December 14, 2008 - December 20, 2008


CO: 2010 Sen (PPP-12/16-17)

Public Policy Polling (D)
12/16-17/08; 712 registered voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Colorado 2010 Senate
John Hickenlooper (D) 54%, Tom Tancredo (R) 37%
Hickenlooper 54%, Bill Owens (R) 40%
John Salazar (D) 53%, Tancredo 40%
Salazar 52%, Owens 43%

US: NY-Sen Kennedy (Rasmussen-12/17-18)

Rasmussen Reports
12/17-18/08; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of sampling error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is being considered as Hillary Clinton's replacement in the U.S. Senate now that Mrs. Clinton is becoming secretary of State. Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to serve in the Senate?

    37% Yes
    37% No

Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable impression of Caroline Kennedy?

    67% Very favorable/Somewhat favorable
    23% Very unfavorable/Somewhat unfavorable

HI: 2010 Sen (DailyKos-12/15-17)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
12/15-17/08; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-i) 53, Linda Lingle (R) 42

Penn's WSJ Column

Topics: Mark Penn , Message Testing , Pollsters

Former Clinton pollster Mark Penn has a new Wall Street Journal column named (what else?) "Microtrends" and written "with" E. Kinney Zalesne, co-author of the book of the same name.

Gawker responds with its usual snarky flair but makes a reasonable point, if you can get past the gratuitous nastiness: This week's column spends more time hawking Penn's book than supporting his arguments with data. They point out, for example, that Penn/Zalesne attach this footnote their first use of the term "Impressionable Elites:"

* "Impressionable Elites" is the term we used for educated, affluent people who focus more on personality than issues when it comes to evaluating political decisions. For more, please see pages 131 to 135 in "Microtrends."

There's a stranger footnote. The central contention of the column is that Bernard Madoff's bilking of a lot of very rich people "proves the point" that "elites have become more impressionable -- more removed from everyday problems, more trusting of what they hear, and more likely to adopt unthinking viewpoints based on brand or emotion."

The data that supports this claim?

[O]ur research** shows that the top 1% is heavily swayed by gut and impression, not numbers and facts. They vote more on the basis of personality in campaigns; buy products more on the basis of brands; and invest more on the basis of the tip than on sound logic.

And what research is that? Another footnote tells us:

** A PSB [Penn, Schoen & Berland] poll of 806 telephone interviews among likely 2008 presidential voters, including an oversample of 400 very likely Democratic presidential primary voters.

Two issues here. First, sample size? I will leave it to readers to decide exactly how many interviews such a sample will yield for the "top 1%." Presumably, non-voters fall disproportionately in the bottom 99%, so it may be that the wealthiest or best educated 1% of the population contributed slightly more than 1% of this sample. Still, I still have a hard time seeing how that top 1% subgroup could have yielded much more than n=15, unweighted.

Second, consider the reference to the "oversample" of likely "Democratic presidential primary voters." It certainly sounds like a survey done during or before the Democratic primaries on behalf of Mr. Penn's most well known recent client. It is not hard to imagine such a survey including tests of negative messages about Obama ("numbers and facts") that failed to persuade his very wealthy supporters (for an example of such a message test -- click here, scroll to pp. 11-12). Please tell me that the referenced evidence of elite impressionability depends on more than that. Please.

Update: Reader DS points out that the Microtrends chapter referenced in that first footnote includes results that give a good clue as to the evidence referenced in the second footnote. Specifically, on pp. 132-133, Penn and Zalesne write (the table is my reproduction of the one in the book):

This isn't just my gut. Let's look at the data.

A standard poll question I ask in campaigns is what people consider most important in voting for a candidate: (1) issues, (2) character, or (3) experience. I ask it because I know that all three are important in a leader, and that it can be tough to rank them.

According to a recent poll we did, a large plurality of voters -- 48 percent -- believe that a candidate's stand on the issues is most important, with character a distant second at 32 percent. That preference for issues holds steady whether or not voters have been to college, whether or not they are religious, and across race. Where it does not stay constant, however, is across income. Once voters reach the magic line of $100,000 per year, their priority shifts to character, by a significant margin. As the table below shows, people earning under $100,000 prioritize issues over character by a serious 51 to 30 percent. But once they reach $100,000, the switch, to character over issues, 45 to 37 percent.


That is a 29-point swing. A shift barely ever gets clearer in polling.

So if this is "research" referenced in the footnote, there's a good chance that the data used to make inferences about the "top 1%" was based on the 25% or so of voters that report an income over $100,000. Also, as DS puts it in his email, there isn't any more survey evidence on the book on this point: "no regression analysis, no experiment, just a simple, dumb question."

As it happens, the soon-to-be-extinct LA Times/Bloomberg poll asked a similar question in their September 2008 campaign survey. I have reproduced the results below. Notice two things: First, the Times/Bloomberg question showed 31% choosing "all" or "some" of the categories. The PSB had no such category and reported only 1% as "don't know." If allowing interviewers to take "all of the above" as an answer draws in nearly a third of the respondents, we have a pretty good clue that the underlying attitudes are soft.


Second and more important, the Times/Bloomberg poll showed a clear pattern by party and ideology: Democrats and Liberals were more likely to choose "positions on issues," while Republicans and Conservatives were more likely to choose "experience" and, to a lesser extent, "character." Here's a theory: Voters perceived McCain as strong and Obama as weak on "experience," so McCain supporters were more likely to say they consider experience important and Obama supporters less likely to choose that answer. That result is consistent with my experience that voters rarely answer such questions in a completely abstract way. They tend to answer with high profile candidates in mind, especially when the question comes in the context of a survey that has already asked about those candidates.

So before making too much of the pattern in Penn's cross-tab, I would want to see whether any other variables show similar correlations and whether controlling for other variables (through a regression analysis) would explain the pattern by income.

And of course, as DS points out in his email, there are many sources of political survey data that would allow a more complete test of this thesis. He says, for example, that he examined ANES data "to see if highly educated / high income respondents were more likely to be impressed by character qualities rather than issues," but found no connection.

Two New Reports on Cell Phones and Surveys

Topics: CDC , Cell Phones , NCHS , NHIS , Pew Research Center

The last two days bring news on the issue of cell phones and their impact on political surveys in the form of new reports from the most respected researchers on the subject.

First, yesterday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics released its latest biannual report on the prevalence of households without wireless or standard telephone service (via Bialik). The CDC monitors the cell-phone-only population because it conducts huge ongoing health "surveillance" surveys via telephone, and as such, ask questions about telephone usage on their ongoing, in-person National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Their latest report, which covers the first six months of the year, shows that 16.1% of adults were reachable only by cell phone, while another 2.1% lacked telephone service of any kind.

081218_NCHSJanuary-June 2008.png

As the chart above shows, the latest survey continues an ongoing, near linear upward growth in the cell-phone-only population. It is worth noting that the hint of a plateau in the trend seen between the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007 was likely the result of a very slight change in question wording that took effect in 2007. Except for the brief near-pause, the trend has been steadily and consistently upward since 2005.

The second news is the latest report from the Pew Research Center on their efforts to survey voters via cell phone during 2008 (summary, full PDF). It is hard to overstate* the influence of the Pew Center's work on cell phones in the political polling industry. At the PAPOR conference in San Francisco last week, Professor Mike Traugott (a past president of AAPOR and chair of AAPOR's Special Committee on 2008 Primary Polling) noted that earlier this year, "the conventional wisdom in the Spring [among pollsters] was that we didn't have to worry about cell phone only people." At the end of the summer, however, "this conventional wisdom changed drastically" when the Pew Center released its report showing that the omission of cell phone only voters could understate Barack Obama's margin over McCain by two to three percentage points." By the fall, many national media surveys included supplemental cell phone samples in their surveys.

The new Pew report confirms that the patterns they saw, "that estimates based only on landline interviews were likely to have a pro-McCain tilt compared with estimates that included cell phone interviews," persisted through their final survey in late October. It was a difference of a point or two on the margins that "while statistically significant, was small in absolute terms -- smaller than the margin of sampling error in most polls." Of possibly greater importance going forward, they also found similar differences in party identification and self-reported ideology, and bigger differences in (not surprisingly) the use of Internet as a news source and social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. See the report for the details.

Now that the conventional wisdom on cell-phone only households has shifted among national pollsters, from "it doesn't matter" to "we better account for the them," the Pew Report also points us to the next issue for the c.w. to chew over: Simply interviewing by cell phone (and screening for "cell only" respondents) may not be enough. Pollsters will also need to confront the more difficult issue of how to handle and weight the interviews among what some call "cell phone mostlys:"

Unlike most other polling organizations, Pew's election surveys involved a "full dual frame design," in which people reached by cell phone who also have a landline are interviewed, as well as cell-only respondents. In contrast, most pollsters who included cell phones in their election surveys screened their cell samples for cell-only respondents.

The difference between these two approaches can be seen as a tradeoff in methodological challenges. Supplementing a landline sample with cell-only respondents has the advantage of not "double covering" respondents who have both types of phones. This makes combining the samples more straightforward, but assumes that the landline sample is capable of accurately reaching all adults equally. If some adults have landline phones that they rarely or never answer because they favor their cell phones, they will be underrepresented in these surveys. Pew's approach of interviewing all adults in both the landline and cell phone samples ensures that every adult with a telephone is covered by the survey, but raises challenges in combining the data because some adults had a greater chance to participate if they have more than one telephone. Pew's methodology accounts for this double coverage by weighting respondents with both kinds of phones according to their probability of selection and the regularity with which they use each kind of telephone.

The report goes on to present data showing that the slightly different results produced by the two approaches. Duel users reached by cell phone were more likely to support Obama (53%) than those reached by landline phone (46%). The cell-phone-mostlys reached by cell also identified with the Democrats (54%) more often than those interviewed by landline phone (47%).

The report concludes with a section on the "practical considerations" of interviewing by cell phone. As they have found previously, once they offer a monetary incentive to potential cell-phone respondents ($10), the contact and cooperation rates are comparable to what they get on landline phones. So cell phone interviewing can be done. The downside is that cell-phone interviews cost Pew "nearly two-and-a-half times as much as landline interviews" for reasons they explain in detail.

As always, my summary does little justice to the full report. Go read it all.

*[Mangled use of "understate" corrected]

CO: Salazar's Seat (PPP-12/16-17)

Public Policy Polling (D)
12/16-17/08; 712 registered voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: IVR


With Senator Ken Salazar being nominated as Secretary of the Interior, Governor Bill Ritter will have the opportunity to appoint a new United States Senator. Some of the candidates being mentioned are Congresswoman Diana Degette, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, and Congressman John Salazar. Which of these would be your preference for the Governor to appoint?

    23% Hickenlooper
    15% Salazar
    12% Romanoff
    11% Pena
    8% Degette
    6% Perlmutter
    2% Kennedy

NCPP's Report on Pollster Performance

Topics: Accuracy , Pollsters

Yesterday, the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) posted its biennial review of poll performance as a three-part set of PDF documents: Tables scoring the final polls from each pollster at both the national and statewide level and a top-line analysis (full disclosure: We provided NCPP with a database of the general election polls we logged here at Pollster.com, although we had no involvement in their analysis).

Historically, NCPP has focused their analysis on the national polls. Here are their main conclusions on the performance of the national polls in 2008:

In terms of Candidate Error, the average is less than one percentage point (0.9), whether the pollster choose to allocate undecided voters at the end of not. That is the same as the 0.9 percentage point error reported by NCPP for this analysis in 2004. It is slightly less than the 1.1 percentage point average in 2000. In 2008, estimated errors ranged from 0.1 to 2.4 percentage points.

Thus, despite widely discussed concerns such as the growing size of the cell-phone-only population (and this year the possibility of a repeat of Bradley/Wilder effect), there was no change in poll average error.

NCPP is a consortium of media pollsters, and as such concentrates on evaluating the performance of the polls (plural) rather than on rating or ranking individual pollsters or methodologies. So while the report has some useful data for making year-to-year, industry-wide comparisons, it will likely frustrate those trying to find "best" or "worst" pollster.

That said, any thorough effort to rank the pollsters, to separate "good" from "bad" on the basis of the accuracy of the last poll is bound to frustrate for reasons the NCPP report identifies in an easily overlooked, next-to-last paragraph:

No method of judging the error works perfectly. Other evaluations of poll performance based on other methods may produce different conclusions.

The NCPP report includes two methods of measuring the poll error that differ slightly from the eight first proposed in 1948 by the renowned Harvard statistician Frederick Mosteller in his chapter of the report of the Social Science Research Council on the polling failures that year (an still used by many who score pollster error). The NCPP measures also differ from the odds-ratio scoring proposed three years ago in the pages of Public Opinion Quarterly by Martin, Traugott and Kennedy. I have looked at state level pollster error using some of these methods, and can confirm that different methods can and do produce different rankings in 2008.

The reasons is that four factors can affect the size of the error scores, especially when aggregated for any given pollster, and these are not comparable across organizations:

1) The number of polls conducted - Generally, if we average errors across multiple polls, those who do more polls should show lower average errors by the logic of regression to the mean. Any one poll can produce a large error by chance, but as we average more and more surveys, the average errors should be generally lower (there is an exception

2) The number of interviews for any given poll - More interviews should mean less random error, and different pollsters use different sample sizes. The sample sizes for some individual pollsters can also vary widely from state to state. So if we aggregate errors across pollsters, some will do better simply because their sample sizes are bigger.

3) How the scoring handles or interprets the "undecided" category - In general elections, "undecided" is not a choice on the ballot, so any reported undecided is an error, in a sense. What complicates the analysis is that some pollsters allocate undecided voters on their final poll and some do not. Some error scores effectively ignore the undecided (either by allocating or by focusing on the margins separating the candidates), while some scores penalize pollsters that leave undecideds unallocated. This issue remains a matter of considerable, unresolved debate among pollsters.

4) The lag between the dates of interviewing and the election -- A longer delay between the field dates and election day creates a greater potential for error due to last minute shifts in voter preferences. Those that field late have an inherent advantage over those that conclude earlier, although the size of any such advantage in any given election is debatable and hard to evaluate. And ignoring all the polls that came before "the last poll" opens the possibility of a misleading measure, especially when polls do seem to converge around a common mean on the last round of polls (at least they did in 2008, see our posts here, here, here and here).

All of these are reasons why we have been cautious (so far) in producing a "best-to-worst" ranking of individual pollsters for Pollster.com. A few weeks ago, Mark Lindeman and I ranked pollsters based on their statewide surveys using 12 different scores and time frames (don't bother searching, as we have not yet posted these online).** Even when we narrowed the list to the 15 or so organizations that produced at least five "final" poll results in statewide contests, we found seven different pollsters ranking 1st or 2nd at least once, five ranking lowest or second lowest at least once and three that ended up in both categories (best and worst) at least once. And none of these rankings ranked the pollsters in a way that controlled for the number of polls conducted or the sample sizes used, ranking each pollster against the standard of how well it should have done.

The NCPP report takes a first stab at that sort of analysis by comparing what they call candidate estimate error to one half the of the margin of error. "A total of 53  of the state polls," the report tells us, "or 12.8 percent had results that fell outside of the sampling margin of error for that survey."*** Given that the margin of error is based on a 95% level of statistical confidence, if the surveys (and these comparisons) were perfect, we would expect only 5% of the results to fall outside the margin of error. Caveat: They arrive at this statistic by calculating the error on the margin predicted by the poll, dividing that number by two (to get an estimate on the error for each candidate) and comparing it to the reported margin of error for that poll.   

Do some pollsters do better than others when judged by that standard? I will try to assess that in my next post.

**I haven't posted those scores, mostly because the endless number of tables adds up to no obvious conclusion. I'm willing to post those tables, in all their glorious and confusing detail, if readers demand it. But I would much rather try to find ways to evaluate pollsters that attempt to control for the four factors listed above. As always, readers suggestions are welcome.

***When I wrote this post, the links on the NCPP web site pointed to earlier drafts of the tables and analysis that were not based on the final results in each state.  As a result, the original version of my entry quoted an earlier computation of the percentage of polls falling outside the sampling margin of error, which I have now corrected. 

UT: Auto Bailout (GregSmith-12/2-4)

Greg Smith & Associates
12/2-4/08; 400 adults, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


As you may know, Congress is considering giving about 35 billion dollars in emergency loans to help or bail out Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. From what you know, are you for or against this relief or bailout package by the United States government?

    22% For
    74% Against

US: Obama Transition (Marist-12/9-10)

Marist Poll
12/9-10/08; 883 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Do you approve or disapprove of the job President-elect Barack Obama is
doing on the transition?

    63% Approve
    10% Disapprove

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

    65% Approve
    27% Disapprove

NY: Sen Replacement (Siena-12/8-11)

Siena Research Institute
12/8-11/08; 622 registered voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New York

"When asked who Governor Paterson should pick to replace Clinton, 26 percent of voters - 30 percent of Democrats - said Cuomo, while 23 percent - 28 percent of Democrats - said Kennedy. Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand received seven percent support, Congressman Brian Higgins, six percent, and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, five percent."

"While Cuomo has a slim lead over Kennedy for who the Governor should pick, 31 percent of voters think he will pick Kennedy, while only 16 percent think he will choose Cuomo,"

If David Paterson runs for Governor in 2010, would you vote to elect him or would you prefer someone else?

    36% Elect
    31% Prefer Someone Else

US: Pres, Cong Approval (USATGallup-12/12-14)

USA TODAY / Gallup
12/12-14/08; 1,008 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews


Job Approval / Disapproval
Bush: 29% / 67%
Reps in Congress: 25% / 69%
Dems in Congress: 37% / 55%

US: Economy (ABCPost-12/11-14)

ABC News / Washington Post
12/11-14/08; 1,003 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)


Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government's overall response to
the economic situation?

    23% Approve
    72% Disapprove

How much do you think Obama will be able to do to improve the economy - a
great deal, a good amount, only some or not much at all?

    46% Great Deal/Good Amount
    52% Some/Not Much

Overall, which party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to
do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next
few years?

    56% Democrats
    23% Republicans

CT: Gov, Sens Ratings (Quinnipiac-12/11-15)

Quinnipiac University
12/11-15/08; 1,445 registered voters, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D) (I)*:
38% Approve, 54% Disapprove

Sen. Chris Dodd (D):
47% Approve, 41% Disapprove

Gov. Jodi Rell (R):
68% Approve, 20% Disapprove

How likely are you to vote to re-elect Chris Dodd for United States Senator in 2010? Do you think you will definitely vote for him, probably vote for him, probably not vote for him, or definitely not vote for him?

    44% Definitely/Probably
    47% Definitely/Probably Not

How likely are you to vote to re-elect Jodi Rell for Governor in 2010? Do you think you will definitely vote for her, probably vote for her, probably not vote for her, or definitely not vote for her?

    54% Definitely/Probably
    31% Probably/Definitely Not

Would you support or oppose amending the Connecticut State Constitution to ban same-sex marriage?

    33% Support
    61% Oppose

* apologies

The Auto Bailout and Partisanship

As Mark wrote on Friday, there is a lot of variation in question wording and in support for a loan/rescue/bailout of the automobile industry. See his discussion for much of interest. Here I just want to add a couple of points.

First, opposition is consistently higher than support, as the trend estimates above show. For all the variation in wording and results, the basic conclusion is pretty strong: the public has not been convinced to support aid to the auto industry.  That makes Republican opposition in the Senate an easy political decision. President Bush's support for the limited aid proposal cuts no mustard with the public nor with his party in the Senate which is hardly surprising given his approval rating.

Second, the partisan division over an aid package favors the Republicans at this point, despite President-elect Obama's guarded support for the aid proposal.

While Democrats show a modest balance of support for the bailout, Independents side with Republicans in their opposition. Here I average over Marist, CBS and ABC polls taken in the last 10 days or so, the polls for which I could find partisan breakdowns. 

The fundamental point is that the public relies on political leadership on complex issues such as this. Few of us have the economics background to form an independent opinion on what should be done. So we look to the President or to the President-Elect or to Congressional leaders or other sources when these fail.  Given the weakness of President Bush, and the modest engagement of President-Elect Obama, leadership has fallen to members of Congress. There the Republican and Democratic split has reinforced public opinion divisions. But the key is that Independents are more inclined to follow Republicans, at least in the absence of a more forceful (or persuasive) Democratic message.

While it looks like the Bush administration may yet offer a "bridge loan" to the industry, this is a policy area that will confront the Obama administration early. At the moment, the pro-bailout position is a minority view. Either the new president will have to persuade those Independents to change their minds, or he will find he faces an early challenge to his ability to govern from a majority position. Little will erode his strong current public support faster than pushing for policies that face majority opposition. In this case, his tepid support for the auto-industry now may have missed the opportunity to convert Independents before their opposition has hardened. Or perhaps GM and Chrysler will file for Chapter 11 and spare him the task.

US: Iraq, Afghanistan (ABCPost-12/11-14)

ABC News / Washington Post
12/11-14/08; 1,003 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC story, results, Post results)


On another topic, all in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

    34% Worth fighting
    64% Not worth fighting

Do you think the United States is or is not making significant progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq?

    56% Is making significant progress
    40% Is not making significant progress

Thinking now about Afghanistan, all in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, or not?

    55% Worth fighting
    39% Not worth fighting

Do you think (the United States must win the war in Afghanistan in order for the broader war on terrorism to be a success), or do you think (the war on terrorism can be a success without the United States winning the war in Afghanistan)?

    51% US must win war in Afghanistan for success
    40% Can be a success without US winning war in Afghanistan

US: Obama, Blago (USATGallup-12/12-14)

USA Today / Gallup
12/12-14/08; 1,008 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Gallup analysis)


On a different topic, as you may know, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with conspiracy in trying to profit from naming Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. senate.

(Asked of a half sample) Just your best guess, do you think any member of Barack Obama's staff has done anything illegal in connection with this matter, or not?

    26% Yes, illegal
    60% No, not

(Asked of a half sample) Just your best guess, do you think any member of Barack Obama's staff has done anything unethical in connection with this matter, or not?

    29% Yes, unethical
    60% No, not

Fiddlesticks "Outliers"

Topics: Outliers Feature


Dilbert (above) does cell phones and surveys.

Mike McDonald posts his final 2008 turnout rates based on official or certified votes for president (131.2 million adults or 61.6% of eligible adults - via AP, The Page ).

Gary Langer sees Iraq as the "prime agent" in the Bush's historic unpopularity.

Mark Mellman ponders what happened in Indiana

David HIll urges Republicans in Texas, and elsewhere, to say "howdy" to non-Republicans.

John Harwood talks to campaign pollsters and ponders Obama's rising approval amidst bad news.

Chris Bowers offers six reasons why Obama's popularity is "remarkable."

PPP's Tom Jensen has developed remarkable powers.

Carl Bialik digs into the meaning the "probability of precipitation."

and (overlooked a few weeks back), Gary Andres find support for means testing Medicare (in a survey sponsored by the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform)

CA Pollsters on Prop 8

Topics: California , Divergent Polls , Proposition 8

Last week, I attended the two-day annual conference of PAPOR -- the Pacific chapter of AAPOR, the American Association for Public Opinion Research. One panel included representatives of three California pollsters, the Field Poll, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and the LA Times Poll. Posted below are brief interviews I conducted via FlipVideo with Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field poll, and Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the PPIC.

The panelists (including PPIC's Jennifer Paluch and the LA Times' Jill Darling) generally agreed that support for the "yes" vote was trending upward in the final week of the campaign and that the final shift in the yes direction could be explained by the conflicting views of roughly one-in-five of those supporting the "no" side as of mid-October. The final PPIC survey (fielded 10/12-19), for example showed the "no" vote leading, 52% to 44%, while also showing California likely voters divided evenly (47% favor, 49% oppose) on "allowing gay and lesbian couples to be legally married." As such, 19% of those who said they were voting no also said they were opposed to same-sex marriage. In PPIC's post-election survey, only 8 percent were opposed to same-sex marriage (see also Mark Baldassare's recent op-ed, "Why the Same Sex Marriage Ban Passed).

In the interview, Field's DiCamillo repeated an argument he made in a guest contribution on our site shortly after the election, suggesting a "Sunday before Election" church effect:

The Field Poll, completed one week before the election, had Catholics voting at about their registered voter population size (24% of the electorate) with voting preferences similar to those of the overall electorate, with 44% on the Yes side. However the network exit poll shows that they accounted for 30% of the CA electorate and had 64% of them voting Yes. Regular churchgoers showed a similar movement toward the Yes side. The pre-election Field Poll showed 72% of these voters voting Yes, while the exit poll showed that 84% of them voted Yes.

I asked both Baldassare and DiCamillo about the long term increase in support for gay marriage and how that might impact future campaigns to overturn Prop 8. Both were cautious about expecting too much from "generational" change, particularly over the next 3 to 4 years.

(See also the Pollster.com Prop 8 polling chart).

US: Obama, Blago (Rasmussen-12/11-12)

Rasmussen Reports
12/11-12/08; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of sampling error
Mode: IVR


How likely is it that President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the Blagojevich scandal?

    23% Very likely
    22% Somewhat likely
    35% Not very likely
    11% Not at all likely

Who is more typically more corrupt...politicians or CEO's of Major companies?

    48% Politicians
    25% CEO's of major companies

TX: 2010 Gov (VC-12/7-9)

Voter/Consumer Research (R) /
Sen. Kay Bailey Hitchison (R)
12/7-9/08; 466 likely primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Texas Gubernatorial Republican Primary
Hutchison 55%, Perry (R-i) 31%

US: Obama, Blago Scandal (ABCPost-12/11-14)

US: Obama, Blago Scandal (ABCPost-12/11-14)

ABC News / Washington Post
12/11-14/08; 1,003 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC story; Post story, results)


As you may know, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges that he sought bribes in exchange for official actions, including appointing someone to take over Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate. Obama has not been implicated in this case. Do you think Obama has or has not done enough to explain any discussions his representatives may have had with Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

    51% Has done enough
    34% Has not done enough

"Majorities across the partisan spectrum approve of Obama's handling of the transition - a near-unanimous 91 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and even 59 percent of Republicans. That's about the same among Democrats since late November, up 10 points among independents - and up a remarkable 20 points among Republicans."

NC: President, Issues (PPP-12/8-9)

Topics: PHome

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

North Carolina

Who do you think will make a better President: George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

    56% Obama
    36% Bush

I am going to name 7 issues. Which of these is most important to you?

    60% Economy and Jobs
    11% Moral and family values
    9% War in Iraq
    8% Education
    4% Taxes
    4% Health care
    3% Immigration