October 25, 2009 - October 31, 2009


NY23 Siena Poll Again: Some Hope for Each Side

The new Siena College poll of NY-23 has mixed news for both parties now that Scozzafava has suspended her campaign. The key question is how does her vote split between Owens and Hoffman. (And keep in mind she'll still be on the ballot, so some will vote for her anyway, and we have no idea how many that will be.)

Thanks to Siena for releasing cross tabs which allow us a much better look into the data. Here's hoping this practice becomes more widespread.

First, just as they are tied in vote, Owens and Hoffman are tied in favorable/unfavorable views. Owens registers 40/35/24 fav/unfav/dk, while Hoffman is at 41/37/22. Scozzafava has suffered from the campaign, with a poor 29/51/20 showing.

So while the campaign has been intense, Dede has been the primary victim, with Owens and Hoffman emerging at this point with essentially identical favorability profiles. 

The next question is how do Scozzafava voters feel about Owens and Hoffman? The answer is pretty much the same, and not very positive. 

NY23b.pngOwens is 19% Fav, 50% Unfav and 32% DK. For Hoffman it is 15%, 57% and 28%.  That's a tiny edge to Owens, but it is so small and flies against party identification that it is hard to see this as better than a wash. Certainly it doesn't look like Scozzafava voters will see Owens as a highly desirable second choice, but at best a poor second.

The undecided voters (9% of the sample) are also evenly split in the favs towards Owens and Hoffman, with identical 24% favs, and a 24% unfav for Owens to a 20% unfav for Hoffman. As befits undecideds, mostly they don't have an opinion: 52% DK for Owens, 56% dk for Hoffman.

Conclusion: probably remains an even split, based on these results.

What about Party Identification? Here is some bad news for Owens. He's losing 25% of the Democratic voters, versus only a 13% defection rate among Republicans.
Fully 14% of Dems say they will vote for the Conservative Hoffman. Another 11% were going for Scozzafava. Even if you think all those Scozzafava Dems come back to Owens, the party is not as unified as it needs to be.

Independents are also leaning Hoffman by 40-35, with only 15% supporting Scozzafava up for grabs.

Ironically, it may be the 29% of Republicans (45% of the Siena sample of likely voters) who could be attracted to Owens. They've by definition resisted Hoffman, but now with the party united behind him, it seems unlikely Owens can capture a disproportionate share of these Republicans who resisted the Conservative's siren song.

For Owens to make gains here, he has to see Dems coming home overwhelmingly from Scozzafava (not unreasonable) and to see a lower defection rate for Hoffman (somewhat harder to do.)  And he also has to hope that the Scozzafava Republicans are so upset with Hoffman that they defect to Owens (but we just saw above that Scozzafava voters generally split their affections evenly. We don't know how Scozzafava Reps specifically feel about Owens and Hoffman, so perhaps that group breaks more but given the power of party id, it seems unlikely to be especially fertile territory for Owens.)

It is the combination of these results that led me to say the Siena poll is bad news for Owens in my earlier "quick post". Now the logic is better laid out. It isn't that this looks like terrible news, but there isn't much good news in it either. A toss up remains a tossup, but with some partisan forces acting mostly in Hoffman's favor rather than Owens'. 

Finally, there is one interesting note that COULD be a plus for Owens. Scozzafava and undecided voters are MUCH more like Owens supporters than Hoffman on one key point: They like President Obama quite a lot:

If this race were a referendum on Obama, then the Hoffman voters look just like they should-- angry anti-Obama folks, while the Scozzafava and undecided look a lot more positive to Obama, and hence potentially attractive Democratic voters. 

Perhaps the best move Owens can make in the last three days is to drape himself in the cloak of Obama, hoping to bring home those wavering 25% of Dems, and use this favorable view of Obama among Scozzafava and undecided to bring in the margin of victory.  

Conversely, if Hoffman wants to win the Scozzafava and undecided, he should probably push Republican  loyalty more, and opposition (especially angry opposition) to the president less. He's already won over the voters with pitchforks and tea bags. He needs a strategy to close the deal with Reps and others who don't actually despise the president. (Recall the district went 52-47 for Obama.) 

So after all that, it still looks like a tossup on the two simplest most direct measures: current vote choice and favorability. When we try to parse the Scozzafava voters, they mostly look like a tossup, with at most a sliver of extra support for Owens. But at most a sliver. 

Owens must win back defecting Dems to have a chance. And some nationalization of the race even at this late date might help more than emphasizing partisanship alone. The former can both bring home Dems and win over some Scozzafava support. 

What the data don't address is how much the Republican party (and its national leadership) now united behind Hoffman can swing the majority of Scozzafava voters.

Bottom line is this will be fun on Tuesday night.

(Special thanks to Siena's Steven Greenberg and Don Levy for getting me some extra detail on what is surely a very busy day for them.)

Re: NY-23 Siena Poll Bad News for Owens

Topics: Bill Owens , Dede Scozzafava , Doug Hofffman , NY-23 , PPP , Siena Institute

A quick update to Charles' post on the bad news for Democrat Bill Owens and good news for Conservative Doug Hoffman in the new Siena Research Institute survey in the wake of the withdrawl this morning by Republican Dede Scozzafava.

Charles noted that Scozzafava supporters in the survey (20% of all likely voters) rate Owens almost a negatively (50% unfavorable) as Hoffman (57%). That's important, but so are the party leanings of those voters. The Siena crosstabs did not include party identification tabulation, but I emailed the folks at Siena and they kindly shared the following data:


So Scozzafava voters, as of this past week, identify Republican by a more than three-to-one (64% to 19%) margin. At a minimum, it is clear that many Scozzafava supporters that choose to vote for someone else on Tuesday will have to resolve some attitudes in conflict, especially if Scozzafava herself makes no formal endorsement (her name will remain on the ballot; Nate Silver also points out that they also rate Barack Obama 64% favorable, 31% unfavorable).

Also, a post-script for your how-do-polls-influence-campaigns file: As Josh Marshall noted, in an local newspaper interview, Scozzafava attributed her decision in part to the results of the same Siena poll: "Ms. Scozzafava told the Watertown Daily Times that Siena Research Institute poll numbers show her too far behind to catch up - and she lacks enough money to spend on advertising in the last three days to make a difference."

Finally, PPP put a NY-23 poll in the field this morning that obviously got a little scrambled.  Be sure to read Tom Jensen's review of their "NY-23 Polling Odyssey."

Update: Charles has much more here

NY-23 Siena Poll Bad News for Owens

Updated: I've now posted a less hasty look at the data. Change "bad news" to "mixed news". There is some good and some bad for both Owens and Hoffman. Still a tossup is the best characterization. The new post is here. I stand by the bad news mentioned here: Owens is not doing well among independents, and the new post shows Dems are defecting at 25%. So the headline here doesn't need to change. On the other hand, there are some weaknesses for Hoffman (and opportunities for Owens) among the Scozzafava voters, which I take up in the new post. ---charles

This is a quick note on the new Siena poll in light of Scozzafava dropping out.

Can Owens pick up from Scozzafava supporters? Not so likely given these poll results.

Owens Fav/Unfav among Scozzafava suppporters: 19/50
Hoffman Fav/Unfav among Scozzafava supporters: 15/57

Looks like a wash with many likely to skip the choice of two disliked alternatives.

And the worse news for Owens is among independents:

Ind. Fav/Unfav Owens: 39/47
Ind. Fav/Unfav Hoffman: 47/33

More after daughter's soccer game!

NY-23: 2009 Special (Siena 10/27-29)

10/28-29/09; 704 likely voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Siena: release, crosstabs)

New York 23rd Congressional District

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dede Scozzafava (R): 29 / 51
Bill Owens (D): 40 / 36
Doug Hoffman (C): 41 / 37

2009 House: Special Election
36% Owens, 35% Hoffman, 20% Scozzafava (chart)

NYC: Bloomberg 53 Thompson 42 (SurveyUSA 10/28-29)

10/28-29/09; 606 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

New York City

2009 Mayor
Bloomberg 53%, Thompson 42% (chart)

NJ Watch (Friday) Plus an Automated vs. Live Interviewer Bonus

Topics: Automated polls , Chris Christie , Chris Daggett , independents , Jon Corzine , New Jersey 2009

The most recent polling in New Jersey shows an excruciatingly close race between incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie. As of this writing, our standard trend estimate (below) puts Corzine "ahead" by a negligible 0.8% (41.4% to 40.6%). The more sensitive setting on our smoothing tool makes the Corzine margin slightly narrower (0.6%), the less sensitive setting makes it slightly larger (0.9%). Any way you look at it though, the differences between the estimates -- and more importantly, between Corzine and Christie -- are virtually meaningless.  Right now, the current polling snapshot of this race is a close as these things get.

For perspective on the closeness of the margin you might want to stroll down memory lane and revisit my final Election Day update from Tuesday, November 4, 2008. We showed only four states where the Obama-McCain margin on our trend-estimates was less than 2 percentage points, and the leader ultimately won the state in 2 of 4 states. So a margin of under two percentage points puts us well within true toss-up territory in terms of predictive accuracy, especially with a weekend of polling still to go.

Understandably, the close nature of the race has political junkies turning these numbers upside down and reading every possible tea leaf and in search of the key to the outcome. After doing much of the same (while out with the flu) the last few days, the best answer I can give based on the empirical evidence -- for the moment at least -- is that this race is currently looking very close.

Are things trending toward Corzine? Yes, when compared to early September, our chart indicates a decline of roughly four percentage points for Christie and an increase of roughly three points for Corzine. Over the course of the summer, Christie had been dropping (from a high of roughly 49% in early July), while Corzine remained flat.

What is less clear is whether the closing trend has continued over the last two weeks. As of this writing, only three pollsters have tracked more than once since mid-October, allowing apples-to-apples trend comparisons. Two, SurveyUSA and Democracy Corps -- show Corzine's margin two percentage points better. One, Rasmussen, shows it one point worse. None of these differences are statistically significant alone and the patterns are obviously small and inconsistent.

That said, the trend over the next four days may not be as smooth, and the Daggett "wild card" that everyone has focused on for the last few months is the reason. Consider at least three ways that the Daggett effect leaves us even more uncertain about the outcome:

Individual level uncertainty -- The Monmouth University Polling Institute reported yesterday on a focus group they convened earlier this week in Edison, NJ among voters who are still either undecided or just leaning to a candidate. While they explicitly warn against treating the findings as representative of all undecided voters, the most clear finding was a sense of unhappiness with both major candidates: "These voters claim that this is the most difficult election choice they have ever faced. Nearly all said that Jon Corzine has not done a good enough job to deserve reelection. They simply have not heard enough from Chris Christie to cast their lot with him." Their final decision about Daggett, the report says, may come down to whether he has a chance of winning.

Aggregate level uncertainty -- One statistic worth pondering: On the last ten polls, all conducted in the last week, the portion of the electorate that is either undecided or supporting a candidate other than Corzine or Christie averages 16.5% (with a range of 11% to 23%). As a crude measure of voter uncertainty, that's considerably more than 5% or so we saw at this stage of last year's presidential election.

Measurement artifacts? -- Complicating this issue even further are the measurement challenges that pollsters face when testing lesser known independent candidates, especially when voters are unhappy with the top two choices. Offer just three choices and no explicit undecided category and some undecided voters will choose the independent as their way of expressing uncertainty. On the other hand, fail to prompt for the independent and you may measure a number that's much lower (see, for example, the intriguing experiment embedded in the Fairleigh Dickinson poll). Reality likely falls somewhere in between. And no one can be certain of the effect that the other 9 candidates will have.

And finally, there is the intriguing pattern noted earlier this week by PPP's Tom Jensen and explored last night by Nate Silver. Christie has done consistently better on telephone polls conducted using an automated, recorded voice than on those using live interviewers. Using the filter tool on our chart, as of this writing, Christie runs roughly three points ahead of Corzine on the automated polls, but Corzine runs a little less than three points ahead on live interviewer polls. The chart below, which Charles Franklin kindly prepared this afternoon, shows that the difference has been consistent throughout the race (his margins are likely different than on our interactive chart due to his use of slightly different smoothing levels).


We also see a similar though far less pronounced and consistent effect in Virginia, and then only since Labor Day.


What this effect is about, and what it portends for the outcome in New Jersey, I cannot say. Nate Silver has some plausible speculation about automated surveys being potentially more sensitive to an enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats, although if that is true, I have no explanation for why we saw no such consistent difference between automated and live interviewer surveys in the Obama-McCain polling last year. We should have new surveys over the weekend or on Monday from all three automated pollsters in New Jersey (SurveyUSA, PPP and Rasmussen) and from at least three of the live-interviewer polls. So this phenomenon will be interesting to watch.

Either way, the combination of a very close snapshot and many indicators of potential volatility makes for a very uncertain outcome.

US: National Survey (Economist 10/25-27)

Economist / YouGov
10/25-27/09; 1,000 adults, 4.7% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)


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?
53% Support, 47% Oppose (chart)

Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 82 / 12 (chart)
Reps: 11 / 85 (chart)
Inds: 49 / 43 (chart)
Economy: 43 / 47 (chart)
Health Care: 45 / 45 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
17% Approve, 58% Disapprove (chart)

2010 House: Generic Ballot
47% Democrat, 41% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
36% Right Direction, 49% Wrong track (chart)

NC: 2010 Senate (Civitas 10/20-21)

Civitas Institute (R) / McLaughlin & Associates (R)
10/20-21/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Civitas release)

North Carolina

2010 Senate (trends)
Richard Burr (R) 44%, Elaine Marshall (D) 33%

US: National Survey (Kos 10/26-29)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/26-29/09; 2,400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 56 / 36 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 39 / 53
Harry Reid: 33 / 55
Mitch McConnell: 15 / 67
John Boehner: 13 / 64
Democratic Party: 43 / 49
Republican Party: 21 / 68

State of the Country
42% Right Direction, 54% Wrong track (chart)

NJ: Christie 46 Corzine 43 (Rasmussen 10/29)

10/29/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

New Jersey

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55 / 44 (chart)
Gov. Corzine: 41 / 58 (chart)

2009 Governor
46% Christie, 43% Corzine, 8% Daggett (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Christie (R): 48 / 50
Corzine (D): 44 / 54 (chart)
Daggett (i): 37 / 47

NYC: Bloomberg 53 Thompson 38 (Marist 10/26-28)

10/26-28/09; 974 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
524 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Marist release)

New York City

2009 Mayor
Bloomberg 53%, Thompson 38% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Michael Bloomberg: 61 / 32 (chart)
Bill Thompson: 44 / 31

Job Rating
Mayor Bloomberg: 54% Excellent/Good, 45% Fair/Poor (chart)

NY-23, RINOs and "Tea Party" Candidates

BREAKING: Scozzafava suspends campaign. Divided party now unites. Demonstrates powerful appeal of right in Rep pty. What remains to be seen is if this appeal can win the general election. Amy Walters had a good catch at Hotline: Hoffman leading among independents. Thats good news for him. But other unknown is how Scozzafava's 20% split now. Are they loyal Reps or were they looking for more progressive issues and hence not likely to back Hoffman? With all attention on Rep split, has Owens given the district reason to back the Dem over a conservative? Fun!

NY-23 is the poster child for the conservative insurgency in Republican politics. What looked a few weeks ago to be a splintered party in NY-23 is looking more and more like a consensus developing in favor of the conservative candidate. If Scozzafava continues to collapse, Democrat Owens will no longer enjoy a fractured opposition but a united one.

Mark has posted extensively on the problem of polling in NY-23, so be sure to see his comprehensive post here. There are many problems with polling in this race, especially on the turnout side.

But setting those concerns aside for the moment, Hoffman's surge shows that an insurgency can succeed in winning over (so far) well over half of Republican voters. The string of Hoffman endorsements from Palin, Pawlenty, Pataki and others shows how seriously Republican leaders are taking conservative insurgents.

Given substantial investments in the NY-23 race by both party and independent groups, this might be seen as the best case for insurgents against the party establishment. The converse is that if Owens pulls it out, NY-23 will be a symbol of party fratricide. And if Scozzafava's support collapses, it will be a message of the power of party unity around conservative nominees.

I commented on this topic in a recent Christian Science Monitor story here, and spent a pleasant hour this morning discussing this and other insurgent challenges on Wisconsin Public Radio's Joy Cardine show. The audio is available here. At the time of CSM interview, Hoffman had not yet surged, something we talk about in the audio link.

NJ: Christie 42 Corzine 35 (Neighborhood 10/27-29)

Neighborhood Research (R)
10/27-29/09; 341 likely voters, 5.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Neighborhood release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Christie 42%, Corzine 35%, Daggett 8% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 26 / 48 (chart)
Chris Christie: 34 / 25
Chris Daggett: 11 / 12

NJ: Corzine 40 Christie 39 (Stockton 10/17-19)

Stockton College / Zogby
10/27-29/09; 1,093 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Stockton release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Corzine 40%, Christie 39%, Daggett 14% (chart)

NC: 2010 Sen (Elon 10/26-29)

Elon University
10/26-29/09; 703 adults, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Elon release)

North Carolina

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 44 (chart)
Sen. Burr: 37 / 22 (chart)
Sen. Hagan: 35 / 35 (chart)
Gov. Perdue: 36 / 47 (chart)

Thinking about your current United States Senator, Richard Burr . . . do you think [he has
performed his job well enough to deserve re-election, or do you think it's time to give a new person
a chance?

19% Deserves re-election, 42% Time for a new person to have a chance

AR: 2010 Sen (PCCC 10/27-28)

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (D) / Research 2000
10/27-28/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(PCCC release)


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?
56% Favor, 37% Oppose

Favorable / Unfavorable
Blanche Lincoln: 41 / 49

2010 Senate
Lincoln 41%, Gilbert Baker 39%
Lincoln 43%, Curtis Coleman 38%

If Blanche Lincoln votes against a public option as part of health care reform, will that make you more likely or less likely to vote for her in the 2010 general election or would it have no real effect on your vote?
16% More, 29% Less, 55% No effect

If Blanche Lincoln joined Republican senators in filibustering and killing a health care reform bill because it had a public health insurance option, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for her in the 2010 general election or would it have no real effect on your vote?
15% More, 32% Less, 53% No effect

IN: Bayh, Health Care (PCCC 10/24-25)

Progressive Change Campaign Committee (D) / Research 2000
10/24-25/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(PCCC release)


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?
52% Favor, 42% Oppose

Do you think adding a public option would be harmful to the people of Indiana, helpful, or make no difference?
53% Help, 40% Harm, 7% No difference

Favorable / Unfavorable
Evan Bayh: 62 / 30

If Evan Bayh voted against a strong public health insurance option as part of health care reform, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him in the 2010 general election or would it have no real effect on your vote?
19% More, 27% Less, 54% No effect

If Evan Bayh joined Republican senators in filibustering and killing a health care bill because it had a public option, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him in the 2010 general election or would it have no real effect on your vote?
18% More, 29% Less, 53% No effect

OH: Approval Ratings (U Cincinnati 20/14-20)

University of Cincinnati / Ohio Poll
10/14-20/09; 808 adults, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(University of Cincinnati release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 52 / 45 (chart)
Gov. Strickland: 48 / 37 (chart)

VA: McDonnell 54 Deeds 44 (Kos 10/26-28)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/26-28/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Bob McDonnell: 58 / 39
Creigh Deeds: 46 / 44
Barack Obama: 49 / 45 (chart)

McDonnell 54%, Deeds 44% (chart)

NJ: Corzine 44 Christie 43 (FDickinson 10/22-28)

Fairleigh Dickinson / PublicMind
10/22-28/09; 694 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Fairleigh Dickinson release)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Corzine: 39 / 54 (chart)
Christie: 41 / 44
Daggett: 28 / 23

2009 Governor (chart)
Corzine 44%, Christie 43%, Daggett (vol.) 6%
Christie 41%, Corzine 39%, Daggett 14%

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Corzine: 37 / 52 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 52 / 37 (chart)

US: National Survey (Fox 10/27-28)

Fox New / Opinion Dynamics
10/27-28/09; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews


Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 41% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 84 / 10 (chart)
Reps: 15 / 79 (chart)
Inds: 49 / 34 (chart)

Overall, do you think the country is better off or worse off today than it was a year ago?
42% Better, 43% Worse

How would you have voted in the 2008 presidential election, if you knew what you know now -- for Barack Obama or John McCain?
48% Obama, 41% McCain

Are you better off or worse off financially today than you were a year ago?
27% Better, 41% Worse

So far, do you think the Obama administration has started to bring real change to Washington or is it more of the same partisan politics?
39% Real change, 56% More of the same

How effective do you think the economic stimulus and spending plan that was passed in February has been -- very effective, somewhat effective, not very effective or not at all effective?
48% Very/Somewat, 50% Not very/Not at all

Do you approve or disapprove of the government limiting the salaries of the highest paid executives at companies that received government bailout money last year?
73% Approve, 23% Disapprove

Party ID
40% Democrat, 37% Republican, 17% independent (chart)

NJ: Christie 43 Corzine 43 (SurveyUSA 10/26-28)

10/26-28/09; 640 likely & actual voters
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
43% Christie, 43% Corzine, 11% Daggett (chart)

NJ: Christie 42 Corzine 41 (Kos 10/26-28)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/26-28/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 38 / 55 (chart)
Chris Christie: 43 / 46
Chris Daggett: 35 / 16
Barack Obama: 63 / 33 (chart)

2009 Governor
Christie 42%, Corzine 41%, Daggett 14% (chart)

Sarah Palin polls like Dan Quayle

Topics: Dan Quayle , Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin continues to post gruesome poll numbers for a supposedly serious presidential contender. The latest CNN poll found that only 29 percent of Americans believe she is qualified to be president. That number represents a significant decline from perceptions of her qualifications during the campaign, which were already terrible.

Indeed, perceptions of Palin's qualifications are unprecedented among presidential/vice presidential nominees and major presidential contenders in recent years. From Joe Biden to George W. Bush, no one has been perceived as less qualified since Dan Quayle and Ross Perot. The Palin-Quayle parallel, which Jon Chait nailed soon after her nomination, is particularly striking. Each was a surprise VP pick who sparked initial enthusiasm but later became widely perceived as incompetent.

To illustrate the point, here's a comparison of poll results measuring perceptions of Palin and Quayle's qualifications based on time elapsed since their initial convention speeches*:


Though Quayle served as vice president for four years (and got a small bump in the Gulf War period), he could never overcome the perception that he was not qualified to be president. I expect Palin's trajectory to be very similar.

Update 10/30 1:26 PM: Credit where credit is due -- Phil Klinkner raised the Palin-Quayle parallel back on August 30, 2008, citing a Rasmussen poll.

Update 10/31 10:48 AM: In the post above, I didn't make explicit what happened to Quayle after his tenure as vice president. For those who don't know, he withdrew from the presidential race in 1996 and declined to run in 2000. Though he gave various reasons for his decisions to withdraw, the fundamental problem was his perceived lack of qualification to be president. Palin may run in 2012 or 2016 -- the base likes her much more than it did Quayle -- but she will face the same obstacles that he did in trying to mount a successful campaign.

* The polls that were included used national adult and registered voter samples with binary qualified/not qualified questions.

(Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com)

US: News Interest (Pew 10/23-26)

Pew Research Center
10/23-26/09; 1,001 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew release)


Most Closely Followed Story
32% Reports about swine flu and the vaccine
27% Debate over health care reform
15% Reports about the condition of the U.S. economy
9% The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan
4% the federal government's plans to cut the pay of top executives at financial companies that received bailout money
1% News about political instability in Pakistan

Do you think the press has been too critical, not critical enough or fair in the way it has covered Barack

26% Too critical, 31% Not critical enough, 37% Fair

Now I'd like to ask you about where you get most of your news these days. For each item that I read, please
tell me if it is something you do regularly, or not.

Watch local TV news: 74% Yes, regularly, 26% No, not
Watch the Fox News cable channel: 40% Yes, 59% No
Watch MSNBC cable news: 22% Yes, 77% No
Watch CNN cable news: 36% Yes, 63% No
Watch the national nightly network news on CBS, ABC and NBC: 48% Yes, 51% No
Read the newspaper" 53% Yes, 46% No
Listen to radio news: 49% Yes, 50% No
Get news from the internet: 53% Yes, 47% No

As I read a list of news networks, please tell me if you think each is mostly liberal, mostly conservative, or
neither in particular.

NBC News: 36% Liberal, 11% Conservative, 36% Neither
ABC News: 32% Liberal, 14% Conservative, 36% Neither
CBS News: 31% Liberal, 14% Conservative, 37% Neither
CNN cable news: 37% Liberal, 11% Conservative, 33% Neither
Fox News cable channel: 14% Liberal, 47% Conservative, 24% Neither
MSNBC cable news: 36% Liberal, 11% Conservative, 27% Neither

All in all, do you think hosts of cable news shows having strong opinions about politics is a good thing or a
bad thing?

42% Good thing, 42% Bad thing

ME: Marriage (Kos 10/26-28)

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/26-28/09; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Susan Collins: 49 / 43
Olympia Snowe: 50 / 44
Barack Obama: 67 / 25

As you may know, there will be one question on the ballot this November in Maine addressing the issue of same-sex unions. In part, it will read "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry?" A "YES" vote takes away the right of same-sex couples to marry. A "NO" vote keeps the right of same-sex couples to marry. If the election were held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question?
47% Yes, 48% No (chart)

Regardless of how you might vote, do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?
49% Favor, 48% Oppose

NY-23: 2009 House Special (Kos 10/26-28)

DailyKos.co (D) / Research 2000
10/26-28/09; 600 likely voters, 45 margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

New York 23rd Congressional District

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dede Scozzafava (R): 32 / 46
Doug Hoffman (C): 38 / 23
Bill Owens (D): 36 / 26

2009 Congress: Special Election
33% Owens, 32% Hoffman, 21% Scozzafava (chart)

NJ: Corzine 43 Christie 38 (DemCorps 10/27-28)

Democracy Corps (D)
10/27-28/09; 604 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(DemCorps release)

New Jersey

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 40 / 43 (chart)
Chris Christie: 35 / 42
Barack Obama: 57 / 29 (chart)
Chris Daggett: 16 / 34

2009 Governor
43% Corzine, 38% Christie, 12% Daggett (chart)
47% Corzine. 42% Christie

VA: McDonnell 55 Deeds 39 (Roanoke 10/21-27)

Roanoke College
10/21-27/09; 569 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Roanoke College: release, toplines)


2009 Governor (chart)
Without leaners: 53% McDonnell, 36% Deeds
With leaners: 55% McDonnell, 39% Deeds

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Kaine: 48 / 34 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 45 / 46 (chart)

H1N1 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Teagan Goddard and Andrew Sullivan wonder what country Rasmussen Reports is polling; Scott Rasmussen responds.

David Hill reviews the Gallup ideology trends.

Jennifer Agiesta examines the Obama factor in the Virginia governor's race.

Mark Mellman says what's controversial with voters on health reforms is not with lawmakers, and vice versa.

Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart recommend an economic message for Republicans.

Resurgent Republic quarrels with CNN/ORC's cap and trade question wording.

Nate Silver lampoons a misleading Zogby question.

Jim Geraghty ponders divergent polls in New Jersey.

Alan Reifman tracks health care interest with Google Trends.

Megan McArdle explores polling mysteries.

Salena Zito polls opinion polls and finds Americans fed up (via Reynolds).

Jessica Hagy says is it all (via Flowing Data & Sullivan):


P.S.: I'm a bit under the weather with a bug bearing a strong resemblance to H1N1. Hopefully back to full speed soon.

VA: McDonnell 51, Deeds 33 (VCU 10/21-25)

Virginia Commonwealth University
10/21-25/09; 1,007 adults, 3.9% margin of error
871 registered voters, 4.2% margin of error
625 likely voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(VCU release)


2009 Governor (chart)
Registered voters: 45% McDonnell, 28% Deeds
Likely voters: 51% McDonnell, 33% Deeds
Update: Including leaners: 54% McDonnell, 36% Deeds

Job Rating
Gov. Kaine: 38% Excellent/Good, 52% Fair/Poor (chart)
Pres. Obama: 50 / 48 (chart)

US: 2012 Pres (CNN 10/16-18)

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
10/16-18/09; 1,038 adults, 3% margin of error
462 Republicans, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 42 / 51 (chart)
Mitt Romney: 36 / 26 (chart)
Mike Huckabee: 43 / 26 (chart)
Tim Pawlenty: 15 / 13

2012 President
32% Huckabee, 25% Palin, 21% Romney, 5% Pawlenty

Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think each one applies or doesn't apply to Sarah Palin.

Not a typical politician: 65% Applies, 34% Does not apply
A good role model for women: 64 / 35
Care about the needs of people like you: 56 / 43
Is honest and trustworthy: 55 / 43
Shares your values: 49 / 49
Generally agrees with you on issues you care about: 48 / 50
Is a strong and decisive leader: 47 / 51
Qualified to be president: 29 / 71

PA: 2010 Sen, Gov (F&M 10/20-25)

Franklin & Marshall
10/20-25/09; 616 adults, 3.9% margin of error
529 registered voters, 4.3% margin of error
250 registered Democrats
202 registered Republicans
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(F&M release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Ed Rendell: 37 / 47 (chart)
Arlen Specter: 28 / 46 (chart)
Bob Casey: 32 / 21 (chart)
Barack Obama: 45 / 39 (chart)
Joe Sestak: 11 / 5
Pat Toomey: 16 / 10

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
30% Arlen Specter, 18% Joe Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
10% Dan Onorato, 9% Jack Wagner, 6% Joe Hoeffel, 3% Tom Knox, 3% Chris Doherty (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
30% Tom Corbett, 8% Jim Gerlach (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
33% Specter, 31% Toomey (chart)
28% Toomey, 20% Sestak (chart)

Job Rating
Pres. Obama: 40% Excellent/Good, 59% Only Fair/Poor (chart)
Sen. Specter: 29 / 64 (chart)
Gov. Rendell: 32 / 65 (chart)

Do you believe that Arlen Specter has done a good enough job as
senator to deserve re-election, or do you believe it is time for a change?

23% Deserves re-election, 66% Time for a change

VA: McDonnell 54 Deeds 41 (Rasmussen 10/27)

10/27/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 49 / 51 (chart)
Gov. Kaine: 53 / 45 (chart)

2009 Governor
McDonnell 54%, Deeds 41% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bob McDonnell: 62 / 30
Creigh Deeds: 47 / 50

NJ: Corzine 43 Christie 38 (Quinnipiac 10/20-26)

10/20-26/09; 1,267 likely voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2009 Governor
Corzine 43%, Christie 38%, Daggett 13% (chart)

Asked of Daggett voters: Who is your second choice for governnor?
Christie 43%, Corzine 27%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie: 37 / 42
Jon Corzine: 41 / 52 (chart)
Chris Daggett: 21 / 16

Job Approval / Disapproval
Jon Corzine: 39 / 54 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 55 / 39 (chart)

US: National Survey (NBC/WSJ 10/22-25)

NBC News / Wall Street Journal
10/22-25/09; 1,009 adults, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(First Read: Tease 1, Tease 2)
Update: NBC: story, toplines; WSJ: story, toplines


State of the Country
36% Right Direction, 52% Wrong track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
51% Approve, 42% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 47 / 46 (chart)
Foreign Policy: 51 / 39 (chart)
Health Care: 43 / 48 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
24% Approve, 65% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable Rating
Barack Obama: 56% Positive, 33% Negative (chart)
Sarah Palin: 27 / 46 (chart)

From what you have heard about Barack Obama's health care plan, do you think his plan is a good idea or a bad idea? If you do not have an opinion either way, please just say so.
38% Good idea, 42% Bad idea, 16% No opinion (chart)

Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose increasing troop levels in Afghanistan?
47% Somewhat/Strongly Support, 43% Somewhat/Strongly Oppose

Party ID
30% Democrat, 17% Republican,44% independent (chart)

First Read:

According to the poll, 48% say they favor a public health plan administered by the federal government that would compete with private insurers, compared with 42% who oppose it. That's a shift from last month, though within the margin of error, when 48% opposed the public option and 46% supported it. And it's a 10-point swing from August, when 47% were in opposition and 43% were in favor.

In another question asked a different way -- is it important to give people a choice of a public option? -- a combined 72% answered that it was either "extremely important" or "quite important," while just 23% said it was "not that important" or "not at all important." Those numbers are virtually unchanged from last month.

First Read:

Only 23% say they trust government "just about always" or "most of the time," which is the lowest number on this question in 12 years.

What's more, nearly half of respondents (46%) support building an independent political party to compete with the Republicans and Democrats.

And nearly six in 10 (57%) blame both Republicans and Democrats for the partisanship in Washington; 24% blame the Republicans only, while 17% point their finger at the Democrats.

US: Congressional Races (DemCorps 10/6-11)

Democracy Corps (D)
2,000 "likely voters in the 55 most competitive Democratic-held districts and the 20 most marginal Republican-held districts"
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Democracy Corps: Overview, Analysis)

75 Most Competitive Congressional Districts

Democracy Corps:

Bottom-line, there is no evidence that anything historic or beyond the norm is currently in the works. If the election were tomorrow, Democrats would likely lose about 20 seats in the current 55-seat battleground, offset by some further Republican losses - resulting in a net loss near 15 to 20 seats. That is slightly below the historic norm and less than half of the number needed to threaten taking control. Moreover, the vote and incumbent job approval in the 37 Democratic districts we also polled in July is stable - without sign of a broad deterioration. This should give some perspective.

To be sure, there are serious trends that put some Democrats at risk, particularly an anti-incumbent mood that is apparent in all three Democratic tiers, as well as the Republican seats. The Democrats' image has weakened since July, along with President Obama's approval in these Republican-leaning seats, in line with national trends from the late summer. The voters here are split evenly on whether they want to reward their incumbent with reelection or vote for a Republican to control spending.

Humphrey Taylor: Social Desirability Bias - How Accurate were the Benchmarks?

Humphrey Taylor is chairman of the Harris Poll at Harris Interactive, which conducts surveys on the internet.

These comments are prompted by the paper Comparing the Accuracy of RDD Telephone Surveys and Internet Surveys Conducted with Non-Probability Samples by Yeager, Krosnick, et al, and by Mark Blumenthal's two excellent articles in the National Journal reviewing their paper.

The paper's conclusions were based on a comparison between six "benchmarks" and the findings of the various polls they examined. They assumed that the benchmarks were perfectly accurate, and that any differences between the polls and the benchmarks were "errors." I believe that this is not the case and that some of the benchmarks were inaccurate because of the social desirability bias that is often found in surveys where respondents are interviewed, by telephone or in-person, by live interviewers.

Social desirability bias occurs where respondents are not comfortable telling interviewers the truth because they are embarrassed to do so, or where their behavior or attitudes may be seen as unethical, immoral, anti-social or illegal.

Our online surveys have always found substantially more people than our telephone surveys who tell us they are gay, lesbian or bisexual (by a 3-to-1 margin). Our online surveys also find fewer people who claim to give money to charity, clean their teeth, believe in God, go to religious services, exercise regularly, abstain from alcohol, or drive under the speed limit.

Furthermore, in-person surveys by the Census Bureau report substantially more people claiming to have voted in elections than actually voted. If there is a better explanation than social desirability bias, I haven't heard it.

This conclusion - that surveys with live interviewers underreport "socially undesirable" behavior is supported by the data used by Yeager et al.

Our online survey, used by Yeager, found more smokers and more people having had 12 drinks in a life time than either the benchmark surveys conducted by government agencies or the RDD sample (and our own telephone surveys). Our online survey found that (to the nearest whole number) 28 percent were smokers compared to 26 percent in the RDD sample and 22 percent in the benchmark survey. Our online survey found only eight percent who had not had 12 drinks in their lifetime compared to 15 percent in the RDD sample and 23 percent in the benchmark survey.

Another government study, the NHANES study reported that 24.9 percent of adults said they were smokers but that blood tests showed that an additional 4.5 percent had smoked in the previous 24 hours but had not reported it when asked by an interviewer. The resulting NHANES estimate of 29 percent is closer to our estimate of 28 percent than to Knowledge Network's 26 percent or the RDD sample's 24 percent.

Two of the six benchmarks used by Yeager et al come from government sources where one would not expect to find any social desirability bias. In both cases, the Harris Interactive data were slightly closer to the benchmark data than were the findings of the RDD telephone survey. Our surveys found 28 percent of adults with passports compared to 30% for the RDD sample and the 23 percent in benchmark. Our survey found 92 percent having a driver's license compared to 93 percent in the RDD sample and the 89 percent benchmark.

In addition to the presence or absence of live interviewers there is one other reason why our online polls may have less social desirability bias than most telephone and in-person surveys. Our panel members have agreed in advance to be surveyed, which suggests that they trust us with confidential information, and are therefore more likely to tell the truth.

All this evidence suggests that the Harris Interactive data used by Yeager et al is generally more accurate than the RDD sample and that some of the so-called benchmarks probably overstate socially desirable behaviors because they were obtained in surveys with interviewers.

US: Health Care (Harris 10/5-12)

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


Even if you don't know the details of his plan, how do you feel about President Obama's proposals for health care reforms?
45% Support, 45% Oppose (chart)

OH: 2010 Gov (U Cincinnati 10/14-20)

University of Cincinnati / Ohio Newspaper Poll
10/14-20/09; 645 registered voters, 3.7% margin of error
422 likely voters
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(University of Cincinnati release)


2010 Governor (chart)
Registered voters: Strickland 48%, Kasich 47%
Likely voters: Strickland 49%, Kasich 46%

NY-23 Watch (Tuesday)

Topics: Basswood Research , Bill Owens , Club for Growth , Dede Scozzafava , Doug Hofffman , Nate Silver , New York 23rd District , NY-23

Yesterday, the Club for Growth, an organization that backs conservative Republicans, released a new survey it conducted on the special election in New York's 23rd District that showed Doug Hofffman, the Conservative Party candidate it has endorsed, running a few points ahead of Democrat Bill Owens with Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava in third. This result differed from two surveys conducted earlier in October by Siena College and Daily Kos/Research 2000 that showed Democratic nominee Bill Owens narrowly leading Republican Dede Scozzafava with Hoffman in third.

Is the Club for Growth result cooked? That's what Nate Silver strongly implied in post last night headlined, "Reality Check: NY-23 Poll May Seek to Alter, Not Reflect, Reality." Let's take a closer look.

Pollster Dates N/Pop Scozzafava Owens Hoffman Undecided Margin
Basswood (R)/Club for Growth 10/24-25/09 300 LV 20 27 31 22 +4C
DailyKos.com (D)/Research 2000 10/19-21/09 600 LV 30 35 23 12 +5D
Siena 10/11-13/09 617 LV 29 33 23 16 +4D
Siena 9/27-29/09 622 LV 35 28 16 21 +7R
Basswood (R)/Club for Growth 9/17/09 300 LV 20 17 17 45 +3R
McLaughlin (R) 8/25-26/09 300 LV 30 20 19 31 +10R

The table above shows the results from all six polls that have been publicly released so far for this race. The Club for Growth/Basswood survey is different, in that it shows Hoffman running seven percentage points higher than the two surveys conducted earlier in the month. (UPDATE: a new survey conducted by Neighborhood Research, sponsored by another Conservative group and released while I was drafting this post has results consistent with the CFG/Basswood survey).

However, the trend is consistent with earlier results and recent news. The two surveys from Siena College in late September and mid-October track a seven point decline in Scozzafava's support and a six point increase for Hoffman. Quite a bit also happened over the last week. Last Wednesday night, while the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll was still in the field, Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman on her Facebook page, a development that subsequently received national attention. Hoffman also received endorsements from Steve Forbes and Rick Santorum on Friday. Basswood Research conducted their survey on Saturday and Sunday.

Let's be clear: It is always sensible to treat sponsored, internal surveys with extra skepticism when they are publicly released. Political scientists that have studied public polls (examples here and here) find that partisan surveys typically show a an average bias of 2 to 4 percentage points favoring the sponsoring party. One reason for this phenomenon is that most internal polls never see the light of day. Campaigns typically choose to share only those polls showing good news, not bad.

But in this case, Nate Silver is making a considerably stronger accusation. After running through a list of concerns, Silver concludes:

[T]his is very probably not a case, a la Strategic Vision, where the numbers were simply fabricated. But there's an awful lot that a pollster can do short of making up numbers -- asking leading questions, applying implausible likely voter models or demographic weightings, selecting an unorthodox sample frame, etc. -- to produce a result that fits its desired narrative.

Do we have any evidence that Basswood Research used leading questions, implausible likely voter models or demographic weights or an unorthodox sample frame used to produce its survey? Let me take these issues one by one.

Leading questions? Silver concedes in an update that Club for Growth posted a complete filled-in questionnaire that he had not seen when writing his post, although he hints at "fresh" questions raised by seeing the full text. I am not sure what he's referring to, as I see nothing that would obviously bias the result in Hoffman's favor or that deviates sharply from the standard practice of campaign pollsters. For what it's worth, the Basswood questionnaire provides more complete disclosure than the other public polls, in that it provides full text and results of the demographics (omitted by Siena) and the full text of the likely voter screen questions (omitted by both Research 2000 and Siena).

Implausible demographic weighting? Silver is concerned that "[o]nly 14 percent of the likely voters in this poll are age 40 or under, as compared with about 40 percent in the Research 2000 poll." I'd agree with FiveThirtyEight commenter Matt Hogan that if anything, it's the Research 2000 age composition that's implausible. Nearly half (49%) of their likely voters are under 45 years of age. Both the national and New York exit polls for the 2006 general election report only 36% in that age category, and if anything, exit poll estimates tend to be too young.

The sample was also weighted geographically, according to Basswood pollster Jon Lerner, so that the percentage contributed by each county in the sample conforms to the distribution of voters in the 2008 and 2006 elections. I have not attempted to gather county level vote returns for NY-23, but Basswood included the weighted value for each county in the filled-in questionnaire so anyone can evaluate its geographic representation. Among campaign pollsters, that sort of geographic weighting is standard practice.

Unorthodox sample frame? Hardly, although there is an important difference in the sample frames being used in NY-23. Siena College and Research 2000 are using a random digit dial sample -- one that reaches every working landline phone in the district by randomly varying the final digits of telephone numbers in exchanges within the District. When I spoke to him by phone last night, Basswood pollster Jon Lerner confirms that he sampled from a list of registered voters, selecting those who had cast ballots in either the 2006 or 2008 general elections.

While pollsters continue to debate the merits of samples drawn from voters lists versus random digits, the use of lists to survey congressional districts is hardly unorthodox. Pollsters have used list samples to conduct the vast majority of congressional district polling over the last several decades, since gerrymandered district boundaries make random digit sampling impractical in most districts. Telephone exchanges are a crude match to geography below the county level and very few voters can identify their district number when asked. The only reason that an RDD sample is even an option in NY-23 is that most of the district falls within eight undivided counties, leaving only a small portion in three counties that are divided between districts.

Implausible likely voter model? I don't see it. While pollsters differ wildly in their likely voter selection or modeling techniques, the screen used by Basswood seems reasonable and appears to fall within the norms of typical pollster practice.

Let's run the numbers: In last year's general election, according to the Almanac of Politics, just over 253,000 voted for either Obama or McCain in the 23rd District (Voter Contact Services puts the total turnout at 258,000). According to Wikipedia, 199,103 cast a ballot for Congress there in 2008. The nearby 20th District of New York provides another useful statistic -- 160,940 showed up for a special election held there in April. While no one knows for sure how many will turn out next week, it is likely to fall somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 (or lower; see the first update below).

So how does the Basswood model compare? The firm Voter Contact Services, which sells list samples, reports that it has 267,599 voters identified as having voted in a general election between 2006 and 2008 -- so that's roughly the population that Basswood sampled. The key question is how many of the sampled voters passed Basswood's screen question, which accepted those who say they are "very likely" to vote in next week's election, but terminates those who say they are only "somewhat" or "not likely" to vote. I do not have the terminate data from Basswood, but when the AP/IPSOS poll asked a similar question of adults using a 10-point screen in early October 2006 (via the Roper Center iPoll database), 69% choose the most extreme "completely certain to vote" response.

That result is typical. Screens based on self-reported intent to vote may look "very tight" but are usually not, as respondents vastly overstate their true intentions. My guess is that the Basswood "very likely" percentage would be higher than the IPSOS, all things being equal, since it offers just three response categories to the AP/IPSOS ten. Regardless, if we assume that the Basswood question identified 60% to 70% of their registered voters as "very likely" voters, that would project to a turnout of something in the range of 160,000 to 190,00, which seems more than plausible.

[Update:  I guessed low.  According to Jon Lerner, 85% of the registered voters they called  said they were "very likely" to vote in the special election.  See update 2 below].

Of course, reasonable pollsters can and will quibble over how to select likely voters. Recent efforts to validate turnout on list samples have revealed problems with self-reported likelihood questions. But the notion that this particular poll was cooked, that it used leading questions, an unorthodox frame and an implausible likely voter model is not supported by facts available.

Update:  I will gladly defer to others with more expertise on predicting turnout, but I probably should have set 200,000 as a high side (small-l) liberal guess at turnout.  David Wasserman, the House Editor at the Cook Political Report who spends a lot more time thinking about these things, writes today that in the NY-20 special election earlier this year, "roughly half the number of voters who turned out for the 2008 presidential election showed up for the special election, which suggests between 110,000 and 130,000 voters could show up for this race."

Via email, David adds, "anything above 150,000 is a pipe dream."

It is also worth considering the advice Twittered yesterday by NBC's Chuck Todd, who saw more than his share of partisan, congressional district polling in his years as Hotline editor:  

Be very cautious of ALL NY 23 polling. Why? There's nothing driving turnout; figuring out WHO is going to vote is near impossible.

Which gets back to my larger point.  Yes, caution is in order, but it's foolish to single out the Club for Growth/Basswood poll as somehow inherently implausible on such flimsy evidence.

Update 2 - Jon Lerner of Basswood Research emails:

In the CFG poll in NY-23, the percentage of those who were contacted and screened out for lack of being "very likely" voters was 15%.  In my experience, in a likely low-turnout race such as an off-year special election, using voter lists with vote history is far preferable to random digit dialing.  On the assumption that turnout in a special general election will be far lower than turnout in a normal general election, you want to begin with people with vote history.  Still, even that alone is not good enough, because many on-year general election voters will not vote in an off-year special election (especially one in which the highest office on the ballot is congress).  So, we try to narrow the scope further by including only those respondents who have vote history and who say they are "very likely" to vote in the special election.  Although we do not screen further, my assumption is that even with that screen we will have a small number of non-voters, as respondents tend to overstate their likelihood of voting.  Thus, while I believe the sample we derived for the NY-23 survey was as accurate as can be, if it is off at all, it is likely to be over-inclusive rather than under-inclusive.

[Typos and grammer corrected]

NY-23: 2009 House (Neighborhood 10/25-26)

Neighborhood Research / Minuteman PAC*
10/25-26/09; 366 likely voters, 4.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(TPM post)

*Minuteman PAC has endorsed Doug Hoffman for Congress

New York 23rd Congressional District

2009 House: Special Election
Doug Hoffman (C) 34%, Bill Owens (D) 29%, Dede Scozzafava (R) 14% (chart)

VA: McDonnell 58 Deeds 41 (SurveyUSA 10/25-26)

10/25-26/09; 502 likely voters, 4.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 58%, Deeds 41% (chart)

VA: McDonnell 55 Deeds 40 (PPP 10/23-26)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/23-26/09; 729 likely voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 55%, Deeds 40% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Creigh Deeds (D): 38 / 49
Bob McDonnell (R): 56 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres Obama: 42 / 52 (chart)

MA: 2010 Sen Special (WNEC 10/18-22)

Western New England College
10/18-22/09; 468 registered voters, 4.5% margin of error
342 likely voters, 5% margin of error
393 Democrats and unenrolled voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(WNEC: release, data)


Favorable / Unfavorable (among registered voters)
Martha Coakley (D): 43 / 19
Mike Capuano (D): 27 / 13
Steve Pagliuca (D): 27 / 12
Alan Khazei (D): 7 / 4
Scott Brown (R): 13 / 6

2009 Senate Special: Democratic Primary
Martha Coakley 37%
Steve Pagliuca 14%
Mike Capuano 13%
Alan khazei 4%

2009 Senate Special: General Election (among likely voters)
Coakley 58%, Brown 32%
Capuano 49%, Brown 33%

NJ: Christie 42 Corzine 38 (PPP 10/23-26)

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/23-26/09; 630 likely voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

New Jersey

2009 Governor
Christie 42%, Corzine 38%, Daggett 13% (chart)

Is your second choice for Governor Chris Christie or Jon Corzine? (Asked only of Daggett voters)
Corzine 44%, Christie 32%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie (R): 45 / 44
Jon Corzine (D): 33 / 60 (chart)
Chris Daggett (i): 31 / 36

Job approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 45 (chart)

NJ: Christie 46 Corzine 43 (Rasmussen 10/26)

10/26/09; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

New Jersey

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 46 (chart)
Gov. Corzine: 39 / 59 (chart)

2009 governor
Christie 46%, Corzine 43%, Daggett 7% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Christie (R): 49 / 49
Jon Corzine (D): 41 / 57 (chart)
Chris Daggett (i): 42 / 40

US: Cap and Trade (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)


Under a proposal called "cap and trade," the federal government would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that companies could produce in their factories or power plants. If companies exceeded those limits, they would either pay a fine or pay money to other companies that produced smaller amounts of greenhouse gases. Would you favor or oppose this proposal?
60% Favor, 37% Oppose

VA: McDonnell 55 Deeds 44 (Post 10/22-25)

Washington Post
10/22-25/09; 1,206 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Post: story, toplines, crosstabs)


2009 Governor
McDonnell 55%, Deeds 44% (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Kaine: 58 / 38 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 54 / 45 (chart)

MA: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 10/22)

10/22/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phome
(Rasmussen release)


Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 54 / 44
Gov. Patrick: 43 / 56

2010 Governor
Patrick (D) 34%, Mihos (R) 23%, Cahill (i) 23%
Patrick (D) 34%, Baker (R) 24%, Cahill (i) 23%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Christy Mihos: 40 / 36
Deval Patrick: 48 / 50
Tim Cahill: 49 / 25
Charlie Baker: 32 / 29

MI: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 10/21)

10/21/09; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2009 Governor
Generic Democrat 37%, 36% Generic Republican

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 52 / 47
Gov. Granholm: 40 / 60

New Jersey Watch (Monday)

Topics: Chris Christie , Chris Daggett , Jon Corzine , New Jersey , Patrick Murray , Suffolk University poll

On Friday I speculated, here and in my column, about what it might take for independent Chris Daggett to win in New Jersey. Several developments over the weekend appear to make that unlikely possibility even less likely.

The short version of the column is that given all the obstacles -- Daggett's weak name recognition, his apparent inability to compete with television advertising and the way all three candidates compete with home town news on New York City and Philadelphia media outlets -- the independent would need something truly extraordinary to change the nature of "free" media media coverage in order to win.

One scenario that seemed at least plausible as of late last week might be for Daggett to pick up the remaining newspaper endorsements to provide a jolt of final week "momentum" coverage. Three things slammed the door on that possibility over the weekend.

First, six newspapers endorsed on Sunday and unlike the earlier endorsement of the New Jersey Star Ledger, none went for Daggett. Republican Chris Christie won endorsements from the New York Post, Press of Atlantic City, the Asbury Park Press and the Cherry Hill Courier-Post, while incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine got the nod from the Trenton Times and the Bergen Record (links via Hotline Wake-up Call).

Second, don't laugh: The New York Yankees won last night, clinching a spot against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, which begins on Wednesday night. Thus, baseball games will compete with political news for five of the next eight nights left before Election Day (and on the front pages the next morning). For a sense of how hard it will be for any of the New Jersey candidates to make news in this environment, consider the front pages of today's New York Post, New York Daily News, the New York Times, even the Philadelphia Inquirer, New Jersey Star Ledger and Asbury Park Press! All feature the Yankees prominently (though the Times tucks the news discretely below the fold), while none but the Asbury Park Press say one word about the New Jersey governor's race.


Third, two polls released since Friday (by Suffolk University and by Democratic aligned Democracy Corps) show Daggett running well below the 19% and 20% measured by SurveyUSA and the Rutgers Eagleton poll late last week. Whatever we might conclude about the methodology of these surveys, the bottom line is that no headlines are currently heralding an independent candidate surging into the mid 20s.

The Suffolk University poll out this morning does look like a bit of an outlier, at least for now, both in terms of the nine-point lead it fives Corzine (42% to 33%) and the very large percentage of undecided voters (15%). The uncertainty they measured, however, may result from the interesting choice the Suffolk pollsters made about their vote question: They attempted to replicate the actual New Jersey ballot by first reading the names of the two major party candidates, Corzine and Christie, and then reading the names of all 10 independent and third party candidates in random order, including Daggett.

On Friday, Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray speculated that Daggett faces the challenge of being "buried on the ballot" amidst the many independent candidates, while Corzine and Christie always appear first. The Suffolk question, which shows Daggett at only 7%, provides some suggestive evidence to support that hypothesis.

P.S.: Speaking of Murray, he notes on his blog today that the Suffolk poll "appears to have weighted party ID to party registration, a common mistake by pollsters unfamiliar with the New Jersey electorate." He says that because the Suffolk party question -- "Q1. Which political party do you feel closest to - Democrat, Republican or Independent?" -- has results that match New Jersey's voter registration (34% Democrat, 21% Republican, 46% independent or unaffiliated). I'll let Murray explain:

Being "unaffiliated" in one's registration is not the same as being "independent" in one's thinking. We consistently find that at least 1-in-5 unaffiliated New Jersey voters actually see themselves as partisan.

This is a byproduct of New Jersey's semi-open primary system. Why bother registering with a party if you can wait until primary day and do it on the spot? And why bother to vote in primaries if they are rarely competitive? So, New Jersey ends up with a lot of "party-line" voters who never bother to register with their preferred party. They just see no need.

Having done my share of polling in New Jersey, I can confirm Murray's finding. Many New Jersey voters registered as unaffiliated think of themselves as Democrats or Republicans. Murray's post on understanding unaffiliated voters is worth reading in full, especially if you're a pollster hearing this for the first time.

P.P.S.: Democratic pollsters PPP are teasing partial results from a new New Jersey survey that will finish interviewing tonight.  PPP's Tom Jensen describes a big increase in Daggett's unfavorable rating among Republicans and says the independent "has the same level of support he did two weeks ago, but now he seems to be hurting Jon Corzine more than Christie."

NY-23: 2009 House (CFG 10/24-25)

Club for Growth* / Basswood Research
10/24-25/09; 300 likely voters, 6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Club for Growth release)

*Club for Growth has endorsed Doug Hoffman for Congress

New York 23rd Congressional District

2009 Congress: Special Election
Doug Hoffman (C) 31%, Bill Owens (D) 27%, Dede Scozzafava (R) 20% (chart)

NJ: Corzine 42 Christie 36 (Suffolk 10/22-25)

Suffolk University
10/22-25/09; 400 likely voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Suffolk: release, toplines)

New Jersey

2009 Governor (chart)
42% Corzine, 33% Christie, 7% Daggett

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jon Corzine: 45 / 46 (chart)
Chris Christie: 34 / 46
Chris Daggett: 20 / 25
Barack Obama: 62 / 30 (chart)
Robert Menendez: 31 / 32 (chart)
Frank Lautenberg: 40 / 34 (chart)

NYC: Bloomberg 53% Thompson 35% (Quinnipiac 10/23-25)

10/23-25/09; 1,088 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York City

2009 Mayor
Bloomberg 53%, Thompson 35%, Christopher 3% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
William Thompson (D): 39 / 23
Michael Bloomberg (R, i): 63 / 29 (chart)
Stephen Christopher (C): 2 / 8

ME: Marriage (Pan Atlantic 10/20-22)

Pan Atlantic SMS
10/20-22/09; 400 likely voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pan Atlantic SMS release)


Question 1 - "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 today was Election
Day, how would you vote on this issue?

42% Yes, 53% No (trend)