Tag Archives: CNN

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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Too Little, Too Late?

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 1, 2016 — Hillary Clinton appeared to be a lock to win the presidency less than a week ago, but yet another email scandal has potentially altered the outcome. This time, the situation involves disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY-9) computer from which his wife, Clinton Campaign co-chair Huma Abedin, sent and received messages that are prompting further FBI scrutiny.

Does the discovery of more damaging material against the Clinton operation give Donald Trump a serious chance to win on Nov. 8?

Probably not, but a new ABC News/Washington Post three-day tracking survey (Oct. 25-28; 1,160 likely US voters) finds a severe tightening of the presidential contest, and even before the latest email flap became public knowledge. The poll result finds Clinton leading Trump now by only one percentage point, 46-45 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson receiving four percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein attracting two percent support.

While the ABC/Post analysis memorandum cautions the reader that this track represents only a snippet in time and even raises questions about the viability of its own sampling universe, the consistent movement toward Trump is still significant. It was only eight days ago that the ABC/Post track found the former Secretary of State opening up a commanding 50-38 percent advantage over the Republican businessman. Since that time, her daily tracking lead has dwindled to 49-40 percent (Oct. 24 release), 48-42 percent (October 25), 48-44 percent (October 26), 47-45 percent (October 27), and finally 46-45 percent in the data made public during the weekend.

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The Trump Bounce

By Jim Ellis

July 27, 2016 — Though last week’s Republican convention had its political hiccups, Donald Trump appears to have received the bump that he and his campaign hierarchy had desired.

A series of new polls were released Monday, all conducted between the July 21-24 period, just after the Republican conclave ended.

CBS News (July 22-24; 1,118 US registered voters) finds Trump leading Hillary Clinton, 44-43 percent in a head-to-head ballot test, and 40-39-12 percent when Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is included.

CNN (July 22-24; 882 US registered voters) produced a bit better split for Trump. They see the now official Republican nominee holding a three-point head-to-head edge, 48-45 percent, and a larger 44-39-9-3 percent margin when Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are added to the polling questionnaire.

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Are Both Sides Rigged?

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2016
— Earlier in the week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump charged that some GOP officials were “rigging” the nomination process against him. Now that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is beginning to reap the benefits of his campaign laying the groundwork in key places during the past several months, particularly in unbound delegation states such as Colorado and North Dakota, Trump is finding himself on the short end of the delegate selection process.

Because Colorado did not have a primary or caucus but went only to a state convention, Trump is saying such a move is out of bounds. The North Dakota Republicans did the exact same thing a week earlier, but he didn’t levy the same charges toward the Peace Garden State GOP leaders.

Simultaneously, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesman claimed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) is trying to “rig” the Democratic system by attempting to convince Super Delegates who have already announced for Clinton to change their minds.

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The Real Super Tuesday

March 11, 2016 — March 1 earned the billing of “Super Tuesday” because 13 states held a primary or caucus that day, but the real deciding date at least for Republicans is next week’s Tuesday, March 15.

The true action in the coming days is on the Republican side despite Sen. Bernie Sanders’ upset Michigan victory earlier this week. Should Donald Trump win both the key Winner-Take-All states of Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66), he would isolate himself as the only candidate able to win a first ballot victory.

If Trump converts Florida and Ohio, and places first in the proportional states of North Carolina (72 delegates) and Illinois (69), as polling currently suggests, while taking a significant share of the Missouri congressional district Winner-Take-All format (52), he will likely fall into the range of committing approximately 712 delegate votes by next Wednesday morning. This means he would need 53.4 percent of the 983 available delegates from the 22 post-March 15 remaining voting entities in order to secure a first ballot victory.

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Iowa Democrat Candidates:
The Polls Can’t Predict

Jan. 27, 2016 — Now less than a week before the Iowa Caucuses, five new polls of the Democratic presidential contest, all conducted within the same time period, arrive at very different conclusions. Three of the surveys find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while two arrive at the opposite result.

All five polls — from CNN, the Emerson College Polling Society, CBS/YouGov, Fox News, and the American Research Group (ARG) — studied the Iowa Democratic electorate from Jan. 15-24. The sampling universes ranged from 258 likely Democratic Caucus attenders to 490 projected participants.

The Emerson College Polling Society, which is a group of students from Emerson College in Massachusetts who have established such a record of accuracy that the American Association of Public Opinion Research has granted them membership, employs the smallest sample size at 258 self-identified Democratic voters, while CBS/YouGov’s 490-person polling universe was the largest.

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Re-setting the Republicans

Jan. 5, 2015 — We’re now within one month of the first votes being cast in the 2016 presidential campaign, and though there is disagreement about just how important the “February Four” states will be in determining the ultimate Republican winner, the early entities, at a minimum, are of clear significance. Today, we cover the Republicans; tomorrow, we reset the Democrats.

The voting calendar begins with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. Eleven days later, South Carolina Republicans vote in their party run primary. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, both parties will conduct the Nevada Caucuses.

The four states, for the hotly contested Republicans, are assigned an aggregate of just 133 delegates. The February results will serve as a prelude to Super Tuesday voting, which will occur this year on March 1. Fourteen entities will host either primaries or caucuses on that day.

The latest 10 published polls from Iowa, taken from Nov. 16 through Dec. 21, either find businessman Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) holding the lead. Five surveys, from Monmouth University, the Des Moines Register, Loras College, Fox News, and CBS/YouGov post Cruz to an advantage. Four give Trump a slight edge: Quinnipiac University (twice), CNN, and Public Policy Polling. One pollster, Gravis Marketing, has the two tied at 31 percent in the latest released poll (Dec. 18-21/15). Cruz’s average lead is 8.6 percent. Trump’s average advantage is a much smaller 4.7 percent.

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Calculation Politics

Dec. 11, 2015 — A just-released New Hampshire poll gives us meaningful insight into delegate projections and the small size of each candidate’s support basis by the time February concludes. Though the first four voting entities — Iowa caucus (Feb. 1), New Hampshire primary (Feb. 9), South Carolina primary (Feb. 20), and Nevada caucus (Feb. 23) — will be portrayed as trendsetters, in terms of delegate calculation these states will likely have reduced influence upon the 2016 election cycle’s direction.

Early this month, CNN and WMUR television sponsored a University of New Hampshire poll of Granite State voters (Nov. 30-Dec. 7; 954 registered New Hampshire voters; 402 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, 370 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), the results of which were released yesterday. On a cautionary note, UNH has not proven itself as a particularly strong pollster, often producing wild results inconsistent with other similar surveys. The liberal Daily Kos Elections organization, for example, rates them as one of the least reliable pollsters on the political scene irrespective of partisanship.

For purposes of our delegate calculation exercise, however, the survey’s accuracy is not particularly relevant. The Republican delegate calculation formula is of prime importance, the actual determining factor about who will win the party’s presidential nomination. Therefore, in order to process New Hampshire’s delegate apportionment we will consider this poll the benchmark.

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The Debate Game

May 27, 2015 — With yet another Republican ready to announce his presidential campaign tomorrow, last week’s declaration from two media sources saying they are going to limit the number of televised debate participants to 10 will soon ignite a firestorm of protest. It is probable that the question surrounding who is and is not invited to participate will probably create more intense political fireworks than the formal debates themselves.

It’s clear that Fox News and CNN want to have manageable television programs, hence the arbitrary limits placed upon who can attend. The fact that they want to base their exclusion on inexact national polls, using a mathematical formula that no pollster would deem legitimate (averaging diverse surveys), in order to produce an imaginary top 10 will certainly lead to extensive discussion and dissent, and possibly even legal challenges.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is set to become the next official presidential candidate, and he would likely be one of the people excluded from the televised debates, assuming his effort does not catch fire between now and summer. Pataki is a three-term governor of New York, one of only three Republicans to hold this position since the early 1920s. The other two are Nelson Rockefeller, who would later become vice president, and Thomas E. Dewey, winner of the 1948 Republican presidential nomination but loser to President Harry Truman (D) in what was one of the more memorable campaigns of the 20th Century.
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Hillary’s Big, Unreliable Leads

April 24, 2015 — CNN, along with their polling partner, ORC International, conducted a nationwide poll of the presidential contest and, as happens from time to time in modern-day national political polling, the result does not likely reflect the state of the actual electorate.

The poll (April 16-19; 1,018 American adults; 435 self-identified Republicans and Independents who lean Republican; 458 self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic) projects Hillary Clinton to be holding huge leads over the major Republican candidates in hypothetical general election pairings.

In the GOP primary, a very tight race is forecast with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leading Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by five points, and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) together by six. Another 13 candidates were tested, but all of these attracted only single-digit preference. But, what is consistent in all national polls, as was found here, even when Bush leads the pack, he is still generally below 20 percent (in this case, 17 percent). This, for a candidate having virtually universal name identification with the vast majority of respondents expressing an opinion of him.
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The VP Debate and a Changing Map

The vice presidential candidates took center stage for one night last evening, and at least the in the CNN poll (conducted by Opinion Research Council of 381 debate watchers via post-event telephone interviews), results suggested that Paul Ryan fared better than Vice President Joe Biden.

A 48-44 percent pro-Ryan division relating to winner perception was recorded, though a slight over-sampling of Republicans was present in the CNN respondent universe. Ryan scored more favorably on two critical perception points, being more likable (53-43 percent) and better expressing himself (50-41 percent). Of those sampled, 28 percent said they are now more likely to vote for Mitt Romney because of this debate, versus 21 percent who made similar comments in relation to Pres. Barack Obama.

Thus, the debate ended with neither candidate scoring a knock-out blow or inflicting serious damage upon their own campaign effort. It is likely the after-effects from this forum will be short-lived, which likely helps Romney because he has the current momentum.

Last night, Real Clear Politics also released their version of the new electoral map. According to them, based upon all polling data to which they have access, the president has a safe/likely/lean count of 201 electoral votes from 16 states and the District of Columbia, while Romney’s commensurate total is 181 from 22 states. Curiously, RCP lists Missouri in the Undecided/Uncommitted column. Based upon complete voting history since 2000, inclusive, and the fact that Romney has led in virtually every Show Me State poll, it is more than plausible to add their 10 Electoral Votes to the Romney column. If so, the challenger would pull within 10 votes of the president, leaving 146 votes in 11 states as uncommitted.

Among the states moving into the Undecided/Uncommitted category are two places with a clear Democratic history in presidential elections, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Once the votes are completely counted, it is more than likely that both of these domains will remain in the president’s column but the fact that he is having to fight so hard to keep them is indicative of his weakening national standing.

The remaining nine states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada are the ones we have been analyzing for some time. It is clear that some combination of these states will make the final electoral determination in early November.

Assuming the moving of Missouri to Romney and Michigan and Pennsylvania to Obama prove correct, then the Republican would need 79 Electoral Votes to win the Presidency and Obama 33. Of the Undecided/Uncommitted states on the current board, the Republican’s easiest path to victory would include Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada. This would give Romney a bare 270-268 victory and send him to the White House.

While originally it was thought that a challenger would have to carry Florida, Ohio, and Virginia to defeat Obama, it is now possible to win with taking Florida and only one of the latter two. With more states firmly in play, the Romney campaign now has several options to possibly cobble together a winning coalition of states in order to reach the magic 270 electoral vote plateau.

Getting through last night’s VP debate with both sides intact, means the stakes for the remaining two debates grows even higher. Pressure will continue to mount upon both candidates and what remains true is that the final defining events for this particular presidential election have yet to occur.

Santorum Win Louisiana; Argues Delegate Count

Rick Santorum accomplished his goal Saturday night in Louisiana, easily outdistancing Mitt Romney 49-27 percent, with Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) posting 16 and 6 percent, respectively. Of Louisiana’s 46 delegates, only 20 of them were at stake in the primary and Santorum stands a good chance of capturing 14. The remainder will be chosen at the state Republican convention to be held June 1st and 2nd.

Louisiana was the type of victory Santorum needed to re-establish momentum before going to the April 3 primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Of the three, DC, where Romney is expected to easily romp, is a Winner-Take-All entity, so all 17 delegates should go his way. Wisconsin and Maryland both use the same allocation system. Delegate votes are awarded for winning statewide and for carrying each of their respective eight congressional districts. Wisconsin has 42 total delegates and Maryland 37. The Wisconsin vote will likely to be close, while Romney has a chance to sweep Maryland and convert all 37 delegates.

Again we saw a familiar pattern in Louisiana. Though Santorum swept all the parishes except one, Mr. Romney placed first in the state’s most urban area – New Orleans. Such a result has been consistent throughout the campaign. Romney does well in the most urbanized areas of a state, but poorly in the rural regions and very poorly in the south. Having a Republican nominee weak in the party’s base areas is not an enviable position for the GOP when they face President Obama later this year. Romney will not be able to count on commensurate urban support against the incumbent Democratic nominee.

But, it’s the overall delegate count that is the subject of much discussion and fraught with misconception. The CNN number is a good benchmark for the media counts. The broadcast organization shows Romney with 549 delegates through Illinois and Santorum with 249, Gingrich 137, Paul 69, and 137 delegates unallocated from the 33 states and territories already voting.

The Republican National Committee official count, however, tells a much different story. Factoring out those delegates who the individual states have not yet chosen nor bound for at least a first ballot vote, Romney would have 339 delegates, Santorum only 95, Gingrich 107, and Paul 22 with 300 unallocated. Using the official RNC accounting, Romney is 805 votes away from committing the 1,144 delegates required to clinch victory, rather than 595 as the media depicts.

The pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue Super PAC has an even different count. Where the RNC does not yet add recent Santorum victory states because their delegates still must be officially chosen at convention, the inclusion of states like Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas changes the picture greatly. According to Red, White, and Blue, the count is: Romney 344; Santorum 193; Gingrich 160; Paul 33; Unallocated 411. Therefore, the Santorum Super PAC projection, in similar fashion to the RNC, shows that Romney is still a whopping 800 committed votes from the magic number.

So, despite all of the aforementioned entities, and then some, looking at exactly the same results, highly diverse accounting results continue to emerge. It again proves that this Republican nomination campaign still has a very long way to go.

Doing the Delegate Math: Exactly Who’s Right?

In tracking the delegate count for the Republican presidential nomination, it is clear that no “official” tabulation exists. In fact, virtually all major media organizations and political websites have different totals for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, and with wide divergence.

Below are the latest published delegate counts from key media and political outlets. Notice that only ABC News and the New York Times agree, which probably means they are using the same source.

   • ABC News: Romney 105; Santorum 71; Gingrich 29; Paul 18

   • CBS News: Romney 111; Santorum 44; Gingrich 30; Paul 15

   • CNN: Romney 127; Gingrich 38; Santorum 37; Paul 27

   • Fox News: Romney 107; Santorum 45; Gingrich 32; Paul 9

   • The Green Papers: Romney 107; Santorum 43; Gingrich 43; Paul 35

   • NBC News: Romney 84; Gingrich 29; Santorum 14; Paul 11

   • New York Times: Romney 105; Santorum 71; Gingrich 29; Paul 18

   • Real Clear Politics: Romney 99; Santorum 47; Gingrich 32; Paul 20

To recap, the eight entities don’t even show a consistent order of candidates – CNN and NBC have Gingrich in second place and the others project Santorum in the runner-up position. Romney ranges from a low of 84 pledged delegates (NBC) to a high of 127 (CNN). Santorum’s spread is from 14 (NBC) to 71 (ABC/NYT). Former Speaker Gingrich appears to be most consistent, tallying in a range from 29 (ABC/NYT) to 43 (The Green Papers). Finally, Rep. Paul runs the gamut from 9 (Fox) to 35 (The Green Papers).

Why the differences? First, even some states where voters have already participated – Iowa, Nevada, Missouri, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota – won’t actually apportion their delegates until convention events later in the year. Some of the aforementioned trackers are estimating what these states will eventually do based upon the public votes already cast.

Secondly, the media and political sources either are, or are not, projecting unpledged delegate votes. Many of the unpledged delegates themselves aren’t even chosen yet.

Third, at least two states’ delegations, Florida and Arizona, will likely be challenged at the Republican National Committee Convention. Both are apportioning their delegates under a winner-take-all option in defiance of RNC rules. Only states that vote after Super Tuesday (March 6) are entitled to use the winner-take-all format. Therefore, the Florida count (50 delegates for Romney) could change. The same with Arizona (29 delegates), which votes Feb. 28.

Considering that no official delegate count actually exists, it clearly means we will continue to see a very fluid situation that could lead to a surprising conclusion. Keep in mind, regardless of the apportioned delegate count’s accuracy, or lack of it, only 11 percent of the 2,286 delegates have been assigned. The mathematics continue to show that this race is still very much undecided.

Newt Comes All the Way Back

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has soared to first place in two just-released national political polls, cementing his remarkable comeback into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates.

According to both the Opinion Research Council for CNN (Nov. 18-20; 1,019 adults; 402 self-identified Republicans) and Gallup (Nov. 13-17; 1,062 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents), Gingrich now leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by slim margins. ORC posts Gingrich to a 24 percent stake over second-place Romney, who is at 20 percent. Retired business executive Herman Cain is third with 17 percent. Then comes Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 11 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) trails with 9 percent support.

The Gallup data projects an even tighter race. There, Mr. Gingrich squeezes out a 22 percent share over Romney, who is at 21 percent; Cain has 16 percent, Paul 9 percent, and Perry 8 percent.

Once again we see a familiar pattern in the polling. Yet another candidate has now claimed the top spot in a national poll – Romney, Perry, and Cain have all been first in multiple surveys – and Romney continues to flat-line in the low 20s. This race is as volatile as any presidential campaign in recent history. With actual voting beginning just six weeks from today in Iowa, the campaign will soon start to peak. But as we approach Thanksgiving, the 2012 Republican nomination remains in free-for-all status.

The Re-Birth of Newt Gingrich

A series of new polls confirm what earlier data was beginning to show, that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is back in the thick of the Republican presidential race and is now actually vying for first place. The new Public Policy Polling survey (Nov. 10-13; 576 US Republican primary voters) posts Gingrich to a 28-25-18 percent lead over retired business executive Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, respectively. Perhaps more astonishing, however, is the former Speaker’s favorability index according to the PPP poll. Always plagued with high negatives due to many controversies while he was in and out of Congress, Gingrich’s positive to negative ratio among the tested Republicans registers a very high 68:23 percent.

The Opinion Research Council, for CNN, also detects a major rise for Gingrich, though not as high as PPP’s conclusion. In their new larger sample survey, but conducted over a weekend (Nov. 11-13; 925 likely Republican primary voters), it’s Romney with the lead at 24 percent, followed closely by Gingrich’s 22 percent. In this poll, Mr. Cain falls all the way to 14 percent. The Polling Company was also in the field during the Nov. 11-13 period, but just in the state of Iowa, previewing the first-in-the-nation Caucus vote scheduled for Jan. 3. Among the 501 GOP caucus attenders tested, a tight race is forecast. Here, Herman Cain has a 20-19 percent lead over Gingrich. Mr. Romney trails at 14 percent.

Though the Gingrich rebound is truly extraordinary, considering he was down as low as 3 percent during the summer, it causes one to speculate about just how long the resurgence will last. Once the attacks start coming his way, will the former Speaker’s revival continue? It won’t take long to find out.