Pollster.com

December 7, 2008 - December 13, 2008

 

PA: 2010 Senate (R2K-12/8-10)


DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
12/8-10/08; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Pennsylvania 2010 Senate

Republican Primary
Specter (R-i) 43%, Toomey (R) 28%

Democratic Primary
Matthews (D) 24%, Murphy (D) 19%, Schwartz (D) 15%
Matthews 28%, Murphy 21%
Matthews 30%, Schwartz 18%
Murphy 23%, Schwartz 20%

General Election Matchups
Specter 45%, Matthews 44%
Specter 48%, Murphy 36%
Specter 49%, Schwartz 35%
Matthews 46%, Toomey 35%
Murphy 44%, Toomey 36%
Schwartz 42%, Toomey 36%


Nine Ways To Ask About a Bailout

Topics: Auto bailout , Measurement

What do Americans think about the automobile company "bailout" working its way through Congress? Do they support or oppose it? What is "public opinion" on this subject? Over the last week or so, we have been treated to something we see from time to time: just about every well known national pollster fielded a survey during the first week of December that asked about the auto industry bailout. As is often the case, their results sometimes suggest a contradictory reading of what "the majority" of Americans believe.

I have copied all of the results below, but my bottom line is that this variation is not a bad thing and need not confuse us. If anything, it is helpful to have nine or ten pollsters test slightly different versions of the same question, especially when each pollster tests a slightly different presentation of information and context. On a complex issue like the auto company bailout, there is no "perfect" question, and in seeing the way respondents react differently to small variations in wording helps illustrate the softness in public opinion.

Let me start with this result from the ongoing "news index" weekly tracking conducted by the Pew Research Center. Last week (12/5-8, n=1,004 adults), 34% of Americans say they followed "the debate in Congress over a government bailout for the U.S. auto industry" very closely, 38% said they are following it fairly closely, 17% not too closely and 11% not closely at all. While can be hard to interpret vague categories like "fairly" and "not too" closely, these results tell us that while almost Americans are aware that the economy is sputtering and most are at least vaguely aware that the auto industry is seeking help from the government, at least a third (and likely far more) are hazy (at best) on details of what congress is currently debating. Similarly, the ABC News/Washington Post poll finds only 47% who say they "strongly" favor or oppose the bailout.

For those who are following the bailout story closely and have strongly held opinions, the process of answering a survey question about the issue is mostly a matter of retrieving ther opinion from memory and fitting it to the most appropriate answer category. Their answers among these Americans should be reasonably consistent from one survey to another, even with subtle changes the language of the question.

For many others, however, the process of answering a question is more of a reaction. Most will listen to the question and form an opinion on the spot and provide an answer based on the information and "cues" they hear in the question. For these respondents, the the questions language and context is crucial.

I have ranked the results below by survey organization based on the number who express opposition to the bailout (from greatest opposition to smallest, using the first or root question for those that asked follow-ups). Depending on the question, opposition varies from 42% to 61%; support varies 28% to 57%. As is often the case, about a third of Americans appears to float between support and opposition depending on the way pollsters ask the question. They are more likely to oppose the bailout when the question emphasizes the "billions" of dollars involved. They are more likely to support it when the question gives greater emphasis to the imminence of the companies going into bankruptcy or "out of business" in the absence of the bailout. In one case, support is greater when the pollster (NBC/Wall Street Journal) specifies the changes that Congress will require the companies to make in exchange for the money:

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation (12/1-2, n=1,096 adults) -- The major U.S. auto companies have asked the government for a program that would provide them with several billion dollars in assistance. The auto companies say they may go into bankruptcy without that assistance. Based on what you have read or heard, do you favor or oppose this program?

36% favor, 61% oppose, 2% unsure

ABC News/Washington Post (12/3-7, n=1,003 adults) -- The big three automakers in the United States have asked for up to 34 billion dollars in loans from the government. Some people say (it's a bailout those companies don't deserve, and that they'd be better off reorganizing under bankruptcy laws). Other people say (it's necessary to protect auto workers and save a key part of the U.S. economy). On balance, do you support or oppose this plan?

37% support, 54% oppose, 10% don't know

Pew Research Center (12/3-7, n=1,489 adults) -- Do you think it is the right thing or the wrong thing for the government to spend billions of dollars In loans to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to keep them in business.

39% right thing, 54% wrong thing, 7% don't know

Rasmussen Reports (12/6-7, n=1,000 adults, mode: automated-IVR) -- Do you favor or oppose providing taxpayer funded loans to help keep General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler in business?

28% favor, 53% oppose, 19% not sure

USA Today/Gallup (12/4-7, n=1009 adults) -- Would you favor or oppose the federal government giving major financial assistance to the big three U.S. automotive companies if they are close to going broke or declaring bankruptcy?

43% favor, 51% oppose

[If oppose] ) Suppose one or more of the three major U.S. automotive companies was certain to fail unless the government provided assistance. In that case, would you favor or oppose the federal government providing assistance to the major U.S. automotive companies?

[Combined response] 52% favor, 42% oppose (9% oppose but favor it one or more are certain to fail)

Marist College (12/9-10, n=1,003 adults) -- From what you have read or heard, do you approve or disapprove of Congress providing federal loans to American automakers?

41% approve, 48% disapprove, 11% don't know

CBS News (12/4-8, n=1,390 adults) -- Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government providing money to the big three U.S. automakers if it would help prevent them from going out of business or declaring bankruptcy?

45% approve, 44% disapprove, 11% don't know

NBC/Wall Street Journal (12/5-8, n=1,009 adults) -- The American automobile manufacturers--General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler--have asked Congress for financial aid and loans to keep the companies from failing and declaring bankruptcy. In exchange, the companies say they will change how they do business by cutting costs and focusing on producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Would you approve or disapprove of the federal government providing financial aid and loans to the U.S. automakers? If you do not know enough about this to have an opinion, please just say so.

46% approve, 42% disapprove, 12% no opinion/don't know

LA Times/Bloomberg (12/6-8, n=1,000 adults) -- As you may know, the three U.S. automakers -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- appeared before Congress to say that their companies are on the verge of bankruptcy and to ask for taxpayer-funded loans to help them survive. Do you think the government should or should not rescue the three U.S. automakers?

57% should rescue, 42% do not rescue, 11% don't know

(IF SHOULD RESCUE) In your opinion should the Treasury use a portion of the $700 billion bailout fund Congress created in October to make loans to the carmakers, or should they fund it some other way?

[Combined response] 30% rescue with bailout, 17% rescue some other way, 42% do not resucue

Another characteristic of the results above is that the questions that use the fewest words tend to show narrow disapproval, with roughly 50% expressing opposition. That is an important finding, if for no other reason that fewer words means less opportunity to offer new information. Results based on questions that communicate new facts tend to be more hypothetical. They tend to show us what public opinion could be if one side is more successful than the other communicating their arguments and framing the debate on their terms.

What all of this adds up to is a sense that, as is so often the case, a large group of Americans are in the middle on this issue, demonstrating a willingness to either support or oppose the proposed bailout depending on how the question (or the larger debate) is framed. However, the fact that six of the nine pollsters show net opposition to the bailout -- especially among those with more concise questions -- suggests that the onus is on bailout proponents to make the case to the American public for passage.

That is the value of having nine pollsters ask about the same issue in slightly different ways.

PS: My posts have been sparse the last few days because I have been traveling to and participating in the annual meeting of the "PAPOR," the Pacific chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. I am hoping to have some posts about the conference later tonight.

PPS: A wise AAPOR colleague notes that the question asked by LA Times/Bloomberg -- the one that shows the greatest support -- is the only one to ask whether we should "rescue" the automakers.  The others ask if we should provide money, loans or "assistance." 


US: Economy (Pew-12/3-7)


Pew Research Center
12/3-7/08; 1,489 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

National

How would you rate economic conditions in this country today... as excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

    0% Excellent
    7% Good
    33% Fair
    59% Poor

In considering the financial difficulties of major banks and financial institutions, do you feel that it is a bad situation but the worst is behind us, or do you think the problem may get worse in the future?

    32% Worst is behind us
    62% Problem will get worse in the future


US: Auto Bailout (Marist-12/9-10)


Marist Poll
12/9-10/08; 1,003 adults; 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

National

From what you have read or heard, do you approve or disapprove of Congress providing federal loans to American automakers?

    41% Approve
    48% Disapprove


US: Obama, Economy (NBCWSJ-12/5-8)



NBC News / Wall Street Journal
12/5-8/08; 1,009 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(NBC story, results; WSJ story, results)

National

Are you generally pleased or disappointed with the people Barack Obama has appointed to posts in his administration?

    67% Generally pleased
    16% Generally disappointed

During the next twelve months, do you think that the nation's economy will get better, get worse, or stay about the same?

    36% Economy will get better
    28% Economy will get worse
    34% Economy will stay about the same

Do you approve or disapprove of the job the federal government is doing in handling the current financial crisis?

    19% Approve
    71% Disapprove


IL: Gov Replacement (Ramussen-12/10)


Rasmussen Reports
12/10/08; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR

Illinois

Who would you like to see Governor Blagojevich appoint to be Barack Obama's replacement in the United States Senate....Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Jan Schakowsky, Tammy Duckworth, Lisa Madigan or Emil Jones, Jr?

    32% Madigan
    18% Duckworth
    11% Jackson
    10% Schakowsky
    3% Jones


US: Bush, Cong, Obama (APGfK-12/3-8)


AP-GfK
12/3-8/08; 1,000 adults, 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

National

Overall, please tell me whether you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor
disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president.

    28% Approve
    66% Disapprove

Overall, please tell me whether you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor
disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

    24% Approve
    67% Disapprove

Overall, please tell me whether you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor
disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the transition to the presidency.

    73% Approve
    14% Disapprove


US: Obama, Blagojevich (Rasmussen-12/8-10)


Rasmussen Reports
Mode: IVR

National
12/8-9/08; 1,000 adults, 3.5% margin of error

60% favor Obama's proposal of "making a substantial investment in roads, bridges and public buildings to lift the sagging economy and create jobs;" 24% oppose.

Illinois
12/10/08; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error

78% approve of the job Obama has been doing as President-Elect; 21% disapprove.

84% say Blagojevich should resign; 9% say he should not.


NC: 2010 Senate (PPP-12/8-9)


Public Policy Polling (D)
12/8-9/08; 630 registered voters, 3.9%
Mode: IVR

North Carolina 2010 Senate
Sen. Richard Burr (R): 32% Approve, 31% Disapprove
Attorney Gen. Roy Cooper (D): 44% Approve, 23% Disapprove

2010 Sen: Cooper 39%, Burr 34%


US: Obama & Economy (CBS-12/4-8)


CBS News
12/4-8/08; 1,390 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, economy results, Obama results)

National

Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government providing money to banks and other financial institutions to try to help fix the country's economic problems?

    46% Approve
    44% Disapprove

In the long term, do you think the steps that the federal government has taken so far to assist banks and other financial institutions will eventually help the national economy, eventually hurt the national economy, or will they make no difference in the long term?

    45% Help
    16% Hurt
    30% No Difference

Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the next four years with Barack Obama as President?

    75% Optimistic
    17% Pessimistic

From what you've heard or read, do you approve or disapprove of the Cabinet selections Barack Obama has made so far?

    72% Approve
    12% Disapprove


OH: 2010 Gov & Sen (Quinnipiac-12/4-8)


Quinnipaic University
12/4-8/08; 1,468 registered voters, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland: 54% Approve, 25% Disapprove

Looking ahead to the 2010 election for Governor, do you feel that Ted Strickland deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?

    45% Yes/Deserves
    34% No/Does not

If the 2010 election for Governor were being held today, do you think you would vote for Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate?

    46% Strickland
    26% Republican

Sen. George Voinovich: 51% Approve, 31% Disapprove

Looking ahead to the 2010 election for United States Senator, do you think that George Voinovich deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?

    44% Yes/Deserves
    34% No/Does not

If the 2010 election for United States Senator were being held today, do you think you would vote for George Voinovich, the Republican candidate, or for the Democratic candidate?

    36% Voinovich
    35% Democrat


US: Obama Transition (TimesBloomberg-12/6-8)


Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg
12/6-9/08; 910 registered voters; 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story)

National

Which of the following comes closer to how you feel about Barack Obama winning the presidential election?

    74% Positive
    22% Negative

Do you approve or disapprove of the way President-elect Barack Obama is handling the transition?

    79% Approve
    10% Disapprove

Do you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

    65% Approve
    28% Disapprove

Do you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama's choice to keep current Defense Secretary Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense?

    75% Approve
    12% Disapprove

More results here.


IL: Blagojevich Pre-Arrest (Rasmussen-12/2)


Rasmussen Reports
12/2/08; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(story)

Illinois

How do you rate the way that Rod Blagojevich is performing his role as Governor? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

    7% Excellent
    8% Good
    23% Fair
    61% Poor

Who would you like to see Governor Blagojevich appoint to be Barack Obama's replacement in the United States Senate?

    25% Madigan
    23% Jackson
    21% Duckworth
    7% Schakowsky
    3% Jones


CO & MO: 2010 Senate (DailyKos-12/2-4)


DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
12/2-4/08; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error in each state
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Colorado 2010 Senate
Ken Salazar (D-i) 49, John Elway (R) 38
Salazar 51, Tom Tancredo (R) 37

Missouri 2010 Senate
Kit Bond (R-i) 47, Robin Carnahan (D) 43


NY: Clinton Replacement (Marist-12/8)


Marist Poll
12/8/08; 503 registered voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

New York

If Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State, who do you think Governor Paterson should choose to fill her U.S. Senate seat?

    25% Kennedy
    25% Cuomo
    6% Brown
    4% Velazquez
    4% Gillibrand
    3% Maloney
    3% Suozzi
    2% Carrion
    2% Israel

Do you think Hillary Clinton will do an excellent, good, fair, or poor job as Secretary of State?

    33% Excellent
    37% Good
    15% Fair
    11% Poor


NY: Clinton Replacement (PPP-12/8-9)


Public Policy Polling (D)
12/8-9/08; 957 Democrats, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: IVR

New York

With Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State, Governor David Paterson will have the opportunity to appoint her replacement. Some of the names being mentioned most prominently are Caroline Kennedy, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and Congressman Brian Higgins. Which of these candidates would be your top choice for Governor Paterson to appoint to replace Senator Clinton?

    44% Kennedy
    23% Cuomo
    6% Gillibrand
    5% Higgins
    4% Velazquez
    3% Suozzi
    3% Brown
    3% Maloney


US: Auto Bailout (Gallup-12/4-7)


Gallup Poll
12/4-7/08; 1,009 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National

Would you favor or oppose the federal government giving major financial assistance to the Big Three U.S. automotive companies if they are close to going broke or declaring bankruptcy? (11/16 survey)

    43% Favor (47%)
    51% Oppose (49%)

Republicans:

    31% Favor
    65% Oppose

Democrats:

    56% Favor
    39% Oppose

Independents:

    40% Favor
    52% Oppose


US: Auto Bailout (CBS-12/4-7)


CBS News
12/4-7/08; 1,098 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National

Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government providing money to the big three U.S. automakers if it would help prevent them from going out of business or declaring bankruptcy?

    45% Approve
    44% Disapprove

If you were in the market to buy a new car right now, would the economic problems of General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler affect whether or not you buy a car from them?
IF YES, ASK: Would you be more likely or less likely to buy a car from them?

    11% Yes, more likely
    31% Yes, less likely
    55% No, no difference


Re: Who Predicted 140 Million?

Topics: Michael McDonald , Turnout

My colleague Marc Ambinder reports two additional details on turnout:

First, Michael McDonald revised his national turnout estimate today, which now stands 131.3 million who cast ballots in the presidential election, or 61.6% of eligible voters.

Second, Ambinder addresses my question from last week about the unnamed "experts" who supposedly "forecast" a turnout of 140 million:

My colleague Mark Blumenthal can't find any on-the-record prediction by senior Obama campaign officials that turnout would reach 140 million, although I can say today that several senior aides told me on background, they expected that the turnout would be slightly higher than it turned out to be, anywhere between 133 million and 140 million. Smartly, none would put the prediction on the record, so there's plausible deniability. As the campaign continues its forensic accounting of its GOTV efforts, though, there may be internal efforts to figure out whether certain levers weren't pushed.

Point taken. Ambinder had the perspective of background conversations and predictions that the rest of us did not. However, if the Bloomberg article in question was relying on the background spin of the Obama campaign, I'm not sure why it didn't say so explicitly.


Okey Dokey


Your favorite political blog probably linked to a downright nasty profile of former Clinton pollster Mark Penn by The Independent. But if you haven't read the passage that Teagan Goddard's Political Wire called "the quote of the day," let me do the honors. The Independent's interviewer asked Penn about why he had said, in a March 2007 memo, that "Obama was unelectable?"

"Huh. No. It doesn't say that at all." Yes it does, if the facsimile published by Atlantic Monthly magazine is correct. The great communicator appears thrown. "Those memos, right, that came out, were really ... er, were really, I think, show you, you know, just a piece, because ... a small part, a piece of how we were looking to, I think, set up or solve the fact that he was a very strong candidate."

In the March 19, 2007 memo, published by my colleague Josh Green, Penn had written: "The right knows that Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Atila the Hun, and a third party would come in then anyway."

Later in the same memo, Penn had mocked "all of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia, and his life in Hawaii" that demonstrated Obama's "diverse multicultural" background. "Save it for 2050...his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and his values."

The interviewer also asked about that passage:

Not fundamentally American? That's a very serious accusation to make in US politics. Even Sarah Palin wasn't that direct. "Well, really," says Penn awkwardly, "it really just says [Hillary] should emphasise her roots ... I think that at the time he was touting a more internationalist outlook."

As Senator Clinton herself might put it, "Okey dokey artichokey."


US: Auto Bailout (ABCPost-12/3-7)


ABC News / Washington Post
12/3-7/08; 1,003 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC story, results; Post article)

National

The big three automakers in the United States have asked for up to 34 billion dollars in loans from the government. Some people say (it's a bailout those companies don't deserve, and that they'd be better off reorganizing under bankruptcy laws). Other people say (it's necessary to protect auto workers and save a key part of the U.S. economy). On balance, do you support or oppose this plan? (11/23 results*)

    37% Support (35%)
    54% Oppose (57%)

* The 11/23 survey question stated "25 billion dollars in loans."


The Fluctuating Convergence Mystery


The "convergence mystery" gets even more mysterious.

 

In Survey Practice, I initially raised the question of why the national presidential polls showed a great deal of variance in their results during the month of October, but then converged to a relatively tight cluster in the final predictions. Mark Blumenthal then calculated the variance among state polls, showing that they also exhibited much greater variance during October than in their final predictions.

 

He suggested the phenomenon was probably not a deliberate effort by pollsters to change their numbers. Instead, he proposed that pollsters, whose numbers were outliers, probably looked to see if their polls needed "fixing" - and sure enough, they found reasons to adjust their numbers closer to the mean. Thus, the convergence at the end of the campaign.

 

My original analysis was a weekly average of the national polls, while Mark's was a weekly average of selected state polls (including 12 battleground states with at least 20 polls in October/November). In a further analysis, I looked at the eight tracking polls from October 4 through November 2. The group includes four daily tracking polls for the whole time period, and four that started a bit later - two on Oct. 6, one on Oct. 12, and the last on Oct. 16.

 

Shown below is the overall graph of their results.

 

2008 Fluct Conv Mys Graph 1.png A quick examination shows a couple of times when the polls converged to a tight cluster before expanding to much greater differences - around Oct. 18 and again around Oct. 28-29.

 

The next graph shows the same polls, but with the "variance" plotted on the same graph (the pink line). What I hadn't noticed in the graph of all the polls are the three spikes in variance shown below.

 

2008 Fluct Conv Mys Graph 2.png

The next graph is a scatterplot of the variance. The linear regression line indicates a significant decline in variance over the month of October, though clearly there are spikes.

 

2008 Fluct Conv Mys Graph 3.png

The last graph shows the day-by-day fluctuation, with three major spikes, all occurring just a couple of days after each of the October debates.

 

2008 Fluct Conv Mys Graph 4.png 

The first spike occurs on Oct. 7, the second on Oct. 12-13, and the last Oct. 20-22. In each case, the spike begins five days after a debate. It's important to keep in mind that the daily tracking polls are typically about 3-day rolling averages, so that means the spike occurs two days after the debate.

 

These results add to the mystery of convergence, because they 1) show an overall decline in variance over the month, and 2) nevertheless show sudden and temporary spikes in variance, starting just two days after a vice presidential or presidential debate. The largest spike occurs right after the third presidential debate on Oct. 15 - not immediately reflected in the 3-day tracking polls until five days after the debate.

 

The delayed spikes can be accounted for in this way: The vice presidential debate took place on Oct. 2. The next day, the networks broadcast their interpretations of the debate, and the following day, the polls begin to show quite different results. The debate effect is not complete until the end of the 3-day tracking period, which would mean the first full results would be manifest on Oct. 7, five days after the debate.

 

Similar scenarios suggest that five days after each of the two succeeding debates, new spikes should occur - and they do. Oct. 12 (five days after the second presidential debate) and Oct. 20 (five days after the final presidential debate) find the beginnings of spikes - the first lasting two days, and the second lasting three days, before beginning the downward movement.

 

There is one last minor spike, from the end of October to the final prediction figures. It's hard to tell if this is random noise, or part of a predictable pattern.

 

In any case, the mystery is this: Why do the eight tracking polls show more variance in results following the debates? What is there about the debates that would cause different polls to show greater inconsistencies in results than normal? And why do the polls show a month-long decline in variance, except for the three temporary spikes?

 

I think that Mark's initial suggestion -- that pollsters with the outlying results tend to "fix" their methodology, and thus have their polls converge toward the mean - may need to be re-examined in light of the tracking poll data. The decline in the variance is gradual over the month, but interrupted by the debate-generated spikes.

 

Please offer any theories you might have that could explain this phenomenon.

 

 


VA: 09 Governor (Rasmussen-12/4)


Rasmussen Reports
12/4/08; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR

Virginia
Tested Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), State Representative R. Creigh Deeds (D), State Representative Brian J. Moran (D), and former chairman of the DNC Terry McAuliffe (D).

2009 Gubernatorial Match-ups:
McConnell 37%, Moran 41%
McConnell 39%, Deeds 39%
McConnell 41%, McAuliffe 36%


MN: Senate Recount (SurveyUSA-12/4)


SurveyUSA
12/4/08; 556 registered voters, 4.2% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(source)

Minnesota

Do you think Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount process has been fair to both candidates? Unfair to Norm Coleman? Or Unfair to Al Franken?

    58% Fair to both
    20% Unfair to Coleman
    13% Unfair to Franken

Do you approve or disapprove of how the Coleman campaign has handled the recount process?

    51% Approve
    40% Disapprove

Do you approve or disapprove of how the Franken campaign has handled the recount process?

    44% Approve
    48% Disapprove

If another election for U.S. Senate was held again today who would you vote for?

    15% Barkley
    41% Coleman
    40% Franken


US: Same-Sex Marriage (Newsweek-12/3-4)


Newsweek / Princeton Survey Research Associates
12/3-4/08; 1,006 adults, 3.7 margin of error
Mode Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National

Do you think there should or should NOT be...
Legally-sanctioned gay and lesbian unions or partnerships?

    55% Should be
    36% Should not be

Legally-sanctioned gay and lesbian marriages?

    39% Should be
    55% Should not be

Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would BAN gay marriage IN ALL STATES?

    43% Favor
    52% Oppose

Suppose YOUR STATE held an election where you could vote for or against an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage. Would you be more likely to vote "yes" in favor of OR "no" against a ban on gay marriage in your state?

    45% Yes, favor ban
    49% No, against ban


Obama's Ground Game Advantage in Key States


Throughout the campaign, much was made of the tremendous ground organization that Obama had built. Yet, according to the exit polls, Obama's organization did not contact a higher percentage of voters than Kerry's did in 2004. In both 2004 and 2008, voters were asked "Did anyone call you or talk to you in person on behalf of either major presidential campaign about coming out to vote?" In 2008, 13% said that the Obama campaign had contacted them while 13% reported that both campaigns had done so. That means that 26% of voters nationwide had been contacted by the Obama campaign. This figure is the same as Kerry's contact rate among 2004 voters. In fact, nationally, the major difference between 2004 and 2008 was that the Republican contact rate dropped. In 2004, 24% of voters reported that they were contacted by the Bush campaign but in 2008, just 19% were contacted by McCain.

contactchange.PNG

Of course, national figures may mask more significant patterns at the state-level. I was able to get statewide results for the question on campaign contact in 17 states. These results are plotted in the chart below for every state where the data were available. Nearly all of these were states that Obama ultimately won; the only exceptions are West Virginia and Missouri.

contactstates.PNG

Every state except West Virginia falls above the diagonal line, indicating that the Obama campaign contacted more voters than McCain in 16 of these 17 states. However, the margin of Obama's advantage in campaign contact did vary. In several states, Obama held an advantage similar to that captured by the national contact margin (7%). However, Obama had at least a 12% advantage in the percentage of voters contacted in Iowa, Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, and Nevada. Of course, Iowa and Nevada were states where the Obama campaign had spent significant time and effort organizing for the January caucus events; this effort appeared to pay off in the general election as 50% of Nevada voters and 42% of those in Iowa reported having been contacted by the Obama campaign. Virginia and Indiana were states where Obama invested heavily during the primary and general election campaign. 50% of Virginia voters and 37% of Indiana voters reported contact from the Obama campaign. Finally, the Democratic convention was held in Colorado, which may have helped make that the state where Obama contacted more voters than anywhere else--51% of Coloradans reported being contacted by the Obama campaign.

With the exception of New Mexico, reported contact rates are available for each of the states that Obama flipped from red to blue in 2008. The chart below compares Obama's advantage in contacting voters in each of the states he flipped with his national advantage on this measure.

contactadvantage.PNG

Note that of the three states that come closest to Obama's national advantage, two are states that have been targeted by both parties in recent presidential elections. Thus, it may be the case that Republicans already had the infrastructure to be more competitive with Obama's ground game in traditional battleground states like Florida and Ohio, but they were unable to catch up with the organization Obama built in new newer battleground states.

Finally, it is difficult to trace the precise impact of this ground game effort relative to other factors during the campaign. But for fun, the chart below plots the Obama contact advantage in each of the 17 states against the change in the Democratic margin in that state from 2004 to 2008.

contactswing.PNG

Again, we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from this plot, but it does appear that Obama tended to improve more on Kerry's 2004 electoral performance in states where he held a larger advantage in voter contact.

Ultimately, the state-level data provide important context about Obama's ground game advantage. Obama dominated the ground game in most of the states he turned from red to blue in 2008, particularly the newer battleground states like Nevada, Colorado, and Indiana. This organizational advantage was undoubtedly one of the major factors behind such a large vote swing in those states.


 

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