Pollster.com

May 2, 2010 - May 8, 2010

 

PA: Sestak is Stronger in the General Election

Topics: Pennsylvania , Senate

Is Arlen Specter really a stronger general candidate than Joe Sestak? It's an argument we've heard from Specter supporters. Unfortunately for Specter fans, I see limited evidence to support their claim.

A quick glance at the Pollster.com aggregates in a Specter vs. Republican Pat Toomey and Sestak vs. Toomey matchup shows that both candidates lose to Pat Toomey. Yes, it is true that Specter only trails by 6.9% (46.5%-39.6%) and Sestak trails by 9.1% (41.8%-32.7%), but the Sestak vs. Toomey matchup also has a larger pool of undecided voters. Thus, Sestak would have a greater opportunity to pick up voters and close any gap between Toomey and himself. Now you might believe that Specter could pick up the undecided voters in a Specter vs. Toomey matchup. This scenario does not seem likely when we look at the favorability ratings of Specter among the general electorate.

Thumbnail image for screenshot20100508at124.png

In the last three polls (conducted in early April), more voters rated Specter unfavorably than favorably. In two of the polls, a majority of voters had an unfavorable view of Specter. It is very unlikely that Specter would be able to win under these conditions. On the other hand, Sestak had a higher net favorable than Specter in all polls and in none of the polls did a majority of voters grade Sestak unfavorably. To me, this illustrates that Sestak definitely has a better chance of picking up undecided voters than Specter to have a chance at beating Toomey in November.

Of course, Toomey is the favorite against whomever he faces in the general election. He leads in both potential matchups and has higher net favorables than Specter and Sestak in all recent polls.

[Cross-posted to poughies.blogspot.com]


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 5/4-7)

Topics: Governor , Pennsylvania , Senate

Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
5/4-7/10; 410 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg Release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
44% Sestak, 42% Specter (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
35% Onorato, 10% Hoeffel, 9% Williams, 8% Wagner (chart)


Happy Mother's Day 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

David Shor scores UK pollsters and prognosticators; Anthony Wells adds more on the pollsters; Nate Silver breaks down pollster results by methodology.

Tom Jensen cites evidence of improving Democratic prospects.

Chris Bowers sees good polling news for Progressives.

The ABC/Post poll surveys birthers and finds a third approve of Obama.

Democracy Corps and MoveOn.org release data on Supreme Court preferences.

Whit Ayres sees GOP opportunity in the Times Square bomb scare.

Jonathan Chait takes a parting swipe at Mark Penn.

Gallup finds that working mothers are tired and stressed but coping well.


US: National Survey (Economist 5/1-4)

Topics: National , poll

Economist / YouGov
5/1-4/10; 1,000 adults, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)

National

Obama Job Approval
47% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 85 / 13 (chart)
Reps: 5 / 91 (chart)
Inds: 40 / 56 (chart)
Economy: 39 / 54 (chart)
Health care: 41 / 53 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
12% Approve, 64% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
Registered voters (n=714): 47% Democrat, 43% Republican (chart)
All respondents: 45% Democrat, 40% Republican

state of the Country
34% Right Direction, 54% Wrong Track (chart)


IN: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/5-6)

Topics: Indiana , poll

Rasmussen
5/5-6/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Indiana

2010 Senate
51% Coats (R), 36% Ellsworth (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dan Coats: 57 / 27
Brad Ellsworth: 43 / 35

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 43 / 56
Gov. Daniels: 60 / 38


US: National Survey (Kos 5/3-6)

Topics: Favorable Ratings , National

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
5/3-6/10; 1,200 registered voters, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

National

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 55 / 41 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 40 / 51
Harry Reid; 30 / 58
Mitch McConnell: 25 / 60
John Boehner: 23 / 57
Democratic Party: 42 / 53
Republican Party: 33 / 64

State of the Country
42% Right Direction, 55% Wrong Track (chart)


IL: 2010 Sen, Gov (Kos 5/3-5)

Topics: Illinois , Senate

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
5/3-5/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

Illinois

2010 Senate

41% Kirk (R) , 38% Giannoulias (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
39% Brady (R), 35% Quinn (D), 3% Cohen (i) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Alexi Giannoulias: 38 / 46
Mark Kirk: 39 / 32
Pat Quinn: 37 / 49
Scott Lee Cohen: 19 / 24
Bill Brady: 35 / 37
Roland Burris: 25 / 52
Dick Durbin: 48 / 33
Barack Obama: 56 / 39


US: National Survey (NationalJournal 4/22-26)

Topics: National , poll

Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor
4/22-26/10; 1,200 adults, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(National Journal: article, toplines; separate online poll of "millenials:" article, toplines)

National

State of the Country
34% Right Direction, 54% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 46% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
39% Democratic candidate, 35% Republican candidate (chart)

If the election for President in 2012 were held today, would you....
25% Definitely vote to re-elect Obama
14% Probably vote to re-elect
13% Probably vote for someone else
37% Definitelty vote for someone else

Party ID
31% Democratic, 24% Republican, 30% independent (chart)


CT: 2010 Gov (Rasmussen 5/4)

Topics: Connecticut , poll

Rasmussen
5/4/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Connecticut

2010 Governoe
42% Lamont (D), 35% Foley (R) (chart)
38% Malloy (D), 35% Foley (R) (chart)
48% Lamont (D), 28% Fedele (R) (chart)
44% Malloy (D), 27% Fedele (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Michael Fedele: 37 / 22
Thomas Foley: 42 / 24
Ned Lamont: 53 / 31
Dan Malloy: 46 / 24

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 58 / 42 (chart)
Gov. Rell: 65 / 35 (chart)


OH: 2010 Sen, Gov (Rasmussen 5/5)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Rasmussen
5/5/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)
Update: Senate

Ohio

2010 Governor
46% Kasich (R), 45% Strickland (D) (chart)

2010 Senate
43% Fisher (D), 42% Portman (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ted Strickland: 47 / 48 (chart)
John Kasich: 51 / 27
Lee Fisher: 48 / 34
Rob Portman: 45 / 26

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov Strickland: 48 / 49 (chart)
Pres. Obama: 48 / 51 (chart)


IA: 2010 Gov, Sen (KCCI 5/3-5)

Topics: Iowa , Senate

KCCI / Research 2000
5/3-5/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(KCCI release)

Iowa

2010 Governor
48% Branstad (R), 41% Culver (D)
44% Culver (D), 40% Vander Plaats (R)
46% Culver (D), 36% Roberts (R)

2010 Senate
49% Grassley (R), 40% Conlin (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Chet Culver: 46 / 45
Terry Branstad: 57 / 33
Bob Vander Plaats: 39 / 38
Rod Roberts: 27 / 35
Charles Grassley: 58 / 37
Roxanne Conlin: 45 / 35


AR: 2010 Sen (MasonDixon 5/3-5)

Topics: Arkansas , poll

Mason-Dixon for Arkansas News Bureau / Stephens Media
5/2-5/10; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
400 likely Democratic Primary voters, 5% margin of error
400 likely Republican Primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Arkansas News Bureau release)

Arkansas

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
44% Lincoln, 32% Halter, 7% Morrison (chart)

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
48% Boozman, 17% Holt, 11% Baker, 5% Hendren, 2% Reynolds (trend)

2010 Senate: General Election
52% Boozman, 35% Lincoln (chart)
47% Baker, 39% Lincoln (chart)
45% Holt, 40% Lincoln
56% Boozman, 32% Halter
42% Baker, 34% Halter
42% Holt, 36% Halter


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 5/3-6)

Topics: Pennsylvania , Senate

Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
5/3-6/10; 410 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
43% Specter, 43% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
35% Onorato, 11% Hoeffel, 10% Williams, 8% Wagner (chart)


AZ: 2010 Sen, Gov (Kos 5/3-5)

Topics: Arizona , Governor , Senate

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
5/3-5/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
400 likely Republican primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Kos release)

Arizona

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
48% McCain, 36% Hayworth (chart)

2010 Senate: General Election
48% McCain, 35% Glassman
43% Hayworth, 42% Glassman

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
32% Brewer, 14% Mills, 13% Martin, 5% Munger

2010 Governor: General Election
48% Goddard, 42% Brewer
47% Goddard, 35% Martin
48% Goddard, 34% Mills
47% Goddard, 30% Munger

Favorable / Unfavorable
John McCain: 43 / 52
J.D Hayworth: 35 / 46
Randy Glassman: 26 / 16
Jan Brewer: 36 / 51
Dean Martin: 28 / 17
Buz Mills: 27 / 20
John Munger: 9 / 15
Terry Goddard: 46 / 25
Barack Obama: 46 / 49


KY: 2010 Sen (Magellan 5/4)

Topics: Kentucky , Senate

Magellan Strategies (R)
5/4/10; 611 likely Republican primary voters, 3.96% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Magellan release: toplines, crosstabs)

Kentucky

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
43% Paul, 28% Grayson


Bayesian Heteroskedastic Ideal Point Estimator 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

The BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll in the UK projects a hung parliament; Anthony Wells describes the exit poll methodology; CSPAN3 livestreams the election coverage.

Alex Massie rounds up where to find coverage of the UK elections (via Sullivan).

Mark Penn says Cleggmania could be a harbinger of what's to come in the U.S.; Jon Chait disagrees.

Jonathan Chait predicts November pain for the Democrats in spite of a decreased enthusiasm gap.

Democracy Corps and Women's Voices Women Vote advise the Democrats on 2010 demographic targets.

Karl Rove wants to toss exit polls.

Jim Geraghty has doubts about a Poizner internal poll.

Information is Beautiful visualizes the oil spill (via Sullivan).

John Sides thinks he can get you interested in a Bayesian heteroskedastic ideal point estimator.


US: National Survey (Fox 5/4-5)

Topics: National , poll

Fox News / Opinion Dynamics
5/4-5/10; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
366 Democrats, 5% margin of error
331 Republicans, 5% margin of error
159 independents, 8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Fox News: Offshore drilling, Terrorism)

National

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 43% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 85 / 9 (chart)
Reps: 11 / 82 (chart)
Inds: 38 / 45 (chart)

Do you favor or oppose increasing offshore drilling for oil and gas in U.S. coastal areas?
60% Favor, 33% Oppose

Do you approve or disapprove of how the Obama administration is dealing with the oil spill in the gulf coast?
50% Approve, 29% Disapprove

Party ID
41% Democrat, 37% Republican, 18% independent (chart)


AAPOR's Keeps 2011 Conference in Arizona

Topics: AAPOR , AAPOR2010 , AAPOR2011 , Arizona , immigration , Peter Miller

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) alerted its membership this afternoon that it will "continue with long-standing plans" to hold its annual conference in Phoenix Arizona in 2011.

Over the last two weeks, AAPOR's members-only email listserv has been a hotbed of debate -- more than 100 messages-- over what to do about the scheduled conference in light of Arizona's stringent new immigration law. This afternoon, AAPOR President Peter Miller sent an email to the group's membership explaining the dilemma and their decision:

Some AAPOR members have recommended that we move the conference site from Arizona because they view the new Arizona immigration law as a moral affront. Others worry that some conference attendees might be harassed under the new law. Others point out that conference attendance is likely to fall if we do not move the site in reaction to the law. Still others argue that we should hold the meeting in Arizona despite the law because our reputation as a professional body dedicated to the dispassionate, nonpartisan study of public opinion would suffer if we take a position against the measure. The fact that we will certainly suffer severe financial consequences (a charge of at least $200,000) by canceling the Phoenix contract weighs on many. And, finally, all of us, regardless of our views, are operating in an environment of uncertainty about whether the just-passed law will be in effect at the time of the meeting, or whether it will be modified, delayed or even rescinded. There is also the possibility that a similar law could be enacted wherever we move the conference.

After an "extensive discussion," Miller reports, they have opted to keep the meeting in Arizona. "We feel that our responsibility to the mission of the organization and our fiduciary responsibility to AAPOR and its members make this the best choice in a very difficult situation" (Miller's full letter is posted after the jump).

Interests disclosed: I'm an active AAPOR member and a former member of the organization's Executive Council.

Incidentally, AAPOR's 2010 conference will be held next week in Chicago. I will be on hand and will be once again post video interviews with notable presenters, with an assist this year from Pollster contributor Kristen Soltis.

Update - AAPOR also blasted out an email this afternoon to its membership a letter from 2011 Conference Chair Rob Santos. An excerpt:

I can personally attest to a deep feeling of ambivalence - I detest SB1070 and what I believe it communicates to immigrant minorities (I being the 3rd generation descendent of an undocumented Mexican immigrant). But I also know how widespread profiling is. It has been an unfortunate reality for generations in the Southwest. SB1070 is a marginal step backwards in an environment that was already in great need of attention. Putting aside the content of these views, my point is that, I - like you - have my own unique set of experiences, knowledge, and perspectives that I bring to this issue. AAPOR members share common beliefs and values, and we have our differences too. Both can be used to strengthen our association and our industry.

Continue reading "AAPOR's Keeps 2011 Conference in Arizona"


FL: 2010 Sen (Mason-Dixon 5/3-5)

Topics: Florida , poll

Mason-Dixon
5/3-5/10; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Miami Herald release)

Florida

2010 Senate
38% Crist, 32% Rubio, 19% Meek (chart)


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 5/2-5/5)


Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
5/2-5/10; 405 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg Release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
45% Specter, 40% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
34% Onorato, 12% Hoeffel, 9% Wagner, 8% Williams (chart)


NC: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/5)

Topics: North Carolina , Senate

Rasmussen
5/5/10; 522 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)
Update: General Election

North Carolina

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary Runoff
42% Marshall, 37% Cunningham

2010 Senate: General Election
48% Burr (R), 40% Marshall (D) (chart)
50% Burr (R), 37% Cunningham (D) (chart)


UK Exit Polls

Topics: Anthony Wells , BBC , David First , Exit Polls , John Curtice , UK elections , UKPollingReport

Today is Election Day in Britain and with it come the inevitable questions about exit polls. UK Exit polls are handled a bit differently than ours. In Britain, exit poll estimates of the outcome are announced with great fanfare as Big Ben strikes 10 p.m. (5 p.m. eastern time in the United States), as per the video below from BBC in 2005. While U.S. exit polls include many questions to understand why voters made their choices, U.K. exit polls are concerned with who they voted for.

The 2005 exit poll had the number of Labour seats exactly right (356), but was slightly high on the number of Conservative seats (predicted 209, actual 198) and slightly low on the number of Liberal Democrat seats (predicted 53, actual 62).

In 1992, however, the exit polls were "famously...completely wrong" (as the BBC correspondent puts it in the first video above). The exit poll forecast a "hung parliament," projecting that the Conservatives would fall well short of the majority needed to form a government. The actual result gave the Conservatives a 21-seat majority. The 1992 exit poll snafu paralleled a similar failure in pre-election polling, produced to theories about a "Spiral of Silence" or "Shy Tory" effect and led pollsters to make a host of changes in methodology that I described in my column earlier this week.

Over at our sister-site, PollingReport/UK, Anthony Wells has additional information on tonight's exit poll, which will for the first time be a joint effort of three British television networks (Well's post is also mirrored here):

It is carried out at around 130 polling stations, and they conduct about 16,500 interviews. They try and use the same polling stations at each election (though changes in wards and polling districts sometimes make it impossible) so that direct changes from the previous election can be drawn. 107 polling stations will be the same ones as last time, with an extra 23 new ones, including some new ones in LD-v-Lab seats which were previously underrepresented. Unlike US exit polls there are no questions about why people voted, it's just who they voted for.

Interviewers stop every nth person coming out the polling station, and give them a mock ballot paper to fill in, if someone refuses they are not replaced by another person. Every hour the papers are collected and phoned back to HQ, where they are weighted for differential response rates and crunched by people like John Curtice, Rob Ford, Clive Payne and Steve Fisher (if you were watching the BBC's campaign show last night, Steve was the chap demolishing the myth of bad weather helping the Tories!). The first result comes out at 10pm on the dot, with a final projection at 11pm or so.

If you want to dig even deeper, Rob Ford pointed us to this article by John Curtice and David First on the methods and models used in the 2005 exit poll.


CA: 2010 Gov Primary (Poizner 5/2-4)

Topics: poll

Public Opinion Strategies (R) for Steve Poizner
5/2-4/10; 800 likely Republican primary voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Poizner release)

Californai

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
38% Whitman, 28% Poizner (chart)


CT: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/4)

Topics: Connecticut , poll

Rasmussen
5/4/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Connecticut

2010 Senate
55% Blumenthal (D), 32% Simmons (R) (chart)
52% Blumenthal (D), 39% McMahon (R) (chart)
54% Blumenthal (D), 29% Schiff (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Blumenthal: 72 / 23
Rob Simmons: 48 / 32
Peter Schiff: 35 / 33
Linda McMahon: 55 / 31

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 54 / 43 (chart)
Gov. Rell: 60 / 40 (chart)


KY: 2010 Sen (Kentucky Poll 5/2-4)

Topics: Kentucky , poll

Kentucky Poll / Lexington Herald-Leader / WKYT-TV / WAVE-TV / Research 2000
5/2-4/10; 600 likely voters, 4% margin of error
500 likely Republican primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
500 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Herald-Leader: story, results)

Kentucky

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
39% Mongiardo, 32% Conway, 6% Price, 4% Buckmaster, 2% Sweeney

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
44% Paul, 32% Grayson, 3% Stephenson, 3% Martin, 1% Scribner


Roundup of Final UK Vote & Seat Projections

Topics: UK elections

The final UK polls have been released and our colleagues at PollingReport/UK and PoliticsHome have updated their averages and seat projections. Here is a quick summary for your convenience.

First, via PollingReport/UK are eight final polls. Anthony Wells has all the methodological details on each:

2010-05-05-final-uk-polls.png

The following table summarizes the polling averages and vote share estimates from various websites:

2010-05-05-UK-vote-share-averages.png

Finally, PoliticsHome has posted their final projections and updated their constituency map. For your reference, the table below includes their seat projections as well as the final predictions from FiveThirtyEight, ElectoralCalculus and the three scenarios from Simon Hix and Nick Vivyan at the London School of Economics and Political Science:

2010-05-05-uk-seat-projections

Since 326 seats are required for a party to win a absolute majority and form a government [not quite -- see below], all of these models are forecasting a hung parliament. But also notice how much variation they show -- a range of 46 seats on projections for the Conservative and Labour. Those differences alone should tell you something about the uncertainty involved.

[Correction: As Jim Miller explains at length, the Speaker ordinarily does not vote and five members of the Sinn Fein party are not allowed to vote because they refuse to take a loyalty oath, so the real number needed for an absolute majority -- absent the support of minor parties -- is 323].


WA: 2010 Sen (Elway 4/29-5/2)

Topics: Senate , Washington

The Elway Poll
4/29-5/2/10; 405 registered voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Elway release)

Washington

2010 Senate
51% Murray (D), 34% Rossi (R)
51% Murray (D), 27% Benton (R)
50% Murray (D), 24% Didier (R)
50% Murray (D), 26% Akers (R)

Open Primary
48% Murray, 8% Akers, 5% Benton, 4% Didier

Job Approval / Disapproval
Sen. Murray: 48 / 46


Lost in the Tweets

Topics: CBS/New York Times , Health Care Reform , Mike Allen , Robert Gibbs , Taegan Goddard

This morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs passed along a link for his "poll obsessed" Twitter followers pointing to a possibly overlooked "health care bump." The chatter that followed is interesting for what it says about how we cover polls and politics, but more intriguing is why so many missed the underlying polling trend.

It started with a post yesterday on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire (and also echoed on Twitter) with the headline "Health Care Bump at Last?":

Tucked away in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll is some possible evidence for the elusive "health care bump," the rise in poll numbers that Democratic leadership promised would result from the passage of the health care reform legislation.

Among independents, President Obama's approval rating is 48% approve to 39% disapprove, up from 44% each in February, before health care was passed. On the specific subject of health care, independents continue to disapprove of Obama 40% to 45%, but that is a marked improvement over February when 31% approved and 60% disapproved.

Among those noticing was Politico's ubiquitous Mike Allen who quoted extensively from Goddard's item in his morning "Playbook" under the heading "WHAT THE WEST WING IS READING."

A few hours later, White House Press Secretary confirmed the heading with a polling "tweet" for the ages:

For the polling obsessed (meaning all those in Washington)...http://bit.ly/dbZGYL

Needless to say, the link points to Goddard's original "bump at last" item. Among those taking notice of Gibbs' comment was Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Laura Meckler, who wondered aloud whether Gibbs shared the polling obsession, or in Twitter-ese:

Does that include @PressSec? // RT @PressSec For the polling obsessed (meaning all those in Washington) http://bit.ly/dbZGYL

GQ's Ana Marie Cox quickly retweeted an answer: "YES."

At Pollster.com we are certainly grateful for the truth in all of this: Most of us who follow politics in Washington -- including the President's political staff -- are poll obsessed. But I was curious about the underlying numbers. Is there a hidden health care bump?

To his credit, Goddard identified a difference that was large enough to attain statistical significance despite the smaller sample sizes for the independent subgroup.

The story gets a little more nuanced when we consider the trend line among independents for the many surveys conducted (about a third in partnership with the New York Times) since last summer. Among independents, approval of Obama's health care performance bottomed out in February and have improved since, with the biggest jump coming on the most recent survey.

2010-05-05-cbs-indys-on-obama-hc.jpg

So there is an improvement among independents. Was this result buried in the overall results? Not really. While the trend lines are a little more jagged in March (owing partly to a panel-back survey that reinterviewed respondents just after the final House vote), Obama's overall approval on health care on the most recent survey represents a significant improvement since early February.

2010-05-05-cbs-all-on-hcr.jpg

And it wasn't just the polls fielded by CBS News and the New York Times. Our chart aggregating all public polls shows the same modest improvement in Obama's health care reform approval rating: approval is up roughly four percentage points and disapproval down roughly five since mid-January.

2010-05-03-all-polls-hcr.png

That said, the usual warnings about causation and correlation apply. As occasional Pollster contributor Brendan Nyhan pointed out earlier this morning, also via Twitter:

.@pwire suggests Obama "health care bump" http://bit.ly/dbZGYL but upturn likely result of improved econ. perceptions http://bit.ly/b3WLPz

But back to the main point. Yes, we are all poll obsessed. And within the (now) Twitter fueled echo chamber that is Washington, that obsession can get a little silly sometimes. Yet despite our collective best efforts to find that hidden nugget of news buried in the cross-tabulations, we sometimes miss trends that have evident in the overall results of every public poll for weeks.


Big Ben Bar Chart 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Jerome Armstrong discusses regional changes in UK voting intention since 2005.

Anthony Wells rounds up the final polls before UK voters go to the polls.

Henry Farrell answers a question about how to test for tactical voting in the UK.

Tom Dollar explains how a hung parliament could benefit the Tories.

Andrew Sullivan rounds up final commentary on the UK elections; his readers discuss the electoral math.

CNN finds that a majority of British people oppose immigration.

Lymari Morales rounds up Gallup's findings on immigration.

Jonathan Martin talks to Democratic pollsters Paul Maslin and John Anzalone about immigration.

Reid Wilson reports on falling Democratic primary turnout compared to 2006.

Steve Singiser and Tom Schaller give their post-mortems on yesterday's primaries.

Frank Newport asks if polling is relevant when it comes to civil rights.

Alex Bratty says voters are placing more blame on Obama for the economy as the election nears.

Mark Mellman urges Democrats to avoid telling voters they are really better off than they feel.

ABC News and the Washington Post ask what motivates the tea party movement.

M.S. at Democracy in America analyses epistemic closure and political misinformation.

David Hill looks back on decades of polling for Continental Airlines.

Bob Groves sends an open-letter to 600,000 new colleagues.

Henry Farrell highlights "new advances in the visual display of quantitative information:"

_47762144_electionimage240.jpg


Obey (D-WI-7th) to Retire


CD7AGByCounty2006.png

A bit of a parochial post but with a national figure at its center and reflecting the national midterm forces.

David Obey announced his retirement today. He has been in the House since 1969 and is currently chair of Appropriations. He was facing a challenger from Sean Duffy, a district attorney since 2002 in Ashland county (on Lake Superior). Obey has $1.4M COH while Duffy has $340K, but that is the lowest ratio of any WI Dem incumbent, at 4:1. Duffy as gotten a good bit of attention as a potential break-out challenger and recent endorsements from Palin and Pawlenty.

I'm not aware of any public polling in the 7th. We don't have any at Pollster.com and I don't know of any elsewhere either. No idea what parties or candidates may have.

Obey last faced a real challenge in 1994, the year 2010 is increasingly being compared to. He got 54% that year, 57% in 1996 and hasn't been below 60% since. Now at 71, facing the prospect of a tough reelection like that 1994 race, he must have felt he just didn't have enough to gain by fighting another battle against the prospect of leaving office by defeat. He says he is "bone tired" and that may well be. But the electoral winds are blowing hard against Dems this year, and that is making a lot of them much more "tired" than they were two years ago.

Pure speculation on my part: Obey might win a tough reelection fight (I'm sure he thinks he would win) but find himself back in the minority in the House, not as Chair of Appropriations but as ranking minority member. It wasn't any fun for him as minority member prior to 2006, and it sure would be less fun to go back to the minority after being Chair. While no one knows if the Reps will take control of the House, that had to be a consideration for Obey, and he is in a good place to read the writing on the wall. Just saying.

While the district leans Dem (Obama got 56%) in competitive races it is more of a toss up. In the 2006 Attorney General race, VanHollen (R) lost by just 7,000 votes out of 250,000 cast while winning statewide. A little worse than his statewide performance, but it shows a competitive Rep can win the district. Obey simply hasn't had competitors strong enough since the 1990s to give any sense of how far the district might go for a Rep in an open House seat race.

Dems/pundits are throwing out the obvious names: state legislators with districts in the 7th: State Senators Kreitlow (23rd), Lassa (24th), Majority Leader Decker (29th), and State Assembly members Seidel (85th) and Vruwink (70th). (Vruwink was an Obey staffer a while back.) Obviously they are doing exactly what I did: look for every elected Dem from the district and mention them! <;-) Of these, those young enough are Kreitlow (46), Lassa (40) and Vruwink (35). Decker at 57 isn't out of it, but not comparable to Duffy's 37. But Kreitlow and Decker are both up for reelection this year, making it a harder decision to go for the Congressional seat especially in a tough year for Dems.

Consider this a case study, one example of many adding to the sense that this year is moving strongly in the GOPs favor. (And I say that as one who still forecasts Dems to retain the House. But I might be wrong.)


WA: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/4)

Topics: Senate , Washington

Rasmussen
5/4/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Washington

2010 Senate
48% Murray (D), 46% Rossi (R)
52% Murray (D), 38% Bention (R)
51% Murray (D), 36% Didier (R)
49% Murray (D), 35% Akers (R)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dino Rossi: 52 / 44
Don Benton: 32 / 30
Patty Murray: 52 / 44
Clint Didier: 28 / 31
Paul Akers: 31 / 29

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55 / 45
Gov. Gregoire: 45 / 53


US: National Survey (Resurgent Republic 4/25-27)

Topics: National , poll

Resurgent Republic (R)*
4/25-27/10; 1,000 registered voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Resurgent Republic release)

*Resurgent Republic is a non-profit organization founded by Republican pollster Whit Ayres and former Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie.

National

Obama Job Approval
48% Approve, 48% Disapprove (chart)
Reps: 10 / 87 (chart)
Inds: 41 / 52 (chart)
Dems: 87 / 10 (chart)

State of the Country
33% Right Direction, 59% Wrong Track (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Boehner: 14 / 15
Mitch McConnell: 19 / 18
Barack Obama: 51 / 45 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 34 / 50
Harry Reid: 21 / 35
Reps in Congress: 40 / 47
Dems in Congress: 41 / 50

Overall, do you support or oppose the health care reform plan that Congress passed recently?
44% Support, 49% Oppose (chart)


KY: 2010 Sen (PPP 5/1-2)

Topics: Kentucky , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
5/1-2/10; 946 likely voters, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Kentucky

2010 Senate
42% Grayson (R), 34% Conway (D) (chart)
41% Paul (R), 40% Conway (D) (chart)
43% Grayson (R), 25% Mongiardo (D) (chart)
42% Paul (R), 38% Mongiardo (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jack Conway: 20 / 22
Trey Grayson: 24 / 24
Dan Mongiardo: 24 / 36
Rand Paul: 28 / 35

Job Approval / Disapproval Pres. Obama: 37 / 59
Sen. McConnell: 43 / 43
Sen. Bunning: 30 / 45


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 5/1-4)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
5/1-4/10; 405 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg Release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
48% Specter, 40% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
34% Onorato, 11% hoeffel, 9% Williams, 8% Wagner (chart)


CO: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/3)

Topics: Colorado , poll

Rasmussen
5/3/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Colorado

2010 Senate
46% Norton (R), 39% Romanoff (D) (chart)
48% Norton (R), 41% Bennet (D) (chart)
45% Wiens (R), 40% Romanoff (D) (chart)
44% Wiens (R), 42% Bennet (D) (chart)
45% Buck (R), 40% Romanoff (D) (chart)
48% Buck (R), 41% Bennet (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ken Buck: 43 / 33
Michael Bennet: 45 / 45 (chart)
Andrew Romanoff: 46 / 34
Tom Wiens: 40 / 32
Jane Norton: 46 / 39

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 55 (chart)
Gov. Ritter: 44 / 55 (chart)


HI: 2010 Gov (Ward Research 4/23-28)

Topics: Governor , Hawaii

Ward Research / Honolulu Advertiser / Hawaii News Now
4/23-28/10; 604 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Advertiser release)

Hawaii

2010 Governor
49% Abercrombie (D), 35% Aiona (R)
48% Hannemann (D), 35% Aiona (R)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Lingle: 40 / 53


Primary Day 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Steve Singiser and Ed Kilgore preview primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio.

PoliticsHome updates their seat projections for the UK election.

Charles Barry presents a "third way" on UK election projections.

Michael White discusses the history of hung parliaments (via Sullivan).

Chris Bowers sets over/under on Republicans who think environmentalists sabotaged oil rig.

Jennifer Agiesta finds strong support for medical marijuana in DC.


MO: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/3)

Topics: Missouri , poll

Rasmussen
5/3/10; 500 likely voters; 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Missouri

2010 Senate
50% Blunt (R), 42% Carnahan (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Roy Blunt: 56 / 36
Robin Carnahan: 48 / 47

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 42 / 56 (chart)
Gov. Nixon: 56 / 39 (chart)


FL: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 5/3)

Topics: Florida , Senate

Rasmussen
5/3/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Senate
38% Crist (i), 34% Rubio (R), 17% Meek (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Charlie Crist: 57 / 40 (chart)
Kendrick Meek: 32 / 29
Marco Rubio: 42 / 48

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 53 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 62 / 38 (chart)


AZ: 2010 Gov Primary (BRC /15-25)

Topics: Arizona , poll

Behavioral Research Center
4/12-25/10; 319 likely Republican primary voters, 5.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Behavioral Research Center)

Arizona

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
22% Brewer, 13% Mils, 10% Martin, 4% Munger


Ready for Arkansas Double Dose?

Topics: Arkansas Senate

It is no secret that I believe Bill Halter will present a strong challenge to Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln's weakness in general election match-ups combined with aggravating of the liberal base have left her vulnerable on two key fronts.

Now with the primary election only two weeks away and early voting starting in earnest, one question is will Lincoln survive? I do not know the answer to that question. The other question is whether Lincoln will receive the necessary 50%+1 to escape a runoff with Halter. I think the answer is increasingly no. Why?

Well, let's take a look at the trend seen in the only pollster (DKos/Research 2000) to poll the race consistently.

screenshot20100502at906.png

The overall trend shows that Lincoln has been pretty much stuck in the middle 40s and Halter slowly rising. However, the more interesting part of the graph is what happened with the "other" category. Right around the time conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison filed to run, the "other" category all of a sudden started polling in the mid to high single digits.

Normally, the rise of an otherwise unknown third candidate might be scoffed at as nothing more than poll respondents disgusted with negative attacks of the two major candidates going for the third name on the questionnaire. In the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial election, Independent Chris Daggett did much better in the final aggregate of polling than on election day due most likely to such a phenomenon. The key difference here is that, if the poll is conducted correctly, the interviewers should not even mention Morrision's name ("If the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Bill Halter and Blanche Lincoln?"). Interviewers should only record an "other" response if the respondent volunteers the name of another candidate. So -- assuming the standard procedures were used and adhered to -- the "other" response should represent only respondents who knew there was another new there was another candidate, and they were actually going to vote for him/her. Thus, to me, the support for Morrison seems to be real.

Interestingly (but not surprising considering considering he's a conservative), Morrison's support seems to be among only whites.

screenshot20100502at929h.png

When we break down the Kos polls by race, we also see that Halter's support among African-Americans is significantly higher than among the electorate at large. In fact, black voters have preferred Halter to Lincoln in the last few Kos polls. This lead has gotten larger with each successive poll. Why is this important? Blacks are pegged to make up less than than 20% of the Arkansas electorate, but they are also much more undecided at 30%. Of course, with a little less than 70 respondents in the Kos surveys, we should keep in mind that the black subgroup has a much larger margin of error. That said, because black support for Halter has risen in every poll, it seems to be indicative of a real trend. Why else would Barack Obama (who is NOT beloved in Arkansas, but has a 91% favorable rating among Arkansan blacks) and Bill Clinton (loved by Arkansan blacks) be cutting ads for Lincoln?

Ten years ago, the fact that Lincoln is stuck in the mid 40's would mean she was not going to rise any further. Thus, Halter's rise and Lincoln fall would continue, and Halter would pick up the majority of remaining undecideds. Caution prevails though as such a trend did not occur in the Illinois Democratic Gubernatorial primary (and I was BURNED by it). Unfortunately for Lincoln, even if undecideds do not break for the challenger (as previous undecideds have) and instead vote as the rest of the electorate as a whole, Lincoln will just escape the runoff with about 50.5% of the vote.

Still, with Lincoln's support falling and being right on the edge of a runoff, I'm thinking a runoff is probable.

Note: Thanks to the Mark Blumenthal for his comments on a draft.


US: Unemployment (Rutgers 8/09 & 3/10)

Topics: National , poll

Rutgers University Heldrich Center for Workforce Development
August 2009 & March 2010; 908 adults originally interviewed in August 2009 and who had been unemployed sometime in the 12 months prior to that interview
Mode: Internet Panel
(Rutgers release)

National

Rutgers report:

"Despite positive signs of economic growth and a rising stock market, millions of unemployed Americans see no end to the Great Recession that wrecked their finances and threw their lives into turmoil. No End in Sight underscores the fact that positive growth in the nation's economy has done little to reach millions of skilled workers still adrift in the most severe period of prolonged joblessness in decades. While the worst phase of the Great Recession may be behind us, the vast majority of jobless Americans have not found new jobs. When they did find work, all but a few took pay cuts and lost benefits. Among those still searching for work -- many for more than a year -- are millions who have never been without a job and who have at least a college education.

"It is remarkable that fully two-thirds (67%) of those jobless last August were still jobless this March, and 12% had given up looking for jobs. Since August, the number of job seekers searching for more than seven months rose from 48% to 70%. Over half do not think they will find a new job in the near future even though 73% are willing to take a pay cut and 77% are willing to change careers in order to get a job."


NH: 2010 Gov (UNH 4/18-28)

Topics: Governor , New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll / WMUR-TV
4/18-28/10; 512 adults, 4.4% margin of error
462 likely voters, 4.6% Margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(UNH release)

New Hampshire

2010 Governor
49% Lynch (D), 32% Stephen (R) (trend)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Lynch: 56 / 29 (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Lynch: 58 / 26 (chart)
John Stephen: 16 / 18


KY: 2010 Primaries (PPP 5/1-2)

Topics: Kentucky , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
5/1-2/10; 459 likely Democratic primary voters, 4.6% margin of error
363 likely Republican primary voters, 5.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Kentucky

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
36% Mongiardo, 27% Conway, 4% Buckmaster, 4% Price, 2% Sweeney

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
46% Paul, 28% Grayson, 2% Martin, 2% Stephenson

2012 President: Republican Primary
24% Huckabee, 24% Palin, 18% Gingrich, 13% Romney, 6% Paul


Bad CBS/NYT poll question on AZ profiling debate

Topics: Arizona , immigration , Race

A New York Times article on the latest CBS/NYT poll (PDF) suggests that a majority of Americans believe the new immigration law in Arizona "would result in racial profiling":

[D]espite protests against Arizona's stringent new immigration enforcement law, a majority of Americans support it, even though they say it may lead to racial profiling...

[T]the respondents broadly agreed that the Arizona law would result in racial profiling...

However, as a reader noted, the poll question featured in a sidebar to the article doesn't ask about racial profiling, which is typically defined as targeting individuals solely based on their racial or ethnic background. Instead, CBS and the Times asked the following:

How likely do you think it is that the new law in Arizona will lead to police officers detaining people of certain racial or ethnic groups more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups? Do you think that is very likely to happen, somewhat likely, not too likely or not at all likely to happen?

Given the composition of the illegal immigrant population, Latinos will almost certainly be detained more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups under any enforcement regime in Arizona or any other state (particularly in comparison with their representation in the population). The relevant policy issue is whether the Arizona law will lead to detentions of Latinos based solely on their ethnic background. The Times article vaguely notes that "the Arizona Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer made changes to the law on Friday that they say explicitly ban the police from racial profiling," but doesn't specify that the changes bar consideration of race or ethnicity in enforcement "except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution" by removing the word "solely" from the following provision:

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.

The poll question should have asked if people believe that this provision will be upheld in practice -- that's the question in dispute right now.

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com]


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 4/30-5/3)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
4/30-5/3/10; 402 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg Release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
46% Specter, 42% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
36% Onorato, 9% Williams, 9% Hoeffel, 8% Wagner (chart)


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Quinnipiac 4/28-5/2)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Quinnipiac
4/28-5/2/10; 930 likely Democratic primary voters, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
47% Specter, 39% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
36% Onorato, 9% Hoeffel, 8% Wagner, 8% Williams (chart)


US: Generic Ballot (Gallup, Rasmussen 4/26-5/2)

Topics: Generic House Vote , National

National

Gallup
4/26-5/2/10; 1,600 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)

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


Rasmussen
4/26-5/2/10; 3,500 likely voters, 2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
44% Republican, 37% Democrat (chart)


LA: 2010 Sen (SMOR 4/19-23)

Topics: Louisiana , Senate

Southern Media and Opinion Research / Lane Grigsby (R)
4/19-23/09; 600 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(nola post)

Louisiana

2010 Senate
49% Vitter (R), 31% Melancon (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Jindal: 61 / 37 (trend)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Pres. Obama: 39 / 58 (trend)
Sen. Landrieu: 43 / 54
Sen. Vitter: 55 / 36 (trend)


HI-01: House (Harstad Strategic Research 4/24-26)

Topics: hawaii , House of Representatives

Harstad Strategic Research (D) / Democratic National Committee
4/24-26/10; 506 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Harstad release)

Hawaii First Congressional District

2010 Representative
36% Djou (R), 34% Case (D), 20% Hanabusa (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ed Case: 63 / 24
Charles Djou: 55 / 29
Colleen Hanabusa: 41 / 43

Note: This election is a special election to fill the seat of Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), who resigned to run for governor. To fill the seat, one winner-take-all election is held where all the candidates, regardless of party identification, compete.


US: National Survey (CBS/NYT 4/28-5/2)

Topics: National , Obama

CBS News / New York Times
4/28-5/2/10; 1,079 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CBS: story 1, story 2, results 1, results 2; Times: story)

National

Obama Job Approval
51% Approve, 39% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 48 / 47 (chart)
Health Care: 44 / 48 (chart)
Foreign Policy: 48 / 38 (chart)

State of Economy
26% Good, 72% Bad

Economy is "getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same"
43% Same, 41% Better, 15% Worse (chart)

Arizona Bill on Immigration
51% About Right, 36% Goes Too Far, 9% Doesn't Go Far Enough

Illegal Immigration
65% Very Serious Problem, 24% Somewhat Serious Problem, 10% Not a Problem

"Laws regarding illegal immigration should be determined by the federal government or by each state government?"
57% Federal Government, 34% State Government

Illegal Immigrants
74% Weaken Economy, 17% Strengthen Economy

"Which comes closest to your view about illegal immigrants who are currently working in the U.S.?"
43% Allowed to stay in their jobs and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship
32% Required to leave their jobs and leave the U.S.
21% Allowed to stay in their jobs only as guest workers

Party ID
35% Democrat, 30% Republican, 35% independent (chart)


Swinging 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Nate Silver responds to Robert Ford on modeling UK seat projections; Anthony Wells adds his take.

Andrew Sullivan shares his take on the current seat projection.

Renard Sexton adds part 3 to his series on the Liberal Democrats' surge.

John Sides recommends seven questions journalists should ask about the 2010 elections; Jon Bernstein adds 6 more.

Jon Chait argues the Obama downturn is about mid-term turnout and the economy, not ideology.

Ruy Teixiera offers a public opinion snapshot on the Tea Party movement.

Steve Singiser takes a look at four candidates who decided not to run with their (former) parties this year.

Jay Cost warns us to keep an eye on Joe Sestak.

Bellwether Research finds national support for Arizona's immigration law.


Specter/Sestak: Do the I(VR)s Have It?

Topics: Pennsylvania , Senate

Is Joe Sestak closing the gap between Arlen Specter and himself through television ads, or was the race always close?

About a month ago three polls conducted for the 2010 Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial primary were released within a week of each other, and they all showed vastly different results. Quinnipiac had Specter leading Sestak by 21%, Susquehanna by 14%, and Rasmussen by 2%. This past Saturday I tweeted "IVR polling was much more accurate in 04 Rep primary with Specter v. Toomey... Does this mean Ras[mussen] is right?" The tweet spoke to something I noticed two weeks ago when referencing back to polling on the 2004 Republican Senatorial Primary in Pennsylvania. In that contest, then Republican Arlen Specter just escaped a strong challenge from now Republican nominee Pat Toomey. In the final month of that contest, automated phone polls conducted by SurveyUSA showed at times a much closer race than live interviewer polls done by Quinnipiac and Franklin and Marshall.

Three weeks to a month before the 2004 primary, Quinnipiac had Specter up by 15% and Franklin and Marshall by a nearly identical 13%, but SurveyUSA had him up by only 6%. Then 10 days before the primary, all the pollsters agreed that Toomey was only 5-6% behind. On the eve of the primary, Quinnipiac gave Specter a 6% lead, but SurveyUSA saw a 48-48% tie. On election day, Specter won by only 1.5%.

Today, as we stand two weeks before the 2010 Democratic Senatorial Primary, a new live-interviewer poll from Muhlenberg College paints a much closer race than previous live interviewer polls. Like the live interviewer polls taken around this point in 2004, Specter has a 6% lead over his opponent. This result is close to the Rasmussen poll released about three weeks ago.

Why was the automated phone polling right in 2004 and looks to be onto something in 2010? It could have to do with the tighter likely voter screen automated phone polling usually uses. Base voters (who would have favored a challenge from the right by Toomey in 2004 and Sestak in 2010) are the voters who are most likely to actually vote. It is the reason that both the Keystone and SurveyUSA polls found Toomey performing 5+% better 2004 when applying stricter voter screens. It should also be noted that base voters are also more firmly committed to their candidate, which even the Quinnipiac poll, that gave Specter a 21% lead over Sestak, showed.

The bottom line is I think this election is probably going to be a close one, and Specter better hope for a healthy turnout.


IA: 2010 Sen, Gov (Rasmussen 4/29)

Topics: Iowa , poll

Rasmussen
4/29/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)
Update: Governor

Iowa

2010 Senate
57% Grassley (R), 31% Krause (D)
53% Grassley (R), 40% Conlin (D)
57% Grassley (R), 30% Fiegen (D)

2010 Governor
53% Branstad (R), 38% Culver (D)
45% Vander Plaats (R), 41% Culver (D)
43% Culver (D), 41% Roberts (R)


Favorable / Unfavorable
Chuck Grassley: 63 / 34
Bob Krause: 27 / 32
Roxanne Conlin: 44 / 40
Tom Fiegan: 25 / 31
Chet Culver: 44 / 53
Terry Branstad: 59 / 38
Bob Vander Plaats: 44 / 35
Rod Robert: 31 / 27

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 48 / 51
Gov. Culver: 43 / 56


Polling in the UK

Topics: Anthony Wells , British Pollin Council , National Journal column , Nick Sparrow , UK elections , UKPollingReport

My column this week takes a closer look at the mechanics of pre-election polling in the United Kingdom in advance of Thursday's parliamentary elections.

The column draws heavily from two resources that I urge readers to consult for more details. The first is the very thorough set of frequently-asked-question (FAQ) reports written by UK polling blogger Anthony Wells on his site UKPollingReport:

Also hugely informative are a set of papers presented at a seminar held by the British Polling Council in June 2005. The following chart, taken from a paper presented by Nick Sparrow of ICM Research, presents something of a warning about the potential for error in the national polls now being released in Britain.

2010-05-03-Nick-Sparrow-UK-poll-error.png

Sparrow describes the chart as follows:

Chart one shows the average error in the final polls going back to 1950. The white bar shows the closest estimate and the red bar shows the most inaccurate final poll. To the right of zero indicates a pro Conservative bias and to the left a pro Labour bias. A prefect prediction, as achieved by MORI in 1983 and NOP in 2005 means no white bar appears on the chart. Overall, while the polls show biases both to Labour and the Conservatives, we have to look back to 1983 to find an election when the final polls proved to be too generous to the Conservatives. Since that time only one final poll, by ICM in 1997 has erred slightly in favour of the Conservatives. The first and most important challenge for the pollsters is to remove or at least account for the pro-Labour bias.

The point of my column is to consider some of the steps British pollsters have taken to try to avoid repeating the errors of 1992. Hope you'll click through and read it all.


Arizona's immigration bill: Not enough national polling yet

Topics: Arizona , Gallup , immigration , Rasmussen

A week and a half ago, Arizona Governor Brewer signed the nation's toughest--and most
controversial--immigration law. The law, recently revised, has generated daily news and analysis. But the public surveys emerging do not yet provide a complete picture of public opinion. (For a comprehensive, but clearly-worded summary of the bill, the National Conference of State Legislatures has one here.)

This Rasmussen survey drastically summarizes the Arizona law to only one of its provisions, and finds clear majority support (60%). Nate Silver critiqued it further here. Last week's Gallup survey doesn't even describe the bill at all. It shows voters who self-report reading or hearing something about the bill supported it more (51% favor/39% oppose) than those who had not heard or read anything (39% favor/30% oppose/31% don't know). Without a bill description in the question, voters are responding to what they think they think the bill contains, and so likely have widely divergent perceptions of it. Chuck Todd and Media Matters criticized that survey over the weekend. Despite their flaws, both polls have informed subsequentmedia coverage.

This online Angus Reid poll does examine some of the individual components of the Arizona bill. Putting aside potential objections to online methodology, these questions at least describe the bill in some detail. However, it lacks a single question on the entire Arizona bill, and leaves out some key provisions, like making it easier to sue the state for insufficient enforcement. Despite these differences, the Angus Reid poll shows widespread support for tougher restrictions on immigration, much like the Rasmussen and Gallup surveys.

But to get a full picture of national attitudes, a survey should test supporting and opposing arguments to the bill, and see how, if at all, the arguments change voters' opinions. The goal should be to explore how a protracted national debate on immigration policy might affect voters' views, as well as measure the importance of questionnaire wording and policy details. For example, how do voters evaluate the costs of implementation? What about questions about racial profiling, or judgments based on clothing or shoes? How would support for Arizona's bill compare to support for moderate, yet comprehensive, federal legislation? As Tom Schaller wonders here, do poll respondents simply react to something sweeping being done?

These are all important research questions as we continue the national conversation
on immigration. As always, it's important for media outlets, bloggers and pundits to examine questionnaire language before taking a poll's results at face value. To describe national attitudes based only on the post-Arizona polling so far would be a mistake.

CORRECTION: The original version of the post incorrectly identified results from the Gallup poll collected among all adults as representing those who had not heard about the bill.


KY: 2010 Sen (Rasmussen 4/28)

Topics: kentucky , senate

Rasmussen
4/28/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Kentucky

2010 Senate
45% Grayson (R), 31% Mongiardo (D)
48% Paul (R), 32% Mongiardo (D)
43% Grayson (R), 38% Conway (D)
47% Paul (R), 38% Conway (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Trey Grayson: 54 / 27
Dan Mongiardo: 40 / 48
Rand Paul: 56 / 31
Jack Conway: 47 / 36

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 41 / 59
Gov. Beshear: 52 / 46


PA: 2010 Dem Primaries (Muhlenberg 4/28-5/1)

Topics: Pennsylvania , Senate

Muhlenberg College / Morning Call
4/28-5/1/10; 408 likely Democratic primary voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(Muhlenberg Release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
48% Specter, 42% Sestak (chart)

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
41% Onorato, 8% Williams, 6% Hoeffel, 5% Wagner (chart)


FL: 2010 Sen (AIF 4/24-25)

Topics: Florida , poll

McLaughlin & Associates (R) for Associated Industries of Florida
4/24-25/10; 600 likely voters
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Orlando Sentinel post)

Florida

2010 Senate
33% Crist (i), 29% Rubio (R), 15% Meek (D) (chart)


FL: 2010 Sen (Crist 4/26-27)

Topics: Florida , poll

Public Opinion Strategies (R) for Charlie Crist*
4/26-27/10; 800 likely voters, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(tampabay.com story)

*Note: This poll was conducted before Crist announced that he would run as an independent.

Florida

2010 Senate
36% Crist (i), 28% Rubio (R), 23% Meek (D) (chart)


OH: 2010 Sen Primary (Quinnipiac 4/28-5/2)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Quinnipiac
4/28-5/2/10; 980 likely Democratic primary voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Ohio

2010 Senate
43% Fisher, 23% Brunner (chart)


The Rapidly-Changing Issue Environment and What It Means


It is our hope that this statement will be met with a bit of thankfulness: we are not going to predict the number of seats the Democrats will lose in November, nor are we going to give you the magical formula for making that prediction. We can't because there isn't one. What we can say is that voters are angry and that is usually a bad sign for the party in power.

Before we examine the political situation, here's a quick snapshot of the opinion landscape as of 6 A.M. on Monday, May 3rd:

  • If anyone needed more evidence that the issue environment is shifting rapidly, the last 24 hours has surely provided it. We have seen the gulf oil spill move from a serious issue to a potentially catastrophic event. On Saturday night, Times Square was evacuated in the face of a failed car bomb attempt. On Sunday, Secretary Napolitano said this was a "potential terrorist attack" and would be treated very, very seriously. The implications are clear for 2010: just when you think you have a good handle on the issue environment, you probably don't.
  • The gulf oil spill is a potential "game changer" for this President and the White House knows it. That is why Obama travelled to the region on Sunday. The administration is vulnerable to charges that they underplayed the seriousness of this issue in the first few days. The situation was nearly a week old before they began treating it as a crisis. The Katrina comparison has been overplayed but the implication is clear: move quickly to exert leadership or the perceived lack of action will drive blame.
  • In 1979 the accident at Three Mile Island stopped the construction of new nuclear power plants for 30 years. The question now is whether the gulf leak will do the same with respect to offshore oil drilling. Here the WH has a problem since Obama came out in support of drilling in the state of the union. Yet another hot-button issue for Obama.
  • At this point in time the implications of the Times Square car bomb scare are unclear. But if it is connected to an international terror group, all bets are off as to its impact on the national issue agenda. Two weeks ago, the fall election was going to be all about healthcare reform and the economy (oddly, GOP issues), last week it was about immigration and Wall Street reform (Democrat issues) and now the environment, drilling and terrorism are front and center. As we have seen before, if terrorism rises as a national issue, the President will receive at least short-term political benefit.

As for the November elections, here is what we know. Let's start with the good news for Republicans:

  • We are in one of the longest sustained periods of voter dissatisfaction in modern history. Except for a few weeks in the spring of 2009, perceptions of the direction of the country have been strongly "wrong track" since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That is seven years. The only comparable period is 1973-1983. This helps explain why we are in the middle of a third successive "change" election. Moreover, trust in government to do what is right is at an all-time low. In a Pew Research Center poll last month, less than one fourth (22%) of respondents said they could trust government most of the time. This is one of the lowest percentages in more than 50 years.
  • Republicans are dominating the generic congressional ballot. To start, as Jay Cost observed from a regression analysis back in 2006, the final Gallup poll generic ballot explains about 89% of the variation in the final House results on Election Day. We agree that the generic ballot is a great predictor of the House vote, but we also want to remind readers that Democrats have been "underperforming" on Election Day relative to the generic ballot. Over the past decade, Democrats have consistently led Republicans in both the national House ballot and national party identification questions, even in cycles where they haven't gained control of the chamber, like 2000 and 2004. So when the generic ballot shows Democrats to be tied with Republicans or even down by a couple points, this is pretty much unprecedented territory.
  • Voter enthusiasm is decidedly with Republicans. The latest Gallup poll on voter enthusiasm was a big blow for Democrats. Among voters who are "very enthusiastic" about the upcoming mid-term elections, the GOP was ahead by 20 points (57% to 37%) on the generic congressional ballot.
  • The party identification gap has narrowed ten points in 18 months as the GOP and Democrats are now near parity among registered voters. This is hugely problematic for Democrats. Historically, Democrats have a 5-10 point edge in party ID among registered. They often retain this edge even during GOP up-cycles. Like the generic ballot, we are in uncharted territory.
  • Of course, individual races do matter. But this too has looked ominous for Democrats. As Sean Trende notes, "Every Democratic Senate candidate, except five from very blue states (Pat Leahy (VT), Chuck Schumer (NY), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Dan Inouye (HI) and Richard Blumenthal (CT)), has had at least one poll test placing him or her below 50% this cycle. Similarly... [House] Democrats in [blue] districts who normally receive around 60% of the vote are below 50% as well."
  • Basically, there are too many Democrats sitting in GOP-leaning districts. Howard Dean's efforts as DNC Chairman to "redraw the map" by contesting previously safe Republican districts have put an unusual number of freshman and sophomore Democrats in peril. While the project certainly bore fruit in 2008 and vindicated Dean's controversial strategy, there are now many more seats that will be difficult to defend. Take Virginia's 5th district: in 2008 Tom Perriello defeated six-term incumbent Virgil Goode by a margin of less than 800 votes as part of an unprecedented success for Democrats in Virginia (this was driven by a turnout surge of new Obama voters). However, the district has a Cook PVI of R+5, meaning that historically it has leaned toward Republicans, and in the only public poll, his approval rating is 42% approve/ 46% disapprove. Perhaps most troubling for Perriello, who voted "yea" on healthcare: 52% of his district's voters are against the bill and 50% disapprove of Obama.

On the other hand, there is some good news for Democrats (though not nearly as much):

  • The current issue frame is decidedly negative for Republican candidates. So long as the dialogue in Washington is focused on financial regulation and immigration reform, Republicans will be on the defensive. Add to that a potential terrorist attack and things are aligned for the President to demonstrate leadership. Ultimately, this may only be a short-term situation but, for the time being, the Democrats will benefit.
  • The economy is slowly improving. The economy grew by 3.2% during the first quarter of 2010. That makes three straight positive growth quarters. This pretty much signals that the recession ended in the spring of 2009. However, voter perception has not caught up with reality and until there is meaningful job growth the economy will continue to be a huge problem for Democrats.
  • The WH and the Democrats had an early warning bell this year - unlike 1994 - and they are mounting a counterattack. Just because they have been alerted to the approaching iceberg doesn't mean the current won't steer the Democrats right into it anyway, but the DNC's new campaign shows that they are not going to go down without a fight. Obama's trip to the mid-west this week was a step in the right direction in terms of addressing voter frustrations. We remain skeptical that new voter enlistment efforts will work in a non-Presidential year but it is worth a try.
  • Obama's approval rating is moribund but not toxic (yet). The President's approval rating is somewhere around 48%, depending on whose tally you are looking at. His disapproval is around 47-48%. If his approval gets back to or above 50% it will be a big help to Democrats in the fall.


There are two landmines that Republicans will need to navigate in the months ahead.

  1. First is the anti-incumbent sentiment that has gripped this electorate. Again, this helps Republicans from a big picture perspective because Democrats are in power, but it also suggests that voters aren't happy with either party, setting up a situation where it won't be enough for Republicans to be merely "not Democrats." And, to be honest, it is probably a good thing for both the country and Republicans themselves that they will be forced to articulate an alternative vision and set of policies. Of course, history shows that anti-incumbent sentiments do tend to help the opposition party, as this chart demonstrates:
  2. EM chart may 3 2010.jpg

  3. The second landmine is the Tea Party movement. There has been some interesting research done on the Tea Party movement (see the Winston Group's polling as well as TargetPoint's recent "exit poll" from a rally), but, to a large extent, we're still guessing as to the true identity of this group, especially with respect to its voting behavior (because it's never really voted as a "party" before). This is, after all, a group of people with a disparate collection of ideologies and philosophies, though most seem to be disaffected conservatives. So while most of them have probably never voted for a Democrat, they are clearly not just GOP base voters (and they aren't just former Perot voters, either). They are, in fact, a new, different subset of the electorate, and our sense is that the Tea Party label represents an option for people to either vote for write-ins or stay home. If either of those options occurs on a large scale, Republican gains will fall far short of historic.


NC: 2010 Dem Sen Primary (PPP 5/1-2)

Topics: North Carolina , Senate

Public Policy Polling (D)
5/1-2/10; 802 likely Democratic primary voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

North Carolina

2010 Senate: Democratic Primary
28% Marshall, 21% Cunningham, 9% Lewis, 4% Williams, 3% Worthy, 2% Harris (chart)

"If there was a runoff election between Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall, who would you vote for?"
43% Marshall, Cunningham 32%

Note: The primary is on May 4th, 2010. A primary runoff will be held on June 22nd between the two top vote getters of May 4th's primary, if no candidate receives more than 40% of the vote on May 4th.


HI-01: House (Ward Research 4/23-28)

Topics: hawaii , House of Representatives

Ward Research / Honolulu Advertiser / Hawaii News Now
4/23-28/10; 349 likely voters, 5.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Advertiser release)

Hawaii First Congressional District

2010 Representative
36% Djou (R), 28% Case (D), 22% Hanabusa (D)

Note: This election is a special election to fill the seat of Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), who resigned to run for governor. To fill the seat, one winner-take-all election is held where all the candidates, regardless of party identification, compete.


 

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