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.
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.
Almost 63 percent of the Dem sample is female, however that gender comprises only 51.1 percent of the general population. While blacks are 16.7 percent of the general population, this polling sample chose 26.1 percent African Americans. The Hispanic segment is wholly under-represented; only 3.9 percent of the Democratic sample is Hispanic, versus an at-large population of 23.6 percent. Though females and African Americans will be more prevalent in a Democratic primary, these numbers are well beyond the margin of error. And, being 19.7 points below the Hispanic population is completely out of line.
On the Republican poll, the gender and racial segment samples improve, but the geography samples are out of kilter. The Tampa and Orlando areas appear over-sampled, while Jacksonville and Miami are significantly light.
These points help conclude that both polls are likely flawed.
The Democratic poll projects Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) to be leading Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) by a 30-23 percent margin. While the entire party establishment is backing Murphy, and he appears to be the better candidate, this is the second survey in the past two weeks that has projected Grayson as the Senate race leader.
On the Republican side, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13), who will likely announce his Senate candidacy next week now that his congressional district will be re-drawn, is the surprise leader with 22 percent, followed by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL-1) at 12 percent, nipping Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s 11 percent. The lieutenant governor officially announced his candidacy this week. Bringing up the rear is the man many believe should be the favorite to capture the nomination because of his ability to build diverse coalitions. But, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) currently attracts only six percent.
Jolly, who is not well known statewide, could be leading this poll because of the over-sampling that exists in his Pinellas County home base.
More trend evidence must be found to support these results if they are to be made credible.
With two virtual consensus nominees, the Nevada Senate general election is unofficially already underway. Therefore, it was not unusual to see two polls released this week testing the two candidates. What’s surprising is the severe conflict between the results.
The US Chamber of Commerce, through the Fabrizio Lee firm, polled Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
The study, conducted July 7-8 of 500 likely Nevada voters, finds Rep. Heck with a surprising double-digit 50-36 percent lead over Masto. Democrats and their analysts are quick to maintain that the Fabrizio poll is flawed citing, among other reasons, that Republican Heck possessing such an early lead in a state that normally votes slightly Democratic is an anomaly.
Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Democratic Senate Majority PAC (July 13-14; 677 registered Nevada voters) finds that their ballot test gives Masto the slightest of edges, 42-41 percent.
Since Nevada is a swing state that has voted Democratic in the past two presidential elections (and heavily Republican for the last mid-term), a 14-point GOP lead at this early point does seem inconsistent with voting behavior and past statewide polls. Therefore, the closer result seems more plausible but, as we will again see in the coming months, anything can happen in Nevada.