Category Archives: Polling

Two New Senate Polls
From Indiana and Rhode Island

By Jim Ellis

gravis-marketing-Anzalone-Liszt-Grove-ResearchMay 21, 2018 — Gravis Marketing went into the field two days after the Indiana primary ended to test the new general election pairing between Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and former state representative and businessman Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (May 10-15; 400 likely Indiana voters), the race has already lapsed into a dead heat.

Forecast as a toss-up all the way to November, Gravis finds Braun, who scored a 41-30-29 percent Republican primary plurality victory over Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/ Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), respectively, edging Sen. Donnelly by a single point on the first ballot test, 45-44 percent.

When respondents leaning to both candidates are added, Gravis reports that Braun is up 47-46 percent. The pollsters pushed the undecideds to make a choice, but the secondary responses reportedly break 19-13 percent for Sen. Donnelly, while the remaining 69 percent maintain they are still undecided. Adding these totals into the decided ballot test appear to produce a 46-46 percent split, but the Gravis analysis gives Braun the one-point lead. Regardless of the mathematical fine-tuning, these results conclude that the Indiana Senate race is already in pure toss-up mode.

Sen. Donnelly posts a 41:40 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval score. This includes 11 percent who say they strongly approve and 18 percent who strongly disapprove. In comparison, President Trump posts a 47:47 percent score, with 24 percent strongly approving and 35 percent strongly disapproving. Indiana’s junior senator, Todd Young (R-IN), was also comparatively tested and recorded a 36:34 percent favorability index (ine percent strongly favorable; 15 percent strongly unfavorable). Hoosier State Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) fared best in the Gravis poll, however. His job approval index is 54:30 percent, with 16 percent and seven percent strongly approving and disapproving, respectively.

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Top-Two “Jungle Primary” Reverberations

By Jim Ellis

May 14, 2018 — Back in 2010, when initiators created the movement to change the California primary system to feature a jungle format — where the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of the percentage of vote they attained or party affiliation — they had hoped their ultimately successful ballot initiative would favor candidates closer to the political center. Approaching the June 5, 2018 primary, however, we see that this top-two system might produce quite different and possibly unintended outcomes.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-48)

In a pair of competitive Southern California Republican congressional districts, recent polling suggests that Democrats could find themselves on the outside looking in for the November election despite having high hopes of converting the two seats.

The districts are CA-48, where veteran 15-term US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) seeks to be part of another two-year congressional session, and CA-49, the open Orange/San Diego County seat from which Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is retiring.

The pair of early May polls, one from Change Research (CA-48) and the other Benenson Strategy Group (CA-49), reveals that two Republicans could potentially advance to the general election in both districts, thus preventing Democrats from competing in the general election. Though it’s mathematically possible that two Dems could also progress to November in both places, the latter scenario is less likely because the GOP holds a voter registration edge in each CD.

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

In the 48th, Republicans have a 10-point 40.7-30.1 percent registration advantage over Democrats with an additional 24.5 percent declaring No Party Preference, meaning the latter are Independents. In the 49th, the GOP advantage is a lesser 36.7–31.1 percent with 26.6 percent not stating a party preference. Therefore, without coalescing the Democratic vote in each district behind one strong candidate, the chance plainly exists that Republicans could potentially slip two contenders in through the proverbial backdoor. In both the 48th and 49th, too many Democratic candidates are strong enough so as to prevent such a base unification.

The Change Research survey (May 2-3; 590 likely CA-48 jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Rohrabacher leading the field of four tested candidates (though a total of 16 candidate names will appear on the primary ballot, including three Democrats and one Republican who have withdrawn, but too late to erase their ballot positions). Rohrbacher is in front in the poll with just 27 percent of the vote, followed by Democratic scientist Hans Keirstead, who has 19 percent, and ex-state assemblyman and former Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh, with 17 percent. Democrat Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney, garners 11 percent support.

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Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 8, 2018 — Today’s elections kick-off the prime time of primary season, with voters in four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — choosing nominees for November. Here is an outlook for each of the states:

Indiana

With no governor’s race on the ballot this year, the Republican Senate nomination campaign tops the Indiana political card, which is one of the more interesting campaigns in the country. Here, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are battling former state representative and Meyer Distributing and Meyer Logistics companies’ owner Mike Braun for the right to face first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly has no opposition for his party nomination.

Braun has gained national notoriety for his campaign, which has strategically melded both congressmen into basically one person. The Braun Campaign ads have characterized Reps. Rokita and Messer as being part of the Washington “swamp”, concentrating negatively on their budget and trade votes, as well as casting them as professional politicians. He even goes so far as to brandish two cardboard cutouts of the congressmen where they are dressed exactly alike and says they are both lawyers who never practiced, instead spending their entire careers in politics.

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Ohio Poll: Heading for Primary Day

By Jim Ellis

state-of-ohio-mapMay 7, 2018 — Tomorrow’s primary featuring voting in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia is now only a day away; Berea, Ohio’s Baldwin Wallace University just released a new survey of the Buckeye State electorate.

Though the poll possesses significant flaws, the primary results for both parties seem consistent with other published data, even though such publicly released information is sparse.

The Baldwin Wallace poll (April 24-May 2; 811 registered Ohio voters — 333 likely Ohio Democratic primary voters, 323 likely Ohio Republican primary voters) is unusual in several ways.

First, the nine-day polling sample is, on average, three times too long and thus negatively affects overall reliability.

Second, and more damaging, is the huge over-sampling of female voters in the respondent sample. Some 59 percent of those polled are female leading women to dominate every polling segment. For example, on the question of political ideology, more women then men say they are very liberal (60.3 percent), liberal (60.0 percent), moderate (57.3 percent), conservative (53.6 percent), and very conservative (52.8 percent), thus yielding a female majority in every category. Since women traditionally poll more liberal than men, this poll skews definitively to the left.

Another unusual aspect associated with the Baldwin Wallace research is the administrators not testing 2018 general election pairings even though they move forward to begin examining the 2020 Ohio presidential campaign.

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Conflicting Polls in West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

April 27, 2018 — The nomination races in the May 8 primary states are heating up as Election Day draws near, and one of the more interesting campaigns is in West Virginia. There, three major Republican candidates are vying for the party nomination to earn the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in November.

Two polls were released earlier in the week, each projecting a different leader. The first came from National Research, Inc. for GOPAC, a long-established political organization that supports Republican candidates. The survey (April 17-19; 411 likely West Virginia GOP primary voters) gives Attorney General Patrick Morrisey a 24-20-16 percent lead over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) and former Massey Energy company CEO Don Blankenship who recently spent time in a Nevada prison for his role in a mine explosion that killed 29 of his company’s workers in 2010. Five years later, Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate government safety standards. He received the maximum sentence, which resulted in a one-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.

The second poll comes from Fox News, employing their normal research process. The media organization conducts its surveys in collaboration with two polling firms, one a Democratic research organization, Anderson Roberts Research, and the other Republican, Shaw & Company Research. In West Virginia, their poll was in the field over the April 18-22 period and interviewed a more robust 985 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters.

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Indiana: Wild and Entertaining

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2018 — A new Gravis Marketing survey (April 6-11; 411 likely Indiana voters) produced a result in the Senate Republican primary ballot test that appears to have even surprised the pollsters.

The sample size of 411 likely voters includes all parties, so looking only at the GOP primary means the respondent cell size could number less than 200. This would make the results largely meaningless because the sampling universe would be too small to draw reasonably accurate conclusions. Gravis did not release the sampling numbers associated with the Republican primary questions, likely for obvious reasons.

But the results are interesting, nonetheless, and could give us a clue that former state Rep. Mike Braun, whose creative advertising has not only attracted attention but is strategically brilliant (see below), has a real chance to upset Republican congressmen Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/ Muncie). According to the Gravis results, Braun leads Reps. Rokita and Messer 26-16-13 percent in anticipation of the May 8 Indiana state primary.

The Senate GOP primary turned into a three-way race almost from day one. Braun, then a state representative who would resign his seat to concentrate on the Senate campaign, owns a successful manufacturing business and spent heavily early to become known statewide.

As the campaign began, the thinking was that Rokita and Messer would target one another, assuming that both would view the other as his chief competitor. For Braun, it was believed that he would adopt the approach of staying above the negative fray and giving Republican voters an alternative from two individuals who would engage in what would likely become a bitter campaign.

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Missouri’s Dead Heat

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R)

By Jim Ellis

April 16, 2018 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Research conducted a new poll of the Missouri electorate (April 4-6; 625 registered Missouri voters) and confirmed what most political observers already believe to be the case. That is, a campaign between two-term incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) is a statistical tie. According to the M-D data, McCaskill has a slight 45-44 percent lead over the attorney general in one of eight Senate campaigns where the 2018 general election participants are already clearly defined.

With first quarter fundraising numbers about to become public after the April 15 filing deadline, the McCaskill Campaign has already issued a statement saying they raised a whopping $3.5 million in the first quarter, holding $11.5 million in the committee’s financial account. Hawley has not released his fundraising numbers, but it is clear he won’t have as much money as the senator at this early point in the election cycle. The conservative Missouri Rising Super PAC, however, reports raising $650,000 in the quarter to support their efforts to oppose Sen. McCaskill.

Though Hawley’s early campaign start has been slower than many Republican leaders and strategists would have preferred, the polling clearly indicates that he remains at parity with the senator.

In favorability terms, Sen. McCaskill scores a 41:38 percent positive to negative ratio, while AG Hawley posts 33:23 percent. The senator’s name ID is virtually maximized, as 99 percent of those surveyed could identify her. Hawley’s aggregate name recognition is 83 percent. By comparison, President Trump has a 44:38 percent favorability index with everyone recognizing his name.

Geographically, the poll clearly contrasts between metropolitan and rural candidate support, which is not altogether surprising though the stark and symmetrical polarization is more distinct here than in most other places.

Sen. McCaskill performs well in the St. Louis and Kansas City subsets, scoring support percentages of 51-39 and 51-37 percent, respectively, while Hawley posts mirror-like results in southeast (51-38 percent) and southwest (52-34 percent) Missouri. The two other poll segmentation regions, northern Missouri and central Missouri, break more strongly for Hawley (northern: 55-38 percent) and a bit weaker (central: 47-40 percent).

The geographic results tell us that this contest likely will be decided on voter turnout. McCaskill will do her best to increase the voter participation rate in the state’s two major population areas while the Hawley forces will concentrate on driving turnout in all areas to the north, south, around, and between St. Louis and Kansas City. Additionally, both campaigns must do well enough in their opponents’ strongholds to avoid falling hopelessly behind to the point where even capitalizing in their own favorable areas doesn’t completely erase the statewide deficit.

The poll also detects mirror image support in several demographic and political segments. In gender, age, and party support, the candidates are again almost symmetrically opposite.

Sen. McCaskill scores a 49-41 percent advantage with women; Hawley carries men 48-39 percent. With those over 50 years of age, Hawley claims a 51-37 percent advantage, while Sen. McCaskill takes those under 50 at a 54-36 percent clip. McCaskill tallies a Democratic support factor of 90-3 percent; Hawley fares slightly worse with Republicans: 84-6 percent. Among Independents, the two candidates are virtually tied, with Hawley claiming a slight 43-42 percent edge.

Obviously, the Missouri Senate campaign will remain one of the nation’s most competitive campaigns all the way to Election Day.

Three House Polls Show Tight Races

By Jim Ellis

2018-us-house-racesApril 13, 2018 — New polls were released recently indicating that three US House races will likely become highly competitive come November. The CA-10 contest featuring Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto) was always slated to be a top-tier challenger race. But it’s apparent that races in Kentucky and Michigan — KY-6 (Rep. Andy Barr-R) and MI-8 (Rep. Mike Bishop-R) — are now emerging onto the contested campaign scene. I’ll review the current status of each of the three races:

CA-10

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted a poll for California Democratic candidate Michael Eggman (March 13-15; 471 likely CA-10 June 5 jungle primary voters, 400 likely CA-10 general election voters) and found four-term Congressman Denham leading his two-time opponent, 45-41 percent. In the past two general elections, Rep. Denham has defeated Eggman, 52-48 percent (2016) and 56-44 percent (2014).

Though the June qualifying election numbers were not released, the survey supports the underlying contention that Eggman would be a stronger candidate against Rep. Denham than Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder. While Eggman trails the congressman by four percentage points, Harder lags behind, 48-37 percent.

KY-6

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D), who lost the 2016 US Senate race in Kentucky 57-43 percent to incumbent Rand Paul (R), is coming back this year with the hope of unseating three-term Rep. Barr (R-Lexington). This week, the Gray campaign released a poll taken a month earlier that shows him easily defeating retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath in the Democratic primary. The Mellman Group survey (March 3-6; 400 likely KY-6 Democratic primary voters) finds Mayor Gray leading McGrath, 52-19 percent.

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Rare Ohio Data

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2018 — Survey USA came into Ohio to test the Buckeye statewide races — campaigns that have not yet received much attention from national political pollsters. The results provided both expected and surprising tallies.

state-of-ohio-mapIn the US Senate race, a campaign that has undergone a great deal of change after original candidate Josh Mandel, Ohio’s treasurer who held Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to a 51-45 percent win in 2012, was forced to exit the re-match because of his wife’s recently discovered serious medical condition. Upon Mandel’s departure, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), who had already announced and was actively campaigning for governor, decided to switch gears and entered the Senate race.

Investment banker Mike Gibbons, an ally of Gov. John Kasich (R), was opposing Mandel while the latter man was still in the Senate contest, and continues to battle Rep. Renacci. S-USA tested them all.

According to the polling data (March 16-20; 1,408 likely Ohio voters; 541 GOP likely primary voters; 509 Democratic likely primary voters) Sen. Brown maintains strong, and identical, leads against both Republican contenders. Against Rep. Renacci and Gibbons individually, Sen. Brown’s advantage is 52-38 percent.

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Yesterday’s Illinois Primary

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2018 — Land of Lincoln voters went to the polls yesterday to vote in the nation’s second primary of the 2018 midterm election season.

2018-elections-open-seats-185The headliner of Election Day was the gubernatorial primary, as Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), sporting poor job approval ratings but having virtually unlimited financial resources, squared off against conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Ives received early support in the form of a $2.5 million donation from mega-donor Dick Uihlein, but her standing did not greatly improve in the past weeks, meaning her long-shot campaign remained as such entering Election Day.

Because of significant dissatisfaction with Gov. Rauner within the GOP base constituency, Ives was projected to perform better than a typical candidate challenging a sitting governor in a party primary. Yet, her performance was not strong enough to deny Rauner from advancing into the general election. Rauner scored only a 51.5 – 48.5 percent win over Ives in a primary result that indicates the state chief executive’s GOP political base is eroding.

Yesterday’s most competitive race wasn’t the one most had predicted — on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial primary. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker had spent over $65 million of his own money in this campaign, and was fortunate to have drawn two equivalently strong intra-party opponents.

A new poll from Victory Research (March 13-16; 1,204 registered Illinois voters) — the last before the vote — found Pritzker with only a 32-26-22 percent lead over Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy, who had advertised heavily and featured footage in his promotional ads of his late father, US attorney general and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago). Biss had shown surprising strength for a legislator without statewide name identification. But Pritzker won the party nomination with 45.4 percent of the vote, a much larger total than the polling had predicted.

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Lamb, Barely

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

March 15, 2018 — Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have captured the 18th District special election held Tuesday in southwestern Pennsylvania, besting Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg); but it will likely be a couple days before the result is finalized. The margin stands at 641 votes in Lamb’s favor of 228,177 ballots cast with all precincts reporting and absentee votes counted, meaning a recount could be ordered.

Democrats will claim that this special election result sets the groundwork for the “blue wave” they have been predicting because their candidate converted a district that President Trump carried by 20 points and where resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) didn’t even draw an opponent during the past two elections.

Republicans will now counter saying that Lamb didn’t run like a liberal Democrat but was able to bring the large conservative western PA Democratic voter contingent — those who came out in droves to support President Trump, for example — back into his party’s column. During the campaign, Lamb publicly indicated that he would not support Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as a way to convince the behaviorally conservative regional voter that he is not a national Democrat. Additionally, Lamb’s deep family ties to the Democratic base helped him as well. His grandfather is a former state House majority leader, and his uncle is the Pittsburgh City controller.

President Trump will undoubtedly take some credit for the close outcome. Prior to his visit to the district, pollsters were showing a much larger lead for Lamb than the preliminary final outcome produced. The final Monmouth University poll, for example, predicted a six to seven-point Lamb lead if the Democrats “surged” in turnout as they have done in other special elections around the country.

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CATCHING UP WITH THE PA-18 ELECTION

By Jim Ellis

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Former Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Former Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

March 14, 2018 — The Keystone State special congressional election was held yesterday, as southwestern Pennsylvania voters went to the polls to choose a replacement for resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh).

Before PA-18 Election Day, Democrats appeared to have the better candidate in the person of attorney Conor Lamb, whose grandfather was a former state House Democratic leader and uncle is the Pittsburgh City Controller.

Simultaneously, this election carried major national ramifications, yet the winner’s success might be short-lived, when one can be identified, which likely will take a day or two longer. With 100 percent of the vote in, Lamb leads Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) 113,111 (49.8 percent) to 112,532 (49.6 percent) a difference of only 579 votes as of this writing. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted. So there’s a chance that Saccone could overtake Lamb, however, that’s unlikely.

Democrats predicted victory before yesterday’s election, citing polls showing Lamb holding a slight lead over Saccone. The last survey, coming from Monmouth University (March 8-11; 372 likely PA-18 voters), gave Lamb leads of two to seven points, depending upon the overlaid turnout model. Obviously, the more energized and aggressive Democratic participation model gave Lamb the stronger edge. Under a low turnout model, the lead dropped to two points. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states that has no early voting system, so there were no tangible pre-election turnout indicators for this contest.

The Lamb campaign approached $5 million in dollars raised for the race versus Saccone directly commanding resources in the $1 million range. The national Republican Party organizations and conservative groups entered the district to even the spending, so it’s likely we’ll see total combined expenditures approach or exceed the $15 million mark.

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“R’s” Up in Dubious Senate Polls

By Jim Ellis

1200px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate.svgMarch 12, 2018 — One of the keys to deciding the 2018 Senate election cycle is seeing how the 10 Democrat senators forced to defend states that President Trump carried will fare. A series of new Axios/Survey Monkey polls in these aforementioned places produces good news for Republicans, but the data appears flawed.

According to the methodology, 17,289 registered voters participated in the surveys within the 10 states between Feb. 12 and March 5. Obviously, the sampling period is too long, unless the polls were conducted successively, but there is no indication of such. The voluntary online response system also brings the polling reliability factor into question.

That being said, even suspect studies are valuable to analyze because more opportunities are provided to detect flows and trends within the various sampling sectors.

The results of the 10 polls are as follows (listed in alphabetical order):
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New Poll Confirms Toss-Up in PA-18

By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2018 — The PA-18 special election will be decided on March 13, falling between the Texas primary this past Tuesday and the Illinois state primary on March 20. And, as the two candidates, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) and Democratic former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, head for the finish line, late polling suggests this contest is a pure turnout battle.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

The current 18th District lies in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, encompassing a portion of Pittsburgh. The district contains parts of four different counties: Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, and Greene.

Though this Pennsylvania region is culturally Democratic, Republicans have moved the 18th District from marginal status to secure in the past few elections. President Trump easily won here in 2016, and resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) didn’t even draw an opponent in his past two campaigns. The congressman’s forced resignation over a sordid extra-marital affair led to this special election.

Under Pennsylvania election law and process, the political party leaders convened district conventions in November to choose their special election candidates. The Republicans went with state Rep. Saccone who, until the 18th District opened, had been a US Senate candidate. Democrats turned to 33-year-old former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, whose grandfather is a previous state House Democratic Leader. His uncle, Michael Lamb, is the Pittsburgh City Controller.

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Cramer Up Against Heitkamp in
North Dakota Senate Polling

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) | Facebook

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) | Facebook

March 5, 2018 — A new Tarrance Group poll (Feb. 18-20; 500 likely North Dakota registered voters) conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee finds at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) taking an early lead over first-term Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), 49-44 percent, a split just beyond the polling margin of error.

The Tarrance poll comes on the heels of previously released data from Gravis Marketing (Feb. 21-24; 385 North Dakota voters interviewed online) that gives Sen. Heitkamp a 43-40 percent edge, but this survey was conducted wholly online. Though the Tarrance poll was in the field before the Gravis study, the latter data was first to enter the public domain.

North Dakota state law prohibits vendors from placing automated telephone calls, which is Gravis’ usual method of conducting their surveys. Additionally, since the state has no voter registration requirement or system, the likely voter screen is a bit more difficult to define. Both of these elements would affect the reliability factor, and particularly so for the Gravis results.

The Tarrance data also detected a retrogression in Sen. Heitkamp’s favorability rating. Though still strong, her positive ratio is a net 10 points below what was determined in the organization’s October poll. The February data records the senator with a strong 54:38 percent positive to negative index, but that is below the 60:34 percent rating she received in October. Rep. Cramer posted a slightly better 53:29 percent positive ratio. He was not tested in the October poll.

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