Category Archives: Polling

Polling Acceptability Standards Measured Across States

By Jim Ellis

April 15, 2021 — Five key Democratic pollsters recently released a report from a post-election meeting held to determine why their 2020 survey results again so often fell below acceptable accuracy standards.

Go to Democracy Docket to see all results by clicking on image above.

Representatives from the Democratic polling firms of ALG Research, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, GBAO Strategies, Global Strategy Group, and the Normington Petts firm met to develop a plan to correct some of their methodological flaws in order to provide more accurate information to their clients and the public in future elections.

Their key conclusion was that, generally, the polling community failed to accurately depict enough conservative/right-of-center vote coming from rural areas. They make the point that in politically changing places like Arizona and Georgia, the aggregate data was quite accurate, but they collectively missed in more rural Republican-leaning states such as Iowa.

While the polling firm reps stressed the point that their collective numbers were strong in the metropolitan areas, there seems to be, however, a further detail left unsaid or possibly unnoticed. That is, the polling community seemed to correctly project the outcomes in states that have one large central metropolitan area that is self-contained within a single media market such as Arizona (Maricopa County), Colorado (Denver Metro), Georgia (Atlanta Metro), and Nevada (Clark County), but not in states with diverse geographical configurations.

While the firms tended to miss by relatively large margins in rural states like Montana, and particularly so in that state’s Senate race, they also seemed to fare poorly in places where the population is more evenly spread and have several metropolitan areas. States in this category include several in the Midwest such as Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, along with Florida, a major Sun Belt state.

In the latter place, while the polling was relatively accurate from a margin perspective, the aggregate polling community has consistently missed projecting the main Florida statewide winner(s) in every election since 2014. In each case, Democrats were predicted to win with a close margin while in actuality the Republican candidates claimed the election.

The charts below detail the states hosting the most competitive races and present the mean average polling during 2020 campaign’s final week. This average is then compared with the state’s final results. Notice that in places such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, culling the Democratic research firms from both the Republicans and the local pollsters – the latter of which in many places performed better than the national firms, i.e., in Maine, Iowa, and Kansas – drastically changes the average.

The Democratic pollsters’ meeting primarily revolved around presidential polling because of their uniform belief that former President Donald Trump had such a strong effect, both positive and negative, upon the electorate.

The Senate contests, however, contained some of the bigger polling misses. The most egregious is Maine, where the last week polling average showed Sen. Susan Collins (R) trailing by 5.7 percentage points when she would prove victorious with an 8.6% margin. Once more, we see a big miss in a largely rural state.

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Major Senate Moves

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2021 — With the Senate tied 50D-50R, and every 2022 campaign potentially meaning a change in majority status, we already see serious political moves being made or at least considered. This week began as being particularly active.

In the Last Frontier State of Alaska, 2020 Independent/Democratic nominee Al Gross, who opposed Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), confirms that he is considering challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next year. The state’s new top four jungle primary system would virtually guarantee that both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross would advance into the general election should both decide to run. For her part, Sen. Murkowski has not yet formally declared her 2022 political intentions, but she is expected to seek re-election.

Dr. Gross lost to Sen. Sullivan, 54-41 percent, despite exceeding the incumbent’s fundraising totals by almost a 2:1 margin. The Independent/Democrat spent over $19.5 million as compared to Sen. Sullivan’s expenditure total of $10.1 million. A total exceeding $27.2 million was expended from outside organizations, over $18 million of which aided Dr. Gross’ campaign.

Already announced is Republican former State Administrative Director Kelly Tshibaka; a Cygnal research firm survey of 500 Alaska registered voters taken in late March actually found her leading both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross. The ballot test broke 34-19-18 percent in favor of Tshibaka with Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross significantly trailing. Under the new primary system, however, all three of these contenders, and a fourth candidate, would advance into the general election.

Former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who lost the 2020 US Senate Democratic primary to party nominee Amy McGrath in a close 44-42 percent result, has filed an exploratory committee for purposes of assessing his chances against Sen. Rand Paul (R) in a 2022 campaign.

Booker was literally outspent 10:1 in the Democratic primary, as McGrath hauled in more than $20 million even before advancing into the general election. She never figured on having to spend so much to defeat her intra-party opponent, however. Booker was able to maximize his political base in Louisville and with the African American community statewide to pull within 15,149 votes of McGrath with more than 544,000 people casting ballots in the primary election.

Sen. Paul won his 2014 re-election campaign with a 57-43 percent margin over Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Jim Gray (D), which is the second largest municipality in Kentucky. National Democrats were high on the Gray campaign at its outset, but the race never materialized in what became a landslide Republican election year.

Reports emanating from North Carolina suggest that former Gov. Pat McCrory (R) could declare his Senate candidacy as early as today. McCrory was elected governor in 2012 with a 55-43 percent margin but would lose his attempt at re-election by just 10,263 votes from more than 4.7 million ballots cast, or less than a quarter of a percent.

Largely entangled with the infamous North Carolina bathroom bill that became a national story, the governor could not steer himself clear of the controversy and fell to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D). McCrory had previously run for governor in 2008, losing to incumbent Bev Perdue (D) by just three percentage points. Prior to running statewide, McCrory served 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor.

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Assessing Arizona

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the special election in November to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term in office. He again comes before the voters in this election cycle to stand for a full six-year term.

April 13, 2021 — The Club for Growth released the results of their new Arizona Republican primary poll on Friday, and it draws attention to a race that should become a top-tier 2022 campaign.

As you will remember, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the special election in November to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term in office. Therefore, he again comes before the voters in this election cycle to stand for a full six-year term. Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), defeated appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 51-49 percent, in a result much closer than the polling predicted.

WPA Intelligence conducted the Club for Growth 2022 poll during the April 5-6 period of 505 likely Republican primary voters via live interview. They tested Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) against Gov. Doug Ducey. The results found the congressman holding a 46-45 percent lead over the governor and, in what seems to be a clear indication that base Republican voters still follow ex-President Donald Trump’s lead, the margin swells to 59-32 percent if the latter man endorses Rep. Biggs.

It is important to note, however, that Gov. Ducey has already announced that he is not running for the Senate. National Republican leaders are attempting to convince the governor to reverse his decision, but his entrance in the Senate race, at least for now, appears highly unlikely. Rep. Biggs has not given a firm public indication if he will become a statewide candidate.

Currently, the only Republican to announce for the Senate is software engineer Rob Paveza. While the pace of this eventual competitive contest is slow in the early going when compared to states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, a full year remains before candidate filing closes in Arizona, a state that hosts an August primary.

Those mentioned as possible candidates aside from Rep. Biggs include Attorney General Mark Brnovich, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, state Republican Party chair and former Senate candidate Kelli Ward, ex-US representative and 2002 gubernatorial nominee Matt Salmon, State Adjutant General Michael McGuire, and solar energy company executive Jim Lamon, all according to the Politics1 blog.

Sen. Kelly was one of the top fundraisers of the 2020 election cycle, obtaining more than $101,000,000 for his campaign committee. Only Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D), who both were forced to compete in general election runoff campaigns, and South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison, the current Democratic National Committee chairman, raised more. Already for 2022, Sen. Kelly announced that he pulled in $4.4 million during the first quarter of this year.

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Assessing Ohio

By Jim Ellis

April 9, 2021 — Ever since Sen. Rob Portman (R) announced his retirement in late January, the open Ohio Senate race has attracted a great deal of national political attention.

With the first quarter now at an end and Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports due on April 15, candidates who have found fundraising success in the previous 12 weeks are informally releasing their dollar totals. Such is the case for the major Ohio contenders.

At this point, the Democratic field already seems to be crystallizing. With a weak political bench in the state, the nomination favorite appears to be Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/ Youngstown). Ryan is in even stronger position because a potential opponent, former Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton (D) – who was actually faring slightly better against the Republican slate than he according to a March 18-19 Public Policy Polling survey – announced last week that she would not run.

For his part, Ryan originally said he would formally announce his Senate campaign in March, but later indicated that he would not be declaring so soon. Seeing that his first quarter political receipts exceeded $1.2 million suggests that he has been working hard on the fundraising circuit, giving us a further clue as to his actual intention.

The up-and-coming potential Republican candidate appears to be six-term Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus). His aggressive fundraising resulted in $1.4 million obtained for the quarter and added to his previous $1 million cash-on-hand figure, gives him a base war chest of over $2.4 million to begin a statewide effort with millions more to come. The congressman says he will make a final decision about entering the Senate race later in the year.

Former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, however, had an even better fundraising sprint, obtaining just over $2.1 million. Ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who held over $1.6 million in his campaign account from previous campaigns, brought in $1.3 million during Q1 of 2021. Therefore, the GOP top tier contenders are all financially strong. Two other potential entries are author J.D. Vance and US Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton).

Stivers, stressing that he has not yet made the decision to run for the Senate, said in an interview with the Cleveland.com news site that, “it’s a huge statement that someone who’s not in the race can outraise announced candidates.”

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Rep. Alcee Hastings Passes Away; Murkowski Trails Early in Alaska

By Jim Ellis

April 8, 2020 — After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, veteran Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) passed away Monday morning. The 84-year-old congressman was first elected in 1992, and his 28-plus years of congressional service elevated him as the dean of the Florida delegation.

Prior to his service in Congress, Hastings was a federal judge but found himself impeached and removed from the bench over financial impropriety in 1989. He then ventured into the electoral realm with a run for Secretary of State in 1990 where he failed to win the Democratic nomination. In post-redistricting 1992, with Florida gaining four seats in reapportionment, Hastings won a new seat from the region between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. He would never again be seriously challenged.

Rep. Hastings’ death opens Florida’s 20th District that encompasses parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties to a special election. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will eventually schedule a primary and special general to determine a successor who will serve the balance of the current term.

FL-20 is heavily Democratic (’20: Biden, 77-22 percent; ’16: Clinton, 80-18 percent), so the action will be in the partisan primary. Demographically, the seat divides racially as 53 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic, and 19 percent non-Hispanic white.

The gender breakdown favors the females: 51.3 percent. In terms of age, 14 percent are over 65, and 24.1 percent fall under age 18. A whopping 36 percent are foreign born. Concerning education, 83.2 percent have a high school degree, while just under 21 percent own a college degree. There are approximately 18,000 business entities within the district confines.

The House now has four Democratic vacancies and one Republican. Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Deb Haaland (D-NM) all resigned their House seats to accept positions in the Biden Administration. The lone Republican vacancy is due to Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-TX) death.

Alaska Senate

The Cygnal survey research company just released a poll of a hypothetical 2022 Alaska Senate race now that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has drawn a significant opponent. It is probable that this is the first poll conducted in Alaska that accounts for the state’s newly installed jungle primary system that allows the top four qualifying finishers to advance into the general election.

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