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POLL: Downs Center/SurveyUSA Indiana Democrats


Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics/ SurveyUSA

Indiana
n=578 likely Democratic primary voters, fielded April 14-16

President: Obama 50%, Clinton 45%

Governor: Thompson 47%, Schellinger 41%

Crosstabs for

Update: Please note that unlike the survey conducted and released earlier this week by SurveyUSA, this poll survey used a different "sample frame" (one based on a registered voter list rather than random digit dialing). I asked SurveyUSA's Jay Leve to confirm and he sent along a detailed explanation (that appears after the jump) of all the methodological differences between the polls and what may or may not explain the differences in presidential preference on the two surveys.

Methodological differences between two different SurveyUSA polls in Indiana

SurveyUSA conducted two separate, independent, non-commingled election polls in the state of Indiana in the past week, one for SurveyUSA’s TV-news clients (the TV poll) and one for Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (the University poll). On many questions, the two polls produce similar results. On one question, the two polls produce different results. It is not possible to know for certain if one of the two polls is more “right,” but it is possible to inventory the things that SurveyUSA knowingly did differently on the two surveys.

· The TV poll was conducted using “RDD” sample (Random Digit Dial, purchased from SSI of Fairfield CT), which is what SurveyUSA uses on many, but not all, of its statewide election polls.

· The University poll was conducted using “RBS” sample (Registration Based Sample, purchased from Aristotle, of Washington DC), which is what SurveyUSA uses on many, but not all, of its research for non-media clients.

· There are advantages to both sampling methods. Neither is always better. With RBS, a pollster begins with a list of known registered voters, so the likelihood of reaching a voter at any given phone number is higher. But a pollster may not be able to call a perfect cross-section of voters, since RBS suppliers do not have a working telephone number for every voter. In Indiana, 82% of voter records have a telephone associated with them, 18% do not. “Registered voters with available phone number” is the “universe” for the University poll. By contrast, RDD sample ensures that all have an equal opportunity for inclusion, but there is no guarantee that those you reach are in fact registered. Likelihood of reaching a voter is lower. Number of wasted phone calls is higher, since non-working phones, disconnected phones, fax machines and modems are included (by definition) in an RDD sample . “Likely Indiana residences” is the universe for the TV poll. Known cell phones are excluded from both samples. Listed business phones and institutional phones are excluded from the RDD sample.

· SurveyUSA has written about the differences between RDD vs RBS sample when polling on a contest that involves a white woman and a black man. That paper is available here:

· TV poll interviewing was conducted over 3 consecutive nights that included a weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

· University poll interviewing was conducted over 3 consecutive nights that included only weekdays (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday).

· Respondents in the TV poll were told at the beginning that poll was sponsored by a TV news station. Respondents in the University poll were told at the beginning that the poll was sponsored by Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. The actual poll questions and demographic questions for both surveys were voiced by the same professional announcer, and although some questions were common to both surveys, other questions were not.

· The TV questionnaire was shorter. A TV poll “likely voter” could have answered as few as 8 questions (of the 14 total questions) and be included.

· A University poll respondent needed to answer at least 26 questions (of the 51 total questions) to be included.

· The “who will you vote for in the Democratic primary for President of the united states” question was asked 3rd in the TV poll. The same question was asked 18th in the University poll.

· University poll respondents were asked if they had already voted. TV poll respondents were not.

· Before the University poll respondents were asked how they would vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary (in addition to confirming that the respondent was registered in Indiana and likely to vote in the general election in November), respondents were asked questions about …

a) whether Indiana was headed in the right direction,

b) their opinion of John McCain,

c) their opinion of Hillary Clinton,

d) their opinion of Barack Obama,

e) their opinion of President Bush,

f) their opinion of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who is up for re-election in November,

g) the issue the next President should focus on first,

h) the issue the next Governor should focus on first,

i) who the respondent would vote for in the November general election for President if the Democratic nominee is Clinton,

j) who the respondent would vote for in the November general election for President if the Democratic nominee is Obama,

k) if Clinton is Democratic nominee, and if Clinton picks Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as running mate, does respondent change vote in November general election,

l) who respondent would vote for in November general election for Governor if Democratic nominee is Long Thompson, and

m) who respondent would vote for in general election for Governor if Democratic nominee is Schellinger.

· TV poll was balanced to most recently available U.S. Census targets for Indiana adults, on gender, age, race and 4 regions defined at the county level by SurveyUSA. To see which Indiana counties are in which region, go here.

· University poll was balanced to demographics of the complete voter file for gender, age and 3 regions, each of which region is a cluster of 3 Indiana Congressional Districts. Indiana CD 1, 2 and 3 are combined into a region labeled Northern Indiana. CD 4, 5, and 7 are combined into a region labeled Central Indiana. CD 6, 8 and 9 are combined into a region labeled Southern Indiana.

Any one of these methodological changes, or any combination of them, may contribute to the differences between certain findings in the TV poll and the University poll.

 

Comments
Knute:

Although the sample is not as large as I would like, I think this poll does reflect a tendency for HRC to lose support the further west the contest.

Indiana, although physically closer to Ohio, is closer in culture to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. This is "nice" country, and the kitchen-sink strategy does not play well.

HRC's best chance for a blowout will be KT and WV - but by then, it really may not matter. Again, this goes back to her original "strategy" emphasizing big blue states and her inevitability.

I expect in the next few weeks we will all hear Hillary's stories about growing up in the midwest, vacations to Indiana, etc., etc. Obama, however, cannot lose his focus here. While not a really a "tiebreaker", it may become the final 3-pointer in a 63-21 contest.

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Here's a couple of trivial bits:

Of the small universe of "Strong R"s that plan on voting in the Dem Primary ... they support Clinton 64-30 over Obama. Obama does have similar support in R leaning Indies and "republicans" that Clinton enjoys in the "Strong R"s.

However, the other interesting point on this is that 55% of Indy R's, 80% of R's and 71% of Strong R's said their support for Clinton was decided in March (right after the OH and TX primaries). This is double, triple and more than the Clinton D's that decided in March. Are these the "Operation Chaos" folks?

By way of comparison - the Obama R's show numbers between 29-42% for March decisions - which is just 10-15% higher than the D's that made their choice in March

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jr1886:

This is a stunning reversal from SurveyUSA's last Indiana poll. Could it be a bittergate backlash against Hillary? I don't think this poll means much now because it's still very early and everything can change before May 6th. Yet, this must be worrisome news for the Clinton campaign. One other point, the crosstab looks very good for Obama hence his lead

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Mark Blumenthal:

@jr1886: Note that this survey used a different sample as well as some other minor methodological differences that might explain the "reversal" as compared to the previous poll. I just updated the main post with a statement from SurveyUSA's Jay Leve explaining how the surveys differ.

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jr1886:

@ Mark: Thanks for bringing this information to our attention. We love what you do and you are doing a valuable job for your readers and political junkies like me.

This one catches my attention:

The TV questionnaire was shorter. A TV poll likely voter� could have answered as few as 8 questions (of the 14 total questions) and be included.A University poll respondent needed to answer at least 26 questions (of the 51 total questions) to be included.The who will you vote for in the Democratic primary for President of the united states� question was asked 3rd in the TV poll. The same question was asked 18th in the University poll.

One needs to answer 26 questions to be included in the result? That's a large number of questions to answer and I, personally, wouldn't stay in the phone with a non-live operator to answer 26 questions. I would guess the more ardent supporters are more likely to stay on the phone and I think these people are more likely to support Obama as his victories in caucus states would suggest. However, this poll is not too different to the LA Times poll that shows the same margin.

I would like to hear more from you and the readers.

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ByTheNumbers:

My review of the LA Times/Bloomberg poll data, to which you refer, suggests that it suffers from the exact same problem. Might even have more questions. The presidential preference question was not even the first question, which helps skew the responder set. The opening question was "Do you think things in this country are generally going in the right direction or are they seriously off on the wrong track?"

Mr. Leve's comments on the SurveyUSA methodology differences, in my view, border on apology. He knows the results are skewed.

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