June 28, 2009 - July 4, 2009


OH: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 6/26 - 7/1)

6/26 - 7/1/09; 1,259 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Ted Strickland (D): 42 / 37 (chart)
Mike DeWine (R): 39 / 22
John Kasich (R): 26 / 7
Kevin Coughlin (R): 5 / 3

Job Approval/Disapproval
Gov. Strickland: 46 / 42 (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Kasich 35%, Dewine 32%, Coughlin 3% (trends)

2010 Governor: General Election
Strickland 43%, Kasich 38% (chart)
Strickland 41%, DeWine 40% (trends)

SC: Sanford Affair (SurveyUSA 7/1)

7/1/09; 500 adults, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: IVR


South Carolina

Based on what you know, should Governor Mark Sanford remain in office? Or resign?

28% Remain in office, 69% Resign

Happy 4th of July "Outliers"

Topics: Outliers Feature

The Kaiser Family Foundation rounds up polling on how to foot the bill for health care reform.

Scott Keeter and his Pew Research Center colleagues review the perils of polling in election 2008.

Stu Rothenberg reviews the perils of reporting on polls.

Carl Bialik considers the limitations of Benford's Law in hunting vote fraud (more on his blog).

Andrew Gelman shares his final thoughts on the Iran vote analyses.

Alex Bratty sees signs of Obama buyer's remorse among independents.

Gary Andres says perceptions of risks will matter more than perceived benefits in health care reform.

Ruy Teixeira argues that Republicans are out of touch on health care.

Mark Mellman says Republicans will pay for opposing clean energy.

David Hill likes contested primaries.

Ben Tulchin sees Gavin Newsome gaining after Antonio Villaraigosa drops out of the CA governor's race.

Greg Sargent notes Republican division on Sotomayor.

Tom Jensen thinks automated surveys are picking up more Sotomayor opposition.

Chris Weigant updates his Obama Poll Watch charts.

John Sides faults Charles Blow for succumbing to an ecological fallacy.

Haaretz reports a new poll showing Hamas popularity falling among Palestinians (via Crowley).

Research Rants reminds web researchers to test their surveys.

Gary Locke taps three Census Bureau veterans to serve as part time advisors.

Survey Practice releases its June issue -- so you can spend the long weekend catching up on the optimal number of scale points for attitudinal questions.

And an Andy Borowitz parody comes disturbingly close to the truth.

NH: 2010 Senate (UNH 6/24-7/1)

University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll
6/24-7/1/09; 558 adults, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(source: Sen, Gov, Pres)

New Hampshire

Job Approval
Gov. John Lynch: 63 / 27
Pres. Obama: 61 / 33

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D): 50 / 36
Sen. Judd Gregg (R): 53 / 24
Paul Hodes (D): 32 / 23
John Sununu (R): 43 / 38
Charlie Bass (R): 33 / 23
Kelly Ayotte (R): 45 / 8
Frank Tausch (R): 5 / 4
Lynch: 62 / 24
Obama: 62 / 30

2010 Senate
Ayotte 39%, Hodes 35%
Hodes 43%, Sununu 41%
Hodes 40%, Bass 38%
Hodes 45%, Tausch 25%

US: National Survey (Quinnipiac 6/23-29)

6/23-29/09; 3,063 registered voters, 1.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



2010 House Generic Ballot
Democrat 42%, Republican 34% (chart)

Obama Job Approval
57% Approve, 33% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 90 / 5 (chart)
inds: 52 / 37 (chart)
Reps: 21 / 66 (chart)

Economy: 52% Approve, 42% Disapprove (chart)
Foreign Policy: 55% Approve, 35% Disapprove (chart)

State of the Country
39% Satisfied, 60% Dissatisfied (chart)
Economy: 8% Excellent/Good, 91% Not So Good/Poor (chart)
Economy: 27% Getting Better, 29% Getting Worse (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Obama: 58 / 30 (chart)
Democratic Party: 42 / 42
Republican Party: 25 / 52

US: Iraq Security (Gallup 6/30)

6/30/09; 1,011 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



What do you think will happen to the security situation in Iraq now that responsibility for providing security in Iraq's major cities and towns has been transferred form U.S forces to Iraqi security forces?

21% Get better, 58% Get worse

Rating "Obama's Health Plan"

Topics: Barack Obama , CNN/ORC , Health Care Reform , Measurement

Today brings two new national poll releases featuring in-depth questions on health care reform from CNN/ORC and Quinnipiac University. As always with the subject, the new releases provide many new wrinkles to consider, but for the moment I want to focus on just one.

The CNN/ORC poll begins with a very general measure: "From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama's plan to reform health care?" They find a "slim majority" (51%) in favor, 45% opposed and 4% unsure.

Let's start with what is hopefully obvious: Democrats in Congress are drafting multiple proposals, and the Obama administration has not specifically endorsed any of these. So a well informed respondent ought to have trouble evaluating "Obama's plan," since Obama has not yet committed to a specific plan. Even more important, very few Americans are following that debate with rapt attention. Last month's CBS/New York Times poll, for example, found only 22% of Americans saying they have heard or read "a lot" about the health care reform proposals (50% said they heard or read "some," 23% not much, 5% nothing).

Notice that when the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked a general question about "Obama's health care plan" last month, they offered "no opinion" as an option: "From what you have heard about Barack Obama's health care plan, do you think his plan is a good idea or a bad idea? If you do not have an opinion either way, please just say so."With that option, slightly more than a third (35%) either had no opinion or were unsure. Those with an opinion divided evenly; 33% said it was a good idea, 32% a bad idea.

When pollsters push as hard as CNN/ORC for an answer, a lot of the responses are going to be very soft, often formed on the spot and based on very superficial impressions. Nonetheless, if I were charged with conducting a benchmark survey for a candidate over the next few months, and I had room for only one question about health care reform, I would be tempted to ask a very general question about "President Obama's plan to reform health care" (though I'd strongly lean to the NBC/WSJ version that explicitly prompts for "no opinion").   

Yes, public opinion on health care reform is multi-faceted. Americans come to the debate with a rich set of values and attitudes about what they like and dislike about the health care system, what they would change and what they worry about changing. Most have not yet focused on the details of the legislative debate. Many never will. So questions about specific policy proposals can produce results all over the map. As Slate's Chris Beam puts in an excellent summary this week, "health care polling is especially variable, depending on the wording, the context, and the momentary angle of the sun."

But once a specific health care reform proposal comes up for a vote, members of Congress are going to be intensely interested in the bottom line perceived by their constituents: Do they generally favor or oppose the thing they are about to vote on? Right now, many Americans do not hold strong opinions about whatever they think "Barack Obama's health care plan" is or will be, but those attitudes are likely to deepen and change in the coming months.

In that regard, the comparison provided by CNN Polling Director Keating Holland is helpful:

"In September of 1993, when Bill Clinton was just starting to roll out his ill-fated health care plan, 54 percent said they supported Clinton's ideas on that issue. Today, 51 percent feel the same way about Obama's proposals," Holland said. "That indicates that Obama may have his work cut out for him in the coming months."

CNN also sent out a release this afternoon that includes the complete time series of this question from the 1993-1994 period.  I used it to create the following chart:


Support and opposition is roughly comparable what the CNN/USA Today/Gallup polling partnership found in early 1993, although note that their first two surveys in September 1993 came just before and just after President Clinton delivered a live, prime-time address outlining the specifics of his proposal to a joint session of Congress. Note also that the average "unsure" percentage on the 1993 surveys was 9%, slightly more than double the 4% on the survey released today. CNN's surveys are now fielded by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) rather than Gallup, and ORC's interviewers may be pushing slightly harder for answers than Gallup's interviewers were 16 years ago.

Caveats aside, this is a measure worth watching, but be careful to keep it in context: Nearly a third of Americans, when offered the option, say they have no opinion (yet) of Barack Obama's "plans to reform health care."

Update: Nate Silver has more.

US: Sotomayor (Rasmussen 6/29-30)

6/29-30/09; 1,000 likely Voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR



The United States Senate has the constitutional authority to confirm all Supreme Court nominees. Based upon what you know at this time, should the United States confirm Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice?
37% Yes, 39% No

NJ: Christie 45, Corzine 39 (FDickinson 6/22-29)

Fairleigh Dickinson/Public Mind
6/22-29/09; 803 Registered Voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews


New Jersey

Job Approval
Obama: 61% Approve, 29% Disapprove
Gov. Corzine: 36 / 49

Corzine: 31 / 54
Christie: 34 / 25

2009 Governor
Christie 45%, Corzine 39%

Colbert's Noncensus

Topics: Census , Colbert Report , Robert Groves

Too good to hold for the next "outliers" feature: Monday night's Colbert Report had a segment on the U.S. Census that even includes a reference on on-hold Census director nominee Robert Groves (via @AAPOR).

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Noncensus
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

US: Climate Change Bill (Rasmussen 6/28-29)

6/28-29/09; 1,000 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR



From what you know about the climate change bill that passed the House, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose it?

37% Favor, 41% Oppose

Will the climate change bill that passed the House of Representatives help the economy, hurt the economy, or have no impact on the economy?

19% Help, 42% Hurt

US: Health Care (CNN 6/26-28)

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation
6/26-28/09; 1,026 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama's plan to reform health care?

51% Favor, 45% Oppose

From what you know of the health care reforms which the Administration is working on, do you think the amount you pay for medical care would increase, decrease, or remain the same?

54% Increase, 27% Decrease

US: Health Care (Quinnipiac 6/23-29)

6/23-29/09; 3,063 registered voters, 1.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Would you be willing or unwilling to pay more in taxes for a health care overhaul plan that reduces health care costs and covers those who don't have health insurance?

49% Willing, 45% Unwilling

Would you support or oppose a new tax on employees for the health care benefits that they receive from their employers?

30% Support, 63% Oppose

Do you support or oppose requiring people to have health insurance?

44% Support, 51% Oppose

Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans?

69% Support, 26% Oppose

Obama Job Approval - New "All Adults" Chart

Topics: Charts , House Effects , job approval , Obama

Another piece of housekeeping and one of Eric Dienstfrey's final contributions to Pollster.com. We have produced a new chart that includes only polls that report the Obama job rating among all adults. The original Obama job rating chart that includes all surveys remains in place; this new chart adds a new way of tracking the trends.

We have discussed some of the challenges posed to our charts on measures like the Obama job performance rating by pollsters whose results show big "house effects" (consistent differences when compared to other pollsters). Our philosophy has always been to try to include all polls that claim to produce representative samples -- even those based on more controversial methods such as automated polls or those that survey respondents over the internet using pre-recruited panels -- to make it possible to use our interactive chart features to compare and contrast different surveys.

The problem is that if big house effects occur, the trend lines can sometimes display phantom trends when polls with consistently different results are more frequent. This issue crops up most often in the "nose" of the trend line, which moves around more than the rest of the line as we add new polls to our database. The Rasmussen Reports surveys appear to be a big problem in this respect, mostly because they are far more numerous. However, if you use your mouse to click on Obama job ratings that tend to be higher or lower than other polls, you will also see pollsters with similar house effects that poll less often.

Chart With All Surveys:

We offer the new all-adult-sample-only charts as one means of reducing the potential for "phantom" trends, though we have other potential improvements in the works. Please let us know what you think.

PS:  A week or so ago we also broke out party identification in two: one is based on results among all adults, one among surveys of registered or likely voters.

NY: 2010 Gov, Sen (Marist 6/23-25)

6/23-25/09; 1,003 Registered voters, 3% margin of error
441 registered Democrats, 5% margin of error
281 registered Republicans, 6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews

(source: Paterson approval, 2010 Gov, Gillibrand, 2010 Sen, Schumer, Obama)

New York

Job Approval
Gov. Paterson: 21% Excellent/Good, 76% Fair/Poor (chart)
Sen. Gillibrand: 24 / 43 (chart)
Sen. Schumer: 54 / 42 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 63 / 36 (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
69% Cuomo, 24% Paterson (trend)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
77% Giuliani, 16% Lazio (trend)

2010 Governor: General Election
54% Giuliani, 37% Paterson (chart)
41% Paterson, 40% Lazio (trend)
68% Cuomo, 22% Lazio (trend)
51% Cuomo, 43% Giuliani (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Gillibrand 37%, Maloney 28% (trends)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Pataki 51%, King 36% (trends)

2010 Senate: General Election
Gillibrand 46%, Pataki 42% (chart)
Gillibrand 48%, Peter King 32% (chart)

US: Sanford Affair (CNN 6/26-28)

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation
6/26-28/09; 507 adults, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



As you may know, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford recently admitted that he had committed adultery and reimbursed the state for the cost of a government-funded trip during which he saw the woman with whom he was having an affair. Do you think Sanford should resign his position as Governor, or do you think he should continue to serve as Governor?

54% Resign, 44% Continue to serve

NH: 2010 Senate (ARG 6/27-29)

American Research Group
6/27-29/09; 600 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews


New Hampshire

Job Approval/Disapproval
Gov. Lynch: 35 / 31 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 51 / 41 (chart)

2010 Senate (trends)
Paul Hodes (D) 40%, John Sununu (R) 34%

MA: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 6/24)

6/24/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR



Job Approval/Disapproval
Obama: 63 / 36
Gov. Patrick: 42 / 57

Patrick: 48 / 51
Christy Mihos (R): 46 / 35
Charlie Baker (R): 37 / 27

2010 Governor
Mihos 41%, Patrick 40%
Patrick 41%, Baker 36%

Welcome Emily - Farewell Eric

Topics: Pollster.com

Regular readers have probably noticed a new name appearing on the "poll update" entries on Pollster.com. Emily Swanson, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has joined the Pollster.com team and will be posting and updating our charts and tables regularly from here on out. Welcome Emily!

Unfortunately, Emily's appearance means that we are saying farewell to Eric Dienstfrey after nearly three years of relentless hard work and dedicated service. As announced a few months ago, Eric has been accepted to the Graduate Program in Film Studies at, coincidentally, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Communication Arts. So he is moving on to bigger and better things.

Sadly, today is officially Eric's last day at Pollster.com. I exaggerate not one bit when I say that the site as you know it would not exist but for his skill and tenacity. We will miss him, but wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors.

FL: 2010 Gov, Sen (Mason-Dixon 6/24-26/09)

Mason-Dixon/Ron Sachs Communications
6/24-26/09; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
300 likely Democratic primary voters
300 likely Republican primary voters
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(Source: Gov, Sen)


Bill McCollum (R): 29 / 13
Alex Sink (D): 24 / 9
Charlie Crist (R): 49 / 21 (chart)
Marco Rubio (R): 18 / 11
Kendrick Meek (D): 11 / 5

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Sink 49%, Michael Arth 4% (trends)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
McCollum 53%, Paula Dockery 4% (trends)

2010 Governor: General Election
McCollum 41%, Sink 35% (chart)
Sink 43%, Dockery 18% (trend)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Meek 27%, Brown 12% (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Crist 51%, Rubio 23% (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
Crist 48%, Meek 26% (chart)
Crist 55%, Brown 24% (trend)

NJ: Christie 51, Corzine 41 (PPP 6/27-29)

Public Policy Polling (D)
6/27-29/09; 1,094 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR


New Jersey

Chris Christie: 43 / 33
Jon Corzine: 36 / 56 (chart)

2010 Governor
Christie 51%, Corzine 41% (chart)

US: National Survey (CNN 6/26-28)

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation
6/26-28/09; 1,026 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews



Obama Job Approval
61% Approve, 37% Disapprove (chart)

In a case currently before the Supreme Court, a city decided to use a test to determine which firefighters should receive promotions. No black firefighters scored high enough on the test to earn a promotion, so the city decided not to offer promotions to the white firefighters who got the highest scores on the test. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view:

65% Those white firefighters were victims of discrimination and should get the promotions based on the test results
31% Because no black firefighters got high scores,the city should use a new test to make sure that blacks were not victims of discrimination

Medicare's Customer Satisfaction

Topics: CAHPS , Health Care Reform , Medicare , NCQA

So what has higher customer satisfaction. private health insurance plans or the Medicare program? The answer, revealed in my NationalJournal.com column for the week, may surprise you.

Some additional details that were a bit too wonky for the column: I cite results from surveys conducted using a standard questionnaire developed by a the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems program, known better by its acronym, CAHPS (pronounced "caps"). The program is an initiative of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the Department of Health and Human Services to create a standardized survey for patient satisfaction that could be used by health insurance plans and hospitals (and, full disclosure, my wife used to work at AHRQ, though she was not directly involved with the CAHPS program).

Why would the government care about creating a standardized "customer satisfaction" questionnaire for health care? In the late 1990s, Congress allowed states to enroll Medicaid recipients into managed care plans run by private insurance companies, but the states had to offer multiple plans. One of the reasons for the CAHPS initiative was to create a standard for providing uniform quality information to Medicaid recipients.

The non-profit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) also played a significant role in the CAHPS' creation. NCQA uses CAHPS data to evaluate and accredit private health plans, so those companies that wish to receive NCQA's seal of approval or rank high in the U.S. News & World Report annual feature on "America's Best Health Insurance Plans" have an incentive to participate. As a result, roughly 90 percent of private insurers conduct CAHPS surveys and provide the data to NCQA.

Survey reachers of all stripes can learn from the extensive research and development that went into the creation of CAHPS program. One of its goals was to create a survey questionnaire based on the "best science...the state-of-the-art in survey and report design," and there are few precedents for what they achieved. In its first phase, the CAHPS program spent over $5 million on cognitive pre-testing and other pilot studies of a questionnaire developed jointly by RTI, RAND, Harvard Medical School & Westat. The lessons they learned should be of interest to anyone conducting a customer satisfaction survey.

Most of the CAHPS data I cited in the column come from a Health Plan Survey Chartbook published by AHRQ that includes compilations of data culled from over hundreds of individual surveys and literally hundreds of thousands of interviews conducted with patients in private insurance plans and managed care plans that enroll Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The comparison data for those in traditional, fee-for-service Medicare comes from a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Note that although the AHRQ chart book includes more recent data, I cited data from 2007 that would be comparable to the survey data on fee-for-service Medicare recipients that I received from CMS.

US: Sotomayor (ABC/Post 6/18-21)

ABC News / Washington Post
6/18-21/09; 1,001 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(ABC story, results, Post results)


Do you think the U.S. Senate should or should not confirm Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court?
62% Should 25% Should not