Pollster.com

December 2, 2007 - December 8, 2007

 

POLL: Newsweek/PSRA Iowa Caucuses

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

A new Newsweek/PSRA survey (story, results, conducted 12/3 through 12/5) finds:

  • Among 395 likely Democratic caucus goers, Sen. Barack Obama leads Sen. Hillary Clinton by a statistically insignificant margin (35% to 29%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards receives 18% and Gov. Bill Richardson 12%.

  • Among 275 likely Republican caucus goers former Gov. Mike Huckabee leads former Gov. Mitt Romney (39% to 17%); Sen. Fred Thompson receives 10%, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani 9%, Rep. Ron Paul 8% and Sen. John McCain 6%.

  • All other candidates receive less than five percent.

From the Newsweek release: "Likely Republican caucus-goers are 16% of all Iowa adults 18+ (weighted cases). Likely Democratic caucus-goers are 24% of all Iowa adults 18+ (weighted cases)."

Compare to comparable statistics for the October Des Moines Register poll (12% and 10% respectively) as well as the actual turnout for the 2004 Democratic caucuses (5.5%) and the Republican caucuses in 2000 (3.9%) and 1988 (5.3%).

Update: Several commenters question whether the six-point Obama lead could possibly be statistically "insignificant." I used that word above to paraphrase the conclusion from the Newsweek article:

While the Illinois senator's lead among Democratic caucus-goers in this poll is not large enough to be statistically significant, things seem to be trending his way, Hugick said.

Hugick's calculation is correct. For this sample of 395 likely caucus goers, a six point margin is not large enough to be "statistically significant" assuming the commonly accepted 95% level of confidence. Remember, the margin of sampling error (+/- 6% in this case) applies to the percentage for each candidate separately, not to the margin between candidates.

While the Obama lead is not "significant" at a 95% level of confidence, it would be significant if we were willing to relax our level of confidence to about 85%. See Gary Langer's column from earlier this week for more detail on this issue.


"Outliers" for 12-7

Topics: 2008 , Cell Phones , The 2008 Race

The New York Times' Megan Thee looks at the challenge to telephone poll sampling posed by cell phones.

My neighbor Joel Achenbach blogs on political polls as only Joel Achenbach can. Don't miss his discussion of "squishiness bias."

Carl Bialik takes a more serious look at the term "statistical tie" and finds that some pollsters (including yours truly) prefer to avoid it.

Frank Newport posts "ten things Americans think about Mormons and a Mormon president."

The Pew Research Center finds that 4 out of 5 likely caucus goers in Iowa say they have receiving recorded phone calls from the campaigns.

First Read's Aswini Anburajan goes to Nielsen "to get ratings and demographic information on just who watches Oprah Winfrey" in Iowa, South Carolina and the nation.

Dante Scala has evidence of a coming Huckabee media buy in New Hampshire.

Compete (a web analytics company) has posted an Election 2008 Data Hub that allows comparison of candidates by their web traffic (via Swampland).

John Distaso and Tom Fahey have the latest on the criminal investigation being conducted in New Hampshire into survey calls that allegedly conveyed negative information about Mitt Romney.


Quick Links to New Polls

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Eric and I picked the wrong afternoon to attend to Pollster.com business out of the office. Here are quick links to two new polls released this afternoon:

Stay tuned for more complete updates


Time's "How America Decides" Polls

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

While media outlets and pollsters often assert their disinterest in the "horse race," the partnership of Time and SRBI have produced a new set of surveys of Iowa, New Hampshire and the nation that appear to omit trial heat questions altogether. Here's how the analysis by Time's Mark Halperin and Amy Sullivan puts it:

Political polls usually function as Ouija boards that campaigns and pundits can use to try to predict the outcome of an election. We're more interested in figuring out how voters make the decisions that lead to that outcome. Is it a gut reaction, an emotional response to a candidate who makes them feel proud or angry? Are voters more interested in character traits like leadership and sincerity or in policy positions that match their own?

The especially unique aspect of the survey -- at least for the moment -- is that virtually all of the numbers appear, not in the Time article, but in a very slick interactive Flash chart that allows a graphical comparison of results on all questions across all three samples for any two of the candidates running. The graphic may seem a bit confusing at first -- they key is to use your mouse to point to any spot along the trend line after selecting candidates from the pull down menus. It's definitely worth a click.

12-07_time_flash_chart.png

My one complaint about the presentation is that Time has so far provided virtually none of the most basic methodological information that usually accompanies media polls. How many interviews? When were they conducted? And who was interviewed? That is, are the numbers in the charts based on the views of all adults, of likely general election voters or of primary voters? I suspect this omission is temporary, as the Time/SRBI team is typically a leader in disclosure. SRBI, for example, always posts a complete "filled in" questionnaire with all results for every question, including demographics. I'm assuming SRBI will do the same for this survey soon.

UPDATE: They have. Follow this link to the full report, including the usual full disclosure of methodology, on the SRBI web site (thanks to Mark L).


POLL: ARG Nevada Caucus


A new American Research Group statewide survey of likely caucus goers in Nevada (conducted 12/1 through 12/6) finds:

  • Among 600 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (45% to 18%) in a statewide caucus; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 14%.
  • Among 600 Republicans, former GOv. Mitt Romney narrowly leads former Gov. Mike Huckabee (29% to 23%) in a statewide caucus; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 17%, Sen. John McCain at 7%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 5%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


The Gender Gap In Turnout Likely To Widen

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

[Today's Guest Pollster's column comes from Margie Omero, President of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm based in Washington, DC.]

I posted last week about the "Single Anxious Female" moniker, and how coverage of this demographic group largely trivializes women. In fact, not only are women across marital status groups voting at a higher rate than men, this gender gap in turnout has existed for years, and is poised to widen further.

Census data here and here [2006 data found with this program] show that women have been turning out at higher rates than men in every Presidential election since 1980, and in every mid-term election since 1986. Not just raw numbers (there are more women than men, so even a lower turnout rate among women could still mean more women voters), but the percentage of adults who report voting. The graph below shows the difference between women and men's turnout rates (abbreviated as "women - men"). Note that the gap is more dramatic in Presidential years.

1turnoutrate.png

This pattern is not surprising. Not only have women been making societal gains in political influence, but women's educational attainment also increased dramatically during the same period. Again using census data, in the last mid-term election, for the first time more women than men had some college education (among adults 25 and older). This bodes well for a continued increase in women's turnout.

2rateofsome.png

And despite the attention on young and/or single women not voting, it is younger women who comprise this gender gap in turnout. The table below shows 2004 turnout by age and gender. It is only among the oldest voters that men vote at a higher rate than women.

3percentofmen.png

Naturally age and education are related. Younger women are more likely to have some college education than their male counterparts; the reverse is true among older men and women. But even within each education level (with one small exception), younger women are voting at a higher rate than younger men.

4womenmen.png

Looking at these numbers, I see a positive story not being told. The data suggest women's turnout will continue to increase, particularly in a Presidential year. And the gender gap in turnout is particularly large among younger voters, regardless of their level of education. But while women are becoming increasingly influential in elections, they are being told by the media their voting behavior is just another thing that requires improving. Surely there is a way to mobilize women and make their issues heard without hyperbole and finger-pointing. In a future post, I'll look at some of the assumptions made about why women aren't voting, and what the data really show.


POLL: USA Today/Gallup Reps vs Dems on Issues


Additional results from the recent USA Today/Gallup national survey of 1,006 adults (conducted 11/30 through 12/2) finds:

  • More Americans think the Democratic Party would do a better job than the Republican party when dealing with healthcare policy (59% to 29%), the economy (50% to 38%), protecting Americans' rights and freedoms (49% to 36%), the housing market (48% to 33%), Iraq (48% to 38%), taxes (44% to 42%), and corruption in government (42% to 29%).
  • More Americans think the Republican Party would do a better job than the Democratic party when dealing with terrorism (48% to 38%), illegal immigration (44% to 37%), and moral values (43% to 39%).


POLL: AP-Ipsos 08 Primary


A new AP/Ipsos national survey (story, results)of 1,009 adults (conducted 12/3 through 12/5) finds:

  • Among 469 Democrats and those who lean Democratic, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (45% to 23%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 12%.
  • Among 376 Republicans and those who lean Republican, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Gov. Mike Huckabee (26% to 18%) in a national primary; Sen. John McCain trails at 13%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 12%, former Sen. Fred THompson at 11%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


All Voters or Just Hispanics?

Topics: Immigration

Mickey Kaus sees a flaw in a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that between July 2006 and October 2007 Hispanic voters went from 49/28 Dem-Republican to 57/23--a net Democratic gain of 13 points.

As Kaus points out, the analysis appears to attribute the shift to Republican resistance to immigration reform. He continues:

The problem, of course, is that the Pew Center doesn't tell us how many points the Democrats gained among non-Hispanic voters, or all voters generally. These were not good months for the GOP.

That particular analysis may not include the party identification numbers for all Americans, but the Pew Research Center regularly includes those results in its monthly survey releases. A late October release shows that leaned party identification (identifiers plus leaners) among all adults went from 47%-40% Democrat/Republican in July 2006 to 54%-36% in October 2007 -- a net Democratic gain of 11 points.

Back to you Mickey.


A Rising Tide Means More Soft Support

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

My friend Thomas Riehle (the "R" of RT Strategies) makes an important point to NBC's First Read about the recent ABC/Washington Post New Hampshire poll. It shows Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by six points (35% to 29%) but also shows her with more solid support. More than half of Clinton's supporters (53%) say they will "definitely vote for" her compared to 41% for Obama and Edwards.

"Candidates who are gaining support or losing support both tend to have a lot of soft support along a hierarchical vote continuum," he emails First Read. "Supporters have either just arrived from undecided and arrive as soft supporters, or supporters are preparing to depart to undecided, and soft support is the way station. That's why a lot of Obama support would be soft support."

He is right that candidates how have recently grown their vote tend to have more "soft" support than their opponents. In my experience, at least, that is a common pattern.

It is also worth noting that the ABC/Post poll effectively pushed voters harder for a preference than the other recent New Hampshire polls, as the ABC analysis points out:

This survey finds 3 percent undecided, compared with an average of 12 percent in nine other publicly released polls in New Hampshire in the past month.

If we compare the average support for each candidate on the average of the ten other NH polls released this month (including Marist, which was released after the ABC/Post poll), we get see the following:

12-06%20abc%20nh.png

Clinton's support on the ABC/Post poll (35%) is exactly the same as her average on the other surveys, but support for Obama is seven points higher on ABC/Post (29%) than the others (22%). This difference may be another indirect indicator of an upward Obama trend. More voters appear to be in what Riehle would call a "way station"* between undecided and support for Obama than for other candidates.

*JoeCHI says it should be "weigh station." I assumed he was right. Riehle emailed with this dictionary definition:

way station
noun
1. a stopping place on a journey; "there is a stopover to change planes in Chicago" [syn: stopover]


POLL: Times/Bloomberg Immigration


Additional results from the recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg national survey (story, results) of 1,245 registered voters (conducted 11/30 through 12/3) finds:

  • 60% favor allowing "illegal immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for a number of years, and who do not have a criminal record, to start on a path to citizenship by registering that they are in the country, paying a fine, getting fingerprinted, and learning English, among other requirements;" 15% oppose.
  • 33% do not think illegal immigrants should be able to legally use social services such as "to enroll children in public schools," "get emergency medical treatment in emergency rooms, "qualify for food stamps," "be given in-state discounts on college tuitition," nor "be issued limited drivers licenses."

Complete results available here.


POLL: InsiderAdvantage South Carolina GOP Primary


A new InsiderAdvantage statewide survey of 670 likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina (conducted 12/3 through 12/4) finds former Gov. Mike Huckabee (at 23%) leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson (both at 17%) in a statewide primary; former Mitt Romney trails at 14%, Sen. John McCain at 10%, Rep. Ron Paul at 6%.

Editor's note: We have taken down the link to the InsiderAdvantage crosstabluations we posted earlier today, as something is apparently amiss in those crosstabs. The gender crosstabulation of the trial heat question (#2) for example, shows Huckabee winning 33.1% of men, 24.6% of women but only 23.0% of all voters. That result is impossible, especially since the subsamples of men (n=284) and women (n=386) add up to the total sample size (n=670). There are similar discrepancies in the support by gender for Romney, McCain and Paul. InsiderAdvantage had no immediate explanation and promised to look into the issue. We will update this post when we hear more, but advise extra caution in interpreting these results.


POLL: Rasmussen South Carolina Primary


A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of likely primary voters in South Carolina (conducted 12/3 through 12/4) finds:

  • Among 407 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton edges out Sen. Barack Obama (36% to 34%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 13%.
  • Among 654 Republicans, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (at 25%) leads former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Fred Thompson (both at 18%) in a statewide primary; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 12%, Sen. John McCain at 9%.

POLL: SurveyUSA Florida Dem Primary


Additional results from the recent SurveyUSA automated survey of 503 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida (conducted 12/2 through 12/3) finds Sen. Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Barack Obama (54% to 24%) in a statewide primary while former Sen. John Edwards trails at 13%.


POLL: ABC/Post New Hampshire Democratic Primary


Additional results from the recent ABC News/Washington Post statewide survey (ABC story, results; Post story, results) of 592 likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire (conducted 11/29 through 12/3) finds:

  • Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (35% to 29%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 17%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 10%. All other candidates receive less than five percent each.
  • 44% say they will "definitely" vote for their candidate, 26% say there is a "good chance" they'll change their mind, and 24% say it is "pretty unlikely" they will change their mind.


"Outliers" for 12-5

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

David Hill is betting on Republican presidential candidates working to build a "base," or as he defines it, a "portion of the electorate that can be readily solicited by ordinary channels of communications like direct mail, telephone, radio or TV."

Mark Mellman looks at preferences and perceptions regarding a "multilateral" foreign policy and concludes that the public is less multilateral "than it would like to believe."

Kathy Frankovic looks at the challenges in polling, and turning out, voters under 30 (read to the end for an overlooked point about polling cell phone users).

Frank Newport reviews the "top ten things Americans like about Mike Huckabee," including results from an open-ended question on the former Arkansas governor.

Chris Bowers "tries to figure out" recent polling in Iowa, and amplifies my point about the recent Iowa State University poll.

Reuters' Ellen Wulfhorst examines the value of polling the presidential primaries.

Morra Aarons-Mele expands on Margie Omero's critique of the "single anxious female" meme.

Ben Smith reports the Clinton campaign is polling its supporters online about their reactions to various celebrity endorsers.

Marc Ambinder shares a polling analysis memo from the McCain campaign.

Jay Cost notes the reaction of some prominent academic political scientists to the latest attacks of the Clinton campaign.

Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College, reviews four key survey trends that "will be central to the outcome of the presidential race."

The Washington Post-ABC News Consumer Comfort Index continues to decline.

Evan Tracey says negative ads are more likely to break through the current clutter of television spots in Iowa (354/day) and New Hampshire (324/day).

And speaking of negative television ads, Michael Crowely links to what may be one of the first, run by John Kennedy against Richard Nixon in 1960.


POLL: SurveyUSA Florida GOP Primary


A new SurveyUSA automated survey of 493 likely Republican primary voters in Florida (conducted 12/2 through 12/3) finds former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leading former Gov. Mike Huckabee (32% to 18%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 15%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 14%, Sen. John McCain at 11%.


POLL: Marist New Hampshire Primary


A new Marist College statewide survey of 1,343 registered voters and resident likely to register in time to vote in New Hampshire (conducted 11/28 through 12/2) finds:

  • Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (37% to 23%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 18%.
  • Among Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney (at 29%) leads former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (both at 17%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mike Huckabee trails at 11%.

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


POLL: Quinnipiac FL/OH/PA Surveys


Three new Quinnipiac University statewide surveys of registered voters in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania (conducted 11/26 through 12/3) finds:

  • Among 440 Republicans in Florida, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Gov. Mitt Romney (30% to 12%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mike Huckabee trails at 11%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 10%, Sen. John McCain at 9%.
  • Among 424 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (53% to 17%); former Sen. John Edwards trails at 7%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

General Election Match-ups:

  • Florida (n=1,124)

    Clinton 48%, Giuliani 41%
    Giuliani 45%, Obama 37%
    Giuliani 43%, Edwards 39%

    Clinton 47%, McCain 40%
    Clinton 50%, ROmney 36%
    Clinton 50%, Huckabee 35%
  • Ohio (n=1,178)

    Clinton 45%, Giuliani 41%
    Obama 42%, Giuliani 38%
    Edwards 45%, Giuliani 38%

    Clinton 44%, McCain 42%
    Clinton 47%, Romney 37%
    Clinton 45%, Huckabee 38%
  • Pennsylvania (n=1,092)

    Clinton 44%, Giuliani 44%
    Obama 41%, Giuliani 41%
    Giuliani 44%, Edwards 40%

    Clinton 43%, McCain 43%
    Clinton 49%, Romney 37%
    Clinton 48%, Huckabee 37%

Complete results are here.


POLL: Strategic Vision (R) Iowa Caucus


Via Political Wire, a new Strategic Vision (R) statewide survey of likely caucus goers in Iowa (to be released later this evening) finds:

  • Among 600 Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama (at 32%) leads Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards (both at 25%) in a statewide caucus.
  • Among 600 Republicans, former Gov. Mike Huckabee narrowly leads former Gov. Mitt Romney (27% to 24%) in a statewide caucus; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 13%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 11%.

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


POLL: Zogby Iowa and New Hampshire Caucuses/Primaries


Two new Zogby statewide surveys of likely primary voters/caucus goers in Iowa and New Hampshire (IA conducted 11/29 through 12/1; NH conducted 12/1 through 12/3) finds:

  • Among 512 Democrats in Iowa, Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowly leads Sen. Barack Obama (27% to 24%) in a statewide caucus; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 21%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 8%, Sen. Joe Biden at 5%. Among 508 Republicans, former Gov. Mitt Romney edges out former Gov. Mike Huckabee (26% to 25%); former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 12%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 8%, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ron Paul both at 5%.
  • Among 502 Democrats in New Hampshire, Clinton leads Obama (32% to 21%) in a statewide primary; Edwards trails at 16%, Richardson at 6%. Among 508 Republicans, Romney leads McCain (35% to 17%); Giuliani trails at 15%, Huckabee at 10%, Paul at 7%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


POLL: ABC/Post New Hampshire Republican Primary


A new ABC News/Washington Post statewide survey (ABC story, results; Post story, results) of 488 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire (conducted 11/29 through 12/3) finds:

  • Former Gov. Mitt Romney leads Sen. John McCain (37% to 20%) in a statewide primary; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 16%, former Gov. Mike Huckabee at 9%, Rep. Ron Paul at 8%.
  • 35% say they will "definitely vote" for their candidate; 31% say there is a "good chance" they will change their mind, and 29% say it is "unlikely" they will change their mind.


POLL: Times/Bloomberg National Primary


A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg national survey (Times story, results; Bloomberg story) of 1467 adults (conducted 11/30 through 12/3) finds:

  • Among 529 likely Democratic primary voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (45% to 21%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 11%.
  • Among 428 likely Republican primary voters, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Gov. Mike Huckabee (23% to 17%) in a national primary; former Sen. Fred Thompson trails at 14%, Sen. John McCain at 11%, former Gov. Mitt Romney at 9%, Rep. Ron Paul at 5%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


He Could Blog Here

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

Jon Martin has been traveling with the McCain campaign and he offers a theory on why reporters that cover McCain like him so much. He not only recognizes the "absurdities of What it Takes to run for president," as Martin puts it, but also "comes out and voices them." He offers several examples, including this classic about the way campaigns react to new polls:

Asked about the horse race, McCain boiled down into two lines what everybody who covers the business knows [that] politicians and campaigns do.

"When you see a bad poll, you say 'that’s a lousy poll, don’t pay any attention to that.,'" McCain joked.

But with more favorable numbers, it's: "Wow, look at that. this is huge!"


POLL: Pew/AP US, IA, NH, SC Republican Primaries


Additional results from the recent Pew Research Center/Associated Press Republican primary surveys of likely Republicans primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (conducted 11/7 through 11/25; released 12/4) and nationally (conducted 11/20 through 11/27; released 12/4) finds:

  • Among 448 Republicans nationwide, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (26% to 17%) in a national primary; former Sen. Fred Thompson and former Gov. Mitt Romney both trail at 13%, former Gov. Mike Huckabee at 11%.
  • Among 264 Republicans in Iowa, Romney edges out Huckabee (25% to 24%) in a statewide caucus; Giuliani trails at 14%, Thompson at 12%, McCain and Rep. Ron Paul both at 5%.
  • Among 446 Republicans in New Hampshire, Romney leads Giuliani (37% to 19%); McCain trails at 15%, Paul at 9%, Huckabee at 7%.
  • Among 468 Republicans in South Carolina, Giuliani and Romney (both at 19%) narrowly lead Thompson (at 18%); McCain trails at 13%, Huckabee at 10%, Paul at 6%.


POLL: Rasmussen Colorado General Election Match-ups


A new Rasmussen Reports automated survey of 500 likely voters in Colorado (conducted 11/28) finds:

  • Former Rep. Bob Schaffer narrowly leads Rep. Mark Udall (42% to 41%) in a statewide general election match-up for U.S. Senate.
  • General Election Match-ups for President:

    Giuliani 44%, Clinton 40%
    McCain 44%, Clinton 40%
    Huckabee 42%, Clinton 41%
    Clinton 43%, Romney 40%


POLL: SurveyUSA California Primary


A new SurveyUSA automated survey of likely primary voters in California (conducted 11/30 through 12/2) finds:

  • Among 505 Republicans asked to choose among five candidates, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Sen. John McCain (32% to 18%) in a statewide primary; former Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Gov. Mitt Romney trail at 14%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 13%.
  • Among 735 Democrats asked to choose among three candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (50% to 24%) in a statewide primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 16%.


More on the Iowa State Poll

Topics: 2008 , Divergent Polls , The 2008 Race

According to the release describing the Iowa State University poll we linked to earlier today, that poll "presents a much different picture [of] the race than other recent polls." More specifically, four recent surveys from the Des Moines Register, ARG, Rasmussen Reports and Strategic Vision all show Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton running within the margin of sampling error of each other, with John Edwards just a few points behind. The ISU survey shows Clinton (at 30%) with a comfortable lead over Edwards (24%) and Obama (20%). Why the big difference?

As we noted earlier today, the poll was conducted from November 6-18, which makes its results older than the four most recent surveys on our Iowa chart. However, according to ISU political science professor Jim McCormick, who directed the poll, "the biggest explanation for that is the volatility that still exists among those people who are likely to caucus." A better explanation is the poll itself, which is very different than other recent Iowa caucus surveys.

One difference involves the sample sizes on which the results were based. These numbers were omitted from the ISU release. According to Sarah Nusser, director of ISU's survey center, the results were based on interviews with 287 likely Democratic and 241 likely Republican caucus goers. Those are much smaller samples than used on other recent polls. Smaller sample sizes make for greater random sampling error, a form of "volatility" that is about the poll's design, not the voters.

The biggest difference involves the sample. It was drawn from the Iowa Secretary of State's list of registered voters, but unlike every other Iowa poll that I'm aware of, ISU sampled only registered Democrats and Republicans, excluding the 39%36% of Iowa voters with no party registration. [Update: Pollster and frequent commenter Nick Panagakis emails that the most recent numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State put the percentage of "no party" Iowans at 39% of active registrants and 39% of all registrants].

Here's why that omission is important: In the recent CBS/New York Times survey conducted in early November, registered independents were 19% of Democratic likely caucus goers and 13% of Republicans (and 19% of 2004 Democratic caucus goers, according to the network entrance poll). Among likely Democratic caucus goers, the independents were twice as likely to favor Barack Obama (37%) as registered Democrats (19%).

The survey release also includes a highly misleading passage:

Poll projects likely caucus night turnout
Applying the percentage of respondents who said they "definitely will attend" their party caucuses on Jan. 3 to the number of registered voters in each party. The ISU Poll projects a Democratic turnout of perhaps as high as 150,000 attendees, with a 95 percent confidence interval of 130,000 to 175,000. As many as 88,500 are projected among the Republicans, with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from about 74,000 to 103,000.

Those statistics project favorably to past turnout and imply that the reported survey results represent those "definite" attendees. Unfortunately, the survey results that ISU reported in their release were not based on the respondents who said they will "definitely attend" their party caucuses. They were based on the larger subgroup of respondents who said they will definitely or probably attend. That larger group projects to 273,00 Democrats and 176,000 Republicans.

To be fair, as a percentage of all adults, the ISU samples of Democrats (12%) and Republicans (8%) are in line with most of the other recent surveys that have disclosed their incidence statistics to Pollster.com. But 20% to 25% of the respondents to those other surveys were independents. The omission of independents combined with the already dated field period helps explain why Obama scores lower in this survey.


POLL: USA Today/Gallup National Primary


A new USA Today/Gallup national survey (USA Today article; results, blog; Gallup GOP analysis; Hillary analysis) of adults (conducted 11/30 through 12/2) finds:

  • Among 425 Republicans, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads former Gov. Mike Huckabee (25% to 16%) in a national primary; former Sen. Fred Thompson and Sen. John McCain both trail at 15%, former Gov. Mitt Romney trails at 12%.
  • Among 494 Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (39% to 24%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 15%. Clinton's "support has fallen 11 percentage points in a month."
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

We will post full poll results as soon as they're available.


POLL: ISU Iowa Caucus


A new Iowa State University statewide survey of 1,416 registered voters in Iowa (conducted 11/6 through 11/18; released 12/3) finds:

  • Among likely Democratic caucus goers, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads former Sen. John Edwards (31% to 24%) in a statewide caucus; Sen. Barack Obama trails at 20%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 11%.
  • Among likely Republican caucus goers, former Gov. Mitt Romney leads former Gov. Mike Huckabee (25% to 22%) in a statewide caucus; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani trails at 16%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 9%, Sen. JOhn McCain at 8%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each. Sample sizes for Democratic and Republican voters not reported.


AP/Pew: Why a 19 Days of Interviewing?

Topics: 2008 , The 2008 Race

The big poll release of the day is the new IA/NH/SC/national survey from the Associated Press and the Pew Research Center. Most that have posted results so far have noted an unusually long field period for the statewide surveys: 19 days from November 7 to November 25.

One reason for the longer field period is that the Pew Center, like the ABC/Washington Post surveys, but unlike the Register/Selzer and CBS News surveys, sample with a random digit dial methodology that begins with all adults in Iowa rather than all registered voters. As such, it requires more dialing.

However, the long field period and delayed release make it less than comparable to the new Des Moines Register survey that was released over the weekend and fielded from November 25-28. I asked Scott Keeter, Pew's director of survey research, about the rationale for their longer field period, and he responded via email:

The longer field period was a result of the fact that the purpose of the study was an in-depth look at the issues and voter considerations across three states, and not just the horse race. Long interview, two races, three states - the practical impact was a long field period.

As it happens, Gary Langer, polling director at ABC News, concluded his blog this morning about what constitutes a statistically significant "lead" in Iowa with a very similar point:

All this underscores one of the fundamental points about pre-election polls: They are estimates. Even with good-quality methodology, the notion of pinpoint accuracy is a myth. And the reason we do them is not simply to try to puzzle out who's ahead – but to understand how and why the voters are coming to their choices.

I'm curious to hear from our readers: Which is more important to you in the pre-election polls you follow: Their ability to accurately estimate who is ahead or how well they help you understand how and why the voters are coming to their choices?


POLL: Pew/AP US, IA, NH, SC Democratic Primaries


Three new Pew Research Center/Associated Press statewide surveys (release, results) of likely Democratic primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (conducted 11/7 through 11/25; released 12/3) and one national survey (conducted 11/20 through 11/27; released 12/3) finds:

  • Among 467 Democrats nationwide, Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama (48% to 22%) in a national primary; former Sen. John Edwards trails at 11%.
  • Among 460 Democrats in Iowa, Clinton leads Obama (31% to 26%) in a statewide caucus; Edwards trials at 19%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 10%.
  • Among 594 Democrats in New Hampshire, Clinton leads Obama (38% to 19%) in a statewide primary; Edwards trails at 15%, Richardson at 10%.
  • Among 373 Democrats in South Carolina, Clinton leads Obama (45% to 31%) in a statewide primary; Edwards trails at 10%.
  • All other candidates receive less than five percent each.

UPDATE: Pew's Scott Keeter responds to the issue of field dates.


POLL: SurveyUSA Alabama Match-Ups


A new SurveyUSA automated survey of 532 registered voters in Alabama (conducted 11/9 through 11/11; released 11/30) finds:

General Election Match-ups:

    McCain 52%, Clinton 42%
    Giuliani 50%, Clinton 42%
    Huckabee 47%, Clinton 46%
    Romney 47%, Clinton 47%

    McCain 56%, Obama 35%
    Giuliani 55%, Obama 38%
    Romney 51%, Obama 41%
    Huckabee 48%, Obama 41%


POLL: Des Moines Register/Selzer Iowa Survey


A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll (Democratic results, Republican results, methodology, David Yepsen column, Iowa Poll home page) of likely caucus goers in Iowa (conducted 11/25 through 11/28 by Selzer & Co) finds:

  • Among 500 registered who say they definitely or probably will attend the Iowa Republican caucuses, former Gov. Mike Huckabee has "leaped ahead" of former Gov. Mitt Romney (29% to 24%), followed by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 13%, former Sen. Fred Thompson at 9%, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ron Paul at 7% each, and Rep. Tom Tancredo at 6%.
  • Among 500 registered who say they definitely or probably will attend the Iowa Democratic caucuses, Sen. Barack Obama has "pulled ahead" of Sen. Hillary Clinton (28% to 25% -- though the lead is "statistically insignificant"), followed by John Edwards at 23%, Gov. Bill Richardson at 9% and Sen. Joe Biden and 6%.
  • All other candidates trail at less than five percent each.
  • Yepsen (via The Page): "Close to half of the Democrats and 61 percent of the Republicans say they still could be persuaded to change their minds."


 

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