July 8, 2007 - July 14, 2007


The President as Respondent

Topics: George Bush

In case you missed it, here what President George W. Bush told ten conservative journalists yesterday about polls on his performance in Iraq as reported by the National Review (via Sullivan):

He explained "that last fall, if I had been part of this polling, if they had called upstairs and said, do you approve of Iraq I would have been on the 66 percent who said, 'No I don't approve.' That's why I made the decision I made. To get in a position where I would be able to say 'Yes, I approve.'"


Topics: 2008 , George Bush , Pollsters , The 2008 Race

The pollsters at the Washington Post, Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta, have a blog we managed to overlook called "Behind the Numbers." Recent posts drill deeper into the recent Post surveys of political independents.

Kathy Frankovic mines the Roper iPoll database and finds "2,377 public polling questions that include the name "Hillary Clinton" or "Hillary Rodham Clinton," and declares her "the most asked-about woman of all time."

Gary Langer mulls the "career low" job ratings posted recently by President Bush and concludes: "in terms of public opinion, this president's problems are all about Iraq; his approval rating and views of whether the war was worth fighting have correlated since April 2003 at a near-perfect .93."

Huffington Post's Tom Edsall digs deeper into both sides of the law suit between Clinton pollster Mark Penn and a group of former employees: "Regardless of the outcome, the lawsuits themselves reveal the corporate underbelly of Penn, Schoen and Berland, a company that celebrated the dissolution of its partnership with spying, double-crosses, back-biting, broken promises, and bitter legal accusations."

Survey Sampling International (SSI) mourns the passing of its founder, Tom Danbury, who passed away this week at the age of 71: "Mr. Danbury is credited with a number of innovations for the market research industry and he, in fact, founded the first commercial sampling company."

POLL: Newsweek National Survey

A new Newsweek national survey (story, results) of 1,001 adults (conducted 7/12) finds:

  • 29% approve of the job George Bush is doing as president; 64% disapprove.
  • 22% think Bush's "'surge' plan increasing U.S. troops in Iraq" has been a success; 64% say failure.
  • 41% are willing to give Bush "nine more months before any cutbacks in U.S. troop levels are made;" 54% are not willing.

Cell Phones and Political Surveys: Part II

Topics: Cell Phones

Two weeks ago, I took a long look at the cell-phone only problem and whether the absence of those without landline phones is affecting survey results. Today, I want to conclude with a look at how pollsters conduct surveys via cell phone. Like Part I, this article is long, even by Pollster.com standards. So it continues after the jump.

Continue reading "Cell Phones and Political Surveys: Part II"

POLL: AP/Ipsos Bush Approval

As noted in the Charles Franklin analysis below, an AP economics story reports that a new AP/Ipsos poll puts the Bush job approval rating a "33% in July." Pollster.com sources say more will be coming from AP later this afternoon and we will update this post with more results as they come.

UPDATE: The national survey (story, results) of 1,004 adults (conducted 7/9 through 7/11) finds:

  • 33% approve of the way George Bush is handling his job as president; 65% disapprove.
  • 24% approve of the way Congress is handling its job; 70% disapprove.
  • 26% say things in this country are heading in the right direction; 69% say they are off on the wrong track.

Bush Approval: Harris: 26%, Trend:27.2%, But...

Topics: George Bush


A new Harris Interactive poll taken 7/6-9/07 finds approval of President Bush at 26%, with disapproval at 73%. With the addition of this poll, the trend estimate stands at 27.2% approval. The Harris polls is in line with a recent Newsweek at 26%, CBS at 27% and Gallup at 29%. As can seen from the residual plot below, it is also well within the range of expected variation for polls around the trend estimate.

The "But..." in the title of the post is because it appears there is a new AP/Ipsos poll with approval of Bush at 33%. An AP article on economic confidence mentions this approval result, but so far I've not seen an official release of presidential approval from the new AP/Ipsos poll. Because the AP/Ipsos approval number is not yet "official" (in my book at least) I will not do a post on it yet.

However, it would be deceptive to pretend I am unaware of that result. So, the "But..." is that this AP poll should be officially released by AP soon. When that happens, and assuming the correct number actually is 33% (I assume it will be, since it was cited by an AP reporter, but you never know for sure until the release is out), then the trend estimate WITH AP will be 27.8%, rather than 27.2% with only the new Harris. BUT since AP decided to use the number in a story prior to releasing the official result, it is not yet certain (to me) that this will be their result. (Perhaps final processing of the new AP/Ipsos approval poll is not yet final, and a different result appears. But if so, I am surprised it was allowed to be used in a story.)

The bottom line is that either way approval continues in the upper 20s, and that certainly remains bad for the administration.

With the Harris poll (but NOT AP) there are not concerns in the diagnostics below, and the recent polling continues to follow the trend as we would expect.





Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

POLL: ARG National Primary

A new American Research Group national survey of likely primary voters (conducted 7/6 through 7/12) finds:

  • Among 600 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (38% to 25%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 16%.
  • Among 600 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (30% to 17%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 14%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Gov. Mitt Romney both at 10%.

POLL: Gallup 08, Immigration, Sicko

Additional analysis from recent Gallup national surveys find:

  • Among 916 registered voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton runs at 45%, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 39%, Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 12% in a three-way general election match-up; 13% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats support Bloomberg (conducted 7/6 through 7/8).
  • 58% of Americans say "immigrants to the United States" are making the country's crime situation worse; 4% say better. 46% say they are making the country's economy in general worse; 28% say better (conducted 6/4 through 6/24).
  • Gallup's Yasmin Vossoughian looks at public opinion on the state of health care in Cuba, France, Canada, and the United States in response to the data in Michael Moore's film health-care themed film, Sicko.

Re: The Indelicate Question

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Would a McCain withdrawal favor Rudy Giuliani? Gallup's Frank Newport crunches the numbers on recent national Gallup polls on the Republican presidential nomination and confirms the findings from the Cook/RT Strategies polls that I blogged earlier this week:

To answer this question, we aggregated the last three Gallup polls in which the Republican trial heat was included - conducted June 1-3, June 11-14, and July 6-8. Across those three polls McCain's percent of the vote averaged 18%. In each poll, we ask voters to name their second choice. So for this analysis, we removed McCain's votes, and reallocated his voters' choices to their second choice candidates.

The results? Rudy Giuliani picks up the most of McCain's votes, going from a 30% share of Republican choices with McCain on the ballot to 38% with McCain removed.

Fred Thompson moves from 16% to 18%. Mitt Romney goes from 9% to 11%. Newt Gingrich gains a point, from 7% to 8%. Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson and Mike Huckabee all gain a point, but remain at 3% or less of the vote.

LA Times Poll Budget Cuts

Topics: Pollsters

Good news and bad news for the Los Angeles Times Poll. The bad news, according to an internal memo obtained by LA Observed, is that their staff and funding has been cut. The good news is that the poll operation as not been "terminated" altogether, according to the memo by Times editor James O'Shea:

In talks preceding the recent company-wide staffing changes, we discussed terminating the Los Angeles Times poll. I decided against taking that step, but did initiate some actions to restructure the poll to make it operate more efficiently. Going forward, we will outsource the interview process - meaning we will no longer bring in on-call employees to periodically interview respondents. The interviewers were formally notified of this decision earlier today.

We will continue our national poll partnership with Bloomberg and are seeking a local partner to enhance our ability to do more intensive area polling. In line with the way other papers are organized, the full-time polling staff will also be reduced from five to two. Susan Pinkus will remain director of the poll and these changes will take effect in September.

Most media surveys currently "outsource" their interviewing to independent call centers or survey firms. The cuts affect three full time employees that helped supervise interviewing, plus all of the part-time interviewers ("on-call employees").

See LA Observed for the full memo.

POLL: Harris Bush Approval

A new Harris Interactive telephone survey of 1,003 adults (conducted 7/6 through 7/9) finds:

  • 26% rate the job George Bush is doing as president as either "excellent" or "pretty good;" 73% rate it either "fair" or "poor."
  • 19% say things in this country "are going in the right direction;" 70% say they have "pretty seriously gotten off the wrong track."

With the Harris number included, Pollster.com's presidential approval rating of George W. Bush is now 27.2%.


POLL: Pew News Index Iraq/Libby/Candidate Videos

A new Pew Research Center News Interest Index Omnibus Survey (story, results) of 1,017 adults (conducted 7/6 through 7/9) finds:

  • 70% of Americans followed the "news about the current situation and events in Iraq" closely; 30% did not.
  • 51% followed "Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence of former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby" closely, 49% did not.
  • 32% of Americans have heard about the "Hillary and Bill Clinton acting out a scene from the Sopranos" video and 19% say they have seen it; 16% have heard about the "young woman who claims to have a crush on Barack Obama" video and 8% report seeing it; 15% have heard about the "John Edwards combing his hair to the tune of "I Feel Pretty" video and 7% report seeing it.

POLL: Quinnipiac OH Primary

A new Quinnipiac University statewide survey of registered voters in Ohio (conducted 7/3 through 7/9) finds:

  • Among 531 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (35% to 17%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 13%; former V.P. Al Gore trails at 12%.
  • Among 499 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (24% to 18%) in a statewide primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 14%.

POLL: Strategic Vision (R) MI & PA Primaries

Two new Strategic Vision (R) statewide surveys of likely voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan find (via Political Wire):

  • Among Republicans in Pennsylvania, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 42%) leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (16%), Sen. John McCain (10%), and former Gov. Mitt Romney (6%) in a statewide primary. Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama 36% to 25%).
  • Among Republicans in Michigan, Giuliani (at 20%) edges out Romney (15%), McCain and Thompson (both at 14%. Among Democrats, Clinton leads Obama 32% to 25%.

The Indelicate Question

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

If Senator McCain's public statements and the various news reports this morning are to be believed, he will remain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination despite the resignation yesterday of several top aides. Yet given the sense of "implosion" surrounding McCain's campaign, I would be shocked if the pollsters for his rivals are not using their internal data to answer this indelicate question: Where do McCain's supporters go if he drops out of the race?

My quick review turned up only one pollster -- RT Strategies/Cook Political Report -- that has so far reported recalculated vote preferences based on the second choice expressed by McCain supporters. The table below shows the initial vote preference from a mash-up of two June RT Strategies polls, as well as a vote without McCain and a vote without both McCain and Gingrich (the bigger "not certain" response for the latter includes those who chose both McCain and Gingrich as first and second choice). RT Strategies also tabulated two Republican primary subgroups that I have labeled "all" and "most likely." Both groups include those who say they "generally participate in primary elections or party caucuses" with the Republican rather than the Democratic party. The larger group ("all") includes self identified primary or caucus voters who volunteer that their choice of party "depends" on the election.


The results show that without McCain in the race, Giuliani's support increases by 7 or 8 percentage points, while none of the other candidates gets a boost of more than 2 points. This means that while Giuliani is the first choice of 20-21% of Republicans, he is the second choice of roughly 35-40% of those who supported McCain in June. So for the moment, a collapse in McCain's support should work to Giuliani's advantage.

This question has more significance in New Hampshire and South Carolina where McCain runs a few points higher (18% and 17% respectively) than he does nationally (16%), according to our trend estimates. As far as I can see, only the most recent WMUR/CNN/University of New Hampshire poll included a second choice question, but they have not yet released a recalculated vote without McCain.

POLL: USA Today/Gallup Iraq

Additional results to the new USA Today/Gallup national survey of 1,014 adults (conducted 7/6 through 7/8) finds:

  • 62% think "the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq" -- "the first time Gallup has shown opposition to the war exceeding the 60% level;" 36% say it was not.
  • 22% say "the increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq" is making the situation better, 25% say it is making the situation worse; 51% say it is not making much difference.
  • 71% favor "removing all U.S. troops from Iraq by April 1st of next year, except for a limited number that would be involved in counter-terrorism efforts;" 26% oppose.

POLL: PPP (D) NC Senatorial Match-Ups

A new Public Policy Polling (D) automated survey of 553 likely general election voters in North Carolina (conducted 7/9) tests senatorial match-ups pitting Sen. Elizabeth Dole against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, State Legislator Grier Martin, and State Senator Kay Hagen.

POLL: InsiderAdvantage Kentucky Gubernatorial

A new InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion statewide survey of 693 registered voters in Kentucky (conducted 7/8 through 7/9) finds Democrat Steven Beshear edging out Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher 41% to 38% in a gubernatorial general election match-up.

McCain's Collapse


News broke today of a major shakeup of the McCain presidential campaign. This on the heels of a second poor financial quarter and a mere $2 million cash on hand. The financial and staff disaster however simply reflects the trouble the campaign was in with voters.

While McCain was widely said in 2005 and 2006 to be the front runner for the Republican nomination, he consistently polled a few points behind Rudy Giuliani in that period. Since January of 2007, McCain's national level of support from Republican voters has steadily declined from nearly 25% to just over 15%.

That national decline would be bad enough for any campaign, but the situation in the early primary states has been even worse. The most dramatic failure has been in South Carolina, the state where McCain invested most heavily and where he did the most politically to mend fences demolished in the 2000 campaign. McCain's frequent visits, staff allocation and public shifts to reposition himself vis a vis South Carolina political issues and political and religious leaders initially paid off in support from around 40% of Republicans in the state as of early 2006. But the trajectory of support there has been profoundly down, standing today at around 17%.

In New Hampshire, the launch pad of the 2000 campaign, McCain has also steadily declined, from around 35% in early 2006 to half that--- 18%--- now.

In Iowa, the state McCain wrote off in 2000 and initially tried to win this time, support has crashed from 25% to under 10%.

And in Florida, the big state that moved up its primary this year, McCain has dropped from a high of 27% to 12%.

The collapse of campaigns can be attributed to poor strategy, poor management, poor fundraising. But the more fundamental cause is lack of support, a failure to connect with voters. The trajectory of the McCain campaign has been clear in these data for some time. Republican voters were simply not embracing the McCain candidacy. That was evident during his "front runner" period when journalists couldn't believe Giuliani's lead in the polls meant McCain wasn't the front runner. It became more evident as Giuliani surged in early 2007 while McCain started to decline. And it is stunningly clear now as Republican voters have been deserting the campaign in state after state after state. (Note Giuliani's trajectory is now similar to McCain's. A topic for another day.)

Maybe different management would have raised more money and spent it less profligately, but only a message more attuned to Republican voters' preferences and concerns could have changed this campaign. Given McCain's positions over the past 7 years, perhaps no message could have been crafted that would have bonded voters to him. Only a miracle of Biblical proportions is likely to bring this one back.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

On Charts and "Tiers"

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

The Atlantic's Mark Ambinder and NBC's Chuck Todd today updated their ranking of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates (see also Ambinder's blog commentary). Their division of both fields into explicit "tiers" reminds me of a point I meant to make about a week ago about our presidential campaign charts.

We have a chart that displays trend for "top contenders" in each party nationally and in each of the early primary states. We broke out the leading candidates from the rest of the pack largely to keep the charts readable. If we plotted all of the candidates, the lines for those consistently scoring in the low single digits would form an unreadable, spaghetti-like hodgepodge at the bottom of each chart. So for clarity's sake, we provide a "top contenders" chart showing those that have risen beyond single digits, but also provide a set of "small multiple" charts just below that plot the trend for each candidate in small separate graphs.

Two weeks ago, we made the decision to include Democrat Bill Richardson on the "top contenders" chart because, as Professor Franklin explained, Richardson had shown "substantial movement in Iowa, and New Hampshire." Though still in fourth or fifth place in both states, Franklin wrote, Richardson has "the only trajectory that is clearly moving up."

Understandably, perhaps, the Richardson campaign put out a press release that read a bit more into that observation:

Pollster.com became the latest media observer to confirm what the voters already know: Bill Richardson has broken into the top tier in the race for the Democratic nomination. Pollster.com notes that, among the Democratic candidates, "his is the only trajectory that is clearly moving up."

We stand by our characterization of the recent trend in Richardson's support in Iowa and New Hampshire, but put us down as agnostic on how many "tiers" exist among the presidential candidates and to which tier Bill Richardson and the others belong.

Our mission here is to help you follow and make sense of political polling data, with an emphasis on charts that help put individual poll results into a broader perspective. To that end, we will continue tinkering to make our charts as legible and useful as possible. We will also continue to comment on emerging trends as we see them. When it comes to the declaration of "tiers," however, we will leave that to handicappers like Ambinder, Todd...and you.

Bush Approval: Gallup at 29%, Trend at 27.7%

Topics: George Bush


The USAToday/Gallup Poll taken 7/6-8/07 has found approval of President Bush at 29%, disapproval at 66%. This is the first time Gallup has found approval of President Bush below 30%. My approval trend estimate now stands at 27.7%.

While other polls have fallen into the 20s in recent weeks, Gallup had not done a survey since mid-June. Gallup on average falls 1.26 percentage points above the trend estimate, so the new reading is quite consistent with both the trend and the house effect.

The trend estimate has now held below 30% for the last 7 polls, despite two of those polls coming in at 31% and 32%. Unless something reverses the current downward trend, it is likely that President Bush will see a range of polling over the next couple of weeks ranging from 23% to 33% but with most in the 20s. That is a poisonous level of support for Republicans in Congress, where support for the President's policies has continued to erode.

Republican support in the latest poll is at 68%, only the 2nd time Gallup has found Republican support below 70% during the Bush administration.

Other indicators in the new poll are also bleak for the White House. A full 66% in the poll say Bush should not have intervened in the Libby case, with 13% saying commutation was the right thing to do, while 6% would have preferred a full pardon. This confirms earlier "instant" polls that found low levels of support for the commutation. And for the first time, over 60% of the sample says that it was a mistake to invade Iraq: 62%.






Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

POLL: ARG Illinois Primary

A new American Research Group statewide survey of likely voters in Illinoise (conducted 7/6 through 7/9) finds:

  • Among 600 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (30% to 21%) in a statewide primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 12%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 11%.
  • Among 600 Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama edges out Sen. Hillary Clinton (37% to 33%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 10%.

POLL: USA Today/Gallup Bush/Libby

Additional results from the most recent Gallup/USA Today national survey (USA Today story, results; Gallup Bush analysis, Libby analysis) of 1,014 adults (conducted 7/6 through 7/8) finds:

  • 29% approve of the way George Bush is handling his job as president -- "a new low;" 66% disapprove.
  • When asked to choose, 66% think Bush "should not have intervened at all" on Lewis "Scooter" Libby's behalf; 13% think he "was right to commute Libby's sentence;" 6% think Bush should have granted Libby a full pardon.
  • Opinions of Bush's recent actions [regarding Scooter Libby] are generally similar regardless of how much attention people are paying to the case.

POLL: Gallup/USA Today 08 Primary

A new USA Today/Gallup national survey of adults (conducted 7/6 through 7/8) finds:

  • Among 516 Democrats and those who "lean" Democratic, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (37% to 21%) in a national primary; former V.P. Al Gore trails at 16%, former Sen. John Edwards at 13%. "If Gore is removed from the survey," Clinton leads Obama 42% to 26%.
  • Among 394 Republicans and those who "lean" Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (30% to 20%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 16%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 9%.

Via TPMCafe's Election Central.

POLL: Fabrizio, McLaughlin (R) West Virginia Survey

A recent Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (R) statewide survey of 400 likely voters in West Virginia (conducted 5/22 through 5/23; released 7/9) finds Sen. Hillary Clinton leading both Sen. John McCain (41% to 34%) and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (42% to 36%) in statewide general election match-ups.

POLL: Washington Post/Kaiser/Harvard Virginia Survey

A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University statewide survey (story, results) of 1,708 adults in Virginia (conducted 5/3 through 6/3; released 7/7) finds:

  • 40% would prefer the next president to be a Democrat; 33% would prefer a Republican.
  • 37% believe "the U.S. goal of bringing stability to Iraq" is still possible; 58% believe it is not possible.
  • 33% are enthusiastic or satisfied about the Bush administration's policies; 65% are dissatisfied or angry.

Bush Approval: Newsweek 26%, Trend 27.9%

Topics: George Bush


A Newsweek poll taken 7/2-3/07 finds approval of President Bush at 26%, disapproval at 65%, unchanged from Newsweek's previous poll done 6/18-19. With the addition of the Newsweek poll, the trend estimate stands at 27.9%.

This Newsweek poll was completed on the day the commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence was announced, so most respondents were interviewed before that news broke. With the 4th of July holiday interrupting most polling operations, new approval ratings taken entirely after the commutation will only become available this coming week.


Four of the six most recent polls (including two by Newsweek) are typically below trend, with two tending to fall above trend. It will be revealing to see some new polls from those with typically positive "house effects". While those could be as high as 33%, given my current trend estimate, we should expect Gallup to fall between 29% and 31%, given current trends and Gallup's typical house effect. ABC/WP who hasn't been heard from in a while might be expected at 29-32. It will be revealing if either comes in below (or more surprisingly, above) those ranges.

The current Newsweek poll is 1.9 points below trend, well within the range of normal variation. (There are two Newsweek polls in the residual plot below, with the lower Newsweek being the earlier June poll, though it too is well within normal limits.)

The rest of the diagnostics continue to support a continuing decline in support since late April. The Libby commutation, or the immigration bill's defeat, might have shifted the trend-- but which way? Arguments have been made both ways. We need a number of new post-Libby polls to detect whatever effect there may have been. Stay tuned.





Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.