Monthly Archives: July 2015

Illinois Numbers: Kirk, President

July 31, 2015 –Public Policy Polling surveyed the Illinois electorate (July 20-21; 931 registered Illinois voters; 409 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters; 369 likely Illinois Republican primary voters) and found each party spinning the Senate numbers very differently.

According to the data, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) scores a 42-36 percent edge over incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R).  Democrats obviously are claiming that Kirk is one of the weakest of GOP senators standing for election next year since their challenger already holds an outright lead.  The data indicates that Duckworth and the Democrats are taking advantage of a series of gaffes that the first-term incumbent recently uttered.  Republicans, on the other hand, point to the fact that Kirk is only six points down.  They argue that his negatives from the controversial statements will only have a short-term effect.

Kirk also finds himself in upside-down job approval territory, notching a poor 25:42 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.  Rep. Duckworth, on the other hand, records a 34:23 percent positive score.  Though the non-responding/refused to answer factor (43 percent) is high for the Duckworth question, her total name identification is strong for a lone House member in a large population state.

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Can Sanders Win? Ayotte Well Up

July 30, 2015 — In the past few days, media analysts have been talking up the idea that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders could actually overtake and defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.  There is no doubt Clinton is free falling while Sanders moves upwards — some say he’s surging, but that is an overstatement – yet, the former Secretary of State and First Lady’s lead remains secure.  One only needs to check Democratic Party nomination rules for verification that she is still the prohibitive favorite.

An article from Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin for Bloomberg Politics suggests that Sanders could actually win the nomination, providing seven specific reasons to support his argument.  Yesterday, Gallup released their new data (July 8-21; 2,374 adults, 966 adults who identify with the Democratic Party) that finds Clinton’s favorability index moving into upside-down territory (43:46 percent positive to negative) while Sanders is doubling his positive ID based upon a comparison from their previous survey.

Now, let’s return to earth.  Halperin argues that it would be a defeat for Clinton to only top Sanders 2:1 in the early states.  Such a result would allow the self-described socialist to continue his campaign, because the media will write this scenario as a Sanders’ win.  But, the writer overlooks one fundamental point in building for a nomination victory: the delegate count.

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Florida: Even More Surprises

July 29, 2015 — The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research statisticians surveyed the Florida electorate (July 20-23; 500 likely Florida Republican primary voters; 500 likely Florida Democratic voters) and predictably uncovered some surprising results. Since so many extraordinary political moves continue to unfold in the Sunshine State, the unusual is fast becoming the order of the day.

In the presidential race, results provide an unexpectedly large lead for their former governor, Jeb Bush. The M-D data finds Bush leading the Republican field with 28 percent, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 16 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker posting 13 percent, and Donald Trump dropping to fourth position with only 11 percent allegiance.

The numbers tell us several things. Jeb Bush, in his home state, enjoys his largest lead and Florida is apparently the only place where he has an advantage that exceeds one or two points. In second place is the state’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, but he lags a dozen points behind.

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Iowa, New Hampshire:
Below the Surface

July 28, 2015 — Over the weekend, NBC/Marist College released their recent polls (July 14-21) conducted in the first two presidential caucus/primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, hence providing some interesting answers to a few new questions.

The pollsters underscore that the sampling period covers the time both before and after Donald Trump made his highly publicized comments about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) war record. Unlike many of the recent public polls that featured extremely small polling national polling samples, the individual respondent universes for these two surveys are acceptable (Iowa: 1,042 residents; 919 registered voters; 342 likely Democratic Caucus attenders, 320 likely Republican Caucus attenders; New Hampshire: 1,037 residents; 910 registered voters; 329 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, 401 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters).

The glimpse provided between the registered voters and the overall resident sample is also significant. In each state, there is only a negligible difference between how registered and non-registered voter responded.
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The Florida Jumble

July 27, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court’s order of a partial re-draw of eight congressional districts has turned the Sunshine State’s politics upside down. With one House member already jumping to the Senate race because he will get an unfavorable draw in his Pinellas County district, another representative may be looking to soon follow suit.

Last week, it was reported that freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) is confirming that she, too, is considering entering the open Senate campaign.

In its decision, the state Supreme Court took the highly unusual action of actually stating how the 5th District — that of Jacksonville Rep. Corinne Brown (D) — should be drawn. Currently, the controversial district encompasses a portion of Duval County (Jacksonville), travels southwest to annex part of Gainesville, and then meanders further south to capture African-American precincts in the city of Sanford before moving into Orlando. The configuration has withstood several challenges under the Voting Rights Act over the past two decades, which is why it remains, but the state high court ruled two weeks ago that it did not meet the proper redistricting criteria under the 2010 voter-passed initiative.
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Hillary Hurting

June 24, 2015 — The Quinnipiac University swing state polls attracted a great deal of media attention after their release Wednesday. With Hillary Clinton trailing three different Republicans in a trio of critical swing states, many believe this justifies the sinking feeling many Democrats are experiencing about her electoral chances.

Unlike many of the recent public polls that have captured major media attention, the Q-Poll sample sizes in the three states: 1,231 registered voters in Colorado; 1,236 in Iowa; and 1,209 in Virginia, are strong. The racial demographic segments largely appear sound though the sample is low for Hispanics in both Virginia and Colorado. While Donald Trump has been projected leading national ballot tests in other surveys, Quinnipiac does not include him in their isolated one-on-ones.

Though these polls do appear to have a slight – probably, two to three point – Republican skew, the results continue to reveal some fundamental weakness in Ms. Clinton’s candidacy. These surveys, and others like them, point to two critical areas that consistently cut against her viability as a national candidate.
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Another Awful Poll;
Kasich Announces

July 23, 2015 — The ABC News/Washington Post poll that posts Donald Trump to a 24-13-12 percent lead over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, et al, joins a long line of bogus polls.

Once again, as we saw with national polls released last week, this latest respondent sample is inherently flawed. The Suffolk University and Monmouth University surveys that we covered five to seven days ago employed miniscule primary voter samples that were far below statistically relevant levels. Therefore, the aggregate polling results became unreliable.

The new ABC/Post poll is equivalently flawed, in similar and different ways. Taken during the July 16-19 period, the pollsters interviewed 1,002 respondents, which is an acceptable number for a general election sample. But, checking their segmentation of political party identification percentages, we again see primary voting samples of between 200-300 for both national parties.
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Florida Musical Chairs Begin

July 22, 2015 — As predicted, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced his intention to run for Florida’s open Senate seat next year, joining what is becoming a crowded Republican field that may expand even further.

Rep. Jolly was originally elected to his marginal Pinellas County seat in an early 2014 special election after the venerable 21-term Rep. Bill Young (R) passed away. Jolly was an upset winner in the special, defeating former state CFO Alex Sink, who had lost a one-point race for governor in the previous statewide cycle.

Jolly is jumping into the Senate campaign largely because the state Supreme Court just recently declared his district and seven others illegal in accordance with the state’s voter-adopted redistricting initiative. Since the court objects to the Tampa-anchored 14th District jumping across the bridge to annex Democratic St. Petersburg, it is a virtual certainty that the politically marginal 13th will become less Republican. Therefore, Rep. Jolly’s chances of winning re-election in such a newly configured seat all of a sudden become poor.
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Rather Surprising New Nevada Data

July 21, 2015 — A new Senate survey gives credence to another data set that only last week looked like an anomaly. The pollsters also provide new presidential data.

Gravis Marketing (GM) polled both parties’ presidential prospects and the important open Nevada US Senate race. Their latter numbers confirmed last week’s Fabrizio Lee analysis that gave Republican Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) a huge lead over Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the state’s former two-term attorney general.

Gravis (July 12-13; 1,276 registered Nevada voters, 623 likely Nevada Republican primary participants, 416 Democratic primary voters, 237 likely general election voters only) projects that Donald Trump is opening up a large lead in the Republican presidential race, while finding Hillary Clinton scoring within her average performance zone of the last three weeks. But, their use of identified party members who won’t participate in the primary and the way some of the questions are asked create methodological concerns.
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Crazy & Conflicting:
Florida/Nevada Polling

July 20, 2015 — A pair of survey numbers were recorded and released for two of the most important 2016 Senate races. In one state, the results appear a bit crazy, while there is outright conflict in the other.

Florida

St. Pete Polls, a Tampa Bay area research firm that has published its share of flawed results, surveyed the Sunshine State electorate for both party primaries. On each side, the commonly favored candidate did not finish first.

The polling methodology, in terms of time and sample size, is solid. During the July 15-18 period, SPP interviewed 1,018 likely Democratic primary voters and 1,074 probable Republican primary voters. The demographic (Democrats) and geographic (Republican) elements are deviant, however.
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New Hillary Polls: Bogus, and Not So Good

July 17, 2015 — This week, two polling organizations released new data about presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. One provides results that should be discarded; another brings forth more methodologically sound data, which rings warning bells for her in six key swing states.

Earlier in the week Suffolk University released a small-sample poll showing Donald Trump leading the Republican field. As we noted in a previous column, those results were highly unreliable because only 349 likely Republican primary voters were questioned from across the country, and Trump’s “lead” consisted of exactly 60 people saying they would vote for him.

On Tuesday, Monmouth University publicized similarly flawed results, but this time regarding the Democratic nomination contest. Here, the pollsters and media are trying to indicate that Clinton’s support is dropping among Democrats based upon a survey that interviewed, during the July 9-12 period, only 357 people nationally who say they plan to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus. Even within this small group she topped 51 percent, while her closest opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, attracted only 17 percent support. Vice President Joe Biden, who is not a presidential candidate but may soon become one, notched 13 percent.
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Can We Trust the Trump Leads?

July 16, 2015 — Another new faulty poll, this one from Suffolk University, again posts businessman Donald Trump to a slight lead over the rest of the Republican presidential field. But, like many other surveys that seem to attract sizable media attention, their primary results are not methodologically sound.

The latest Suffolk effort, conducted over the July 9-12 period, interviewed 1,000 adults, again not all registered voters, and produced a Republican primary sample of only 349 respondents. This might be a reasonable sample size for a congressional district, or even a small state like New Hampshire, but certainly not the whole nation.

And, based upon this unreliable data, Suffolk and the media are projecting Trump with what they allude to be a significant lead over Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, and the other 16 tested GOP candidates.
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Walker Announces for President; Young for Senate

July 15, 2015 — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took to Twitter and the Internet Monday to announce his presidential candidacy, becoming the 16th Republican to officially enter the national campaign. Two more expected entrants, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, will likely round out the field in early August.

The current list includes 15 Republicans who will likely qualify for the ballot in all states, and one, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who likely won’t. This means 17 Republicans will be vying for the presidential nomination in a fight that could go all the way to the convention in Cleveland a year from now.

Perhaps signaling the type of campaign he intends to run, Gov. Walker sought to create a clear contrast between himself and the rest of the GOP field. Walker’s theme of being “conservative, bold, and decisive” was highlighted in his announcement video that stressed his gubernatorial record, the fights with Big Labor, and winning three statewide Wisconsin elections in four years. The context reminds viewers that the new presidential candidate successfully defended himself from a strong recall movement, saying that, “ … in the Republican field, there are some good fighters but they haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”
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Crist for Congress?

July 14, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court barely had time to announce their decision declaring eight of the state’s congressional districts illegal before the political musical chairs began vibrating.

On Thursday, the high court declared that Rep. David Jolly’s (R) Pinellas County seat, among others, is in violation of the state’s 2010 voter-passed redistricting initiative, which put limits on partisan map drawing. Former governor, Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County resident who has either lost races or was headed for defeat in both the Republican and Democratic parties, and even as an Independent, is reportedly considering running for Congress should the Tampa Bay re-draw favor the Dems. Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Tampa) 14th District, that encompasses the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, was also invalidated.

The court returned the map to the legislature with orders to re-construct eight districts from around the state, four Republican-held seats and four Democratic. The number of additional tangentially affected districts could mean that virtually the entire state will be redrawn within the next 100 days. Since the map is headed back to the legislature, majority Republicans will again have the redistricting pen, but the new final product must be submitted to the judiciary for approval. The new plan will take effect for the 2016 elections.
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Florida Supreme Court: CDs Unconstitutional

July 13, 2015 — Issuing a long-awaited decision late last week, the Florida State Supreme Court on a 5-2 vote, featuring a lengthy and powerful dissent from Associate Justice and former Congressman Charles Canady (R), declared eight congressional districts illegal under the Florida Constitution in reference to the voter-passed redistricting initiative. The 2010 citizen sponsored measure put partisan restrictions on legislative map drawers, and it is under these provisions that the court took its action.

For the short-term, it means that representatives Corrine Brown (D-FL-5), David Jolly (R-FL-13), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Ted Deutch (D-FL-21), Lois Frankel (D-FL-22), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27) will soon have their districts reconstructed and before the 2016 election.

The ruling will force the legislature to convene in special session to redraw significant portions of the map. Though the court singled out these eight districts, the entire state map could conceivably be affected. Certainly the districts that lie adjacent to the seats in question stand a good chance of changing, particularly in the urban areas where multiple districts converge at a single point like in Orlando. By definition, if one district is altered, at least one other bordering seat must also change.
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