Pollster.com

September 12, 2010 - September 18, 2010

 

US: National Survey (Fox 9/14-16)

Topics: National , poll

Fox News / Opinion Dynamics
9/14-16/10; 900 registered voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Fox News release)

National

Obama Job Approval
42% Approve, 52% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 80 / 14 (chart)
Reps: 8 / 88 (chart)
Inds: 39 / 50 (chart)
Economy: 40 / 56 (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
46% Republican, 40% Democrat (chart)

Party ID
41% Republican, 37% Democrat, 17% independent (chart)


IL: 42% Brady, 32% Quinn (WeAskAmerica 9/13)

Topics: Illinois , poll

We Ask America
9/13/10; 1,379 likely voters, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(We Ask America release)

Illinois

2010 Senate
42% Brady (R), 32% Quinn (D), 5% Cohen (i), 4% Whitney (G), 2% Greene (L) (chart)


US: 2012 President (PPP 9/10-13)

Topics: National , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/10-13/10; 590 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

National

2012 President
47% Obama, 47% Generic Republican
47% Huckabee, 44% Obama
49% Obama, 43% Palin
47% Obama, 43% Gingrich
48% Obama, 39% Beck
46% Obama, 435 Romney

Favorable / Unfavorable:
Mike Huckabee: 35 / 32 (chart)
Sarah Palin: 38 / 52 (chart)
Newt Gingrich: 30 / 50
Glenn Beck: 31 / 41
Mitt Romney: 33 / 35 (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 49 (chart)


Races For Governor: Republicans Poised for Big Gains


On the basis of current polling, Republicans stand to gain roughly a dozen governorships, and possibly more. Right now, 26 of the nations governors are Democrats and 24 are Republicans. Our trend estimates based on public polls in the 37 states holding elections for governor this year show Republicans on the verge of gaining at least 11 seats.

Our focus this week has been largely on the U.S. Senate and particularly the outcome of the Delaware primary, which has boosted the prospects for that state's Democratic candidate and with it, the odds that odds that Democrats will maintain their Senate majority (despite significant losses). But the larger ongoing story this year is about a gale-force wind blowing in the Republican direction, and nothing demonstrates that trend as clearly as polling in the governors races.

The contests for governor have more potential volatility because more states (37) hold their gubernatorial elections this year and because so many of those (24) involve open seats. "It is always easier," writes Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report (gated) "for the opposing party to win an open contest than it is to defeat a sitting governor." This higher than usual vacancy rate gives Republicans a better chance of capitalizing on a favorable political environment.

You can see that impact in the following table, which shows our current polling trend estimates in states now represented by Democratic governors. Polling in 13 states shows the Republican candidate leading, and 11 of those contests are open seats. The only incumbent Democrats currently trailing are Iowa's Chet Culver and Ohio's Ted Strickland.

2010-09-17-Blumenthal-GovDems2.png

Two more incumbent Democrats are in potential jeopardy. In Maryland, Democrat Margin O'Malley leads by a "toss-up" margin of less than three points (46.0% to 43.4%). In Massachusetts, Democrat Deval Patrick leads Republican Charlie Baker by roughly five points (40.1% to 34.7%), but Patrick's margin has narrowed over the summer as support for independent Tim Cahill's support has trended down.

Meanwhile, Republicans are running comfortably ahead in holding most of the states currently represented by a Republican. All of the five seats either trending Democratic or in the toss-up category are open.

2010-09-17-Blumenthal-GovReps2.png

Only Connecticut and Hawaii look like probable Democratic pick-ups based on current polling. Hawaii holds its primary elections tomorrow, and the two candidates competing for the Democratic nomination-- Neil Abercrombie and Mufi Hanneman -- both hold comfortable leads over likely Republican nominee Duke Aiona.

Our trend estimates do show Democrats with nominal advantages in Minnesota, Florida and Rhode Island, but all three margins are close enough to merit a "toss-up" designation.

Add it all up, and we show Republicans on the verge of flipping 13 states from blue to red, and Democrats on the verge of flipping two states from red to blue, for a net Republican gain of 11 seats. One small consolation for Democrats: Of the four contests currently close enough to merit our "toss-up" designation, three are currently represented by Republican governors.

But a caution: These statistics are all based on constantly evolving polling "snapshots" which reflect preferences "if the election were held today." In some states, the number of polls is small and their reliability may be questionable. Moreover, the efforts of some campaigns to communicate via paid advertising are just getting underway in many states.

On that score, it's worth noting that the Cook Political Report, which considers more than just polling in its assessments, still rates as toss-ups six of the states where we show Republicans on the verge of a pick-up (Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon). It also still rates Maine as lean Democrat. So public polls alone may not tell the full story in some states

Still, a quick glance at the many statewide polls available -- including nearly 50 released in September -- makes it very clear that Republicans stand to make major gains in races for governor in 2010.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post]


MA: 45% Patrick, 42% Baker, 5% Cahill (Rasmussen 9/15)

Topics: Massachusetts , poll

Rasmussen
9/15/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Massachusetts

2010 Governor
45% Patrick (D), 42% Baker (R), 5% Cahill (i) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Deval Patrick: 52 / 46
Charlie Baker: 50 / 34
Tom Cahill: 40 / 45


WI: 51% Johnson, 44% Feingold (Rasmussen 9/15)

Topics: poll , Wisconsin

Rasmussen
9/15/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Wisconsin

2010 Senate
51% Johnson (R), 44% Feingold (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Russ Feingold: 51 / 46 (chart)
Ron Johnson: 61 / 33


OH: 55% Portman, 35% Fisher (Quinnipiac 9/9-14)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Quinnipiac
9/9-14/10; 730 likely voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Ohio

2010 Senate
55% Portman (R), 35% Fisher (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Lee Fisher: 29 / 36
Rob Portman: 44 / 20

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 38 / 60 (chart)


IL: 39% Kirk, 36% Giannoulias (WeAskAmerica 9/13)

Topics: Illinois , poll

We Ask America
9/13/10; 1,379 likely voters, 2.6% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(We Ask America release)

Illinois

2010 Senate
39% Kirk (R), 36% Giannoulias (D), 4% Jones (G), 2% Labno (L) (chart)


US: National Survey (YouGov 9/11-14)

Topics: National , poll

YouGov / Economist
9/11-14/10; 1,000 adults
713 registered voters
Mode: Internet
(YouGov release)

National

Obama Job Approval
40% Approve, 52% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 75 / 20 (chart)
Reps: 7 / 91 (chart)
Inds: 32 / 61 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
14% Approve, 65% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
All adults: 44% Democrat, 40% Republican (chart)
Registered voters: 46% Democrat, 45% Republican

State of the Country
29% Right Direction, 57% Wrong Track (chart)


Ubiquitous Fallacies 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Sean Trende thinks O'Donnell's win is just a footnote to a greater Republican wave; Clive Crook responds; Gary Langer says Democrats should still fear Tea Party candidates.

Alex Bratty notes that Democratic candidates are turning their backs on Obama.

Stu Rothenberg prefers partisan pollsters.

Mark Mellman makes the case for sampling from registered voter lists.

Nate Silver points out that "tightening" polls may actually be a results of pollsters switching to likely voter screens.

Julie Phelan says Barack and Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin are all campaign trail liabilities.

Josh Krashaar thinks polling shouldn't trump common sense.

Democracy Corps finds Democrats on solid ground on dropping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; Geoff Garin supplies tax talking points to Democrats (via Smith).

David Hill advises Democrats to confess their mistakes.

Joe Lenski wonders if Republican delegate rules could prolong the primary process in 2012.

Chris Bowers offers the "ubiquitous political junkie fallacy."


WA: 51% Murray, 46% Rossi (Rasmussen 9/14)

Topics: poll , Washington

Rasmussen
9/14/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Washington

2010 Senate
51% Murray (D), 46% Rossi (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dino Rossi: 50 / 48
Patty Murray: 52 / 45


NH: 51% Lynch, 39% Stephen (PPP 9/11-12)

Topics: New Hampshire , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 1,959 likely voters, 2.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

New Hampshire

2010 Governor
51% Lynch (D), 39% Stephen (R) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Lynch: 51 / 38

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Stephen: 31 / 30


NV: 52% Sandoval (R), 39% Reid (D) (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Nevada

2010 Governor
52% Sandoval (R), 39% Reid (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Brian Sandoval: 59 / 36
Rory Reid: 44 / 50


AR: 51% Boozman, 34% Lincoln (Arkansas News 9/12-14)

Topics: Arkansas , poll

Arkansas News Bureau / Mason-Dixon
9/12-14/10; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Arkansas News release)

Arkansas

2010 Senate
51% Boozman (R), 34% Lincoln (D), 3% Drown (I), 1% Gray (G) (chart)


NH: 51% Ayotte, 44% Hodes (Rasmussen 9/15)

Topics: New Hampshire , poll

Rasmussen
9/15/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate
51% Ayotte (R), 44% Hodes (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Kelly Ayotte: 56 / 39
Paul Hodes: 44 / 48


Will the GOP brand make a difference in November?

Topics: Democrats , Favorable Ratings , GOP , Republican Party

Today's New York Times includes a front-page story on a new poll headlined "Poll Suggests Opportunities for Both Parties". In the lede, Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan note the signs pointing to a Republican sweep, but note "while voters rate the performance of Democrats negatively, they view Republicans as even worse, providing a potential opening for Democrats":

Republicans are heading into the general election phase of the midterm campaign backed by two powerful currents: the highest proportion of voters in two decades say it is time for their own member of Congress to be replaced, and Americans are expressing widespread dissatisfaction with President Obama's leadership.

But the latest New York Times/CBS News poll also finds that while voters rate the performance of Democrats negatively, they view Republicans as even worse, providing a potential opening for Democrats to make a last-ditch case for keeping their hold on power.

Is this really true? Will the poor state of the GOP brand limit the party's gains in November? I made this argument months ago (see here, here, and here), but the Republican party's image hasn't prevented it from taking a substantial lead in the generic ballot.

To review the evidence about where the GOP brand stands relative to the opposition party in previous midterm elections, let me update my post from last October. Here's a bar chart of each party's net favorable ratings (% favorable - % unfavorable) for the most comparable available CBS poll from midterm elections between 1990 and 2010*:

Cbspartyfaves

The GOP's net favorability ratings relative to Democrats are still worse than any opposition party in the previous five midterm elections (the closest comparison is 1998, when Republicans were seeking to remove Bill Clinton from office).

In the past, the opposition party's (dis)advantage in net favorability relative to the president's party has been relatively highly correlated (r=.71) with changes in the number of House seats in midterm elections. However, a simple linear fit shows a totally implausible result for 2010 (Republicans losing 17 seats):

Favseats

I'm not buying it. At this point, every other major factor (the high number of seats Democrats currently hold, the fact that it's a midterm election, and the generic ballot) points toward big GOP gains -- the predicted result of most House forecasting models. Unfortunately for Democrats, midterm elections are a referendum, not a choice.

Update 9/17 9:09 AM: Barry Pump points out that the net favorability advantage appears to be a better predictor in the last five midterms than the generic ballot. It's very hard to say what will happen. As he points out, this is uncharted territory:

First, we've never been in a situation until now -- as far as we have data to show it -- where both parties were disliked but one party was disliked far more than another. We've also never been in a situation where the difference between the favorability rankings of the two parties was as great as it is now. (That's from the first graph.)

Second, we've yet to be in a situation until now -- as far as we have data to show it -- where the favorability rankings of the two parties were so discordant with the generic ballot.

* I focus on net favorables rather than net approval of the parties in Congress (which Zeleny and Thee-Brenan cite) because the available data is more comprehensive and the measure is less confounded with feelings about Congress as an institution.

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com and Huffington Post]


Wilson: O'Donnell's Delaware Win About Turnout and Message

Topics: 2010 Elections , Christine O

David C. Wilson is a professor of Political Science and International Relations, and Psychology, at the University of Delaware. He studies public opinion, polling and survey methods, and political psychology. His research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Public Opinion Quarterly, and the Du Boise Review.

Christine O'Donnell's win over the long tenured U.S. Representative Mike Castle, 53% to 47% (+6% points), might have been a shocker to most, but what really happened, and what most observers missed, was that turnout was higher than normal in lower Delaware (Kent and Sussex Counties), and average in upper Delaware (New Castle County).

Polls underestimated these levels for most of the campaign, and thus, missed the trend. Plus, the lack of in-state polling provided no clues about the sources and substance of information that mobilized voters. It turns out that lower Delaware counties, which are traditionally Republican, are losing their liberal and moderate appeal. It suggests that the GOP leadership may not be in as much touch as they think with their constituents. And, questions abound about the ability of existing state GOP leadership's ability to mobilize support given the shock of the O'Donnell win. In sum, evidence points to a geo-political realignment of the GOP within Delaware.

Castle won New Castle County 58% to 42%, but lost Kent and Sussex counties, 64% to 36%. O'Donnell's support in both Kent and Sussex was twice that of Castle's. It appears that Castle failed to mobilize liberal and moderate Republicans, and relied too heavily on the state party for his campaigning. Although Castle was well funded, O'Donnell's last minute support from outside sources allowed her to communicate her message and get out the vote; and it paid off.

Segue to the polls. The last poll conducted before the election (Public Policy Polling), 9/11-9/12) showed O'Donnell with a 47% to 44% advantage over Castle with 8% undecided, and a margin of error of roughly 4%. So how did O'Donnell beat her estimates? It could be that the 8% of formerly undecided voters decided to go with O'Donnell over Castle. However, I think the answer is probably turnout.

Approximately 57,582 registered Republicans voted in Tuesday's primary. An estimated 27,021 voted for Castle and 30,561 voted for O'Donnell; a vote difference of 3,540 (6% points). Interestingly enough, Castle received far more actual votes in the 2008 general election for Representative than O'Donnell received for Senate that same year, suggesting that Delawareans voted for Castle and Biden (or Castle and not O'Donnell). This splitting of the ticket in 2008 raises questions about how turnout might affect the state's mid-terms; especially across counties in the state. O'Donnell should expect that her win will move some Castle supporters to her Democratic opponent, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons.

I think turnout will be the key in November because some of the popular media arguments about what's going on in the state are somewhat untenable. The September PPP poll found that only 24% of Republicans consider themselves "members of the Tea Party," and a plurality of 47% felt the Republican Party was "about right" in terms of their ideology; 17% felt they were "too conservative." Approximately 42% of Republicans said that a Sarah Palin endorsement would not make a difference in their vote for a candidate, and 24% said it would make them "less likely" to vote for a candidate. Thus, I see no big Tea Party movement in terms of attitudes and beliefs. However, Tea Party funding is related to turnout.

According to the state of Delaware's Elections Commissioner, the 2010 Republican primary produced a 32% turnout rate. On the surface this might seem low; however, the turnouts for past Republicans primaries were 16% in 2008, 8% in 2006, 12% in 2004, 14% in 2002, and 16% in 2000. Thus, the 2010 primary doubled Republican turnout.

The PPP polling likely underestimated this higher than usual turnout when they calculated their likely voter estimate or in weighting their final estimates. So what does this mean going forward? It's likely that O'Donnell will continue to run the same type of campaign but receive more outside funding and attention. The interesting part will be how the electorate in Delaware, and the nation, responds to the results. Mid-term turnout percentages in the state usually hover around the mid to upper 40s, while in presidential election years, turnout is in the mid to high 60s.

Coons has been leading in the polls in all head to head match-ups against O'Donnell. And, in the general election, O'Donnell will have to convince independent voters, moderate Republicans, and Castle supporters that she will represent their interests. This will be an uphill battle given that she's already indicated that she feels she can win without "them" referring to the Republican Party Organization, and suggesting the GOP might be too lazy to help her.

All of this bodes well for Coons who will certainly win the Wilmington area, and much of the Wilmington suburbs which make up the largest portion of the state's electorate. But it's tough to gauge Democratic turnout in the state because Coons did not have a primary challenger, and thus we cannot use primary numbers as an indicator of enthusiasm. Traditionally, Republican turnout during the primaries is slightly higher than for Democrats, but in 2008 the latter's turnout was 12% points higher than the former's. O'Donnell's win could actually work to mobilize support for Coons. It will also be interesting to see if Castle's supporters, and perhaps Castle himself, will remain loyal to the party or decide to support Coons because he has governing experience and is not considered an outside candidate.

According to 2008 exit poll data on that year's Senate race, 75% of Republicans voted for O'Donnell, while about 25% voted for Joe Biden, who was also running for Vice President. Biden won the contest by nearly 30% points, 64% to 35%. More telling, approximately 38% of Democrats voted for Mike Castle over his Democratic challenger, Karen Hartley-Nagel. Half of the individuals who say they voted for Castle in 2008, also voted for Democrat Joe Biden. In fact, 36% of Democrats who voted for Biden also voted for Castle. This all suggests that Castle has good standing among Democrats, which could help Coons, who according to Public Policy Polling, in early August held a 31% approval rating with 39% saying they were "unsure" about their approval of him.

What does all of this signal?

First, the media will heavily scrutinize the race and the candidates. O'Donnell is particularly vulnerable because she is a woman (yes, sexism still exists), she has no governing experience, she is not well know or at least revered by the state and national GOP, and there are many questions about her personal and campaign finances, educational background, ethics issues related to non-profit work, past gender discrimination lawsuits, and her personal relationships. O'Donnell does appear to be media savvy, but as things heat up, those skills will be tested.

Second, Coons' single most important priority will need to be turnout. If he can mobilize support among the electorate in New Castle country, especially the suburbs of Wilmington, he will win the election. He should not ignore Kent and Sussex counties either; they hold more opportunities than barriers to his election. His message must be at least two-fold: he can govern and he will represent Delawareans with pride and uphold the reputation of the state. How he frames and packages those messages will be up to his campaign.

O'Donnell's single most important priority will be to somehow move slightly more to the ideological and political center, and make friends with the state and national party. The September PPP poll showed O'Donnell having strong support only among self-described conservatives. Conservatives make up the largest portion of the Republican Party in DE, but they are heavily outnumbered in the state when moderate Republicans are combined with all Democrats regardless of ideology.

Also, the outside funding by the Tea Party movement may become a problem if Delawareans, who traditionally like to handle their own politics, perceive too much outside influence. O'Donnell must now come up with solid policy proposals that will show she can actually be effective in the male dominated, seniority ruled world of the Senate. She also has weak support among seniors, who heavily favored Castle.

Finally, regardless of the outcome Delaware will elect someone other than Joe Biden for the first time in almost four decades. That's big.


DE: 53% Coons, 42% O'Donnell (Rasmussen 9/15)

Topics: Delaware , poll

Rasmussen
9/15/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Delaware

2010 Senate
53% Coons (D), 42% O'Donnell (R) (chart)

Favorable / unfavorable
Chris Coons: 58 / 34
Christine O'Donnell: 42 / 54


MN: 38% Dayton, 36% Emmer, 18% Horner (SurveyUSA 9/12-14)

Topics: Minnesota , poll

SurveyUSA
9/12-14/10; 656 likely voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Minnesota

2010 Governor
38% Dayton (D), 36% Emmer (R), 18% Horner (I) (chart)


US: National Survey (Politico / GWU 9/7-9)

Topics: National , poll

Politico / George Washington University / Tarrance Group (R) / Lake Research (D)
9/7-9/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3.1% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Tarrance Group release)

National

State of the Country
28% Right Direction, 63% Wrong Track (chart)

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

Congressional Job Approval
25% Approve, 63% Disapprove (chart)

Obama Job Approval
45% Approve, 49% Disapprove (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 53 / 44 (chart)

2012 President
45% Republican, 42% Obama

Party ID
31% Democrat, 26% Republican, 33% independent (chart)


OR: 40% Kitzhaber, 39% Dudley (Riley 8/31-9/9)

Topics: Oregon , poll

Riley Research
8/31-9/9/10; 392 likely voters, 5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Riley release)

Oregon

2010 Governor
40% Kitzhaber (D), 39% Dudley (R), 2% Eastman (i), 1% Wilson (P), 1% Wagner (L), 1% Kord (C) (chart)


OR: 49% Dudley, 43% Kitzaber (SurveyUSA 9/12-14)

Topics: Oregon , poll

SurveyUSA
9/12-14/10; 562 likely voters, 4.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Oregon

2010 Governor
49% Dudley (R), 43% Kitzhaber (D), 3% Word (C), 2% Wagner (L) (chart)

2010 Senate
54% Wyden (D), 38% Huffman (R), 3% Cronk (WF), 1% Delphine (L) (chart)


US: National Survey (AP-GfK 9/8-13)

Topics: National , poll

AP-GfK
9/8-13/10; 1,000 adults, 4.2% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(AP-GfK release)

National

Obama Job Approval
49% Approve, 50% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 42 / 58 (chart)
Health Care: 50 / 50 (chart)

State of the Country
40% Right Direction, 57% Wrong Track (chart)

No matter how you will vote in November, if the election for Congress were held today, would you want to see the Republicans or the Democrats win control of Congress?
46% Republicans, 43% Democrats

Party ID
31% Democrat, 25% Republican, 31% independent, 13% Don't know (chart)


PA: 49% Corbett, 39% Onorato (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Governor
49% Corbett (R), 39% Onorato (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Tom Corbett: 59 / 28
Dan Onorato: 47 / 32


OH: 54% Kasich, 37% Strickland (Quinnipiac 9/9-14)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Quinnipiac
9/9-14/10; 730 likely voters, 3.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Ohio

2010 Governor
54% Kasich (R), 37% Strickland (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ted Strickland: 36 / 52 (chart)
John Kasich: 47 / 37

Job Approval / Disapproval
Ted Strickland: 34 / 59 (chart)


US: National Survey (CBS/Times 9/10-14)

Topics: National , poll

CBS News / New York Times
9/10-14/10; 990 adults, 3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CBS: Congress, Obama, Full results; Times: story, full results)

National

Obama Job Approval
45% Approve, 47% Disapprove (chart)
Economy: 41 / 51 (chart)

State of the Country
33% Right Direction, 60% Wrong Track (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
21% Approve, 70% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
Likely voters: 40% Republican, 38% Democrat (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Sarah Palin: 21 / 46 (chart)

Party ID
35% Democrat, 25% Republican, 33% independent (chart)


US: Generic Ballot (PPP 9/10-13)

Topics: National , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/10-13/10; 590 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

National

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
45% Democrat, 44% Republican (chart)


NV, OH, WA: 2010 Senate, Governor (CNN/Time 9/10-14)

Topics: Nevada , Ohio , poll , Washington

Nevada

CNN / Time / Opinion Research Corporation
9/10-14/10; 789 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)

2010 Senate
42% Angle (R), 41% H. Reid (D), 5% Ashjian (T) (chart)

2010 Governor
58% Sandoval (R), 31% R. Reid (D) (chart)

Ohio

CNN / Time / Opinion Research Corporation
9/10-14/10; 820 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)

2010 Senate
52% Portman (R), 41% Fisher (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
51% Kasich (R), 44% Strickland (D) (chart)

Washington

CNN / Time / Opinion Research Corporation
9/10-14/10; 906 likely voters, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(CNN release)

2010 Senate
53% Murray (D), 44% Rossi (R) (chart)


CO: 49% Buck (R), 45% Bennet (D) (Rasmussen 9/14)

Topics: Colorado , poll

Rasmussen
9/14/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Colorado

2010 Senate
49% Buck (R), 45% Bennet (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ken Buck: 49 / 44
Michael Bennet: 45 / 50 (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 55 (chart)
Gov. Ritter: 43 / 55 (chart)


FL: 41% Rubio, 30% Crist, 23% Meek (Rasmussen 9/14)

Topics: Florida , poll

Rasmussen
9/14/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Florida

2010 Senate
41% Rubio (R), 30% Crist (i), 23% Meek (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
48% Sink (D), 47% Scott (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Kendrick Meek: 45 / 46
Charlie Crist: 55 / 44 (chart)
Marco Rubio: 53 / 42

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 54 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 53 / 46 (chart)


NH: 47% Ayotte (R), 43% Hodes (D) (PPP 9/11-12)

Topics: New Hampshire , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 1,969 likely voters, 2.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate
47% Ayotte (R), 43% Hodes (D) (chart)
43% Hodes (D), 42% Binnie (R)* (chart)
45% Bender (R), 43% Hodes (D)* (chart)
47% Lamontagne (R), 44% Hodes (D)* (chart)

*Kelly Ayotte has won the Republican primary

Favorable / Unfavorable
Paul Hodes: 35 / 46
Kelly Ayotte: 35 / 47
Bill Binnie: 21 / 58
Jim Bender: 26 / 33
Ovide Lamontagne: 36 / 33

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 52 (chart)
Sen. Gregg: 45 / 41 (chart)
Sen. Shaheen: 44 / 49 (chart)


FL: 40% Rubio, 26% Crist, 21% Meek (Ipsos/Reuters 9/10-12)

Topics: Florida , poll

Ipsos / Reuters
9/10-12/10; 600 registered voters, 4% margin of error
486 likely voters, 4.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)

Florida

2010 Senate
40% Rubio (R), 26% Crist (i), 21% Meek (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
47% Scott (R), 45% Sink (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Crist: 53 / 40 (chart)


VT: 49% Shumlin, 46% Dubie (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: poll , Vermont

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Vermont

2010 Governor
49% Shumlin (D), 46% Dubie (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Peter Shumlin: 52 / 40
Brian Dubie: 56 / 39


OH: 50% Kasich, 43% Strickland (9/13)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 750 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Ohio

2010 Governor
50% Kasich (R), 43% Strickland (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Ted Strickland: 39 / 55 (chart)
John Kasich: 50 / 37

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 44 / 54 (chart)
Gov. Strickland: 41 / 57 (chart)


What we know about political misperceptions

Topics: Barack Obama , birther , conspiracy , George W. Bush , Muslim

In the wake of the publication of a Pew poll showing an increase in the false belief that Barack Obama is a Muslim, misperceptions have reached a new level of prominence in the national discourse, including a mention of the Muslim myth on Newsweek's cover. In addition, MIT political scientist Adam Berinsky released some new public opinion data on the topic Monday, so it seems like a good time to review what we do -- and don't -- know about misperceptions.

Belief in the Muslim myth has increased

As I noted at the time, the Pew poll found that the proportion of the public identifying Obama as Muslim increased from 11% in March 2009 to 18% in August 2010 and the proportion who didn't know his religion increased from 34% to 43%. This shift was corroborated by a subsequent Newsweek poll using somewhat different wording (PDF), which found that the proportion of the public saying Obama is Muslim had increased from 13% in June 2008 to 24% in late August 2010. (Time similarly found that 24% of Americans think Obama is Muslim, but no previous survey is available for comparison.)

Americans hold several false beliefs about Obama

In addition to the Muslim myth, polls have shown that a substantial fraction of the public believes Obama was not born in this country. Most recently, CNN found that 27% of Americans think Obama was "probably" or "definitely" born in another country (Berinsky similarly found in July that 27% said Obama was not born in this country.) The Newsweek poll mentioned above also found that 31% of Americans said the allegation that Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world" is "definitely" or "probably" true.

False beliefs about Obama are concentrated among Republicans

Pew found that the proportion of Republicans saying Obama is Muslim increased from 17% in March 2009 to 31% in August 2010 and the proportion who don't know increased from 28% to 39%. Similarly, CNN's poll showed that 41% of Republicans think Obama was "probably" or "definitely" not born here, a figure that corresponds closely to Berinsky's 46-47% (based on his bar chart). Newsweek also found that 52% of Republicans thought that the claim that Obama wanted to impose Islamic law was "definitely" or "probably" true. These figures are consistent with other polls showing differences by party in politically salient misperceptions (e.g., Iraq having WMD before the U.S. invasion). It's important to note that misperceptions are not confined to Republicans. Democrats, for instance, were far more likely than independents or Republicans to endorse the claim that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in a 2006 Scripps poll, a 2009 PPP poll, and Berinsky's 2010 poll.

These large partisan differences in misperceptions appear to be the result of people's bias toward factual claims that reinforce their partisan or ideological views (selective acceptance). This pattern of motivated reasoning -- plus possible biases in the information to which people are exposed (selective exposure) -- appears to result in large partisan differentials in misperceptions along partisan or ideological lines (see my research here and here for more).

Misperceptions are not simply a function of ignorance

As Berinsky and many others have found, people who know more about politics (as measured by the questions political scientists typically use to measure political knowledge) tend to be less likely to hold false beliefs. However, that doesn't mean that the problem is simple ignorance. A better approach is to distinguish between ignorance (when you know you don't know the truth) and misinformation (when you falsely believe you know the truth). Politically salient misperceptions typically fall into the latter category, which is why they are so pernicious. For instance, I found that Republicans who believed they were knowledgeable about the Clinton and Obama health care plans were more likely to endorse false claims about them (Berinsky misstates my finding on this point).

In addition, elites often appear to play an important role in spreading false claims ranging from "death panels" to the Muslim myth and Obama supporting Islamic law. For this process to operate, partisans must be exposed to the message from elites, understand it, and integrate it into their belief system, which is not consistent with a simple story of ignorance. GW political scientist John Sides has provided evidence that is consistent with this account, showing that the persistence of the Obama Muslim myth increased more during Obama's presidency among Republicans with higher levels of education:

Sides
 

As TNR's Jon Chait notes, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels similarly found that more knowledgeable partisans were more likely to develop false beliefs of economic performance that was consistent with their political views:

Voters' perceptions may be seriously skewed by partisan biases. For example, in a 1988 survey a majority of respondents who described themselves as strong Democrats said that inflation had "gotten worse" over the eight years of the Reagan administration; in fact, it had fallen from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 4.1 percent in 1988. Conversely, a majority of Republicans in a 1996 survey said that the federal budget deficit had increased under Bill Clinton; in fact, the deficit had shrunk from $255 billion to $22 billion. Surprisingly, misperceptions of this sort are often most prevalent among people who should know better--those who are generally well informed about politics, at least as evidenced by their answers to factual questions about political figures, issues, and textbook civics.

The beliefs that people express aren't fixed

While the prevalence of these misperceptions has been repeatedly validated in national polls, it's important to note that the exact responses people provide will vary depending on question wording, context, etc. as in any other survey. For instance, in research with Reifler and Duke undergraduates, we found (PDF) that the presence of non-white interviewers appeared to influence how participants responded to corrective information about Obama's religion. Likewise, a study (PDF) recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that McCain supporters were more likely to accept the claim that Obama is Muslim when their racial identity was made salient.

Does this mean these beliefs aren't "real"? It's hard to know what that claim means. All survey responses are to a certain extent an artifact of the context in which they are solicited -- there is no way to measure what someone "really thinks." However, it's possible that people are expressing an ideological or partisan view as much as they are making a factual claim about the world. The strongest claim along these lines comes from Reason's Julian Sanchez, who suggests that misperceptions like the claim that Obama was not born in the U.S. are best conceptualized as "symbolic beliefs" rather than statements of what people believe to be literally true -- an argument that was subsequently endorsed by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and ABC News polling consultant Gary Langer. Determining to what extent these beliefs are "symbolic" rather than literal is an important question for future research.

Update 9/16 1:26 PM: See John Sides for more on recent research into partisan bias in factual beliefs about politics.

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com and Huffington Post]


DE: 50% Coons, 34% O'Donnell (PPP 9/11-12)

Topics: Delaware , poll


Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 958 likely voters, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Delaware

2010 Senate
50% Coons (D), 34% O'Donnell (R) (chart)
45% Castle (R), 35% Coons (D)* (chart)

*Christine O'Donnell won the Republican primary last night

Favorable / Unfavorable
Mike Castle: 44 / 40
Chris Coons: 31 / 33
Christine O'Donnell: 29 / 50

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 48 (chart)
Sen. Carper: 45 / 36 (chart)
Sen. Kaufman: 38 / 33 (chart)
Gov. Markell: 50 / 32 (chart)


VT: 62% Leahy, 32% Britton (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: poll , Vermont

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Vermont

2010 Senate
62% Leahy (D), 32% Britton (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Len Britton: 28 / 26
Pat Leahy: 66 / 33

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 63 / 37
Gov. Douglas: 64 / 34


OH: 49% Portman, 40% Fisher (SurveyUSA 9/10-13)

Topics: hoio , poll

SurveyUSA
9/10-13/10; 641 likely voters, 3.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

Ohio

2010 Governor
52% Kasich (R), 40% Strickland (D) (chart)

2010 Senate
49% Portman (R), 40% Fisher (D) (chart)


PA: 49% Toomey, 41% Sestak (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate
49% Toomey (R), 41% Sestak (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Pat Toomey: 57 / 33
Joe Sestak: 47 / 42

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 47 / 51 (chart)
Gov. Rendell: 45 / 53 (chart)


NC: 58% Burr, 34% Marshall (SurveyUSA 9/10-13)

Topics: North Carolina , poll

SurveyUSA
9/10-13/10; 862 registered voters, 3.4% margin of error
582 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(SurveyUSA release)

North Carolina

2010 Senate
58% Burr (R), 34% Marshall (D), 6% Beitler (L) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 35 / 52 (chart)
Bev Perdue: 21 / 49 (chart)
Richard Burr: 36 / 36 (chart)
Elaine Marshall: 27 / 25
Mike Beitler: 8 / 13


Morning Update: O'Donnell's Win Puts Coons Ahead

Topics: 2010 , Chris Coons , Christine O'Donnell , Fox News , PPP , Public Policy polling , Rasmussen

While pollsters released a flurry of new surveys yesterday in the most competitive Senate races, the surprise result in the Delaware Republican primary had a much bigger impact on the GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate this year.

Specifically, Christine O'Donnell's upset of Republican Congressman Mike Castle flips Delaware from a seat that looked comfortably in the Republican column this year, to one that now looks comfortably (if tentatively) Democratic. Four polls conducted since July all showed Castle leading Democrat Chris Coons by double-digit margins, while the most recent Rasmussen poll had Coons leading O'Donnell by 11 (47% to 36%).

Public Policy Polling (PPP) fielded a general election survey in Delaware over the weekend that they plan to release today, though they teased results yesterday that imply an even bigger Coons lead. They reported Coons "polls 26 points better" against O'Donnell than against Castle, that O'Donnell's personal rating is 29% favorable, 50% unfavorable and that only 31% of Delware's voters think she is "fit to hold office."

While we are on the topic, congratulations to PPP for going where all other pollsters feared to tread and producing an accurate forecast of the O'Donnell surprise in Delaware.

As of this hour, the outcome of the New Hampshire Republican primary remains in doubt, with Kelly Ayotte leading Ovide Lamontagne by just under a thousand votes. A victory by Lamontagne would also cheer Democrats, as most polls show Democrat Paul Hodes faring better against Lamontagne than Ayotte. Our current trend estimate based on all public polls shows Hodes trailing Ayotte by 9 points (38.5% to 47.5%), by leading Lamontagne by just over 4 points (41.8% to 37.3%).

Meanwhile, yesterday brought 11 new polls in 7 of the most competitive states. Seven of those survey came from either Rasmussen Reports or from a set of new Fox News tracking polls that -- as I reported yesterday -- use the same field service and essentially the same methodology as the automated Rasmussen polls.

The new surveys included three on the Nevada race between Democratic Senator Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharon Angle. The two automated polls from Rasmussen/Fox show the race slightly closer (a tie and one point Angle edge) than the live-interviewer survey from Ipsos (which puts Reid up by two). Our trend estimate now shows Reid leading Angle by about a point and a half (46.9% to 45.5%).

2010-09-15-Blumenthal-NevadaChart.png

We also saw three new polls in Ohio -- all automated -- from Rasmussen, Fox and SurveyUSA. All three show Republican Rob Portman leading Democrat Lee Fisher by a comfortable margin. Our [trend estimate](/polls/oh/-10-oh-sen-ge-pvf.html) puts Portman ahead by eight points (47.4% to 39.4%) and gaining support since the summer.

2010-09-15-Blumenthal-OhioSenate.png

Finally, the new Fox News survey in Florida is the second since the primary to show Republican Marco Rubio hitting a new high of 43% and Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist below 30%. Rubio's lead over Crist on our trend estimate is now nine points (40.1% to 31.1%) with Democrat Kendrick Meek still trailing (19.1%).


CT: 50% Malloy, 41% Foley (Quinnipiac 9/8-12)

Topics: Connecticut , pol

Quinnipiac
9/8-12/10; 875 likely voters, 3.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Connecticut

2010 Governor
50% Malloy (D), 41% Foley (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Tom Foley: 34 / 24
Dan Malloy: 46 / 21

Job Approval / Disapproval
gov. Rell: 58% Approve, 35% Disapprove (chart)


What Do Fox/Pulse and Rasmussen Have in Common?

Topics: Fox News , Pulse Opinion Research , Rasmussen

Earlier today, Fox News released five new polls measuring voter preferences in the Senate races in Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California. The Fox News story says the polls are conducted by Pulse Opinion Research. We will tackle the results in another article, but for now political junkies may be wondering, what is Pulse Opinion Research?

The answer (as reported earlier today by Political Wire) is that Pulse is a "field service" spun off of of Rasmussen Reports that conducts their well known automated, recorded-voice surveys. It also conducts polls for other clients including, as of today, Fox News. While the questions asked on specific surveys may differ, the underlying methodology used by Fox/Pulse and Rasmussen are essentially identical.

Earlier this year, Rasmussen launched a new website for Pulse that, as he explained to Tim Mak of the Frum Forum, allows anyone to "go to the [Pulse] website, type in their credit card number, and run any poll that they wanted, with any language that they want... In effect, you will be able to do your own poll, and Rasmussen will provide the platform to ensure that the polling includes a representative national sample." According to the Pulse web site, basic election surveys start at $1,500 for a sample of 500 state or local respondents.

Scott Rasmussen confirms, via email, that surveys conducted by Pulse for Fox News and for Rasmussen reports are essentially equivalent in terms of their calling, sampling and weighting procedures:

Pulse Opinion Research does all the field work and processing for Rasmussen Reports polling. They do the same for other clients using the system that I developed over many years. So, in practical terms, polling done by Pulse for any client, including Fox News, will be processed in exactly the same manner. In a Rasmussen Reports poll, Rasmussen Reports provides the questions to Pulse. In a Fox News poll, Fox News provides the questions for their own surveys.

Both will use the same targets for weighting, including weights applied for partisan identification:

The process for selecting Likely Voter targets is based upon partisan trends identified nationally (and reported monthly). In an oversimplified example, if the national trends move one point in favor of the Democrats, the targets for state samples will do the same. As Election Day draws near, the targets are also based upon specific results from all polling done in that state. In competitive states, Pulse can draw upon a large number of interviews to help estimate the partisan mix.

For Election 2010, the net impact is that the samples are typically a few points more favorable to the Republicans than they were in Election 2008. Also, most of the time, the number of unaffiliated voters is a bit lower than in 2008. The samples also show a lower share of minority voters and younger voters.

One positive aspect of the new Fox News/Pulse surveys is that Fox is making demographic cross-tabulations freely available (example here) that Rasmussen Reports keeps behind a subscription wall. And Fox is going a step further, adding weighted sample sizes for each subgroup (something Rasmussen does not currently make available even to subscribers). So if you want to see the demographic composition, you can use the weighted counts to calculate the percentages.

On the other hand, this development may well double the number of polls conducted with the Rasmussen methodology in some races going forward. For example, the Fox/Pulse surveys were conducted on Saturday, September 11 and included samples in Nevada and Ohio. Today, Rasmussen Reports released two additional surveys conducted in Nevada and Ohio on Monday, September 13. Rasmussen, again via email, confirms that his "Rasmussen Reports polling schedule in entirely independent of anything the Fox or Pulse does." He adds:

Our plans were laid out long ago, with the only variable being which races remain the closest as Election Day approaches. For example, we don't expect to poll Connecticut as often as California. But, if the CT race gets closer (as possibly suggested by Quinnipiac), we will poll it more frequently. Same thought process holds true for West Virginia.

As it is, the Rasmussen surveys have already grown far more numerous and dominant so far this election cycle than in 2008. Pollster.com has already tracked 237 Rasmussen Reports surveys on the 2010 elections for U.S. Senate, almost double the number at this point for U.S. Senate races in 2008 (120). While the total number of surveys fielded by all pollsters have also increased, Rasmussen's share of these polls has grown significantly, from 35% of all Senate polls so far to 49%

2010-09-14-Blumenthal-PollsCounts.png

Rasmussen is the only pollster active in about a half dozen less competitive contests and has fielded three out of four polls in states that have been only marginally competitive, like Indiana and Delaware.

The growing predominance of Rasmussen's surveys so far this cycle has consequences for all that follow and track polling data, including our efforts to track and chart polls at Pollster and Huffington Post. This is another story that we will focus on in the weeks ahead.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post]


US: National Survey (Zogby 9/10-14)

Topics: National , poll

Zogby
9/10-14/10; 1,773 likely voters, 2.4% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Zogby release)

National

Obama Job Approval
4846% Approve, 54% Disapprove (chart)

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


US: National survey (PPP 9/10-13)

Topics: National , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/10-13/10; 590 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

National

Obama Job Approval
47% Approve, 49% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 82 / 15 (chart)
Reps: 10 / 87 (chart)
Inds: 44 / 49 (chart)

Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care plan, or do you not have an opinion?
44% Support, 50% Oppose (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Joe Biden: 43 / 43
Hillary Clinton: 56 / 37 (chart)
Michelle Obama: 52 / 37
Bill Clinton: 53 / 40


KY: 49% Paul, 42% Conway (PPP/Kos 9/11-12)

Topics: Kentucky , poll

DailyKos.com / Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 959 likely voters, 3.2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(DailyKos release)

Kentucky

2010 Senate
49% Paul (R), 42% Conway (D)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Jack Conway: 36 / 36
Rand Paul: 45 / 40

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 60
Sen. McConnell: 41 / 50
Sen. Bunning: 31 / 48


NV: 46% Reid, 44% Angle (Ipsos/Reuters 9/10-12)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Ipsos / Reuters
9/10-12/10; 600 registered voters, 4% margin of error
463 likely voters, 4.6% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Ipsos release)

Nevada

2010 Senate
46% H. Reid (D), 44% Angle (R) (chart)

2010 Governor
60% Sandoval (R), 31% R. Reid (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Gibbons: 29 / 63 (chart)


NV: 48% Angle, 48% Reid (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Nevada

2010 Senate
48% Angle (R), 48% Reid (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Harry Reid: 45 / 51 (chart)
Sharron Angle: 41 / 55

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 46 / 51 (chart)
Gov. Gibbons: 37 / 59 (chart)


OH: 49% Portman, 41% Fisher (Rasmussen 9/13)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Rasmussen
9/13/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Ohio

2010 Senate
49% Portman (R), 41% Fisher (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Rob Portman: 52 / 27
Lee Fisher: 44 / 38


Democrats' Difficult Summer Stretches Into Fall


The political pendulum has swung far toward the Republicans, and at this point there is almost nothing that Democrats and the President can do to alter the overall course of the midterm elections. Republicans will win the House--and quite possibly the Senate--on November 2nd. Democrats had a politically devastating summer that is now stretching into the fall. Politicos talk about campaigns "winning" the day or the week; well, Democrats have "lost" the last seven months.

Scott Brown's victory on January 19th cemented what Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie started in November of 2009 and signaled the start of this terrible run. A look at the Pew Research Center's polling on the news stories "most closely followed" really tells the story. From February through April the most closely watched news story in the country was health care reform (the economy was in second place). The battle for health care reform represents the first splintering of the Obama coalition, as Independents and swing voters began to move away from Democrats and the President. The issue was divisive and it served to energize the GOP base (and fuel the Tea Party movement), creating the intensity gap that we see today: Republicans are almost twice as energized about the upcoming elections as Democrats. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in August showed that only 43% of Americans had a favorable view of health care reform, while 45% had an unfavorable perspective.

The period from May through July was dominated by the Gulf oil leak story. Political historians may look back at this time as the moment when Democrats lost the midterm election. The oil leak dominated headlines for an incredibly sustained period; it was the dominant news story for nearly three months. From a political perspective it did two things: 1) it signaled to voters that President Obama and the administration were not as competent as previously thought and 2) it took POTUS and the Democrats off-message for 90 days. The White House political apparatus is loath to admit this, but the Gulf oil leak severely damaged the President and his agenda. Every day that the President and Democrats were not talking about the economy was a lost day, and for three months the oil leak ensured that they couldn't address the issue that would be most important to voters in November.

While the oil leak was still the most closely monitored story in America in early August, the capping of the leak changed things instantaneously. In the absence of the leak story, the economy became the most covered and watched story in America in mid- to late-August. According to Pew's latest poll, 43% of Americans said they were "very closely" following stories about the economy (the Iraq troop withdrawal, immigration and Hurricane Earl were other issues being closely observed). Even more importantly, the recent news on the economy has been almost entirely bad. In one of the worst political branding exercises since "Mission Accomplished," the Obama Administration decided to call this the "Recovery Summer." But the economy fizzled and consumer confidence dropped. In the latest NBC/WSJ poll, 65% of voters say that America is in a state of decline. In September of 2009, 47% of voters thought that during the next 12 months the economy would get better. In the latest poll, only 26% say that.

The following is our up-to-the-minute take on the current political environment:

  • Democrats (and the New York Times) are misreading the electorate again if they think they can make John Boehner into a boogeyman for this election. Most voters have no idea who John Boehner is and it is unlikely that he becomes a factor in this election. The man is simply not a lightning rod. This is not 1996 and Boehner is not Gingrich. Speaking of which...
  • Newt Gingrich's Obama/Kenya comments are an embarrassment for the GOP and exactly what the party does not need at this time. It suggests again that that if the Republicans retake the house it will be because of massive rejection of Democratic policies rather than an attraction to the GOP.
  • Obama's coalition is fractured because Independents have lost faith in the President. In October 2009, the President had a 54% approval rating among Independent voters. Today it stands at 39.2% in Pollster.com's latest average of media polls. That is an astounding 14 point drop in less than a year.
  • Ignore polls showing the President's approval rating in the 45-47% range. In reality, Obama's approval rating with the voters who will be counted is much lower. A look at Gallup's latest poll on the President's approval rating suggests that his rating is artificially bolstered by the 18-29 age segment (he has a 61% approval rating among this group). But the President's rating with 30-49 year olds is 44%, it's at 43% among 50-64 year olds, and among those over 65 years of age it is only 38%. We are not discounting young voters, but when you consider those most likely to vote in a mid-term election (18-29 year olds are far less likely to vote in a non-Presidential year), the President's approval rating effectively drops to 41-42%. This is hugely problematic for Democrats.
  • There is some good news for Democrats: Obama is finally in campaign mode. The White House is now committed to talking jobs and the economy 24/7. Obama's visit yesterday with families in Fairfax, VA was a smart--and necessary--move. The White House had a good week driving its economic message, but the September economic report is its last real chance to make an argument that things are improving, and the report is unlikely to be good enough. Yesterday's front page WSJ story on global uncertainty in the face of a waning economic recovery will further feed voter anxiety.
  • The problem for Democrats is that this isn't just about the economy. The election frame is also about the appropriate size and role of government. There has been a real reaction against this administration's expansion of the size of government in addition to a general concern about its ability to do something to "fix" the economy. To understand the momentum in 2010, you only need to look at these two charts from a recent Gallup poll that compares the importance of this election's key issues and which party is more trusted. Other than a virtual tie on health care and corruption, Republicans are now more trusted by the electorate on every key issue. Contrast this with 2006, when Democrats held every advantage, including core Republican issues like terrorism and "moral standards."
  • Today is the last major primary day of this cycle and the races in Delaware and New Hampshire are the most closely watched. Despite the latest poll showing O'Donnell with a slight lead over Castle in DE, we believe Castle will prevail. A sizable segment of the GOP electorate thinks that O'Donnell is not fit for office and that number has been trending up in the last few days thanks to some Castle attack ads. If O'Donnell does win, she faces a much tougher slog against Democrat Chris Coons. This would make it very unlikely that the GOP retakes the Senate so this race is one to watch.
Thanks to John Zirinsky and Peter Ventimiglia for their insights and contributions. For real-time reactions to events and more thoughts on the public opinion environment, please follow us on Twitter @lcgpolling.


CA: 46% Boxer, 44% Fiorina (Fox/Pulse 9/11)

Topics: California , poll

Fox News / Pulse Opinion Research
9/11/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Fox News release)

California

2010 Senate
46% Boxer (D), 44% Fiorina (R) (chart)

2010 Governor
49% Whitman (R), 43% Brown (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 48 / 44 (chart)
Sen. Feinstein: 44 / 45 (chart)
Sen. Boxer: 42 / 50 (chart)


OH: 48% Kasich, 43% Strickland (Fox/Pulse 9/11)

Topics: Ohio , poll

Fox News / Pulse Opinion Research
9/11/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Fox News release)

Ohio

2010 Senate
48% Portman (R), 41% Fisher (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
48% Kasich (R), 43% Strickland (D) (chart)

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


PA: 47% Toomey, 41% Sestak (Fox/Pulse 9/11)

Topics: Pennsylvania , poll

Fox News / Pulse Opinion Research
9/11/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Fox News release)

Pennsylvania

2010 Senate
47% Toomey (R), 41% Sestak (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
50% Corbett (R), 40% Onorato (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 40 / 53 (chart)


NV: 45% Angle, 44% Reid (Fox/Pulse 9/11)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Fox News / Pulse Opinion Research
9/11/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Fox News release)

Nevada

2010 Senate
45% Angle (R), 44% H. Reid (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
56% Sandoval (R), 38% R. Reid (D) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 42 / 53 (chart)
Sen. Reid: 40 / 55 (chart)


FL: 43% Rubio, 27% Crist, 21% Meek (Fox/Pulse 9/11)

Topics: Florida , poll

Fox News / Pulse Opinion Research
9/11/10; 1,000 likely voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Fox News release)

Florida

2010 Senate
43% Rubio (R), 27% Crist (i), 21% Meek (D) (chart)

2010 Governor
49% Sink (D), 41% Scott (R) (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 37 / 57 (chart)
Gov. Crist: 41 / 44 (chart)


CO: 46% Hickenlooper, 25% Tancredo, 21% Maes (Rasmussen 9/12)

Topics: Colorado , poll

Rasmussen
9/12/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Colorado

2010 Governor
46% Hickenlooper (D), 25% Tancredo (i), 21% Maes (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
John Hickenlooper: 56 / 40
Dan Maes: 34 / 55
Tom Tancredo: 42 / 51

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 45 / 53 (chart)
Gov. Ritter: 43 / 54 (chart)


CT: 51% Blumenthal, 45% McMahon (Quinnipiac 9/8-12)

Topics: Connecticut , poll

Quinnipiac
9/8-12/10; 875 likely voters, 3.3% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Quinnipiac release)

Connecticut

2010 Senate
51% Blumenthal (D), 45% McMahon (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Richard Blumenthal: 55 / 39
Linda McMahon: 45 / 41


Morning Update: Good News for Murray in Washington?

Topics: 2010 , Dino Rossi , Patty Murray , Washington

Today's new Senate survey of interest comes from Washington, where the state's Elway Poll shows Democratic Senator Patty Murray leading Republican challenger Dino Rossi by a nine point margin (50% to 41%). The result is much better news for Murray than three other surveys conducted in late August and nudges Murray ahead of Rossi on our trend estimate by 3.7 percentage points (49.4% to 45.7%).

Does the new poll mean that Murray has gained ground in recent weeks, following a post August 17 primary "bump" for Rossi, (as our chart implies)? Not necessarily. What may be going on is a combination of timing and wide variation among pollsters that we have seen elsewhere this year: The most recent polls conducted using live interviewers show Murray doing better than those using an automated, recorded voice methodology.

2010-09-14-Blumenthal-WaPollsDefault.png

Specifically, two automated polls conducted in late August by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports show Rossi leading by 7 and 3 points respectively, while live interview polls conducted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and by Elway show Murray leading by 5 and 9 points.

2010-09-14-Blumenthal-RecentWaPolls.png

Less obvious from the table is that the variation in the recent polling is far greater for challenger Rossi's support (a 9 point range varying between 41% and 52%) than incumbent Murray's (a 5 point range varying between 45% and 50%). That pattern is similar to what we saw in last year's New Jersey governor's race, where surveys showed much less variation in support for incumbent Jon Corzine than challenger Chris Cristie, but where Christie's number was consistently higher on automated surveys. In New Jersey, the automated polls were closer to the final result.

In this case, the new Elway poll puts far more voters in the "other" and undecided categories (9% total) than the recent automated surveys (3%). That's a typical pattern, and hints that a harder push of the undecided may work against a Democratic incumbent like Murray, at least for now.

We will have to wait and see whether these pollster "house effects" persist into October, although it is also possible that the two automated surveys late August were an anomaly. Automated surveys earlier in the summer by Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed Murray leading by a margin of 2 to 4 points that is more consistent with the 2.2 percentage point Murray margin we get (48.7% to 46.5%) when we use our chart's "smoothing" tool to pay less attention to recent variation and plot a smoother line.

2010-09-14-Blumenthal-WAPollsLowSens.png

Either way, the Murray-Rossi race is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the nation, so we will be watching it closely.

And this just in: Just as I'm about to post this update, my email inbox tells me that Quinnipiac University has released a new poll on the Connecticut Senate race showing Democrat Richard Blumenthal (no relation) leading Republican Linda McMahon by just six points. That margin is slightly closer than other recent polls in Connecticut.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post].


WA: 50% Murray, 41% Rossi (Elway 9/9-12)


Elway Research
9/9-12/10; 501 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Seattle Times story)

Washington State

2010 Senate
50% Murray (D), 41% Rossi (R) (chart)


US: Generic Ballot (Gallup, Rasmussen 9/6-12)

Topics: National , poll

National

Gallup
9/6-12/10; 1,527 registered voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Gallup release)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
48% Republican, 43% Democrat (chart)


Rasmussen
9/6-12/10; 3,500 likely voters, 2% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
47% Republican, 38% Democrat (chart)


Not Listening 'Outliers'

Topics: Outliers Feature

Andrew Gelman compares two 2010 forecasts; John Sides plots the various House seat count forecasts for 2010.

Sean Trende ponders whether there are "green shoots" in recent polls for Democrats.

Tom Jensen sees hope that Democrats will narrow the enthusiasm gap.

Resurgent Republic finds increasing opposition to Democrats among independents.

Frank Newport digs into polling on raising taxes for the rich.

PPP finds that 63% of Maine Republican primary voters want a more conservative alternative.

Bob Groves sums up thought on the quality of the Census.

Rahm Emanuel polls Chicago (via Smith).

Adrian Fenty doesn't trust polls.

Ezra Klein says people don't listen to the president.


NH: 35% Ayotte, 31% Lamontagne (Magellan 9/12)

Topics: New Hampshire , poll

Magellan Strategies
9/12/10; 1,083 likely Republican primary voters, 3% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Magellan release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
35% Ayotte, 31% Lamontagne, 14% Binnie, 10% Bender


McGoldrick: What Voters Expect Of A GOP Majority

Topics: 2010 Election , election results , voter expectations

Brent McGoldrick is a Senior Vice President with FD, a communications strategy consulting firm. He leads public affairs research for FD's Washington, D.C. office.

In the last week, polling junkies and reporters alike have been delving into a fresh batch of post- Labor Day polls and debating just how big of a majority the Republicans will win in the House of Representatives in November.

Last week my company, the communications and strategy consulting firm FD, fielded several questions on a national survey that pre-supposed Republicans would win majority control of the House. The question we wanted to answer was "How do Americans feel about that prospect?" Like other polls, our polling finds news to cheer the GOP. But, we also find a note of caution about taking a potential takeover in stride.

Namely, in our poll, we find that voters generally believe:

  1. A GOP majority in the House will improve overall economic conditions;
  2. A GOP House would do a better job than past GOP-controlled Congresses (i.e., the party has learned their lesson);
  3. But, voters want a GOP Congress to work with President Obama and Democrats, as opposed to pursuing their own agenda.

Let's take each of these one by one.

1. More voters think economic conditions will improve as a result of a Republican takeover of The House.

Our polling finds that 47% of voters think economic conditions will significantly or somewhat improve as a result of GOP control of the House, while 38% think conditions will significantly or somewhat worsen. Among those "very likely" to vote, 49% say conditions will improve and 39% say conditions will worsen.

2. More voters think a Republican-controlled House will do a better job than past Republican Congresses.

Specifically, our Poll finds that 49% of voters say that a Republican -controlled Congress would do a better job than past Republican Congresses, while 36% say they would do a worse job. Among "very likely" voters, a majority (51%) say that a Republican-controlled Congress would do a better job than previous Republican Congresses, while 37% say they would do a worse job.

Interestingly, this finding clearly signals that the GOP has begun to repair its "brand" in less than two years. Additionally, taken together, the similar double-digits margins on these questions do suggest to me that a double-digit GOP lead on the Generic Ballot that we have seen in other polls might not be far off.

3. That said, voters want a Republican Congress to work with President Obama and Democrats.

When asked which approach they would prefer a hypothetical GOP-controlled Congress take, a whopping 71% of voters say they would prefer them to "compromise and work with President Obama to get things done." Only 27% of voters would want Republicans to "pursue their own agenda to get things done."

Among "very likely" voters, 68% want to see the two parties to work together, while 27% want the GOP to pursue their own agenda. (I won't know until I field it, but my bet is if we had put the question to voters whether a Republican victory in November is a signal to President Obama and Democrats that it is time to compromise, we would see similar numbers.)

Most significantly, even among Republican "Very likely" voters, while 50% say they want Republicans to pursue their own agenda, a sizeable 47% say they want Republicans to work with President Obama and Democrats.


So, what do all of these data tell us? By a significant margin, voters appear poised to vote for divided government, with the expectation that it will improve the economy. But, they also expect that the two parties will work together to solve economic challenges.

It seems like we hear that message from every election. But, I would posit that, in the face of such dire economic conditions, the data show us the limits of either party's pursuit of a "base" strategy have been reached. The Great Recession as an added an "or else" to what seems to be the electorate's biennial electoral plea, and the failure of a party in power (or perceived to be in power ) to heed that message carries major electoral risks.


IL: 50% Brady, 37% Quinn (Rasmussen 9/12)

Topics: Illinois , poll

Rasmussen
9/12/10; 750 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Illinois

2010 Governor
50% Brady (R), 37% Quinn (D), 4% Whitney (G) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Bill Brady Pat Quinn: 43 / 53
Bill Brady: 56 / 35
Rich Whitney: 25 / 32

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 54 / 45
Gov. Quinn: 35 / 63


GA: 49% Deal, 38% Barnes (SurveyUSA 9/10-12) - Updated

Topics: Georgia , poll

SurveyUSA / 13WMAZ
9/10-12/10; 599 likely voters, 4.1% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(WMAZ release)
More: SurveyUSA release

Georgia

2010 Governor
49% Deal (R), 38% Barnes (D), 9% Monds (L) (chart)

2010 Senate
56% Isakson (R), 34% Thurmond (D) (chart)


Berinsky: Poll Shows False Obama Beliefs A Function of Partisanship

Topics: Barack Obama , Birthers , Obama birthplace , Obama Hawaii , Obama Indonesia , Obama Kenya

Adam J. Berinsky is associate professor of political science at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the author of Silent Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America and In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq.

In politics, as in life, where you stand depends upon where you sit. Recent polling I have conducted demonstrates that what people believe to be true about the political world is in large part a function of whether they are a Democrat or a Republican.

Last month the Pew Center for the People and the Press conducted a poll which found that almost 20 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that President Obama is a Muslim, and another 43 percent cannot identify his religion. Recently released polls by Time and Newsweek confirm the prevalence of this false information.

These findings have sparked a flood of analysis. Some commentators have rightly pointed out that large numbers of Americans believe a number of crazy things. For instance, according to Gallup, 18 percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the earth. Others have argued that Republican politicians and conservative media sources have helped perpetuate the myth of Obama's religious identity. Recent polling I have conducted seems to support the latter view. There is a strong political component to misinformation about Obama's beliefs and identity. But politically motivated misinformation is not limited to Republicans. Some Democrats are quite willing to believe false information about Republican politicians. The politics of misinformation, it seems, is not so much a product of direct reactions to Obama as it is to the polarized nature of the current political times.

At their heart, questions about Obama's religion are critical because they are tied into broader questions about his character and ability to lead. As part of a larger project on the political consequences of misinformation, I measured belief in another controversy that gets to heart of Obama's identity as an American - whether people believe that he is a citizen of the United States.

I contracted Polimetrix/Yougov to conduct a national internet sample of 800 Americans, from July 8th to July 15th, 2010. I asked, "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States or not?" Consistent with other polls on the "birther" controversy, I found that 27 percent of respondents said that Obama was not born in the U.S. and another 19 percent did not know if he was or not. These findings paint a picture that is similarly unsettling to the Pew polling - misinformation about Obama's national and religious identity is pervasive.

My results raise a number of important questions. One question is whether some people are simply ignorant about politics - as they are about other aspects of the world (as the Gallup question mentioned above would suggest) - or if instead the uncertainty about Obama's background is politically motivated.

To adjudicate as best I could between these two explanations, I asked a follow-up question of those people who said that Obama was not born in the U.S. or were unsure about where he was born. Specifically, I gave them a multiple choice question: "Where do you think Obama was born: Indonesia, Kenya, The Philippines, Hawaii, or some other place."

I picked this multiple-choice question rather than an open-ended question in part because it was easier to ask the question this way, but also to see how the story dominant among "birthers" (Obama was born in Kenya) fared in relation to other possibilities, including one that could be derived from general ignorance (Hawaii was made a state in 1959; Obama was born in 1961).

The vast majority of these respondents subscribed to the dominant conspiracy story, choosing Kenya as Obama's birthplace. Among the 46 percent of respondents who either said that Obama was not born in the U.S. or were unsure if he was, two thirds said he was born in Kenya. This pattern was especially pronounced among those who said that Obama was not born in the U.S. - almost three-quarters of these respondents said he was born in Kenya.

There is some evidence that, since the beginning of the year, the story about Obama's citizenship has become clearer. Earlier in the year, in January 2010, I designed the follow-up question described above for inclusion on a survey conducted by Angus Reid Global Monitoring. In that poll, the distribution of beliefs about Obama's citizenship were roughly similar to what they are now - 25 percent said that he was not born in the U.S. and 20 percent were not sure where he was born. However, the follow-up looked very different - only 41 percent chose Kenya (the dominant "birther story"), while 25 percent chose Hawaii (a clear demonstration of ignorance). Thus, over the last seven months, it seems that the "birther" story has become more pervasive.

Partisan differences in beliefs about Obama's citizenship also indicate that the uncertainty about Obama's background is politically motivated. Though it has been said before, the difference between partisans in their beliefs about Obama's citizenship is striking. As the data show, the vast majority of Democrats say that Obama was born in the U.S. and a plurality of Republicans say that he was not. Similar patterns emerge when beliefs are broken down by approval for Obama; the President's supporters think he is a natural-born citizen and his opponents do not. Put simply, on the question of Obama's citizenship, where you stand depends on where you sit.

This pattern of partisan misperception is striking and carries over to other political rumors. On the July Polimetrix/YouGov survey, I also asked my respondents questions about whether they thought that the changes to the health care system that have been enacted by Congress and the Obama administration create "death panels" and whether John Kerry lied about his actions during the Vietnam war in order to receive medals from the U.S. Army.

The large partisan gaps found in the acceptance of false beliefs about Obama's citizenship, not surprisingly, extended to rumors about Obama's policies. But they also extended to rumors about other Democratic politicians as well - a majority of Republicans said that Kerry lied to receive medals and a majority of Democrats said that he did not.

The pervasiveness of politically motivated perceptions of reality is not limited to Republicans. On my survey I also asked respondents if they thought that "people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East." The overall acceptance of this particular piece of misinformation was lower than the Obama citizenship case - 18 percent thought that government officials were aware of the attack beforehand and another 18 percent were unsure - but the accusation here is certainly more severe. What is important for present purposes is that partisan differences in acceptance of this statement were large, as shown in this graph (which has been placed on the same scale as the birther graph above to facilitate comparisons).

These same differences do not, however, extend to rumors that are not grounded in partisan politics. I also asked respondents a question that has been asked on several surveys in the past, "Do you believe that a spacecraft from another planet crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947?" As the graph below shows, the stark partisan differences found on the other questions do not emerge in the case of beliefs about alien life.

All these results beg the question of what can be done to correct these persistent misperceptions. The answer is difficult, largely because the incorrect beliefs about politics are as much a function of partisan perceptions as they are about genuine ignorance.

Clearly, some people hold false beliefs because they do not pay much attention to the political world. Providing these individuals with greater knowledge of politics might improve the situation. In order to assess the impact of general ignorance, I measured how much my respondents knew about politics by asking them a series of three factual questions about political figures and political processes.

The results here are somewhat heartening. I found that the more of these factual questions the respondents got right, the more likely they were to think that Obama was a citizen. Contrary to the findings of some scholars who examined beliefs about rumors concerning death panels, I found that information had the same effect for both Democrats and Republicans. However, the news is not all rosy on this score; even information can only get us so far. There were large differences between the beliefs of Democrats and Republicans at all levels of political attentiveness and even among Republicans who got all three of my factual questions right, 27 percent believed that Obama was not born in the U.S.

So what can be done? In a recently published paper that has received a great deal of deserved attention, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler hold out little hope for the possibility of correcting false beliefs. In fact, they argue that providing misinformed people the truth can exacerbate the problem, because these people just cling more firmly to their false beliefs. In a project associated with the Polimetrix/YouGov survey, I have begun to explore other possibilities and I remain hopeful. Still, given the nature of the current political climate, it may be a long road to find a common political reality that everyone can believe in.


Morning Update: PPP Has Castle-O'Donnell Primary 'Too Close To Call'

Topics: Chris Coons , Christine O'Donnell , Delaware , Mike Castle , PPP

Of the weekend's new polls, the most talked about involves not next month's general election, but rather this Tuesday's Republican Senate primary in Delaware. The new survey from automated pollster Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows "a real possibility of a major upset," with Tea Party conservative Christine O'Donnell holding a three-point advantage (47% to 44%) over Congressman Mike Castle that falls within the poll's margin of error. PPP says the race is now "too close to call."

That result is stunning because Castle, a moderate Republican and popular former Governor, has led likely Democratic nominee Chris Coons by double-digit margins all year. His entry into the race last year was seen as a boon for the Republicans because Castle, as the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reported, "is widely regarded as the only GOP candidate who can win the seat" in next month's general election.

While polling on an O'Donnell-Coons match-up has been relatively sparse, an August survey by Daily Kos and PPP and a early September Rasmussen poll both show the Democrat leading O'Donnell by margins of 7 and 11 points respectively.

Even though O'Donnell was the Republican Senate nominee in 2008, most handicappers gave her little chance against Castle. Yet aided by at least $250,000 in Tea Party Express television advertising and endorsements from Sarah Palin, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, and the National Rifle Association, her campaign has made a significant dent in Castle's popularity among Republicans. PPP reports that Castle's favorable rating among Delaware Republicans has fallen from 60% favorable, to 25% unfavorable a month ago, to net negative (43% favorable, 47% unfavorable) now.

The only other public poll on the primary was an internal Tea Party Express survey of 300 Delaware Republicans shared with Hotline OnCall that showed Castle leading two weeks ago by six percentage points (44% to 38%).

PPP's new survey also measured general election preferences, which they promise to release later this week, but hint that Democrat Coon has benefitted from the contested primary: "He would start out with a large advantage over O'Donnell in a general election match up," writes PPP's Tom Jensen, "and is polling closer to Castle than he was when PPP polled Delaware last month."

The weekend's other notable Senate poll, conducted by the Las Vegas Review Journal and Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, shows Democrat Harry Reid with the same 2 percentage point margin over Republican Sharon Angle (46% to 44%) as they found two weeks ago. While Reid's margin fall's within the margin of error of both surveys, nine of eleven polls released since July have shown him with similar single digit margins. Reid's very narrow advantage is likely real, at least for now.

[Cross-posted to the Huffington Post].


SD: 57% Daugaard, 28% Heidepriem (Rasmussen 9/8)

Topics: poll , South Dakota

Rasmussen
9/8/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Rasmussen

2010 Governor
57% Daugaard (R), 28% Heidepriem (D) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Dennis Daugaard: 73 / 19
Scott Heidepriem: 44 / 44

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 39 / 61


CT: 46% Malloy, 39% Foley (Rasmussen 9/9)

Topics: Connecticut , poll

Rasmussen
9/9/10; 500 likely voters, 4.5% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Rasmussen release)

Connecticut

2010 Governor
46% Malloy (D), 39% Foley (R) (chart)

Favorable / Unfavorable
Thomas Foley: 51 / 40
Dan Malloy: 62 / 30

Job Approval / Disapproval
Pres. Obama: 55 / 44 (chart)
Gov. Rell: 59 / 41 (chart)


TX: 39% Perry, 33% White (UTexas 9/3-8)

Topics: poll , Texas

University of Texas / Texas Tribune / YouGov
9/3-8/10; 800 adults, 3.5% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Texas Tribune Release)

Texas

2010 Governor
39% Perry (R), 33% White (chart)

Job Approval / Disapproval
Gov. Perry: 40 / 42


HI: 48% Abercrombie, 31% Hannemann (Merriman River Group 9/7-8)

Topics: Hawaii , poll

Merriman River Group for CivilBeat.com
9/7-8/20; 1,226 likely Democratic primary voters, 2.75% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(Civil Beat release)

Hawaii

2010 Governor: Democratic Primary
48% Abercrombie, 31% Hannemann


NH: 37% Ayotte, 30% Lamontagne (PPP 9/11-12)

Topics: New Hampshire , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 1,134 likely Republican primary voters, 2.9% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

New Hampshire

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
37% Ayotte, 30% Lamontagne, 13% Binnie, 12% Bender, 1% Alciere, 1% Beloin, 1% Lamare

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
45% Stephen, 24% Kimball, 8% Testerman, 4% Emiro


DE: 47% O'Donnell, 44% Castle (PPP 9/11-12)

Topics: Delaware , poll

Public Policy Polling (D)
9/11-12/10; 668 likely Republican primary voters, 3.8% margin of error
Mode: Automated phone
(PPP release)

Delaware

2010 Senate: Republican Primary
47% O'Donnell, 44% Castle


NY: 2010 Primaries (Siena 9/7-9)

Topics: New York , poll


Siena
9/7-9/10; 610 likely Republican primary voters, 4% margin of error
615 likely Democratic primary voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Siena release)

Siena

2010 Governor: Republican Primary
43% Lazio, 42% Paladino

2010 Senate (B): Republican Primary
29% DioGuardi, 14% Malpass, 11% Blakeman

2010 Senate (A): Republican Primary
25% Townsend, 17% Berntsen

2010 Senate (B): Democratic Primary
63% Gillibrand, 12% Goode


NV: 46% Reid, 44% Angle (LVRJ 9/7-9)

Topics: Nevada , poll

Mason-Dixon / Las Vegas Review Journal
9/7-9/10; 625 likely voters, 4% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(Mason-Dixon: Senate, Governor)

Nevada

2010 Governor
52% Sandoval (R), 36% R. Reid (D) (chart)

2010 Senate
46% H. Reid (D), 44% Angle (R) (chart)


 

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