Category Archives: Polling

Iowa: Midwesterners Gain

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (left) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2019 — While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are lagging in the polls nationally, new data from Iowa may be providing them each with a ray of hope.

Hawkeye State caucus attenders from both parties tend to like candidates from the Midwest. This was true for Republicans when former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole twice won the Iowa Caucuses in his presidential campaigns. President Gerald Ford (MI) also beat Ronald Reagan here in 1976.

Since the beginning of the Iowa Caucus system, a Midwestern Democratic candidate has won this nominating event exactly half of the time. Those winners were former Vice President Walter Mondale (MN), ex-House Leader Richard Gephardt (MO), home state Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, and President Barack Obama (IL) twice.

The current Democratic field features two Midwestern candidates, Mayor Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana, and Minnesota’s Sen. Klobuchar. Neither has been doing particularly well in polling lately, and both need a strong showing in Iowa, the first voting state, next February to remain viable.

Two polls were just released for the impeding 2020 Iowa Caucus and both show Mayor Buttigieg rebounding. The Civiqs polling organization, surveying for Iowa State University (Sept. 13-17; 572 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants) finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing first with 24 percent, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tied for second, each posting 16 percent.

Mayor Buttigieg then scores 13 percent, returning to double digit support and claiming a solid fourth position. Sen. Klobuchar does not do particularly well on this poll, recording only three percent preference and tying her with New York City businessman Andrew Yang.

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Harris Down in California Poll

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California; dropping back in polls

Sept. 19, 2019 — Emerson College just released their new poll of the California Democratic electorate (Sept. 13-16; 424 likely California Democratic primary voters) and the research finds Sen. Kamala Harris (D) dropping well behind the front runners even in her home state.

In fact, just like in the rest of the country, Sen. Harris has fallen into single digits within her own California Democratic Party electorate, the very voting base that should be propelling her into the top tier. The Emerson result is Harris’ worst showing by far in California. Recording just six percent support, she drops even behind New York City businessman Andrew Yang who posted seven percent preference.

The Emerson survey was conducted directly after the televised Democratic presidential forum from Houston last week, and the California data confirms that Sen. Harris, in need of a homerun in that national forum to reverse her campaign’s downward trends, clearly did not succeed. In actuality, her poor debate performance has annotated that she should no longer be considered a first-tier candidate.

Of equivalent interest is an impending virtual three-way tie at the top for this state’s 416 first-ballot votes, a number making California the largest delegation at the upcoming Democratic National Convention scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee.

According to the Emerson results, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would tie at 26 percent while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would post 20 percent preference. With these three individuals splitting the delegate base, Biden and Sanders would each come away with approximately 150 delegate votes (if the 53 congressional districts broke in line with the statewide total; Democrats award delegates based upon statewide performance and within each individual congressional district), and Sen. Warren would record 116 bound convention delegate votes.

But the Capitol Weekly organization, running their monthly tracking poll of a Democratic segment (616) from an aggregate pool of 5,510 California voters, sees the former vice president having a bad month. In their September track, which covered the period of Sept. 1-13, Biden scored only 18 percent support as compared to Sen. Warren’s 33 percent and Sen. Sanders’ 17 percent. In this poll, Sen. Harris reaches a respectable double digit support figure at 18 percent.

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Probing the Second Choice

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

Sept. 18, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization released their post-debate survey and it shows former Vice President Joe Biden stabilizing his lead over the Democratic presidential field. Arguably the contender who needed to register the best performance in the September debate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), because she had lost considerable support since her August performance before a national televised audience, fell well short of her intended goal.

According to the MC data (Sept. 13-15; 7,487 Democratic likely primary voters with an over-sample from the first four voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina), Biden remains well ahead of his two closest competitors. The results find the former vice president securing 32 percent support, holding constant from the August post-debate poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also remains in a stagnant position posting 20 percent both in the new September survey and from August. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), however, increased from 15 to 18 percent after the two Democratic presidential forums.

Sen. Harris has been on a downward spiral since July, a period that could prove to be her candidacy’s apex. After the first debate, Sen. Harris reached 14 percent support in the Morning Consult survey, and appeared to be on an upward trend. After the August forum, however, she slipped to nine percent, and post the September forum she slid even further to six percent preference.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also fallen over the course of time. It appears he hit is high mark in April when he scored nine percent nationally but fell back to the five percent range in July and, except for a short-lived blip in August, has remained stagnant in the mid-single digit range.

Though the numbers are consistent for the leaders in the Morning Consult survey series, other polling firms see a much tighter contest among the top three. The second choice question that MC routinely asks, on the other hand, may provide better perspective as to where the race is headed, or where it might should one of the top three fade in the early voting states, leave the campaign, or remain tightly bunched to force additional roll call votes at the convention.

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Multiple Choice, Multiple Candidates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 16, 2019 — The international polling firm YouGov for The Economist magazine just completed a major 86-question survey of 1,500 US adults (Sept. 8-10; online through an opt-in panel), 1,182 of whom are registered voters and found many interesting results. The most unique, however, might be their question asking the self-identified primary or caucus attending Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents (632) just how many of their party’s presidential candidates they would consider supporting.

The purpose of the question was to test for multiple responses; therefore, most respondents named several candidates. Possibly the most interesting phase of the response process was that only one candidate exceeded 50 percent under this format, and the person receiving the 55 percent consideration factor might not be who you would name with your first guess.

Of the 20 candidates identified in the questionnaire, 10 broke into double digits. This is not particularly surprising when remembering that respondents were encouraged to give more than one candidate they are considering and, in fact, could name as many individuals as they liked.

But the candidate receiving the 55 percent mention factor was not former Vice President Joe Biden. Rather, it was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and this type of outcome could be quite significant in determining who people might ultimately support. Biden was second but failed to reach a majority even from a respondent pool who could render multiple choices. He posted a 48 percent score.

In third position was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (40 percent), so here again we see these three candidates, Warren, Biden, and Sanders, capturing the top positions by a wide margin.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was fourth with 32 percent followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who was named by 27 percent of the sample. Others in double digits were New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 18 percent, ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke recording 14 percent, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro posting 13 percent, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York City businessman Andrew Yang both registering 11 percent under this format.

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North Carolina Polling Review:
Under-Estimating the GOP Vote

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2019 — The recent North Carolina special elections’ polling appears slightly flawed, containing a pattern that came to the forefront in the previous presidential race. The weakness: under-estimating the Republican vote. Doing so became a major discussion point within the research community after they cumulatively missed the 2016 Trump-Clinton race but did not regularly appear in most of the subsequent midterm campaigns.

In the two North Carolina special elections that were decided on Tuesday night, the winning Republican candidates exceeded the published polling projections. The same pattern also occurred in Pennsylvania back in late May when Rep. Fred Keller (R-Middleburg), while predicted to win comfortably, garnered a considerably larger vote percentage than projected when he scored a 68 percent special election victory.

Four different polls were publicly released during the week preceding Tuesday’s North Carolina elections. Only RRH Elections sampled the 3rd District and tested the eventual winner, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), against former Greenville mayor, Allen Thomas. The polling result projected Murphy to a 51-40 percent lead. He won 62-37 percent, meaning RRH under-estimated Murphy’s strength and over-estimated Thomas’.

The survey was conducted during the Aug. 26-28 period, two full weeks before the election, which means the situation on the ground could have certainly changed during the intervening time between the poll and the vote. Advertising was heavy during the campaign’s final two weeks, and the survey could not account for which campaign would be more adept at turning out its vote.

Three polls, from three different survey research firms, were released for the more competitive 9th CD at irregular times, and here RRH was the closest to the actual result. Their study was also conducted over the Aug 26-28 period, and it correctly forecast a close Dan Bishop win. At the time, RRH saw a 46-45 percent spread in favor of Bishop over Democrat Dan McCready, and the actual result was 50.7 – 48.7 percent.

Harper Polling, also testing during the same Aug. 26-28 span, missed. They projected McCready to be holding a five point, 51-46 percent advantage. At the time, we mentioned that their sample contained 56 percent female respondents, which could have been a major reason for the Democratic skew.

The final poll from a lesser known firm, co/efficient, also came very close to the actual result, projecting a 44 percent tie between the two candidates over a much later Sept. 5-6 period, but this result may have come through happenstance.

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