Pollster.com

September 14, 2008 - September 20, 2008

 

US: Daily Tracking (9/17-19)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/17-19/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 50, McCain 42

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

Gallup
2,756 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 50, McCain 44

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


R2K: MO, IL (9/15-18)

Topics: PHome

St Louis Post-Dispatch / Research 2000
9/15-18/08; 800 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Missouri
McCain 49, Obama 45
(July: Obama 48, McCain 43)

Illinois
Obama 56, McCain 36


Rasmussen: IL, SC (9/17-18)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
~9/18/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Illinois
Obama 56, McCain 40

South Carolina
McCain 51, Obama 45


ARG: CT, MD, MI, TN (9/16-19)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
~9/16-19/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Connecticut
Obama 54, McCain 39

Maryland
Obama 54, McCain 39

Michigan
Obama 48, McCain 46

Tennessee
McCain 59, Obama 36


MI: Obama 43, McCain 42 (EPICMRA-9/14-17)

Topics: PHome

EPIC/MRA /
Detroit News
9/14-17/08; 602 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Michigan
Obama 43, McCain 42
Sen: Levin (D-i) 56, Hoogendyk (R) 28


ME: Obama 50, McCain 46 (Rasmussen-9/17)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/17/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Maine
McCain 46, Obama 50
Sen: Collins (R-i) 55, Allen (D) 42


More Pollsters Interviewing By Cell Phone

Topics: Cell Phones

We have followed the challenge posed to survey for the last four years, both here at Pollster and at its forerunner, my old blog MysteryPollster. Over the last four years, survey researchers have been developing techniques for interviewing respondents on their cell phone, and over the last few months, many of the well known national media surveys have been including samples of voters contacted on their cell phones in their national samples or conducting side-by-side tests. These include the Pew Research Center, Gallup (both the Gallup Daily and USA Today/Gallup surveys), CBS/New York Times, Time/SRBI and most recently NBC/Wall Street Journal, ABC/Washington Post and the new AP/GfK poll.

Over the last two weeks, some of these pollsters have provided updates on the impact of their cell phone samples (or lack thereof):

  • ABC News polling director Gary Langer today describes their cell phone interviewing test in a new blog post today and describes the impact on the overall results as "negligible....The precise changes were 0 for Obama and -1 for McCain among registered voters, +0.7 for Obama and -0.8 for McCain among likely voters." These differences fell well within the survey's margin of error.
  • NBC's First Read included this line in their recap of the latest NBC/WSJ poll: "[T]he poll included some cellphone surveys (we found no significant difference in cell phone respondents as we have from landline respondents." More details on the cell phone sample at the end of the filled-in questionnaire provided by the Wall Street Journal.

Keep in mind that these are relatively small scale tests, in which the margins of error for both the base land-line sample and the supplemental cell-phone test samples are probably larger than any likely effect. Gallup and the Pew Research Center have released similar tests based on larger samples that suggest a small benefit (perhaps 2 to 3 points on the margin) benefiting Barack Obama from the inclusion of cell phone only interviewing.

We will definitely have more to say on this subject in the weeks ahead. Those looking for all the gory details, on this subject may want to start with my series from last year on cell phones and political surveys (Part I and Part II).


NC: McCain 41, Obama 35 (Elon-9/15-16)

Topics: PHome

Elon University
9/15-16/08; 411 Adults, 4.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina
McCain 41, Obama 35
Sen: Hagan 35 (D), Dole (R-i) 35
Gov: McCrory (R) 37, Perdue (D) 35


IA: Obama 54, McCain 43 (SurveyUSA-9/17-18)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/17-18/08; 702 Adults, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

Iowa
Obama 54, McCain 43


US Daily Tracking (9/16-18)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/16-18/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 49, McCain 42

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

Gallup
2,796 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 49, McCain 44

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


Lunchtime Status Update for 9-19

Topics: 2008 , Charts , Map , Status Update , Trend lines

Another day, another 37 mew statewide polls (as of this writing) logged into the Pollster.com database. Today's batch managed to change classifications in several states into the toss-up column. Specifically, the new Big Ten polls in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania helped tip the balance to move those states from lean Obama to toss-up. Two new polls in New Jersey helped move that state from strong to lean Obama.

When we returned from the Republican convention, our map classifications showed Obama with 260 electoral votes, McCain with 179 and 99 in the toss-up category. Since then, Obama's total dropped to 202, McCain's grew to 208 and the electoral vote total of those states currently rated as toss-up states has swelled to 128.

As of today the trendline for the latest national surveys shows a modest rebound for Obama over the last week. Our current national estimate shows Obama leading by just over two percentage points (47.2% to 44.9%). About a week ago, McCain had moved slightly ahead.

Any such trend is not obvious in the state trends, which look like as much of a dead heat as they have since we started running them this summer. But keep in mind that our state level classifications are based on state-level polling only, and the trend lines in our charts and the estimates they produce are inherently conservative, in that they require more than one new poll before the trendline moves significantly. As such, our current delegate count probably reflects where the national trends were about a week ago.

The way we classify states probably deserves some explanation, since our traffic has grown considerably and, if the questions in my inbox and any guide, many of you assume that our classifications are subjective (as they are on many other sites). To be clear: Our process is entirely empirical and automated. We input new polls and the system draws loess regression trendlines for each state. The end-point of the trendline serves as our estimate (analogous to the "averages" you see on other poll aggregating web sites). We then calculate confidence intervals (margin of error) around each estimate based on the average sample size for the polls in each state (more details in our FAQ).

Thus, the classification is automated and depends entirely on the size of the margin separating the candidates. The classifications will sometimes be slightly inconsistent from state to state, because the polls in some states (such as Pennsylvania and Ohio) use bigger sample sizes on average than others (such as West Virginia and Vermont ).

Also, as discussed earlier in the week, the trend estimates in smaller states with fewer available polls tend to be more sensitive to the latest new polls. As such, changes in classification in states like West Virginia and Montana (where polls are rare) may occur on the basis of fewer new polls than in states like Ohio or Pennsylvania (where they are far more frequent).


KY: McCain 55, Obama 37 (DailyKos-9/15-17)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
9/15-17/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 55, Obama 37
Sen: McConnell (R-i) 50, Lunsford (D) 37


IN: McCain 49, Obama 47 (Rasmussen-9/17-18)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/17-18/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Indiana
McCain 49, Obama 47
Gov: Daniels (R-i) 56, Long Thompson (D) 40


Marist: MI, OH, PA (9/11-15)

Topics: PHome

Marist College
~9/11-15/08; ~550 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Michigan
Obama 52, McCain 43

Ohio
Obama 47, McCain 45

Pennsylvania
Obama 49. McCain 44


Why the Conventions Mattered

Topics: 2008 , Bounce , Conventions , Debates , Ratings

You may have seen these statistics on other political blogs by now, but Nielsen released some very helpful ratings statistics on the conventions that help explain why they continue to cause "bumps" and move public opinion in significant (if not necessarily lasting) ways. They looked more closely at the cumulative audience and the percentage that watched just one convention or the other:

  • Nearly two thirds of all U.S. households (64.5% or 73.2 million homes) tuned into at least one of the 2008 political conventions. This is about 120.1 million people. Viewership levels for the two conventions were essentially tied, with about half of all households watching each one.
  • 15.0% of all households tuned to just the RNC, and 15.7% tuned to just the DNC. Another 33.9% of all households tuned to both conventions
At seventy three million, the cumulative convention audience exceeds that for the first Bush-Kerry debate four years ago (62.5 million) and every other debate except the Reagan Carter debate in 1980. ]


ARG: IN, ND, OK, WA (9/15-18)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
~9/15-18/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Indiana
McCain 47, Obama 44

North Dakota
McCain 52, Obama 43

Oklahoma
McCain 61, Obama 34

Washington
Obama 50, McCain 44


StrategicVision: WA, NJ (9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
9/14-16/08; 800 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 47, McCain 43

Washington
Obama 47, McCain 42


AL: McCain 64, Obama 34 (SurveyUSA-9/16-17)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/16-17/08; 655 Adults, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

Alabama
McCain 64, Obama 34
Sen: Sessions (R-i) 66, Figures (D) 31


AK: McCain 55, Obama 38 (DailyKos-9/15-17)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
9/15-17/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Alaska
McCain 55, Obama 38
Sen: Begich (D) 50, Stevens (R-i) 44
At-Large: Berkowitz (D), Young (R-i) 39


IAdvantage: CO, GA, VA (9/17)

Topics: PHome

InsiderAdvantage
9/17/08; ~ 500 LV
Mode: IVR

Colorado
Obama 51, McCain 41

Georgia
McCain 51, Obama 43

Virginia
McCain 48, Obama 46


Rasmussen: GA, NJ, CT (9/16)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/16/08
MOde: IVR

Connecticut
Obama 53, McCain 41

Georgia
McCain 54, Obama 43, Barr 0
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 50, Martin (D) 43, Buckley (L) 2

New Jersey
Obama 55, McCain 42


GA: McCain 56, Obama 35 (POS-9/8-11)

Topics: PHome

Public Opinion Strategies (R) /
Saxby Chambliss
9/9-11/08; 800 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Georgia
McCain 56, Obama 35
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 52, Martin (D) 33, Buckley (L) 4


OR: Obama 50, McCain 40 (PortlandTrib-9/11-14)

Topics: PHome

Portland Tribune /
Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc.
9/11-14/08; 500 RV, 4.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Oregon
Obama 50, McCain 40, Nader 2
Sen: Smith (R-i) 37, Merkley (D) 36


US: Obama 46, McCain 46 (Pew-9/9-14)

Topics: PHome

Pew Research Center
9/9-14/08; 2,509 RV 2.5%, 2,307 LV, 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(release)

National
Registered Voters:
Obama 46, McCain 44
(August: Obama 46, McCain 43)

Likely Voters:
Obama 46, McCain 46


Big10: IN, IA, MI, MN, OH, PA, WI, IL (9/14-17)

Topics: PHome

Big Ten Battleground Poll /
University of Wisconsin-Madison
9/14-17/08; ~600 RV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(full results)

Illinois
Obama 53, McCain 37

Indiana
McCain 47, Obama 43

Iowa
McCain 45, Obama 45

Michigan
Obama 48, McCain 44

Minnesota
Obama 47, McCain 45

Ohio
Obama 46, McCain 45

Pennsylvania
Obama 45, McCain 45

Wisconsin
Obama 45, McCain 44


US: Daily Tracking (9/15-17)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/15-17/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 49, McCain 43

Diageo / Hotline (story, results)
912 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 46, McCain 42

Gallup
2,815 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 48, McCain 44

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


FL: McCain 51, Obama 45 (SurveyUSA-9/16-17)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/16-17/08; 707 Adults, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

Florida
McCain 51, Obama 45
(August: McCain 50, Obama 44)


NatJournal: CO, FL, NM, OH, VA (9/11-15)

Topics: PHome

Allstate / National Journal
9/11-15/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Colorado (402 RV, 4.9%)
Obama 45, McCain 44

Florida (402 RV, 4.9%)
McCain 44, Obama 44

New Mexico (402 RV, 4.9%)
Obama 49, McCain 42

Ohio (400 RV, 4.9%)
McCain 42, Obama 41

Virginia (409 RV, 4.9%)
McCain 48, Obama 41


Lunchtime Status Update for 9-18

Topics: Status Update

Another 24 hours, another 17 new statewide polls on the presidential race. These include two new polls each three battleground states: Florida, Wisconsin and (surprising that it may be a battleground) Indiana.

The two new polls from Indiana shift Indiana on or map from lean McCain to toss-up. Both polls are first measurements for Indiana on the Obama-McCain race by their respective pollsters. CNN/ORC has McCain leading by six points (51% to 45%), while the Indianpolis Star/Selzer and Company have Obama ahead by three (47% to 44%). These two results, combined another close result from Howey-Gauge in late August, move our current estimate to a not quite 3 point lead for McCain (48.0% to 45.6), close enough for toss-up status given the typical sample sizes in Indiana.

The change cuts McCain's electoral vote total on our map from 219 to 208, while the toss-up total is now 87.

The afternoon should be a busy one, as we are expecting imminent releases of two sets of battleground polls from our colleagues: The first All State/National Journal Battleground surveys and the first Big Ten battleground surveys in six midwestern states, codirected by our own Charles Franklin.


VT: Obama 60, McCain 36 (Rasmussen-9/13)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/13/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Vermont
Obama 60, McCain 36


US: McCain 45, Obama 43 (Economist-9/15-16)

Topics: PHome

Economist /
YouGov-Polimetrix
9/15-16/08; 1,000 Adults, 4%
Mode: Internet

National
McCain 45, Obama 43
(9/7: Obama 41, McCain 40)


Weighting by Party...and the CBS/New York Times Poll

Topics: CBS/New York Times , National Journal , Party Identification , Party Weighting

My NationalJournal.com column for the week on the continuing debate over party identification, how pollsters measure it and what they should do when they see variable results is now online will be posted later this morning.

The timing is a bit ironic. I wrote the column yesterday afternoon and then noticed this morning that the venerable CBS/New York Times poll took the highly unusual step (for them) of weighting by party ID in addition to their usual weighting procedure (emphasis added):

The combined results have been weighted to adjust for variation in the sample relating to geographic region, sex, race, marital status, age and education. In addition, the land line respondents were weighted to take account of household size and number of telephone lines into the residence, while the cellphone respondents were weighted according to whether they were reachable only by cellphone or also by land line.

Because of fluctuations in party identification, this poll was also weighted by averaging in party preferences from three recent past Times/CBS News polls.

That last line surprised me because previously, CBS and the New York Times had a policy of not weighting by party. Many casual readers of the CBS summary reports (like this one for their most recent survey) tend to assume they do, because they provide weighted and unweighted interview counts for each party subgroup. In the past, the minor partisan differences between their weighted and unweighted samples have come from their standard procedure of adjusting demographics (gender, age, race, etc.) to match Census estimates (the part described in the first paragraph quoted above).

I emailed Kathy Frankovic, the CBS News director of surveys, to ask about the decision to weight by party. Her response was that the party ID adjustment described above " is something that we have done once before in the past, when it seemed appropriate." Although I asked, she did not provide any explanation for why they deemed it appropriate this time.

The way that the CBS/New York Times pollsters chose to weight this survey is not quite the "dynamic weighting" system long advocated by Alan Abramowitz, Ruy Teixeira and others and now used by Rasmussen Reports for their national and statewide surveys, but it's close. They chose to weight to their own recent estimates of party ID rather than to results of exit polls from years past or to surveys done by other pollsters. That approach is the most defensible method, and avoids some of the potential pitfalls that I outline in my column today.

Today's CBS/New York Times release also marks the first appearance this cycle of the unique CBS/New York Times likely voter model. Rather than trying to select or screen for likely voters, the CBS/New York Times method weights voters based on their probability of turning out. I explained the procedure at length in a blog post four years ago.

PS:  Pollster.com contributor Kristen Soltis made the case for weighting by party, with a focus on an earlier CBS/NYT poll.


ARG: FL, NE, NH, SC (9/13-15)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
9/13-15/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida
McCain 46, Obama 46
(August: McCain 47, Obama 46)

New Hampshire
McCain 48, Obama 45
(August: Obama 46, McCain 45)

Sen: Shaheen (D) 52, Sununu (R-i) 40
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 62, Kenney (R) 31

South Carolina
McCain 59, Obama 37

Nebraska
McCain 60, Obama 34


GA: McCain 57, Obama 41 (SurveyUSA-9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/14-16/08; 684 LV, 3.8%
MOde: IVR

Georgia
McCain 57, Obama 41
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 53, Martin (D) 36, Buckley (L) 8


NM: Obama 52, McCain 44 (SurveyUSA-9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/14-16/08; 671 Adults, 3.9%
Mode: IVR

New Mexico
Obama 52, McCain 44
Sen: Udall (D) 56, Pearce (R) 41


IN: Obama 47, McCain 44 (Selzer-9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

Indianapolis Star / Selzer & Co
9/14-16/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Indiana
Obama 47, McCain 44, Barr 2, Nader 1


US: Obama 49, McCain 45 (Quinnipiac-9/11-16)

Topics: PHome

Quinnipiac University
9/11-16/08; 987 LV, 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 45
(August: Obama 47, McCain 42)


US: Obama 49, McCain 44 (CBSTimes-9/12-16)

Topics: PHome

CBS News / New York Times
9/12-16/08; 1,004 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(CBS story, results; NYT story, results)

National
Likely Voters:
Obama 49, McCain 44

Registered Voters
Obama 48, McCain 43
(9/3: Obama 42, McCain 42)


RI: Obama 58, McCain 39 (9/13)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/13/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Rhode Island
Obama 58, McCain 39


WI: Obama 48, McCain 46 (9/13)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/13/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Wisconsin
Obama 48, McCain 46


OR: Obama 51, McCain 47 (Rasmussen-9/15)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/15/08; 700 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

Oregon
Obama 51, McCain 47
(8/7: Obama 52, McCain 42)
Sen: Smith (R-i) 46, Merkley (D) 45
(8/7: Smith 50, Merkley 44)


VA: McCain 48, Obama 39 (CNewportU-9/10-14)

Topics: PHome

Christopher Newport University
9/10-14/08; 500 RV, 4.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Virginia
McCain 48, Obama 39


CNN/TIME: FL, IN, NC, OH, WI (9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

CNN / TIME / ORC
9/14-16/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida (907 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 48, Obama 48
Obama 48, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 1, McKinney 1

Indiana (890 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 51, Obama 45
McCain 48, Obama 43, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 1

North Carolina (910 RV, 3.5%)
McCain 48, Obama 47
MCain 46, Obama 45, Nader 2, Barr 2, McKinney 1

Ohio (913 RV, 3%)
Obama 49, McCain 47
(9/2: Obama 47, McCain 45)
Obama 46, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 2, McKinney 0
(9/2: Obama 45, McCain 44, Nader 5, Barr 2, McKinney 1)

Wisconsin (950 RV, 3%)
Obama 50, McCain 47
Obama 49, McCain 45, Nader 3, Barr 1, McKinney 0


US: Obama 45, McCain 45 (Ipsos-9/11-15)

Topics: PHome

Ipsos/McClatchy
9/11-15/08; 1,046 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National
Obama 45, McCain 45, Nader 2, Barr 1
(9/9: McCain 46, Obama 45, Nader 1, Barr 1)


US: Daily Tracking (9/14-16)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/14-16/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 48, McCain 44

Diageo / Hotline
913 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 45, McCain 42

Gallup
2,787 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 47, McCain 45

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


Lunctime Status Update for 12-16


The last 24 hours brings us 25 new statewide polls, all from one source: American Research Group (ARG). Their surveys, all conducted between September 7 and 16, involve 600 interviews in each state. This polling fete -- conducting 15,000 interviews in 10 days using live interviewers -- has produced the usual queries to my inbox? "Could they really be doing that many calls?" "Who is paying for all that polling?"

More on that below. We have also logged new surveys from Rasmussen Reports in New York, PPP in Virginia and the Field Poll in California. The bottom line is that the new ARG surveys shifted our classifications for two states:

  • New Mexico moves back from toss-up to lean Obama, an apparently temporary shift resulting partly rom an outlier odd Zogby Internet survey released earlier in the week (see my discussion here).
  • West Virginia moves from strong McCain to toss-up on our map. The issue here is that we have had only three general election polls all year in West Virginia, with today's new ARG survey being the first since June.

Unfortunately, the West Virginia scenario -- very few polls, big gap since the last poll -- shows up a shortcoming in the regression trend estimates we run. Ordinarily, those estimates have the virtue of mashing up results from many polls, which tends to minimize the contribution from outlier results. In this case, however, the estimate is based almost entirely on the ARG poll. Since that has McCain with just a four-point lead (49% to 45%) lead within sampling error, the map lists West Virginia as a toss-up.

The net result is that Obama gains back 5 electoral votes from New Mexico and McCain loses the 5 in West Virginia, bringing the total to Obama 243, McCain 219, with 76 in the toss-up category. (And yes, we know that our map is has been displaying the erroneous number 81 for the toss-up category. It's the result of a data entry glitch that we fixed and should be cleaned up momentarily).

Also, the daily tracking results have shown a modest shift to Obama in recent days and those new numbers now show a reversal in the recent trend, with Obama's estimate on our national chart (46.3%) now moving ever so slightly ahead of McCain (45.0%)

As for ARG's funding, here is the way ARG's Dick Bennett responded in May 2007 to our question about who pays for their surveys:

We still rely on subscriptions to what used to be commonly known as omnibus surveys.** The difference, however, is that we package each state and national survey separately. Unlike a traditional omnibus, there is no set schedule or guarantee of a survey without repackaging. We do a lot of panel building and have been fortunate in the past 6 months because we have been tracking household telephone, cable, and Internet access around the country and that allows for the addition of the political questions. Campaigns cannot be subscribers (but I know that some campaigns receive the latest numbers shortly after our subscribers and before public release). We are always looking for new subscribers willing to allow the political questions as part of the surveys. Subscriptions are not inexpensive -- no $199 for the entire race deals -- and subscribers pay proportionately for each survey.

**An omnibus survey is one that allows multiple paying clients to buy questions.


CA: Obama 52, McCain 36 (Field-9/5-14)

Topics: PHome

Field Poll
9/5-14/08; 830 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

California
Obama 52, McCain 36


VA: Obama 48, McCain 46 (PPP-9/13-14)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/13-14/08; 1,090 LV, 3%
Mode: IVR

Virginia
Obama 48, McCain 46
(August: Obama 47, McCain 45)

Sen: Warner (D) 57, Gilmore (33)


ARG: Statewide Surveys (9/11-13)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group releases McCain vs Obama numbers in over 25 states.


US: Obama 47, McCain 45 (Zogby-9/11-13)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/Zogby
9/11-13/08; 1,008 LV, 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 47, McCain 45
(August: McCain 46, Obama 41)


NY: Obama 55, McCain 42 (Rasmussen-9/15)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
9/15/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York State
Obama 55, McCain 42
(August: Obama 55, McCain 36)


More on Message Testing and "Push Polls"

Topics: Barack Obama , Message Testing , Push "Polls"

I had been meaning to write about two new reports of unusually ugly "message testing" polls that have popped up in recent days. As usual, journalists who should know better have reached for the "push poll" label, which is not quite right. These calls do not appear to fall into that category, though as in previous cases, the surveys are pretty ugly nonetheless.

Last week, Marc Ambinder reported on calls received in Ohio and Michigan from the Opinion Access Corporation that tested negative statements about the radical views of Obama's "spiritual advisor" and presumably slanted renderings of some of Obama's votes as State Senator. A DailyKos reader named RachelMo reported receiving the same call.

This week, Jonathan Cohn details of a survey call he received apparently aimed at Jewish voters that included a laundry list of incendiary statements involving Obama and Israel. Separately, Ben Smith reported on very similar sounding calls received by Jewish voters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

From what I can tell, all of these calls involved live interviewers and long interviews asking a variety of questions, including standard favorable ratings, issue questions and demographic items, as well as the battery that asked for reactions to the negative statements about Barack Obama. As such, they sound more like "message testing" -- albeit very ugy message testing -- than traditional "push polls."

Some background: A true "push poll" is not a poll at all, but usually a very brief call -- the modern version is typically recorded and automated -- that isn't intended to measure anything. Instead, the purpose is to communicate a (usually) scurrilous message to as many voters as possible. Real push polls are very short and aim to reach tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands or even millions of voters. These calls are dressed up to sound like a poll in order to (a) fool the recipients into listening and (b) add credibility to the ugly messages they contain.

Message testing is different, though those differences may seem semantic to the casual observer. Virtually all campaigns ask message testing questions on their benchmark surveys. Sometimes the messages tested are positive, sometimes negative. Some pollsters will repeat their vote preference question after testing messages, because they want to see whether their message will change opinion and, if so, with what voters. In that context, they are interested in how much they can "push" opinions, but as market research for paid ads, direct mail and the campaign messages.

Most of the time the messages tested -- positive and negative -- will tend to mirror the heated, one-sided rhetoric that we hear from candidates and their campaigns every day. Sometimes, however, the messages are extreme and offensive to those on the receiving end of the call, as was the case with the two latest poll stories.

The brain-dead way to approach these stories is to argue over whether the calls amount to a "push poll." As a campaign pollster, I helped design hundreds of surveys with similar tests of messages. So trust me when I say that all campaigns -- including the Obama campaign -- test positive and negative messages in their surveys. As I've written many times before, conducting a message testing poll does not absolve the pollster and the campaign from ethical obligations. The issue is not whether the pollster is trying to "push" the opinions, but whether they are telling the truth and treating their respondents with fairness and respect.

They way I wish reporters would approach these stories is to focus less on the "is-this-a-push-poll" angle and more on evaluating and debunking the charges they include.

See more of our past coverage of push polls and message testing, Stu Rothenberg's must read on the subject and the statement from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

Update - Ben Smith reports on the sponsor of the survey of Jewish voters:

A Republican group is taking responsibility for a poll that has roiled the Jewish community by asking sharply negative questions about Senator Barack Obama.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which is launching a campaign against Obama on behalf of Senator John McCain, sponsored the poll to "understand why Barack Obama continues to have a problem among Jewish voters," the group's executive director, Matt Brooks, told Politico.

The poll asked voters their response to negative statements about Obama, including reported praise for him from a leader of the Palestinian terror group Hamas and a friendship early in his career with a pro-Palestinian university professor. Some Jewish Democrats who received the poll - including a New Republic writer who lives in Michigan - were outraged by the poll, describing it in interviews as "ugly" and disturbing. A group that supports Obama, the Jewish Council for Education and Research http://www.jewsvote.org even staged a protest outside the Manhattan call center from which the calls originated Tuesday.

Read the full story for more details.


US: Daily Tracking (9/13-15)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 48, McCain 44

Diageo / Hotline
909 RV, 3.3%; Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)
Obama 46, McCain 42

Gallup
2,800 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
McCain 47, Obama 46

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


Lunctime Status Update for 12-16


We have logged another 17 statewide surveys on the presidential race over the last 24 hours. None of these has shifted our classifications, so the map continues to show Barack Obama with 238 electoral votes to 224 for John McCain and 76 in the toss-up category (270 needed to win).

Eight of the new statewide polls were conducted by pollster updating their results for the first time since the conventions, and all eight show the same shift to John McCain that has been evident in surveys we have been reporting for the last week.

However, Fox News and Rasmussen released five new surveys yesterday in battleground states last night (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia) that represent their second weekly tracking poll since the Republican convention. SurveyUSA added another new survey in Virginia that is also a second track since the Republicans left St. Paul.

Three of these surveys show a net numeric gain for Obama, three show a net numeric gain for McCain, though all of the changes are well within sampling error for any of the individual surveys. Amazingly, when I average the six polls from this week and last, I get a 0.3% average drop for each candidate. What does this mean? Most of the differences are probably noise, as vote preferences have been pretty flat in the battleground states over the last week.


US: McCain 48, Obama 44 (GWU-9/7-11)

Topics: PHome

George Washington University /
Tarrance Group (R) / Lake Research (D)
9/7-11/08; 1,000 LV, 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 44, Barr 1, Nader 1
(August: McCain 47, Obama 46)


NJ: Obama 49, McCain 41 (Monmouth-9/11-14)

Topics: PHome

Monmouth University / Gannett
9/11-14/08; 589 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 49, McCain 41
(July: Obama 50, McCain 36)


OH: McCain 48, Obama 44 (PPP-9/13-14)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/13-14/08; 1,077 LV, 3%
Mode: IVR

Ohio
McCain 48, Obama 44
(8/14: McCain 45, Obama 45)


US: McCain 48, Obama 45 (ARG-9/13-15)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
9/13-15/08; 1,200 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
McCain 48, Obama 45
(9/8: Obama 47, McCain 46)


US: Obama 41, McCain 40 (Economist-9/7-9)

Topics: PHome

The Economist /
YouGov-Polimetrix
9/7-9/08; 1,000 Adults, 4%
Mode: Internet

National
Obama 41, McCain 40
(9/3: Obama 42, McCain 39)


NJ: Obama 48, McCain 45 (Quinnipiac-9/10-14)

Topics: PHome

Quinnipiac University
9/10-14/08; 1,187 LV, 2.8%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 48, McCain 45
(August: Obama 51, McCain 41)


FOX: CO, FL, OH, PA, VA (Rasmussen-9/14)

Topics: PHome

FOX News / Rasmussen
9/14/08; 500 LV, 4.5% (for each state)
Mode: IVR
(source)

Colorado
McCain 48, Obama 46, Nader 3, Barr 1, McKinney 0
(9/7: Obama 49, McCain 46, Barr 2, Nader 0, McKinney 0)

Florida
McCain 49, Obama 44, Barr 2, Nader 2, McKinney 0
(9/7: McCain 48, Obama 48, Nader 2, Barr 0, McKinney 0)

Ohio
McCain 48, Obama 45, Nader 1, Barr 0, McKinney 0
(9/7: McCain 51, Obama 44, Nader 1, Barr 0, McKinney 0)

Pennsylvania
McCain 47, Obama 47, Barr 1, Nader 1
(9/7: Obama 47, McCain 45, Barr 1, Nader 1)

Virginia
McCain 48, Obama 48, Nader 1, Barr 0, McKinney 0
(9/7: McCain 49, Obama 47, Barr 1, Nader 1, McKinney 0)


McCain Gains Not Limited to Red States


BluesRedsPostRNC.png
Obama advisor David Axelrod is quoted in today's Washington Post article by Dan Balz and Peter Slevin:

    "I think one of the things driving the national polls is that the red states are redder," said David Axelrod, one of Obama's closest advisers. "In the battleground states, the race has held pretty firm." 

An interesting claim. Let's take a look at the data based on state polls, rather than national.

Among the strong Republican states, McCain has gained more than 8 points over Obama since shortly before the conventions, turning a 14 point lead into a 22.5 point margin, a huge gain.

Among the strong Democratic states, the effect of the conventions is a tiny 2 point move in McCain's direction, from an Obama lead of 12 points before to 10 points now.

But the rest of the states, rated lean or toss up, have also shown movement. These swing states had a 1.5 point Obama lead before the conventions, and that has now turned into a 3 point McCain lead, a 4.5 point shift.

So Axelrod is right that the biggest gains for McCain have come in the reddest of states, and those may influence national polling. But the evidence doesn't back his second claim, that the battleground has held firm, unless of course you mean they are still battleground states. But now battlegrounds that on balance favor McCain rather than favor Obama as they did before the conventions.

One caution: the lean and tossup states are themselves heterogeneous, so a single trend estimate such as the 4.5 McCain lead here is itself a simplification. If you wanted to focus on the six or eight states that probably hold the key to the electoral vote, you could slice this more finely.

We currently rate eight states as pure tossup: NH, VA, OH, MI, CO, NM, NV and MT. (Note the last has few polls and the latest 9/8 shows a 53-42 McCain lead. But it does fit our statistical criteria, and Montana was listed by the Obama campaign as a target state.)

When we fit the data to just these eight tossup states, we see a 3.5 point move in McCain's direction, from a 2 point Obama lead to a 1.5 point McCain lead. Only a point less shift than among all lean and tossup states.


TossupsPostRNC.png
No matter how you slice it, the battleground states have a lot of battle left in them, and campaign events are having effects across all states, though larger in some than others. 


50 Days to Go and Obama Hits Back (Softly)


It is noon on Monday, September 15th and things are operating so quickly in the political world that major tactical--and sometimes strategic--campaign changes are happening in minutes (in previous campaigns they used to happen in hours or days). Welcome to politics in 2008. In accordance with the new world order here is our real-time read on what is happening:

  1. Obama is hitting back, and the mere act of doing so says volumes. Voters often view the candidate through the prism of the campaign he or she is running. By this measure, the last two Obama spots--an ad that attacks McCain for being tied to lobbyists and one that says he is running a negative campaign--suggest that Obama is not going to be a Michael Dukakis; it tells voters that he will punch back. It also says that Team Obama is reading the same polling we are and believes that it has to change the dynamic or this thing is lost.


  2. But this Obama punch seems like a fairly weak body blow. While we think that going after McCain's strength is a good idea, we are not sure what kind of traction this lobbyist charge will get. This is, as they say, pretty "inside baseball." Also, the lobbyist attack may have a hard time sticking to McCain because it is not part of the perception package that people have of him. The bottom line is that a lot of things can be said about McCain, but being beholden to lobbyists doesn't seem to be one of them. And if you say you're going to respond to McCain's attacks with "ferocity" and that you're going to "take the gloves off," and then your first few "attack" ads are recycled messages about lobbyists and nonsense about McCain not being able to use a computer...oh boy.


  3. We are in a financial meltdown (as of right now the Dow is down 250 points) and Obama is focusing on lobbyists and McCain's inability to email--this is political malpractice. There is a massive financial crisis in this country: Lehman is in bankruptcy, Merrill has been sold and AIG needs a bailout of some sort. And, to this point, we're getting nothing but "statements" from the Obama campaign. The first line of today's WSJ front page article says, "The American financial system was shaken to its core on Sunday..." Team Obama should have torn up its playbook at 5 A.M. and come out swinging with earned and paid media. One look at the results from a recent CNN poll on the most important issue facing the country, coupled with a look at the trend in consumer confidence (as reported by ABC), and an 8-year-old would be able to tell the Obama campaign where it should focus its energies.

    priorities 9 15.png

    confidence 9 15.png


  4. Negative political messages must tap into a pre-existing belief. In politics, attacks only work if they ring true. It's why the McCain "Paris Hilton" ads worked so well against Obama; there was (more than) a ring of truth to them. And so they struck a nerve. We have said that the surest path to victory for Obama is to attack on the economy and the failings of the Bush administration. However, tying McCain to Bush is falling flat because it just doesn't feel right. And that's because it isn't right: everybody knows that John McCain and George W. Bush don't much like each other and haven't seen eye-to-eye on much of anything, including the Iraq War. So tying the two together isn't working all that well. The same holds for Obama's attack on McCain as beholden to lobbyists. It just doesn't fit the frame. If you're going to run ads that don't fit the frame, you need to launch them VERY EARLY and keep them up for months and months to try and generate some traction. So just starting with these new "hard-hitting" attacks against McCain won't work with only 50+ days left in the campaign...unless Team Obama can hit him with something that feels true.

  5. The Obama campaign has been seriously off-stride. Let us count the ways:

    1. Obama's body language is off. He is on the defensive and it shows.

    2. Lawyerly explanations lose Presidential elections. The more Obama responds to questions the way a law professor would (see the Saddleback Forum and the Forum on Service) the more he will slide.

    3. A headline from a recent Time magazine article is that Obama is banking on the ground game, which is, perhaps, the surest sign of despair.

    4. The McCain camp's relentless, timely and pointed attacks on Obama are having an effect. The movement to McCain is not just the result of a good convention and the Palin pick. The fact is, they have been hammering Obama senseless. Exhibit A: on Tuesday of last week Obama tries to change the course of the debate by making a major speech on education and attacking McCain on his record in that area. That afternoon, the McCain campaign releases a spot hammering Obama on education and saying that his only accomplishment on education was "legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergarten students." While the veracity of the attack was derided, the spot got a lot of play and fit the perception of Obama.

    5. The irony of this campaign is that an Obama team that was so adept at using the Internet to harness the online community for fundraising has been outmaneuvered by the McCain campaign in using viral videos to get its message out and win news cycles.

    6. The early, vitriolic and often personal attacks on Palin may have inoculated her (to some extent) from the recent (and reasonable) examinations of her record. In a sense, the liberal bloggers may have done Obama more harm than good on the Palin front.


  6. Obama needs to forget Palin and get back to the economy. Team Obama needs to stop going after Palin (it makes him look small, it makes him look like he's beating up on a woman, and it draws unfavorable comparisons to his own lack of experience), hammer McCain on the economy (and be very clear about what his policies will do for voters), and hammer McCain as someone who can't change a Washington culture that he's been a part of for so long (this way you're attacking McCain on his greatest strength--his "maverick-ness").

Current Election Environment

This is getting to be a broken record but nearly all election metrics (other than the Presidential head-to-head) continue to point to a Democrat victory this Fall. Currently, approximately 15% of the country (it was 13% in the latest NBC News/WSJ tracking survey) believes things are going in the "right direction." Who they are is anyone's guess but it is truly astounding when you look at this question trended over the last ten years.

direction 9 15.png

We have been a "wrong track" country for more than four years. And we have been signficantly "wrong track" (more than 60% of the country) for over two years. Perhaps the body politic has absorbed this sentiment and it has passed from anger to apathy. That is one possible explanation for the lack of impact on the Presidential trial heat.

Bush's approval rating is still below 35%.

bush approval 9 15.png

This is, of course, bad news for the GOP. We and everyone else have been saying this for 18 months. However, it may be that--unlike in 2006--the Bush impact may not be as severe because some segments of the electorate have written him out of the equation. In some respects, it feels like Bush is already gone, and that feeling may mitigate his negative impact on Republicans this Fall. It is only a hypothesis, but my sense is that the President may not be as important in this election than he was in 2006.

LCG Regression Analysis - Vote Projection

As we said last week, each candidate got some bounce out of his convention. However, as our regression model shows, McCain's bounce was greater.
There are too few cases in either convention bounce period to compute a line that captures each candidate's convention swing; there just aren't enough polls for a model like that to be significant. What the below line is basically saying is this: Obama had his bounce, McCain has had his bounce, and the two bounces counterbalanced each other but momentum is on McCain's side coming out of the convention period. If this trend continues he wins by +2.3 on Election Day.

trend 9 15.png

As of today McCain is -.89. However, he wins by 2.3 points if you project his current momentum out to Election Day. Of course, things will change and so will the projection.


OH: McCain 49, Obama 45 (SurveyUSA-9/12-14)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/12-14/08; 692 LV, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

Ohio
McCain 49, Obama 45


US: Daily Tracking (9/12-14)

Topics: PHome

National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/12-14/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 48, McCain 45, Barr 2, Nader 2

Diageo / Hotline
906 RV, 3.3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 44, McCain 43

Gallup
2,805 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
McCain 47, Obama 45

Rasmussen
3,000 LV, 2%; IVR
McCain 49, Obama 47


VA: Obama 50, McCain 46 (SurveyUSA-9/12-14)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/12-14/08; 732 LV, 3.7%
Mode: IVR

Virginia
Obama 50, McCain 46
(9/8: McCain 49, Obama 47)

Sen: Warner (D) 57, GIlmore (R) 34, Parker (G), Redpath (L) 1
(9/8: Warner 56, GIlmore 35, Parker 4, Redpath 3)


UT: McCain 62, Obama 24 (Deseret-9/8-11)

Topics: PHome

Deseret News / Dan Jones & Associates
9/8-11/08; 601 RV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Utah
McCain 62, Obama 24
Gov: Huntsman (R-i) 77, Springmeyer (D) 13


WA: Obama 46, McCain 37 (Elway-9/6-8)

Topics: PHome

Elway Poll
9/6-8/08; 225 RV, 6.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Washington
Obama 46, McCain 37
Gov: Gregoire (D-i) 48, Rossi (R) 44


NY: Obama 46, McCain 41 (Siena-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

Siena College
9/8-10/08; 626 LV, 3.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York
Obama 46, McCain 41
(August: Obama 47, McCain 39)


9/15 Lunchtime Status Update

Topics: Status Update

I have a noon-time speaking engagement today, so this update will need to be brief and a little earlier than usual.

As of this We have logged 22 new statewide polls since this noon on Friday, the bulk of which came from an 11-state release of Zogby's surveys drawn from their non-random online panel. The net result, as of this hour, shifts our classification for just a single state: New Mexico shifts from lean Obama to toss-up, lowering his electoral vote total on our map to 238.

We also had two new surveys in Minnesota, one from SurveyUSA and another from the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune and PSRA. Both show a close race in both the Presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns, narrowing the presidential trend estimate slightly (though leaving our classification unchanged as lean Obama) but shifting the Senate race to a toss-up.

We get asked often about including the Zogby Internet surveys given their problematic performance. The short answer is that the regression trend lines we plot tend to minimize the impact of a single "outlier" result. We get into difficulty when one pollster contributes a disproportionate number of points to the chart and shows systematic differences from other surveys.

Outliers can sometimes exert more influence on the end point of the chart. In this case, the Zogby result in New Mexico (showing Obama leading by just 2 points, 46% to 44%) nudged the Obama lead down slightly on the trend estimate (from +5.4 to +3.9), just enough given to move New Mexico into the toss-up category. The sample sizes are often smaller in New Mexico than in other states, so the margin necessary to color classify a state as leaning to a candidate tends to be slightly bigger. Keep in mind that another survey last week from Rasmussen Reports showed McCain with a two-point edge (49% to 47%) in New Mexico, which also helped narrow the current estimate.


OH: McCain 46, Obama 42 (Suffolk-9/10-13)

Topics: PHome

Suffolk University
9/10-13/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Ohio
McCain 46, Obama 42, Barr 1, McKinney 1, Nader 1


IA: Obama 52, McCain 40 (Selzer-9/8-10)

Topics: PHome

Des Moines Register /
Selzer & Company
9/8-10/08; 616 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Iowa
Obama 52, McCain 40, Barr 2, Nader 1


NJ: Obama 50, McCain 41 (Bergen-9/9-11)

Topics: PHome

The Bergen Record /
Research 2000
9/9-11/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 50, McCain 41


US: Daily Tracking (9/11-13)


National Daily Tracking Surveys
9/11-13/08

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1,100 LV, 3%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 47, McCain 45 (9/13 only)

Diageo / Hotline
904 RV, 3.2%; Live Telephone Interviews
Obama 45, McCain 43

Gallup
2,787 RV, 2%; Live Telephone Interviews
McCain 47, Obama 45

Rasmussen
3,000 LV, 2%; IVR
McCain 50, Obama 47


MN: Obama 49, McCain 47 (SurveyUSA-9/10-11)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
9/10-11/08; 734 Adults, 3.7%
Mode: IVR

Minnesota
Obama 49, McCain 47
(August: Obama 47, McCain 45)
Sen: Coleman (R-i) 41, Franken (D) 40


MN: Obama 45, McCain 45 (StarTrib-9/10-12)

Topics: PHome

Star Tribune / PSRA
9/10-12/08; 1,106 LV, 3.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Minnesota
Obama 45, McCain 45


Zogby Battleground States (9/9-12)

Topics: PHome

Zogby releases new McCain vs Obama numbers in eleven states among likely voters from 9/9 through 9/12 using internet panels.


 

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