Category Archives: Polling

New CNN National Numbers Are Out

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2019 — The CNN television network released their new national survey of the Democratic presidential contest (conducted by SSRS research company; March 14-17; 1,003 US adults, 456 self-identified Democrats and those Independents who lean to the Democratic Party, 448 self-identified Republicans and those Independents who lean to the Republican Party), and while the ballot test results were consistent with most other polling, some different and interesting questions were asked.

CNN compared this poll to their previous study conducted during the Dec. 6-9 period. The first four finishers remain in relatively the same order, but the percentages have shifted and some significantly.

In the current poll, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead the pack of 17 tested candidates. He tops the field with 28 percent, down from the 30 percent support he held in December. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is second with 20 percent, making a big jump from the 14 percent base CNN found three months earlier.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) surpasses former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and tripled her preference from December. Sen. Harris leaps from 4 to 12 percent support. For his part, O’Rourke drops to fourth but still gains two percentage points in comparison to December (rising from 9 to 11 percent). All of the others remain in single-digits, though Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) doubled her support from 3 to 6 percent.

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Understanding Independent Voters

By Jim Ellis

March 20, 2019 — In most elections, particularly in today’s polarized political climate, the independent vote is often the determining factor. As the non-affiliated share grows within the American electorate, these individuals become even more important.

But, who are the independents and how different are they from the average partisan Republican or Democrat? The Pew Research Center released a new study at the end of last week about the independent voter. Their data sources were a compilation of polls taken during the past few years, up to and including 2019.

The Pew conclusions are interesting in that the study basically reveals the lion’s share of independents align very closely with partisan Republicans and Democrats. Or, in other words, they generally vote with one party or the other, hold similar views and values as one of the major parties, but don’t want to associate themselves with the particular entity.

Based upon the sourced data, Pew denotes that approximately 38 percent of the electorate considers themselves to be independent. This compares with 31 percent who self-identify as Democrats and 26 percent who say they are Republican. Within the aggregate independent segment, 46 percent align with the Democrats while 35 percent identify with Republicans. Therefore, 19 percent of this group can be considered the true swing voter.

While those identifying more closely with the Republican Party are fewer, they have a higher voter turnout proclivity. According to the 2018 midterm election statistics, 54 percent of the Independent/Lean Republicans cast a ballot versus 48 percent of those generally identifying with the Democrats. The greater turnout figure for Republicans, even in a more Democratic year like 2018, suggest that the two parties are basically at parity within the independent voting sector.

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With Brown Bowing Out,
Does That Mean Biden Will Begin?

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) – not running for president

March 11, 2019 — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, another of the potential Democratic presidential candidates who most observers thought would enter the race, is not.

His announcement late last week was a bit surprising considering his home state with 136 first-ballot delegates and 153 overall (the seventh largest state delegation at the Democratic National Convention) moved the primary to March 10, partially with the idea of giving him a boost.

Sen. Brown’s decision provides us a clue as to what else may happen, however. He, like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, basically said the reason for not becoming a candidate is that the victory path is not evident. The underlying conclusion is they obviously believe former Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race.

Though all three men (Biden, Bloomberg, and Brown) certainly must be considered liberals on the ideological scale, they are not part of the far-left faction that Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and others are attempting to attract. Therefore, if the Bloomberg and Brown paths are blocked, then it is Biden who is their most formidable impediment.

If the former vice president and Delaware senator enters the race, and some say he will do so early next month, is he a lock for the nomination? Polling indicates he would jump to the top of the current heap but would be nowhere close to the majority of delegate votes required to win the nomination on the first convention ballot. In four late February national polls of likely Democratic primary voters, Biden tops them all but with preference percentages of 27, 30, 29, and 31 – hardly dominating numbers.

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As Joe Goes, So Go the Democratic Presidential Contenders

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden: is he in or out of the 2020 presidential campaign?

Feb. 28, 2019 — A new national Morning Consult poll (Feb. 18-24; 15,642 registered US voters likely to vote in a Democratic primary via online questionnaire) finds former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pulling away from the rest of the Democratic presidential field.

Sen. Sanders is clearly getting a boost from his formal announcement. According to the Morning Consult regular tracking, he is up six points from just before he became an official candidate. It remains to be seen if his rise begins a trend or is just a polling blip because of increased media attention.

Overall, the MC data finds Biden’s national lead among the segmented Democratic voters dropping to just two points over Sen. Sanders, 29-27 percent. But, the pair are now well ahead of the remaining contenders. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) drops a point in her own support, meaning she lost a net seven percent to Sanders from the last poll. Her new national total is 10 percent, three points ahead of both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).

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Tracking Trump’s Approval Ratings
Against Electoral College Results

2016 Electoral College Results map (270toWin)


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 26, 2019 — Already beginning to project where the states might fall in the 2020 presidential election, the Gallup organization released a 50-state survey tracking study Friday that summarizes their cumulative research collected throughout the past year.

Gallup finds President Trump slightly improving his standing over a similar project conducted from their aggregate 2017 data. Meanwhile, the Civiqs polling organization projects, as do all other pollsters, that Trump’s job approval remains upside-down. In the good news category for the president, however, the latter organization finds that he is viewed more positively than either of the national political parties.

Nationally, Trump carries a 44:52 percent job approval ratio according to the Civiqs poll of registered voters (polled continually from Oct. 12, 2015-Feb. 23, 2019; 181,729 responses during that multi-year tracking period). The Democratic Party, however, posts a lesser 39:52 percent rating, while the Republican Party lags behind both the president and their political party counterpart. The GOP registers a poor 26:60 percent index.

But these numbers are not particularly unusual because the same trend among the three polling subjects has been consistent for many months. The more telling conclusion is that the deviation factor among the approval ratings has remained constant for well over a year, suggesting that the electorate continues locked in a highly polarized and negative status.

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Alabama Senate Race Begins

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Bradley Byrne, a Republican, formally announced his candidacy for the Senate.

Feb. 25, 2019 — One of the critical 2020 US Senate contests is beginning to take shape. Over the past few days, Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) formally announced his statewide candidacy with the goal of opposing Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won the controversial 2017 special election that attracted national attention.

The Jones victory, defeating beleaguered Republican Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, represented the first time a Democrat won an Alabama statewide federal election since incumbent Sen. Howell Heflin secured his final term in 1990.

Prior to that, Richard Shelby, then a Democratic congressman, unseated Republican Sen. Jeremiah Denton in 1986. Shelby then switched to the Republican Party immediately after the 1994 election. Prior to the Denton victory on the same night that Ronald Reagan was first elected president, no Republican had won an Alabama seat for more than 100 years.

The Yellowhammer State Senate race could well be the lynchpin to determining which party will control the chamber after the 2020 election. With the electoral map favoring the Democrats because Republicans must defend 22 of the 34 in-cycle seats, including the Arizona special Senate election, Alabama becomes a virtual “must-win” for the GOP.

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Poll: Harris Underwhelms in CA

By Jim Ellis

Declared presidential candidate, Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Feb. 19, 2019 — A new Change Research poll was just released of the California Democratic presidential electorate and should former Vice President Joe Biden enter the race, he apparently would fare quite well in Sen. Kamala Harris’ home state.

According to the survey (Feb. 9-11; 948 likely California Democratic presidential primary voters) Biden and Sen. Harris would actually tie at 26 percent apiece. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) closely trails with 20 percent.

Considering the delegate proportionality rules, the two men would score a handsome number of committed delegates in Sen. Harris’ own backyard if this poll happens to correctly predict what could happen a year from now.

California is projected to send 495 delegates to the July 2020 Democratic National Convention, the largest contingent from any state. If Sen. Harris is to become a first-tier presidential candidate, she will have to reap a major delegate bounty in her home domain. Thus, merely breaking even with Mr. Biden would certainly be considered a disappointment in her quest for the nomination.

The rest of the field trails badly. No one, aside from the top three, even breaks into double-digits. In this survey, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is fourth with eight percent, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts a paltry seven percent, ahead of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with three percent, while former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro holds a two percent preference.

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Biden Remains Ahead of the Pack

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 14, 2019 — A new Morning Consult national survey of Democratic presidential primary voters again finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading an ever-growing pack of hopefuls vying for the opportunity of facing President Trump in the 2020 general election.

The survey (Feb. 4-10: 11,627 registered voters who say they may vote in a Democratic presidential primary or attend a party caucus; 517 “early primary state” voters from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina), finds the former VP and long-time Delaware senator holding a 29-22-13 percent lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Sixteen more candidates or potential candidates were included in the poll, but none could crack double-digits. In the second tier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pulled eight percent, closely followed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) with seven percent, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) who attracted five percent support. All of the others fell in between three percent and zero, inclusive.

Looking at only the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina (derived from an aggregate respondent group of 517 self-identified Democrats in those places), the order of candidates in the top tier doesn’t change, and Biden extends his lead to 33-21-11-10 percent over Sens. Sanders, Harris, and Warren. Sen. Booker gains one point to six percent, while ex-Rep. O’Rourke falls to five percent. No one else exceeds two percent.

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American Electorate Tracking Poll:
A Look at The Underlying Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2019 — In the past couple of days, the new Morning Consult American electorate tracking poll (Jan. 18-22 — 1,996 US registered voters; 35 percent self-identified Democrats, 33 percent Independent, 32 percent Republican) captured media attention because it released a national Democratic presidential primary ballot test.

The results concluded that former Vice President Joe Biden is leading Sen. Bernie Sanders 17-12 percent while 19 other candidates or potential candidates all fell into single digits. (Some reports indicated Biden’s edge over Sanders was 26-16 percent, but this was done by eliminating some minor candidates and extrapolating the remaining preference votes among the major candidates. The actual polling results for the entire field are the ones quoted in the first sentence of this paragraph.) But, the figures are largely irrelevant because the ballot test was asked of the whole respondent pool and not just the Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic.

The inclusion of the Republican and Republican-leaning Independents certainly would skew this data, thereby not accurately depicting where the candidates stand among Democrats, and more particularly, Democratic primary voters and likely caucus attenders. This makes the results highly questionable as they relate to where national Democrats are headed in choosing a presidential nominee.

The ballot test, however, was just one query of 82, an extensive segmented questionnaire that, for the most part, provides us interesting and useful issue data.

While President Trump is clearly in what could be the lowest point of his presidency in terms of popularity and job approval – Morning Consult finds him with a 40:57 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio – those highly negative opinions don’t necessarily carry through to other Republicans.

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Poll: Trump Behind All, But Skewed?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2019 — A new Public Policy Polling company national survey (Jan. 19-21; 750 US registered voters) finds President Trump, who is likely at his lowest ebb in popularity during his two-year stewardship in office, trailing seven prospective Democratic opponents, but the study appears to be nothing short of a push poll.

Initially, the survey sample finds President Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a net four points more than the actual 2016 national campaign result when the respondents are queried about who they supported in the last presidential election. This alone points to at least a slight sample skew.

The historical presidential vote tabulation is followed by a series of questions, all designed to place President Trump in a negative light.


Verbatim from the PPP study, the questions are:

  • Do you think that Donald Trump is honest, or not? Yes 35%; No 58%
  • Do you think that Donald Trump is a liar, or not? Yes 48%; No 44%
  • Do you think that Donald Trump has made America Great Again, or not? Yes 38%; No 55%
  • Do you think Donald Trump should release his tax returns, or not? Yes 55%; No 38%
  • Do you think that members of Donald Trump’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help Trump win the election for President, or not? Yes 45%; No 43%
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Kentucky Gubernatorial Race
Challengers Emerging

By Jim Ellis

Unpopular Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R)

Jan. 9, 2019 — Blue Grass State politics are beginning to boil, all centered around the 2019 governor’s race. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on Jan. 29 for the May 21 statewide primary, several individuals are announcing that they will challenge unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin (R), including a Republican state legislator who is expected to make his formal declaration today.

Though the governor has said he intends to seek a second term, and did so again a week before Christmas, the fact that he has yet to file a 2019 campaign committee has fueled speculation that he may decide to retire. Bevin was elected in 2015 with a relatively substantial 52.5 – 43.8 percent victory over then-Attorney General Jack Conway (D) after upsetting then-agriculture commissioner and now US congressman, James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), by just 83 votes in a May Republican primary that drew almost 215,000 voters.

Bevin’s popularity ratings, however, have largely been upside-down throughout his tenure in office. According to the Morning Consult quarterly national gubernatorial approval rankings that were released just before the November elections in mid-October, Gov. Bevin ranked 46th on the nationwide list, with a 30:55 percent positive to negative ratio.

None of those finishing below the Kentucky governor on that particular scale in October remains in office. The least popular, according to the survey, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), was ineligible to seek a third term last November. Republican Kevin Stitt replaced her. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) did not seek a third term and Democrat Ned Lamont held the office. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was defeated for re-election, and Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker withdrew before the election because his political situation was hopeless.

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Biden Up Twice

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

Dec. 18, 2018 — A pair of Democratic presidential primary polls were just released — one with a national respondent universe, and the other for the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus. In both, former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is staked to a lead. The most disappointing performer appears to be Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who settles into middle-of-the-pack status in both surveys.

CNN conducted the national poll (conducted by the SSRS firm; Dec. 6-9; 463 Democrats and independent-leaning Democrats). For two reasons, this survey is of little statistical relevance. First, the national sample of only 463 individuals is very low, thus leading to a huge error factor. Second, as we know, the presidential nomination process is decided by winning delegate support in every state and territory, thus monitoring a candidate’s national standing, while being of media interest, actually provides little in the way of tangible political value.

The Des Moines Register/CNN Mediacom Iowa poll (conducted by Selzer & Company; Dec. 10-13; 455 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) is the more relevant of the two studies since it previews the Iowa Caucus, which is responsible for apportioning the state’s nominating delegates and tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.

In the national poll, Biden places first with 30 percent preference followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) who posts 14 percent. These are the only two potential candidates in double figures.

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Senators’ Approvals vs. Votes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2018 — Reviewing documentation from the 2018 US Senate races, it appears there is at least a tangential correlation between an incumbent senator’s pre-campaign approval rating and the vote percentage garnered on Election Day.

(Click on image to go to full story at Morning Consult.)

The Morning Consult public affairs firm routinely surveys senators and governors to produce approval indexes for every member. Their 3rd Quarter 2018 sampling was publicly released on Oct. 10, one month before the election and just at the beginning of prime time campaigning.

Looking at the 32 incumbent senators who were on the ballot in November, the mean average increase from the individual’s approval score to the final vote percentage is 9.6 points when using the Morning Consult favorability index as our constant and the median is nine points.

The senator dropping the furthest from approval to vote percentage, down five points, was Maine Sen. Angus King (I), but the number is a bit deceiving. King scored a 58 percent positive approval rating in mid-October, but only received 53 percent in the election. Because the senator is an Independent and the Democrats with whom he caucuses did file their own candidate, the next closest opponent scored 35 percent. Therefore, his political standing still proved strong.

On the other end of the spectrum, the senator who improved the most from an upside-down favorability index rating to the vote was New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D). While his October index was a poor 31:46 percent favorable to unfavorable, the worst by far among the 32 senators standing for re-election, he was successfully re-elected, 54-43 percent, over retired pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin (R).

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Analyzing the 2018 Vote

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 5, 2018 — The Pew Research Center recently released a series of reports about the 2018 electoral patterns that allow us to better understand what happened in last month’s voting.

Clearly, the election produced mixed results: Republicans gained two seats in the Senate; Democrats reached near-wave proportions in the House; Democrats converted a net seven governorships, yet only scored new majorities in six legislative chambers and produced at least temporary redistricting control in just one state (Colorado).

But, why did these unusual results happen? The Pew findings provide us clues.

Among college-educated women, according to the Pew research, 59 percent voted Democratic for the House of Representatives as compared to only 39 percent choosing the respective Republican candidate. College-educated men broke 51-47 percent for the Republican congressional candidate. Compared to other years, college-educated women, who normally break Democratic, did so to a greater degree in 2018, whereas college-educated men failed to reach Republican margins typically found.

Therefore, Democratic strategists, who heavily weighted the highly educated segment believing a turnout surge within this sector would occur, proved correct.

Perhaps indicative of how the Republicans performed, the Pew study uncovered a segment of voters that showed that only 10 percent of Republican voters mentioned economic policies in explaining their vote motivation with only two percent citing the “good economy.”

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Yet Another Election

By Jim Ellis

Appointed Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and Democrat challenger Mike Espy

Nov. 27, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle’s final contest comes today in Mississippi. The special run-off campaign between appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), will decide if the 116th Congress will feature a Senate that brandishes a 53-47 Republican majority or a lesser 52-48.

The run-off occurs because no candidate received an absolute majority in the Nov. 6 special jungle primary. The special election is necessary because Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigned for health reasons in the middle of his final term in office, thus necessitating an appointed replacement and this confirming electoral vote for the winner to serve the balance of the term. Whether Sen. Hyde-Smith or Espy wins today, there will be another election in the regular 2020 cycle for the full six-year term.

In the first vote, Sen. Hyde-Smith placed first, but barely, with a 41.5 percent plurality compared to Espy’s 40.6 percent, a difference of 8,284 votes from more than 883,600 ballots cast. The third-place finisher, Tea Party activist state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), captured the remaining 16.4 percent with Independent Tobey Bartee picking up the final 1.4 percent. Once the run-off began, Sen. McDaniel announced his support of Sen. Hyde-Smith, which should go a long way toward unifying her Republican base.

Controversy in this run-off campaign arose when Hyde-Smith made several unforced errors. Making statements about wanting to be present at a lynching, visiting a Confederate Museum where she donned a uniform, and now under attack for attending what was commonly referred to as a “segregation academy” for high school has put the appointed senator clearly on the defensive.

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