Tag Archives: Pew Research Center

The Presidential Debates Loom

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 1, 2020 — The Presidential Debate series looms on the political horizon, and controversy is beginning to swirl even though the first forum is still a month away.

The first in a series of currently three presidential debates is set for Sept. 29.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that Democratic nominee Joe Biden shouldn’t debate President Trump. “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she was quoted as saying at a news conference.

At the end of July, former Bill Clinton news secretary Joe Lockhart wrote for CNN.com that Biden shouldn’t debate the president. “Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump. Trump has now made more than 20,000 misleading or false statements according to the Washington Post,” Lockhart penned as public advice to Biden.

Some on the Republican side argue that these Democratic leaders are beginning to lay the groundwork for Biden to avoid the debates because of concerns their candidate would fare poorly opposite President Trump.

For his part, Biden says he will debate the president, and become his own “fact checker on the floor.” He will also begin holding campaign events after Labor Day. In an Aug. 28 interview with the Associated Press, Biden said he’ll “meet people where it matters – not at irresponsible rallies or staged for TV to boost egos, but real people’s communities, in real local businesses, in their lives.” Biden further said he’ll “hold events consistent with the state rules about crowd sizes and other regulations.”

The first debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, the second on Thursday, Oct. 15, and the final forum culminates a week later on Oct. 22. The vice presidential debate between incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The debates have proven important in the past and always draw large audiences. According to the Pew Research Center, even the first televised debate, between then-Sen. John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon, drew over 66 million viewers usually on black and white televisions, at a time when the US population was just under 181 million people, or approximately 55 percent of today’s total populace.

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Coronavirus Polling Numbers

By Jim Ellis

COVID-19 virus

June 30, 2020 — The Pew Research Center yesterday released the results of their national poll about how the public is viewing the COVID-19 response, which enables us to put the data in a political context. The polling results contain some good news for both presidential candidates and the respective major party leaders who are attempting to craft national campaign agendas in unique times.

According to the Pew methodology report on page six of their synopsis, the survey was conducted from June 4-10 via “the American Trends Panel (ATP), as created by the Pew Research Center, [which] is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults. Panelists participate via self-administered web surveys.” The ATP has a total of 19,718 adults of which 11,013 were sampled for this poll and 9,654 responded.

The sampling error is reported to be plus or minus 1.6 percentage points, but Asians (8.2), Blacks (5.3), and Hispanics (4.5) were well over the average. While the pollsters show all segments falling between a plus or minus 1.8 and 8.2 error factor, they still list the overall sample rate (1.6 percent) as falling below even the low number on racial segmentation.

The best news for former vice president Joe Biden is that the Trump Administration scores the lowest rating relating to whom and what the respondents trust most about coronavirus information. The administration is believed either almost all (eight percent), most (21 percent), or some of the time (29 percent) by a combined 58 percent of the respondents. In contrast, the Center for Disease Control is the most reliable cited source with a combined 88 percent rating (22 percent almost all; 42 percent most; 24 percent some of the time).

With President Trump and his team scoring low on the believability scale, the better news for his campaign is that fewer people are following the disease coverage closely. Furthermore, it is clear that large segments don’t know what to believe from news accounts of the disease’s effects.
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Mail Voting Polarization

By Jim Ellis

COVID-19 virus

May 4, 2020 — The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected everyday life, going even so far as touching American voting procedures. Before the pandemic hit, for example, just four states conducted their elections exclusively through the mail (Oregon, Washington) or predominantly so, meaning having few polling places (California, Colorado).

With so many early primary states postponing their primary elections in conjunction with the disease precautions, we now see either all-mail systems, or including the mail option for all voters, being utilized for upcoming primary elections in 20 additional states, and the list keeps growing.

Predictably, progressive left voter organizations are using the pandemic as a catalyst to push for their long-term election systemic goals. Lawsuits around the country are being filed in such places as Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and several other states, to expand the all-mail option from the primaries into the general election. And, once the all-mail system has been instituted in places around the country, thus establishing it as an electoral fixture, the process becomes much easier to make permanent.

Additionally, we are seeing further lawsuits filed to include automatic voter registration, prohibiting the purging of registration names of people who consistently haven’t voted in multiple elections, and the controversial ballot harvesting idea that allows any voter to collect ballots and deliver them to election authorities.

The Pew Research Center just completed a nationwide survey, testing the population about their attitudes and perceptions of these types of procedural issues. It came as no surprise that the survey results produced rather polarizing responses from the self-identified affiliates of the two major political parties, since virtually every contemporary issue yields deep divides between the partisans.

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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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Succeeding Georgia’s Sen. Isakson

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson (R)

Aug. 30, 2019 — Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), first elected to the Senate in 2004 after spending six years in the US House and 18 years in the Georgia legislature, announced Wednesday that he will resign his seat at year’s end due to serious health problems.

The news stories have reported the details surrounding Isakson’s departure and his health status, but the succession situation will be the concentration of this update. The development means that both of Georgia’s Senate positions will be on the ballot in 2020. The two will run only semi-concurrently, however.

The first step is for Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to appoint a replacement for Sen. Isakson. The governor will install an interim senator to serve from Jan. 1 until the appointed individual or another is elected. It is believed that the governor will name his choice quickly so that the person will have a transition time to work with Isakson and his staff before assuming the office.

While Sen. David Perdue stands for a second term in the regular cycle, meaning a May 19, 2020 primary followed by a July 21 run-off if no candidate secures majority support in the initial vote, the special election will follow a different format and slightly altered schedule.

The regular general election is, of course, Nov. 3, 2020, but Georgia is also one of the few states that holds a post-election run-off in case no one receives majority support. That run-off will be held Jan. 5, 2021, but it is unlikely that the Perdue race would advance through to such a process regardless of who wins the November vote.

The Isakson seat, however, will not follow the same calendar or system. Since this is a special election called to fill the balance of the current term, which will last until the beginning of 2023, a jungle primary is to be held concurrently with the November election, and the top two individuals, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to the Jan. 5 run-off if no one receives a majority vote in the first election. For this seat, the odds of seeing a run-off election intensify because a crowded field is expected, thus making it more difficult for any one individual to secure majority support.

One person who will not be competing is former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, the former state House Minority Leader. Abrams indicated that she will not be a Senate candidate in either seat next year, preferring to remain focused in her role of working with voter registration and turnout organizations.

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