Pollster.com

January 31, 2010 - February 6, 2010

 

Super Bowl 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Ron Brownstein reviews the demographics of Congressional Districts (don't miss the interactive map).

Gallup releases data showing 36% of Americans have a positive view of socialism and adds Obama job approval to their "State of the States" feature.

Matthew Yglesias thinks
ideological self-reports are not very useful.

Frank Newport takes questions
on the public's state of mind, the Tea Party Convention, and how elected officials can benefit from polling.

Joshua Tucker adds his caveats to the Daily Kos Republicans poll.

Chris Bowers finds little support for cutting government.

Jonathan Bernstein considers the limits of polling on health reform (via Sullivan).

National Journal's insiders project big losses for Democrats in 2010.

Andrew Gelman shares
more back-and-forth with David Runciman.

PPP sees a partisan divide in Super Bowl allegiances.

Marist finds 49% think issue ads aren't appropriate for the Super Bowl.

Zogby says 59% of Americans plan to watch the Super Bowl.


US: National Survey (Economist 1/31-2/2)

Topics: poll

Economist / YouGov
1/31-2/2/10; 1,000 adults, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)

National

Obama Job Approval
46% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 75 / 20 (chart)
Reps: 12 / 86 (chart)
Inds: 39 / 58 (chart)
Economy: 41 / 53 (chart)
Health Care: 40 / 54 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
10% Approve, 67% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
43% Democrat, 38% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
32% Right Direction, 53% 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?
46% Support, 54% Oppose (chart)


NV: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/2)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/2/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Nevada

2010 Senate (trends)
45% Lowden, 39% Reid (chart)
47% Tarkanian, 39% Reid (chart)
44% Angle, 40% Reid
44% Krolicki, 41% Reid

Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 44 / 55 (chart)
Sue Lowden: 48 / 27
Danny Tarkanian: 50 / 35
Sharron Angle: 37 / 30
Brian Krolicki: 40 / 33

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 54 (chart)
Gov. Gibbons: 39 / 59 (chart)


NH: 2010 Sen (Kos 2/1-3)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
2/1-3/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
36% Ayotte, 27% Lamontagne, 4% Binnie

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
46% Ayotte, 39% Hodes (chart)
46% Hodes, 36% Lamontagne
45% Hodes, 35% Binnie

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
59% Lynch, 13% Kimball

Favorable / Unfavorable
Paul Hodes: 47 / 29
Kelly Ayotte: 54 / 24
Ovide Lamontagne: 34 / 39
William Binnie: 31 / 30
Barack Obama: 55 / 38 (chart)


CO: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/2)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/2/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Colorado

2010 Senate (trends)
Norton 45%, Romanoff 38%
Norton 51%, Bennet 37%
Wiens 42%, Romanoff 40%
Wiens 45%, Bennet 40%
Buck 45%, Romanoff 39%
Buck 45%, Bennet 41% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ken Buck: 43 / 26
Michael Bennet: 42 / 40 (chart)
Andrew Romanoff: 40 / 37
Tom Wiens: 35 / 30
Jane Norton: 49 / 31

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 53 (chart)
Gov. Ritter: 40 / 56 (chart)


CT: 2010 gov (Rasmussen 2/1)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/1/10; 500 likely votrs, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Connecticut

2010 Governor (trends)
40% Lamont, 37% Foley
37% Malloy, 36% Foley
41% Lamont, 33% Fedele
36% Malloy, 35% Fedele

Favorable / Unfavorable
Michael Fedele: 39 / 22
Tom Foley: 42 / 22
Ned Lamont: 43 / 35
Dan Malloy: 43 / 29


US: National Survey (Kos 2/1-4)


DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
2/1-4/10; 2,400 adults, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

National

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 56 / 42 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 40 / 51
Harry Reid: 26 / 64
Mitch McConnell: 20 / 62
John Boehner: 20 / 62
Democratic Party: 39 / 56
Republican Party: 32 / 59

State of the Country
39% Right Direction, 60% Wrong Track (chart)


FL: McCollum 41 Sink 30 (McLaughlin 1/13-14)

Topics: poll

McLaughlin & Associates (R)
1/13-14/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(McLaughlin release)

Florida

2010 Governor
41% McCollum (R), 30% Sink (D) (chart)


US: Palin, Tea Parties (CNN 1/22-24)

Topics: poll

US: Palin, Tea Parties (CNN 1/22-24)

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

National

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 43 / 46 (chart)
Tea Party Movement: 33 / 26


US: National Survey (Fox 2/2-3)

Topics: poll

Fox New / Opinion Dynamics
2/2-3/10; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Fox release)
Update: Tea Party and 2010 Elections

National

Obama Job Approval
46% Approve, 47% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 81 / 12 (chart)
Reps: 14 / 82 (chart)
Inds: 45 / 47 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
22% Approve, 69% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 51 / 43 (chart)
George W. Bush: 38 / 55
Rahm Emanuel: 14 / 24
Nancy Pelosi: 24 / 52
Democratic Party: 42 / 48
Republican Party: 42 / 46

Party ID
36% Democrat, 36% Republican, 22% independent (chart)


Update: Cook County Exit Poll

Topics: Chicago Current , Cook County , Exit Polls , National Election Pool (NEP) , Voter News Service (VNS)

Another update, this one on the volunteer exit poll conducted this week in Cook County Illinois by the recently launched Chicago Current. Current editor Geoff Dougherty posted a refreshingly candid postmortem on their efforts:

At 6:11 p.m. yesterday, before the polls closed, I wrote that our exit polling suggested Toni Preckwinkle had the Cook County Board president's race locked down.

And I was right. Our survey honed in on Preckwinkle's strong performance early in the day, and continued to highlight her lead as the election progressed.

And yet ... our poll was wrong. I predicted Preckwinkle would snag 69% of the vote, and noted that the poll had an 8% margin of error. Preckwinkle ended the day with 49% of the vote -- well outside that margin.

Such are the joys and pains of exit polling.

There's more, and it's worth clicking through to read the rest.

I would give the Current an "A" for effort and transparency, but we need to be realistic about the quality of the survey they ultimately produced. Dougherty says it cost just $200, "most of which went for a $100 rental car," and don't think he would argue with the conclusion that they got what they paid for. The poll managed to collect just 93 completed interviews at only 9 of 25 precincts (presumably) selected at random. As Dougherty reported at 1:32 p.m. on Tuesday:

So far we've got about 30 responses. We'll be taking a pause here as our field crew relocates to new spots and starts talking to voters.

We'd originally planned to survey 25 precincts, but logistics are interfering, and we'll probably wind up with about half that. We'd targeted 600 voters, but low turnout will probably leave us with about half of that count.

Never mind the very small sample size. How truly random was the sample? It's hard to tell from this description, but the execution clearly fell short of ideal.

Dougherty says that the "networks often pay tens of thousands of dollars for these things." That's not quite right. I'm not sure how it translates into a per-state cost, but the every-two-year National Election Pool (NEP) exit polling operation has a multi-million dollar budget (Voter News Services, VNS, the forerunner to NEP, operated in 2000 on a budget of over $35 million; my understanding is that current costs are much lower but still in the millions). Note that in most states of interest, NEP will sample 20 to 50 precincts. As the scale of what the Current was attempting in a single county was in line with the exit poll that NEP conducts in each state.

I write this post not to beat up on the Current -- again, I give them credit for enterprise and transparency -- but to remind my media colleagues that all "exit polls" are not created equal. Not by a long shot.

Update: The cost statistic I cited for VNS from 2000 is accurate but potentially misleading. VNS was responsible for both exit polls and reporting final vote counts for every race (the latter function is now provided by the Associated Press). The costs also vary considerably between presidential and off-year elections.  Finally, the NEP exit operation still includes more than just exit polls, it also collects vote results at samples of key precincts and provides statistical modeling and analysis used to "call" races.


What's a Landline? 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gallup updates their "State of the States" interactive feature (via Lymari Morales).

David Hill says the GOP resurgence is more about candidate images than a sudden surge in brand appeal.

Chris Weigant points to a leveling off of Obama's approval in January.

Matt Continetti thinks avoiding a fall in Obama's approval ratings might not save Democrats in November.

Jim Geraghty finds
the results of the Daily Kos Republicans poll not "that surprising or even that troubling."

Keith Olberman catches something ironic in the Frank Luntz memo on how to defeat financial reform (via Atlantic wire).

Andrew Gelman challenges David Runciman's views on public opinion toward health reform.

Gary Langer shares polling data from a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan.

Pew finds that 93% of 18-29 year olds and 75% of 12-17 year olds own cell phones (via Susannah Fox).


Another Odd Strategic Vision LLC Epilogue

Topics: David Johnson , Disclosure , Internet Archive , Strategic Vision

Today we have yet another odd epilogue to story of Strategic Vision, LLC. Apparently not satisfied with their history of setting the low bar for basic disclosure about the surveys they claim to have conducted since 2004, the company is now attempting something new: Attempting to retroactively withdraw previous disclosure.

Until a few weeks ago, the content published at the company's web site, strategicvision.biz, had been automatically archived by the non-profit Internet Archive along with hundreds of thousands of other web pages. In my December column, I linked to two such pages (displaying polls conducted during 2005 and 2007**). As of today, however, if you search the Internet Archive for strategicvision.biz or try either of the links I used previously (and be forewarned: their heavily trafficked site is notoriously slow), you will encounter this error message:

Robots.txt Query Exclusion.

We're sorry, access to http://www.strategicvision.biz has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.

What that means is that sometime in January, someone at Strategic Vision added some code ("User-agent: ia_archiver Disallow: /") to a file on their web site that specifically blocks the Internet Archive from searching and displaying pages from their company web site. Let's be clear that Strategic Vision is well within its rights in blocking such searches, and has done nothing illegal or particularly nefarious. As explained on their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, the Internet Archive "is not interested in preserving or offering access to Web sites or other Internet documents of persons who do not want their materials in the collection," and thus provide instructions on how to "exclude any historical pages."

That said, given the swirl of accusations about Strategic Vision arising from a failure to disclose basic information about their methods, this new effort to scrub previously disclosed information from what is essentially a public library for the Internet is more than a little creepy. Combined their apparent blocking of access to strategicvision.biz to me and my colleagues at the National Journal, and we get a story of a company that keeps digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself.

By the way, all credit for spotting this latest twist in the story goes to Michael Weissman, the retired University of Illinois physics professor who previously published a "Fourier analysis" of Strategic Vision's results on FiveThirtyEight.com. His son Jonathan realized that Strategic Vision might delete their archive, and thus downloaded everything he could before it disappeared. So the archived pages live on -- undoing previous disclosure is harder than it looks.

**As of this writing we were still able to load some of the 2005 page (sporadically), and if you experience as similar result it is probably because of something gone awry at archive.org. The code in the robots.txt file on the Strategic Vision site shows that they want Internet Archive to remove stop displaying their content.


KY: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/2)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/2/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Kentucky

2010 Senate
49% Grayson (R), 35% Mongiardo (D)
48% Paul (R), 37% Mongiardo (D)
44% Grayson (R), 40% Conway (D)
47% Paul (R), 39% Conway (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Trey Grayson: 61 / 18
Dan Mongiardo: 45 / 43
Rand Paul: 54 / 26
Jack Conway: 47 / 32

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 42 / 57
Gov. Beshear: 49 / 48


KS: 2010 Sen Primary (SurveyUSA 1/29-31)

Topics: poll

SurveyUSA / KWCH-TV / KCTV-TV
1/29-31/10; 519 likely Republican primary voters, 4.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Kansas

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
40% Jerry Moran, 33% Todd Tiahrt


IL: Kirk 46 Giannoulias 40 (Rasmussen 2/3)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/3/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Illinois

2010 Senate
46% Kirk (R), 40% Giannoulias (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Kirk: 55 / 33
Alexi Giannoulias: 46 / 39

Job approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 54 / 45
Gov. Quinn: 45 / 53


CT: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/1)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/1/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Connecticut

2010 Senate (trends)
54% Blumenthal (D), 35% Simmons (R)
56% Blumenthal (D), 36% McMahon (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Blumenthal: 70 / 27
Rob Simmons: 60 / 26
Linda McMahon: 51 / 34

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 51 / 49 (chart)
Gov. Rell: 67 / 33 (chart)


US: National Survey (Ipsos 1/28-31)

Topics: poll

Ipsos / McClatchy
1/28-31/10; 1,127 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)

National

State of the Country
37% Right Direction, 57% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
50% Approve, 46% Disapprove (chart)
Dens: 79 / 19 (chart)
Inds: 53 / 31 (chart)
Reps: 19 / 79 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
21% Approve, 74% Disapprove (chart)

As of right now, do you favor or oppose the healthcare reform proposals presently being discussed?
37% Favor, 51% Oppose (chart)

Party ID
30% Democrat, 26% Republican, 45% independent (chart)


Acquiescence Bias: More on the Daily Kos Poll of Republicans

Topics: Acquiescence Bias , Daily Kos , Measurement , Research2000

I want to add a few thoughts to Emily's post earlier today on the DailyKos/Research 2000 poll of Republicans and how they might check for a skew in the sample that some argue would result from "sane Republicans" hanging up after taking offense to the questions. Another potential problem, called out today by Republican pollster Alex Lundry, is not as easy to check: The possibility of a skew in respondents' answers caused by what pollsters call "acquiescence bias."

Acquiescence bias is the tendency of some respondents to select affirmative answers where the choice is whether to affirm or reject the statement presented (including "agree or disagree," "favor or oppose" and "yes or no" formats). This topic has been the subject of decades of study and debate among social scientists, and even though pollsters continue to rely on agree-disagree questions, academic survey researchers mostly agree that this format tends to produce more apparent agreement than questions offer a choice between two competing statements.

Here is an example from Schuman and Presser's classic text, Questions and Answers in Surveys (p. 221), based on an experiment first conducted by the NORC General Social Survey in 1974: They asked a random half sample to agree or disagree with this statement: "Most men are better suited emotionally for politics than women." Slightly less than half (47.0%) agreed, 53.0% disagreed.

They asked the other random half-sample to choose between two statements (and included a middle choice):

Would you say that most men are better suited emotionally for politics than are most women, that men and women are equally suited, or that women are better suited than men in this area?

Fewer (33.1%) agreed that men were better, 4.3% said women were better suited than men, and 62.6% said they were both equally suited. Researchers at the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center replicated the experiment three times between 1974 and 1976, producing similar results. They produced consistently greater agreement that "men are better" using the agree/disagree format (ranging from 44.3% to 45.5%) than when using forced-choice format (ranging from 32.5% to 38.3%).

Another strategy to reduce this bias is to try to balance the direction of the statements, as recommended in Presser, et. al, Methods for Testing and Evaluating Survey Questions (p. 440):

Acquiescence bias can be reduced by balancing scales so that the affirming response half the time is in the direction of the construct and half the time is in the opposite direction (e.g. six agree/disagree items on national pride, with the patriotic response matching three agree and three disagree responses).

With those recommendations in mind, consider the questions asked on the DailyKos/Research2000 survey in the order in which they presented the results. The first eight present all of the more sensational, ludicrous assertions (most of which pertain to President Obama).  Seven of eight ask respondents to affirm or reject the extreme statement:

  • Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?
  • Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?
  • Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?
  • Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?
  • Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?
  • Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?

They then ask 15 issue questions that do mix up the order somewhat. Eight questions -- ask respondents if they agree with a liberal policy position, five ask about a conservative policy position, and two (the questions about Christ and marriage as a partnership) force choices between two statements:

  • Should Congress make it easier for workers to form and join labor unions?
  • Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and learn English?
  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?
  • Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?
  • Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?
  • Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?
  • Should sex education be taught in the public schools?
  • Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?
  • Are marriages equal partnerships, or are men the leaders of their households?
  • Should contraceptive use be outlawed?
  • Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?
  • Do you consider abortion to be murder?
  • Do you support the death penalty?
  • Should women work outside the home?
  • Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

I don't want to overstate the consensus of pollsters -- academic or otherwise -- on this issue. Many highly regarded survey researchers continue to rely on agree/disagree questions, often because of their simplicity and brevity or because such questions are part of a long-standing time series that the pollster would rather not disrupt (good example of the latter here; for more discussion see Javeline, 1999).

So while it would be a bit unfair to condemn Research 2000 for relying on question formats that pollsters and academics continue to rely on, Lundry has a point. Acquiescence bias probably exaggerates the amount of agreement measured for some of the more ludicrous assertions about Barack Obama tested on the Kos poll.

Update: As Alex Lundry notes below, his comments about acquiescence bias earlier today came after reading a message sent by Stanford graduate student Josh Pasek to AAPOR's members only listserv.  With Josh's permission, here is a portion of that message:

Given that 10-20% of respondents tend agree with any statement (likely due to social norms), I went through the survey mentally subtracting 15 percentage points from every "yes" answer.  That does leave some shocking numbers -- particularly as acquiescence tended to indicate support for gay rights, sex education, etc. -- but suggests that Birthers, for instance, may be outnumbered in the party (a slight consolation at best).  I'm not saying this to suggest that the opinions being expressed even with a correction are reasonable, but I worry that not addressing this kind of issue is the reason so many people out there are skeptical of survey results in the first place.


Dubious Polling 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

George Bishop and David Moore issue their 2nd annual Dubious Polling Awards.

Alan Abramowitz challenges the SurveyUSA/Firedoglake polls; Jay Leve responds (via Smith).

Mark Mellman says live-interviewer polls show a more plausible campaign narrative than IVR polls.

Nate Silver sees little demographic variation among Republicans in their perceptions of politics.

Charles Lemos questions the demographics of the Daily Kos Republicans poll.

Frank Newport takes a look at the popularity of recent Obama proposals.

Gallup lists the most conservative and liberal states.

Ezra Klein considers the role of legislative "process" in shaping public opinion on health care reform (via Chait), John Sides sees a different explanation.

Reid Wilson finds evidence of benchmark polling by typically safe-seat Democrats.

Democracy Corps digs deeper into dial testing of the State of the Union address.

Tom Jensen sees warning signs for Democrats in the Illinois turnout.

Harry Enten estimates where the close count in the Illinois GOP governor's race is going.

Trent Alexander, Michael Davern, and Betsey Stevenson discover problems in public use Census data stemming from efforts to project respondent confidentiality (via Sides); Justin Wolfers summarizes; Andrew Gelman and Doug Rivers react.


IL: 2010 Sen (Kirk 2/1-2)

Topics: poll

Magellan Strategies for Mark Kirk (R)
2/2/10; 885 likely voters, 3.3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Magellan memo)

Illinois

2010 Senate
Kirk 47%, Giannoulias 35%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mark Kirk: 31 / 26
Alexi Giannoulias: 24 / 39
Barack Obama: 51 / 45


NY: 2010 Gov (Marist 1/25-27)

Topics: poll

Marist
1/25-27/10; 838 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
360 Democrats, 5.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Marist release)

New York

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
23% Paterson, 70% Cuomo (chart)

2010 Governor: General Election
46% Lazio, 43% Paterson (chart)
64% Cuomo, 27% Lazio (chart)

Job Rating
Gov. Paterson: 26% Excellent/Good, 70% Fair/Poor (chart)
Pres. Obama: 46% Excellent/Good, 54% Fair/Poor (chart)


Questions on the Daily Kos Poll of Republicans

Topics: Daily Kos , Interpreting polls , Poll Accuracy , Sampling

Yesterday, Daily Kos released a poll of self-identified Republicans which showed surprisingly high agreement on a series of questions asking whether Barack Obama should be impeached, is a socialist, is a racist, and if he was born in the United States, among other things. The poll has created much debate in the blogosphere about the extremism of Republicans in the U.S.

While the results of the survey may be troubling, some have asked whether they are really representative of all Republicans or only the most extreme. Newsweek's Katie Connolly speculates, for example, that the potentially loaded questions that follow two more conventional probes of vote likelihood and 2012 vote preference may have caused some moderate respondents to discontinue the survey:

It's worth noting that those who completed the poll are also a self-selecting group. It's pretty commonplace in phone polls for respondents to simply hang up when asked loopy questions, and many of these questions qualify as loaded. As this poll progressed and questions like "do you think your state should secede from the union" came up, I'm willing to bet that the more rational Republicans just hung up, leaving the poll to be completed by those more divorced from reality.

Markos ("Kos") Moulitsas responded to such concerns in via twitter:

Cons[ervatives] arguing R2K poll might be skewed by "sane" Republicans hanging up b/c of crazy questions. R2K says no diff in response rates.

This may be true, but straight response rates might not tell the whole story here. A more important question is whether those respondents who started but failed to complete the survey were any different from those who did complete it.

Typically, the vast majority of those who do not respond are either not available when the pollster calls or refuse to participate immediately after answering the phone Those who hang up during the interview are a small component. For example, a report on the response rates for Marist's final 2008 New Hampshire primary poll includes only 70 incomplete interviews, compared to 2,990 dialed numbers that resulted in refusals or where the household could not be contacted. The cases that pollsters call "mid-interview terminates" could increase significantly without making a big dent in the overall response rate.

Moulitsas attempts to address that question with the following tweet:

In fact, R2K says that more than usual, "most of respondents enjoyed answering the questions once they agreed to participate."

Having been employed as a survey interviewer before, I know interviewers can get a feel for the reactions of respondents that might provide at least anecdotal evidence of whether it was difficult to keep some survey respondents on the line or whether respondents were offended by any of the questions. However, Daily Kos and Research 2000 could provide harder evidence that their results were not skewed toward the most extreme Republicans by providing the following information from their data on respondents who began but did not complete the survey:

  1. What were their responses to the second question, about the 2012 presidential primary? This question comes before any of the potentially tainted questions and could therefore give some indication as to whether those who hung up the phone mid-survey were any different from those who did not. For example, were the respondents who completed the survey more likely to support Sarah Palin or Ron Paul than those who did not?

  2. How did they respond to the third question, about Obama's impeachment? If some respondents continued part way through the survey after the more loaded questions began before breaking off, this is the question for which Daily Kos should have the most responses from those who stopped the survey later. If those who broke off after this point answered similarly to those who completed the survey, it would lend credence to the rest of the data and suggest that the final sample was indeed representative of Republicans generally. If fewer of those who refused to continue agreed that Obama should be impeached, that would suggest that the final sample was skewed toward those who agreed with the questions posed.

  3. How many incomplete interviews were there? If the incomplete interviews were different from the interviews included in the final sample, but there were very few of them, their inclusion might not significantly alter the final results.

By answering these questions, Daily Kos and Research 2000 would provide important context and help to address valid questions about whether their final sample was skewed in any way.

Thanks to Mark for contributing to this post


TX: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 2/1)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/1/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Texas

2010 Governor
Perry (R) 48%, White (D) 39%
Hutchison (R) 49%, White (D) 36%
Medina (R) 41%, White (D) 38%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Rick Perry: 54 / 44
Kay Bailey Hutchison: 57 / 39
Bill White: 46 / 38
Debra Medina: 44 / 34

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 41 / 58
Gov. Perry: 50 / 48


NY: 2010 Sen, Gov (Quinnipiac 1/27-2/1)


Quinnipiac
1/27-2/1/10; 2,182 registered voters, 2.1% margin of error
921 Democrats, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
55% Cuomo, 23% Paterson (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary (trends)
36% Gillibrand, 18% Ford, 4% Tasini

2010 Governor
40% Lazio, 39% Paterson (chart)
57% Cuomo, 25% Lazio (chart)

2010 Senate (trends)
44% Gillibrand, 27% Blakeman
35% Ford, 26% Blakeman

Favorable / Unfavorable
Andrew Cuomo: 54 / 16
David Paterson: 34 / 49 (chart)
Rick Lazio: 20 / 15
Kirsten Gillibrand: 33 / 22 (chart)
Harold Ford: 16 / 13
Bruce Blakeman: 11 / 4

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 37 / 54 (chart)
Sen. Gillibrand: 42 / 28 (chart)
Sen. Schumer: 58 / 30 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 57 / 38 (chart)


Back at 50 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Gallup has Obama's approval back at 50%.

Mark Memmott charts Obama's disapproval exceeding approval.

Evan McMorris-Santaro ponders post-SOTU rise in Obama approval

Chris Bowers shows Democrats falling behind on his national House ballot average.

Michael Barone looks at the generic ballots, sees an "epic party disaster" looming for Democrats.

Frank Luntz pens a memo on how to kill financial reform.

Democrats still outnumber Republicans in most states, according to Gallup.

The Cato Institute profiles Libertarian voters (via Lundry).

A DailyKos diarist suggests the next logical step in "crowdsourcing" polling; Andrew Gelman is horrified.

Patrick Egan and Nathaniel Persily say in 5 years most Americans will favor same-sex marriage.

Mike Bloomberg's pollster turns to market research; Lundry pushes back.

The District of Columbia loves President Obama.


TX: 2010 Gov Primary (Rasmussen 2/1)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/1/10; 538 likely Republican primary voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Texas

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
44% Perry, 29% Hutchison, 16% Medina


AZ: 2010 Sen Primary (McCain 1/11-13)

Topics: poll

Public Opinion Strategies for John McCain (R)
1/11-13/10; 600 likely Republican primary voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Public Opinion Strategies release)

Arizona

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
59% McCain, 30% Hayworth


AZ: 2010 Sen Primary (Hayworth 1/12-13)

Topics: poll

McLaughlin & Associates for J.D Hayworth (R)
1/12-13/10; 500 likely Republican primary voters, 4.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Politico story)

Arizona

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
49% John McCain, 33% J.D. Hayworth


Arkansas Senate Charts up

Topics: Arkansas Senate , Blanche Lincoln , Charts

With two new polls out on Blanche Lincoln's re-election chances, we're debuting our 2010 Arkansas senate charts today. Lincoln has fallen behind in all four matchups where we have enough polls to chart. Both of today's polls also showed her falling behind Rep. John Boozman, who is rumored to be announcing his entrance into the race later this week. Check out the charts below or click through to see the individual pages.

Baker (R) vs Lincoln (D)
Coleman (R) vs Lincoln (D)
Cox (R) vs Lincoln (D)
Hendren (R) vs Lincoln (D)

All other matchups
Democratic Primary




An Exit Poll in Cook County

Topics: 2010 , Chicago Current , Cook County , Exit Polls , Illinois

Nothing draws the Google traffic on an election day like the words "exit poll," and the enterprising folks at the Chicago Current (a political newspaper and website) are using their own reporters and journalism students from Northwestern University to conduct an exit poll in Cook County (i.e. not statewide) and appears to be asking about the Democratic contests only (via Christine Matthews).

The Current's Geoff Dougherty has a write-up of what they are doing that includes some worthy disclaimers. Short version: exit polls have random error like other surveys (actually, more given the need for a clustered sample) and is "not the final score" when based on early returns, even if flawless. They are posting initial impressions here.

I cannot say anything about the methodology for the Current poll because, frankly, I don't know a thing about it. For those who have never read it before, you might want to consult my classic primer on exit polls, though remember that my advice was based on the methods employed by the network exit polls done by the folks that invented them and have spent decades honing their techniques.

Without knowing more about the Current poll, I'd urge extreme caution in interpreting the results, especially if your goal is to "call" the result. Remember, exit polls are most useful after the votes are counted -- when results can be weighted to match actual turnout -- in helping to understand who voted and why.

If I learn more today, I'll post it here. 


AR: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/1)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
2/1/10; 500 likely voters, 4.55 margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Arkansas

2010 Senate
Hendren (R) 51%, Lincoln (D) 35%
Baker (R) 52%, Lincoln (D) 33%
Coleman (R) 50%, Lincoln (D) 34%
Cox (R) 50%, Lincoln (D) 36%
Boozman (R) 54%, Lincoln (D) 35%

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 33 / 66
Gov. Beebe: 73 / 24

Favorable / Unfavorable
Kim Hendren: 35 / 19
Blanche Lincoln: 36 / 59
Gilbert Baker: 40 / 22
Curtis Coleman: 39 / 19
Tom Cox: 36 / 22
John Boozman: 51 / 24


US: Health Care (Harris 1/18-25)

Topics: poll

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

National

Even if you don't know the details of his plan, how do you feel about President Obama's proposals for health care reform?
43% Support, 49% Oppose (chart)


US: National Survey (PPP 1/29-31)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/29-31/10; 584 registered voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

National

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 49% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 83 / 13 (chart)
Reps: 8 / 88 (chart)
Inds: 48 / 48 (chart)

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
36% Support, 51% Oppose (chart)

Generally speaking this fall will you vote Democratic or Republican for Congress?
43% Republican, 40% Democrat (chart)

If the Democrats don't pass their health care bill will you vote Democratic or Republican for Congress this fall?
43% Republican, 38% Democrat

If the Democrats pass their health care bill will you vote Democratic or Republican for Congress this fall?
45% Republican, 41% Democrat


US: 2012 Pres Primary (Kos 1/20-31)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
1/20-31/10; 2003 Republicans, 2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

National

2012 President: Republican Primary
16% Palin, 11% Romney, 10% Cheney, 7% Gingrich, 7% Huckabee, 3% Pawlenty, 2% Paul, 2% Thune


AR: 2010 Sen (PPP 1/29-31)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
1/29-31/10; 810 likely voters, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Arkansas

2010 Senate
56% Boozman (R), 33% Lincoln (D)
48% Boozman (R), 37% Ross (D)
44% Boozman (R), 43% Beebe (D)
51% Boozman (R), 36% Clark (D)
53% Boozman (R), 30% Halter (D)
50% Baker (R), 35% Lincoln (D)
39% Baker (R), 39% Ross (D)
46% Beebe (D), 38% Baker (R)
45% Baker (R), 39% Clark (D)
45% Baker (R), 34% Halter (D)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 38 / 58
Sen. Pryor: 29 / 46
Sen. Lincoln: 27 / 62
Gov. Beebe: 59 / 22

Favorable / Unfavorable
Gilbert Baker: 9 / 16
John Boozman: 32 / 25
Wesley Clark: 29 / 29
Bill Halter: 21 / 29
Mike Ross: 32 / 25

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
30% Support, 61% Oppose


CA: 2010 Sen (McLaughlin 1/7-11)

Topics: poll

McLaughlin & Associates (R)
1/7-11/10; 500 likely Republican primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(McLaughlin release)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
39% Whitman, 12% Poizner (chart)
31% Whitman, 17% Campbell,* 5% Poizner

*Note: Tom Campbell has dropped out of the governor's race to run for Senate


FL: 2010 Sen, gov (Fabrizio 1/27-28)

Topics: poll

Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (R)
1/27-28/10; 800 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
296 likely Republican primary voters, 5.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates memo)

Florida

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
44% Rubio, 30% Crist (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
47% Crist (R), 29% Meek (D) (chart)
49% Crist (R), 27% Ferre (D)
42% Rubio (R), 30% Meek (D) (chart)
43% Rubio (R), 27% Ferre (D)
31% Rubio (R), 26% Crist (i), 24% Meek (D)
32% Rubio (R), 29% Crist (i), 19% Ferre (D)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary (trends)
39% Crist, 31% McCollum, 4% Dockery

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
48% Crist (R), 31% Sink (D)
41% McCollum (R), 32% Sink (D) (chart)


KS: 2010 Sen Primary (SurveyUSA 1/29-31)

Topics: poll

SurveyUSA / KCTV-TV / KWCH-TV
1/29-31/10; 519 likely Republican primary voters, 4.4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Kansas

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
40% Moran, 33% Tiahrt


FL: 2010 Sen Primary (Rasmussen 1/27)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
1/27/10; 449 likely Republican primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
49% Rubio, 37% Crist (chart)


US: National Survey (1/29-2/1)

Topics: poll

Zogby
1/29-2/1/10; 2,525 likely voters, 2% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)

National

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

State of the Country
39% Right Direction, 53% Wrong Track (chart)


MI: 2010 Gov (EPIC-MRA 1/24-26)

Topics: poll

Detroit Free Press / EPIC-MRA
1/24-26/10; 600 registered voters, 4% margin of error
400 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.9% margin of error
400 likely Republican primary voters, 4.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Free Press story)

Michigan

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
23% Ilitch, 9% Peters, 8% Dillon, 6% Bernero, 6% Kildee, 6% Stupak, 2% Wheeler Smith, 2% Bowman, 2% Early

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
32% Cox, 25% Hoekstra, 16% Bouchard, 3% Snyder, 2% George

2010 Governor: General Election
50% Cox (R), 28% Bernero (D)
47% Cox (R), 30% Dillon (D)
48% Cox (R), 30% Ilitch (D)
45% Hoekstra (R), 27% Bernero (D)
40% Hoekstra (R), 32% Dillon (D)
42% Hoekstra (R), 35% Ilitch (D)


Obama's misguided spending freeze

Topics: Budget , Health care , Health Care Reform , Obama , Spending

Since the beginning of the presidential campaign, Barack Obama and his advisers have repeatedly claimed that they don't listen to DC's conventional wisdom. But Obama's decision to propose a freeze of discretionary non-security spending suggests that the White House misunderstands the problem in the same way as most of the rest of Washington.

The problem, as I've argued, is that Obama's political fortunes are closely tied to the economy -- a variable over which he has relatively little control. With his first midterm election approaching and the economy in terrible shape, an anti-presidential backlash was a virtual certainty. Obama's approach to health care or the economy may have exacerbated this backlash -- the public tends to move in the opposite direction from public policy (though usually after some lag) -- but it's highly unlikely that Obama's policies or communication strategies were the primary cause of his declining approval ratings.

The decision to respond to this problem with a partial spending freeze is both bad politics and bad economics. From an economic perspective, Obama faces a serious risk of a long period of slow growth or even a double-dip recession. He has no politically feasible jobs agenda; his proposed tax credit is tiny relative to the scale of the problem. Imposing additional limits at government spending will only make the problem worse.

From a political perspective, Obama's gesture will have very little effect. The idea seems to be that it will appeal to independents and Republicans who are concerned about the deficit. However, most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents will not support Obama no matter what he does. They may say they are concerned about the deficit or government spending, but if those concerns are addressed they are likely to find other reasons to oppose the administration. (In addition, their perceptions are likely to be biased.) Deficits might hurt Obama on the margin, but in most cases I tend to think that they're a convenient reason to cite for opposing a president you wouldn't like anyway.

Just to underscore the magnitude of the political and economic problem Obama faces, the White House budget, which was released today, projects "8.9 percent unemployment at the end of 2011, and 7.9 unemployment percent by the end of 2012." While unemployment isn't as good a predictor of election outcomes as income growth, these figures underscores the difficult path to re-election that Obama currently faces. He can still win in 2012 -- seasonally adjusted unemployment in December 1983 was 8.3% and Reagan went on to beat Mondale in a landslide -- but he needs significant growth to do it (regression line excludes the outliers of 1952 and 1968):

Breadandpeacefigure1test3_2

Given the historical record, the downside risk of suboptimal economic policy vastly outweighs the symbolic appeal of spending freezes and other short-term deficit measures. Unfortunately for Obama, this is one issue where his administration appears to buy into the conventional wisdom.

Update 2/2 1:30 PM: Matthew Yglesias makes the point more eloquently in a post linking to this one:

Roughly speaking, people got it into their heads over the years that "deficits" are "bad" (which is usually true, but also pretty simplistic) and then the economic situation became very bad, so people have decided that large deficits must be the problem. This is a misunderstanding. An application of a crude, sorta-correct rule of thumb to an unusual situation. It also involves people confusing cause and effect. Steep economic downturns cause large deficits, which is bad. But the deficit is the symptom rather than the cause. Meanwhile, as Brendan Nyhan observes the Obama administration seems eager to pile bad political science on top of the mass public's bad economics. People are upset, and they say they want a smaller deficit. So Obama's proposing to give it to them, and seems to have no intention of doing anything about its own forecast of a years-long bleak economic situation.

In political terms, though, the actual performance of the economy in 2012 is going to be much more important to Obama's re-election than the budget deficit. In particular, by directing its policymaking more at the things that the public thinks are the cause of economic problems rather than the things that economists think are the cause of economic problems, the administration is making is running a huge risk of GOP takeover of the House in 2010. What's more, they've left themselves with almost no margin of error for their own re-election. And for double-irony, the very members of congress who are most endangered by poor short-term economic performance are the ones who are doing the most to urge the administration to adopt a fiscal retrenchment agenda. The faith in vox populi that this reflects ("the public will reward me for doing what they said they wanted me to do, even if it turns out not to work at all") is sort of touching, but really lacks any basis in the evidence. It's fascinating to me how few professional political operatives or reporters seem interested in systematic studies of US politics.

See also:
-Seth Masket on pundits misunderstanding Obama's problems
-John Sides on the overemphasis on process as the problem in the health care debate
-Jon Chait on Peter Wehner ridiculing "structural factors" as the primary reason for Obama's decline

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com]


Health Care Reform: What Americans Believe and What Happens Next

Topics: Health care , Health Care Reform , Kaiser Family Foundation , National Journal column , Pew Research Center

My column for this week looks at how Americans came to believe what they do about health care reform, with a focus on this puzzle: If American's followed news coverage about the health reform debate as closely as the Pew Research Center news interest surveys say they did, why are so many "unfamiliar with key elements of the major bills," as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation survey last month?

The short version is that perceptions of health insurance reform appear to have been shaped by both the typically process-oriented coverage of the health care debate and the larger context of double-digit unemployment and massive increases in government spending over the last year. I end the column with the obvious conclusion: Months of more legislative wrangling on this issue is unlikely to change impressions or increase awareness of what's actually in the bill. Please click through for the whole thing.

But what about the question of greatest consequence right now? What if Congress were to quickly pass the existing legislation or, alternatively, just let it drop? How would voters react? This topic was the subject of a lot of discussion over the past week, from voices such as Megan McArdle and (since I filed the column) from Nate Silver and Jonathan Chait.

Looking forward, we are on much more shaky and speculative ground but I find Chait most persuasive in arguing that the rationale for Democrats to move forward and pass the bill is that they've already voted for it and thus "already own the downside." They will be attacked for "having voted for tax hikes and Medicare cuts and death panels" regardless of the outcome. He continues:

Suppose there's no upside at all to passing health care reform. McArdle assumes, without explicating her reasons, that walking away from the issue is a way for Democrats to cut their losses. Why, though, would that be the case? Passing the bill may or may not make it more popular, letting it die is surely going to make it less popular. If the bill dies, then it's the subject of lengthy, painful postmortem coverage detailing its flaws and mistakes. It becomes the symbol of big government run amok, and the 60 Senate Democrats and 220 House Democrats who voted for it will suffer politically all the more. Moreover, the already-demoralized liberal base would become apoplectic with the Democratic Party. 1994 was bad, but passing a bill through both chambers then sitting by and letting it die is the kind of behavior that makes even the most pragmatic Democratic voter want to punish his own party.

It's hard to guess at where public opinion will move next, but if I were still offering political advice to Democrats, I'd side with Chait.


AK: 2010 Sen (PPP 1/27-28)

Topics: poll

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

Alaska

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 56
Sen. Murkowski: 52 / 36
Rep. Young: 43 / 41

2010 Senate
52% Murkowski, 25% Generic Democrat

2010 House
49% Young, 34% Crawford


NY: 2010 Sen (Marist 1/25-27)

Topics: poll

Marist
1/25-27/10; 838 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
360 Democrats, 5.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Marist release)
Update: Schumer release

New York

2010 Senate (B): Democratic Primary (trends)
44% Gillibrand, 27% Ford, 4% Tasini

2010 Senate (B): General Election (trends)
49% Pataki, 43% Gillibrand (chart)
52% Gillibrand, 30% Blakeman
52% Pataki, 35% Ford
39% Ford, 35% Blakeman

2010 Senate (A): General Election
67% Schumer, 25% Kudlow

Job Rating
Sen. Gillibrand: 24% Excellent/Good, 51% Fair/Poor (chart)


FL: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 1/27)

Topics: poll

Rasmussen
1/27/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Senate
Crist (R) 48%, Meek (D) 33% (chart)
Rubio (R) 49%, Meek (D) 32% (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Charlie Crist: 58 / 40 (chart)
Kendrick Meek: 38 / 36
Marco Rubio: 51 / 31


 

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