February 28, 2010 - March 6, 2010


About "True" Unemployment


Today's unemployment rate was announced as 9.7%. But some articles mention a "true" unemployment rate of 16.8%. How can both numbers coexist, and which is "really true"?

This is a lengthy, technical post, so here is the conclusion:

As a matter of compassion for people who would like to work more, U6 may be a more inclusive measure, but as a matter of statistical information, as a matter of understanding the economic (and political) implications of unemployment, there is no advantage in choosing anything other than the official unemployment rate, U3. Calling U6 the "true" or "real" unemployment is misleading and a disservice to readers and listeners. It is a claim of added value when in fact there is none. 

Now the details:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces an official unemployment statistic each month, known as U3. The BLS also produces five alternative measures of unemployment, U1, U2, U4, U5 and U6. U1 and U2 are narrower measures of long-term (over 15 weeks) and new job losses. U4-U6 are alternative measures including discouraged, marginally attached to the labor force and part-time workers who would prefer more hours. (See the BLS data here.)

As unemployment rises, the rates for marginal and part time workers also increases, and runs considerably above the official unemployment rate. The key difference is that discouraged and marginal workers are both not working and not looking for work but have looked in the last 12 months and say they would like to work. (Discouraged is a subset of marginal, with the addition that they cite a job-market related reason for not seeking work.) The part-time worker category includes currently employed people who want and are available for full time work but who have had to settle for part time employment.

Some news sources refer to U6, which includes both marginal and part-time workers as the "true" or "real" unemployment level. NPR has done so here and here and here and here. And the Washington Post's Frank Ahrens' Economy Watch Blog has had quite a bit to say about this including, here and here.

But in what sense is U6 more "true" than U5 or the official U3? One can certainly make a case that discouraged workers are unemployed, would like to work, but so disheartened they've given up. A slightly weaker case can be made for the marginal workers. But those two together only add modestly to the official unemployment rate, as you can see in the chart above. Where the big jump comes is among part-time employees, who are added to the mix in U6.

So is U6 a better measure? It certainly matters that 16.8% of potential workers would like more hours (or a job of any kind) compared to the 9.7% who are without jobs and actively looking. But if you are going to adopt U6 as your standard, you need to realize that even during the "full employment" of the late 1990s to 2000, when unemployment (i.e. U3) fell to just 3.8%, U6 still stood at 6.9%, 1.8 times higher. Of course a booming economy provides more full time job opportunities, but even the hottest economy of recent decades did not bring U6 below the 7-8 point range.

Since 1994 (when current unemployment measures were adopted) U6 has averaged 1.76 times the U3 rate. Today's ratio stands at 1.73, essentially the same as the historical average.

Today's Frank Ahren's Economy Watch entry points to the gap between U6 and U3, and links to an earlier post on that gap. Let's look at that gap, but also compare it to the ratio of U6 to U3:


Ahrens focuses on the difference, which has risen lately while ignoring the ratio which has fallen over the last year, and is down from pre-recession levels. U6 rises faster than U3, with U6 increasing by about 1.7 points for each 1 point increase in U3. That means the gap between them has to rise when U3 is large, as it certainly is today. But the relative rates of U6 and U3 are the ratio, and that has fallen recently.  If you want to make the case that unemployment is "really" worse than it looks (based on U3) then U6 and the gap make a good case. But if you want to know if U6 is abnormally large given the current official unemployment of 9.7%, then the ratio is a more reasonable measure, and by that it doesn't look unusually large, and in fact is slightly below historical expectations. 

That doesn't answer the "truthiness" question, but it does seem to say that U6 isn't really telling us much we wouldn't have expected from U3 and the historical relationship. And that is the key point. Does U6 add information not available in U3? If we adopted U6, we'd have a higher rate always, but would it tell us something different from U3? Not very much at all. In the top chart, I include the correlation between U3 and U6. It is a near perfect 0.992 since 1994. That means there is only the tiniest bit of independent variation between the two series. They move up and down in near-lock-step, as is apparent just from looking at the chart. The "truth" of U6 is never much different from what we'd expect based on U3. Since 1994, U6 has never been as much as 3/4 of a percentage point different from what we'd have predicted based on U3.  Of course it contains more people (by definition it is a super-set of the official unemployed) but it doesn't vary differently over time than does U3. In short, there is virtually no added information.

We can take another peak at alternative unemployment measures, this time at the state level annually since 2005.
u1tou6.pngHere you see the rise of unemployment nationally as you read the columns right-to-left. What was a small cluster of low unemployment in the lower left corner of the 2005 column has become a wide spread throughout the plot in the 2009 column. Both U3 and each of the alternative unemployment measures have increased, which is obvious. But the relationship between the measures have remained quite stable, with correlations between .86 and .99. 

For our current interest, U6 and U3 correlate each year at the state level between .95 and .96, again leaving very little room for more information to be extracted from the U6 measure.

As a matter of compassion for people who would like to work more, U6 may be a more inclusive measure, but as a matter of statistical information, as a matter of understanding the economic (and political) implications of unemployment, there is no advantage in choosing anything other than the official unemployment rate, U3. Calling U6 the "true" or "real" unemployment is misleading and a disservice to readers and listeners. It is a claim of added value when in fact there is none. 

US: National Survey (McLaughlin 2/24-25)

Topics: poll

McLaughlin & Associates / Citizens United for change*
2/24-25/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(McLaughlin release)

*Citizens United for Change Opposes Campaign Finance regulations


Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 84 / 15 (chart)
Reps: 17 / 79 (chart)
Inds: 45 / 51 (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
42% Republican, 35% Democrat (chart)

Nuclear Option 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Sarah Dutton reviews the way Americans continue to worry about job loss.

Gary Langer discusses public opinion on military tribunals for terrorism suspects.

Frank Newport assesses Obama's "White Coat Ceremony."

Gary Andres says public support is not among Democrats' reasons for pushing forward on health reform? (via Resurgent Republic)

Media Matters notes video evidence of how language changes opinions.

US: National Survey (Kos 3/1-4)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
3/1-4/10; 1,200 adults, 2.8% margin of error
ModE: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 53 /43 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 36 / 56
Harry Reid: 27 / 66
Mitch McConnell: 21 / 63
John Boehner: 19 / 62
Democratic Party: 39 / 57
Republican Party: 30 / 66

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

CO: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 3/2)

Topics: poll

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


2010 Senate (trends)
44% Norton (R), 42% Romanoff (D) (chart)
48% Norton (R), 39% Bennet (D) (chart)
41% Wiens (R), 41% Romanoff (D)
43% Wiens (R), 40% Bennet (D)
41% Buck (R), 40% Romanoff (D)
44% Buck (R), 38% Bennet (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ken Buck: 40 / 23
Michael Bennet: 42 / 44 (chart)
Andrew Romanoff: 42 / 38
Tom Wiens: 35 / 27
Jane Norton: 49 / 34

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 56 (chart)
Gov. Ritter: 34 / 63 (chart)

NV: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 3/3)

Topics: poll

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


2010 Senate
51% Lowden, 38% Reid (chart)
50% Tarkanian, 37% Reid (chart)
46% Angle, 38% Reid

Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 39 / 58 (chart)
Sue Lowden: 54 / 31
Danny Tarkanian: 52 / 29
Sharron Angle: 40 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 57 (chart)
Gov. Gibbons: 37 / 61 (chart)

And Government Run Medicare Is....?

Topics: Harry Reid , Health Care Reform , Medicare , Sue Lowden

I'm working on a column today about whether enactment of health care reform might affect misperceptions of the legislation and support for it generally. The column will appear on Monday, but for now I want to pass along one item that may be included but that, either way, I can't let pass without comment.

It involves the television advertisement featuring Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden now airing in Nevada (via Ben Smith). While the ad attacks Democrat Harry Reid, I am assuming that Republican primary voters are as much the intended audience as persuadable voters in the fall election (Lowden will face Danny Tarkanian and several others in a May 6 primary). Now I worked as a political consultant for about 20 years, and I'm not naive about the, shall we say, exaggerations that are common in campaign advertising. But the absurdity of this one is really remarkable (emphasis mine):

As a mom I know one-size-fits-all clothes don't fit, aren't comfortable and are seldom a bargain. So why does Harry Reid want to force one-size-fits-all government health care on us? Harry Reid thinks Washington knows best, but I think we the people know best. Harry Reid's big government health care plan will raise taxes, put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor, weaken Medicare, kill jobs, push us further into debt. I'm Sue Lowden and I approve this message because government run health care is wrong.

Need I say more?

P.S.: Harry Reid's campaign posted a detailed rebuttal.

Unemployment Holds at 9.7%


The national unemployment rate held steady in February at 9.7%, stubbornly down from the high of 10.1% in October and stubbornly refusing to decline from January's 9.7%. The White House has stressed storms but until we see the rate move down again, such talk is convincing only to economists and geeks. (State unemployment for January will be out March 10.)

Let's note the rate since President Obama took office,

Feb 09: 8.2%
Mar 09: 8.6%
Apr 09: 8.9%
May 09: 9.4%
Jun 09: 9.5%
July 09: 9.4%
Aug 09: 9.7%
Sep 09: 9.8%
Oct 09: 10.1%
Nov 09: 10.0%
Dec 09: 10.0%
Jan 10: 9.7%
Feb 10: 9.7%

12 month change: +1.5%

 6 month change: 0.0%

4 month change: -0.4%

1 month change: 0.0%

There is enough there to argue about. 

On the bright side for the administration is the first revision of 4th quarter real GDP, which was moved up from 5.7% to 5.9% growth. That is the number to watch as a better indicator of future growth and unemployment trends. If the economy continues to expand at this rate in the 1st and 2nd quarters economic optimism is likely to rise even with a lagging and gradual decline in unemployment.  Third quarter growth was, in contrast, revised downward from initial estimates to an eventual 2.2% growth. For comparison, 1st and 2nd quarters were -6.4% and -0.7% respectively. For the year, 2009 was terrible, a decline of -2.4%, compared to +0.4% in 2008 and +2.1% in 2007. 

Now we enter the 2010 campaign year with upward GDP movement for the second half of 2009 but climbing from a deep bottom of the recession. The stage is set for a narrative of recovery, but that narrative remains obscured by a stubborn unemployment rate and a preoccupation with an unpopular health care bill.

TX: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 3/3)

Topics: poll

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


2010 Governor
Perry (R) 49%, White (D) 43%

Favorable / Unfavorable
Rick Perry: 54 / 46
Bill White: 54 / 34

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 36 / 63
Gov. Perry: 54 / 44

NY: Paterson (Quinnipiac 3/3-4)

Topics: poll

3/3-4/10; 1,325 registered voters, 2.7% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 21 / 61 (chart)

Do you think Governor Paterson should serve his full term until December 31 or should he resign?
46% Full term, 42% Resign

Who do you think would more effectively govern New York state until December 31 - David Paterson or Richard Ravitch?
37% Paterson, 32% Ravitch

Self Promotion 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jeffrey Jones says Obama's support is more stratified by age than previous presidents.

Chris Bowers spots rising support for health care reform.

Seth Masket argues against relying too much on health care reform polling (via Appel).

Tom Jensen finds few voters know how their representatives voted on health care reform.

Jim Geraghty reports on congressional district polling on health care funded by a pro-life group.

Frank Newport discusses Obama and the demographics of smokers.

Research Rants skewers Zogby's congressional district question.

Ben Smith clarifies that political tweets are more self promotion than pointless babble.

KY: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 3/2)

Topics: polls

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


2010 Senate
46% Grayson (R), 33% Mongiardo (D)
51% Paul (R), 34% Mongiardo (D)
49% Grayson (R), 31% Conway (D)
49% Paul (R), 34% Conway (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Trey Grayson: 56 / 21
Daniel Mongiardo: 43 / 43
Rand Paul: 57 / 26
Jack Conway: 40 / 33

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 59
Gov. Beshear: 48 / 47

NJ: 2012 Sen (FDU 3/1)

Topics: poll

Fairleigh Dickinson
2/23-3/1/10; 801 registered voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(FDU release)

New Jersey

2012 Senate
39% Kean (R), 38% Menendez (D)
40% Menendez (D), 27% Doherty (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bob Menendez: 29 / 25 (chart)
Frank Lautenberg: 42 / 29 (chart)
Tom Kean: 28 / 11
Mike Doherty: 6 / 2

CA: 2010 Sen, Gov Primary (Magellan 2/25)

Topics: poll

Magellan Data and Mapping (R)
2/25/10; 612 likely Republican primary voters, 4% margin of error
ModE: Automated phone
(/Magellan release)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
63% Whitman, 12% Poizner (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
33% Campbell, 20% Fiorina, 11% DeVore (chart)

GA: 2010 Gov Primary (PPP 2/26-28)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
2/26-28/10; 516 likely Republican primary voters, 4.3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
27% Oxendine, 19% Handel, 13% Deal, 3% Johnson, 3% Scott, 2% McBerry, 2% Chapman

2012 President: Republican Primary
38% Huckabee, 28% Romney, 25% Palin

In Defense of Polling on Public Policy

The team of writers behind "The Daily Show" released a book in 2004 by Jon Stewart entitled America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. On page 112 (for those of you following along at home), Stewart and company lampoon the traditional roles found in an American campaign. The pollster is not spared.

"Pollster: No one will meet him. He does not exist because you, as a candidate, pay no attention to polls. You do not do anything until you talk to him first."

Well, not anymore.

The Monday morning column in National Journal from Pollster.com editor Mark Blumenthal collected up the incredible number of references to polls used by those on both sides of the aisle in last week's Health Care Summit at Blair House. The conventional wisdom that politicians are supposed to pretend they don't care about polls has been turned on its head.

I, for one, am glad. In a post a year ago during the forum about Stan Greenberg's Dispatches from the War Room, I applauded his defense of polling as an important part of democratic government nowadays, and suggested that pollsters get to serve as the "reality check" against policymakers who remain hopelessly out of touch with the experience of real Americans.

Polling is an often maligned discipline, seen by some as a crutch for unprincipled politicians to figure out how to be successful political chameleons. And in fairness, I don't doubt that there are some politicians looking to polls to "tell them what to believe." For decades, politicians have often taken the position that they ignore polls and govern from their principles.

Which makes it somewhat refreshing, as a pollster, to see polling serve as an integral part of a major public policy debate.

The challenges of public policy polling are numerous. Do a survey that is too complex on a topic where the public knows little, and the wrong type of question can yield a worthless answer. Almost any positioning of a policy will be objectionable to one or both sides of the political spectrum. (For a great example, see the Pollster.com rundown of a somewhat recent duel over card check polling.) Plus, polls don't happen for free, and the funding for a poll can certainly impact the study's credibility.

But a well-executed survey that tests basic beliefs and attitudes can tell an important story to elected officials and policymakers. It can highlight fears and concerns that might not otherwise be heard absent a wave of letters and phone calls to congressional offices. It can help identify clear, simple ways to engage the public in policy discussions.

A great example comes from a missed opportunity from my own side of the aisle. In 2006 and 2007, Republicans were often seen touting economic growth, proclaiming that the Bush tax cuts had improved the economy. Yet their approval ratings weren't budging. No amount of messaging about a rosy economic outlook was convincing Americans, and folks inside Washington couldn't figure out why. Yet when pollsters and focus group experts took to the field to unravel the mystery, the answer was simple.

From the linked WSJ piece: "The reality, of course, is that the investment tax cuts did help create seven million jobs and did steer the economy out of recession. That doesn't matter to these "stressed out" voters, as Mr. Thau calls them."

The reality was that cost of living increases created real pressure being felt by most Americans, and as a result, the creation of millions of jobs didn't have an impact on the day-to-day American experience for many. Maybe folks weren't calling their Senators en masse, but there was anxiety out there. Research provided a window to the concerns of Americans.

Republicans finally came around with a somewhat successful moment in summer of 2008 focused on lowering gas prices, but by then it was too little too late.

All of which is to say that yes, there is an important place for quality survey research in a public policy debate. The "inside the beltway" distortion field is difficult to escape even for the most earnest policymakers. So long as polling is used appropriately, it can provide helpful clarity and direction to those whose decisions have a major impact on the lives of Americans.

CT: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 3/2)

Topics: poll

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


2010 Senate
58% Blumenthal (D), 32% Simmons (R) (chart)
60% Blumenthal (D), 31% McMahon (R) (chart)
57% Blumenthal (D), 27% Schiff (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Blumenthal: 72 / 26
Rob Simmons: 52 / 35
Peter Schiff: 37 / 34
Linda McMahon: 46 / 42

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 53 / 46 (chart)
Gov. Rell: 65 / 33 (chart)

OK: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 2/24)

Topics: poll

2/24/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Governor
51% Fallin (R), 37% Askins (D)
42% Askins (D), 39% Brogdon (R)
51% Fallin (R), 36% Edmondson (D)
42% Brogdon (R), 41% Edmondson (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mary Fallin: 60 / 31
Jari Askins: 48 / 36
Drew Edmondson: 50 / 37
Randy Brogden: 39 / 32

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 38 / 62
Gov. Henry: 64 / 34

Pointless Babble 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Frank Newport looks at support for Medicare before its passage.

Micah Roberts sees
a sea change in the political climate among key groups.

Mark Mellman says assumptions of continuity make us miss shocks to the political system.

David Hill says majority support for nuclear power may not be enough.

David Ropeik analyzes climate change polls (via Appel).

Andrew Romano warns against making extrapolations about 2010 from Perry's primary win.

Michele Bachmann takes
a U-turn on the census.

And a new study finds "pointless babble" dominates among twitter topics.

Pew Millennials Data

The Pew Research Center recently published its report titled "Millennials, A Protrait of Generation Next. Confident, Connected, Open to Change." It's a wide-ranging, data-driven portrait of the roughly 50 million Americans between the ages of 18-29.

Of course, one of the larger differentiators between Millennials and other American generations is technology. Six in ten (61%) Millennials say that their generation is "unique and distinct from other generations" and those that say their generation is distinct cite "technology use" as their greatest differentiator. In this regard, the data support what most Americans observe on a daily basis. Millennials have slightly more positive views of technology than Xers and Boomers (see page 126) and they certainly use technology to stay connected. For example, 88% of Millennials use their mobile phone to text (see page 126), 83% have placed their mobile phone next to their bed before sleeping (see page (see page 135), 75% have a profile on a social networking site (see page 125), 32% have watched a video online in the past 24 hours (see page 127) and 14% are on Twitter (page 125).

But what of Millennial's political and ideological distinctiveness?

Much has already been made of the party identification chart on page 3 of the Pew report, which shows Democratic party identification among registered Millennials dropping from a 62%-30% Democratic advantage in 2008 to a 54%-40% advantage today. While much of the focus of discussion has been this drop, it is fairly clear from the data that Millennials have a greater affinity to a liberal ideology. Jed Lewison makes this point well.

In fact, Republicans rejoicing at the decline of Democratic party identification among Millennials may be missing the forest for the trees. First, the Pew data shows that the recent narrowing of the party identification gap brings things back to roughly where they were in 2004 (53% Dem - 37% Rep in 2004 and 54% Dem - 40% Rep in 2010). For an even deeper dive on this issue, see page 67 of the report where Pew displays yearly (leaned) party identification averages based on ALL of its polling. As Kristen Soltis has pointed out, the GOP certainly has an age gap problem.

And the internals suggest that Millennials are more politically liberal than Xers, Boomers and the Silent Generation. For example:

1. In a forced choice between government doing more or less (see page 116), Millennials lean toward government activism 53%-42%.
2. When asked to describe their political views, Millennials are split 29% conservative to 29% liberal. In comparison to Xers (+13 net conservative), Boomers (+27 net conservative) and 65+ (+38 net conservative), Millennials appear to be much more politically liberal (see page 140). In fact, this data shows that while 29% of Millennials classify themselves as politically liberal, this classification declines to 25% among Xers, 17% among Boomers and 12% among those 65+.

These attitudes could certainly change over time based on economic and social events. We don't yet know how the "Great Recession", the likely collapse and reinvention of American entitlement programs, and the Obama Presidency will shape the attitudes of Millennials over the long term. But GOP rejoicing does not seem in order.

US: News Interest (Pew 2/26-3/1)

Topics: poll

Pew Research Center
2/26-3/1/10; 1,008 adults, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew release)


Most Closely Followed Story
25% Debate over health care reform
24% The Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada
13% Reports about the condition of the U.S. economy
10% The death of a killer-whale trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida
6% The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan
5% Congressional hearings about problems with Toyota vehicles

Texas Primary: Message Success, Message Failure


The Texas GOP primary for governor is a lesson in both message success and message failure. Gov. Rick Perry was badly behind a year ago. Last night he won by 20 points. His rise began in the spring, driven in large part by his embrace of strong anti-Washington and pro-Texas rhetoric. While outsiders found many of his comments "secessionist" and extreme, Perry showed a fine ear for his Texas Republican voters who are themselves quite anti-Washington and pro-Texas. If the rhetoric was at times overblown, it still resonated with his constituency, and what harm is there in a little secessionist talk if it stirs up your base. You know you don't mean it literally, regardless of how MSNBC interprets it.

Sen. Hutchinson faced the problem of how to "out-populist" an overblown but effective populist. She was never going to be able to out-do Gov. Perry on this dimension. (See the lesson's of Gov. George Wallace in Alabama in the 1960s.) So her only option was to find an effective critique of that populism. She never did.

The challenge is how to find an effective counter argument to a rhetoric that cannot be taken literally but which resonates with voters as populist calls to arms. Gov. Perry expressed a symbolic truth for over half of GOP primary voters last night. Sen. Hutchinson failed to convince more that 30% of them that those symbolic claims were in fact irresponsible and unrealistic. She could not find a way to play the grown up to Perry's teenager.

This has long been a democratic (small d) problem. When populist enthusiasms run hot, be it Joe McCarthy or George Wallace or Rick Perry, responsible grownups find it very hard to compete. Wallace and Perry, at least, were consummate politicians with fine ears for voters. That is what makes them so effective as candidates and what poses so difficult a problem for their opponents.

GA: 2010 Gov (PPP 2/26-28)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
2/26-28/10; 596 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Governor
43% Barnes (D), 38% Deal (R)
41% Barnes (D), 36% Handel (R)
40% Barnes (D), 39% Oxendine (R)
40% Deal (R), 30% Baker (D)
40% Handel (R), 33% Baker (D)
42% Oxendine (R), 33% Baker (D)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Perdue: 29 / 52

Favorable / Unfavorable
Thurbert Baker: 20 / 21
Roy Barnes: 36 / 33
Nathan Deal: 12 / 17
Karen Handel: 18 / 20
John Oxendine: 33 / 29

PA: 2010 Gov (Quinnipiac 2/22-28)

Topics: poll

2/22-28/10; 1,452 registered voters, 2.6% margin of error
649 Democrats, 3.9% margin of error
605 Republicans, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
16% Onorato, 11% Wagner, 10% Hoeffel, 2% Williams (chart)

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
43% Corbett, 5% Rohrer

2010 Governor: General Election (trends)
42% Corbett, 32% Onorato (chart)
42% Corbett, 30% Wagner
41% Corbett, 30% Hoeffel

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dan Onorato: 20 / 8
Jack Wagner: 20 / 7
Joe Hoeffel: 15 / 7
Tony Williams: 3 / 2
Tom Corbett: 43 / 7
Sam Rohrer: 5 / 3

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Rendell: 43 / 49 (chart)

NY: Paterson (Quinnipiac 3/1-2)

Topics: poll

3/1-2/10; 1,237 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

New York

Do you think Governor Paterson should serve his full term until December 31 or should he resign?
61% Serve full term, 31% Resign

Who do you think would more effectively govern New York state until December 31 - David Paterson or Richard Ravitch?
47% Paterson, 29% Ravitch

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 24 / 62 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
David Paterson: 26 / 56 (chart)
Richard Ravitch: 12 / 9

NY: Paterson (SurveyUSA 3/2)

Topics: poll

3/2/10; 500 adults, 4.3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

New York

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Paterson: 27 / 64 (chart)

Do you have confidence? Or no confidence? In Governor Paterson's ability to lead the state of New York?
26% Confidence, 69% No confidence

Based on what you know, should Paterson remain in office until the end of this term? Or should Paterson resign now?
44% Remain in office, 47% Resign

NY: Paterson, 2010 (Rasmussen 3/1)

Topics: poll

3/1/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)
Update: Paterson resignation

Update 2: Senate
New York

2010 Governor
55% Cuomo (D), 30% Lazio (R) (chart)
56% Cuomo (D), 27% Paladino (R)
50% Cuomo (D), 19% Lazio (R), 15% Paladino (R)

2010 Senate
44% Gillibrand (D), 42% Pataki (R) (chart)
47% Gillibrand (D), 36% Zuckerman (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Carl Paladino: 30 / 33
Rick Lazio: 40 / 34
Andrew Cuomo: 64 / 29
Kirsten Gillibrand: 50 / 37 (chart)
Mort Zuckerman: 42 / 29
George Pataki: 52 / 38

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 57 / 42

Should Governor David Paterson resign as governor and allow Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to finish out his term?
28% Yes, 53%No

US: National Survey (Ipsos 2/26-28)

Ipsos / McClatchy
2/26-28/10; 1,076 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)


State of the Country
34% Right Direction, 60% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
53% Approve, 44% Disapprove (chart)
Dem: 80 / 18 (chart)
Reps: 23 / 75 (chart)
Inds: 54 / 42 (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
50% Democrat, 40% Republican (chart)

Has the U.S. economy turned the corner on the current crisis, is the worst yet to come, or have things stabilized but not yet begun to improve?
11% Turned corner, 31% Worst to come, 55% Stabilized but not improved

As of right now, do you favor or oppose the healthcare reform proposals presently being discussed?
41% Favor, 47% Oppose (chart)

Of those who oppose: You said you are opposed to the healthcare reform proposals presently being discussed. Is that because:
37% You favor healthcare reform overall but think the current proposals don't go far enough to reform healthcare
54% You oppose healthcare reform overall and think the current proposals go too far in reforming healthcare

Of those who favor: You said you are in favor of the healthcare reform proposals presently being discussed. Is that because:
78% You favor healthcare reform overall and think the current proposals go far enough to reform healthcare
12% You oppose healthcare reform overall and think the current proposals being discussed will keep healthcare reform from happening

Party ID
32% Democrat, 25% Republican, 43% independent (chart)

Is Blanche Lincoln the new Joe Lieberman?

Topics: Arkansas Senate , Blanche Lincoln , Primary elections

With Lt. Governor Bill Halter entering the Democratic Senatorial primary in Arkansas, the first question most are asking is "can he win?" I think we can agree that Senator Blanche Lincoln faces almost unprecedented odds in the general election. How likely is a Halter victory? According to a January Mason-Dixon poll, Lincoln led Halter 52-34% in a hypothetical match-up. In addition, her approval rating among Democrats was only 51% (with 35% disapproving) in an early February Public Policy Polling poll. While these polls indicate that Lincoln is vulnerable to a primary challenge, I would argue the polls could be underselling her vulnerability.

As it stands right now, it is clear Halter is going to challenge Lincoln from the left, with Lincoln's position against the public option being the main issue. While the polling numbers gauging the public option in Arkansas are a little stale, we do know that a December Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll found that 84% of Democratic primary voters supported the public option. In a late October poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, 43% of Democratic voters said that if Lincoln did not support the public option, they would be less likely to vote for her.

Thus, if Halter can phrase the health care question correctly (public option vs. government run healthcare, etc.), I think Lincoln can be beaten on this one issue. Why do I believe this even though Halter is not winning already?

The idea of an ideological one issue primary makes me think back to the last big time Democratic Senatorial primary as it stood two months out.

Two months before the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary between Ned Lamont and Senator Joe Lieberman, a Quinnipiac poll headline read in part 'Anti-Bush, Anti-War Feeling Does Not Hurt Lieberman'. Quinnipiac found that 60% of Democrats approved of Joe Lieberman job performance. This relatively high approval from Democrats was despite 55% of Democrats knowing Lieberman supported the War in Iraq, 72% of Democrats wanting a decrease in the troops in Iraq, and 83% of Democrats believing that we should have never entered into the War. Why the disparity between support for Lieberman and support for the war? Only 12% of Democrats in this late April poll said a candidate's position on the war was the only issue they were voting on.

Flash forward two months to mid July and early August 2006 and the final three Quinnipiac polls for the Democratic primary. After two months of Ned Lamont hammering Lieberman over his support for the War in Iraq, the importance of the War as an issue rose dramatically and Lieberman's approval dropped among Democrats. In the final three polls, the percentage of voters who pledged to vote again Lieberman because of Iraq was 28%, 44%, and 36%. That's anywhere from a 16-32% jump from the late April polling, with the two higher percentages polled in the two weeks before the primary. In addition, Lieberman's approval dropped from 60% and a net approval of +29 in late April to an approval of 47% and net approval of +3% in mid July.

What am I getting at here? Voters in Connecticut did not seem so interested in voting for or against Lieberman based on the Iraq War, despite the overwhelming number of them opposed to it. Then another candidate (Lamont) breached the subject, and it began to unravel for Lieberman. His approval ratings took a dive, and the Iraq War that the primary voters were against become much more important in determining their votes.

In Arkansas, many Democrats have already indicated that they would be less likely to vote against Senator Lincoln because of her stance on the public option. If the prior polling on the public is correct (and Halter can frame the healthcare question as one of the "public option"), I would not be surprised to see her approval numbers take a dive due to another candidate (Halter) raising what is shaping up to be the signature issue of the primary (healthcare) and Lincoln's stance on it. Many Democratic voters in Arkansas may be unaware of her stance, and those that are may just need a little persuasion to make them vote on the issue. With the AFL-CIO and blogosphere pumping money into the state for Halter, voters will likely receive information about Lincoln's record on healthcare.

Of course, primaries are odd in nature. We cannot know how a primary electorate will react to a new candidate and his/her arguments, and Arkansas is no Connecticut.

Still, I would not be surprised if the next polling numbers out of Arkansas show Halter closing fast on Lincoln.

Musical Charts 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jennifer Agiesta sees Obama approval sinking in the South.

Joshua Tucker asks what's worse - passing an unpopular bill or looking weak and incompetent.

Jonathan Singer adds more to his discussion with with Charlie Cook about the midterms.

CBS News and Gallup release surveys on Toyota's safety woes.

SurveyUSA finds Californians prefer an experienced governor to a political outsider.

The New York Times introduces the musical graphic (via Lundry).

AR: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 3/1)

Topics: poll

3/1/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate (trends)
43% Hendren, 38% Lincoln (chart)
43% Coleman, 41% Lincoln (chart)
45% Baker, 40% Lincoln (chart)
45% Holt, 38% Lincoln
48% Boozman, 39% Lincoln
42% Hendren, 35% Halter
44% Baker, 37% Halter
38% Coleman, 35% Halter
42% Holt, 38% Halter
52% Boozman, 33% Halter

GA: 2010 Sen (PPP 2/26-28)

Topics: poll

Public Policy Polling
2/26-28/10; 596 Georgia voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)


2010 Senate
49% Isakson, 31% Baker
47% Isakson, 35% Martin

Favorable / Unfavorable
Thurbert Baker: 20 / 21
Jim Martin: 23 / 22

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 54
Sen. Chambliss: 38 / 43
Sen. Isakson: 36 / 38

NY: Paterson, 2010 Sen, Gov (Marist 2/22-24)

Topics: poll

2/22-24/10; 646 registered voters, 4% margin of error
3/1/10; 543 registered voters, 4.5% margin of error
2/22-24/10, 3/1/10; 524 Democrats, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Marist: Governor, Senate)

New York

2010 Governor: General Election
64% Cuomo, 28% Lazio (chart)

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary*
50% Gillibrand, 19% Ford, 3% Tasini (trend)
*Harold Ford announced last night that he would not run for Senate

2010 Senate: General Election (trends)
48% Pataki, 45% Gillibrand (chart)
59% Gillibrand, 26% Zuckerman
58% Gillibrand, 28% Blakeman

Governor Paterson has said he will not run for election as governor this November. Do you think he should also resign as governor or do you think he should serve out the rest of his term?
28% Resign, 66% Serve out term

An investigation is underway to find out what occurred during a conversation Governor Paterson had with the victim of a possible domestic violence case against one of the governors top aides. Regarding Governor Paterson's contact with the victim, do you think the governor:
12% Did nothing wrong
40% Did something unethical, but not illegal
18% Did something illegal

In general, do you think Governor Paterson is being treated fairly or unfairly?
55% Fairly, 36% Unfairly

Job Rating
Gov. Paterson: (chart)
March 1: 23% Excellent/Good, 71% Fair/Poor
Feb. 22-24: 24% Excellent/Good, 72% Fair/Poor
Sen. Gillibrand: 25% Excellent/Good, 53% Fair/Poor (chart)
Sen. Schumer: 53% Excellent/Good, 43% Fair/Poor (chart)

Kaus for Senate? Really?

Topics: 2010 , Barbara Boxer , California , Mickey Kaus

Blogger Mickey Kaus has taken out nominating petitions to run for Senate? Against Barbara Boxer? In a Democratic primary? Apparently so.

Let's start with the polling, which in this case is unequivocal. Whatever vulnerability Stu Rothenberg and others might see for Boxer in the general election, she has a solid base among Democrats, as several recent surveys show:

  • SurveyUSA (2/12-14): 71% approve of the job Boxer has been doing as Senator, 22% disapprove, 7% not sure (among Democratic identifiers).
  • The Field Poll (1/5-17): 71% have a favorable opinion, 7% unfavorable, 12% no opinion (among registered Democrats).
  • PPIC (1/12-19): 80% approve of the way Boxer is handling her job as U.S. Senator, 14% disapprove, 6% don't know (among Democratic likely voters).

The PPIC result suggests that Boxer's standing is slightly better among the Democrats that are most likely to vote.

Yes, California has an open primary that allows unaffiliated voters to request a Democratic ballot, but with a huge base among Democrats it's hard to imagine a scenario where Boxer is vulnerable to any primary opponent, much less a little known conservative Democrat (though obviously of interest to political bloggers). For what it's worth, Kaus implies that he's not in this to win:

[T]he basic idea would be to argue, as a Democrat, against the party's dogma on several major issues (you can guess which ones). Likeminded Dem voters who assume they will vote for Sen. Boxer The Incumbent in the fall might value a mechanism that lets them register their dissent in the primary.

But how many anti-Labor, anti-immigration Democrats are looking to express their dissent on these issues in a California Democratic primary? How many like minded independents are willing to skip to two hotly contested Republican contests for Governor and Senate to register such a protest? I'm guessing not many, but if you can point to data showing otherwise, I'm all ears.

Interests disclosed (for those who don't know the history): Six years ago I sent occasional emails to Kaus about polling, which he frequently quoted under the moniker "Mystery Pollster." A year later, when I started blogging under that name, Kaus was a kind booster and frequent linker.

GA: 2010 Gov (InsiderAdvantage 2/28)

Topics: poll

InsiderAdvantage* / WSB-TV
2/28/10; 1,184 registered voters, 2.7% margin of error
946 likely Republican primary voters, 3.1% margin of error
664 likely Democratic primary voters, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(InsiderAdvantage release)

*Last month, Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage released an apology for a potential conflict in the Georgia governor's race


2010 Governor: Republican Primary
27% Oxendine, 13% Handel, 9% Deal, 7% Johnson

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
36% Barnes, 7% Baker, 3% Porter, 2% Poythress

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 41 / 55
Gov. Perdue: 52 / 38

OK: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 2/24)

Topics: poll

2/24/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Senate
52% Coburn (R), 40% Henry (D)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 38 / 62
Gov. Henry: 64 / 34

Favorable / Unfavorable
Tom Coburn: 63 / 31
Brad Henry: 63 / 33

RI: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 2/25)

Topics: poll

2/25/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Rhode Island

2010 Governor
38% Chafee (i), 24% Lynch (D), 22% Robitaille (R)
37% Chafee (i), 27% Caprio (D), 19% Robitaille (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Robitaille: 31 / 31
Frank Caprio: 52 / 28
Lincoln Chafee: 55 / 37
Patrick Lynch: 37 / 48

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 62 / 37

PA: 2010 Sen (Quinnipiac 2/22-28)

Topics: poll

2/22-28/10; 1,452 registered voters, 2.6% margin of error
649 Democrats, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)


2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
53% Specter, 29% Sestak (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
49% Specter, 42% Toomey (chart)
39% Toomey, 36% Sestak (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Arlen Specter: 44 / 43 (chart)
Pat Toomey: 26 / 8
Joe Sestak: 18 / 6

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Specter: 48 / 45 (chart)
Sen. Casey: 53 / 29 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 49 / 46 (chart)

Do the Scatterplot 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jonathan Bernstein sees Obama's recently stable job approval trend as unusual.

PPP finds net negative ratings for Obama in every state he flipped from red to blue in 2008.

A North Carolina candidate says
PPP failed to disclose a conflict of interest; PPP responds.

Bill McInturff and Nicole McCleskey assess Obama's problems with older voters.

Jan Werner asks why more relevant crosstabs aren't available for health care polls.

Stephen Kinney and Matthew Jason see some life left in print and broadcast media.

Carl Bialik discusses methods to determine how popular celebrities are.

A Tufts applicant "does the scatterplot."

KS: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 2/24)

Topics: poll

2/24/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)


2010 Governor
55% Brownback (R), 33% Holland (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sam Brownback: 58 / 34
Tom Holland: 34 / 23

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 42 / 58
Gov. Parkinson: 58 / 34

US: News Consumption (Pew 12/28-1/19)

Topics: poll

Pew Research Center
12/28/09-1/19/10; 2,259 adults, 2.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Pew: release, complete report)



"The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news, according to a new survey conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The internet is now the third most-popular news platform, behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio. Getting news online fits into a broad pattern of news consumption by Americans; six in ten (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day. "

US: National Survey (Economist 2/21-23)

Topics: poll

Economist / YouGov
2/21-23/10; 1,000 adults, 3.7% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)


Obama Job Approval
45% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 79 / 16 (chart)
Reps: 10 / 87 (chart)
Inds: 37 / 57 (chart)
Economy: 41 / 52 (chart)
Health Care: 40 / 52 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
9% Approve, 71% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
45% Democrat, 38% Republican (chart)

State of the Country
30% Right Direction, 55% Wrong Track (chart)

MI: 2010 Gov (EPIC-MRA 2/22-25)

Topics: poll

2/22-25/10; 600 likely 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 article)


2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
17% Dillon, 12% Kildee, 8% Bernero, 7% Wheeler Smith

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
27% Hoekstra, 21% Cox, 12% Snyder, 10% Bouchard, 1% George

2010 Governor: General Election
46% Cox (R), 37% Kildee (D)
41% Hoekstra (R), 37% Dillon (D)
41% Hoekstra (R), 37% Kildee (D)
43% Cox (R), 36% Dillon (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 53 / 42
Jennifer Granholm: 41 / 56
Alma Wheeler-Smith: 4 / 4
Mike Cox: 43 / 19
Andy Dillon: 13 / 9
Virg Bernero: 7 / 4
Pete Hoekstra: 29 / 11
Mike Bouchard: 35 / 9
Dan Kildee: 10 / 6
Rick Snyder: 19 / 4
Tom George: 6 / 2

Job Rating
Pres. Obama: 45% Excellent/Pretty good, 54% Just fair/Poor
Gov. Granholm: 33% Excellent/Pretty good, 66% Just fair/Poor

IN: 2010 Sen (Kos 2/22-24)

Topics: poll

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
2/22-24/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)


2010 Senate
40% Hostettler (R), 34% Ellsworth (D)
37% Coats (R), 36% Ellsworth (D)
42% Hostettler (R), 36% Hill (D)
37% Coats (R), 37% Hill (D)
44% Hostettler (R), 33% Schellinger (D)
39% Coats (R), 34% Schellinger (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Brad Ellsworth: 41 / 24
Baron Hill: 45 / 31
jim Schellinger: 39 / 32
John Hostettler: 43 / 31
Dan Coats: 40 / 36

Summit Poll Spinning

Topics: Health Care Reform , Health care reform summit

My column for this week looks at surprisingly extensive discussion of poll results at last weeks health care reform summit. My conclusion:

In some ways, the summit's polling conversation mirrors the way pundits and partisans have talked about public opinion all along. We have certainly not suffered from a shortage of polls. According to its editor, Tom Silver, the nonpartisan Polling Report has published results of health policy questions asked (or tracked) 1,168 times since March 2009.

But rather than accept the often conflicting hopes, anxieties and preferences those polls measure, compounded by less-than-universal awareness of the policy details, partisans prefer to cherry-pick whatever number purports to show the "American people" on their side.

Please click through to read the whole thing.

As noted in the column, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport has already published a review of the origins of the poll numbers referenced at the summit (to the extent that he could identify them). Two related items that appeared over the weekend:  Yesterday's New York Times includes as assessment by Dalia Sussman of the differences that question wording can make in health reform polling. Her review drew a reaction from AAPOR member Jan Werner.

NV: 2010 Sen (LVRJ 2/22-24)

Las Vegas Review Journal / Mason Dixon
2/22-24/10; 635 likely voters, 4% margin of error
300 likely Republican primary voters, 6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(LVRJ release)


2010 Senate: Republican Primary
47% Lowden, 29% Tarkanian, 8% Angle, 1% Chachas (chart)

2010 Senate (trends)
52% Lowden, 39% Reid (chart)
51% Tarkanian, 40% Reid (chart)
44% Angle, 42% Reid

If a candidate running under the banner of the Tea Party were to enter Nevada's U.S. Senate race, do you think you would likely vote for Harry Reid, the Democrat, the Republican candidate that wins the primary or the Tea Party candidate?
36% Reid, 32%, Republican, 18% Tea Party