January 24, 2010 - January 30, 2010


He's Baaack 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Frank Newport reviews comments about public opinion in the SOTU address.

Nate Silver asks what killed Obama's approval numbers.

Gary Langer examines historical data on partisan gaps in approval ratings.

Research Rants bashes Langer's critique of IVR polls.

Barack Obama doesn't read John Sides.

Anthony Salvanto and Mark Gersh assess the 2010 Senate Outlook.

Patrick Murray contrasts addresses by Obama and NJ's Christie.

Chris Bowers is encouraged after talking with Axelrod about a Pew survey on the filibuster.

Politifact assesses Boehner's claim that "a majority of Americans" oppose the health care bill.

PPP asks for advice on where to poll next.

Pat Caddell returns

Obama vs. Luntz

Topics: Barack Obama , Frank Luntz

From our Pollster-centric perch, this is a memorable comment. In answering the last question of the Q & A session with the House Republicans today in Baltimore, President Obama called out pollster Frank Luntz (emphasis added):

That's why I say if we're going to frame these debates in ways that allow us to solve them, then we can't start off by figuring out, (a), who is to blame, (b), how can we make the american people afraid of the other side? Unfortunately that's how our politics works right now. That's how a lot of our discussion works.

That's how we start off every time somebody speaks in Congress, the first thing they do, they stand up and all the talking points - I see Frank Luntz sitting in the front. He has already polled it and he said the way you're really going to -- I've done a focus group and the way we're going to really box in Obama on this one or make Pelosi look bad on that one -- I know Frank. I like Frank. We've had conversations between Frank and I, but that's how we operate. It's all tactics. It's not solving problems.

So the question is, at what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability or a serious conversation about Social Security or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not simply trying to position ourselves politically? That's what I'm committed to doing. We won't agree all the time in getting it done, but I'm committed to doing it.

I'll update with video if and when I can find it (thanks to Marc Ambinder for noting this exchange via Twitter).   Update: CSPAN has video here, but the video is not embeddable; the comments above begin at 84:21.  Update 2: Thanks to MSNBC, here's the clip:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

PS: Probably says more about the nature of inside-the-beltway chatter, but Mark Halperin apparently considered this exchange the most "extraordinary" aspect of the Q&A.


Update 2: Greg Sargent reports on a post question-time interview with Luntz (via Ben Smith):

[Luntz] conceded Obama had the advantage today -- but said he'd still advise Republicans to debate him again, because it put them on his "level."

Luntz also confided that Obama had approached him after the event and joked with him about calling him out. "We had a laugh about it," Luntz told me in an interview just now. "He said, `It's good for business.'"

FL: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 1/27)

Topics: poll

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


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

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bill McCollum: 53 / 30
Alex Sink: 39 / 34

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 42 / 58 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 51 / 47 (chart)

WI: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 1/26)

Topics: poll

1/26/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Governor (trends)
42% Mark Neumann (R), 38% Tom Barrett (D)
48% Scott Walker (R), 38% Tom Barrett (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Neumann: 46 / 35
Scott Walker: 56 / 27
Tom Barrett: 44 / 41

US: National Survey (McLaughlin 1/19-20)

Topics: poll

McLaughlin & Associates (R) / National Review (R)
1/19-20/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interveiws
(McLaughlin: toplines, PowerPoint)


Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 46% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
42% Republican, 37% Democrat (chart)

Party ID
40% Democrat, 37% Republican, 20% independent (chart)

US: National Survey (Economist 1/24-26)

Topics: poll

YouGov / Economist
1/24-26/10; 1,000 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)


Obama Job Approval
45% Approve, 49% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 77 / 18 (chart)
Reps: 6 / 91 (chart)
Inds: 38 / 57 (chart)
Economy: 40 / 54 (chart)
Health Care: 37 / 55 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
11% Approve, 64% Disapprove (chart)

2010 House: General Election
44% Democrat, 38% Republican (chart)

Right Direction / Wrong Track
27% Right Direction, 56% 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?
45% Support, 54% Oppose (chart)

AK: Palin (PPP 1/27-28)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling
1/27-28/10; 710 likely voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 47 / 45

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 56
Gov. Parnell: 58 / 19
Sen. Begich: 35 / 51

US: National Survey (Kos 1/25-28)

Topics: poll

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


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 55 / 44 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 39 / 51
Harry Reid: 27 / 63
Mitch McConnell: 21 / 61
John Boehner: 20 / 61
Democratic Party: 38 / 57
Republican Party: 33 / 59

State of the Country
38% Right Direction, 60% Wrong Track (chart)

NC: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/27)

Topics: poll

1/27/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

North Carolina

2010 Senate
Burr (R) 47%, Marshall (D) 37% (chart)
Burr (R) 50%, Cunningham (D) 34% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Burr: 56 / 32 (chart)
Elaine Marshall: 41 / 36
Cal Cunningham: 34 / 29

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 48 / 52 (chart)
Gov. Perdue: 39 / 60 (chart)

Illinois Primary Charts

Topics: Charts , Illinois , Primary elections

Primary season is heating up, beginning with Illinois next Tuesday. We have charts up for their Senate and Gubernatorial primaries:

Senate: Democratic, Republican
Governor: Democratic, Republican

Our trend estimates still give Governor Pat Quinn a narrow lead in his Democratic primary race against Dan Hynes, but the two most recent polls (by Rasmussen and PPP, respectively) have given Hynes a narrow lead. Another poll by the Chicago Tribune showed Hynes only four precentage points behind. Hynes appears to be gaining strength, making this race a toss-up.

The Republican primary for governor is a messy, multi-way race - our trend estimate shows Andy McKenna in the lead, but with less than 20% support. Jim Ryan and Kirk Dillard are close behind in our estimate, and each has polled close to or ahead of McKenna in recent surveys.

In the Senate race, Mark Kirk looks set to cruise to victory in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, Alexi Giannoulias has held a lead in all of the primary polls to date, although given the vagaries of primary polling either Cheryle Jackson or David Hoffman could have enough support to pull off an upset in their three-way race.

Note: The trend lines in these charts are linear rather than curved because the more sensitive curved trend line is too easily fooled by noise and house effects when the number of polls is small. We currently plot just 6-7 polls released so far in each Illinois race.

Face Reading 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Andrew Kohut says presidential approval is all about jobs, except when it's not.

Gary Langer explores how Obama reached across the aisle on the nuclear power issue.

Tom Jensen and Scott Rasmussen respond to Langer's critique of PPP.

Resurgent Republic offers analysis of the State of the Union.

Nate Silver is dubious about the Franklin & Marshall Pennsylvania poll.

Chris Bowers concedes that "drop off" voting is mostly about long term civic trends.

Michelle Cottledissects Frank Luntz (via Chait).

Frank Luntz appears on Moving Numbers.

MIT Researchers read consumers faces (via ResearchRocks).

IA: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/26)

Topics: poll

1/26/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate
Grassley (R) 59%, Krause (D) 26%
Grassley (R) 59%, Conlin (D) 31%
Grassley (R) 61%, Fiegen (D) 25%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chuck Grassley: 67 / 30
Bob Krause: 27 / 35
Roxanne Conlin: 35 / 45
Tom Fiegan: 23 / 37

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 54

IL: 2010 Sen Primaries (Rasmussen 1/25)

Topics: poll

1/25/10; 300 likely Democratic primary voters, 6% margin of error
527 likel y Republican primary voters
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen: Dems, Reps)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
31% Giannoulias, 23% Hoffman, 23% Jackson

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
53% Kirk, 18% Hughes

IL: 2010 Sen (PPP 1/22-25)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/22-25/10; 1,062 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Senate
42% Giannoulias, 34% Kirk
37% Kirk, 36% Hoffman
38% Kirk, 36% Jackson

Favorable / Unfavorable
Alexi Giannoulias: 31/ 19
David Hoffman: 16 / 11
Cheryle Jackson: 16 / 17
Mark Kirk: 27 / 22

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Burris 14 / 60
Sen. Durbin: 47 / 39

CA: 2010 Sen. Gov (PPIC 1/12-19)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Institute of California
1/12-19/10; 2,001 adults, 2% margin of error
1,616 registered voters, 2.5% margin of error
1,223 likely voters, 3% margin of error
425 likely Republican primary voters, 5% margin of error
(PPIC release)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
41% Whitman, 11% Poizner (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election
44% Brown, 29% Poizner (chart)
41% Brown, 36% Whitman (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary (trends)
27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
45% Boxer, 41% Campbell
47% Boxer, 39% DeVore (chart)
48% Boxer, 40% Fiorina (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Schwarzenegger: 30 / 60 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 61 / 34 (chart)
Sen. Feinstein: 50 / 41 (chart)
Sen. Boxer: 49 / 44 (chart)

WI: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/26)

Topics: poll

1/26/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate (trends)
47% Tommy Thompson (R), 43% Russ Feingold (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Thompson: 56 / 39
Feingold: 47 / 48 (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 54 (chart)
Gov Doyle: 36 / 62 (chart)

US: National Survey (CNN 1/22-24)

Topics: poll

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
1/22-24/10; 1,009 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right
direction or the wrong direction?

49% Right Direction, 49% Wrong Direction

Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies ordoesn't apply to Barack Obama: Is a good speaker and communicator
90% Applies, 10% Does not apply

Do you favor or oppose new government regulations that would limit the size and activities of the country's largest banks?
62% Favor, 35% Oppose

Do you think the U.S. government has done too much, too little, or the right amount in providing
assistance to Haiti after the earthquake in that country?

10% Too much, 11% Too little, 74% Right amount

Do you think the actions Barack Obama has taken as president have increased the chances of a
terrorist attack against the U.S., or don't you think so?

35% Increased, 65% Decreased

Asked before State of the Union:
In that speech, would you like to hear Obama address the same goals and priorities that he had in his first year in office, or would you rather see Obama put forward proposals that would move his administration in a new direction in the coming year?

28% Same goals and priorities
70% New direction

Favorable / Unfavorable
Joe Biden: 44 / 39
Nancy Pelosi: 30/ 50
Harry Reid: 22 / 38
Hillary Clinton: 62 / 35 (chart)
John McCain: 58 / 36
George W. Bush: 43 / 54

US: State of the Country (Gallup 1/8-10)

Topics: poll

1/8-10/10; 1,023 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)


State of the Country
23% Satisfied, 76% Dissatisfied (chart)

Most important issue
25% Economy
22% Unemployment/Jobs
18% Health Care
11% Government/Politicians
8% Terrorism
6% The federal budget deficit

State of the Union Update

Topics: Barack Obama , CBS , CNN , Democracy Corps , Knowledge Networks , SOTU , Speech Reaction , Stan Greenberg , State of the Union

No, we are not doing any live-blogging tonight, though I might post a thought or two via Twitter.
Also, I will update this post later tonight with links to whatever quick reaction polls or focus groups get released.

Meanwhile, if you haven't yet, you might want to read my primer from earlier today on what to expect from post SOTU polls, plus my post from September on the widely varying methodology of the sort of quick reaction polls and focus groups we might say later tonight.

Update 1:

CNN's "Flash Poll" (story, results) -- CNN reported on air some results from their "flash poll" (typically conducted by re-interviewing respondents to an earlier poll that planned to watch the speech). Anchor Soledad OBrien said that, as usual, "more people who are watching the speech favor the party of the person who is giving the speech. That means, in short, more Democrats were being poll here." She did not give specific numbers, but as noted here earlier, that's a typical pattern.

The reaction was overwhelmingly positive -- 48% very positive, 30% somewhat positive, 21% negative -- although O'Brien noted that the very positive number was lower than following Obama's economic address (68% very positive) last year. It is also on the low end of the reactions recorded by Gallup during the late 90's and early 00s (see the second table here).

CNN typically posts results on CNN.com -- I'll add a link when it's up links now added.

CBS' Instant Poll (summary, report & results) - As in previous years, CBS conducted a representative online sample with Knowledge Networks among 522 speech watchers (more on the methodology here). They report that 83% of speech watchers approve of the proposals the president made in his speech tonight, but that just 42% of speech watchers think that Barack Obama will be able to accomplish all the goals he set out in his speech tonight (57% do not think he will be able to).

Democracy Corps Dial Group (analysis, pre/post-speech scoresheet) - Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg's Democracy Corps conducted a "dial group" -- a focus group where participants turn dials while watching the speech to indicate their reactions -- in Las Vegas tonight. Greenberg and Democracy Corps Senior Associate Andrew Bauman just provided some highlights via conference call. In addition to the dial meter readings, they also conducted before-and-after survey with the participants.

Greenberg reported a "very positive response," but warned that the "scale of shifts are always artificial" in a dial group because "people are watching him with such intensity." While they saw across the boards shifts in opinion on Obama, but the area with the biggest shift during the speech was on "bank reform and wall street and special interests."

The shifts there are very extraordinary. On the issue of whether he puts Wall Street ahead of the middle class, it was a 50 point shift on people saying that [doesn't describe him] well. There was a 40-point shift...on fighting special interests. On banking reform, on support, it was a 38 point shift in favor of that. And that's clearly, far and away the place where he showed the greatest strength and clarity.

I asked about the lack of State of the Union "bounces" for previous presidents, whether he has seen sustained movement on other internal measures following previous addresses and whether similar dial tests foretold any such shifts.

Greenberg said he could recall shifts in "thermometer approval" (favorable ratings) that held, specifically citing the movement for Obama following last year's joint session address on health care. With Obama's approval falling "within a band..averaging 48 or 49 percent," he considers big shifts unlikely. "Attributes are different," he said. "People who are not supportive don't feel they have to lock in, so there's more space there, and the view of the president is more complicated than just approval." Greenberg cited attitudes on Obama's orientation toward Wall Street as most likely to produce "sustained shifts" in opinion.

Democracy Corps plans to post a full report overnight or early Thursday (links now added above)..

State of the Union 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gary Langer posts a scathing critique of a PPP poll; Steve Singiser adds more.

Frank Newport questions the Obama administration's dismissal of polling data.

Alex Bratty reviews NBC/WSJ data on where Obama should focus his attention.

Celinda Lake explores the Massachusetts lessons Obama should keep in mind for the SOTU.

Mark Mellman weighs in on the meaning of the Massachusetts election.

David Hill says momentum alone can't carry the GOP.

John Sides rounds up support for his argument on independent identifiers.

Research Rants says no to clients who want one-hour surveys.

US: National Survey (Harris 1/18-25)

Topics: poll

1/18-25/10; 2,576 adults
Mode: Internet
(Harris release)


Obama Job Rating
40% Excellent/Good, 60% Fair/Poor (chart)
Dems: 75 / 25 (chart)
Reps: 10 / 90 (chart)
Inds: 33 / 67 (chart)

State of the Country
37% Right Direction, 63% Wrong Track (chart)

State of the Union: Don't Expect a Bounce

Topics: Barack Obama , One night polls , SOTU , Speech Reaction , State of the Union

Perhaps political journalists have all gotten the message by now that polling "bumps" from the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address are more myth than reality. If so, this post may be something of a cliche. But I'm not convinced, so I want to recommend this very helpful report published last night by Gallup based on their 30-year archive of pre and post SOTU polling.

If you report or comment on politics, it's a must read. If you are short on time, here are the two main points (with a little added value from our own posts over the last five years):

1) "These speeches rarely affect a president's public standing in a meaningful way, despite the amount of attention they receive."

Gallup's report includes a table showing the level of presidential approval measured immediately before and after the last 27 State of the Union addresses. "Across all presidents," they report, "the average change in approval has been less than a one percentage-point decline.

It is also keeping in mind, as I wrote on the old Mystery Pollster blog four years ago, that the one big exception to the rule -- the apparent 10 percentage point jump for Bill Clinton in 1998 -- was a very unique presidential address:

The Monica Lewinsky story had broken just a few days before. The day before that speech, Bill Clinton faced the cameras and delivered his infamous "I never had sex with that woman" quote. MP cannot find the ratings for that speech, but interest in the speech was certainly high. Ironically, the reaction to Clinton's performance - seemingly unfazed by the scandal erupting around him - help[ed] boost his numbers in a way that persisted until the impeachment trial ended with an acquittal.

So the one exception to the rule may have been less about perceptions of the speech itself and more about how the speech fit into the context of a larger event.

Bottom line: Don't expect a big bump tonight. My post from 2006 covers a lot of the same ground as the Gallup report, as does Charles' Franklin's commentary in 2007 on this graphic


2) "The audiences for the State of the Union tend to be heavily tilted toward the president's existing supporters."

This table from the report is in many ways the most useful for those of us who will be looking at the one-night-wonder polls conducted immediately after the speech.


In many ways, this is the one poll measurement that interests me tonight: Will the speech attract an audience heavily tilted toward Democrats, as is typical, or will the enthusiasm gap apparent in so many approval polls (Republicans report a greater likelihood to vote in 2010 than Democrats) make for a more balanced audience? In other words, will the audience look more like 1999 or 1995 (just days after Republicans took control of the House and Senate, installing Newt Gingrich in the seat just behind President Clinton)? While a typically Democratic skew will tell us little (notice the composition in 1994), it will be a very bad sign for Democrats if the audience consists of as many who tune in to jeer as to cheer.

On the subject of immediate reaction polls and focus groups, see my post from this past September which reviews their widely varying methodologies and the limitations inherent in this sort of survey.

IL: 2010 Gov (PPP 1/22-25)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/22-25/10; 1,062 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Governor: General Election
38% Hynes (R), 36% McKenna (R)
40% Hynes (D), 35% Ryan (R)
42% McKenna (R), 36% Quinn (D)
42% Ryan (R), 35% Quinn (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dan Hynes: 26 / 24
Andy McKenna: 20 / 21
Jim Ryan: 30 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Quinn: 25 / 55

NH: 2010 Sen (Ayotte 1/13-14)

Topics: poll

Tarrance Group (R) or Kelly Ayotte
1/13-14/10; 504 likely Republican primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CQ article)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
43% Ayotte, 11% Lamontagne, 5% Binnie, 3% Bender

FL: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 1/20-24)

Topics: poll

1/20-24/10; 1,618 registered voters, 2.4% margin of error
673 Republicans, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
44% McCollum, 6% Dockery (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
41% McCollum, 31% Sink (chart)
35% Sink, 29% Dockery

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bill McCollum: 35 / 15
Alex Sink: 24 / 8
Paula Dockery: 8 / 6

PA: 2010 Sen (F&M 1/18-24)

1/18-24/10; 993 registered voters, 3.1% margin of errror
443 registered Democrats, 4.7% margin of error
416 registered Republicans, 4.8% margin of error
395 likely voters
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(F&M Release)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
10% Onorato, 4% Wagner, 4% Doherty, 4% Hoeffel, 2% Knox (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
23% Corbett, 5% Rohrer

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
30% Specter, 13% Sestak (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
45% Toomey, 31% Specter (chart)
41% Toomey, 19% Sestak (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ed Rendell: 42 / 45 (chart)
Arlen Specter: 35 / 43 (chart)
Bob Casey: 32 / 20 (chart)
Barack Obama: 44 / 44 (chart)
Joe Sestak: 8 / 6
Pat Toomey: 15 / 7

Job Rating
Pres. Obama: 38% Excellent/Good, 61% Fair/Poor (chart)
Sen. Specter: 34 / 58 (chart)

US: National Survey (NPR 1/7-11)

Topics: poll

NPR / Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D) / Public Opinion Strategies (R)
1/20-21&23/10; 800 likely voters
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(NPR story, results; POS analysis; GQR analysis)
Update: complete results


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
28% Approve, 67% Disapprove (chart)

2010 House: General Election
44% Republican, 39% Democrat (chart)

As you may have heard, President Obama has proposed a plan to change the health care system that recently passed in the House of representatives and the Senate. From what you have heard about this plan, do you favor or oppose Obama's health care proposal?
39% Favor, 55% Oppose (chart)

Do you think the policies of the Obama administration have made the United States safer or less safe from terrorism?
41% Safer, 40% Less safe

IL: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 1/25)

Topics: poll

IL: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 1/25)

1/25/10; 527 likely Republican primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen: Reps, Dems)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
20% McKenna, 16% Ryan, 13% Dillard, 11% Brady, 11% Andrzejewski, 8% Proft

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
43% Hynes, 37% Quinn

US: National Survey (NBC/WSJ 1/23-25)

Topics: poll

NBC News / Wall Street Journal
1/23-25/10; 800 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(NBC: story, results; WSJ: story, results)


State of the Country
32% Right Direction, 58% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 47 / 49 (chart)

Positive / Negative
Barack Obama: 52 / 34 (chart)
Democratic Party: 39 / 38
Republican Party: 32 / 38
Tea Party Movement: 28 / 21
Scott Brown: 23 / 8
Timothy Geithner: 11 / 19
Ben Bernanke: 18 / 18

As you may know, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke's term of office ends this year. Do you think that President Obama should or should not reappoint Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Board Chairman?
34% Yes, reappoint
37% No, don't reappoint

What is your preference for the outcome of this year's congressional elections-- a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats?
44% Democrats, 42% Republicans

Will your vote for Congress this November be a vote to send a signal of support for President Obama, a signal of opposition to President Obama, or not a signal either way about President Obama?
37% Signal of support
27% Signal of opposition
35% Not a signal either way

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.
31% Good idea, 46% Bad idea, 22% No opinion (chart)

Some people have said the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts to complete the term of the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate was aimed at sending a message to Washington. Do you believe this was aimed at sending a message to Washington, was it not about sending a message to Washington, or do you not have an opinion about this?
48% Sending a message
15% Not sending a message
36% No opinion

Party ID
31% Democrat, 24% Republican, 40% independent (chart)

US: Health Care (CNN 1/22-24)

Topics: poll

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
1/22-24/10; 1,009 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


As you may know, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed bills that would make major changes in the country's health care system. Based on what you have read or heard about those bills, do you generally favor them or generally oppose them?
38% Favor, 58% Oppose (chart)

What do you think Congress should do on health care -- pass a health care bill similar to the legislation that Congress has been working on for the past year, start work on an entirely new bill, or stop working on any bills that would change the country's health care system?
30% Pass similar bill
48% Start work on a new bill
21% Stop working on health care

Would you favor or oppose a health care bill that would create new regulations on the way health insurance companies operate but would not increase the number of Americans who have health insurance?
47% Favor, 51% Oppose

Bedhead 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gary Langer puts Obama's approval rating among whites in context.

Chris Cillizza shares a new report from Third Way on NJ, VA & MA.

John Chait sees pictures of national Democratic decline.

Chris Bowers asks if Republicans can win the Senate.

Andrew Gelman assesses predictive models based on search data.

Nate Silver explains
why Obama shouldn't panic.

Tom Webster wonders about the state of polling as the bar to conducting it gets lower.

Scott Rasmussen previews
his new book.

Bob Groves rides a dog sled in Alaska to kick off Census 2010.

Democracy Corps will be following their SOTU dial groups live.

Junk Charts is confused by some odd axis-placement.

FlowingData shares some bedhead distribution charts.


Mokrzycki: Additional details from Wash. Post poll in MA SEN aftermath

Topics: Barack Obama , Harvard School of Public Health , Interpreting polls , Kaiser Family Foundation , Massachusetts , Scott Brown , Washington Post

A survey The Washington Post conducted in Massachusetts last week in the aftermath of the U.S. Senate special election shocker was unusual for a political poll in that it interviewed non-voters as well as voters. (See Post story and full release with topline and other links.) I consulted for the Post on this project – which was fielded in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health – and with permission I’ll take a look here at Massachusetts adults who sat out the special election. I’ll particularly focus on those who said they did vote for president in 2008 – to try to assess evidence of an "enthusiasm gap" in Republican Scott Brown's victory over Democrat Martha Coakley for the seat long held by the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, and possible implications for the state's elections in November.

The sample of special election non-voters was small - 242 adults (sampling error plus or minus 8 points) - but it's safe to say they generally differed from voters little if at all on many questions such as the direction of the country and whether Brown should work with or mainly try to block Democrats when he gets to Washington.

Non-voters also were no different from voters on overall support for proposed health care reform, though they were more likely than voters to think those changes would be good for themselves and their family and for Massachusetts. Those who didn’t vote last week also may have been slightly more likely to favor a bigger role for government; only 37% of them, compared to 47% of voters, said government is doing too many things best left to businesses and individuals.

Of those 242 who did not vote in the special Senate election, 104 said they did vote for president in November 2008. We start getting into pretty big sampling errors with that subgroup but I feel comfortable concluding that what for shorthand I'll call these "occasional" voters were predominantly Democratic in their outlook:

  • Seven in 10 occasional voters said they voted for Obama in 2008 and about as many approve of how he's handling his job now (Obama got 62 percent of the Massachusetts vote in 2008, and 61 percent job approval in the Post poll)
  • Nearly half call themselves Democrats (this includes independents who lean Democratic), just one in 10 Republican
  • Fewer than three in 10 said they feel "enthusiastic" or "satisfied" about policies offered by Republicans in Washington, while nearly six in 10 felt that way about the Obama administration's policies
  • Only around two in 10 said that when Brown gets to Washington, he should mainly work to block the Democratic agenda and should stop Democrats on health care reform; nearly all the rest said he should work with Democrats.

On these and other measures, these occasional voters looked more like people who cast ballots for Coakley than Brown supporters. That suggests some people who on the whole might have been inclined to vote Democratic were not sufficiently motivated to turn out last week - evidence supporting the notion of an enthusiasm gap that the Democratic get-out-the-vote operation could not overcome.

The poll had little good news for Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick as he prepares to face the electorate himself. Just 40 percent of who voted in 2008 but not last week approved of how Patrick is handling his job – a number not significantly different than among those who did vote last week (36 percent). And should Democratic-oriented voters remain less inclined to turn out in November, obviously that could hurt other Democrats on the ballot, for U.S. House and other offices.

DE: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/25)

Topics: poll

1/25/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate (trends)
56% Castle (R), 27% Coons (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chris Coons: 47 / 30
Mike Castle: 66 / 25

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 50 / 49 (chart)
Gov. Markell: 57 / 36 (chart)

Exit Polls: Miss Them When They're Gone

Topics: 2010 , Edison Research , Exit Polls , Massachusetts

Last week's Senate election in Massachusetts gave those of us who follow and report on politics an experience analogous to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. We now know what life is like without exit polls.

Unfortunately, by the time it became obvious that Scott Brown had a real chance of upsetting Martha Coakley, the lead-time necessary to conduct a true exit poll had passed. As a result, we were left with a handful of post-election telephone surveys. While the high quality survey conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation helped fill the gap, we were also treated to a number of post election polls conducted by partisans seeking to put their own spin on the results.

The day after the election, I got an email from a former network political producer who thought now would be a good time to restate the case for exit polls:

The absence of good data to help understand what happened in Mass and why is glaring...it drives me nuts that the Networks get bashed by print media and the pundits for the Exits not being perfect for prediction but never get credit for the service they provide for interpreting the results.

Very true. Too many of us assume that exit polls exist for the sole purpose of "calling" election results hours before the polls close -- an ability that has long been more myth than reality -- while the real value of the enterprise is helping us understand, once all the votes have been counted, who voted and why. Yes, we have all picked at the problems of exit polling, but if anyone has discovered a better method to survey actual voters while also correcting for apparent sampling bias, I am not aware of it.

A marginally related point: The networks do a great public service when they deposit the raw, respondent-level data in academic archives like those at the Roper Center and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). These data allow scholars to conduct all sorts of analyses that are impossible using only the simple cross-tabluations posted on election night.

Unfortunately, the raw data release takes time due to the slow process of creating accurate documentation of the samples interviewed nationwide and in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. In the past, that process has taken many months (although the 2005 data release was expedited due to intense interest in the apparent exit poll miscues of 2004).   

Scholars are still waiting on the release of the 2008 election, and the delay has produced considerable back-channel grumbling, some of which has reached me via email. Why has the release been delayed so long? That I cannot say, but I did contact the folks who are responsible for preparing the data, and they assure me that it is coming soon. The creation of documentation, they tell me, is now virtually complete, but "the files and the documentation are in the process of being reviewed [by the media sponsors], and this process should take a few more weeks to a month."

US: Obama Approval (CNN 1/22-24)

Topics: poll

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
1/22-24/10; 1,009 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 50% Disapprove (chart)

Looking back on Barack Obama's first year in office, do you think he accomplished more than you expected, about as much as you expected, or less than you expected?
12% More, 44% About as much, 44% Less

Do you think President Obama is doing a good job or a poor job keeping the important promises he made during the presidential campaign?
48% Good job, 52% Poor job

So far, would you say Barack Obama has had the right priorities, or that he hasn't paid enough attention to the country's most important problems?
45% Has the right priorities
55% Hasn't paid enough attention to most important problems

Do you think Barack Obama has paid more attention to the problems faced by middle class Americans or the problems faced by banks and other financial institutions?
28% Middle class Americans
60% Banks and other financial institutions

IL: 2010 Sen, Gov (PPP 1/22-25)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/22-25/10; 400 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.9% margin of error
573 likely Republican primary voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
32% Giannoulias, 20% Hoffman, 18% Jackson, 2% Marshall, 1% Meister

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
41% Hynes, 40% Quinn

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
42% Kirk, 9% Hughes, 4% Lowery, 3% Martin, 2% Thomas, 2% Arrington

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
19% Dilalrd, 17% McKenna, 16% Brady, 13% Ryan, 11% Andrzejewski, 7% Proft, 1% Schillerstrom

NY: 2010 Sen, Gov (Kos 1/18-20)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/18-20/10; 600 likely Democratic primary voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

New York

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary (trends)
Gillibrand 41%, Ford 27%, Tasini 3%

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
Cuomo 63%, Paterson 19% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable (among Democrats)
Kirsten Gillibrand: 46 / 26
Harold Ford Jr: 40 / 13
John Tasini: 16 / 10
Andrew Cuomo: 71 / 15
David Paterson: 34 / 54

FL: 2001 Sen (Quinnipiac 1/20-24)

Topics: poll

1/20-24/10; 1,618 registered voters, 2.4% margin of error
673 Republicans, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Senate: Republican Primary
Rubio 47%, Crist 44% (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
48% Crist, 36% Meek (chart)
44% Rubio, 35% Meek (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable..
Kendrick Meek: 18 / 8
Marco Rubio: 32 / 14
Charlie Crist: 52 / 36 (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Crist: 50 / 38 (chart)
Sen. Nelson: 46 / 29 (chart)
Sen. LeMieux: 21 / 21 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 45 / 49 (chart)

How Not to Report Polls 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jennifer Agiesta says a changed electorate helped drive Martha Coakley's defeat.

John Sides asks whether opposition to health care reform is really about the "process."

DemFromCT wonders what exactly voters are angry about.

Matt Bai says that realignment is "a wishful conceit that should be retired," his description of indies as a third of the electorate drives Sides up the wall.

Geraghty questions whether there's a real GOP primary fight in Illinois.

Glen Bolger and Neil Newhouse assert
that Republicans can win the midterms.

Chris Cillizza argues Harry Reid will be the Democratic nominee in NV despite "dismal" polls.

Chris Good raises questions about Firedoglake's polling methodology; Jon Walker responds.

Chris Bowers suggests Tom Jensen keep an open mind about the blogosphere.

Alaska starts counting and Census 2010 is underway.

ElectionProjection.com is back for 2010 (overlooked, our bad).

PhD Comics explains how not to report on polls.


US: Congress, MA Sen (CNN 1/22-24)

Topics: poll

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
1/22-24/10; 1,009 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)


Do you think it is good for the country or bad for the country that the Democratic party is in control of Congress?
45% Good, 48% Bad

Favorable / Unfavorable
Democratic Party: 46 / 46
Republican Party: 44 / 45

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of the way the Democratic party and Republican party have been dealing with the country's problems:
48% You are angry at both parties
9% You are only angry at the Republicans
11% You are only angry at the Democrats
32% You are not angry at either party

Now here are a few questions concerning the special election in Massachusetts in which a Republican won the seat in the U.S. Senate to replace Ted Kennedy, who died last year...

Until that special election, the Democrats had sixty votes in the U.S. Senate which allowed them to pass legislation without any votes from Republican Senators. Now the Democrats still have a large
majority but cannot pass bills without cooperation from at least one Republican Senator. Do you think this change will be good for the country or bad for the country?

70% Good for the country, 28% Bad for the country

Would you describe the results of the special election in Massachusetts as a major defeat for the Democratic party, a minor setback for the Democratic party, or something that does not affect the
Democratic party at all?

38% Major defeat, 44% Minor setback, 17% No effect

US: Congress (PPP 1/18-19)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/18-19/10; 1,151 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 House: Generic Ballot
45% Republican, 42% Democrat (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Dems in Congress: 32 / 55
Reps in Congress: 24 / 56

AZ: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 1/20)

Topics: poll

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


2010 Governor
Goddard (D) 43%, Brewer (R) 41%
Martin (R) 44%, Goddard (D) 35%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Terry Goddard: 54 / 32
Jan Brewer: 42 / 53
Dean Martin: 43 / 28

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 57
Gov. Brewer: 37 / 60

US: National Survey (ARG 1/17-20)

Topics: poll

American Research Group
1/17-20/10; 1,100 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(ARG release)


Obama Job Approval
51% Approve, 45% Disapprove (chart)
Reps: 12 / 85 (chart)
Dems: 79 / 20 (chart)
Inds: 50 / 44 (chart)
Economy: 46 / 48 (chart)

Massachusetts Senate: Did Brown Move Early or Late?

Topics: 2010 , Mark Mellman , Martha Coakley , Massachusetts , PPP , Scott Brown

My column for this week examines an argument made last week by Mark Mellman, pollster for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), that polls showing a close race between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The column ultimately addresses the question of why two automated polls showed a neck-and-neck race two weeks before the election, while some telephone surveys, including one conducted by Mellman's firm, showed a big Coakley lead. The column includes a statistic shared by Evan Tracey, founder of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, showing that Brown's television advertising exceeded a half million dollars while the first automated survey by PPP was still in the field.

After I filed the column on Friday, I heard from a Republican source who makes a point I did not address in the column: Brown's did not require television advertising to begin to gain on Coakley. His personal campaigning, as covered by Boston newspapers and television, helped boost his recognition and probably amplified the advertising that he ran in early January:

Massachusetts is the MOST politically aware state in the country. Behind the Pats and the Bosox, it's their blood sport. They FOLLOW it passionately. The number of verbatim comments from voters who brought stuff up that had never been advertised was amazing.

My source also passes along that by Saturday January 9, the day the first PPP poll finished interviewing, Brown's internal tracking showed that 65% of voters in the Boston market reported having seen the Brown truck ad.

OH: 2010 Sen (UCincinnati 1/13-19)

Topics: poll

University of Cincinnati / Ohio Newspaper Poll
1/13-19/10; 808 likely voters, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Dayton Daily News article)


2010 Senate
51% Kasich (R), 45% Strickland (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Strickland: 50 / 45 (chart)

US: Stimulus (CNN 1/8-10)

Topics: poll

CNN / Opinion Research Corporation
1/8-10/10; 1,021 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN: release 1, release 2)


As you may know, last year Congress passed and President Obama signed a bill that attempted to stimulate the economy by increasing federal government spending and cutting taxes at a total cost to the government of about eight hundred billion dollars. Based on what you have read or heard about this, do you favor or oppose that bill?
42% Favor, 56% Oppose

Do you think that the projects that the government has spent money on under that bill have mostly been useful projects that will benefit the economy, or have mostly been projects that were included in the bill for purely political reasons and will have no economic impact?
36% Projects to benefit economy
63% Projects for political reasons

How much of the money spent under that bill so far do you think has been wasted -- nearly all of it, most of it, about half of it, only a little of it, or none of it?
21% Nearly all
24% Most
29% About half
21% Little
4% None

IN: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/21-24)

Topics: poll

1/21&24/10; 800 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate
44% Bayh (D), 41% Hostettler (R)
47% Pence (R), 44% Bayh (D)
45% Bayh (D), 33% Stutzman (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Hostettler: 44 / 27
Marlin Stutzman: 31 / 26
Mike Pence; 54 / 25
Evan Bayh: 58 / 38

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 56
Gov. Daniels: 70 / 29

IL: 2010 Sen, Gov (Tribune 1/16-20)

Topics: poll

Chicago Tribune / Market Shares Corporation
1/16-20/10; 601 likely Democratic likely voters, 4% margin of error
592 likely Republican primary voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Senate, Governor)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
34% Giannoulias, 19% Jackson, 16% Hoffman, 1% Marshall, 1% Meister

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
44% Quinn, 40% Hynes

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
47% Kirk, 8% Hughes, 3% Thomas, 3% Martin, 2% Arrington, 2% Lowery

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
19% McKenna, 18% Ryan, 14% Dillard, 9% Brady, 7% Andrzejewski, 6% Proft, 2% Schillerstrom

Republican primary voters only: Thinking now about a new political movement, do you mostly agree or disagree with the Tea Party protest movement and issues? If you never heard of them please say so.
54% Agree
8% Disagree
17% Don't know
20% Never heard of

NV: 2010 Sen (Kos 1/18-20)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/18-20/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


2010 Senate (trends)
52% Tarkanian (R), 41% Reid (D) (chart)
51% Lowden (R), 42% Reid (D) (chart)
44% Goodman (D), 41% Tarkanian (R)
44% Goodman (D), 40% Lowden (R)
46% Tarkanian (R), 40% Berkley (D)
45% Lowden (R), 40% Berkley (D)
44% Tarkanian (R), 36% Miller (D)
43% Lowden (R), 37% Miller (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 34 / 55 (chart)
Oscar Goodman: 47 / 19
Shelley Berkley: 34 / 25
Ross Miller: 23 / 15
Danny Tarkanian: 48 / 31
Sue Lowden: 45 / 26
Barack Obama: 45 / 50 (chart)