Tag Archives: favorability

Another Trump Appointment;
A Double-Digit West Virginia Poll

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 7, 2017 — White House personnel this week announced that President Trump will nominate Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) as the new director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The appointment was expected to happen much earlier in the year, but a serious illness in the congressman’s family forced him to ask the administration for a postponement.

Should Rep. Marino move quickly through the confirmation process we would likely see another congressional special election called, similar to the situation involving Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) appointment as NASA administrator, in order to fill the remainder of the current term.

There is a good bet, however, that Senate Democrats will want to delay Marino’s confirmation as long as possible. With a live redistricting lawsuit making its way through the Pennsylvania court system, the Dems hope a potential re-draw will significantly change the statewide map, and specifically this district, in time for the 2018 regular election.

The 10th District, which contains 10 complete Pennsylania counties and parts of five others, occupies the entire northeastern corner of the Keystone State that borders New York and New Jersey, encompasses the territory around the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, and then shoots southwest past the Harrisburg-Carlisle area as far as the Tuscarora State Forest. Since 1952 inclusive, the district has voted Democratic only three times in congressional elections. During much of the succeeding six decades, veteran Rep. Joe McDade (R-Scranton) represented the region. He was in office for 36 years from the early 60s to the late 90s.

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Confirming Polls in
Alabama & Arizona

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2017 — Two new surveys were released this week that verify trends for two in-cycle Republican US senators, one in a positive manner, the other, negative.

Harper Polling released new data (Aug. 24-26; 800 likely Alabama Senate run-off voters) that basically confirms the last poll we saw in the current Alabama Senate run-off campaign between former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange: Voter Surveys & Consulting, Judge Moore leading 45-41 percent. According to HP, the former jurist’s lead is now only 47-45 percent.

Last week, two other polls, from JMC Analytics & Polling – a firm that has been polling not only the Alabama Senate race, but also similar campaign situations in Arizona and Nevada during the past week – and Opinion Savvy came to almost identical conclusions but dramatically different from this week’s data: Moore carrying leads of 19 and 18 percentage points, respectively.

The major dissimilarity prevalent in the Harper poll, when compared to any other current survey in the public domain, is their strongly positive favorability index for Sen. Strange. While the Opinion Savvy result found the appointed incumbent languishing in upside down approval territory among Republicans (40:46 percent positive to negative), the Harper data shows him holding a robust 60:24 percent rating, even better than race leader Moore’s 59:26 percent. President Trump scores well among Alabama Republicans in all the released polls, but most particularly Harper’s (87:10 percent).

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McConnell Group Counters

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 29, 2017 — Racked by two recent polls that gave former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leads of 18 points or better over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the Sept. 26 special Republican run-off election, the Senate Leadership Fund, strong supporters of the interim incumbent and closely associated with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), just released their own competing data.

The Voter Surveys & Consulting polling firm (for the Senate Leadership Fund; Aug. 21-23; 601 likely Alabama Republican run-off voters selected randomly from a list of previous GOP primary voters) finds a much closer contest. According to this new data, Judge Moore’s lead is a much tighter 45-41 percent, very different from the 51-32 and 50-32 percent margins that JMC Analytics & Polling and Opinion Savvy, respectively, published during the previous seven days.

Voter Surveys’ conclusion is a net 15 percentage points different than the other post-primary pollsters while surveying virtually the same universe. Dr. Jan Van Lohuizen, a 40-year polling and research industry veteran, conducted the Voter Surveys poll. Despite its wide variance from the previous pair, this latest study may have the most credibility.

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Flake Way Down; Data Questionable

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Aug. 28, 2017 — A new poll was released late last week showing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) in very poor re-election position, but the polling methodology yields serious flaws. An earlier poll with greater reliability also shows him trending badly, but brandishing upside-down favorability indexes for political subjects is a seemingly routine occurrence for the second pollster.

The Highground Public Affairs consulting firm surveyed the Arizona electorate (Aug. 18-19; 400 registered Arizona voters; 273 self-identified Republicans) and found Sen. Flake to be trailing in both the primary and general elections. Against former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), who held Sen. John McCain to a 51-40 percent Republican primary win in 2016, Sen. Flake is down by a wide margin, 42-28 percent.

‘Is Flake trailing by a large double-digit margin? It’s hard to argue such solely based upon this poll. Is it reasonable to believe that the senator is behind, however? That answer is yes.’

It is here, however, where the Highground data reveals serious problems. With a statewide sample of only 273 respondents, it is statistically too small to draw any sound reliable conclusions. And, projecting an incumbent Senator with only 28 percent support among poll responders from his own party certainly brings the result into question.

While Flake has also fared poorly in other earlier primary polls, this is the first one where he trails Ward by a significant margin. Because the sample size is a major cause for concern, the larger 14-point support gap between Ward and Flake should be questioned but still must be viewed as at least somewhat relevant. Is Flake trailing by a large double-digit margin? It’s hard to argue such solely based upon this poll. Is it reasonable to believe that the senator is behind, however? That answer is yes.

For the general election, Highground pairs Sen. Flake only with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix). After originally saying she would seek re-election to the House, the congresswoman is now admitting that she is seriously considering running for Senate and several Democratic sources believe she is close to announcing her statewide run. According to the Highground poll, Sinema would lead Sen. Flake in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, 40-32 percent. But, an incumbent in any poll barely breaking 30 percent when the statewide polling sample is the size one usually sees for a lone congressional district has to be viewed with a wary eye.

Public Policy Polling completed their Arizona survey in early August (July 31-Aug. 1; 704 registered Arizona voters) and also found Sen. Flake lagging. Though they asked no head-to-head ballot test questions, Flake scored extremely low in his approval rating index. An elected official of either party tallying an upside down favorability rating in a PPP poll is nothing unusual, however. In fact, almost everyone scores in such a manner.

The Flake numbers, however, exceed even some of the more unpopular previously tested elected officials. According to this PPP survey, his approval index is 18:63 percent positive to negative. His problem is exacerbated in that the polling segmentation crosstabs vary little.

Perhaps the senator’s biggest problem is his standing within his own Republican Party. Here, his index is just 22:57 percent, which is of course a horrific intra-party total for an incumbent. Among Independents and Democrats, the numbers are even worse: 17:65 percent, and 15:67 percent, respectively.

There is little difference in how women and men view Sen. Flake. Among women, his favorability is 18:60 percent; men: 18:65 percent. In segmenting by race, the pollsters divided the respondent universe into just three categories: Hispanics (15:49 percent), whites (19:65 percent), and others (21:71 percent).

Though the PPP polls typically skew negative on the approval rating questions, the Flake numbers signal trouble well beyond any likely methodology flaw. Coupled with what can be reasonably drawn from the Highground survey, the clear conclusion is that Sen. Flake has major political problems and is even in danger of losing his re-nomination battle.

This race will continue to attract attention, but it is clear that we are likely headed for both a highly competitive primary and general election campaign in the desert all through next year.

A Newer Alabama Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 25, 2017 — We have a new Alabama US Senate Republican run-off poll that was released into the public domain late yesterday afternoon.

Earlier in the week we reported upon a JMC Analytics and Polling survey that projected Alabama former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leading appointed Sen. Luther Strange, 51-32 percent, in their run-off campaign scheduled for Sept. 26.

Late yesterday, the Opinion Savvy research company released their poll results (Aug. 22; 494 GOP likely run-off voters through landline and mobile phone live interviews) taken three days after the JMC survey was completed and found virtually the same results.

According to the OS poll, Judge Moore’s lead is an almost identical 50-32 percent over Sen. Strange. Even more disconcerting from the Strange camp’s perspective, the critical Huntsville area swings in virtually the same ratio that the JMC poll found, meaning 54-29 percent in Judge Moore’s favor.

Huntsville is the population anchor area of Rep. Mo Brooks’ 5th Congressional District. Brooks placed third in the Senate special GOP primary with 20 percent of the vote, but carried his 5th CD with 41 percent and secured majority support in Madison County (Huntsville). Therefore, both Moore and Strange want to court the Brooks voters since converting them could well be the difference between winning and losing for both men.

A further complicating factor also occurred yesterday. While Rep. Brooks drew a congressional primary opponent during his short-lived Senate campaign, businessman Clayton Hinchman who has strong ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political operation – a group very active in opposing Moore – another new Republican candidate appeared on the scene. State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) declared his congressional candidacy and will face both Brooks and Hinchman in the 2018 Republican primary.

The development places the Huntsville congressman in an even more intriguing predicament. While Brooks has yet to endorse a candidate for the run-off, him publicly supporting Judge Moore could well be the final dagger in dashing Sen. Strange’s political aspirations. With now two polls showing his 5th District electorate going heavily for Moore, it is arguably in his interest to do so especially now that he is facing a budding primary against two potentially strong individuals.

The Opinion Savvy poll contained more bad news for Sen. Strange, in terms of the personal favorability question. Judge Moore’s positive to negative ratio among the GOP likely run-off voters surveyed is 54:33 percent. This compares to only a 40:46 percent upside-down favorability ratio for Sen. Strange.

While a criticism of the JMC poll was an over-sampling of evangelicals (68 percent in the polling sample as compared to a US Census reporting of 49 percent statewide), the Opinion Savvy survey is even slightly more skewed. According to this report, 71 percent of those interviewed described themselves as evangelical. Like in the JMC poll, this factor could over-state Moore’s support (he attracts 57 percent of self-identified evangelicals against only 28 percent who choose Strange), but even a pronounced skew in this regard does not close the exaggerated support gap between the two contenders.

The fact that two independent pollsters are deriving virtual identical conclusions in separate polls conducted on consecutive days tells us that Sen. Strange has real political problems, and will likely need everyday of this run-off campaign to convert the necessary number of voters away from Judge Moore to win the run-off election. With the confirming Opinion Savvy poll now being studied, it appears Judge Roy Moore is safely ensconced in the political driver’s seat, at least in the early going of this critical run-off campaign.

Dueling Congressmen

By Jim Ellis

July 24, 2017 — Next year’s Indiana Senate race is expected to be one of the nation’s top wire-to-wire campaigns. Even the Republican primary, which will only produce a challenger nominee, is beginning in toss-up fashion.

A new OnMessage consulting firm poll (July 10-12; 400 likely Indiana GOP primary voters) finds a pair of Republican congressmen, unannounced for the Senate but both headed for the statewide race, already in a dead heat contest. According to the data, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are tied at 23 percent in the new GOP primary preference poll. The eventual winner will challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who will be seeking his first re-election.

Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) and state Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper) are also thought to be considering their own Senate candidacies. They polled just four and two percent, respectively, in the OnMessage poll, however.

The two GOP House members are also virtually tied in the resource game. Both have been raising money at a strong clip: Rokita bringing in just over $1.3 million for the first half of 2017 and showing $2.35 million cash-on-hand, while Messer has attracted just under $1.3 million and possesses $2.027 million. For his part, Sen. Donnelly has brought in $5.47 million for the year and has $3.7 million in his campaign account.

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New Virginia Polling

By Jim Ellis

June 26, 2017 — Despite the vast majority of survey research firms again failing to predict the correct outcome for a recent political campaign — this time the GA-6 special election — we do have new data to analyze for the Virginia governor’s race.

While it is too early to tell whether the pollsters are correctly projecting the turnout model and whether they are using the proper formula to pull a representative sample, it is still worthwhile to look at all the published polls in order to establish a moving trend.

As was reported immediately after the Virginia primary concluded, Harper Polling went into the field the day after Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie won their respective party nominations for governor. According to their results (June 14-16; 500 registered Virginia voters), both Northam and Gillespie were tied at 46 percent. The conclusion was even a bit better for Gillespie because within the eight percent group who reported themselves as undecided, 19 percent indicated a preference for the Republican, while seven percent said they were leaning toward Northam, the new Democratic candidate.

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Bush Surging in NH? Really?

Feb. 5, 2016 — A late-breaking Harper Polling New Hampshire survey (Feb. 1-2; 425 likely New Hampshire primary voters) finds ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush surprisingly claiming second place within the Republican presidential field, but he’s still far behind leader Donald Trump. There are, however, three reasons to question the results.

According to the new data, half of which was gathered after the Iowa Caucus results became known, Trump commands first position with 31 percent preference. Bush is second registering 14 percent, followed closely by Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 12 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) posts 10 percent, with Iowa winner, Sen. Ted Cruz, not faring particularly well in the Granite State, dropping to nine percent support.

All of the remaining candidates –- and still including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who both suspended their presidential campaigns Wednesday morning -– find themselves landing only in the mid-to-low single digits.

There appears to be methodological flaws in the survey, which was conducted through an Interactive Voice Response mechanism. First, the favorability indexes are curious in that the only candidate with a positive ratio is Donald Trump. All of the other Republican contenders, remembering that the respondents are GOP primary voters, are seriously upside down.

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Cruz Edging Trump in California

Jan. 8, 2016 — The California Field Poll was released early this week and the results show a surge for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, but their conclusions are largely irrelevant. California polling can’t accurately project the state’s all-important delegate count, hence the statewide ballot test total is less important here than in other places.

Despite Republicans performing poorly in California since the turn of the century, the Golden State still sends the largest delegation to the Republican National Convention (172). The California apportionment system yields a more open contest than most states because finishing first statewide is worth only 10 at-large delegates.

As in six other states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin), California apportions upon congressional district vote in addition to the aggregate statewide total. Since the Golden State possesses 53 CDs, California primary day actually yields 54 separate elections: one in each congressional district in addition to the statewide tally. The candidate placing first in each individual district, regardless of vote percentage or raw total, is awarded three delegates in winner-take-all fashion.

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The Ohio Senate Race:
A Strange Beginning

Oct. 16, 2015 — So far, the Ohio Senate campaign has begun as the new election cycle’s most peculiar contest. Sen. Rob Portman (R), seeking a second term, is leading in every aspect of the campaign but the polls. According to the last four surveys, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has a small edge over the Ohio senator, who was previously the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget, and a Cincinnati congressman.

Just last week the Harstad Strategic Group, polling for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released early September data giving Strickland a 46-43 percent lead over Sen. Portman. Interestingly, Quinnipiac University, polling at the end of September and into early October, found exactly the same split: again Strickland topping Portman, 46-43 percent.

But, that’s not all. In Quinnipiac’s August version, they posted Strickland to a 44-41 percent advantage following their late June study that gave the former governor an even larger 46-40 percent margin. It was commonly viewed at the time that this first data finding Strickland with the edge was potentially an anomaly, but seeing other findings that supported the original result requires further examination before such a conclusion could be drawn. The last public poll to show Portman ahead came in early June from Public Policy Polling. In that survey the senator held a 43-41 percent lead.

The ballot test tilting toward Strickland makes little sense when we see that the same polls reported the incumbent’s personal favorability and job approval scores as being good. While the June Q-Poll found Strickland up six points, Portman scored a job approval of 49:28 percent and a personal rating of 43:21 percent.

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Swing State Surprises for Trump

Oct. 9, 2015 — Quinnipiac University again surveyed the presidential field with their “Swing State Poll” series, and while many of the results tell a familiar story about the numbers surrounding Donald Trump’s performance, the support question responses should be giving the leading Republican presidential candidate cause for concern. The data projects Trump leading the GOP nomination battle in all three of the states in the poll, but the favorable conclusions end with this point. The remaining results find the flamboyant international businessman’s political standing beginning to unravel.

During the Sept. 25 through Oct. 5 period, the Q-Poll simultaneously surveyed the important states of Florida (1,173 registered Florida voters; 461 likely Republican primary voters, 411 likely Democratic primary voters), Ohio (1,180 registered Ohio voters; 433 likely Republican primary voters, 396 likely Democratic primary voters), and Pennsylvania (1,049 registered Pennsylvania voters; 427 likely Republican primary voters, 442 likely Democratic primary voters).

In all three places, Trump posted preference numbers between 23 and 28 percent. Dr. Ben Carson sweeps the second position, in a consistent range from 16-18 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) finishes third in Florida (14 percent) and Pennsylvania (12 percent), while Gov. John Kasich places third (13 percent) in his native Ohio.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continues to experience major polling problems, here dropping to a campaign-low four percent in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. In his home state of Florida, he drops all the way to fourth position, registering only 12 percent within the Republican universe that twice spring boarded him to convincing victories in the Sunshine State governor’s race (1998, 2002).

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