September 27, 2009 - October 3, 2009


A Chart Worth 1000 Words

Topics: Barack Obama , Economy , Geoff Garin , Unemployment

Andrew Sullivan calls this the chart of the day. I'll second that:


It was posted a few days ago by David Leonhardt of the New York Times and is comes from a survey of registered voters conducted by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin for the Economic Policy Institute and it captures in a single image the profound challenge now facing Barack Obama and the Democrats.

Voters appear to be aware that the federal government is spending at unprecedented levels, but they believe the benefits are accruing mostly to large banks, Wall Street and manufacturing firms (which I'd wager really means General Motors), but not to average people. Not to "me."

Meanwhile, the Garin study shows that 85% believe the country is still in recession, nearly all see unemployment as a very big (59%) or somewhat big (24%) problem, and 58% say that someone they know, someone in their household or family or a close friend, has been laid off or has lost their job.

The survey also includes tests of Democratic-friendly messages on the stimulus and the economy, and those interested in Garin's strategic advice will want to review his presentation. But Democrats should be sobered by these results. Given yesterday's news of unemployment hitting 9.8% (with 17% unemployed, underemployed or no longer looking) expect the next twitch of the Obama job approval trend line to be down.

Related: Gary Langer has more on "what an ugly time it is for the American workforce," including the reminder that the ABC/Post poll found 47% of Americans reporting that a job loss or pay cut in their household in the last year. His conclusion:

[E]conomists suggest the downturn's bottomed out and the recession may be over. By the classic metrics, OK. it can take months, even years, for rising GDP to make itself felt at the kitchen table. For many Americans, as today's data show, economic realities remain dire - with potential political, policy and public health impacts yet to unfold.

Regional differences in the GOP image

Josh Tucker (a political scientist at NYU) emails to ask if there are significant regional differences in the data on the state of the GOP brand that I blogged about yesterday.

Tucker, like many other bloggers, was struck by a chart created by Steve Benen highlighting differences a September Daily Kos poll found in views of the Republican Party by region: R2K_GOP

As a point of comparison, I checked both the May 1993 Pew poll featured yesterday and a CBS/New York Times poll from late 1994 and there weren't huge regional differences in Republican favorability between the South and the rest of the country. The same applied in a 2006 CBS/NYT poll.

The Pew poll I blogged about yesterday (the Religion & Public Life Survey) isn't available online, but I checked several recent survey questions about the GOP image for which raw data is available in the Roper Center database. The 2009 survey that most closely replicates the Kos question about views of "Republicans in Congress" (a CBS poll) shows a smaller difference between the South and other regions, though it was conducted in March: Cbs09

In addition, two other surveys asking closely related questions about approval of Republicans in Congress and views of the Republican Party show no obvious divergence between the South and the rest of the country: Usat09

One objection is that the CBS and USA Today/Gallup polls took place before the anti-Obama backlash had gotten underway. However, the CNN poll above was conducted July 31-August 3 and shows relatively similar views of the Republican Party by region.

There are important cultural and political differences between the South and the rest of the country, but those differences may be less dramatic than the Kos question suggests. It would be useful if other polls could break out their results by region to see if the Kos finding holds more generally.

(Cross-posted on brendan-nyhan.com)

NJ: Christie 46 Corzine 42 (Kos 9/28-30)

Daily Kos (D) / Research 2000
9/28-30/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine (D): 37 / 53 (chart)
Chris Christie (R): 47 / 36
Chris Daggett (i): 26 / 12
Barack Obama: 60 / 34 (chart)

2009 Governor
Christie 46%, Corzine 42%, Daggett 7% (chart)

States: Approval Ratings (SurveyUSA 9/27-28)

9/27-28/09 (CA: 9/27-29); 600 adults/state, 4% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(links to all results are available here)

Job Approval / Disapproval

Pres. Obama: 37 / 61
Sen. Shelby: 58 / 35
Sen. Sessions: 62 / 32
Gov. Riley: 63 / 32

Pres. Obama: 62 / 32 (chart)
Sen. Feinstein: 46 / 44 (chart)
Sen. Boxer: 41 / 48 (chart)
Gov. Schwarzenegger: 24 / 74 (chart)

Pres. Obama: 46 / 48
Sen. Grassley: 50 / 40
Sen. Harkin: 44 / 46
Gov. Culver: 41 / 49

Pres. Obama: 39 / 57
Sen. Brownback: 48 / 42
Sen. Roberts: 54 / 37
Gov. Parkinson: 53 / 33

Pres. Obama: 39 / 57
Sen. McConnell: 49 / 46
Sen. Bunning: 35 / 52
Gov. Beshear: 49 / 43

Pres. Obama: 55 / 40 (chart)
Sen. Klobuchar: 64 / 31 (chart)
Sen. Franken: 49 / 44 (chart)
Gov. Pawlenty: 45 / 52 (chart)

Pres. Obama: 44 / 54 (chart)
Sen. Bond: 45 / 45 (chart)
Sen. McCaskill: 50 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Nixon: 51 / 38 (chart)

New Mexico
Pres. Obama: 50 / 45
Sen. Bingaman: 58 / 33
Sen. Udall: 54 / 36
Gov. Richardson: 48 / 47

New York
Pres. Obama: 63 / 33 (chart)
Sen. Schumer: 65 / 26 (chart)
Sen. Gillibrand: 41 / 42 (chart)
Gov. Paterson: 27 / 69 (chart)

Pres. Obama: 59 / 37
Sen. Wyden: 55 / 32
Sen. Merkley: 42 / 43
Gov. Kulongoski: 41 / 51

Pres. Obama: 49 / 48 (chart)
Sen. Webb: 48 / 39 (chart)
Sen. Warner: 61 / 30 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 44 / 46 (chart)

Washington State
Pres. Obama: 53 / 42
Sen. Murray: 48 / 41
Sen. Cantwell: 46 / 43
Gov. Gregoire: 40 / 56

Pres. Obama: 47 / 47 (chart)
Sen. Kohl: 53 / 37 (chart)
Sen. Feingold: 49 / 43 (chart)
gov. Doyle: 36 / 59 (chart)

US: National Survey (Economist 9/27-29)

Economist / YouGov
9/27-29/09; 1,000 adults, 4.7% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 82 / 11 (chart)
Reps: 13 / 83 (chart)
Inds: 45 / 52 (chart)
Economy: 43 / 49 (chart)
Health care: 43 / 51 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
17% Approve, 61% Disapprove (chart)

2010 House: Generic Ballot
48% Democrat, 41% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
39% Right Direction, 49% Wrong Track (chart)

Overall, given what you know about them, do you support or oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the Obama Administration?
49% Support, 51% Oppose

Overall, if President Obama and Congress pass health care reform, do you think you personally would be better or worse off?
23% Better off, 43% Worse off, 23% About the same

US: National Survey (Kos 9/28-10-1)

Daily Kos (D) / Research 2000
9/28-10/1/09; 2400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 53 / 39 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 35 / 57
Harry Reid: 32 / 58
Mitch McConnell: 19 / 63
John Boehner: 13 / 61
The Democratic Party: 41 / 49
The Republican Party: 23 / 66

State of the Country
42% Right direction, 53% Wrong track (chart)

US: National Survey (Fox 9/29-30)

Fox News / Opinion Dynamics
9/29-30/09; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
369 Democrats, 5% margin of error
333 Republicans, 5% margin of error
150 independents, 8% margin of error
(Fox release)


Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 42% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 84 / 11 (chart)
Reps: 16 / 78 (chart)
Inds: 46 / 41 (chart)

Do you support or oppose the U.S. military action in Afghanistan?
64% Support, 27% Oppose

What do you think is the right thing to do in Afghanistan -- send more U.S.troops and do what it takes to win, or bring home the U.S. troops as soon aspossible?
43% Send more, 43% Bring home

Party ID
41% Democrat, 37% Republican, 17% independent (chart)

US: Abortion (Pew 8/11-27)

Pew Research Center
8/11-27/09; 4,013 adults, 2% margin of error
Survey A: 8/11-17/09; 2,010 adults, 2.5% margin of error
Survey B: 8/20-27/09; 2,003 adults, 2.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew release)


Do you think abortion should be...
16% Legal in all cases
31% Legal in most cases
27% Illegal in most cases
17% Illegal in all cases

Survey A: Over the past year or so, have your views on abortion changed, or have they pretty much stayed the same?
5% Changed
93% Stayed the same

Survey A: Which comes closer to your view about the abortion issue-
60% The country needs to find a middle ground on abortion laws
29% There's no room for compromise when it comes to abortion laws

Survey B Do you think the issue of abortion is a critical issue facing the country, one among many important issues, or not that important compared to other issues?
15% A critical issue
33% One among many important issues
48% Not that important compared to other issues

Survey A: Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose...

Making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion:
41% Favor, 50% Oppose

Requiring that women under the age of 18 get the consent of at least one parent before they are allowed to have an abortion:
76% Favor, 19% Oppose

Survey A: Do you believe that having an abortion is morally acceptable, morally wrong, or is it not a moral issue?
10% Morally acceptable
52% Morally wrong
25% Not a moral issue

VA: Approval Ratings (PPP 9/25-28)

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/25-28/09; 576 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 49 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 46 / 38 (chart)
Sen. Warner: 53 / 29 (chart)
Sen. Webb: 47 / 39 (chart)

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
41% Support, 51% Oppose

DE: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 9/30)

9/30/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 54 / 45 (chart)
Gov. Markell: 59 / 37 (chart)

2010 Senate (trends)
Biden 49%, O'Donnell 40%
Castle 47%, Biden 42%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Beau Biden (D): 60 / 32
Christine O'Donnell (R): 46 / 36
Mike Castle (R): 61 / 34

48% Strongly/Somewhat favor, 49% Strongly/Somewhat oppose

So Why Isn't AAPOR More Transparent?

Topics: AAPOR , David Johnson , Disclosure , Stephen Blumberg , Strategic Vision , Transparency

The crux of the reprimand issued last week by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) against Strategic Vision, LLC is that the pollster failed to provide "any information about response rates, weighting, or estimating procedures." But if you look closely at the materials posted online in connection with AAPOR's "Ad Hoc" investigation of the primary polling mishaps of 2008, you will see several other pollsters for whom no response rate or weighting information is available. So why did AAPOR single out Strategic Vision?  And why isn't AAPOR itself more transparent about the identify of the person that filed the complaint or about their communication with Strategic Vision's CEO, David Johnson? Let's take a closer look.

As of this writing, AAPOR has published information disclosed by pollsters in response to the requests of its primary polling investigation in two ways. Their final report, released this past April, summarizes the information that had been disclosed at the time (see especially Tables 4, 5, 7, 9 and 18). In partnership with the Roper Center, AAPOR has also created an online archive that includes responses and data received from pollsters, as well as many of their initial public reports. Some of these responses on the Roper site were received since they wrote the report.

If you take the time to sift through the various documents, you will still find (as of this writing) no responses on weighting procedures from three organizations: Strategic Vision, Clemson University and Ebony/Jet. Response rate information is still missing for those three plus two more, LA Times and Rasmussen Reports. Both response rates and weighting information are among the "minimal disclosure" items that the AAPOR code mandates that all pollsters disclose. So why did AAPOR single out Strategic Vision for public condemnation and not any of the others?

I put that question to AAPOR and received a two-part answer from standards chair Stephen Blumberg. First, the Roper/AAPOR archive does not include all of the latest information:

We recognize that there may be discrepancies between the ad hoc committee report, the information on the Roper Center site, and the information available to the ad hoc committee. Some information that was received after the ad hoc committee report was finalized has not yet been posted. More information will be posted soon to update the Roper Center site.

Second, while some organizations were apparently unable to provide all the the information requested, they apparently convinced AAPOR that they had made a good faith effort to disclose whatever information they had retained or otherwise had available:

Several organizations provided responses indicating that they did not produce, obtain, or retain sufficient information to provide the methodological information listed in the AAPOR Code and requested by the ad hoc Committee. Hence, it was not always possible for each organization to provide equally detailed information.

So why was Strategic Vision singled out for public reprimand?

Strategic Vision LLC, however, was the only polling firm that explicitly refused to provide such information in response to multiple requests. Strategic Vision LLC never indicated that such information was not produced, obtained, or retained.

Blumberg also expanded on why AAPOR is not commenting on the actions of other pollsters or disclosing the identify of the person that filed the initial complaint against Strategic Vision:

Regarding any judgments that may have been made during an AAPOR Standards Investigation of the adequacy of disclosure for any organization, you are aware (as an active AAPOR member and former Council member) that the confidentiality provisions in our Procedures do not permit AAPOR to comment. We cannot reveal whether complaints were filed, evaluation committees were formed, judgments were made, or actions other than public censure were taken.

[And yes, interests disclosed once again: I am an active AAPOR member and served as a member of its Executive Council from 2006 to 2008].   

Blumberg's reference to confidentiality raises an objection voiced frequently by Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson in response to the AAPOR action. "We've asked for a copy of the complaint that was filed against us, and who filed it," Johnson told Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "How can you respond to something when you don't know who filed the complaint." He also told the website Research that he "find[s] it unusual that an organisation that says they are all about transparency won't supply us with details of the complaint. What they were asking for were trade secrets."

AAPOR's refusal to name the person that filed the complaint is, as Blumberg says, consistent with its extensive "Schedule of Procedures for Code Violations" that includes numerous safeguards to "maintain confidentiality of the subject(s), information sources, and methods of investigation." Why the lack of transparency?

A good clue to the answer can be found in Sidney Hollander's chapter of the official AAPOR history that is posted on the organization's website. Ironically, emphasis on anonymity and confidentiality was partly a reaction to the concern about potential lawsuits and legal liability of the sort that David Johnson is now threatening. Hollander writes (p. 76):

In early 1974, some Council members began exploring what legal liability the organization might incur if it were to adopt stronger measures. The legal advice obtained recommended explicit procedures that could be applied uniformly as a means of minimizing the possibility of retaliation by liability suits.

Hollander does not address the issue, but it seems likely that the authors of those procedures wanted to protect against those who might try to use their process to promote frivolous or unfounded complaints. So they set up a procedure to carefully evaluate and investigate reported violations of their code before making any comment.

The chapter also reports that complaints about unidentified complainants are not new. He cites a 1973 complaint against a polling organization that (p 76),

declined to respond to the complaint without knowing the identity of the complainants. Anonymity of the complaint's source was an issue that has been continually debated as the Code developed. Although Council member Cisin said that the concealing complainants' identities make the Standards Committee party to a 'security action,' the Standards Committee took the position that once a claim is accepted, the committee itself becomes the plaintiff in criminal law. (p. 76)

And what about another of David Johnson's complaints: Why would AAPOR expect a non-member to conform to its rules? That issue, Hollander writes, was also the subject of internal debate from the very beginning. He writes that in 1964, an argument in favor of acting on complaints against non-members was that AAPOR members had shown "overwhelming support for action against pseudo-surveys, for instance, and other violations by non-members that threatened to impair interviewer access to respondents" (p. 74). As a professional organization, AAPOR has always been concerned about unethical actions that threaten the image of their profession.

They resolved the debate, Hollander writes, by setting up rules that would hold practitioners "responsible for their work" through disclosure requirements, but not proscribe specific standards or best practices for how survey research should be conducted. And that brings us back to the Strategic vision reprimand.

What is striking about AAPOR's action last week, especially in light of the responses of other organizations, is that other pollsters that fell short of full disclosure were not the subject of public reprimand. For example, the AAPOR Code says researchers should release response rates with their public reports, but as far as I know, only 1 of 21 pollsters disclosed a response rate at the time their surveys were released in 2008.  However, the other organizations either  released response rate information on request or responded in good faith about the information they could and could not "produce, obtain, or retain." AAPOR singled out Strategic Vision because it was, they say, the only organization that flat out refused to answer even cursory questions about its response rates and weighting procedures. It was the only organization, in effect, that refused to take responsibility for its work.

NY-23: Special Election (Siena 9/27-29)

Siena College
9/27-29/09; 622 likely voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Siena release)

New York 23rd Congressional District

2009 House: Special Election
53% 35% Scozzafava, 28% Owens, 16% Hoffman

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dede Scozzafava (R): 33 / 20
Bill Owens (D): 23 / 12
Doug Hoffman (C): 16 / 13

Does an endorsement from ___ make you more or less likely to support a candidate, or have no impact on who you support?
John McHugh: 40% More likely, 7% Less likely
Barack Obama: 32% More likely, 24% Less likely

Assessing the GOP brand

Topics: Approval Ratings , Favorable Ratings , GOP , House of Representatives , midterm , party brand , Republicans

How weak is the Republican brand right now? This issue came up yesterday when a Media Matters criticized The Hill for failing to mention the GOP's poor polling numbers in a story on the 2010 elections. Similarly, I recently suggested that that the damaged Republican brand might limit the number of seats that the party picks up. But is the party really worse off than previous opposition parties at this point in the election cycle?

As a first cut at the question, I pulled all the relevant polling on approval of the party in Congresss and party favorability from the Roper iPoll database for the periods leading up to the four most recent midterms (1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006). In both cases, the results are consistent, but I'll focus on the favorability questions since Pew and CBS asked comparable questions about party favorables in each cycle.*

The overall finding is simple -- the GOP's standing relative to the Democrats on both measures is worse than any opposition party in the sample. For instance, the Pew data show that the Republicans are currently viewed more negatively than any minority party in the previous four midterms in terms of both net favorables and the difference in net favorables between parties:**


The CBS results (not shown) are even more dramatic. In June, when the question was most recently asked, Republican net favorables were -30% and Democratic net favorables were 25%, which swamps the comparable results from the previous cycles.

In short, there's no question that the GOP party brand is in worse shape than any opposition party in recent memory. The question, however, is whether this difference in party valence will (a) persist through next November and (b) translate into fewer GOP House seats at the polls, especially once we account for the generic Congressional ballot, which should (in principle) take much of this difference into account (see Alan Abramowitz's model, for instance). Those questions remain to be addressed.

* Also, the approval question seems to be less closely related to electoral outcomes -- for instance, disapproval of Republicans in Congress was high in September 1994.

** I chose the survey closest to the current point in the electoral cycle, though the exact date varied. Net favorables are defined as the percentage of Americans who have a favorable view of the party minus the percentage who have an unfavorable view.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

NH: 2010 Sen (ARG 9/25-29)

American Research Group
9/25-29/09; 572 registered voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ARG release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate
41% Kelly Ayotte (R), 34% Paul Hodes (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Lynch: 37 / 40
Pres. Obama: 34 / 57

US: Health Care (Kaiser 8/27-9/13)

NPR / Kaiser Family Foundation / Harvard School of Public Health
8/27-9/3/09; 1,278 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kaiser: summary, toplines)



The public splits roughly down the middle on whether health care interest groups should have a role in the process as Congress debates health care legislation. Nearly half (47 percent) say "health care interest groups are too narrowly focused on their own interests and should not be part of the process," while a similar share (45 percent) say these groups "add an important perspective to the debate and should be included in the process." Similarly, about half the public (51 percent) agrees that "health care interest groups will play an important role in carrying out changes to the health care system, so it's important to have them on board with the legislation," while roughly four in ten (39 percent) disagree and say that "Congress should design the best health care legislation it can and not worry if health care interest groups support it or not."

...One finding that is clear is that most people don't feel like they personally have a voice in the debate over health care, nor do they feel that the average person has much of a voice in the debate. Seventy-one percent say that Congress is paying too little attention to what people like them are saying about changes to the health care system, and two-thirds say there is no group in Washington that represents their own views on what's best for the country when it comes to health care, or they don't know if there is such a group.

PA: 2010 Sen (Quinnipiac 9/21-28)

9/21-28/09; 1,100 registered voters, 3% margin of error
479 Democrats, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
Specter 44%, Sestak 25% (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
Toomey 43%, Specter 42% (chart)
Toomey 38%, Sestak 35% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Arlen Specter (D): 42 / 46 (chart)
Pat Toomey (R): 34 / 12
Joe Sestak (D): 21 / 8

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Specter: 44 / 48 (chart)
Sen. Casey: 53 / 29 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 49 / 42 (chart)

Looking ahead to the 2010 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Arlen Specter deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?
37% Yes, deserves; 52% No, does not

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care reform plan?
41% Support, 47% Oppose

NJ: Christie 43 Corzine 40 (Monmouth 9/24-29)

Monmouth University / Gannett
9/24-29/09; 785 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
527 likely voters, 4.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Monmouth release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor (chart)
Registered voters: Corzine 40%, Christie 40%, Daggett 7%
Likely voters: Christie 43%, Corzine 40%, Daggett 8%

Favorable / Unfavorable

Jon Corzine: (chart)
Registered voters: 37 / 45
Likely voters: 40 / 49

Chris Christie:
Registered voters: 39 / 34
Likely voters: 41 / 39

Chris Daggett:
Registered voters: 15 / 9
Likely voters: 17 / 8

Job Approval / Disapproval

Gov. Corzine: (chart)
Registered voters: 37 / 51
Likely voters: 41 / 55

Pres. Obama: (chart)
Registered voters: 54 / 33
Likely voters: 52 / 39

ME: 2012, 2014 Sen (DemCorps 9/23-27)

Democracy Corps (D)
9/23-27/09; 808 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(DemCorps release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 62 / 34
Sen. Collins: 69 / 26
Sen. Snowe: 70 / 23

Favorable / Unfavorable
Obama: 61 / 27
Collins: 57 / 20
Snowe: 61 / 19
The Republican Party: 27 / 49
The Democratic Party: 47 / 32

If the next election for US Senator were held today do you think you would definitely vote to re-elect Susan Collins, probably vote to re-elect Susan Collins, probably vote for someone else, or definitely vote for someone else?
23% Definitely Collins, 32% Probably Collins, 18% Probably someone else, 14% Definitely someone else

If the next election for US Senator were held today do you think you would definitely vote to re-elect Olympia Snowe, probably vote to re-elect Olympia Snowe, probably vote for someone else, or definitely vote for someone else?
28% Definitely Snowe, 32% Probably Snowe, 18% Probably someone else, 12% Definitely someone else

I know it's a long way off, but thinking about the election for U.S. Senate in November 2012, if the election for U.S. Senate were held today, and the candidates were: Republican Olympia Snowe and the Democratic Candidate -- for whom would you vote, Republican
Olympia Snowe or the Democratic Candidate?

56% Snowe, 26% Democrat

One of the questions on the ballot this November will read as follows: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" - If the election were held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question?
41% Yes, 50% No

As you may have heard, President Obama has proposed a plan to reform the health care system. From what you have heard about this plan, do you favor or oppose Obama's health care proposal?
45% Favor, 41% Oppose

VA: McDonnell 51 Deeds 42 (Rasmussen 9/29)

9/29/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 52 / 48 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 59 / 40 (chart)

2009 Governor
McDonnell 51%, Deeds 42% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
McDonnell: 44 / 37
Deeds: 46 / 45

In terms of how you will vote this November, how important is the content of McDonnell's thesis?
51% Very/Somewhat, 40% Not very/Not at all

Does a Mark Warner endorsement of Creigh Deeds make you more likely or less likely to vote for Deeds?
33% More likely, 30% Less likely, 34% No impact

Does former Democratic governor Doug Wilder's decision to remain neutral in the 2009 Virginia governor's race make you more likely or less likely to vote for Creigh Deeds?
6% More likely, 10% Less likely, 80% No impact

US: Health Care (Gallup 9/11-13)

9/11-13/09; 1,030 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


Which comes closer to your view about health insurance - the government should be primarily responsible for making sure all Americans have health insurance, or Americans themselves should be primarily responsible for making sure they and their families have health insurance
37% Government Responsible, 61% Americans Responsible

AR: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 9/28)

9/28/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 62
Gov. Beebe: 69 / 30

2010 Senate
Hendren (R) 44%, Lincoln (D) 41%
Baker (R) 47%, Lincoln (D) 39%
Coleman (R) 43%, Lincoln (D) 41%
Cox (R) 43%, Lincoln (D) 40%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Kim Hendren: 38 / 22
Blanche Lincoln: 45 / 52
Gilbert Baker: 39 / 27
Curtis Coleman: 38 / 25
Tom Cox: 35 / 27

Generally speaking, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats?
30% Strongly/Somewhat Favor, 67% Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

AZ: Approval Ratings (Cronkite 9/24-27)

Cronkite Eight / Arizona State University / KAET TV
9/24-27/09; 724 registered voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(KAET TV release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Brewer: 37 / 37
Pres. Obama: 49 / 44
Obama on the economy: 45 / 48
Obama on health care: 38 / 53

Which of these positions about our current health care system comes closest to your own?
12% I am basically happy with our current system and don't think it needs to be changed.
31% I think we could make some minor changes to the system.
50% I think the health care system needs major changes.
7% I don't have an opinion at this time about what needs to be done.

Do you favor or oppose including a public option in a health care reform bill?
25% Favor, 18% Oppose

PA: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 9/21-28)

9/21-28/09; 1,100 registered voters, 3% margin of error
465 Republicans, 4.5% margin of error
479 Democrats, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary (trends)
Onorato 14%, Hoeffel 12%, Wagner 11%, Doherty 8%, Knox 5%

2010 Governor: Republican Primary (trends)
Corbett 42%, Gerlach 13%

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
Corbett 47%, Onorato 28%
Corbett 44%, Wagner 29%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jim Gerlach: 13 / 6
Dan Onorato: 17 / 11
Jack Wagner: 22 / 6
Tom Knox: 10 / 4
Tom Corbett: 43 / 7
Chris Doherty: 10 / 4
Joe Hoeffel: 13 / 7

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Rendell: 42 / 51 (chart)

NJ: Christie 43 Corzine 39 (Quinnipiac 9/23-28)

9/23-28/09; 1,188 likely voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
43% Christie, 39% Corzine, 12% Daggett (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie (R): 38 / 38
Jon Corzine (D): 34 / 56 (chart)
Chris Daggett (i): 11 / 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Corzine: 36 / 58 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 56 / 39 (chart)

VA: McDonnell 55 Deeds 41 (SurveyUSA 9/26-29)

9/26-29/09; 631 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(SurveyUSA release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 55%, Deeds 41% (chart)

Is It Wednesday Already? Outliers!

Topics: Outliers Feature

David Yeager and Jon Krosnick respond to critics on their study of opt-in Internet panel surveys.

The Kaiser Family Foundation finds increased support for health reform in September; Charles Blow, Ezra Klein, Katie Connolly and Bruce Drake comment.

Margie Connelly notes a decline in support for universal health insurance.

Ande Coller reviews the "dizzying deluge of hard-to-reconcile" health reform polls.

Andy Barr assesses the leveling out of Barack Obama's approval ratings.

Ben Smith shares the AJC's new survey of American Jews.

Jennifer Agiesta examines the sharp issue divide between NoVA and the rest of Virginia.

Carrie Dann reports on Republican Patrick McHenry's efforts to promote the Census.

David Hill sees growing dealignment and desire for a third party.

Mark Mellman urges Democrats to work hard, not worry about 2010.

Alex Bratty says independents have buyer's remorse about Obama.

Alan Abramowitz thinks a repeat of 1994 in 2010 is unlikely.

Steve Singiser sees no decline in Obama's favorable since the campaign.

Ruy Teixeira reviews NBC/WSJ data showing greater support for health reform.

Nate Silver considers the connection between interest in news and response bias.

Tom Jensen finds a way to call Rasmussen an "East Coast, left-wing Democratic smear group."

Taegan Goddard catches a Bill Clinton quote pollsters will want to save.

New Jersey Word Clouds

Topics: Internet Polls , Monmouth University , Online Panel Surveys , Patrick Murray , Word clouds

Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of the growing use of "word cloud" graphics to depict the results of open-ended questions. As such, it's a pleasure to pass along some interesting new examples posted today by Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. The examples below shows the word or phrase that "mainly unaffiliated voters" mention when asked about the candidates for Governor in New Jersey:

Jon Corzine:


Chris Christie:


Do click through for full-size versions as well as the word clouds for independent Chris Daggett and for the image or message that voters say stand out from the campaign ads they have seen.

Another intriguing aspect of this project is that it comes from "an online panel study with mainly unaffiliated voters" that the Murray says Monmouth is conducting "as part of our polling coverage." I emailed him to ask for more details. Here is his response:

We expected that the New Jersey Governor's race would be volatile and so it would be interesting to supplement our standard trend telephone surveys with a panel to track individual level changes over the final six weeks of the campaign. We also wanted to experiment with some ideas that can't be easily done in a telephone poll (i.e. reactions to visual images). That is why we are not releasing marginals (i.e. full percentages). We'll continue to be conducting our standard telephone polls for representative sampling purposes.

Approximately 1/3rd of the panel respondents were recruited from prior Monmouth University telephone poll respondents who indicated an interest in participating in online surveys. The remainder came from a purchased random voter list (of which 60% were "unaffiliated", meaning they are registered with no party - although that does not necessarily mean they are politically independent). Our target was to arrive at a fairly even partisan distribution and we assumed that unaffiliated/independents would be less likely to participate. Self-identified party affiliation among the panel's Wave 1 participants was 29% Democrat, 31% Republican, 41% independent (i.e. a little less D and a little more R than a representative New Jersey voter poll). The panel is also somewhat more male and Caucasian than our representative voter polls.

We found that the demographic skews in the panel have little effect on the relative frequency of the words mentioned for each candidate, which is what the clouds illustrate.

The subject of online panels and their use is source of great controversy, but this experiment is indicative of the way pollsters trained in traditional methods are starting to experiment with online techniques: They are cautious and careful, but also eager to exploit the opportunities created by the online mode.

How Can Name ID Be That High?

Topics: Bob Krause , Chuck Todd , Favorable Ratings , Iowa , Measurement , Rasmussen

Over the weekend, our friend Chuck Todd shared this bit of poll skepticism via Twitter:

Why I'm always skeptical of Rasmussen robo-polls: it's results like this: NO WAY this guy Bob Krause has name I.D. of 63% in Iowa SEN.

I know little about Bob Krause except that he has not held public office since serving in the Iowa state representative in the 1970s and running unsuccessfully for Iowa Treasurer in 1978. As such, handicappers assume he begins his campaign with little true name recognition statewide. So how could Rasmussen show 63% of Iowa likely voters able to rate him?

Well, they start by asking a favorable rating question that offers no neutral category and that lacks an explicit prompt to say that the name is unknown or unfamiliar. Here is the text:

I'm going to read you a short list of people in the News. For each, please let me know if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression.

According to Scott Rasmussen, their script then reads each name, with a prompts that "If 'very favorable, press 1; if somewhat favorable, press 2" and so on. It concludes with, "If you are not sure, press 5."

Next, they ask favorable ratings after asking the vote preference question, Rasmussen's standard practice. Doing so tells respondents two things about Krause they probably didn't know:  He is a Democratic candidate for Senate and the presumed opponent of Republican Senator Charles Grassley in 2010. 

Now combine all of that with the operating theory that survey methodologists use to explain how inattentive respondents answer pollsters' questions: They "satisfice," which is shorthand to say that they work just hard enough to provide a satisfactory answer. So suppose you're responding to the poll, you really not sure who Bob Krause is, but the pollster (a) does tell you that "never heard of him" is an acceptable answer and (b) has already told you that Krause is the Democratic candidate for Senate. Under those circumstances, you might say "somewhat" favorable or unfavorable (reasoning, "well, I've never heard of him, but he's a Democrat, so I'll say I'm just somewhat [favorable or unfavorable]"). That answer is especially likely if you're in a hurry and not in a mood to wait for the automated system to additional answers after those listed in the introduction of the question.

Look at the the Rasmussen results, and you see a pattern consistent with that theory: Only 13% express a "strongly favorable" (5%) or "strongly unfavorable" (8%) opinion of Krause, and I'd wager that most of those were strong partisans reacting mostly to Krause's Democratic affiliation. Most of the rest with an opinion said it was either "somewhat favorable" (28%) or "somewhat unfavorable" (22%). And of course, more than a third (37%) did hang on long enough to choose "not sure."

Now, is it possible that aside from the way respondents answer questions, automated polls attract a different kind of respondent that is better informed about politics? Yes, that's possible, but not nearly proven by this example. Most of what makes this result seem so improbable to Chuck Todd and the other political pros that he talks to can be explained by the combination of question text and order. I share Chuck's skepticism with Rasmussen's favorable ratings, but necessarily of their underlying sample or their vote preference results.

P.S. A related issue: We discovered over the last few days that what we believed to be a weekly update of Barack Obama's favorable rating on RasmussenReports.com had been changed at some point to a weekly job approval rating, even though the labels still read "favorable" and "unfavorable" rather than "approve" and "disapprove" up until about a week ago. As such, we have removed the non-favorable ratings from our national Barack Obama favorable rating chart.

MN: Approval Ratings (StarTribune 9/21-24)

Minneapolis Star Tribune / PSRA
9/21-24/09; 1,000 adults, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Star Tribune: Obama, Franken, Pawlenty, Economy)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Obama: 51 / 34 (chart)
Obama on Health Care: 39 / 45
Obama on the Economy: 53 / 38
Pawlenty: 49 /38 (chart)
Franken: 41 / 29 (chart)

Would you like Tim Pawlenty to run for president in 2012, or not?
30% Yes, 55% No

If Tim Pawlenty is the Republican party's candidate for president in 2012, is there a good chance, some chance, or no chance that you would vote for him?
25% Good chance, 25% Some chance, 43% No chance

From what you know right now, do you support or oppose the changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the Obama administration?
43% Support, 40% Oppose

VA: McDonnell 48 Deeds 43 (PPP 9/25-28)

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/25-28/09; 576 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(PPP release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 48%, Deeds 43% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Creigh Deeds: 43 / 42
Bob McDonnell: 47 / 42

Does what Bob McDonnell wrote in his thesis make you more or less likely to vote for him, or does it not make a difference?
7% More likely, 34% Less likely, 59% No difference

MI: 2010 Gov (Mitchell 9/13-17)

Mitchell Research and Communications
9/13-17/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Detroit News article)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
John Cherry 48%, Andy Dillon 14%

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Mike Cox 30%, Pete Hoekstra 23%, Mike Bouchard 11%, Tom George 2% Rick Snyder 2%

2010 Governor: General Election
Cox 45%, Cherry 32%

AZ: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 9/24)

9/24/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 56
Gov. Brewer: 37 / 57
Sen. McCain: 56 / 43

2010 Governor
42% Goddard (D), 35% Brewer (R)
44% Goddard (D), 37% Symington (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Terry Goddard: 54 / 38
Jan Brewer: 42 / 54
Fife Symington: 36 / 54

US: Health Care (Kaiser 9/11-18)

Kaiser Family Foundation
9/11-18/09; 1,203 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kaiser: summary, release, toplines)


Which comes closer to describing your own views? Given the serious economic problems facing the country we cannot afford to take on health care reform right now OR it is more important than ever to take on health care reform now?
57% It is more important than ever to take on health care reform now
39% We cannot afford to take on health care reform now

Which comes closer to your opinion about what Congress and the president should do regarding health care reform this year?
50% They should continue trying to pass a major reform of the health care system
25% They should stop trying to pass a major reform this year and instead work on passing a more limited version
22% They should leave health care reform for another time

Do you think ______ would be better off or worse off if the president and Congress passed health care reform, or don't you think it would make much difference?

You and your family:
42% Better off, 23% Worse off, 28% Wouldn't make much difference

The country as a whole:
53% Better off, 26% Worse off, 14% Wouldn't make much difference

Now I'm going to read you some different ways to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance. As I read each one, please tell me whether you would favor it or oppose it...

Requiring all Americans to have health insurance, either from their employer or from another source, with financial help for those who can't afford it:
68% Favor, 29% Oppose

Creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans:
57% Favor, 37% Oppose

Cook on the House: Focus on districts

In a comment on my post about the 2010 midterms yesterday, Charlie Cook protests the "lack of focus on actual Congressional districts":

What I find interesting about this whole conversation is the lack of focus on actual Congressional districts. When you look at the 84 CD's currently held by Democrats, that went for either Bush 2004 or McCain 2008, the 48 Democratic seats that went for Bush and McCain, the 54 seats that were in Republican hands four years go, it is very clear that the party's vulnerability exceeds their margin of 40 seats.

In particular, Cook says, the remaining Southern Democrats who hold competitive seats are vulnerable:

I was interested in your comment, "There's no comparable regional partisan shift working against the Democrats right now."

Have you been in the South lately? The level of anti-Obama, anti-Democratic and anti-Congress venom is extraordinary, and with 59 Democrat-held seats in the region, 22 in or potentially in competitive districts, this is a very serious situation for Democrats. I have had several Democratic members from the region say the atmosphere is as bad or worse than it was in 1994.

This is not just about President Obama. It is anti-Congress and anti-Democratic Congress.

While the election is obviously 13 months away and much can change, that means it could get better, or snowball and get worse. To the extent that Democratic performance in 2008 was elevated by unusually high African-American turnout, that exposure to decline is even greater.

At this point, Democratic members in the South, Border South, Mountain states, in districts with heavy rural and small town populations as opposed to urban and suburban, particularly those with few transplants from other parts of the country, and fewer college graduates, are at particular exposure. Some of these members have either never had a tough race or haven't in many years, with campaign organizations that are hardly sharped to a fine edge.

So while the Democratic performance in the generic Congressional, which is substantially lower than it was during the periods leading up to the 2006 and 2008 elections, when these majorities were built, that is only part of the case for why this may be an extremely challenging election for Democrats.

How seriously should we take these objections? On the first point, Cook's job is to focus on the details of individual races, so it's not surprising that he thinks we should do so. But it's easy to be drawn into highly idiosyncratic narratives and end up losing sight of the big picture. In particular, individual House races are a noisy, lagging indicator of national trends (see, for instance, the House races that suddenly became competitive very late in 1994 and 2006). Political scientists try to abstract away from these details and analyze the underlying process that generates House election outcomes. Cook argues that many House seats held by Democrats are potentially vulnerable, but majority parties always hold marginal seats. The question is whether the number of potentially vulnerable Democratic members is significantly greater than, say, the number of vulnerable Republicans in 2006. (In technical terms, what does the seats-votes curve look like for 2010 relative to previous elections?)

In terms of Cook's second point about the South, I'm open to the idea that the regional shift against Democrats is not complete, making some members there particularly vulnerable. But with only 22 in competitive or potentially competitive races, it's not clear that enough Southern Democrats will lose to create a 1994-style landslide.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

CA: 2010 Governor (Rasmussen 9/24)

9/24/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Governor (trends)
Brown (D) 44%, Whitman (R) 35%
Brown (D) 45%, Poizner (R) 32%
Brown (D) 44%, Campbell (R) 34%
Whitman (R) 41%, Newsom (D) 36%
Poizner (R) 40%, Newsom (D) 36%
Campbell (R) 42%, Newsom (D) 36%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Meg Whitman: 45 / 28
Jerry Brown: 53 / 37
Gavin Newsom: 41 / 44
Steve Poizner: 36 / 32
Tom Campbell: 42 / 32

US: National Survey (Zogby 9/25-28)

9/25-28/09; 4,183 likely voters, 1.5% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)


Obama Job Approval
52% Approve, 47% Disapprove (chart)

State of the Country
42% Right Direction, 47% Wrong Track (chart)

US: Health Care (Rasmussen 9/24-25)

Rasmussen Reports
9/24-25/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Generally speaking, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats?
41% Strongly/Somewhat favor, 56% Strongly/Somewhat oppose (chart)

If the health care reform plan passes, will the quality of health care get better, worse, or stay about the same?
24% Better, 55% Worse, 17% Same

If the health care reform plan passes, will the cost of health care go up, go down, or stay about the same?
54% Up, 23% down, 18% Same

Will 2010 be like 1994?

Topics: 1994 , 2010 , Barack Obama , House of Representatives , seat swing

During his interview with President Clinton yesterday on Meet the Press, David Gregory asked a question that is increasingly occupying the minds of prominent Democrats -- "do you worry about a repeat of '94 politically?"

Vice President Joe Biden raised a similar concern last week, telling attendees at a Democratic fundraiser in Delaware that "If [Republicans] take them back [35 Democratic House seats in traditionally Republican districts], this [is] the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do."

So is the House really in play? Analysis by several political scientists suggests that the answer is yes. Democrats could lose the House, which would take a 40 seat swing, but a 1994-style landslide seems unlikely.

A Sept. 3 column by Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, analyzes a statistical model of midterm elections since 1946 and concludes that Democrats should expect significant losses:

Democrats are likely to lose at least 15 seats in the House of Representatives in 2010 and their losses could go as high as 30-40 seats. The Senate looks more promising for Democrats because there are as many Republican as Democratic seats up for election next year but a loss of 3-4 seats is entirely possible.

Under what Abramowitz calls "what might be considered a worst case scenario for Democrats" in which "President Obama's approval rating sinks into the low 40s next year" and "Republicans take a 5 point lead on the generic ballot," he projects a GOP gain of four seats in the Senate and 41 seats in the House -- just enough to take back control of the lower chamber.

Tom Holbrook at UW-Milwaukee cautions, however, against Charlie Cook's warning that "wave elections, more often than not, start just like this: The president's ratings plummet; his party loses its advantage on the generic congressional ballot test; the intensity of opposition-party voters skyrockets; his own party's voters become complacent or even depressed; and independent voters move lopsidedly away":

Let's look first at presidential approval... [I]t appears that early reports of presidential approval are fair predictors of midterm losses (r=.60, p=.02), though there are still a number of data points that are significantly off the regression line... Still, there is a clear relationship here, one that might foreshadow the outcomes of next year's elections. Based on the Obama's current level of approval (52%, Gallup polls in September), the trend in these data predicts a seat loss of 28 seats for the Democrats in 2010.

Should this be cause for Republican jubilation and Democratic hand-wringing? Not quite. The problem with forecasts like this one is that the sample size is small enough (n=15) and the forecasting error is large enough (standard error of forecast=17.9) that a 95% confidence interval around the prediction ranges from a loss of 67 seats to a gain of 11 seats. In other words, the prediction from these data encompasses everything from a complete Democratic collapse to historic gains for the Democrats. The best guess is still substantial Democratic losses, but with plenty of hedging.

What about Obama's standing among independents? Is it particularly important to the Democratic fortunes in the 2010 elections? It turns out that presidential support among independents is no more or less important than the overall level of presidential approval...

Finally, we turn to the generic congressional ballot. It is clear from other research that the generic ballot predicts well in the fall of election years (see Abramowitz), but is it really of much use 14 months out? In a word, no...

The third political scientist to weigh in, Andrew Gelman at Columbia, suggests that the current generic Congressional ballot numbers for Democrats are roughly consistent with a Republican vote swing that would be large enough to take back the House (though he admits he's extrapolating -- see Holbrook's finding above).

Finally, low-volume trading on the Intrade prediction market puts the probability of a Republican takeover of the House at 37%.

In the end, Democrats seem likely to suffer significant losses (especially if the economy hasn't started to turn around), but Holbrook is right to emphasize the level of uncertainty, which is still relatively high. As to the 1994 question, here's what Clinton said to Gregory yesterday:

PRES. CLINTON: It, it--there's no way they can make it that bad, for several reasons. Number one, the country is more diverse and more interested in positive action. Number two, they've seen this movie before, because they had eight years under President Bush when the Republicans finally had the whole government, and they know the results were bad. And number three, the Democrats haven't taken on the gun lobby like I did, and they took 15 out of our members out. So I don't think it'll be--whatever happens, it'll be manageable for the president.

I'd put a slightly different spin on the first and third points. From a political science perspective, 1994 was the culmination of the long decline of Democratic dominance among whites in the South -- many incumbents were vulnerable on issues like guns, gays in the military, etc. because their districts had changed. There's no comparable regional partisan shift working against the Democrats right now. Clinton's second point can be similarly reinterpreted -- the damage done to Republican brand under President Bush may restrict Republican gains in this election relative to 1994.

Update 9/28 11:52 AM: I missed a more recent Abramowitz analysis, which argues that a repeat of 1994 is unlikely due to the growing proportion of non-white voters in the electorate -- a development that is likely to damage the GOP's prospects due to its weakness with those groups (see Clinton's first point above).

Update 9/29 7:19 AM: The Hill points out another reason that a 1994-style wave election is unlikely - the lack of retirements by incumbents:

In the last three "wave elections," the party that lost a large number of seats has been hampered by incumbents not running for reelection. But so far in the 2010 cycle, not a single House member has announced his or her retirement, though 18 -- seven Democrats and 11 Republicans -- have said they will run for higher office.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

Column: Strategic Vision and the Transparency Gap

Topics: David Johnson , Nate Silver , National Journal column , Strategic Vision

My National Journal column for the week is now posted. Filed on Friday, it reviews the reprimand of polling firm Strategic Vision, LLC issued last week by the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the ensuing controversy sparked by Nate Silver's allegations that firm's polls "exhibit unusual patterns" that ""suggest, perhaps strongly, the possibility of fraud."

For further reading: I first reacted to Nate Silver's first "trailing digit" analysis on Friday and reviewed some of the contradictions and odd facts surrounding Johnson's reaction to AAPOR, the absence of Strategic Vision cross-tabs and the difficulty of locating a physical Strategic Vision office on Saturday. Over the weekend, Nate Silver did some additional analysis using Quinnipiac surveys as a control, raised more questions about a Strategic Vision survey of students in Oklahoma and tracked down** what appears to be a Strategic Vision office in rural Georgia. Meanwhile, Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson promises cross-tabs to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jim Galloway once again and tells the St. Petersburg Times that he plans to sue Nate Silver. Also, both Politico's Ben Smith and The HIll's Aaron Blake did roundups with reaction from Johnson.

**Update: Though he gave due credit to commenters both here and on FiveThirtyEight.  I can say I heard it first, here, from socio-logic.