October 18, 2009 - October 24, 2009


Karaoke 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

NEP wins a ruling against an exit polling ban near NJ polling places; Danny Shea has more.

Gallup's quarterly Obama job approval slips to 53%.

Democracy Corps responds to Glen Bolger's posts on their "semi-secret" poll; Bolger adds more.

Charlie Cook reviews intensity of opposition to Obama in Democracy Corps focus groups

Sarah Dutton examines polling on the public option.

Jon Cohen finds strong support for restricting pay of bailed out executives.

Jennifer De Pinto assesses whether Obama can help Corzine.

Gary Andres weighs the Democrats' Debt Dilemma

Tom Jensen tests a generic congressional vote offering independent/third party as an option.

David Hill is long on Apple, not its politics.

Mark Mellman celebrates a GOP brand in tatters.

Chris Cillizza ponders the rise of independent identification.

Charles Blow fawns over Michelle Obama.

David Paul Kuhn looks forward to an Obama decline below 50%.

Kevin Drum asks about "poll flippery;" John Sides responds.

James Joyner considers the Gallup marijuana poll (via Sullivan).

Andrew Gelman finds older wealthier Americans oppose government health care nationwide.

Junk Charts finds even obviously wrong charts leave many confused.

PPP polls on, what else, balloon boy.

Mary Landrieu suggests an alternative public option poll question.

Evans McMorris-Santoro shares the Bill Clinton polling quote of the week.

And a pollster that can sing! Kristen Soltis channels Janis Joplin (at around 2:42):

FL: 2010 Sen Primary (PBA 10/12-13)

Florida Police Benevolent Association / McLaughlin & Associates (R)
10/12-13/09; 500 likely Republican primary voters
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(St. Petersburg Times post)


2010 Senate: Republican Primary
53% Crist, 29% Rubio, 18% Undecided (chart)

Daggett vs Ventura

Topics: Chris Christie , Chris Daggett , independents , Jesse Ventura , Jon Corzine , New Jersey 2009

My column makes an early appearance this weekend -- Friday when filed rather than the usual Monday morning -- because it covers the very timely topic of whether independent candidate Chris Daggett might "pull a Jesse Ventura" and score a come-from-nowhere victory in the New Jersey Governor's race. The parallels between the trial heat numbers of Daggett and Ventura are intriguing, but the fact that Ventura had considerably better name identification and a host of other issue make Daggett's climb steeper. Please click through and read in full.

When you are finished, here are some other challenges that got left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Let's call them items seven through nine (since the column includes a list of six):

7) Ballot position - Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray points out via email that Daggett's name will be harder to find on the ballot.

Daggett is an independent who will be buried on the ballot. NJ gives the first two lines on the ballot to the D[emocratic] and R[epublican] nominees (randomly assigned). The remaining candidates (there are 9 this year) are all relegated to a 3rd line - again randomly assigned, which means Daggett's name will be buried amidst a bunch of no hopers and thus very difficult to find.

I'm not sure how the ballot order was handled in Minnesota in 1998.

8) Attitude and Turnout -- Former Star Tribune polling editor Rob Daves argues that a key to Ventura's success is that he "ran on attitude and not agenda." In other words, he used his celebrity persona to stake out a different sort of message, one less about traditional issue positions and more about what one biographer called a "down to earth," non political attitude. That message helped Ventura surge among younger voters who do not typically vote in off year elections. As the Almanac of Politics (2002) put it:

In a year when turnout nationally mostly sagged, turnout surged in Minnesota, especially in the outer counties of the Twin Cities media market; in many counties turnout rose 40% or more from the last off-year election, and was even above the presidential year of 1996. This was the area where Ventura ran best, with 45%, to 34% for Coleman and only 21% for Humphrey.

By contrast, as Patrick Murray notes, it was Chris Christie that tried to run on attitude rather than agenda in New Jersey this year:

Christie tried to use his prosecutorial reputation to paint himself as someone who would be tough with the special interests. And therefore New Jersey would be a better place.

This had two effects. One, it opened him up to opposition research on his character. And it emphasized for voters that his campaign was lacking specifics. That opened up a hole for mild-mannered Daggett to fill with his very specific proposal to address New Jersey's number one issue - property taxes. The kind of specifics that some anti-Corzine voters were looking for, but were not getting from Christie.

Whether this contrast makes Daggett's task easier or harder relative to Ventura remains to be seen. The point is, they are running very different races.

9) Same Day Registration -- Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report passes along one more difference: Minnesota had same day registration in 1998, which helped enable the surge in turnout that Ventura's campaign produced. New Jersey in 2009 does not.

US: National Survey (ARG 10/17-20)

American Research Group (R)
10/17-20/09; 1,100 adults, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ARG release)


Obama Job Approval
57% Approve, 41% Disapprove (chart)
Reps: 9 / 91 (chart)
Dems: 87 / 10 (chart)
Inds: 57 / 42 (chart)
Economy: 43 / 47 (chart)

State of the Economy
31% Getting better, 37% Getting worse, 28% Staying the same
22% Excellent/Very Good/Good, 77% Bad/Very bad/Terrible

Is the economy in a recession?
53% Yes, 21% No

US: Favs, Race relations (Gallup 10/16-19)

USA Today / Gallup
10/16-19/09; 1,521 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(USA Today: Favorability, Race relations)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 55 / 42 (chart)
Michelle Obama: 61 / 25
Joe Biden: 42 / 40
John McCain: 54 / 37

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 50% Approve, 46% Disapprove (chart)

As a result of Obama's election, race relations have:
7% Gotten a lot better
34% Gotten a little better
35% Not changed
16% Gotten a little worse
6% Gotten a lot worse

US: Economy (ABC/Post 10/15-18)

ABC News / Washington Post
10/15-18/09; 1,004 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Post: story, results graphic; ABC: story, results)


Do you think Obama's economic program is making the economy
better, making it worse or having no real effect?

41% Better, 22% Worse, 35% No effect

Which of these do you think is more important right now - increasing federal
spending to try to improve the economy, even if it sharply increases the federal
budget deficit; or avoiding a big increase in the federal budget deficit, even if it
means not increasing federal spending to try to improve the economy?

38% Increasing spending, 57% Avoiding deficit

How do you feel about _____ - very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried or
not worried at all?

The direction of the nation's economy over the next few years:
74% Very/Somewhat worried, 26% Not too/Not at all worried

Your own family's financial situation:
60% Very/Somewhat worried, 40% Not too/Not at all worried

Many economists say that using the standards they apply, the recession probably is
over. Thinking about your own experience of economic conditions, would you say that
from your point of view the recession is over, or not over?

16% Over, 82% Not over

Would you support or oppose the federal government putting limits on the salaries
and other compensation that can be paid to top executives at the companies that
received emergency government loans in the past year?

71% Support, 27% Oppose

US: Party Favs (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
The Republican Party: 36 / 54
The Democratic Party: 53 / 41

US: Congress (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 766 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Democrats in Congress: 37 / 49
Republicans in Congress: 21 / 61

2010 House: Generic Ballot (chart)
40% Democrat, 29% Republican, 22% independent
If only Democrat or Republican: 48% Democrat, 40% Republican

Do you think the ______ in Congress are too liberal, too conservative, or about right?
Democrats: 47% Too Liberal, 16% Too Conservative, 38% About right
Republicans: 24% Too Liberal, 45% Too Conservative, 31% About right

GA: 2010 Gov Primaries (Rasmussen 10/20/09)

10/20/09; 797 likely Republican primary voters, 3.5% margin of error
343 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen: Rep Primary, Dem primary)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
27% John Oxendine
12% Karen Handel
9% Nathan Deal
3% Eric Johnson
3% Ray McBerry
3% Austin Scott

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
43% Roy Barnes
19% Thurbert Baker
4% Dubose Porter
4% David Poythress
3% Carl Camon

US: National Survey (Economist 10/18-20)

Economist / YouGov
10/18-20/09; 1,000 adults, 4.8% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist: toplines, crosstabs)


Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 40% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 83 / 11 (chart)
Reps: 14 / 79 (chart)
Inds: 45 / 45 (chart)
Economy: 43 / 47 (chart)
Health care: 45 / 44 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
14% Approve, 59% Disapprove (chart)

2010 House: Generic Ballot
45% Democrat, 36% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
35% Right Direction, 51% 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 (chart)

Which of the following comes closest to describing your preferences for the health care
reform bill that Congress is now debating?

53% Congress should pass a health care reform bill that includes the "public option,"
a government-administered health insurance plan
17% Congress should pass a health care reform bill, but without the "public option"
of a government-administered health insurance plan
30% Congress should not pass any health care reform bill

Do you favor increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan?
39% Increase, 43% Decrease, 18% Keep the same

NY-23: 2009 House Special (Kos 10/19-21)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/19-21/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

New York 23rd Congressional District

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dede Scozzafava (R): 38 / 35
Doug Hoffman (C): 27 / 19
Bill Owens (D): 33 / 24

2009 House: Special Election
35% Owens, 30% Scozzafava, 23% Hoffman (trend)

Hoffman Voters: 2nd Choice
9% Scozzafava, 3% Owens, 26% Wouldn't vote

US: National Survey (Kos 10/19-22)

DailyKos.com (D)/ Research 2000
10/19-22/09; 2,400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 56 / 37 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 38 / 54
Harry Reid: 32 / 56
Mitch McConnell: 16 / 66
John Boehner: 13 / 63
Democratic Party: 42 / 50
Republican Party: 20 / 67

State of the Country
41% Right Direction, 55% Wrong track (chart)

US: Health Care (Kaiser 10/8-15)

Kaiser Family Foundation
10/8-15/09; 1,200 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?

55% More important than ecer
41% Cannot afford

Which comes closer to your opinion about what Congress and the president should do regarding
health care reform this year?

49% They should continue trying to pass a major reform of the health care system
22% They should stop trying to pass a major reform this year and instead work on
passing a more limited version
26% 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 famly: 41% Better off, 27% Worse off, 28% No difference
The country as a whole: 53% Better off, 28% Worse off, 12% No difference
Seniors, that is those 65 years and older: 44% Better off, 29% Worse off, 20% No difference
The country's small businesses: 36% Better off, 33% Worse off, 20% No difference

If the president and Congress do pass health care reform, do you think that would make _______ better, worse or would it stay about the same?
The quality of your own health care: 29% Better, 27% Worse, 37% Same
The cost of health care for you and your family: 34% Better. 30% Worse, 29% Same
Your choice of doctors and hospitals: 28% Better, 26% Worse, 39% Same
Your wait times for non-emergency procedures and treatments: 20% better, 36% Worse, 37% Same
The quality of health care in America: 39% better, 31% Worse, 26% Same
The overall cost of health care: 40% Better, 35% Worse, 18% Same
The average patient's choice of doctors and hospitals: 31% Better, 34% Worse, 30% Same
Waiting times for non-emergency procedures and treatments: 23% Better, 41% Worse, 31% Same

Do you think passing health care reform would do more to HELP the country's SHORT TERM
economic situation, do more to HURT the country's short term economic situation, or wouldn't it
impact the economy in the short term?

32% Help, 41% Hurt, 22% No impact

Do you think passing health care reform would do more to HELP the country's LONG TERM
economic situation, do more to HURT the country's long term economic situation, or wouldn't it
impact the economy in the long term?

49% Help, 37% Hurt, 10% Same

Would you say it is more important for Democrats in Congress to pass health care reform this
year, even if they can't get much Republican support, or more important to get bipartisan,
Republican support, even if that delays or stops the health care reform process for this year?

44% More important for Democrats in Congress to get bipartisan, Republican support
42% More important for Democrats in Congress to pass health care reform this year

Thinking of the news media's coverage of health care reform, would you say the mix of coverage
has been mostly about politics and controversies, mostly about how policy reforms might affect
your own family, or has been a balance of the two?

52% Politics and controversies, 8% How policy reforms might affect your family, 35% Balanced

do you favor or oppose 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?
66% Favor, 31% Oppose

Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered public health insurance option to compete with private health insurance plans
57% Favor, 39% Oppose

PPP poll on Obama's love of country

A national survey by Public Policy Polling found that 48% of Republicans (and 26% of Americans generally) endorsed the unsupported smear that President Obama doesn't love America (27% of Republicans said Obama does love America and 25% were not sure). Those numbers are even worse than the myth that Obama wasn't born in this country, which was endorsed by 42% of Republicans (and 23% of Americans generally) in a September PPP poll.

Update 10/23 2:05 PM: As a point of comparison (per Jinchi's comment on my blog), a Fox News poll in June 2008 asked "How much do you think Barack Obama loves America?" (rather than "Do you think that Barack Obama loves America?"). 27% of Republicans said "a great deal," 34% said "somewhat," 14% said "not much," 12% said "not at all," and 14% said they didn't know. Though the question and response options varied slightly, those responses are substantially more positive than those found by PPP.

Update 10/25 8:42 PM: Per MartyB's comment on my blog, it's worth clarifying that the reason I compared the two posts above. While the two claims obviously differ in terms of the extent to which they can be disproven, both polls demonstrate that Obama is not viewed as a legitimate president by much of the GOP base.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

Friday: Alliance for Health Reform Briefing

Topics: Alliance for Health Reform , Health Care Reform

Self promotion alert: Tomorrow (Friday), I'm participating in briefing on Capitol Hill -- "Public Opinion on Health Reform: What Do the Polls Mean? -- sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform. The other panelists include Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Harris Interactive; and Mollyann Brodie, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Brodie will be presenting new results from Kaiser's October Health Tracking Poll.

The briefing will be held at the Hart Senate Office Building from 12:15 to 2:00 PM, and I am told that on site registration will be available. Click here for more details. Hope to see you there.

NJ: Christie 41 Corzine 39 (SurveyUSA 10/19-21)

SurveyUSA / WABC-TV New York
10/19-21/09; 674 likely voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Christie 41%, Corzine 39%, Daggett 19% (chart)

ME: 2010 Gov (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 1,130 likely voters 2.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Baldacci: 25 / 57

Generally speaking next year do you plan to vote for a Democratic, Republican, or third party/independent candidate for Governor?
30% Democrat, 26% Republican, 18% Third Party/Independent

Favorable / Unfavorable
Libby Mitchell (D): 18 / 16
Steve Rowe (D): 13 / 12
Peter Mills (R): 16 / 15
Les Otten (R): 10 / 16

2010 Governor
34% Mills, 31% Mitchell
33% Mills, 25% Rowe
34% Mitchell, 26% Otten
28% Rowe, 26% Otten

'Fair and Balanced' Questions on the Public Option

Topics: ABC/Washington Post , Health Care Reform , Public Option , Resurgent Republic

The conservative reaction to Tuesday's new ABC News/Washington Post poll did not stop with claims that the partisan balance of the respondents was "rigged." It also included a furious push-back over the wording of the "public option" question, no doubt fueled by the Post's decision to make that particular result the lede of their front page story (something even Nate Silver found "somewhat bizarre"). In reviewing some of the criticism, I discovered a result overlooked in June that should cheer advocates of the public option almost as much as this week's ABC/Post poll.


Let's start with the text of the ABC/Post question: "Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?" Their most recent survey of adults, conducted October 15-18, found 57% supporting the proposal, 40% opposing it and 3% with no opinion.

A chorus of conservative critics jumped on the question language:

  • Pollster Ed Goeas: "Nowhere does this question indicate that the program would be government run, and it is a quite a stretch to conclude that the 57% support is for the public option.
  • Blogger Jay Cost: "ABC News/WaPo presents the idea that the government insurance plan would 'compete' with private insurance plans. This is a contested notion, as Republicans think that the public option will drive private insurance away."
  • Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson: "That's a little bit different than "do you support the government run option or not ... saying 'do you like the government run option. That would be more straightforward."
  • Pollsters Gary Andres and Whit Ayres: "When Americans are asked a one-sided question about whether they support a public option that competes with private insurance, it's not surprising a majority says 'yes.' It's just another 'choice,' 'more competition' and it's perceived as a way to make health care more affordable. Why wouldn't a proposal like that generate wide support? Just like 'world peace' or 'ending poverty.'"

There is some truth to this criticism. Given that only 56% of Americans are able to associate the phrase "public option" with the health care debate, it is safe to assume that with questions like the ABC/Post public option measure are closer to testing reactions to possibly unfamiliar concepts than to measuring pre-existing attitudes about the "public option." When you do that, the results are very sensitive to question wording.

In July, for example, the Kaiser Family Foundation found 59% in favor of "creating a government administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private insurance plans." But when they threw one-sided arguments against the public option at supporters and one-sided arguments for it at opponents, they found they could push support as low as 35% or as high as 72% (something I reviewed in August in a post that Andres and Ayres linked to yesterday).

I am not opposed to questions that test reactions to unfamiliar concepts. They are part of understanding public opinion on many subjects, including the health care debate. Americans may want something, after all, even if they are not familiar with the terminology. When we test reactions, however, my own preference runs to questions -- mostly shunned by media pollsters -- that present both sides of an argument using the rhetoric typically lobbed by partisans. That's why this passage in the Andres-Ayres post caught my eye:

[I]n our Resurgent Republic Health Care poll we provided voters real world arguments about proposals - the up sides and the down sides - before asking for a response . . . We have no doubt that public attitudes about a public health insurance plan could change. But that all depends on the information presented. As is evidenced from the three questions in the Resurgent Republic health care poll, providing voters with more background and arguments produces mixed results for the public plan option.


I had forgotten about Resurgent Republic's June health care poll so I pulled up the toplines. Here are the results to those three questions:


-47% agree: Congressman A says Americans need a public health insurance plan administered by the federal government to expand choices and control costs by competing with private health insurance companies.

-45% agree: Congressman B says a government-run health insurance plan will use taxpayer subsidies to undercut private insurance rates, and force private companies out of business, resulting in everyone going into a government-run plan.

-8% unsure


-57% agree: Congressman A says a public insurance plan will allow people to keep the plan they have now if they want, or give them the choice of a public plan. It will shift power from insurance bureaucrats to consumers.

-38% agree: Congressman B says a public insurance plan will inevitably force everyone into a "one size fits all" government-run plan that will take away choices. It will shift power from consumers to government bureaucrats.

-5% unsure


-53% agree: Congressman A says a public insurance plan is a limited option to allow citizens to have one more choice for health insurance and will force private plans to stay competitive on costs and services.

-43% agree: Congressman B says a public insurance plan is the first step toward a government take-over of health care similar to Europe and Canada, with fewer covered procedures, long wait times for surgery, and more government bureaucracy.

5% unsure

With the possible exception of the first question, these are not results I would describe as "mixed." All three show more support for the public option than opposition. The last two questions produced majority support among registered voters in June that is fairly close to what the ABC/Post poll found last week among all adults. (I also assume that most public option advocates would react to the language of Q15 as conservatives reacted this week to the ABC/Post question. Does "expand choices" really capture the promised benefit as much as "give them the choice of a public plan?" But I digress...).

The main point here is that a group of Republican pollsters took their best shot at a set of questions that would capture both the costs and benefits of the public option, presenting the very arguments so many found lacking in the Post/ABC question this week. In all three instances, more voters favored the public option than opposed it.

I wonder if they tried "to get the same amount of Democrats and Republicans" in their sample, to be "fair and balanced" and all?

P.S.: To be fair, the Resurgent Public poll was conducted in June, just as general opposition to health care reform was increasing most rapidly. Public Option questions included in polls conducted at about the same time by ABC/Washington Post and CBS News found support that was 5 to 10 percentage points higher than on their most recent surveys. Still, I would expect far more stability in measures like those tested by Resurgent Republic that provide respondents with far more information.  And even if a few points closer than what they found in June, the Resurgent Republic tests suggest more robust support for the Public Option than some assume.

NJ: Corzine 42% Christie 39% (DemCorps 10/20-21)

Democracy Corps
10/20-21/09; 604 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Democracy Corps: release, toplines)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 38 / 46 (chart)
Chris Christie: 35 / 42
Barack Obama: 54 / 31 (chart)
Chris Daggett: 15 / 25

2009 Governor
42% Corzine, 39% Christie, 13% Daggett (chart)

VA: 2009 Gov Hypothetical (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 666 likely voters, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 41 / 52 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 46 / 39 (chart)
Sen. Warner: 53 / 31 (chart)
Sen. Webb: 42 / 40 (chart)

If Tim Kaine was allowed to run for reelection would you vote for Democrat Tim Kaine or
Republican Bob McDonnell?

51% McDonnell, 43% Kaine

Do you think that Virginia Governors should be allowed to run for reelection?
57% Yes, 35% No

US: Economy (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


State of the Economy
16% Very/Somewhat good, 84% Very/Somewhat poor

Do you think Barack Obama's policies have made the economy better, or don't you think so? (IF DON'T THINK SO) Do you think Barack Obama's policies will eventually make the economy better, or don't you think so?
43% Made economy better, 13% Will make it better, 42% Will not make it better

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of economic conditions today?
17% The economy is starting to recover from the problems it faced in the past year or so
50% An economic recovery has not started but conditions have stabilized and are not getting any worse
33% The economy is still in a downturn and conditions are continuing to worsen

NYC: Bloomberg 52 Thompson 36 (Marist 10/19-21)

10/19-21/09; 744 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
390 likely voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Marist release)

New York City

2009 Mayor (chart)
Likely voters: 52% Bloomberg, 36% Thompson
Registered voters: 47% Bloomberg, 38% Thompson

Favorable / Unfavorable (registered voters)
Bill Thompson: 47 / 33
Mike Bloomberg: 63 / 33 (chart)

Job rating
Mayor Bloomberg: 58% Excellent/Good, 41% Fair/Poor (chart)

US: News Interest, Afghanistan (Pew 10/16-19)

Pew Research Center
10/16-19/09; 1,004 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew: release, toplines)


Most Closely Followed Story
32% Debate over health care reform
20% Reports about swine flu and the vaccine
14% A boy thought to be aboard a runaway hot air balloon, who was later found to be safe
9% The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan
6% Recent gains in the stock market
6% The current situation and event in Iraq

Do you think news organizations are giving too much coverage, too little coverage or the right amount of coverage to each of the following?

The current situation in Iraq:
11% Too much. 36% Too little, 49% Right amount

Debate over health care reform:
16% Too much, 36% Too little, 46% Right amount

The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan:
11% Too much, 39% Too little, 46% Right amount

I'm going to read you a list of some ways that people may feel about Afghanistan war news. For each one, please tell me if you often feel this way, or not -

It seems like the same news about the war in Afghanistan all the time, nothing ever really changes:
56% Yes, 42% No

I don't always have enough background information to follow the news about the war in Afghanistan:
53% Yes, 46% No

News about the war in Afghanistan can be so depressing I'd rather not hear about it:
26% Yes, 72% No

I feel guilty for not following news about the war in Afghanistan more closely:
20% Yes, 80% No

How much confidence do you have that the U.S. military is giving the public an accurate picture of how the war in Afghanistan is going?
62% A great deal/A fair amount
36% Not too much/None at all

How much confidence do you have that the press is giving the public an accurate picture of how the war in Afghanistan is going?
40% A great deal/ A fair amount
59% Not too much/none at all

Since the start of military action in Afghanistan, about how many U.S. military personnel have been killed? To the best of your knowledge, have there been...
15% Around 400
25% Around 900 (correct answer)
25% Around 1,500
27% Around 2,500

MI: 2010 Gov (EPIC-MRA 10/11-15)

Epic-MRA / Detroit News / WXYZ-TV / WOOD-TV / WILX-TV, WJRT-TV
10/11-15/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(EPIC-MRA release)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
33% John Cherry, 5% Alma Wheeler Smith, 3% George Perles, 3% Don Williamson,
2% John Freeman

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
29% Pete Hoekstra, 28% Mike Cox, 14% Mike Bouchard, 3% Rick Snyder, 2% Tom George

2010 Governor: General Election
45% Cox, 30% Cherry
40% Hoekstra, 33% Cherry
39% Bouchard, 31% Cherry
34% Cherry, 32% Snyder

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 51 / 45
Jennifer Granholm: 41 / 55
Debbie Stabenow: 51 / 39

Job Rating
Pres. Obama: 48% Excellent/Pretty Good, 51% Just Fair/Poor
Gov. Granholm: 33% Excellent/Pretty Good, 66% Just Fair/Poor

US: 2012 Pres (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 766 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Obama Job Approval (previously released)
51% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mike Huckabee: 33 / 29 (chart)
Sarah Palin: 36 / 51 (chart)
Tim Pawlenty: 11 / 16
Mitt Romney: 34 / 34 (chart)

2012 President
Obama 47%, Huckabee 43%
Obama 52%, Palin 40%
Obama 50%, Pawlenty 30%
Obama 48%, Romney 40%

US: Climate Change (Pew 9/30-10/4)

Pew Research Center
9/30-10/4/09; 1,500 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew: release, complete report)


From what you've read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?
36% Yes, mostly because of human activity
16% Yes, mostly because of natural patterns in the earth's environment
33% No
2% Mixed

In your view, is global warming a very serious problem, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not a problem?
65% Very/Somewhat serious, 32% Not too/Not at all serious

Do you think...
56%The United States should join other countries in setting standards to address global climate change
32% The United States should set its own standards to address global climate change
3% Neither
2% No need/No climate change

Do you favor or oppose setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if it may mean higher energy prices?
50% Favor, 39% Oppose

FL: 2010 Sen, Gov (Rasmussen 10/19-20)

10/20/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen: Senate, Governor)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Crist: 49 / 49 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 42 / 58 (chart)

2010 Governor
McCollum 46%, Sink 35% (chart)

2010 Senate
Crist 46%, Meek 34% (chart)
Rubio 46%, Meek 31% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bill McCollum (R): 49 / 31
Alex Sink (D): 41 / 30
Charlie Crist (R): 57 / 41 (chart)
Kendrick Meek (D): 33 / 34
Marco Rubio (R): 39 / 34

NJ: Corzine 39 Christie 36 (Rutgers 10/15-20)

10/15-20/09; 583 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(AP article, Politicker NJ article)
Update: Rutgers release

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Corzine 39%, Christie 36%, Daggett 20% (chart)

Daggett voters: 2nd Choice
34% Christie, 28% Corzine, 24% Would not vote

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 40 / 52 (chart)
Chris Christie: 39 / 42
Chris Daggett: 31 / 15

Yet Another Fight Over Party ID

Topics: Gallup , Generic House Vote , Party Identification , Party Weighting , Rasmussen , Zogby

Few things are more perennial in the survey world than partisan attacks on high profile polls that produce a result that partisans don't like. More often than not, those attacks involve the issue of party identification. One of my first posts as a blogger five years ago involved an argument about party weighting (Democrats thought the polls were skewed too Republican) and a subject has come back like crab grass ever since. Yesterday, the object was the ABC News/Washington Post poll, and the complaints came from a Republican pollster and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

The complaint from Gingrich drew a response worth reading from ABC News polling director Gary Langer, so I'll start there. The tempest was probably triggered by findings highlighted in the last two paragraphs of the Washington Post's front page poll story:

Only 20 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, little changed in recent months, but still the lowest single number in Post-ABC polls since 1983. Political independents continue to make up the largest group, at 42 percent of respondents; 33 percent call themselves Democrats.

The wide gap in partisan leanings and the lack of confidence in the GOP carries into early assessments of the November 2010 midterm elections: Fifty-one percent say they would back the Democratic candidate in their congressional district if the elections were held now, while 39 percent would vote for the Republican. Independents split 45 percent for the Democrat, 41 percent for the Republican.

Gingrich responded by telling a Salt Lake City radio station that he considered the ABC/Post poll "deliberately rigged." According to Langer, when asked about the finding that only 20% of Americans consider themselves Republican, Gingrich replied:

Well, it tells me first of all that the poll's almost certainly wrong. It's fundamentally different from Rasmussen. It's fundamentally different from Zogby. It's fundamentally different from Gallup. It's a typical Washington Post effort to slant the world in favor of liberal Democrats.

Langer produced the following table, showing that the ABC/Post estimate falls roughly in the middle of other recent national surveys of adults:


Now as both Langer and PPP's Tom Jensen point out, Gingrich was conflating two issues: Concerns about party identification and about the so-called generic house vote. In the same radio interview, for example, he pointed to a recent Gallup poll showing a closer margin in the national House vote and, according to Langer, emphasized the generic vote in a second interview later in the day,

Here Gingrich is on somewhat firmer ground: The polls that he cites -- especially Rasmussen and Zogby -- report on "likely voters" that tend to look more Republican than the adults sampled by other pollsters. While neither pollster provides much information on how they currently define likely voters, the universe of actual voters in 2010 will likely be far more Republican than the full adult population. Keep in mind, though, that the generic ballot is a blunt instrument that tends to produce wide variation among pollsters even in the week before the election when all are doing their best to identify or model the likely electorate. Bottom line: While the generic ballot is a useful measure (see these posts on efforts to use it to model the outcome) it is not infallible.

Back to the argument about party ID. Why does Langer leave out Rasmussen and Zogby, two of the three pollsters that Gingrich cites as looking fundamentally different? The implied answer is that ABC News considers neither pollster "air-worthy" (they explain their standards here), but even if you quarrel with that judgement, there are good reasons why such a comparison would be foolish.

Let's start with Zogby. First, Zogby reports results among "likely voters," not adults. Second, they do not -- as far as I know -- report their party ID results to non-subscribers (if readers can point to recent examples to the contrary, or to results from behind their subscription wall, I will gladly correct this post). Third, unlike the organizations listed in Langer's table, Zogby weights every survey by party ID, usually to match the estimate from exit polls in a prior election. So there is no point in comparing Zogby's weighted party ID numbers to those from recent polls of adults, even if they were available. It's like comparing an apple to fruit cocktail.

And what about Rasmussen? Like Zogby, Rasmussen typically reports results among likely voters and weights by party. However, Rasmussen does a service by routinely releasing their monthly party identification numbers among all adults, weighted only by demographics. Their results for September do look a lot different from any of the other pollsters: 37.5% Democrat, 32.1% Republican, 30.4% other.

Why might Rasmussen's party ID results look so different? It might be because of the kinds of people they sample as compared to other polls, but there are two other huge differences to consider. Rasmussen calls with a different mode (automated rather than live interviewer) and asks a different question. Other pollsters begin by asking respondents what they "consider" themselves to be, prefaced by the phrase "generally speaking" or "in politics, as of today," with the options typically Republican, Democrat, independent or "something else." Rasmussen simply asks:

If you are a Republican, press 1. If a Democrat, press 2. If you belong to some other political party, press 3. If you are independent, press 4. If you are not sure, press 5

If you believe that party ID is like eye color, that we are all either Democrats, Republicans or something else and that we will always provide the same answer under any circumstances, even if shaken awake during a deep sleep, well...it probably doesn't matter how the pollster measures it. But there is a ton of evidence that although the aggregate party ID numbers change very, very slowly, at the individual level all sorts of things can alter the answers that respondents give, especially if they are borderline between independence and identifying with a party: the wording, when the question is asked, what questions come before, how hard the interviewer pushes for an answer, and so on. So it is quite possible that people are willing to report their party identification differently when asked by an automated recording rather than a live interviewer, especially when the text of the questions differ. Comparisons between Rasmussen and other pollsters on this score prove little.

Was the ABC/Post poll right that Republican identification among adults is lower than ever? There we do have some pretty convincing evidence. As our Party ID chart (above) shows, their result was far from an outlier. Even with the sensitivity set to low (to diminish short term statistical noise from "house effects), the downward trend in both Democratic and Republican identification is evident. Click on the red dots below (to connect-the-dots for individual pollsters) and you will see that almost every pollster shows a decline in Republican identification over the course. The clear rise in independent identification may not help us forecast the results of the 2010 elections, but the trend is nevertheless undeniable. The notion that ABC and the Post "rigged" their result is laughable.

VA: Obama, Kaine (Clarus 10/18-19)

Clarus Research Group
10/18-19/09; 605 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Clarus release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 48 / 36 (chart)

NV: 2010 Sen (PCCC 10/17-19)

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (D) / Research 2000
10/17-19/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(PCCC release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 35 / 54

2010 Senate
Tarkanian 46%, Reid 41%
Lowden 47%, Reid 42%

Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?
54% Favor, 39% Oppose

Do you think Harry Reid is a strong leader or a weak leader?
24% Strong, 52% Weak

Generally speaking do you think Harry Reid is effective or ineffective in the Senate?
23% Effective, 54% Ineffective

As you may know, Harry Reid is up for re-election in 2010. Do you think he should be the Democratic nominee again or is it time for someone new to represent Democrats?
26% He should be the nominee, 39% Time for someone new

ME: Snowe, Health Care (PPP 10/16-19

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 1,130 likely voters, 2.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 49 / 41
Sen. Snowe: 56 / 31

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
41% Support, 40% Oppose

Do you approve or disapprove of how Olympia Snowe has handled the health care issue?
48% Approve, 35% Disapprove

Do you think that Olympia Snowe should switch parties and become a Democrat?
32% Yes, 49% No

LA: 2010 Sen (SMOR 10/4-7)

Southern Media and Opinion Research / Lane Grigsby
10/4-7/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Bayou Buzz post)


Job Ratings
Pres. Obama: 45% Excellent/Good 54% Not so good/Poor (chart)
Sen. Landrieu: 54 / 43 (chart)
Sen. Vitter: 57 / 37 (chart)
Gov. Jindal: 64 / 33 (chart)

2010 Senate (trends)
48% Vitter, 36% Melancon

FL: 2010 Sen Primary (Rasmussen 10/20)

10/20/09; 466 likely Republican Primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Crist 49%, Rubio 35% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable (among Republicans only)
Charlie Crist: 67 / 32
Marco Rubio: 55 / 22

Job Approval / Disapproval (among Republicans only)
Charlie Crist: 57 / 42

US: Health Care (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama's plan to reform health care?
49% Favor, 49% Oppose (chart)

Who do you trust more to handle major changes in the country's health care system - Barack
Obama or the Republicans in Congress?

50% Obama, 34% Republicans in Congress, 15% Both equally/Neither

What do you think would be better for the country -- if Congress passed a bill to change the
country's health care system along the lines of what Barack Obama has proposed, or if the current
system were left in place with no changes?

53% Pass a bill, 44% Leave current system

Now thinking specifically about the health insurance plans available to most Americans, would you
favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government
that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies?

61% Favor, 38% Oppose

(IF FAVOR) Which of the following statements comes closest to your view? -- results combined with previous question:
40% Favor bill only if includes public option
18% Favor bill even if did not include public option
3% Favor public option, unsure on bill
38% Oppose public option

US: National Survey (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 766 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Obama Job Approval
51% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 84 / 12 (chart)
Reps: 13 / 82 (chart)
Inds: 46 / 44 (chart)

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
42% Support, 45% Oppose (chart)

VA: McDonnell 52 Deeds 40 (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 666 likely voters, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 52%, Deeds 40% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Creigh Deeds (D): 41 / 48
Bob McDonnell (R): 56 / 35

US: Afghanistan (ABC/Post 10/15-17)

ABC News / Washinton Post
10/15-17/09; 1,004 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ABC: story, results; Post: story, results)


Obama Job Approval: Afghanistan
45% Approve, 47% Disapprove

On another subject, 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/has been
worth fighting, or not?

47% Worth fighting, 49% Not worth fighting

Do you think the Obama Administration does or does not have a clear plan for
handling the situation in Afghanistan?

31% Does, 63% Does not

U.S. military commanders have requested approximately 40,000 more U.S. troops for
Afghanistan. Do you think Obama should or should not order these additional forces to

47% Should 49% Should not

Given what you've heard, do you think the Afghan presidential election was free
and fair, or do you think there was widespread vote fraud in the election?

13% Free and fair
66% Widespread fraud
4% Fraud, but not widespread (vol.)

Do you think the United States is heading for the same kind of involvement in
Afghanistan as it had in the Vietnam war, or do you think the United States will avoid
that kind of involvement this time?

35% Same as Vietnam/Already in same situation, 50% Will avoid that

NYC: Bloomberg 53 Thompson 41 (SurveyUSA 10/17-19)

10/17-19/09; 583 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

New York City

2009 Mayor
Bloomberg 53%, Thompson 41% (chart)

NJ: Christie 41 Corzine 39 (Rasmussen 10/19)

10/19/09; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 46 (chart)
Gov. Corzine: 41 / 58 (chart)

2009 Governor
Christie 41%, Corzine 39%, Daggett 11% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie (R): 47 / 47
Jon Corzine (D): 41 / 57 (chart)
Chris Daggett (i): 44 / 32

NY: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 10/14-19)

10/14-19/09; 2,367 registered voters, 2% margin of error
1,089 Democrats, 3% margin of error
659 Republicans, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Cuomo 61%, Paterson 19% (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Giuliani 74%, Lazio 9% (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election
54% Giuliani, 32% Paterson (chart)
50% Cuomo, 40% Giuliani (chart)
38% Paterson, 38% Lazio (chart)
61% Cuomo, 22% Lazio (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Andrew Cuomo (D): 61 / 13
David Paterson (D): 28 / 58 (chart)
Rudy Giuliani (R): 57 / 32
Rick Lazio (R): 15 / 13

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 30 / 57 (chart)
Sen. Gillibrand: 32 / 20 (chart)
Sen. Schumer: 62 / 24 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 62 / 32 (chart)

FL: 2010 Sen, Gov (Quinnipiac 10/12-18)

10/12-18/09; 1,078 registered voters, 3% margin of error
396 Republicans, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
43% McCollum, 7% Dockery (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
50% Crist, 35% Rubio (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election
36% McCollum, 32% Sink (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
51% Crist, 31% Meek (chart)
36% Meek, 33% Rubio

Favorable / Unfavorable
Kendrick Meek (D): 20 / 8
Marco Rubio (R): 24 / 11
Charlie Crist (R): 58 / 30 (chart)
Bill McCollum (R): 34 / 14
Alex Sink (D): 23 / 8
Paula Dockery (R): 5 / 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Crist: 59 / 31 (chart)
Sen. Nelson: 45 / 31 (chart)
Sen. LeMieux: 16 / 18
Pres. Obama: 48 / 46 (chart)

Do you approve or disapprove of Charlie Crist's selection of George LeMieux to replace Mel Martinez in the United States Senate?
34% Approve, 32% Disapprove

US: Health Care (Gallup 10/16-19)

10/16-19/09; 1,521 adults, 3% margin of error
408 blacks, including 306 previously interviewed for Gallup polls, 6% margin of error
933 non-hispanic whites, 4% margin of error
(Gallup release)


As you may know, the White House and congressional Democrats are moving toward passing a healthcare bill, though the details of the final bill are still being worked out. Based on what you know or have read, do you think you will support the final healthcare bill, does it depend on some of the decisions that have yet to be made about the bill, or do you think you will oppose the final healthcare bill?
25% Support, 33% Oppose, 39% Depends

If Congress is going to reform the health care system, should Congress deal with health care reform on a gradual basis over several years, or should Congress try to pass a comprehensive health care reform plan this year?
58% Reform on a gradual basis
38% Pass comprehensive reform this year

If Congress passes a healthcare bill, do you think it should or should not include a public, government-run insurance plan to compete with plans offered by private insurance companies?
50% Yes, should include
46% No, should not

Next, please tell me whether you favor or oppose each of the following as a way to pay for the health care bill.

Reducing payments to Medicare providers, such as hospitals and doctors:
36% Favor, 61% Oppose

Imposing a surcharge on federal income taxes for individuals with annual incomes over $280,000 and families with incomes over $350,000
59% Favor, 38% Oppose

Imposing a tax on insurance plans that have the most expensive benefit packages
34% Favor, 61% Oppose

VA: McDonnell 59 Deeds 40 (SurveyUSA 10/17-19)

10/17-19/09; 595 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated
(SurveyUSA release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 59%, Deeds 40% (chart)

What Up With That? 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

The New York Times rails against a proposal that will "waste money and ruin the Census."

Gary Langer digs deeper into the ABC/Post results on Iran.

Jennifer Agiesta shares follow-up interviews among ABC/Post respondents on Obama's accomplishments.

Lymari Morales explains why Gallup measures well being.

Anthony Salvanto and Mark Gersh crunch the New Jersey numbers.

Patrick Murray finds a lot of individual level "churn" in NJ.

Ed Kilgore considers two "ceilings" in NJ.

Rob Farbman finds just enough NJ love for Corzine.

Tom Jensen thinks automated polls may be more accurate in Maine.

Nate Silver examines turnout's impact on Maine's Question 1.

Glen Bolger reviews the "semi-secret" Democracy Corps poll.

Andrew Sullivan mines a Democracy Corps focus group report.

Greg Sargent notes that the ABC/Post generic House ballot results look a lot like 2006 & 2008.

Ed Goeas attacks the ABC/Post poll showing increasing support for the public option.

Resurgent Republic examines the Pew Research results on health care.

The Franklin & Marshall pollsters call for better polling disclosure.

Survey Practice publishes its October issue on cell phone-only households, mail ballot registration and more.

Renard Sexton follows the Afghanistan election audit.

Patricia Cohen (NYT) examines the relevance of Political Science and Tom Coburn's effort to gut its funding (via Sides).

Henry Farrell has more on the value of Political Science.

And while I was busy, Katie Couric interviewed Frank Luntz about his new book and, yes, his focus group of Playboy Playmates (video explains my headline, among other things):

Watch CBS News Videos Online

US: National Survey (Zogby 10/16-19)

10/16-19/09; 3,694 likely voters, 1.6% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby releaase)


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 51% Disapprove (chart)

State of the Country
42% Right Direction, 51% Wrong track (chart)

VA: McDonnell 45 Deeds 31 (CNU 10/8-13)

Christopher Newport University / WVEC-TV / Virginian-Pilot
10/8-13/09; 506 likely voters, 4.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Virginian-Pilot release, WVEC release)


2009 Governor
45% McDonnell, 31% Deeds (chart)

Recently, the news media has reported on a thesis Bob McDonnell wrote as a graduate student in 1989. McDonnell criticized working mothers and homosexuals as detrimental to families, although he now says he no longer holds those views. Does news of McDonnell's thesis make you more likely or less likely to vote for him, or won't it affect you vote either way?
67% Won't affect vote
18% Less likely
2% More likely

One More Thought on Yeager, Krosnick, et. al.

Topics: Internet Polls , Jon Krosnick , National Journal column , Opt-in internet polls , Probability samples

My column on "opt-in" Internet panel surveys yesterday ended a bit abruptly, leaving at least one reader confused about my meaning. So let me "revise and extend" as we say here in the nation's capital, beginning with the column's two final paragraphs:

[Prof. Jon] Krosnick wants to be clear that he sees no evidence yet that "opt-in sample surveys are as accurate as or more accurate than probability sample surveys," and given their lack of foundation in probability sampling, he is not optimistic that they ever will be. "It's essential for us to be honest about what our data are and what they are not," he added.

True enough, but I would add one thought. Our honesty should extend to the limitations of probability samples as well. In the Krosnick-Yeager study, for example, despite very sophisticated weighting, that very expensive, very rigorous telephone survey still produced errors outside the margin of error on 4 of 13 benchmarks. By random chance alone, it should have produced no more than 1.

To be clear, I did not mean to imply that David Yeager, Krosnick or any of their co-authors** were hiding anything about the margin of error. The statistics they produced on the percentage of "significant differences from benchmark" appear in Table 2 of their report and were cited in Gary Langer's initial post on the study.

Rather, the point I am trying to make is that some have reacted to this study in ways that feed a reflexive, binary, good vs. evil view of the differences between probability samples and those from opt-in internet panels. Many hear the praise of standard probability sample as "valid and reliable" or "very consistently accurate" as implying infallibility. These statements also lead many to believe that any survey conducted via the Internet is cheap "crap" that any "reputable pollster would stay away from."

My point: All surveys involve some sort of trade-off between cost and accuracy. Studies like the one we've been discussing give us some tangible sense of the differences in accuracy when using opt-in samples.

The point about the potential fallibility of conventional probability sampling was made by the same Jon Krosnick (and co-author Morris Fiorina) in a 2004 paper that I linked to in last week's column:

To be sure, though, the +/- x percent margins of error that accompany many widely- publicized survey results are misleading. This is true partly because these margins of error describe only sampling error, whereas we know many other sorts of error are present in survey data, including errors caused by interviewers and respondents when reporting and recording answers to questions. But in addition, at least in theory, these margins of error underestimate sampling error itself. Such estimates are accurate only if the respondents ultimately interviewed are a random draw from the original sample, and the less than perfect response rates that typify public opinion polls certainly come with non-response bias in terms of demographics. It is not an exaggeration to say that conventional public opinion surveying today begins with probability samples, then loses successive portions of the sample but hopes that in the end, the losses will cancel out or be corrected by statistical weighting using demographics, so the sample that remains will be a reasonable approximation of the population.

What is most encouraging about the Yeager, Krosnick, et. al. study is that so many in the survey world are looking to the results as a useful way to judge the true accuracy of different kinds of surveys. There is much disagreement about what to make of the differences reported, but hidden silver lining is that nearly everyone agrees that this sort of "results based analysis" has merit. That's progress.

**The original version of the column may have left the impression that David Yeager and Jon Krosnick wrote the paper on their own, which did a disservice to co-authors LinChiat Chang, Harold S. Javitz, Matthew S. Levendusky, Alberto Simpser and Rui Wang. Apologies for the oversight.

US: Obama Approval (Harris 10/5-12)

10/5-12/09; 2,293 adults
Mode: Internet
(Harris release)


Obama Job Approval
Economy: 33% Excellent/Pretty Good, 67% Only Fair/Poor (chart)
Health Care: 31% Excellent/Pretty Good, 69% Only Fair/Poor (chart)

US: National Survey (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN post)


Obama Job Approval
55% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree that Barack Obama has the personality and leadership qualities a President should have.
66% Agree, 33% Disagree

Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with Barack Obama on the issues that matter most to you.
48% Agree, 51% Disagree

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 60 / 39 (chart)
Joe Biden: 45 / 40
Michelle Obama: 64 / 26
Hillary Clinton: 65 / 32
Bill Clinton: 64 / 33

As you may know, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama. Do you approve or disapprove of that committee's decision to award the prize to Obama?
42% Approve, 56% Disapprove

ME: Marriage (PPP 10/16-19)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/16-19/09; 1,130 likely voters, 2.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated
(PPP release)


Question 1 for the upcoming Maine Referendum Election reads '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?' Do you intend to vote yes or no on Question 1,
which would undo the law that lets same sex couples marry?

48% Yes, 48% No (trend)

NY: 2010 Sen, Gov (Siena 10/14-18)

10/14-18/09; 624 registered voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Siena release)

New York

Favorable / Unfavorable
David Paterson: 27 / 61 (chart)
Rick Lazio: 23 / 27
Andrew Cuomo: 67 / 20
Rudy Giuliani: 60 / 35
Kirsten Gillibrand: 28 / 26 (chart)
George Pataki: 53 / 34
Barack Obama: 65 / 31 (chart)

Job Rating
Gov. Paterson: 19% Excellent/Good, 79% Fair/Poor (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
70% Cuomo, 20% Paterson (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election
Paterson 39%, Lazio 37% (chart)
Giuliani 56%, Paterson 33% (chart)
Cuomo 50%, Giuliani 43% (chart)
Cuomo 66%, Lazio 21% (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
53% Giuliani, 36% Gillibrand
46% Pataki, 41% Gillibrand (chart)

If David Paterson runs for Governor in 2010, would you vote to elect him or would you prefer someone else?
15% Elect him, 72% Prefer someone else

Would you prefer to see Attorney General Andrew Cuomo run for re-election as Attorney General next year or would you prefer to see him run for Governor instead?
36% Attorney General, 49% Governor

Would you like Rudy Giuliani to run for Governor of New York in 2010, United States Senator, or would you prefer that he not run for Governor or Senator in 2010?
32% Governor, 21% Senator, 43% Neither

VA: McDonnell 49 Deeds 41 (Clarus 10/18-19)

Clarus Research Group
10/18-19/09; 575 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Clarus release)


2009 Governor
49% McDonnell, 41% Deeds (chart)

NJ: Christie 39 Corzine 39 (Monmouth 10/16-18)

Monmouth University / Gannett
10/15-18/09; 1,004 likely voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Monmouth release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Corzine 39%, Christie 39%, Daggett 14% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine (D): 37 / 51 (chart)
Chris Christie (R): 40 / 41
Chris Daggett (i): 28 / 15

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 39 (chart)

US: National Survey (ABC/Post 10/15-18)

ABC News / Washington Post
10/15-18/09; 1,004 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
ABC: story, results, Iran blog post, Iran results;
Post: story, results, Iran blog post


Obama Job Approval
57% Approve, 40% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 50 / 48 (chart)
Health care: 48 / 48 (chart)
Iran: 52 / 39

State of the Country
44% Right Direction, 54% Wrong Track (chart)

2010 House: Generic Ballot
51% Democratic candidate, 39% Republican candidate (chart)

Party ID
33% Democrat, 20% Republican, 42% independent (chart)

Obama has been president for about nine months. Would you say he has accomplished a great deal during that time, a good amount, not very much or little or nothing?
49% Great deal/Good amount, 50% Not much/Little or nothing

Overall, given what you know about them, would you say you support or oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the
Obama administration?

45% Support, 48% Oppose (chart)

Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?
57% Support, 40% Oppose

Which of these would you prefer - a plan that includes some form of government sponsored health insurance for people who can't get affordable private insurance, but is approved without support from Republicans in Congress; or a plan that is approved with support from Republicans in Congress, but does not include any form of government-sponsored health insurance for people who can't get affordable private insurance?
51% Prefer government-sponsored insurance, 37% Prefer Republican support

Medicare is the government health insurance program for people 65 and over. Do you think health care reform would strengthen the Medicare program, weaken Medicare orhave no effect on it?
8% Strengthen, 43% Weaken, 31% No effect

To try to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, would you support or oppose...

Direct diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran to try to resolve the situation:
82% Support, 18% Oppose

Offering Iran financial incentives such as aid money, or more trade, if it abandons any effort to develop nuclear weapons:
30% Support, 67% Oppose

Imposing international economic sanctions against Iran:
78% Support, 18% Oppose

The United States bombing Iran's nuclear development sites:
42% Support, 54% Oppose

Invading with U.S. forces to remove the Iranian government from power:
33% Support, 62% Oppose

US: 2012 Primary Matchups (Rasmussen 10/15)

10/15/09; 750 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen: (Palin/Romney, Palin/Huckabee, Romney/Huckabee)


2012 President: Republican Primary
52% Romney, 37% Palin
55% Huckabee, 35% Palin
44% Huckabee, 39% Romney

IL: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 10/14)

10/14/09/ 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: IVR
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 56 / 44

2010 Senate: General Election
Kirk 41%, Giannoulias 41%
Kirk 43%, Jackson 39%
Kirk 43%, Hoffman 33%

AR: 2010 Sen (DSCC 10/5-7)

Benenson Strategy Group (D) for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
10/5-7/09; 703 likely voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(BSG release)


2010 Senate
51% Blanche Lincoln (D), 37% Kim Hendren (R)
50% Gilbert Baker (D), 37% Gilbert Baker (R)

US: Afghanistan (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of terrorism -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?
36% Very/Somewhat
64% Not too/not at all

Would you favor or oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan?
39% Favor
59% Oppose

Do you consider the war in Afghanistan to be part of the war on terrorism which began on September 11, 2001, or do you consider it to be an entirely separate military action?
61% Part of the war on terrorism
37% Entirely separate military action

Thinking about the current situation, do you think it is or is not necessary for the United States to keep its troops in Afghanistan NOW in order to prevent additional acts of terrorism in the U.S.?
60% Yes, is necessary
39% No, is not

Just your best guess -- do you think each of the following is likely or unlikely to happen in Afghanistan in the next few years?

Afghanistan will have a democratic government that will not be over-thrown by terrorists or the Taliban:
31% Likely, 68% Unlikely

Afghan military and police will be able to ensure safety and security in Afghanistan without assistance from the United States:
31% Likely, 69% Unlikely

Afghanistan will be able to prevent terrorists from using the country as a base of operations for planning attacks against the United States:
33% Likely, 66% Unlikely

Do you think the war in Afghanistan has turned into a situation like the United States faced in the Vietnam War, or don't you think so?
52% Yes, it has
46% No, it has not

IL: 2010 Gov (SIU 9/8-10/9)

Southern Illinois University / Paul Simon Public Policy Institute
9/9-10/9/09; 800 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
208 likely Democratic Primary voters, 5.4% margin of error
89 likely Republican Primary voters, 6.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(SIU release)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Pat Quinn 34%, Dan Hynes 17%

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
Bill Brady 10%, Kirk Dillard 8%, Matt Murphy 4%, Bob Schillserstrom 4%, Adam Anrzejewski 2%

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 64 / 36
Gov. Quinn: 67 / 34
Sen. Durbin: 64 / 36
Sen. Burris: 24 / 77

CA: Pelosi, Approval Ratings (Field 9/18-10/5)

9/18-10/5/09; 1,005 registered voters, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Field release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Nancy Pelosi (statewide): 34 / 44
Sen. Feinstein: 46 / 35 (chart)
Sen. Boxer: 44 / 37 (chart)

US: Health Care (Rasmussen 10/16-17)

10/16-17/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated
(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?
42% Favor, 54% Oppose (chart)

If the health care reform plan passes, will the quality of health care get better, worse, or stay about the same?
23% Better, 51% Worse, 20% Same

If the health care reform plan passes, will the cost of health care go up, go down, or stay about the same?
56% up, 19% Down, 16% Same

'Opt-in' Internet Panel Surveys - Part II

Topics: Douglas Rivers , Internet Polls , Jon Krosnick , National Journal column

My column this week concludes a two-part series on the subject of "opt in" internet panel surveys and a recently released, much debated accuracy study by Jon Krosnick, David Yeager and their colleagues.

For further reading: last week's column, the blog post by ABC's Gary Langer that shared the Krosnick-Yeager report, the reaction by Doug Rivers of YouGov/Polimetrix (which is also the owner and principle sponsor of Pollster.com) and a response from Krosnick, Yeager, et. al.

Senate 2010 Receipts, Expenditures and Cash

The Hotline gave us a summary of the 3rd quarter FEC reports for 2010 Senate candidates. Here I offer two views of the races. The plot above shows receipts against expenditures for the 3rd quarter. Above the diagonal line means more receipts than expenditures, below the line and you have a bad burn rate.

Solid dots are incumbents, open circles are non-incumbents. Blue for Dems, red for Reps (surprise!)  Open a second browser window to use the table at Hotline to see who's who in the charts. (You do have two monitors, right? Let's use them!)

The chart below shows receipts against cash on hand. Here we see the built up advantages most incumbents enjoy regardless of current receipts.
The ideal view is the chart below, combining the two above. It is formatted for a screen 1440 pixels wide and probably won't be very clear on smaller screens. But if you can view it full screen you can read across the two charts-- see the same level of receipts vertically and how that compares to expenditures and cash on hand horizontally. Click the chart to see it full size---it is too small to read in our standard window width.

 Let's take a look at the races Charlie Cook at the Cook Political Report rates as tossups

Key trick to reading the charts: Look for blue and red points close together and towards the upper right. Those are closely competitive candidates with significant resources.  Where you see open circles of the same color close together, you see potential competitive primaries. 

The Connecticut race is shaping up as a huge big money race. Three Republicans have over $1 million cash on hand and incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd has only $2 million in the bank, a small advantage for an incumbent. Ex-WWE CEO Linda McMahon and Ex Ambassador Thomas Foley both have large loan investments in their campaigns, while ex-Rep. Rob Simmons is relatively debt free and raising substantial amounts from others. Dodd raised less than McMahon or Simmons, and has a high burn rate as well. This race looks like the smallest incumbent financial advantage around, either by receipts or by cash on hand. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose polls have been shaky, has a competitive opponent in "Wall Street Banker" John Chachas who has pumped $1 million into his race, leaving a big debt but making his receipts competitive with Reid's $2 million. But now shift your gaze to the cash on hand chart and you see Reid's gigantic advantage in money in the bank, where he holds almost $9 million to Chachas' $1.3M. (The next strongest Republican is ex-UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian with just barely a quarter million raised and less than that in the bank.) Reid may be weak in the polls, but unless a large infusion of Republican donations start flowing into Nevada, Reid will be able to outspend any opponent. (Newly announced ex-NV GOP chair Sue Lowden won't file her first report until January.)  

In Illinois the open seat of Roland Burris is very competitive. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10th) has the Republican primary all to himself in terms of money advantage, with no other Republican raising even 1% of Kirk's take in the 3rd quarter. But the Democratic race is much more balanced. The clustering of open circles in both plots shows that no Dem enjoys a big money advantage. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias ($1.1M raised, $2.4M cash) has a modest advantage but self-financed candidate lawyer Jacob Meister (giving himself a cool $1M) and ex-Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman (who loaned himself $500k) have pumped considerable money into their campaigns. The other serious contender, Chicago Urban League Pres. Cheryle Robinson Jackson, raised just $367k with $318k in the bank.

Kentucky's open Republican seat has real competition in both parties. Republicans Rand Paul (son of Ron) and Sec. State Trey Grayson are evenly matched, as are Democrats Atty. Gen.  Jack Conway and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo. (Conway didn't report on expenditures, so is missing from the expenditures chart but not from the cash on hand chart.) This state looks like two competitive primaries as well as a competitive general. 

In Missouri's open Republican seat, each party has a clear front runner and those two are evenly matched so far in the money race. Dem Sec. State Robin Carnahan raised $1.1M with $1.8M cash while Rep. Roy Blunt (R-7th) brought in $1.3M with $2.3M cash. Carnahan has a small lead in recent polls. Close enough for another barn burner in the Show Me state.

In New Hampshire Republican ex-Atty. Gen. Kelly Ayotte outraised Democrat Rep. Paul Hodes (D-2nd) but Hodes has more in the bank. Polls show a tossup with Ayotte holding a slight edge. Should stay competitive. 

Ohio's ex-OMB Dir. and US. Rep. Rob Portman is running away with the Republican money, and has a significant advantage over Democrat Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, by 2-1 in receipts and over 3-1 in cash. (Dem Sec. State Jennifer Brunner failed to provide data on her financial status but said she raised less than $228k brought in for the 2nd quarter.) Despite trailing in money, Fisher has a modest lead in polling as of September. Dem money needs to open up there to stay competitive. 

The loss of incumbent Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison to the governors race has so far left Republican contenders trailing in the money race.  Rep. Joe Barton (R-6th), who has not announced an official entry into the race but expressed "interest",  is best off, with half a million raised in the 3rd quarter and $1.7M in the bank. In second place for the GOP is ex-Sec. State Roger Williams, with $336k raised, and $863k cash.  But both Democrats have double that in cash and both out-raised Barton in the quarter.  Houston Mayor Bill White has an advantage on the Dem side (including 1/3 in self-financing) over Ex-Comp. John Sharp, but it could still be a competitive primary as far as money goes. (Sharp failed to supply expenditures so it missing from that chart.) Others may still enter the race and if Hutchison resigns there could be a May 2010 special election just to add to the fun.

Of the races Cook rates as "leans" rather than tossups, Colorado is looking better for Democrats worried that first term appointee Michael Bennet will have a struggle to hold the seat. So far he is well ahead in both receipts and cash over several Republican contenders, the strongest of whom, ex-LG Jane Norton raised half as much in the quarter and has only one-fifth as much in the bank. Still, Bennet has not polled well, so Rep money coming in could make a difference here.

The Pennsylvania race looks very interesting, with ex-Rep. and Club for Growth ex-Pres Pat Toomey dominating the Republican primary contest with $1.6M raised, $1.8M cash. Rep. Joe Sestak's (D-7th) intra-party challenge to newly converted Democratic incumbent Arlen Specter is so far uneven in money, with Specter both raising and banking quite a bit more. Sestak has a substantial $4.7M in cash, but Specter has $8.7. With that kind of money available for a primary it will be interesting to see how damaged the winner of the Democratic primary will be as they enter the general against a well-funded Toomey.

The Florida Republican primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio is so far continuing to advantage Crist. Crist raised 2.5 times as much and has 6 times as much in cash. Also, Rubio's cash burn rate has been high, spending more than Crist in the quarter while taking in so much less. On the Dem side, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-17th) is far behind Crist with $772k raised and $2.7M in cash. North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns raised just $28k in the 2nd quarter, and hasn't filed a 3rd quarter report.

Of the "likely" races in Cook's rating, North Carolina's incumbent Republican Richard Burr has a strong money advantage. And Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas has yet to see a Republican challenger closing in on money, though State Sen. Gilbert Baker stands out as the one potentially competitive candidate though trailing in cash by 4-1.

We should close noting that money alone doesn't win. Challengers need enough to compete but they don't have to match vulnerable incumbents. These data are most interesting for helping show which non-incumbents are bringing in support at levels that would give them enough to compete, in either open or incumbent seats.