Pollster.com

September 16, 2007 - September 22, 2007

 

POLL: Courier-Journal Kentucky Gubernatorial


A new Louisville Courier-Journal statewide survey of 667 likely voters in Kentucky (conducted 9/13 through 9/18) finds Democrat Steve Beshear leading Republican Gov. Ernier Fletcher (55% to 35%) in a gubernatorial general election match-up.

Kentucky Gubernatorial poll data:

PollsterDatesN PopSteve
Beshear
Ernie
Fletcher*
Courier-Journal9/13-18/07667 LV5535
Research 20009/10-13/07600 LV5639
SurveyUSA9/8-10/07533 LV5839
SurveyUSA8/4-6/07613 LV5837
Preston-Osborne7/25-8/2/07600 LV4931
SurveyUSA7/14-16/07560 LV5936
IA/MO7/8-9/07693 RV4138
Rasmussen5/24-25/07500 LV5135
SurveyUSA5/23-24/07609 LV6234


Edwards: 2-3 Points Ahead or Tied

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Candidates are usually reticent when talking about their standing in the polls, but thanks to an alert reader, we can pass on some comments about the Iowa polls from Democrat John Edwards, made during a podcast interview with CNN's Lisa Goddard (starts about two thirds through):

Goddard: I asked the former Senator about his recent slip to second in polls in Iowa.

Edwards: Now my honest assessment is there are hundreds of polls, unfortunately for the world, in Iowa. I think the bottom line is that Iowa is very competitive. It's been very competitive all along.

You know, I began with a very small lead, you know, two, three points and we've stayed in the same general area. I'm either slightly ahead or we're roughly tied. It's been that way the entire time, there's really not been any change and I expect that will maintain itself at least for some period of time.

But the bottom line is, polls go up and down and that will continue until caucus day in January.

Of course, as with any good spin, we have no way of knowing exactly what polls he is reading. He could be talking about his campaign's internal polls or simply characterizing the "hundreds" of polls" in the public domain (there aren't quite that many, but we know what he means -- more details on those polls here ). It is also arguably in Edwards' interest to lower rather than raise expectations regarding his position in Iowa. So I am not entirely sure what to make of this. Still... interesting.


POLL: PPIC California Primary


A new Public Policy Institute of California statewide survey of 2,003 adults in California (conducted 9/4 through 9/11) finds:

  • Among 455 registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic, Sen. Hillary Clinton leands Sen. Barack Obama (41% to 23%) in a statwide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%.
  • Among 353 registered Republicans and those who lean Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 22%) leads former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Fred Thompson (both at 16%) in a statewide primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 15%.

We will post full results as soon as they are available.


Word Association


The new Pew Research Center survey that we linked to yesterday includes a fascinating set of "word associations" that voters make with the Democratic and Republican candidates. To follow up on my discussion earlier in the week about the worth of primary polls, these early assessments can tell us more about the evolving perceptions of the Democratic candidates than the trial heat preferences.

The campaigns are now focusing on the early states, to be sure, but the national news coverage reflects the messages that they are striving to communicate. The Pew summary and the graphic reproduced below provide an intriguing indicator of what voters are hearing:

pew%20word%20association.gif

See the full Pew report for a more complete summary of the data. I am struck by the remarkable the degree to which Democrats see Clinton as "tough" and "smart," but give Obama points for "energetic" and "optimistic."

Note the way this data dovetails with the apparent strategies of the two campaigns: This week Obama releases a new ad that embraces hope, optimism and bipartisanship. Meanwhile, Clinton releases a health care plan reflecting her "smart, pragmatic" side and, as Andrew Sullivan reminds us, "calls Cheney ‘Darth Vader.'"

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen has more here.


POLL: SurveyUSA OH, KY, KS, AL General Election Match-ups


New SurveyUSA automated surveys of registered voters in Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, and Alabama (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) find:

  • Ohio (between 503 and 533 registered voters)
    Giuliani 48%, Clinton 47%
    Thompson 47%, Clinton 48%
    Romney 42%, Clinton 52%
    Giuliani 52%, Obama 39%
    Thompson 50%, Obama 42%
    Romney 46%, Obama 45%
    Giuliani 48%, Edwards 47%
    Thompson 43%, Edwards 452%
    Romney 36%, Edwards 56%
  • Kentucky (between 542 and 541 registered voters)
    Giuliani 51%, Clinton 41%
    Thompson 50%, Clinton 45%
    Romney 46%, Clinton 46%
    Giuliani 54%, Obama 36%
    Thompson 54%, Obama 37%
    Romney 45%, Obama 43%
    Giuliani 50%, Edwards 43%
    Thompson 44%, Edwards 45%
    Romney 38%, Edwards 48%


POLL: Gallup Satisfaction with U.S., Clinton Front-Runner


Additional results from the most recent Gallup national survey of 1,010 adults (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) find:

  • 31% are satisfied with "the way the nation is being governed;" 67% are dissatisfied.
  • 63% of Republicans are satisfied with the way the nation is being goverened, while both 18% of Democrats and independents are satisfied.

And Gallup Poll's Editor in Chief Frank Newport asks, "Is Hillary Clinton a lock for the Democratic nomination?"


POLL: Harris National Primary


A new Harris Interactive online survey of 2,372 adults nationwide (conducted 9/6 through 9/14) finds:

  • Among 769 likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (46% to 25%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%, former V.P. Al Gore at 9%.
  • Among 504 likely Republican primary voters, former Sen. Fred Thompson narrowly leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (32% to 28%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 11%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 9%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


POLL: Pew National Primary


A new Pew Research Center national survey of 1,501 adults (conducted 9/12 through 9/16) finds:

  • Among 568 registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (42% to 25%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%.
  • Among 467 registered Republicans and those who lean Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (32% to 21%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 15%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 9%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich at 6%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

View all National Primary poll data at Pollster.com:

AUSTopDems190.png AUSTopReps190.png
Democrats Republicans


Short term trend, long term trend and sensitivity


1TopRepsSensitivity4Up.png

The trend estimator we use for the presidential nomination races (and for other trends as well) is designed to capture "real" changes in support while ignoring the inevitable random noise that is the result of random sampling of opinion. The "standard" trend estimator (which I fondly call "old Blue") is deliberately conservative in the sense that it takes a good bit of evidence before the estimator will believe a change in the polls is real. In the case of presidential approval, this estimator has an excellent track record of catching changes in approval while not thinking it sees a change when there isn't one there. (For a fuller explanation of the estimators see this post.)

But I've also used a more sensitive estimator ("ready Red") that catches changes more quickly but is more often fooled by random noise into believing a change has occurred that subsequent polls show didn't happen. I've posted the comparison, and a more extensive comparison of a range of sensitivity estimates here and updated that with each new set of polls.

What has become clear is that "old blue" has been too conservative this summer, and has missed an important change in the trend of Rudy Giuliani's support. I want to use this to illustrate what the different estimators reveal and what they smooth out, and to explain a move to a somewhat more sensitive estimator.

To illustrate this issue I've computed three different trend estimates, plotted in the figure above. The blue line is the most conservative and least sensitive. The red line is more sensitive, while the black line is the most sensitive of all. (Red is twice as sensitive as Blue, and Black is twice as sensitive as Red.)

The current estimates of Giuliani's support are Blue: 27.3%, Red: 28.3% and Black: 27.8%. The estimates are all within one point of each other. In the figure it is clear that the three lines usually overlap each other pretty closely, and so much so in Romney's case that they are all but indistinguishable.

The caveat is that the lines can and do disagree with each other when support makes a change of direction. Giuliani's polling has done that at least twice since January. After rising in late 2006 and early 2007, his support peaked late in the first quarter and fell for a while. But the Red and Black estimators agree that the fall was rather sharp and halted by the end of the second quarter after which there has been a mild but noticeable upturn. The more conservative Blue estimator caught the decline but has not shown the subsequent upturn. As a result, it has continued to see a long term decline, rather than a recent stabilization and some improvement. Even though the three estimators currently are within a percentage point of each other in estimating his support, the short term dynamics of the Giuliani campaign are not well represented by the Blue line.

The blue estimator was set to be especially conservative in the face of few polls unevenly spaced, as we had in 2006 and the first half of 2007 . As polling has become more frequent over the summer, that extra degree of conservatism became a liability rather than an asset. With enough new polls, a more sensitive estimator can be used. And both Red and Black pick up clear changes in Giuliani's trend.

You can see more modest differences for other candidates. Red and Black think McCain had a modest bump in late 2006 and early 20007, but blue doesn't. And if you focus on the very latest data red sees a flattened trend, black thinks there is a bit of an upturn, and blue still has McCain in decline. This kind of disagreement at the end of the series and based on few polls is common. There isn't enough data to be sure of the trend into the near future. Still, the McCain estimates are currently Blue: 13.2%, Red 14.2% and Black 15.4%, a range of 2.2 points.

The Romney trend has been so stable that all three estimators agree almost exactly, except at the very end. The most sensitive Black estimator sees a blip up at about the time of the Iowa straw poll, which is believable, but Red and Blue don't see it. And Black sees a bit of decline since then, which Red barely hints at and Blue doesn't see at all. The bottom line is Blue: 9.7%, Red: 9.0% and Black: 8.2%, a 1.5 point range.

The Thompson trends show a bit more short term variability, in part due to fewer polls, but perhaps also reflecting some real short term changes. Both Black and Red see two short term dips in Thompson support (of a couple of points) that Blue smooths out. And Blue doesn't detect the post-announcement blip that Red and Black pick up. And the bottom line for Thompson is Blue: 20.1%, Red: 20.9% and Black 21.2%, a range of 1.8 points in the estimates.

The Democratic trends have been a bit more stable and so the discrepancies between estimators are generally less. Red and Black see a little more dynamic in Clinton's trends early in 2007 and a small blip or two for Obama. And Red and Black think Edwards was up a couple of points in April while Blue doesn't see it. And Richardson hasn't had enough national movement for there to be any discrepancies.

2TopDemsSensitivity4Up.png

As for the current estimates, Clinton is at Blue: 39.7%, Red: 40.1%, Black: 39.3%, a range of 0.8 points. Obama is at Blue:21.8%, Red: 21.5% and Black 22.0%, a 0.5 point range, and Edwards a bit more variable at Blue: 12.2, Red: 13.7 and Black: 14.3%, a 2.1 point range (and an example of the more sensitive estimators thinking there is a bit of an upturn in Edwards' support.

The estimates of current support vary a bit for each candidate, but far less than the variation among recent polls. That is the point of using the estimator, after all--- to remove random variation and get a better estimate of where support stands. The estimates across all the candidates are within 2.2 points of each other at the moment, which I think is pretty good agreement regardless of how sensitive an estimator we use.

But the visual pattern of the trend, in Giuliani's case especially, is not well captured by the most conservative "blue" estimator. Now that there is more frequent polling, and therefore less chance that a single poll or two will distort the trend, I think we are safe using a somewhat more sensitive estimator for the trends. We'll be a bit riskier in order to also catch shorter term changes better.

As a result of this analysis, we'll be updating our trend plots for the national data to reflect a somewhat more sensitive estimator. However, we won't go too far on that, since we do believe there is a lot of noise in the polls and we want our trend estimates to resist chasing each new poll.

The state trends, however, will continue to use the more conservative estimator until enough polling becomes available to allow us to increase the sensitivity. Some states are developing a good bit of data, but even New Hampshire has only 42 Republican polls, while nationally we have 130.

And as we've been doing all along, we'll assess sensitivity and write posts on differences between the estimators that may suggest short term changes of interest. Even if we can be fooled by a sensitive estimator, it is always fun to speculate about what it might mean, if there really is a change.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.


When Pollsters Attack

Topics: 2008 , Disclosure , Divergent Polls , The 2008 Race

A few hours ago, we posted results from two new surveys of likely primary voters in Florida, both sponsored by the Southern Political Report. One survey was conducted by InsiderAdvantage (which is essentially part of the Southern Political Report) and one by the Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. The remarkable thing about the summary by InsiderAdvantage pollster Matt Towery has less to do with the numbers than with his unusual frontal assault on the Quinnipiac University poll.

I'll get to Towery's blast, but let's start with the survey results. The table below shows the results from the two Southern Political Report surveys, both conducted September 17-18, alongside the results from the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, conducted September 3-9. The most obvious difference is that Rudy Giuliani holds an eleven point lead over Fred Thompson (28% to 17%) in the Quinnipiac polls, but Giuliani leads Thompson by a single, statistically insignificant percentage point (24% to 23%) on the two most recent surveys sponsored by Towery's company. The previous InsiderAdvantage survey showed Thompson with an eight point lead (27% to 21%).

09-20%20florida%20reps.png

So, asks Towery, "why would Quinnipiac have shown Giuliani with an 11 point lead over Thompson -- especially a week ago, when Thompson arguably was at his apex in the Sunshine State?" Two fairly obvious and important differences jump out. First, the Quinnipiac survey includes non-candidate Newt Gingrich (who gets 6% in their poll), while the other two polls did not. That was the explanation that Towery - himself a former Gingrich campaign chair - provided in his own release last week.

Second, the Quinnipiac survey was the only one of the four fielded (at least in part) before Thompson's official declaration of candidacy on the Tonight show on the evening of September 5. The Quinnipiac poll fielded from September 3-9, so at least some of the interviews occurred before the burst of publicity that Thompson received from his announcement. The last InsiderAdvantage poll that showed Thompson "at his apex" kicked off on September 6, the day that Thompson's announcement appeared most prominently in the news.

Our chart of national Republican polls shows a continuing upward trend for Thompson. Moreover, by my hand calculations, the nine national polls conducted entirely after Thompson's announcement (by Cook/RTStrategies, Reuters/Zogby, USA Today/Gallup, Fox News, AP-IPSOS, ARG, NBC/Wall Street Journal and CNN) show his share of the Republican vote increasing by an average of four points (from 18% to 22%) as compared to the average of what the same organizations showed for Thompson before his announcement.

But for Towery the conclusion appears foregone:

In the instance of the Quinnipiac poll showing Giuliani with a monster lead over Thompson, it became all too obvious that it's time to call out this polling organization.

Maybe they're right and everybody else is wrong. But it's unlikely. At the very least, Quinnipiac numbers should stop being taken at face value as the paragon of accuracy in Florida. Somewhere in their methodology they continue to misread the state they claim to know so intimately.

In case the point is not obvious: Towery concluded a week ago that it was "time to call out" Quinnipiac and had his company take the remarkable step of sponsoring parallel studies this week to do so.

Earlier in today's release, after recalling some questionable Quinnipiac results, an old joking reference from former Governor Jeb Bush ("What's a Quinnipiac?") and a jocular answer from Mason Dixon pollster Brad Coker ("I figured [Quinnipiac] wanted more name identification in Florida so they could build recruiting for a Division 1-A football team!"), Towery focuses on what he considers the "bigger issue:"

Are universities that publish polls presumed by the media to somehow be more reliable because there are professors and students involved?

Once we get past all the snark, that's a fair question. It is also fair to ask, as Towery did last week, why Quinnipiac continues to include Gingrich as a candidate. That is especially important since, unlike most other pollsters, they ask no "second choice" question allowing for a recalculation of the results without Gingrich.

And finally, it is also fair, especially given some of the past inconsistencies, to want to probe further into the methodologies of all three pollsters. In writing this post, here are some questions I tried to answer:

  • What was the "sample frame" for these surveys? Who knows? In the past, Quinnipiac has used a random digit dial (RDD) methodology while InsiderAdvantage has sampled from voters lists. But none of the organizations specifies the sample frame used in their most recent releases.
  • How did the pollsters define the Republican electorate? Quinnipiac says they interviewed "registered Republicans" in Florida. InsiderAdvantage and Mason-Dixon say they interviewed "likely Florida primary voters." But what defined a "likely voter?" What questions were used to identify them? You won't find the answers anywhere in the various online releases.
  • More specifically, how tight was the screen? More specifically, what percentage of Florida adults qualified as registered or likely voters? Again, nothing at all from InsiderAdvantage or Mason Dixon. If we do the math on the Quinnipiac sample sizes, we can at least tell that their Republican sample amounts to 38% of Florida registered voters. However, we do not know what percentage of adults qualified as registered voters.
  • Finally, how did the composition of the samples vary demographically? InsiderAdvantage does provide results for gender, age and race, but Mason-Dixon and Quinnipiac do not.

Here is a suggestion for all three pollsters involved: Provide us with answers to all of the questions above, and we will take a closer look at what differences can be found "somewhere" in their methodologies.


POLL: Reuters/Zogby National Primary


A new Reuters/Zogby national survey of 1,011 likely voters (conducted 9/13 through 9/16) finds:

  • Among Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani edges out former Sen. Fred Thompson (27% to 24%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 13%, former Gov. Mitt Romney ay 7%.
  • Among Democratic priamry voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (35% to 21%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 10%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

View all National Primary poll data at Pollster.com:

AUSTopDems190.png AUSTopReps190.png
Democrats Republicans


POLL: Cook/RT 2008 Primary


A new Cook Political Report/RT Strategies national survey (results, cross tabs, combined cross tabs) of registered voters (conducted 9/13 through 9/16) finds:

  • Among 405 Democratic and those who lean Democratic, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (36% to 23%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 18%. Including former V.P. Al Gore, Clinton runs at 33%, Obama at 22%, Edwards at 16%%, and Gore at 8%.
  • Among 340 Republicans and those who lean Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 28%) leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (20%), Sen. John McCain (16%), and former Gov. Mitt Romney (9%). Including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Giuliani runs at 27%, Thompson at 18%, McCain at 15%, Romney at 8%, and Gingrich at 5%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

View all National Primary poll data at Pollster.com:

AUSTopDems190.png AUSTopReps190.png
Democrats Republicans


POLL: Gallup Bush, Congress, Dems


Additional results from the most recent Gallup national survey (Bush/Congress results, Dem results) of 531 Democrats and those who lean Democratic (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • 36% approve of the job George Bush is doing as president -- "the highest since April 2007;" 62% disapprove.
  • 24% approve of the job Congress is doing -- "the largest one-month increase in support for Congress [up from 18% in August] seen since the Democrats took majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January."
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (47% to 25%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 11%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 5%. All other candidates receive less than 5% each.
  • Among 2,472 Democrats and those who lean Democratic (combining data from the last five Gallup national surveys), Clinton leads Obama among union members (45% to 19%) while Edwards trails at 17%. Among non-members, Clinton leads Obama (46% to 26%) while Edwards trails at 13%.


POLL: PPP (D) North Carolina Senate, Iraq


A new Public Policy Polling (D) automated survey of 662 likely voters in North Carolina (conducted 9/18) finds:

  • 49% think Congress should "set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq within the next year;" 41% say Congress should "follow the President and keep troops in Iraq until the job is finished."
  • 45% approve of the way Sen. Elizabeth Dole is handling her job as Senator; 40% disapprove.
  • Dole leads State Rep. Grier Martin (45% to 30%) and leads Coach Dean Smith (41% to 35%) in hypothetical general election match-ups for U.S. Senate.


POLL: Mason-Dixon and InsiderAdvantage Florida GOP Primary


Two new Florida surveys (both conducted 9/17 through 9/18 for the Southern Political Report) find:

  • A new InsiderAdvantage statewide survey of 637 likely Republican primary voters finds former Mayor Rudy Giuliani running slightly ahead of former Sen. Fred Thompson (24% to 23%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 12%, Sen. John McCain at 11%, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee at 5%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.
  • A new Mason Dixon statewide survey of 400 likely Republican primary voters finds former Mayor Rudy Giuliani edging out former Sen. Fred Thompson (24% to 23%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 13%, Sen. John McCain at 9%, former Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


Are Primary Polls Meaningful?

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Don't get me wrong. I love polls. Survey research provides us the most accurate and realistic view available of the current attitudes and preferences of the American electorate. Yet, having said that, I find myself frequently frustrated with the tone of much of the poll analysis I hear and read in the news media. Some of the coverage focuses on the national primary polls as if we are on the eve of a national primary.** Others analyze each successive poll - national or statewide -- as if all of the voters were sitting in a jury box, following every campaign development with rapt attention and regularly adjusting their preferences accordingly.

After more than 20 years of conducting polls for political campaigns, I can assure you: It just doesn't work that way.

So it's probably not surprising that I find much to recommend in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in yesterday's Los Angeles Times (rather, from July 2007 but discovered by me yesterday*** via Dickerson) written by two campaign consultants, Democratic pollster Mark Mellman and Republican media consultant Mike Murphy (neither is working for a presidential candidate in 2008, although Mellman polled for Kerry in 2004 and Murphy worked for McCain in 2000). They see strains of the "Heisenberg principle" in what they describe as the "absurdly early start" of Campaign 2008:

It is reminiscent of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle we all heard about in high school physics class. Professor Werner Heisenberg postulated that "the more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known." Applied to the presidential race, this suggests that the more we measure how the candidates stand now, the less we may know about where things are going to end up - because the measurement itself can render the findings inaccurate.

The noisy onslaught of public opinion polling in the media so early in the process would amuse the good professor, because the numbers are really little more than a vain attempt to measure something that hasn't happened. Although the political and media elites may think the campaign is in full swing, with the fortunes of each candidate rising and falling with every new poll, the truth is that voters - the ones who are really going to decide this race - don't start the campaign until much later.

Because voters are not required to make a decision until election day, they remain open at this stage in the race to new information, alternative perspectives and late-breaking developments - all of which render today's poll results, to one degree or another, meaningless.

I'm not sure I agree with "meaningless." That word applies if you look to the current results of the trial heat questions that we chart here at Pollster as conclude that they represent final, informed decisions rather than potentially momentary preferences. However, follow the links and dig deeper and these same surveys hold a lot of meaningful data on how much voters know, and why they prefer one candidate over another, if only for the moment.

Take, for example, the point that Murphy and Mellman make above, that voters in the key early states reaming open to new information and late developments. Their argument receives strong support in the most recent surveys in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina by the L.A. Times. Start with the Democrats. As the table below shows, while more than 80% have a current vote preference (i.e. only 13% to 17% are "undecided"), 59% of the likely caucus goers in Iowa and nearly half in New Hampshire (45%) and South Carolina (47%) say they still "might end up voting for someone else."

09-19%20lat%20certainty%20dems.png

The difference is even greater among Republicans. Roughly the same number (83% to 87% depending on the state) have a vote preference, but 50% to 70% say they "might end up voting for someone else" on election day.

09-19%20lat%20certainty%20gop.png

Voters current preferences have meaning, but they are subject to change, even in the early states. And as history tells us, the results in Iowa and New Hampshire can have a profound impact on voter preferences nationally. So read all of the Murphy-Mellman piece, and stay tuned...

**An update: Speaking of the impact of early primaries, Kathy Frankovic of CBS News devoted her weekly column to the question of "whether national polls about the nomination mean anything now:"

In a nationwide poll that CBS News and The New York Times conducted just before the 1984 New Hampshire Democratic primary, Walter Mondale held what CBS News and The Times characterized as the largest lead ever seen in national polls in the race for a nomination. Fifty-seven percent of Democratic primary voters in that poll chose Mondale, and only 7 percent chose Gary Hart. However, the day after that poll was reported, Gary Hart beat Mondale handily in the New Hampshire primary. Mondale did go on to win the nomination (and lose the election), but the timing of our poll report, and its discrepancy with the New Hampshire outcome raised many questions. Should we even have conducted a national poll before a primary that would mean more to the nomination process than any national poll?

The lesson of 1984 is not to put too much trust in national polls as predictors of primary outcomes. Is there anything that we CAN learn about voters from national polls now? We can certainly see if there are differences between the general population and the people who say they will vote in the primaries or caucuses. We can also gather clues about the possible composition of the primary electorate. Do the most likely voters seem committed to certain candidates? Do they have different issue preferences?

She continues with answers to those questions gleaned frome recent CBS/New York Times polls. Read it all.

***Oops. I obviously misread the date. I think what was true in July remains true today, though Mellman and Murphy might disagree. Thanks to Art for the edit


POLL: American Research Group Florida Primary


A new American Research Group statewide survey of likely primary voters in Florida (conducted 9/15 through 9/18) finds:

  • Among 600 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (at 47%) leads Sen. Barack Obama (19%), former Sen. John Edwards (9%), and Sen. Joe Biden (5%).
  • Among 600 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 26%) leads Sen. John McCain (18%), former Sen. Fred Thompson (16%), and former Gov. Mitt Romney (14%).
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

View all Florida Primary poll data at Pollster.com:

AFLTopDems190.png AFLTopReps190.png
Democrats Republicans


POLL: Rasmussen New Hampshire Survey


A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 500 likely voters in New Hampshire (conducted 9/16) finds:

  • Among 500 Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney edges out former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (25% to 22%) in a statewide primary, former Sen. Fred Thompson trails at 19%, Sen. John McCain at 12%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.
  • Among 500 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama(40% to 17%) in a statewide primary, former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 11%, Sen. Joe Biden at 5%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.
  • Former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen leads Republican Sen. John Sununu in a senatorial general election match-up.


POLL: OpinionWorks Maryland Survey


A new OpinionWorks statewide survey of likely primary voters in Maryland (conducted 8/24 through 8/26; released 9/18) finds:

  • Among 335 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (32% to 18%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 10%.
  • Among 177 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 32%) leads Sen. John McCain (13%) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (12%), former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 8%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


POLL: Strategic Vision (R) OH & WI Primaries


Two new Strategic Vision (R) statewide surveys of likely primary voters in Ohio and Wisconsin (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • Among likely Democratic primary voters in Ohio, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (43% to 23%) in a statewide primary, former Sen. John Edwards trails at 11%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 6%. Among likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (34% to 21%), Sen. John McCain trails at 9%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 8%, former Speaker Newt Gingrich at 5%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.
  • Among likely Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin, Clinton leads Obama (44% to 22%) in a statewide primary, Edwards trails at 11%, Richardson at 7%. Among likely Republican primary voters, Giuliani runs slightly ahead of Thompson (28% to 24%), McCain trails at 8%, Romney at 7%, Gingrich at 6%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


POLL: Gallup Gen. Petraeus


New analysis from the most recent Gallup national survey pf 1,010 adults (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • 33% think the U.S. will "definitely" or "probably" win the war in Iraq;" 64% don't think the U.S. will win. "These figures are virtually unchanged from the previous poll, conducted Sept. 7-8."
  • After last week, Gen. David Petraeus's favorable rating among all adults "jumped" to 61% (was 52% on 9/8). "Following his testimony last week, Petraeus' favorable rating among Democrats has remained unchanged, but more Democrats now rate him unfavorably."


POLL: CBS Biden


Additional results from the most recent CBS News national survey (story, results) of 284 likely Democratic primary voters (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • 12% of likely Democratic primary voters have a favorable opinion of Sen. Joe Biden; 8% have an unfavorable one, 22% are undecided, and 57% haven't heard enough to make a decision.
  • 18% would prefer the Democratic nominee to be someone "whose political experience was mostly outside of Washington," 28% say someone "whose experience was mostly in the government in Washington," 49% say it doesn't matter.


POLL: Pew National Survey


Via tpmcafe, A new Pew Research Center national survey (release, results) of 1,501 adults (conducted 9/12 through 9/16) finds:

  • 31% approve of the way George Bush is handling his job as president; 59% disapprove.
  • 57% approve of the recommendations made by General Petraeus "about troop withdrawals that President Bush has endorsed;" 28% disapprove.
  • 16% say Petraeus's statements made them "more optimistic," 12% say "less optimistic," and 67% their view has not changed.


Survey Data on The Uninsured

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

With the release yesterday of a new health care plan from Sen. Hillary Clinton and the ensuing debate over the respective plans of the other candidates, many blog readers are looking for the source of statistics on the uninsured. As a Swampland commenter asked Time's Karen Tumulty, "Who are the [50 million] uninsured, and where does that number come from?" The answers, not surprisingly, come from surveys and, in this case, very high quality surveys conducted by the federal government.

For those looking to dig into the data, here are three places to start:

  • As Tumulty notes, the Kaiser Family Foundation published a report a year ago that summarizes data on the size of the uninsured population and its demographics from the three government studies cited below
  • The Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik digs into the numbers behind the Clinton plan, and includes a link to the Census Bureau report (based on data from the Current Population Study).
  • My most reliable source on health care issues (a physician and health policy expert we'll just call the "Pollster-spouse") highly recommends the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS -- their reports on the uninsured are available here).

For the truly educated consumers who want to learn more about the methodology behind these surveys, see the detailed descriptions on the MEPS (here and here), NHIS and CPS studies posted online.

**Regular readers will recall that NHIS also includes questions on cell phone usage that have become vital to all survey researchers concerned about the growth of cell-phone-only households that are out of reach of most telephone surveys.


POLL: Franklin Pierce College/WBZ New Hampshire Primary


A new Franklin Pierce College/WBZ statewide survey of likely primary voters in New Hampshire (conducted 9/11 through 9/14 by RKM Research and Communications) finds:

  • Among 400 Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (30% to 23%) in a statewide primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 14%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 8%.
  • Among 403 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (36% to 18%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 12%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 10%, former V.P. Al Gore at 5%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

View all New Hampshire Primary poll data at Pollster.com:

ANHTopDems190.png ANHTopReps190.png
Democrats Republicans


POLL: ARG New Hampshire Senate


A new American Research Group statewide survey of 558 registered voters in New Hampshire (conducted 9/14 through 9/17) finds:

  • Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen narrowly leads Sen. John Sununu (46% to 41%) in a senatorial general election match-up.
  • In June, Shaheen led Sununu 57% to 29%.


POLL: CBS Bush, Iraq, Dems


A new CBS News national survey (Iraq story, results; Dems story, results) of 706 adults (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • 29% approve of the way George Bush is handling his job as president.
  • 68% think the U.S. should either "decrease" or "remove all" troops from Iraq; 21% say it should keep the same number, 6% say it should increase the number.
  • Among 289 likely Democratic primary voters asked to chose among three candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (43% to 22%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 16%.
  • "Sixty-one percent of those who plan to vote in a Democratic primary express confidence in Clinton's ability to make the right decisions about health care. Forty-two percent say they have confidence in Obama, while 39 percent say they have confidence in Edwards."


POLL: Gallup GOP Primary


A new Gallup national survey of 1,010 adults (conducted 9/14 through 9/16) finds:

  • Among 401 Republicans and those who lead Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (at 30%) leads former Sen. Fred Thompson (22%) and Sen. John McCain (18%) in a national primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 7%.
  • Among those "extremely likely to vote in the primary/caucus in their state," Giuliani edges out Thompson (29% to 26%) while McCain trails at 15%, and Romney at 8%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


POLL: SurveyUSA Virginia Senate


A new SurveyUSA automated survey of 783 registered voters in Virginia (conducted 9/14 through 9/16 for WJLA-TV, WTVT-TV, WAVY-TV, and WDBJ-TV) finds:

  • In hypothetical senatorial general election match-ups, former Gov. Mark Warner leads former Gov. Jim Gilmore (60% to 32%), former Sen. George Allen (56% to 37%), and Rep. Tom Davis (62% to 27%).
  • Favorable/Unfavorable ratings:

    Warner: 50/14
    Gilmore: 19/34
    Allen: 40/34
    Davis: 13/10


POLL: Gallup Desirable Characteristics


New analysis from a recent Gallup national survey of 1,001 adults (conducted 8/23 through 8/26) finds:

  • 93% think bringing about about change in Washington is a desirable characteristic for the next president to have; 56% say experience in Washington is desirable.
  • 52% say both having "worked as a government lobbyist" and being "70 years of age or older" are undesirable characteristics.


POLL: Research 2000 Kentucky Gubernatorial


A new Research 2000 statewide survey of 600 likely voters in Kentucky (conducted 9/10 through 9/13 for Lexington Herald-Leader and Action News 36) finds:

  • Democrat Steve Beshear leads incumbent Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher (56% to 39%) in gubernatorial general election match-up.
  • 37% approve of the job Fletcher is doing as governor, 59% disapprove.
  • 37% would "definitely" or "probably" vote to reelect Fletcher; 57% would "definitely" or "probably" vote to replace him.


 

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