bit below that for Catholics, maintaining a small but reliable gap. Interestingly, Kennedy's Catholicism may have helped increase acceptance for Jews as a side effect of the nation's consideration of religion in 1960. The upturn in acceptance of Jews as candidates tracks with the rise of Catholic acceptability in the early 1960s.
Mormon's may or may not have benefited from that movement as well. I could locate no questions about Mormon candidates prior to 1967 so we can't know what the trend was in the 1950s or early 1960s. In 1967, however, acceptance of Mormon candidates ran about 7 points behind that of Jews, and closer to 15 points behind Catholics. In the time since, there have only been two repetitions of the Mormon question (that I could find), and these two indicate stability through 2000 and a decline in 2007. With only 3 polls, it is very dangerous to conclude that there has been a real decline, or even to claim a very good estimate of the acceptability of a Mormon candidate. But given the little evidence that is available, Mormons clearly face more resistance from the public than Catholics or Jews (not to mention Baptists.) Governor Mitt Romney's campaign gives us an excellent chance to see if this resistance is primarily because voters haven't thought about it, and once confronted with an attractive candidate, as with Kennedy, will revise their opinions, or if this represents more strongly held suspicion of Mormons that will continue to register in the polls.
The one religiously defined group that should probably not jump in the presidential race is atheists. The public remains strongly opposed to putting non-believers in the White House. Despite some growth in tolerance of atheists this group still is acceptable to only just over 45% of the public. Homosexuals are the only group less acceptable than atheists, but that appears to have changed by 1999 when homosexual candidates gained acceptance by 59% of the public. (Again, beware the small number of polls that have asked about homosexuals. This is not a very reliable estimate, based on only four polls.)
The two groups that have moved most dramatically are not religiously defined. Women and blacks have moved from 50% or less support in 1955 to currently high acceptance rates. Blacks have in fact moved up to match Catholics and perhaps even Baptists in professed willingness to vote for a member of the group. Women were on a similar trajectory until recently. Since 2000 there has been some modest decline in acceptance of women candidates. It is possible that this is due to voters thinking of Hilary Clinton specifically in response to this question recently, raising a partisan bias, or it could be a fluke in the most recent half dozen polls. I've not located polls asking about support for an Hispanic candidate so not trend or other data are available on that for comparison.
The overall rise across most of these groups in willingness to vote for candidates from the group reflects some important changes in society over the past 50 years. The relative stratification of groups, however, is also generally stable. The order of acceptability--- Baptist, Catholic, Jew, Mormon and atheist--- has not shifted even as level of acceptance has risen. Women, blacks and perhaps homosexuals have seen dramatic rises, with the first two groups changing order with other groups. Still, the stratification remains clear, if reduced in magnitude. And some groups such as atheists and homosexuals remain well short of widespread acceptance as potential presidential candidates.
It is also worth noting that this measure of potential vote does not mean that in the actual choice these characteristics are irrelevant to voting decisions. Presented with an actual woman, black, Mormon, Jew or Hispanic, each of these categories may still produce a reduction in the probability of voting support. At least if the opponent is a Baptist male. It seems likely than only the election of presidents from these categories can assure us that such categories have become irrelevant in fact.
The Romney campaign offers the best opportunity for a natural experiment to see how malleable these perceptions may be. Note that the acceptance of Catholics did not increase until after the 1960 election. The last time the Catholic question was asked in Gallup data was December of 1959, and not again until August 1961. We are left to wonder if Kennedy increased acceptance during his nomination race and/or during the general election or if this change occurred only after he was elected president. Romney will have to overcome the resistance to Mormon candidates, and with the huge increase in polling, we should be able to use his race as an opportunity to learn something about how rapidly such attitudes can change, or not. Let's hope pollsters will monitor this question for us. Interesting social science, in any case.
- Charles Franklin
Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.