Tag Archives: Change Research

A Wisconsin Senate Struggle:
Sen. Ron Johnson Trailing … Again

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R)

April 5, 2021 — Another tough statewide campaign appears to be brewing in the Badger State.
Thomas Nelson is the Outagamie County, Wisconsin, executive (Appleton area) and a former Wisconsin state assembly majority leader who is assessing his chances of challenging Sen. Ron Johnson (R) next year. For his part, Sen. Johnson has not indicated whether he will seek a third term. He has hinted both toward running again and keeping the pledge he made during his first campaign in 2010 to serve only two terms.

Nelson just released the results of an internal Change Research poll that posts him to a four-point 48-44 percent lead over Sen. Johnson. Looking back to the senator’s last election campaign (2016), trailing in a survey is nothing new. It was the repetitive data continually pegging him as trailing that led to the National Republican Senatorial Committee abandoning him as a lost cause until the late polls showed him rebounding with at least a chance to win.

In the end, Johnson defeated former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 50-47 percent, in one of the most surprising results of campaign year 2016.

Wisconsin is likely the least accurately polled state during the past few elections. In the aforementioned Johnson-Feingold race, a total of 74 surveys were publicly released, and 70 of them showed Sen. Johnson trailing. In the same election year, 33 research studies were placed in the public domain for the presidential race and only the Trafalgar Group, just as the campaign was closing, correctly projected Donald Trump with an edge.

In 2020, a total of 70 presidential polls were released and 66 gave Joe Biden the lead. He did carry the state, but only by 20,682 votes translating into a 0.7 percent margin. The final 20 polls, all conducted after Oct. 1, found President Biden carrying a 7.0 percent average advantage, well beyond the polling margin of error in relation to the final result.

Therefore, with a consistent pattern of underestimating Republican strength, seeing Sen. Johnson trailing by only four points in the early stages of the 2022 campaign suggests his actual standing is likely much better.

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How Sen. Markey Won in the
Massachusetts Primary

(Ed Markey’s Desk ad, 2020; recreated from 1976 ad below)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 3, 2020 — Sen. Ed Markey’s win over Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton) is attracting a great deal of media attention in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 55-45 percent Democratic primary election, and it should. In many ways, this was an extraordinary campaign.

Sen. Markey should be credited with running an excellent political effort in that he maximized his advantages and minimized his weaknesses. It also featured bizarre happenings in that the 74-year-old candidate received 71 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old vote against his 39-year-old opponent, and he re-created, virtually word for word, an ad his campaign produced for his first congressional race back in 1976 highlighting an issue that defined his career in the state legislature.

Conversely, Kennedy ran a failing campaign that never got untracked and proved strategically wrong from the outset.

Let’s go back to where this race began in order to set the stage. Kennedy announced his candidacy in October. Polling had already begun in late August, and Change Research released the first public poll of a proposed Markey-Kennedy race (Aug. 23-25, 2019; 80 registered Massachusetts voters) and found Rep. Kennedy leading Sen. Markey, 42-25 percent.

The last poll, conducted exactly a year later from Boston-based Emerson College (Aug. 25-27; 453 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters), found Sen. Markey ahead 56-44 percent. Thus, all of the campaign movement favored Markey, and Kennedy was unable to expand outward from his original support base.

What Markey Did Right

Compare Markey’s 2020 ad (top) recreated from his 1976 ad (below):

(Ed Markey’s Desk 1976)

Sen. Markey can count. Understanding that his home county of Middlesex is the largest in the state by far — some 1.58 million people — he returned to his boyhood home in Malden where he based his campaign. His re-created 1976 ad from the first congressional campaign about “Ed Markey’s Desk” was done to emphasize his home roots in the Malden-Melrose area and the surrounding Boston suburbs that comprise the heart of Middlesex County.

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Rep. Omar’s Interesting — And Challenging — Open Minnesota Primary Approaching on Aug. 11

“… We can translate our calls for justice into legislation …” — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5) in a recent campaign ad.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2020 — In the congressional district where the George Floyd killing that ignited massive demonstrations around the country occurred, Minnesota’s controversial 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faces a serious Democratic primary challenger in the state’s Aug. 11 primary.

MN-5 Democratic challenger to Rep. Ilhan Omar, Antone Melton-Meaux

There has been political talk and news coverage that Rep. Omar, who has become a national political figure and one of the symbols of the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch, could be threatened in this primary election; there are some outward signs that attorney Antone Melton-Meaux has a chance to deny her re-nomination. On the other hand, the only available published poll finds the congresswoman well ahead suggesting there is little chance she would be defeated.

Melton-Meaux has attracted funding from around the country and raised a huge amount — $3.7 million. Since the district is geographically small and covers the city of Minneapolis with population slivers from two adjoining counties, Ramsey and Anoka, the local media market is very efficient for this contest, and he has been using it extensively. Since Minnesota has an open primary – a state that doesn’t register voters by political party meaning people can vote in the primary of their choice – there are few ad viewers who can’t vote in this primary. Therefore, such a system adds a type of wild-card flavor to the campaign.

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Arizona Polling: Whatever You Want


Best wishes for a Happy 4th of July holiday weekend.
Our daily column will return on Tuesday, July 7.


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2020 — We saw a polling bonanza released yesterday in the swing battleground state of Arizona and, no matter who you support or what you believe, there is survey data for you.

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), and Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Three pollsters released results that tested the presidential race and the Arizona Senate contest between retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) and appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). The three pollsters, all conducting their surveys within the June 26-29 period, gave us starkly different ballot test conclusions.

Two of the pollsters are from out of state, while one is based in Phoenix and specializes in researching the Arizona electorate. One of the pollsters tested six battleground states as part of their national polling series, including Arizona, but did not disclose the size of the Grand Canyon State respondent cell. This makes analyzing very difficult. The other two firms revealed similar sized Arizona likely voter sampling universes.

The three pollsters were Change Research, Data Orbital, and Gravis Marketing. All have done national work and are published regularly in political blogs and websites as well as being frequently quoted in national news stories.

Despite testing the same electorate during the same time period, we see an 11-point swing in the presidential race, and a 13-point spread among the three survey results for the Senate race.

Change Research was the most bullish for the Democratic candidates, posting former vice president Joe Biden to a 51-44 percent advantage, and an even larger 53-44 percent margin in Kelly’s race.

Conversely, Gravis Marketing produced the most Republican results. They find President Trump holding a 49-45 percent lead and Sen. McSally up by the same point margin, 46-42 percent.

In between is Data Orbital, the local pollster. They find Biden ahead 47-45 percent, and Kelly up by a similar, but not as pronounced, margin as Change Research found, 50-43 percent.
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Polling At Odds

By Jim Ellis

April 24, 2020 — A series of surveys were conducted by several independent pollsters in the most critical states that will likely determine the outcome of the 2020 presidential campaign, and the results are somewhat conflicting.

Largely consistent data comes in polls from three pollsters: Fox News, Ipsos, and Quinnipiac University. They surveyed the electorates in Florida (Quinnipiac), Michigan (Fox News and Ipsos), Pennsylvania (Fox News and Ipsos), and Wisconsin (Ipsos). All of the studies were conducted during the April 15-21 period. The pollsters did not collaborate, each directing their own surveys individually.

The results in all of these states found former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump, obviously a strong positive sign for Biden since the candidate carrying the preponderance of these particular states will win the national election.

The Biden advantage in each poll ranges from three percentage points (Ipsos in Wisconsin) to eight (Fox News in both Pennsylvania and Michigan; Ipsos in Michigan).

Florida is one of the core states for President Trump, meaning that it’s one of the five most important places that he must carry to win the election. Here, Quinnipiac finds Biden leading the incumbent, 46-42 percent, which is more exaggerated than most current Sunshine State polls. We must also acknowledge that Republicans have been under-polling in Florida during recent elections by approximately two percentage points. If typical Florida political trends continue through this election, we will see a very close final tally.

The Great Lakes states covered in this Update are all in the swing category, and President Trump will have to at least carry one of them to claim a national victory. Conversely, if the President holds his five core states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas), then Biden would likely be forced to carry all of the Great Lakes’ swings: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Another research entity is also in the picture, however. Change Research, polling for CNBC (April 17-18; 5,787 likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) also tested the critical battleground states just after the other pollsters completed their questioning phase. The CNBC poll, as well, was an independent undertaking and not executed in conjunction with any other research firm.

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