April 6, 2008 - April 12, 2008


"Outliers" for April 11

Topics: 2008 , Frank Newport , Gallup , George Bush , John McCain , Kathy Frankovic , Pollster , Steve Lombardo

Bill McInturff will rejoin the McCain campaign as pollster, along with Ed Goeas and Linda DiVall (via Ambinder, see also Martin and Murray).

Kathy Frankovic sees little evidence of a "Limbaugh Effect" in exit polls.

Frank Newport considers the sources of George Bush's 28% approval rating (the number from the most recent Gallup poll and Charles Franklin's trend estimate).

Tom Holbrook illustrates the record of statewide polls in March, April May and June 2004 in predicting results in November.

Chuck Todd (citing Republican pollster Steve Lombardo) says John McCain holds a "faux lead" in national polls.

Will Marshall sees a security gap holding back the Democrats against John McCain.

Alan Abramowitz and Ruy Teixeira consider the political implications of a shrinking working class.

Paul Begala has "nothing but contempt" for Mark Penn.

Michael Crowley sees parallels between Mark Penn and Dick Morris.

The Harvard Crimson remembers Mark Penn's work as a pollster at Harvard and notes that both Penn and Geoff Garin covered politics for Crimson (via Ambinder).

Brian Schaffner plots Walmart and Pick-Up trucks by state to see how Pennsylvania compares.

Another Update: PA Results by Race, Education and Gender

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , Doug Schwartz , Hillary Clinton , Quinnipiac

After posting results on Wednesday from the lastest Quinnipiac University surveys of Pennsylvania by race and education, I asked Quinnipiac pollster Doug Schwartz if he could break the white subgroups out by gender. Since their sample sizes of likely Democratic primary voters are relatively large (n=1,340-1,549 on the three most recent surveys), even relatively small subgroups in Pennsylvania like white college educated men and women (typically 12% and 13% of the Quinnipiac samples respectively) still yield at least 150 interviews.

These data are mostly consistent with my analysis on Wednesday. For example, the vote preference among non-college educated white men and women is currently right about where it was in mid to late February. However, it is apparent that Hillary Clinton does better among women than among men, even after controlling for education level. Numerically, Obama appears to do slightly better know among college educated women (46%) than in February (37-39%), although the difference is not quite big enough to be statistically significant given the smaller sample size.


The Hillary Clinton favorable ratings have been mostly stable since February. Although the table shows a numeric decrease in her favorable rating among college educated white men over the last few surveys, it is not quite large enough (given the sample sizes) to be statistically meaningful.


Barack Obama's favorable rating, however does show signs of change. His rating among white men without a college education have picked up significantly from 44% in February to 52% in mid-March to 60% on the most recent survey. Among other subgroups, Obama's favorable rating has been mostly flat.


POLL: Zogby Pennsylvania Dems


Clinton 47, Obama 43

POLL: The Daily Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 47, Clinton 44
McCain 47, Obama 44... McCain 48, Clinton 42

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 52 / 44
Clinton: 47 / 51
Obama: 51 / 47

Obama 47, McCain 39... Clinton 47, McCain 38

McCain 52, Obama 41... McCain 58, Clinton 36

POLL: The Daily Gallup

Gallup Poll

Obama 51, Clinton 42
Obama 46, McCain 43... Clinton 46, McCain 45

Bush Job Approval at 28%, Lowest of His Administration; Video
Economic Ratings Close to Worst for 2008

Bush Approval Falls to 28.3%

Topics: CBS , Gallup , George Bush


President Bush's approval trend has taken a sharp downturn in recent weeks, to fall to a new low for the administration at 28.3%. This follows a lengthy period of stable approval at around 32-33%.

Recent polls from Gallup and AP/Ipsos put approval at 28%, a new low for the Gallup poll. Harris recently found approval at 26% while CBS News put approval at 28%. Pew similarly has approval at 28%, though the Diageo/Hotline result for registered voters (as opposed to adults in the other polls) has approval at 35%, the only recent poll over 30%.

While the President has taken a back seat to the primaries in recent months, his new approval slump reflects growing pessimism over the economy which has displaced the war in Iraq as the most important problem facing the country. Likewise the percent saying the nation is headed in the wrong direction has continued to grow in recent months, to a high of 81% in a recent CBS News poll.

Cross posted at Political Arithmetik

POLL: Temple Pennsylvania Dems

Temple University
Institute for Public Affairs

Clinton 47, Obama 41

POLL: AP-Ipsos National


National end date 4/9 (previous end date 2/24)
Obama 46, Clinton 43 (Obama 46, Clinton 43)

McCain 45, Obama 45 (Obama 51, McCain 41)
Clinton 48, McCain 45 (Clinton 48, McCain 43)

POLL: Lifetime Women's Opinion of Candidates

Kellyanne Conway (R)/Celinda Lake (D)

National Women

"By a margin of two-to-one, women think Obama has been helped more than hurt by the media due to his race (41% versus 20%). Hispanic women stood out as especially likely to believe Obama has benefited from his race (49%); whereas African-American women were more apt to believe he has gotten the short end of the media stick (30%)."

"Hillary Clinton was the only candidate who registered a significant net change in public opinion since January: 26% of women surveyed said they like her less now compared to just 15% who said they like her more. Still, 55% said their opinion of Clinton has not changed. Women who said they like Clinton more now largely pointed to aspects of her personality (67%) — noting that she is tough or a fighter. Likewise, those whose opinion of her declined also pointed to her personal traits (67%) — namely saying that she is dishonest."

POLL: The Daily Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 48, Clinton 41
McCain 46, Obama 45... McCain 48, Clinton 42

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 52 / 45
Clinton: 45 / 53
Obama: 52 / 45

McCain 48, Obama 43... McCain 57, Clinton 32
Sen: Stevens 46, Begich 45

McCain 48, Obama 43... McCain 54, Clinton 36

McCain 47, Clinton 42... McCain 47, Obama 40

New Mexico
Obama 45, McCain 42... McCain 46, Clinton 43
Sen: Udall 54, Pearce 40... Udall 56, Wilson 36

POLL: The Daily Gallup

Gallup Poll

Obama 50, Clinton 42
Obama 45, McCain 44... McCain 46, Clinton 45

Obama Education Gap Extends to General Election
Consumer Mood Negative but Steady Compared to March; Video
43% Call Economic Conditions "Poor"

The Popular Vote's Margin of Error

Topics: 2008 , Measurement

My NationalJournal.com column, which looks at the pollster concept of measurement error in the context of counting popular vote cast in the Democratic presidential contest, is now online.

POLL: Puerto Rico Dems

Research & Research

Puerto Rico
Clinton 50, Obama 37

POLL: Time Pennsylvania Dems


Clinton 49, Obama 41

POLL: Marist New York General

WNBC/Marist Poll

New York State
McCain 48, Obama 46... Clinton 48, McCain 46
McCain/Rice 49, Obama/Clinton 44
McCain/Rice 49, Clinton/Obama 46

Most Important Problem, 2005-2008

Topics: George Bush


The Iraq war and the economy have consistently been the top two "most important problems" facing the nation during President Bush's second term. But the dynamics have changed dramatically over the past seven months.

After near parity in 2005, the war dominated throughout 2006 as far more important that the economy, and with rising numbers of people citing the war as most important. That peaked in early 2007 with concern over the war gradually diminishing through most of the rest of the year.

And then the economy struck. As recently as August 2007 only 8% said the economy was the most important problem. By early September that jumped to 13%, then to 23% in January and now 37% in early April. By contrast the war fell from 34% to 15% over that same time.

It will be ironic if the fall campaigns largely ignore the war to focus on an economy that 12 months earlier had looked fairly good.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

"Outliers" for April 9

Topics: Frank Newport , Mark Mellman , Pollsters

David Hill ponders the fall of Mark Penn and the reasons why "pollsters are the red-haired stepchild of politics when it comes to holding truly significant roles in major presidential campaigns."

Karen Tumulty chronicles Penn's demotion and recalls a forgotten tidbit from 1999.

Jason Horowitz reports on Penn's post demotion status.

Peter Feld says Penn's "biggest lapse" was a "failure to correctly apply his signature approach, the creative segmenting of the electorate."

Penn's Facebook application has few fans.

Mark Mellman lists the mistakes of the Clinton campaign.

Andrew Kohut considers how voters feel about the Democratic candidates, and how the candidates make the voters feel about themselves.

Brian Schaffner compares the question text and demographics of three Pennsylvania polls.

Frank Newport lists the countries that approve of political leadership in the U.S.

Carl Bialik takes an informal poll of pollsters on the recent Harris Interactive online survey on cell phones.

And James Fowler finds a Colbert bump (via Monkey Cage)

Rendell Gets Lucky

Topics: Bob Casey Jr. , Ed Rendell , Hillary Clinton , Pollsters , Quinnipiac

Back before I shifted to blogging full time, I did fair amount of survey work in a particular locale where, by some odd twist of fate, we always managed to interview some relative or close friend of the client on every project. One reason for this phenomena, no doubt, was that we were calling into a relatively small county. As such, the odds of reaching someone just one degree of separation removed from the client were not that long. But someone who is the object of a question on the survey in a state the size of say, Pennsylvania, involves some very long odds.

Those long odds are what makes this story about the most recent Quinnipiac survey, blogged by Brett Lieberman of the Harrisburg Patriot-News (via Ben Smith), one for the record books:

[Governor Ed Rendell] was hanging out at home last weekend when the phone rang. On the other end of the call was a pollster from Quinnipiac University, who had no idea whom his computer had dialed. "That was funny," said Rendell, who says it was the first time in his life that he's been called by a pollster.

What was funnier was his response to a question about whether the governor's endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton make him "more likely to vote for Clinton, less likely to vote for Clinton, or doesn't it make a difference?"

"When they asked if Ed Rendell's endorsement had any impact, I said, 'Absolutely,'" Rendell told us last night.

Of course, the next question asked whether U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.'s endorsement of Barack Obama had an impact on his vote. Rendell and Casey fought a tough 2002 primary and are often referred to as political rivals said. Rendell's response? "I said, 'no difference.'"

Anyone willing to calculate the odds of Quinnipiac's reaching Rendell and how they compare to say, winning the Powerball lottery? Extra credit for factoring in response bias.

POLL: InsiderAdvantage Pennsylvania Dems


Clinton 48, Obama 38

POLL: The Daily Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 50, Clinton 41
Obama 46, McCain 45... McCain 47, Clinton 44

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 53 / 44
Clinton: 45 / 52
Obama: 53 / 45

McCain 55, Obama 37... McCain 51, Clinton 40
Sen: Sessions 57, Figures 36

POLL: The Daily Gallup

Gallup Poll

Obama 51, Clinton 41
Obama 46, McCain 44... McCain 46, Clinton 46

About One in Four Democrats Have Switched Candidates
Obama Dominates Clinton Among College Graduates; Video
Consumer Gloom Not Letting Up

POLL: PPP Pennsylvania Dems

Public Policy Polling (D)

Clinton 46, Obama 43

POLL: Strategic Vision Pennsylvania Dems

Strategic Vision (R)

Clinton 47, Obama 42
McCain 48, Obama 41... Clinton 45, McCain 42

Update: Pennsylvania Results by Race and Education

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , Doug Schwartz , Gallup , Hillary Clinton , Pollster , Quinnipiac

I got a bit sidetracked yesterday, so apologies for the delay in posting this additional data from the Quinnipiac University Poll of Pennsylvania released yesterday. In a post last week, I noted that Barack Obama's modest gains on the last Quinnipiac poll had come mostly from college educated white voters, essentially matching the levels he had reached in mid-February on previous Quinnipiac polls. That trend continues on this latest survey.

Given the wide variation in recent Pennsylvania results, why focus on data from just one pollster? Well, first, the Quinnipiac University poll has been conducting very large samples of likely Democratic primary voters lately (ranging from 1,304 to 1,549 interviews on the last three surveys) that reduces the sampling error within smaller subgroups. Second, Quinnipiac has long and extensive experience in Pennsylvania. The pollsters I know who have worked in the state hold the poll in high regard.

Third, perhaps indicative of the first two factors, the current Quinnipiac results -- showing Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by six points (50% to 44%) -- track fairly closely with our overall trend estimate based on all polls (51% to 43%). Finally, Quinnipiac is one of the only polls that regularly tabulates its results by education and Doug Schwartz, the director of the poll, has been kind enough to share additional tabulations that do not appear in their public release.

So on to the data. With this latest update, Obama now leads Clinton among college educated white voters by 12 points (54% to 42%), representing a net 19-point reversal since mid March. However, while Obama's performance among white voters without a college degree is slightly better than in mid-March, Clinton continues to lead among non-college educated whites by a two-to-one margin (62% to 31%) -- roughly the same margin as in mid-February.


With this survey, Doug Schwartz has also shared data for the Clinton and Obama favorable ratings by these same subgroups. As the following table shows, Barack Obama's favorable rating has increased modestly among all four subgroups since a dip in mid-March in the midst of the first wave of stories about the Jeremiah Wright controversy. The improvement follows Obama's speech on Wright and race, a bus tour of rural Pennsylvania and his first wave of television advertising in the state. Note that while his rating among non-college whites is weaker than among other voters, it is still mostly positive (55% favorable, 26% unfavorable).


Hillary Clinton's favorable rating has been mostly stable among white voters over the last month. Note that while Clinton's favorable rating among college educated white voters (69%) is lower than Obama's (78%), most of these voters rate both candidates favorably, which accounts for the relative volatility of their vote preference over the last few months. Many of these voters face a tough choice between two candidates they like. Also note that Hillary Clinton's unfavorable rating among African Americans (34%) is now greater than Obama's unfavorable rating among non-college educated whites (26%).


Thus, while these new results show modest progress for Obama in recent weeks, they also demonstrate why Clinton remains the favorite to win Pennsylvania and why Obama faces a big challenge gaining additional ground. Yes, Obama has gained significantly among college educated white voters, but that subgroup is relatively small (roughly a quarter of the Quinnipiac samples). Also, Obama's current margin in Pennsylvania among college educated whites not only exceeds his exit poll performance in Ohio (where Clinton won the subgroup, 52% to 45%) but also in most other states (he did better only in Illinois, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin). Further progress over the next two weeks may be tougher, given a debate and a greater television advertising presence by the Clinton campaign.

To overtake Clinton in Pennsylvania, Obama will need to put a bigger dent in her lead among the non-college educated white voters that are likely to be just over half of the electorate on April 22. If he merely holds his current leads among college whites and African Americans, Obama would need roughly 38-40% of non-college educated whites to win.

UPDATE - Gallup has a new analysis (and video report) out today that shows the same pattern by race and education since mid-March in their national Gallup Daily tracking survey:

The results show little change in the pattern of support among white Democrats with high school educations or less. This group supported Clinton over Obama by 33 points in the March 9-15 period, and supports her by a 30-point margin now. This suggests that as race arguably became a bigger factor in the campaign, less-educated white Democrats were not affected.

The biggest change, in fact, came about among those with postgraduate educations, who went from an 8-point margin for Obama in the March sample to a 29-point margin now. In other words, Obama's increase in support overall among whites during this period looks like it occurred for the most part among those with college and in particular postgraduate educations.

POLL: SurveyUSA North Carolina Dems


North Carolina
Obama 49, Clinton 39

What's Up in Pennsylvania?

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , Divergent Polls , Hillary Clinton , Pollster , SurveyUSA

I will admit that, like Pollster reader jsh1120, I am at a bit of a loss about the flurry of recent results from Pennsylvania. In the last week, we have seen surveys released showing everything from an 18-point Clinton lead to a 2-point Obama advantage (for all links, see our Pennsylvania chart and table). Of course, we have had days before this primary season where we saw huge spreads among pollsters in their Democratic primary results.

As before, the most likely explanation involves differences in the kinds of people pollsters are selecting as likely primary voters. In California, Texas and other states with very large minority populations (either African American, Latino or both), the variation in racial composition explained much of the difference. In Pennsylvania, however, the percentage of black voters is relatively low and the Latino population in the low single digits. As such, the mix of gender, age and socio-economic status may help explain the divergent results before us. Unfortunately, only a few pollsters routinely release their composition statistics and most are not asking respondents about their education or income levels. So we are largely left to speculate about the differences.

One way to help clarify the numbers, if only slightly, is to focus on the results among white voters for the recent polls that have tracked and released results by race over the last month. Doing so (see the table below) at least eliminates the differences due to variations in racial composition.


The polls certainly differ, but in many ways, their results are consistent. All four show Clinton with roughly 60% of the white vote in early March. All show modest increase in support (+3 to +7 points) for Barack Obama in recent weeks. They diverge mostly on the Clinton trend. Three of the four show a relatively modest decline in support for Hillary Clinton, while SurveyUSA shows no change at all for Clinton and the smallest increase (+3 points) for Obama.

I am hoping to post more on Pennsylvania -- focusing on the new Quinnipiac University data by race and education -- later today.

POLL: The Daily Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 51, Clinton 40
McCain 47, Obama 45... McCain 47, Clinton 43

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 54 / 43
Clinton: 47 / 52
Obama: 52 / 46

Sen: Collins 54, Allen 38

Sen: Alexander > 55, Dems < 35

POLL: The Daily Gallup

Gallup Poll

Obama 51, Clinton 43
Obama 46, McCain 45... McCain 46, Clinton 46

Iraq War Attitudes Politically Polarized, Video
April Bringing More Dour Economic Assessment

POLL: Rasmussen Pennsylvania Dems

Rasmussen Reports

Clinton 48, Obama 43

POLL: SurveyUSA Pennsylvania Dems


Clinton 56, Obama 38

POLL: SurveyUSA Washington, Oregon


Obama 51, McCain 44... McCain 46, Clinton 45
Gov: Gregoire 48, Rossi 47

Obama 52, Clinton 42

POLL: Quinnipiac Pennsylvania Dems

Quinnipiac University

Clinton 50, Obama 44

POLL: The Daily Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports

National end date 4/6
Obama 51, Clinton 41
McCain 46, Obama 45... McCain 47, Clinton 44

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 54 / 43
Clinton: 45 / 53
Obama: 52 / 45

North Carolina
Obama 56, Clinton 33

McCain 55, Obama 37... McCain 51, Clinton 40

McCain 58, Obama 31... McCain 52, Clinton 38

Obama 46, McCain 42... McCain 51, Clinton 36

POLL: The Daily Gallup

Gallup Poll

National end date 4/6
Obama 52, Clinton 43
Obama 45, McCain 45... McCain 47, Clinton 45

85% Say Economy Getting Worse

POLL: PPP North Carolina Dems

Public Policy Polling (D)

North Carolina
Obama 54, Clinton 33

Penn Out (Sorta); Garin In

Topics: 2008 , Bob Casey Jr. , Garin-Hart-Young , Mark Penn , NBC/Wall Street Journal , Pollsters , USA Today

As by now you have probably learned from every media outlet in the known universe, pollster Mark Penn has resigned as chief political strategist for the Clinton campaign over the flap involving his outside work for the government of Colombia. First Read has a roundup of stories as does USAToday's Mark Memmott. See also the blogger/reporter commentary from Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith, Chuck Todd, ABC's Political Radar, Mark Halperin, Chris Beam and many, many more.

Two added points. Josh Marshall wonders if Penn is "completely, positively" out of the Clinton campaign. He notes that the statement from campaign manager Maggie Williams says that Penn and his firm will "continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign" and observes…

The campaign statement says Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson are taking over strategy and message. But Garin's a pollster. So the logic of the situation says he's taking over the polling. But it doesn't actually say that. Meanwhile the statement does conspicuously go out of its way to say that Penn and his firm will not only keep doing polling but also keep advising the campaign.

I'm going to have to wait to hear from some of my DC Dem consultant/polling community friends to get more of a feel for what happened here. Because if he was really sacked, the sacking announcement sort of reads like he helped draft it.

TNR's Michael Crowley also provides this helpful block-quote from the corporate bio of newly promoted Clinton pollster Geoff Garin:

In politics, Mr. Garin has a well-earned reputation for helping candidates win in difficult circumstances. In 2001, Mr. Garin’s strategic research helped Mark Warner win the governorship in Virginia, despite the state’s strong Republican leanings. Mr. Garin has directed the polling and created winning campaign strategies for many of the leading Democrats serving in the U.S. Senate, including Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Russ Feingold, Robert C. Byrd, Jay Rockefeller, Patrick Leahy, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Byron Dorgan. In the 2004 presidential election, Mr. Garin was the polling advisor to General Wesley Clark and was the pollster for the Democratic National Committee’s independent expenditure campaign in the general election.

Two thoughts about Garin: First, both Garin and his firm share nearly universal respect from other pollsters and Democratic political professionals. As most readers know, company chairman Peter D. Hart has polled for prominent Democrats for decades (incuding Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984) and has conducted the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (along with a Republican partner, first the late Bob Teeter and more recently Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies) for nearly two decades.

Second, as the client list suggests, Garin's firm has considerable experience in the states with upcoming primaries and caucuses. Byrd and Rockefeller are from West Virginia, Baucus from Montana. Garin's partner Fred Yang has a current client list that includes Senator Bob Casey and Mayor Michael Nutter of Pennsylvania, Governor Mike Easley and Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, and Congressmen Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.

Update: Promoted from the comment by alert Pollster reader Thatcher, Marc Ambinder reports:

Demoted Hillary Clinton strategist Mark Penn may no longer have the coveted title of chief strategist, but he remains a key member of the campaign's senior staff.

Mr. Penn took part on the campaign's morning message call this morning, as usual.

This afternoon, he is also scheduled to be on a call with Clinton and other aides to begin to prepare for Saturday's presidential debate in Philadelphia.

Mr. Penn "is still going to be very much involved," a senior campaign official said.

[Typos corrected -- thanks CL]

POLL: ARG Pennsylvania Dems

American Research Group

Obama 45, Clinton 45