Pollster.com

September 7, 2008 - September 13, 2008

 

US: Daily Tracking (9/10-12)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/10-12/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 47, McCain 47

Diageo / Hotline
912 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews
McCain 45, Obama 44

Gallup
2,761 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
McCain 47, Obama 45

Rasmussen
3,000 LV, 2%; IVR
McCain 49, Obama 46


NV: McCain 49, Obama 46 (Rasmussen-9/11)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/11/08; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

Nevada
McCain 49, Obama 46
(8/11: McCain 48, Obama 45)


The Changing Partisan Landscape in Key States


One factor that pollsters must deal with is a dynamic electorate. While these changes can be significant at the national level, they may be even more pronounced within particular states. Indeed, we have heard a great deal about the large numbers of citizens that Democrats have registered over the past few years. But how big a difference has this really made? To get a sense of this, I gathered party registration data for seven swing states. The chart below compares the percentage of citizens registering as Democrats and Republicans in 2008 to the same figures in November, 2004 (obtained from the Secretary of State websites).

registration.PNG

First, a disclaimer. Party registration is not necessarily comparable across states. For example, New Hampshire's open primary law allows independents to vote in either party's primary while North Carolina's Pennsylvania's closed primary rule means that you must register with a party to vote in that party's primary. Thus, the incentive to register with a party is greater in North Carolina Pennsylvania than it is in New Hampshire (which is why North Carolina's Pennsylvania's figures are higher than in New Hampshire).

Nevertheless, the change (or stability) within each state provides important information and, in most cases, this information appears to favor Democrats. In percentage terms, Republican registration has declined in six of the seven swing states since 2004 (New Hampshire is the exception) while Democratic registration has increased in four of the seven states. Not every state has seen significant partisan changes. The partisan balance in Florida, New Mexico, and North Carolina is quite similar to what it was four years ago. But in four other states, the changes are more significant.

In two states that went for Kerry in 2004 (New Hampshire and Pennsylvania), Democrats have improved their standing among registered voters. In Pennsylvania, a state that the McCain campaign is still targeting, Democrats held a 7% advantage in party registration in 2004 compared to a 12% edge now. Democrats have also made big gains in two states that went for Bush in 2004--Colorado and Nevada. In Colorado, Democrats have cut the Republican registration advantage in half since 2004, from 6% to 3%. But Nevada provides the most stunning example of partisan change. In 2004, Republicans held a 1% edge in party registration; however, just four years later, Democrats now hold a 6% advantage.

These registration figures point to the difficulty that McCain faces in trying to pick up states like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Those states went for Kerry four years ago and have only become more Democratic since. The party registration statistics also indicate why Colorado and Nevada have become such good targets for the Obama campaign. In both states, Democrats have made dramatic gains.

What does all this mean for polling? We don't know for sure, but these dynamics do suggest some questions we should be aware of. For example, will these newly registered voters be included in pollsters' likely voter screens? Will those who are newly registered actually turn out on election day? Are all survey firms accounting for these trends when applying partisan (and demographic) weights to their samples? And--the key question--what will the changing partisan landscape in these states mean on election day?


NOTE: See the raw registration numbers here: View image

Unfortunately, states like Michigan and Virginia do not have partisan registration so a similar analysis is not possible in those swing states.

UPDATE: A reader pointed out that in my original post, I mistakenly stated that North Carolina has a closed primary, which is not true. In fact, North Carolina does allow unaffiliated voters to vote in party primaries as long as the parties themselves agree. Both parties have agreed to do this in recent election cycles, so North Carolina has had semi-open primaries in recent years. The states that I've looked at here that have closed primaries include Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.


US: Obama 46, McCain 46 (Newsweek-9/10-11)

Topics: PHome

Newsweek / PSRA
9/10-11/08; 1,038 RV, 3.8%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National
Obama 46, McCain 46
(July: Obama 44, McCain 41)


NJ: Obama 48, McCain 45 (Marist-9/5-8)

Topics: PHome

Marist Poll
9/5-8/08; 584 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 48, McCain 45
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 51, Zimmer (R) 40


OK: McCain 63, Obama 32 (Rasmussen-9/11)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/11/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Oklahoma
McCain 62, Obama 32


Alaska Post-Palin


AlaskaPostPalin.png
Alaska has long been a solidly "red" state but this year the troubles of the state's Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young on top of Republican party "brand" troubles suggested there might be an opportunity for the Obama campaign which spent $88,000 in advertising in the state in June and July according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project.

And then came Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket. The impact is obvious in the chart above.

While the state was classified as "lean Republican" prior to the Palin Pick, all but one poll in the state showed McCain ahead. Now there is no doubt.

The politics are obvious, of course, but it is a nice example of how a political event can be instantly reflected in the polling, and bring our trend estimator to a sharply different conclusion. 

Cross posted at Political Arithmetik.


State and National Polling Post-Convention


PostRNCStateBounce.pngThe gains of the Republican ticket continue in both state and national polling as more post-convention state polls become available. We now have 26 states with a post-convention poll and the results mirror the sharply pro-Republican movement seen in national polling since Sen. McCain's acceptance speech.

The McCain lead is now about 3 points in national polling and is just under 4 points for those states with post-convention polls.

An important point is that the states with post-convention polls are not a representative sample of all states, though the differences between states without a recent poll and those with new polls is not large. States without new polling have averaged 2.1 percentage points more pro-Obama than those states with new polling. However, if we plot the trend lines in the chart for all states (with or without new polls) and for those with post-convention polls, we see the two trends have followed similar if not identical trajectories.

Since our last update of this comparison of state and national trends the addition of new states has brought the state trend line a bit below the national polls trend, something not so visible in the earlier post. This difference reflects the selection of states that have new polling, rather than shifts in the vote margin in the states, except of course for the brand new polls.

The bottom line is that the swing towards the Republicans remains strong in both state and national polls , amounting to a 7 point national swing and a 5 point swing based on the state polls. In an earlier post, I pointed out

The bottom line is neither campaign should be complacent or despondent. There is a lot of time left and recent history shows that both up and down swings of 6-9 points are entirely plausible.

Right now that magnitude of swing is looking about right.


The states with post-convention polls are: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina,North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. 


US: Daily Tracking (9/9-11)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/9-11/08;

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
(1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews)
Obama 47, McCain 46, Barr 2, Nader 2

Diageo / Hotline
(913 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
Obama 45, McCain 44

Gallup
(2,726 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 48, Obama 45

Rasmussen
(3,000 LV, 2%; IVR)
McCain 49, Obama 46


OR: Obama 46, McCain 39 (Hoffman-9/8-9)

Topics: PHome

Hoffman Research Group
9/8-9/08; 600 RV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 46, McCain 39, Nader 1, Barr 1


US: McCain 48, Obama 44 (APGfk-9/5-10)

Topics: PHome

AP-Gfk
9/5-10/08; 812 LV, 3.4
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 44, Barr 1, Nader 1


9/12 Lunchtime Status Update

Topics: 2008 , Ohio , Status Update

We have logged another 16 new statewide presidential polls in since yesterday's noon update, including multiple surveys in the key swing battleground states of Ohio (3 new surveys), Michigan (2), Nevada (1) and Colorado (1).

Of the 16 new polls, 7 were tracking polls that followed up on surveys by the same pollsters conducted before the Republican convention. Five (5) of the 7 show movement of at least a percentage point in McCain's direction. However, none of these surveys made enough of a difference to shift any of our classifications since yesterday. Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and Colorado all remain firmly in the yellow toss-up category.

Ohio, with three new polls including one from the well-regarded University of Cincinnati "Ohio Poll," is worth further discussion. The Quinnipiac survey released yesterday had Obama leading by five points (49% to 44%) and actually increasing his support since before the conventions. However, the three news surveys all show McCain with a small mathematical edge: +4 on the Univ. of Cincinnati (48% to 44%), +4 on Strategic Vision (also 48% to 44%), +1 on Insider Advantage (48% to 47%).

Our trend estimate for Ohio remains tight, although McCain has slipped very slightly ahead of Obama (45.3% to 45.1%) for the first time in several months.


MO: McCain 51, Obama 46 (Rasmussen-9/11)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/11/08; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

Missouri
McCain 51, Obama 46
(8/7: McCain 50, Obama 44)


CO: Udall 45, Schaffer 34 (Harstad-9/7-9)


Harstad Strategic Research (D) /
Mark Udall
9/7-9/08; 752 LV, 3.6%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Colorado
Sen: Udall (D) 45, Schaffer (R) 34


OR: Merkley 43, Smith 42 (Benenson-9/7-9)


Benenson Strategy Group (D) /
Jeff Merkley
9/7-9/08; 702 LV, 3.7%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Oregon
Sen: Merkley (D) 43, Smith (R-i) 41
(August: Smith 47, Merkley 38)


OH: McCain 48, Obama 44 (UCinn-9/5-10)

Topics: PHome

Institute for Policy Research /
University of Cincinnati
9/5-10/08; 775 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Ohio
McCain 48, Obama 44


US: McCain 46, Obama 45 (Ipsos-9/5-9)

Topics: PHome

Ipsos/McClatchy
9/5-9/08; 876 RV, 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 46, Obama 45, Nader 2, Barr 1
(8/4: Obama 47, McCain 41, Nader 3, Barr 2)


WA: Obama 49, McCain 47 (Rasmussen-9/10)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/10/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Washington
Obama 49, McCain 47
(8/6: Obama 54, McCain 42)

Gov: Rossi (R) 52, Gregoire (D-i) 46
(8/6: Gregoire 50, Rossi 46)


NV: McCain 46, Obama 45 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 518 LV, 4.2%
Mode: IVR

Nevada
McCain 46, Obama 45


US: McCain 46, Obama 43 (POS-9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

Public Opinion Strategies (R)
9/6-8/08; 800 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(memo, results)

National
McCain 46, Obama 43, Nader 2, Barr 1


ID: McCain 68, Obama 29 (Rasmussen-9/9)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/9/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Idaho
McCain 68, Obama 29
Sen: Risch (R) 58, LaRocco (D) 30


NC: McCain 55, Obama 38 (DailyKos-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
9/8-10/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina
McCain 55, Obama 38
(7/30: McCain 47, Obama 43)

Sen: Dole (R-i) 48, Hagan (D) 42
(7/30: Dole 50, Hagan 42)

Gov: McCrory (R) 47, Perdue (D) 42


WY: McCain 58, Obama 39 (Rasmussen-9/10)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/10/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Wyoming
McCain 58, Obama 39


MI: Obama 51, McCain 46 (Rasmussen-9/10)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/10/08; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

Michigan
Obama 51, McCain 46
(August: Obama 49, McCain 45)


ME: Obama 52, McCain 38 (DailyKos-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
9/8-10/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Maine
Obama 52, McCain 38
Sen: Collins (R-i) 57, Allen (D) 38


MS: McCain 55, Obama 37 (DailyKos-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
9/8-10/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Mississippi
McCain 55, Obama 37
(7/23: McCain 51, Obama 42)

Sen: Wicker (R-i) 48, Musgrove (D) 43
(7/23: Wicker 45, Musgrove 44)


GA: McCain 52, Obama 39 (StrategicVision-9/7-9)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
9/7-9/08; 800 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Georgia
McCain 52, Obama 39


OH: McCain 48, Obama 44 (StrategicVision-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
9/5-7/08; 1,200 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Ohio
McCain 48, Obama 44


CO: Obama 49, McCain 46 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 501 LV, 4.3%
Mode: IVR

Colorado
Obama 49, McCain 46


OH: McCain 48, Obama 47 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 503 LV, 4.3%
Mode: IVR

Ohio
McCain 48, Obama 47


MI: McCain 45, Obama 44 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 503 LV, 4.3%
Mode: IVR

Michigan
McCain 45, Obama 44


NC: McCain 47, Obama 44 (Civitas-9/6-10)

Topics: PHome

Civitas Institute (R) / Tel Opinion Research
9/6-10/08; 600 RV, 4.2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina
McCain 47, Obama 44, Barr 0
(8/17: McCain 46, Obama 40, Barr 2)

Gov: Perdue (D) 40, McCrory (R) 39, Munger (L) 2
(8/17: Perdue 43, McCrory 41, Munger 3


KY: McConnell 52, Lunsford 35 (VoterConsumer-9/7-9)


Voter/Consumer Research (R) /
Mitch McConnell
9/7-9/08; 900 LV, 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Kentucky
Sen: McConnell (R-i) 52, Lunsford (D) 30
(June: McConnell 50, Lunsford 39)


NC: McCain 49, Obama 46 (GHY-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

Garin Hart Yang (D) /
Bev Perdue
9/5-7/08; 605 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina
McCain 49, Obama 46
Sen: Dole (R-i) 48, Hagan (D) 46
Gov: Perdue (D) 46, McCrory (R) 40


AL: McCain 55, Obama 35 (CSRC-9/3-9)

Topics: PHome

Capital Survey Research Center /
Alabama Education Association
9/3-9/08; 606 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Alabama
McCain 55, Obama 35, Barr 1, Nader 0
(8/4: McCain 47, Obama 34, Nader 2, Barr 1)


US: Daily Tracking (9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Polls
9/8-10/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
(1,100 LV, 3%: Live Telephone Interviews)
Obama 47, McCain 45, Barr 2, Nader 2

Diageo / Hotline
(918 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 46, Obama 44

Gallup
(2,718 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 48, Obama 44

Rasmussen
(3,000 LV, 2%; IVR)
McCain 48, Obama 48


Internals of the McCain-Palin Bump

Topics: 2008 , Andrew Kohut , Barack Obama , Bounce , Bump , John McCain , National Journal

My NationalJournal.com column, on the "internals" of the McCain-Palin post-convention bounce, is now online.

In the column, I quote from a conversation with Andrew Kohut about his preference to avoid conducting Pew Research Center polls that measure vote preference during the convention period when there is "more fluidity in public opinion." On the New York Times website today, he fleshes out his own thoughts on the McCain bounce:

The question is, how good an indicator is [McCain's bounce] of where the electorate is headed on Nov. 4? A historical look at recent elections shows mixed results. In five of the seven elections since 1980, the candidate with the lead in early September went on to victory in November. In only two elections did the leading candidate go on to lose the election. But the record also suggests that when there was a change in momentum, in three cases that candidate won the election, and in two he was defeated.

Kohut also reviews these historical patterns in more detail and outlines a number of reasons why "this contest is a hard one to call early." It's well worth the click.

Charles Franklin and I put together a series of charts plotting the trends from the conventions to election day for every election since 1980 that illustrates the same trends that Kohut discusses.


9/11 Lunchtime Status Update

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , John McCain , Status Update

Since noon yesterday, we have logged a 14 new statewide surveys in the presidential race. Most continue to show evidence of the post convention bounce favoring the McCain-Palin ticket, and two more states have now shifted in the lean McCain column on our summary map:

  • A new Rasmussen Reports survey in North Dakota showing McCain leading by a 14-point margin (55% to 41%) moves that state from toss-up to lean McCain, a significantly different result from any of the previous five public polls released in that state this year.
  • Two new surveys in Florida, from Quinnipiac and InsiderAdvantage showing McCain leading by 7 (50% to 43%) and 8 points (50% to 42%) respectively, nudge our Florida classification to lean McCain.

That shift adds another 30 electoral votes to McCain's total on our map, which now stands at 224 to Barack Obama's 243 (with 270 needed to win). At the beginning of this week, our map -- which reflected the polling from before the Republican convention -- showed Obama with a 260 to 194 electoral vote lead.

Also, of the 14 surveys out in the previous 24 hours, 10 were tracking polls that following up on prior polls conducted by the same pollsters before the Republican convention. Nine (9) of the 10 show net movement in McCain's direction (the exception is the new Quinnipiac survey of Ohio). All 10 show McCain's share of the vote increasing by at least a single percentage point.

Thus, we continue to show evidence of the same post-convention bounce for McCain evident since earlier in the week in the national tracking polls.


Ins and Outs of Polling


I did an hour on Minnesota Public Radio on September 10 discussing polling techniques and issues. Here is a link to the audio. Good callers!

The focus on polling starts at 11:00 minutes into the show.

Cross posted at Political Arithmetik.


WV: McCain 44, Obama 39 (Blankenship-9/5-8)

Topics: PHome

Mark Blankenship Enterprises
9/5-8/08; 432 RV, 4.7%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

West Virginia
McCain 44, Obama 39


FL: McCain 50, Obama 42 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 511 LV, 4.3%
Mode: IVR

Florida
McCain 50, Obama 42
(August: McCain 48, Obama 44)


CO: Obama 47, McCain 46 (PPP-9/7-9)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/7-9/08; 1,078 LV, 3%
Mode: IVR

Colorado
Obama 47, McCain 46
(August: Obama 48, McCain 44)


US: McCain 48, Obama 46 (DemCorps-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

Democracy Corps (D) /
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (D)
9/8-10/08; 1,000 LV and 1,017 LV in Battleground States
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 46
(9/3: Obama 49, McCain 44)

Battleground States
McCain 48, Obama 47
(9/3:Obama 49, McCain 43)


GA: McCain 56, Obama 38 (InsiderAdvantage-9/10)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/10/08; 506 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Georgia
McCain 56, Obama 38
(July: McCain 46, Obama 44)


US: McCain 46, Obama 46 (InsiderAdvantage-9/8)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/8/08; 807 LV, 3.4%
Mode: IVR

National
McCain 46, Obama 46


OH: Obama 49, McCain 44 (Quinnipiac-9/5-9)

Topics: PHome

Quinnipiac University
9/5-9/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida
McCain 50, Obama 43
(August: McCain 47, Obama 43)

Ohio
Obama 49, McCain 44
(August: Obama 44, McCain 43)

Pennsylvania
Obama 48, McCain 45
(August: Obama 49, McCain 42)


Omero: Roll Call, don't SurveyUSA


Roll Call newspaper has recently teamed with SurveyUSA to conduct polls in a variety of competitive house races.  The surveys generated some Roll Call stories, local stories in the different districts, some online backlash in another, and a new Roll Call story noting the controversy. 

 

Disclosure & the backstory

 

But, before I wade any further in this topic, let me clearly note my own conflicts.  I am the pollster of record in two of the eight districts in which RC/SUSA polled (PA-10 and MO-9), which also happen to be two of the four districts where the RC/SUSA poll came in significantly more Republican than (our own) internal campaign polls.  So I have an obvious interest in challenging the RC/SUSA results.  But hear me out before you dismiss this post.  (Also, in further disclosure, many years ago I was a Roll Call intern.)

 

SurveyUSA uses an automated methodology rather than live callers for their interviews.  This methodology has stirred some controversy in the past.  Some DC media outlets do not report on SUSA polls.  Others, like Chris Cilizza at the Washington Post, express some skepticism. Here at pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal cautions against a reflexive opposition to SUSA's methodology, and their polls are reported on.  Carl Bialik at the WSJ wrote of a warming toward SUSA and their methodology here and here.  Nate Silver's accuracy ratings build on several cycles of polling, and put SUSA near the top, and Joel Bloom's 2002 paper also explores SUSA's accuracy in statewide surveys.  But the topic of survey accuracy and pollster report cards is itself is a large discussion, and Mark discusses SUSA's own report card here.

 

RC/SUSA discrepancies with public polling

 

But whatever one makes of SUSA's methodology, or national accuracy reports or ratings, there have been very clear discrepancies between the RC/SUSA surveys in Congressional races and other public polling.  Below is a table showing the RC/USA results compared to other public results.  In five of the eight races, the RC/SUSA results differ greatly from other public results. 

 

District

Firm

Firm type

Dates

Dem Cand

GOP Cand

Dem adv

AL2

M & A

GOP

7/21-7/22

39

41

-2

AL2

Anz L

Dem

8/3-8/6

50

40

10

AL2

AEA/Cap

indep

8/6-8/7

47

37

10

AL2

SUSA

indep

8/26-8/28

39

56

-17

MN3

SUSA

indep

8/26-8/28

41

44

-3

FL21

Hill

GOP

6/19-6/22

36

48

-12

FL21

SUSA

indep

8/24-8/26

48

46

2

CO4

BPN

Dem

5/13-5/15

43

36

7

CO4

SUSA

indep

8/22-8/24

50

43

7

KS2

Anz L

Dem

5/12-5/15

57

27

30

KS2

SUSA

indep

8/19-8/21

50

43

7

MO9

MA

Dem

8/12-8/14

41

39

2

MO9

SUSA

indep

9/1-9/2

38

50

-12

PA10

MA

Dem

8/19-8/21

54

27

27

PA10

SUSA

indep

8/23-8/25

49

45

4

NM1

GQR

Dem

6/29-7/2

47

44

3

NM1

POS

GOP

7/22-7/23

41

47

-6

NM1

SUSA

indep

8/26-8/28

51

46

5

 

When I look closely at some of the races with differences, I see a lack of attention to detail in the RC/SUSA surveys.  The PA-10 survey misspells the Republican candidate's name wrong throughout.  The MO-9 survey butchers the spelling of the Republican Gubernatorial candidate (and current MO-9 Congressman).  The MN-3 methodology and report makes no mention of how same-day registrants are accounted for, even though they can be as much as 20% of turnout in a presidential year.  And then there is the drastic underrepresentation of black voters in the AL-2 survey, leading Roll Call to ask SUSA to reweight their data.

 

Lack of campaign context & common-sense

 

Further, the Roll Call coverage accepted their poll findings as decisive fact, with bold headlines that ignored any campaign context.  "[Democratic candidate Bobby] Bright Anything But" (AL-2) and "Missouri 9th May Be Waste of Democrats' Efforts" are two such examples.  These stories, and other RC stories, reported on the poll findings, but ignored campaign context. 

 

For example, although it wasn't mentioned in the story, the MO-9 survey was conducted during the Republican convention, quite possibly boosting Republican participation.  (I'd also like to know what percent of the RC/SUSA sample is from Boone County, the largest county in the district, which Democratic candidate Judy Baker currently represents in the legislature.)  The PA-10 survey was conducted at a time when Democratic Congressman Carney had been on the air with positive television for the previous four weeks, and Republican challenger Chris Hackett had been largely off the air for months.  Does it make sense that the two have nearly identical name ID?  After the MN-3 survey, Roll Call marveled at the finding that younger voters give the McCain and the Republican Congressional candidate the advantage, while older voters prefer Obama and the Democratic Congressional candidate in his early 30s.  Does that seem right, given everything we know about young voters?

 

The fallout

 

Now Roll Call seems to have backed away some from their earlier reporting.  In this week's story, they write: "It appears it's also possible to get a poll to say just about anything." And also this: "some of the conclusions were universal and inescapable"--such as low Bush ratings, low Congressional approval ratings, and a concern about the economy.  These new observations are a far cry from calling a specific campaign a "waste of efforts."  But local coverage reacting to the initial Roll Call stories is unlikely to be taken back.

 

And a few words in defense of our own in-house accuracy.  Our polling correctly predicted a Baker win in the MO-9 primary. And our polling correctly predicted Carney's upset of former PA-10 Congressman Don Sherwood in 2006.  In fact, every single one of our seven Congressional candidates won their primaries (or ran unopposed).  Here at pollster.com Mark has pointed out that everyone can have an off poll.  But not all internal polls are off.

 

I think there are a few lessons from this incident.  First, there's more to judging survey quality than whether it was conducted internally or by an independent third party.  But second, and perhaps more important, Congressional handicappers should rely on more than a single poll's results to judge a race's viability. 


US: News Interest (Pew-9/5-8)


Pew Research Center
News Interest Index - 9/5-8/08

In the past few days, have you come to have a MORE favorable opinion of [Barack Obama, John McCain], a LESS favorable opinion, or hasn't your opinion of him changed lately?

    Barack Obama
    20% More Favorable
    20% Less Favorable
    59% Opinion has not changed

    John McCain
    35% More Favorable
    24% Less Favorable
    40% Opinion has not changed

View the complete report here.


Post Convention Bounce in the States


PostRNCStateBounce910.png

The McCain campaign has gained significant support in national polling since the end of the Republican Convention, but what about the state polls? Has the shift also been reflected there?

State pollsters appeared to go on vacation for the conventions, with very little new polls during the two weeks of conventions (and the week before). Now the pollsters are back, tanned and rested and ready to go. We've added 17 new state polls since the RNC ended, and while we'd love to see more, it is enough to get started with some analysis.

The chart above shows the national trend in blue and the trend based on those states with post-convention polls in purple. Over the course of the year, the two trends have followed each other rather well with some small differences in details but qualitatively similar patterns of up and down movement.

Now in the post-RNC period, the states with new polls match the national polls quite closely, both giving estimates of about a one point McCain lead, with the states maybe a shade less than that.

This post-convention bounce may or may not last, but at the moment the evidence is that it is moving across the states (and these are mostly competitive states) at about the same rate as it is for the national polls.

States for which we have new polls are Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.


NM: McCain 49, Obama 47 (Rasmussen-9/8)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/8/08; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

New Mexico
McCain 49, Obama 47
(August: Obama 48, McCain 44)

Sen: Udall (D) 51, Pearce (R) 44
(August: Udall 51, Pearce 41)


ND: McCain 55, Obama 41 (Rasmussen-9/8)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/8/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

North Dakota
McCain 55, Obama 41
(July: McCain 43, Obama 43)

Gov: Hoeven (R-i) 68, Mathern (D) 28
(July: Hoeven 67, Mathern 27)


AK: McCain 64, Obama 33 (Rasmussen-9/9)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/9/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Alaska
McCain 64, Obama 33
(July: McCain 44, Obama 39)

Sen: Begich (D) 48, Stevens (R-i) 46
(July: Begich 50, Stevens 37)


CNN/Time: MI, MO, NH, VA (9/7-9)

Topics: PHome

CNN / TIME / ORC
9/7-9/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Michigan (966 RV, 3%)
Obama 49, McCain 45
Obama 45, McCain 42, Nader 6, Barr 2, McKinney 1

Missouri (940 RV, 3%)
McCain 50, Obama 45
McCain 48, Obama 44, Nader 3, Barr 2, McKinney 0

New Hampshire (899 RV, 3.5%)
Obama 51, McCain 45
Obama 48, McCain 43, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 0

Virginia (920 RV, 3%)
McCain 50, Obama 46
McCain 49, Obama 43, Nader 3, Barr 1, McKinney 0


PA: Obama 47, McCain 45 (StrategicVision-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
9/5-7/08; 1,200 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 47, McCain 45
(July: Obama 49, McCain 40)


US: McCain 45, Obama 42 (FOX-9/8-9)

Topics: PHome

FOX News / Opinion Dynamics
9/8-9/08; 900 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National
McCain 45, Obama 42
(August: Obama 42, McCain 39)


US: Daily Tracking (9/7-9)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Polls
9/7-9/08

Diageo / Hotline
(902 RV, 3.3%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 45, Obama 45

Gallup
(2,714 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 48, Obama 43

Rasmussen
(3,000 LV, 2%; IVR)
Obama 48, McCain 47


Lunchtime Status Update 9/10

Topics: Status Update

In the last 24 hours, we have logged eight new statewide polls in the presidential race, two in North Carolina (from SurveyUSA and PPP), and one each in Florida (PPP), Michigan (Strategic Vision), Montana (Rasmussen), Oklahoma (SurveyUSA), New Jersey (Fairleigh Dickinson University) and Wisconsin (Strategic Vision). Follow the links for more details.

Seven of the polls are follow-ups to surveys conducted prior to the Republican convention, and all but the New Jersey survey show a net improvement in the vote margin in John McCain's favor (and that survey shows big jumps for both Obama and McCain since June). The net shift in the margin in McCain's favor in three surveys (the two from PPP and the Wisconsin poll by Strategic Vision) and double-digits in three others.

These new polls change our categorizations in two states (and bumps up McCain's electoral vote total from 179 to 194):

Also, a new survey in the Alaska senate race by Moore Information (R) conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign moves alas from strong Democrat to toss-up.

At least one site has pointed to our summary presidential map as evidence of a continuing Obama lead in the electoral college. While we appreciate the attention, it is worth keeping in mind that the electoral vote totals -- and the statewide estimates on which they are based -- are based mostly on polls conducted before the Republican convention, and as such, are lagging the latest national results. When there is a suddent and significant change in vote preference, it usually takes more than a single poll in a given state to shift our categorization. So if the bump up in McCain's support persists, we should continue to see states shift in his direction over the next week or so.


NC: McCain 48, Obama 44 (PPP-9/9)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/9/08; 626 LV, 3.9%
Mode: IVR

North Carolina
McCain 48, Obama 44, Barr 4
(August: McCain 45, Obama 42, Barr 4)

Sen: Hagan (D) 43, Dole (R-i) 42, Cole (L) 6
(August: Hagan 42, Dole 39, Cole 5)

Gov: Perdue (D) 41, McCrory (R) 40, Munger (L) 6
(August: Perdue 43, McCrory 38, Munger 4)


About That North Carolina Poll...


The latest Survey USA poll out of North Carolina (showing a 20 point McCain advantage) has already generated some disbelief among Pollster.com readers. There may be good reason for some skepticism. After all, less than one month ago, Survey USA showed just a four point lead for McCain. Is this newest poll evidence of a huge Palin bump? An outlier? Evidence of the "shy Tory factor?" Or have Republicans suddenly become much more likely to vote?

I'm not sure we can answer this question definitively yet, but we can lend some context to this poll. At about the same time as Survey USA was releasing the North Carolina result, they were also releasing surveys from Virginia and Washington, neither showing as dramatic a swing. In Washington, Survey USA showed a 7% lead for Obama in early August and now shows him up 4%. In Virginia, McCain held a 1% advantage in early August compared to 2% now. The Virginia result is particularly important since it comes from a state that neighbors North Carolina and shares some demographic similarities. If there was a Palin bounce in North Carolina, presumably we would've seen more of a bump in Virginia as well.

An examination of the cross tabs goes a long way in helping us to understand the North Carolina result. Fortunately, Survey USA provides us with the composition of their sample among various measures. Of particular interest here is their party break down. In early August, 46% of the Survey USA sample was made up of Democrats and just 33% were Republicans. In the most recent poll, the margin was essentially even--40% were Democrats and 41% were Republicans. In other words, in a survey conducted less than a month later, Democrats made up 6% less of the sample and Republican representation increased by 8%.

Everything we know about partisanship suggests that such massive shifts over such a short period are highly unlikely. In other words, it is not very plausible that North Carolinians became 6% less Democratic and 8% more Republican in less than a month. So, what are the other potential explanations? One is the "shy Tory factor" outlined by Nate Silver. According to this theory, it could be that Republicans simply weren't answering surveys at a representative rate a month ago because they lacked enthusiasm, but now they are excited to do so because of the Palin selection. Thus, the increased representation of Republicans in the more recent Survey USA poll may be the result of more Republicans agreeing to be interviewed. But if the "shy Tory factor" is in play, it seems like we'd see a similar increase in Republicans in other surveys. A related theory is that the Palin selection made a lot of Republicans in North Carolina more likely to vote, and since Survey USA presents results from likely voters, they are picking up this change by having more Republicans in their "likely voter" group.

The chart below compares the party composition in the August and September polls conducted by Survey USA in North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington (the numbers don't sum to 100% presumably because one can choose "other" or skip the question).

surveyusapolls.PNG

As indicated in the chart, there were small shifts in the partisan composition of the samples taken in Washington and Virginia, but nothing like what is evident in North Carolina. If there is a "shy Tory" effect or a mobilization effect, it does not appear to be playing out similarly across different states. Most significantly, there appears to be only small (and probably not statistically significant) changes in the composition of the electorate in Virginia, North Carolina's neighbor to the north.

Of course, we really cannot know whether this North Carolina poll is an outlier. But based on the dramatic change in the partisan composition of the North Carolina sample, without a similar change in Virginia, the most likely explanation at this point is that Survey USA may have just drawn a bad sample, one that over-represents Republicans and under-represents Democrats. At the very least, it would be useful if Survey USA can provide more explanation about why they think the partisan composition has changed so significantly in this recent poll.

UPDATE:

Just did a little more research and the following two points seem relevant:

According to the excellent North Carolina Board of Elections site, as of September 6th, 45% of those registered to vote in North Carolina are registered as Democrats and 33% are registered as Republicans.

In a July Survey USA poll, the composition of likely voters was 45% Democratic and 37% Republican. (McCain held a 5% lead in that poll).


US: Obama 47, McCain 46 (NBC-WSJ-9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

NBC News / Wall Street Journal
9/6-8/08; 860 RV, 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(NBC story, results; WSJ story, results)

National
Obama 47, McCain 46
(August: Obama 45, McCain 42)


NC: McCain 58, Obama 38 (SurveyUSA-9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/6-8/08; 671 LV, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

North Carolina
McCain 58, Obama 38
(August: McCain 49, Obama 45)

Sen: Dole (R-i) 48, Hagan (D) 40, Cole (L) 7
(August: Dole 46, Hagan 41, Cole 7)

Gov: McCrory (R) 49, Perdue (D) 41, Munger (L) 5
(August: Perdue 47, McCrory 44, Munger 5)


MT: McCain 53, Obama 42 (Rasmussen-9/8)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/8/09; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

Montana
McCain 53, Obama 42
(July: McCain 47, Obama 47)

Sen: Baucus (D-i) 64, Kelleher (R) 31


With An Eye To The Middle: Independents


The selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's running mate came to many as a surprise, and was deemed [by folks on the right and the left, to be fair] a pitch to conservatives. The convention, it seemed, would be a pep rally for "the base"; many proclaimed (and lamented) that the McCain team had given up on the middle, on the independent voters, and instead had decided to pursue a strategy of turning out the base.

I'll set the relative strengths and weaknesses of Gov. Palin aside for the purposes of this piece - there are plenty of places to debate that topic, and my initial gut reaction to the pick was posted here at The Next Right, if you're interested.

What I am more interested in is where the independent voter truly stands, post-conventions. If the selection of Palin and the tone of the Republican convention were purely polarizing - off-putting to most Independents and grown from a base-centered strategy - one would expect independents to break away from the GOP and the McCain-Palin ticket in these polls just after the convention.

Plenty of polls have shown a tightening of the race since the conventions in the aggregate, or have even put McCain ahead. CBS has McCain up, ABC has the race a dead heat. Is it because the GOP is more energized? Is it because the base "came home"? Or is it because of independents? Discussion of blue collar voters, married women with children voters and the like is all important, and it's those voters who make up important swing sub-groups. But for an easy breakout with a large enough cell size to matter, its the independents I want to track. I believe that where the independents go, so will go the White House.

So let's take a look at the after effects of the conventions:

CBS's poll asked independents if watching Obama's speech made them more or less likely to vote for Obama. Half of those who watched (29% overall) said it made them more likely to vote for Obama. The other half said it made no change (17% overall) or that it made them less likely to vote Obama (12%). They then asked if McCain's speech made them more or less likely to vote for McCain. More independents watched McCain's speech - 67% of independents surveyed, compared to 58% for Obama's...and among those who watched, the impact was far more positive. 43% of independent voters watched McCain's speech AND said it made them more likely to vote for him. That's nearly 2 out of every 3 independents who watched the speech.

This bodes well for Team McCain.

(Also? 61% of independents said they thought McCain/Palin would bring real change to Washington, compared to 33% who disagreed...a bigger margin for change than Obama/Biden, where 57% of independents said they'd bring change and 37% disagreed).

Let's take a look at another poll. The most recent Diageo/Hotline poll, conducted September 5-7, 2008 of 924 RVs (data here) splits up party ID including "independent leaners" into their respective partisan breakouts. Independents make up 20% of the sample, with another 8% of "independent/lean Republicans" and 7% "independent/lean Democrats". While I'd love to see how things change in the "independent" breakout if the leans were also included, taking a look at how the 20% non-leaning independents broke should shed some interesting light on this key group of voters. Indeed, independents behaved a lot like Democrats at the ballot box in 2006 - they broke for the Dem house candidates 57-39 according to the exit polls. Winning back this key group is an essential challenge for the McCain team.

Taking a look at each candidates' fav/unfavs, McCain holds an oh-so-small advantage over Obama. While 61% view McCain favorably, 57% view Obama favorably (each have 31% unfavorables). Palin also holds a small lead over Biden, with her 49-15 fav/unfav to Biden's 45-26. (Palin's fav/unfav will of course be more interesting and relevant once more people have been able to form an opinion about her, but I felt it was worth mentioning here).

So now let's turn to policy. It's no secret that recently, on nearly every policy question with the exception of, say, national security, Democrats have held a serious advantage over Republicans - usually by wide margins, particularly on issues such as health care. The Diageo/Hotline poll asked the respondents which candidate they preferred on the issues. The results, in my opinion, were stunning.

Let's take a look at two issues where respondents predictably choose one party over another - health care for the Democrats, national security for the Republicans. On the question of national security, Independents prefer McCain over Obama 62-24 - little surprise there. But on health care, which should be an Obama home run, Obama's lead over McCain is 36-35. That's right - one point.

But the good news for fans of McCain doesn't stop there. Let's take a look at the two intertwined issues that are chosen by Independent voters as their top voting issue topic: economy and gas prices. As Susan Page's piece in USA Today pointed out, Obama has previously led McCain on the economy...but that post convention, things have changed. In the Diageo/Hotline poll? Among Independents, McCain leads Obama on the economy 37-33, and leads on energy 40-32.

As I said in the Next Right piece, I think this is going to be an election about energy/economy and an election about reform. It's not a revolutionary statement or a bold assertion, the environment just seems primed for those two items to drive the race. So here's why these numbers among independents are important.

First, McCain has made important steps in jettisoning the negative brand of the Republican party. As Brian Schaffner's excellent post on the topic of Obama's advantage on the economy notes, while generic Republicans have performed worse against generic Democrats on these issue handling questions, the gap is now smaller between Obama and McCain, and Obama's lead on the economy has correlated with his lead on the ballot test.

Second, the McCain/Palin "reform" message is working. The fact that more independents believe McCain/Palin can bring reform to Washington than Obama/Biden is astounding to me. Not because I don't believe it's true (again, trying to set aside my partisanship), but because it runs so contrary to what one would normally expect given the terrible job approval ratings of Bush and the abysmal right track/wrong track.

Maybe what we're seeing is the after effect of a "bump", but the fact that independents have come all the way from kicking Republicans out of Congress by enormous margins in 2006 to looking at McCain the way these polls indicate is something worthy of an incredible deal of study. If independents truly are the key to this election, the McCain campaign has more than a little to smile about, and a much more favorable environment heading into the final two months than many could have predicted.


Introducing Politics Home

Topics: 2008 , Politics Home , Pollster.com

If you are a regular reader, you no doubt noticed the new PoliticsHome.com panel that now appears in the right column on every page on Pollster.com.

PoliticsHome.com launched in April 2008 in the United Kingdom and has quickly established itself as a leading resource for constant updates on British politics. This past week, PoliticsHome kicked off Campaign08, a new site devoted to U.S. presidential election news.

Here is how it works: PoliticsHome.com is modeled on the financial news services used by traders that provide links and headlines -- "everything you need to know, each minute" -- on single screen that updates constantly throughout the day. They have a team of political journalists in bureaus in London and Washington that constantly review political news, publishing full news digest each morning at 6 a.m. Eastern time, with live updates until midnight.

They are launching the new site in association with Pollster.com. We will provide PoliticsHome with regular polling updates, and they have created a miniature version of the Campaign08 site that now runs in the right column on every page on Pollster.com. The "Latest Developments" box gets the same minute-by-minute updates as their main site. So now, you can visit Pollster.com for both the latest poll results and a quick, constantly updating digest of all the breaking political news across the web.

PoliticsHome.com will also be introducing some data collection efforts in the coming weeks that will be of interest to Pollster.com readers, so stay tuned.


56 Days to Go and Obama Takes a Hit


We don't blame our fellow political observers for succumbing to temptation and declaring that John McCain has vaulted into the lead in the presidential race. It is a compelling story; the problem is that it is probably not true (not yet anyway). Yes, the latest round of polling shows some movement toward McCain. But we will need at least another week of data points to truly determine if the GOP convention signaled a fundamental shift in the race's dynamic.

Having said that, something is happening here...and this is our up-to-the-minute take on the political landscape:

  1. The Obama team has taken the bait and decided to try to take down Sarah Palin--this is a major strategic miscalculation. A focus on McCain-Bush is their key to success and anything else is simply a distraction. It also keeps Palin in the spotlight and not Obama. The Obama campaign has demonstrated a glaring weakness in its message discipline.


  2. The McCain vote is moving because he is peeling off "lean Obama" voters and attracting undecideds. As exposed in the ABC News/Washington Post poll, this movement has come disproportionately from white women. According to the survey, McCain is now leading among white women by 12 points (53% to 41%). This is a big shift from just ten days ago, when an ABC/Post poll had Obama leading 50%-42% among that same cohort. Please note that these were voters who were not solid Obama voters (they were leaners) and we will continue to see some back-and-forth among this group before the election. But it does not take away from the fact that this is a huge problem for Obama. We think this is a pivotal voting block and here is why:

    In 2004 John Kerry received 44% of the vote among white women (according to VNS exit polls). In 2000, Gore got 48% of the same vote. Since Obama will draw both young and black voters in greater raw numbers, he probably doesn't need 48% of white women to win, but it certainly cannot be as low as 42%. Our sense is that Obama needs to get at least 46% of the vote among white women to win this election.


  3. The McCain message pivot to "change" is a gamble but probably a necessary one. Obama has owned this message from day one and any time you play in your opponent's playground you can get into trouble. But in a hostile electoral environment with 80% of the country saying that things are going in the wrong direction...did the McCain campaign have any other choice? We don't think so. Also, one thing that most commentators have overlooked (including us): it became far easier to adopt the change/reformer mantra when Obama picked Biden. The VP pick is mostly important for what it says about the Presidential nominee, and in retrospect the Biden selection--while balancing the ticket with some much-needed experience--damaged Obama's "change" message and signaled to voters that Obama might not be all that much different from other politicians.

  4. The GOP base came home last week and that is why the race is essentially tied. Part of this is Palin and part of this is a GOP convention that (especially on Tuesday and Wednesday) sharply contrasted the two parties. The party became energized by both.

  5. The Palin effect is not about Hillary...it is about cultural conservatism. Palin connected with many Republicans and swing voters on cultural issues. This reinforces something we have been saying for months: presidential elections are about people and "trust," not about issues. Yes, policy positions matter but personae (voter perceptions of the candidates' values) trumps issues every time.

  6. The media coverage of poll questions on voter enthusiasm has been way overblown and, in some circumstances, just plain dumb. Voters are enthusiastic about their candidate/party if they believe it can win. It is as simple as that. Republicans were not very enthusiastic about McCain because they thought he was going to lose. Now, after a month of strong comparative ads, the Palin pick, and a strong and highly-viewed convention, they believe they have a chance. A USA Today/Gallup Poll released yesterday shows that Republican enthusiasm for voting is up 18 points in the last week...and almost equal to Democratic engagement.

sep 9 enthusiasm.png

Where Things Stand Today

The McCain campaign had a very good convention and, therefore, it had a very good week. More importantly, new polling data suggests that there has probably been some movement in voter intentions. In seven polls conducted over the weekend (after the GOP convention) the race is either tied or McCain is in the lead. We believe that McCain is likely 1-2 points ahead at this juncture--a number obviously within the margin of error.


sep 9 poll table.png

However, a glimpse at the Gallup poll (a tracking poll using a three-day moving average) going back three weeks shows both the volatility of the electorate and the impact of each party's convention. Essentially, we are back where we were two weeks ago. Again, this reinforces the idea that we will have to wait at least a week to determine how things will shake out in the aftermath of both conventions.

sep 9 gallup.png

LCG EV Map

sep 9 map.png

Obviously the movement in national polls has caused us to examine the effect on various states. Again, we have limited new polling data within the states but the impact of the possible shift in voter intentions has influenced our placement of some states and solidified our conviction with respect to some previous decisions.

  1. We have moved NH to toss-up
    1. While there have been no new polls conducted since the convention, the only state poll in the past six weeks (conducted by Rasmussen on 8/18) showed the race narrowing to Obama +1
    2. This, coupled with the return and reinvention of the Maverick (in a state that has great affection for McCain) means that NH must be regarded as a true toss-up at this point


  2. We have moved MO to McCain

    1. Here we believe the connection with cultural conservatives--driven by the Palin selection and her convention speech--has really boosted the GOP ticket

    2. There may have already been a trend toward McCain anyway, as the two polls conducted in August showed McCain +10 (PPP) and McCain +6 (Rasmussen)


  3. Georgia is solid McCain

    1. Come on, be serious: Bush beat Kerry 58% to 41% in 2004

    2. According to exit polling Kerry won 88% of the black vote in 2004. African-Americans will represent only 25-30% of voters this November, so even if Obama gets 95-97% of the black vote, it will not be enough.

    3. We never bought into Obama's GA strategy and now he seems to be pulling back


  4. Virginia & Colorado: we continue to keep them in the toss-up category

    1. These are both key states, but, despite their distance, they are much more similar than most people realize...both were red states forever but an influx of younger, urban and more diverse/liberal voters--and the growth of high-skilled jobs (technology in both, also government and consulting in VA)--has added core Obama supporters; this might not be enough to change the Presidential voting history of these two states but for now they remain toss-ups




NJ: Obama 47, McCain 41 (FDickinson-9/4-7)

Topics: PHome

Fairleigh Dickinson University
9/4-7/08; 872 LV, 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 47, McCain 41
(June: Obama 49, McCain 33)


US: Daily Tracking (9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Polls
9/6-8/08

Diageo / Hotline
(921 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 45, Obama 44

Gallup
(2,737 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews)
McCain 49, Obama 44

Rasmussen
(3,000 LV, 2%; IVR)
McCain 48, Obama 48


FL: McCain 50, Obama 45 (PPP-9/6-7)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/6-7/08; 968 LV, 3.1%
Mode: IVR

Florida
McCain 50, Obama 45
(August: McCain 47, Obama 44)


US: Obama 45, McCain 40 (IBD-TIPP-9/2-7)

Topics: PHome

Investor's Business Daily /
TechnoMetrica Institute of Public Policy
9/2-7/08; 868 RV, 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 45, McCain 40
(August: Obama 43, McCain 38)


US: Obama 47, McCain 46 (ARG-9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
9/6-8/08; 1,200 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 47, McCain 46
(9/1: Obama 49, McCain 43)


MI: Obama 45, McCain 44 (StrategicVision-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
9/5-7/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Michigan (800 LV, 3%)
Obama 45, McCain 44

Wisconsin (800 LV, 3%)
Obama 46, McCain 43
(August: Obama 47, McCain 42)


OK: McCain 65, Obama 32 (9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/5-7/08; 652 LV, 3.7%
Mode: IVR

Oklahoma
McCain 65, Obama 32
Sen: Inhofe (R-i) 56, Rice (D) 34


AK: Stevens 46, Begich 44 (MooreI-9/2-3)


Moore Information (R) / NRSC
9/2-3/08; 500 RV, 4.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Alaska
Sen: Stevens (R-i) 46, Begich (D) 44


MD: Obama 52, McCain 38 (Gonzales-8/29-9/5)

Topics: PHome

Gonzales Research
8/29 - 9/5/08; 833 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Maryland
Obama 52, McCain 38


Status Update for 9/9

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , John McCain , Michigan , Pennsylvania , Status Update , Washington

As most readers of our site know all to well, we had new national survey releases yesterday from USA Today/Gallup, CBS News, ABC/Washington Post and CNN, as well as the three daily tracking surveys.  These surveys , along with the daily tracking surveys from Gallup, Rasmussen Reports and Diageo-Hotline, show a significant "bounce" for the McCain-Palin ticket.  

As of this writing, our standard trend line estimates show McCain edging ahead of Obama by less than a percentage point (47.1% to 46.4%). Earlier in the week, we had the national trend rated as "strong Obama."  Yesterday it shifted to "toss-up" status.

We also have the first wave of new statewide results from Rasmussen Reports and Fox News in   five battleground states (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia), from PPP in MIchigan, from SurveyUSA in Washington and Virginia.   We also have two new internal surveys released by Republican pollsters for their clients in the New Hampshire and Colorado senate races.  

One thing to keep in mind about the state-by-state numbers:  If the national McCain bounce persists, we should see the effects trickle down to our statewide trend estimates as new state level polls are released over the next week or so.  While this first wave shows some evidence of movement to McCain, it is for the moment at least, fairly subtle.  In five of the seven states with new polls, the result is "above trend" for McCain -- slightly better than our trend estimate, but in most cases only slightly.  

Virginia is a good example: The two new automated surveys there show McCain with the same two-point advantage (49% to 47%), slightly better than our previous trend estimate, which had Obama ahead by slightly more than a percentage point.  The trend estimate is now a dead heat (46.4% to 46.4%) and a look at trend lines in our Virginia chart shows the race in a virtual tie there since June.  

However, the new statewide poll have shifted our ratings in three presidential states and one Senate contest:

  • The new PPP survey in Michigan shifts that state from lean Obama to toss up, cutting Obama's electoral vote estimate from 260 to 243.  
  • The new SurveyUSA poll in Washington State and urveyUSA poll in Washington State and a Fox News/Rasmussen poll in Pennsylvania moves those rankings from strong Obama to lean Obama.
  • And in the Senate, the new Tarrance Group survey conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee moves our rating of the Colorado Senate race from lean Democrat to toss-up.



New from AAPOR: Survey Practice and a Polling Webinar

Topics: AAPOR , News University , Survey Practice

From my colleagues at the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) come two new projects of interest:

AAPOR is again teaming up with The Poynter Institute's News University to sponsor a "webinar" on Understanding and interpreting Polls in the 2008 Election.  The live webcast, which will be held on Thursday, September 18 at 2 p.m. Eastern time, will feature live audio and a slideshow and will allow participants to post questions.  Access to the live or archived version will cost $24.95.  Details are available here.

AAPOR also just launched Survey Practice, a new online publication that has been in the works for two years (including my stint as AAPOR's communications chair).  The publication aims to be a forum for pollsters and survey researchers to share "share advances in practical survey methods, current information on conditions affecting survey research, and interesting features about surveys and people who work in survey research."  Links to articles in the first issue is are available here.


Obama's Shrinking Advantage on the Economy


Give a political scientist a recent economic report and he or she is likely to state with a lot of confidence that Democrats will win this presidential election. Simply put, when the American economy is in bad shape, the out-party tends to have a great deal of success in presidential elections. Yet, less than two months from election day, the out-party's nominee finds himself in a tight race with John McCain. What gives?

Is it simply a matter of the public being distracted? Perhaps the news about Sarah Palin has such weight that it is causing people to forget about the economy? Not likely. Even if the economy isn't affecting everyone personally, the poor unemployment figures released last week coupled with the news of the Fannie and Freddie Mac takeover are likely keeping the economy on peoples' minds. Indeed, in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 37% name the economy as the most important issue, roughly the same percentage as have done so all year. To compare, only 10% named Iraq as the most important issue.

This race isn't close because people have forgotten about the economy, it is close because the public is now largely split on who is better able to handle economic issues. The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that only a narrow plurality of the public actually thinks that Obama would be better able to handle the economy than McCain (47%-42%). The out-party usually performs well when the economy is doing poorly due to the public's belief that the out-party will do a better job with the economy than the party that was in control while economic conditions worsened. Indeed, in April, the ABC News/Washington Post poll posed the same question, but asked about generic presidential candidates rather than Obama and McCain specifically. The chart below compares these responses.

econ1.png

As the chart indicates, Obama is performing worse on the economy than a generic Democratic candidate while McCain is faring better than the generic Republican. In April, the generic Democratic candidate held a 21% edge on the economy, the kind of dominance on the key issue that most assumed would lead either Obama or Clinton to the White House. Yet, Obama now finds himself holding just a 5% advantage on economic issues and, accordingly, the race between he and McCain is very close.

But Obama's advantage on the economy hasn't always been so narrow, it has been narrowing.The chart below plots the percentage of registered voters saying that Obama or McCain is better able to handle the economy in six ABC News/Washington Post surveys conducted since March.

econ2.png

Note that through July, Obama held a fairly strong (and consistent) lead over McCain on the economy. It is during the past month that his lead has narrowed significantly--from a 17% advantage in July to an 11% lead in August and a 5% edge in the most recent poll. And this narrowing gap is not simply the result of McCain catching up, Obama has lost support on the issue while McCain has been gaining.

What does all this mean for the ultimate outcome? Well, if the economy is as important as political scientists think it is, then vote preferences should track pretty closely with who people think will do a better job on economic issues. The chart below indicates that this is clearly the case.

econ3.PNG

In March, Obama's lead over McCain on the presidential preference question (13%) was exactly the same as his advantage over McCain on economic issues. Ever since that point, his support has lagged somewhat behind his performance on the economy, but the two have usually moved in the same direction (the one exception is on June 15th, when Obama's economic advantage increased while his overall edge over McCain narrowed). The problem for Obama (and the good news for McCain) is that both have been tracking downward recently.

The McCain campaign has succeeded during the past month in separating evaluations of Bush's handling of the economy from McCain's economic competence. As a result, nearly as many Americans think McCain will do a better job on the economy as think Obama will. It is because they have narrowed the gap on this issue that the McCain campaign is now in a tight race with the Democratic nominee. For its part, the Obama campaign continues to emphasize the economy, recognizing the received wisdom that the out-party should be able to take advantage of poor economic conditions. Yet, this analysis suggests that it is not enough for Democrats to simply direct attention to economic issues--after all, voters are about as likely to pick McCain to handle this issue as they are Obama. If Democrats are going to confirm conventional wisdom, Obama will also need to re-assert the advantage that he held on economic issues when this campaign began.


WA: Obama 49, McCain 45 (SurveyUSA-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/5-7/08; 658 LV, 3.9%
Mode: IVR

Washington
Obama 49, McCain 45
(August: Obama 51, McCain 44)

Gov:
Rossi (R) 48, Gregoire (D-i) 47
(August: Gregoire 50, Rossi 48)


FOX: CO, FL, OH, PA, VA (9/7)

Topics: PHome

FOX News /
Rasmussen Reports
9/7/08
Mode: IVR
(story, results)

Colorado (500 LV, 4.5%)
Obama 49, McCain 46, Barr 2, Nader 0, McKinney 0

Florida (500 LV, 4.5%)
McCain 48, Obama 48, Nader 2, Barr 0, McKinney 0

Ohio (600 LV, 4%)
McCain 51, Obama 44, Nader 1, Barr 0, McKinney 0

Pennsylvania (500 LV, 4.5%)
Obama 47, McCain 45, Barr 1, Nader 1

Virginia (500 LV, 4.5%)
McCain 49, Obama 47, Barr 1, Nader 1, McKinney 0


Bouncing Polls

Topics: Bounce , Bump , Conventions , John McCain , Panel-back survey , Sarah Palin

As is obvious by our traffic, the news over the last 24 hours and the pace of new national polls dropping this afternoon, interest in political poll numbers is right now as high as it gets. Today's "cable catnip" from USA Today/Gallup (as our friends at First Read called it) have everyone pondering all of the usual polling controversies, including likely voter models, party weighting, weekend interviewing and the like. So our cup runneth over.

Here are a few quick thoughts:

  • The post from Charles Franklin this afternoon, if you haven't read it yet, is as good a review anywhere about what we can say about the national trend on the basis of all of the data available. Charles promises updates as more polls become available, so stay tuned.
  • Although most of the new polls out today are based on interviews conducted entirely after "the completion of the GOP convention," (as Gallup put it), we should remember that the Republican convention dominated the news on Friday and, to a lesser extent, continued to do so for much of the weekend. I was as guilty as anyone last week in leaping to analyze polls conducted over the weekend between the two conventions, but I know a few pollsters that would urge us to avoid characterizing public opinion at all in the period when conventions dominate news coverage. We may well see some of the bounce fade as we get new polls with data collected from Sunday night forward.
  • Today's polls clearly show a "bounce" favoring the McCain-Palin ticket, but what does it mean and more important, will it persist? Looking back at the historical data, we see that some convention bounces persist and some do not. The sample size of polling on past conventions seasons is just too small to be able to predict how much of what we are seeing today will persist and for how long.
  • Of the polls out today, one of the more interesting is the just released CBS News survey re-interviewed with 655 registered voters first polled before the conventions in mid-August. This "panel-back" design allows the pollsters to determine which respondents changed their vote preference:

McCain's move ahead of Obama can be traced in part to movement among previously undecided voters. In this survey, CBS News re-interviewed respondents to a CBS News/New York Times poll taken in mid-August. While many previously undecided voters remain undecided, more of those re-interviewed have moved towards McCain than Obama.

Again, all caveats above apply. Like the other surveys, the new CBS poll called from Friday through Sunday evening. Still, if I am reading this paragraph correctly, the CBS pollsters are telling us that most of the "bounce" they measured occurred among undecided voters. Undecided voters tend to be less attentive to news -- as should be obvious -- are more apt to move around in response to events in the news.



US: McCain 49, Obama 47 (ABCPost-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
9/5-7/08; 961 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC story, results; Post story, results)

National
Likely Voters:
McCain 49, Obama 47
(8/22: Obama 49, McCain 45)

Registered Voters:
Obama 47, McCain 46
(8/22: Obama 49, McCain 43)


US: McCain 46, Obama 44 (CBS-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

CBS News / New York Times
9/5-7/08; 655 Registered Voters**, 4.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(CBS story, results; NYT story, results)

National
McCain 46, Obama 44

** "among 738 respondents first interviewed by CBS News and the New York Times August 15-19,2008. CBS News re-interviewed 655 registered voters for this poll."


VA: McCain 49, Obama 47 (SurveyUSA-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/5-7/08; 717 LV, 3.7%
Mode: IVR

Virginia
McCain 49, Obama 47
(August: McCain 48, Obama 47)

Sen: Warner (D) 56, Gilmore (R) 35, Parker (G) 4, Redpath (L) 3
(August: Warner 58, Gilmore 34, Parker 3, Redpath 2)


NH: Shaheen 46, Sununu 44 (POS-9/2-3)


Public Opinion Strategies (R) / NRSC (R)
9/2-3/08; 500 LV, 4.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Hampshire
Shaheen (D) 46, Sununu (R-i) 44, Blevens (L) 3


CO: McCain 47, Obama 45 (Tarrance-9/2-3)

Topics: PHome

The Tarrance Group (R) / NRSC (R)
9/2-3/08; 495 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Colorado
McCain 47, Obama 45
Sen: Udall (D) 40, Schaffer (R) 39


Republican Bounce and Trend Sensitivity


USSensitivity908.png

The post-convention bounce is now moving in the Republican direction, but with an enormous spread in estimates. A Gallup/USA Today (9/5-7) has an enormous 10 point McCain lead over Obama, 54%-44%. In contrast, Gallup's tracker over the same days shows a 5 point McCain lead, 49%-44%. Now would be a good time to note that the tracker is a registered voter (RV) sample, while the Gallup/USAT is a likely voter (LV) sample. LV samples typically are more favorable for Republican candidates, so at least some of this difference is probably due to these different sampling frames. We'll no doubt be talking a lot about this issue in days ahead.

But other polls on the same days show a tied race. Diageo/Hotline has the race 44%-44% and CNN has it 48%-48%. And Zogby's Internet poll done 9/5-6 puts the race at 50%-46%.

All of these are much better for McCain than the 5-9 point Obama leads we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Democratic convention.

So it looks like both parties got nice convention bounces.

Our trend estimate is still hungry for more data. The standard, blue line, estimate is now less persuaded that Obama had a convention bounce OR that McCain is getting one either. That is standard behavior of our estimator which is designed to be a bit conservative when faced with conflicting polls and short term changes of trend.

But that is why we have our "sensitive" estimator for comparison. The red line is a trend estimate that is about twice as sensitive a the blue line. It is considerably quicker to respond to short term changes and to fewer polls. The down side is it will often chase random noise.

Since there is good reason to believe convention bounces are real, it is reasonable to think that the red line's indication that the race has indeed tightened is probably a real signal in the data, and not just noise. On the other hand, the Gallup 10 point McCain lead is out of the range of any other current polling data. So "red" may be chasing that outlier just a bit more than is good for him. As the figure makes clear, red and blue usually agree quite closely after enough data are in hand, but can diverge especially when data are sparce.

A prudent approach is to wait for a few more post-convention and post-weekend interviewing polls to see just how big and how sustained the RNC bounce is. But both estimators agree we have ourselves a real horserace now.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.


MI: Obama 47, McCain 46 (PPP-9/6-7)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/6-7/08; 1,147 LV, 2.9%
Mode: IVR

Michigan
Obama 47, McCain 46
(July: Obama 46, McCain 43)

Sen:
Levin (D-i) 51, Hoogendyk (R) 36
(July: Levin 54, Hoogendyk 35)


US: Daily Tracking (9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

Gallup
9/5-7/08; 2,733 RV, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 49, Obama 44


Rasmussen
9/5-7/08; 3,000 LV, 2%
Mode: IVR

National
McCain 48, Obama 47


Diageo / Hotline
9/5-7/08; 924 RV, 3.2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 44, Obama 44


US: McCain 48, Obama 48 (CNN-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

CNN / ORC
9/5-7/08; 942 Registered Voters, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 48
(8/31: Obama 49, McCain 48)

McCain 45, Obama 45, Barr 3, Nader 3, McKinney 1
(8/31: Obama 46, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 1)


US: McCain 54, Obama 44 (USAToday-9/5-7)

Topics: PHome

USAToday / Gallup
9/5-7/08; 823 LV, 959 RV
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Likely Voters:
McCain 54, Obama 44)
(8/23: Obama 48, McCain 45)

Registered Voters:
McCain 50, Obama 46
(8/23: Obama 47, McCain 43)


US: McCain 50, Obama 46 (Zogby-9/5-6)

Topics: PHome

Zogby Interactive
9/5-6/08; 2,312 LV, 2.1%
Mode: Internet

National
McCain 50, Obama 46
(8/30: McCain 47, Obama 45)


US: Daily Tracking (9/4-6)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
9/4-6/08; 2,765 RV, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 45


Rasmussen Reports
9/4-6/08; 3,000 LV, 2%
Mode: IVR

National
McCain 48, Obama 48


 

MAP - US, AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, PR