Tag Archives: CNN

This Time in 2016

By Jim Ellis

Does Arizona hold the key in a Trump-Biden candidacy?

April 23, 2020 — It is interesting to revert back to April of 2016 to see just how Donald Trump was faring against Hillary Clinton and compare those results with today’s survey research. Thanks to the Real Clear Politics website and their polling archives, the day-by-day polling data from four years ago is still available so we can track the Trump-Clinton campaign historical progress with the new Trump-Joe Biden impending national contest.

The key point to remember about national presidential polling is that the aggregate ballot test means very little yet is the subject of most political research studies. Knowing what voters think about the campaign in places like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin is much more important when attempting to project a final outcome, but we see far fewer numbers coming from these places than we do nationally.

In 2016, we will remember that almost all analysts and political prognosticators were predicting a Clinton win, and virtually all national polling was revealing an advantage for the former secretary of state, US senator, and First Lady, yet Trump emerged the winner. After the election, most surface analysis reported that the polling was in error, but such was not generally the case. The preponderance of polling, which predicted a narrow Clinton popular vote victory was actually correct; as we will remember, Clinton finished ahead of Trump in a close plurality.

With this background in mind, let’s look at what the various polling firms are projecting this month for the Trump-Biden race and compare it to the available data from 2016.

In April 2016, through the 15th of the month, three national polls had been released from individual or collaborating media entities: CBS News (April 8-12), NBC News/Wall Street Journal (April 10-14), and Fox News (April 11-13). This year, we see a more active April polling month that yields nine studies from eight different pollsters.

In 2016, the three testing entities all predicted Hillary Clinton to be holding the advantage over Donald Trump, by margins of 10 (CBS), 11 (NBC/WSJ), and 7 (Fox) percentage points. A little over six months later, Clinton would carry the national popular vote by 2.1 percentage points but lose the presidency because the key states broke toward Trump, which added up to an Electoral College win.

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Will Michigan & Wisconsin Voters Determine 2020 Presidential Election?

By Jim Ellis

April 6, 2020 — Polls were just released in both Michigan and Wisconsin, obviously two critically important states that will weigh heavily in determining the final outcome of the next presidential election. While it’s too early to take any general election poll as a true projection of what may happen in November, particularly in light of the current unique situation, the survey did reveal some interesting points.

Progress Michigan’s Lake Effect newsletter: “The governors’ approval ratings pertaining to the [coronavirus] crisis are better than those of the president.”

Public Policy Polling tested the Michigan electorate for the Progress Michigan progressive left organization (March 31-April 1; 1,01 registered Michigan voters) and Marquette Law School just completed their quarterly survey of Wisconsin voters (March 24-29; 81 registered Wisconsin voters). Both made public their results.

We won’t pay too much attention to the ballot tests because it is so far away from the actual vote and the political situation is obviously going to change during the coming months, but the two pollsters found President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden within the margin of error in each state. In both cases, it was Biden who enjoyed a three-point lead.

Within this prism, it is important to recall the 2016 race in which polling badly underestimated Trump’s strength against Hillary Clinton in these two places. According to the 270 To Win organization, which tracked polling throughout that election year, the final averages going into the final weekend found Trump trailing by six points in Michigan and seven in Wisconsin. He won each state by approximately one percentage point, thus proving a large error factor in virtually all of the late polling.

A post-election analysis in which the Pew Research Center and CNN participated, among other firms and media outlets, concluded that a major reason for the flawed projections were the much larger number of Democrats willing to respond to the polling questions than Republicans. Even understanding this was the case at the time, the pollsters’ weighting formulas and algorithms still badly missed the mark throughout the crucial Great Lakes region.

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A Biden Resurgence?

Former Vice President, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2019 — A series of recently released national political polls finds former Vice President Joe Biden re-establishing the type of horse race leads over the Democratic field that he enjoyed before the debate process first began. Yet, how reliable are the polls?

CNN, YouGov, Emerson College, and HarrisX, all report new data and see Biden again posting significant leads, two of which are well beyond the polling margin of error.

CNN (Oct. 17-20; 424 US Democratic registered voters) gives the ex-VP a 34-19-16 percent lead over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HarrisX (Oct. 21-22; 440 US registered Democratic voters) finds the Biden lead reaching 27-19-14 percent over Warren and Sanders. Emerson College (Oct. 18-21; 430 US Democratic likely voters) sees a similarly close cut among the top three candidates, but they find Sen. Sanders slipping past Warren into second place. The Emerson split shows Biden up 27-25-21 percent over Sanders and Warren, respectively.

Looking more closely at the polling methodology for each, we find that all three of these surveys have very low sample sizes, which means the error factor is high. The respective respondent universes are only between 424 and 440 people from which to derive a national trend. These numbers are more typically found in a congressional district or small state survey.

The YouGov poll (Oct. 20-22; 628 US Democratic likely voters) used a larger national sample and found a much tighter standing among the candidates, but with the prevalent Biden-Warren-Sanders order intact through a 24-21-15 percent result. In all of the aforementioned surveys, no other candidate reaches double-digit support.

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Qualifying Already Underway
For Upcoming Presidential Debates

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 1, 2019 — The Democratic National Committee had barely announced the new qualification requirements for the November and December presidential debates when three candidates immediately proved they met the polling requirement and several others reached the halfway point.

Not that there was any doubt that former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be in the late year forums, but they have already clinched their podiums.

CNN, one of the sanctioned pollsters that the DNC recognizes for determining candidate support, released two studies in states whose electorates will vote in February. The surveys that SSRS, the CNN regular polling firm partner, conducted tested the electorates in both Nevada and South Carolina.

The new party rules require candidates to now earn three percent support, up from two percent, in four sanctioned surveys either nationally or within the first four voting states, those that party rules allow to hold their nominating event in February (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina). Another option allows a candidate to meet the polling requirement if he or she receives five percent in two of the first four voting states.

The CNN/SSRS Nevada poll (Sept. 22-26; 324 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders) is sanctioned even though the sample size is small. That being the case, the results find that the three top contenders lie in a statistical tie. Biden and Sen. Sanders each post 22 percent support, while Sen. Warren trails only by four points at 18 percent.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is next with five percent, a rather poor showing considering that Nevada is adjacent to her home state of California, but one that would alone give her one-half of the polling qualification requirement. She would need to reach five percent in just one other poll in a First Four state to meet the polling requirement in order to earn a debate podium spot in November and December.

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Biden Beginning to Show Cracks

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential bid.

June 11, 2019 — Two polls were just released in critical Democratic primary states that find former Vice President Joe Biden’s standing to be weaker than his latest national polling results.

In Texas, the Change Research poll (May 20-June 3; 1,218 likely Texas Democratic primary voters) projects that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has risen to the top of his home state electorate, leading Biden, 27-24 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 13 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right behind with 12 percent, while California Sen. Kamala Harris records only eight percent backing.

Turning to Iowa, Selzer & Company released another of their Iowa Polls (June 2-5; 600 likely Iowa Caucus attenders; 433 saying they would personally attend their precinct caucus meeting while another 167 said they were interested in participating in the new virtual caucus that will be an Iowa Caucus feature for the first time) and while Biden leads the group of Democratic candidates, the combined numbers from the second, third, and fourth place finishers outpaces the leader by almost a 2:1 ratio.

In the Iowa Poll, conducted for CNN, the Des Moines Register newspaper, and Mediacom, Biden posts only 24 percent support. He is followed by Sen. Sanders at 16 percent, Sen. Warren notching 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing closely with 14 percent. But, Sens. Sanders and Warren together top Biden by seven percentage points and when Buttigieg is added, the trio comes close to denying Biden even the possibility of reaching majority status.

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