Tag Archives: Public Policy Polling

Nevada Senate: The Race is On

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2017
— Last week, freshman Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) informally declared her intention to run for the Senate – promising an actual announcement for sometime this week or next – and now we already see the first poll for the impending race.

First-term Sen. Dean Heller is clearly the Republicans most vulnerable incumbent in an election year where Democratic opportunities are few and far between. In this particular cycle, Democrats must defend 25 of the 33 Senate campaigns to come before their respective voters versus the Republicans’ mere eight; and, realistically, only two of the latter group are in the competitive realm.

Republican in-cycle Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John Barrasso (WY), Deb Fischer (NE), Bob Corker (TN), Ted Cruz (TX), and Roger Wicker (MS) all come from secure Republican states, and none are in serious danger for re-election. Sen. Jeff Flake finds himself in an iffy Arizona situation, but he has time to right his political ship. Therefore, the Nevada seat becomes possibly the Democrats’ lone conversion focal point for the coming election.

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Conflicting Virginia Polls

By Jim Ellis

May 22, 2017 — Early in this election cycle we’ve already seen several special and odd-numbered year campaigns produce conflicting polling data, and at the end of last week, a new example came forth. Two new polls from the Virginia governor’s race, Democratic primary, produced opposite results and both can be questioned in terms of reliability.

Earlier in the week, the Virginia Education Association released a Public Policy Polling survey (May 9-10; 745 likely Virginia Democratic primary voters), which projects Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leading former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) by a substantial 45-35 percent margin.

Late last week, the Washington Post and the Schar School of George Mason University released their sponsored Abt Associates poll (May 9-14; 1,604 Virginia adults; 351 likely Democratic primary voters; 264 likely Republican primary voters) that produced a much different result. According to this polling sample, it is Perriello who actually holds a 40-38 percent preference lead among the most likely June 13 Democratic primary voters.

Not only do we see inconsistent conclusions from this pair of surveys, but also methodological questions arise. The Public Policy Polling survey has the stronger sampling group particulars, but may have bias problems. PPP features a robust sample of 745 Democratic primary voter respondents but the poll was conducted for an organization that is outwardly supporting Northam, and the 10-point advantage for their candidate is beyond any previously released independent figures.

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Trump’s Approval; More Montana

By Jim Ellis

March 6, 2017 — In the early part of Donald Trump’s presidency, a wide chasm has opened surrounding his job approval polling ratings.

From the past 10 surveys, presented through seven different political pollsters over the period stretching from Feb. 21 thru March 1, the various results span from a plus-5-point differential all the way to minus-12. This is an incredibly large answer gap for one consistent question, but a simple explanation for the discrepancy is becoming evident.

The pollsters: Gallup (3 surveys), Rasmussen Reports (2), YouGov/Economist, Ipsos/Reuters, Politico/Morning Consult, Survey Monkey, and Public Policy Polling, were many of the same firms that continually tested the 2016 presidential campaign. As we remember, most of the results predicted a small national margin in Hillary Clinton’s favor, which is exactly what happened, though the individual state polling, particularly in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even Florida was badly flawed.

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New State Data

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2016 — While the national polls continue to yield a basic tie between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the state totals are the real determining factor and we have significant new data from key targets this week.

To re-cap, if the election were today it appears Clinton would win possibly with as few as 272 Electoral Votes as compared to Trump’s 266. The latter’s coalition would include the states of Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada along with the 2nd Congressional District of Maine all converting from the 2012 electoral map. Most polls suggest that Trump is currently leading or has a strong chance of winning these entities on Election Day.

Florida, arguably the most important swing state, reported two very different polls this past week. The latest, from Suffolk University (Sept. 19-21; 500 likely Florida voters), finds Trump leading by a single point, 44-43 percent. But, earlier in the week, Florida’s St. Leo University released a survey (Sept. 10-15; 502 Florida adults) that projects Clinton holding a significant 49-44 percent Sunshine State advantage.

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Hillary’s Bounce

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2016 — The national post-convention polls are quickly being reported into the public domain and, as time has progressed from the weekend into the beginning of this new week, Hillary Clinton’s advantage increases.

It’s not particularly surprising that the former Secretary of State’s post-conclave bounce would neutralize the gains that Donald Trump made the previous week when he officially accepted his nomination. In fact, the principle reason the Democrats scheduled their convention in the immediate week after the GOP national meeting was to blunt any sustained momentum the Republican nominee might develop.

In a poll taken throughout the Democratic convention week, Ipsos Reuters (July 25-29; 1,433 likely US voters) found Clinton leading Trump 40-35 percent. When Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is added, Clinton and Trump tie at 37 percent, while the newcomer had five percent.

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Two Intriguing State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 1, 2016 — While Hillary Clinton was officially accepting the Democratic nomination last week in Philadelphia, a new Pennsylvania poll provided her with some encouraging news even as other data from a reliable Democratic state produced a much different conclusion.

Massachusetts’ Suffolk University surveyed the Pennsylvania electorate (July 25-27; 500 likely Pennsylvania voters) and revealed conclusions not found in previous polling data. While other pollsters have generally determined that Clinton and Donald Trump are running within a few points of each other, this new data suggests a much larger lead for the newly crowned Democratic nominee.

According to the Suffolk results, Clinton leads Trump, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 46-37-5-2 percent, quite a departure from the Quinnipiac University poll (June 30-July 11; 982 registered Pennsylvania voters), for example, which posted a six-point Trump lead.

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Bloomberg’s Polling Report

By Jim Ellis

July 5, 2016 — Often, people want to know which are the most accurate pollsters within the huge volume of data being released into the political marketplace. Bloomberg Politics reviewed the 2016 presidential pollsters who routinely release their numbers into the public domain and publicized their ratings late last week. They isolated a dozen polling firms and corresponding media organizations that picked the presidential primary winner in at least 70 percent of their studies. Polling frequency and reliability stats were also recorded.

The firm projecting the primary winner most often — 95 percent of the time — was Gravis Marketing, which conducted 19 surveys in 12 different states. The students who comprise the Emerson College Polling Society in Massachusetts, who have fared very well in previous performance review studies despite being amateurs, placed a close second in win predictability, proving correct 94 percent of the time. They polled 16 times in eight states. Completing the top five are Opinion Savvy (91 percent winner accuracy; 11 polls; eight states), NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College (90 percent winner accuracy; 29 polls; 15 states), and the Survey Monkey (90 percent winner accuracy; 10 polls; eight states).

But capturing the correct victory margin proved to be another story for all 12 pollsters. None of them came within the average polling error margin pertaining to victory spread projection in relation to their cumulative polling average.

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The Race Tightens — or Does It?

By Jim Ellis

July 1, 2016 — New recently released national and specific state polls are providing differing views about the presidential campaign’s current status. Though the conclusions vary among the publicly released surveys in terms of margin, all find Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally and in the key states. It the modern political era the early election cycle has always favored the Democratic presidential candidate so the fact that Clinton has the initial advantage is not unusual or unexpected.

Quinnipiac University (June 21-27; 1,610 US registered voters) just released their latest national survey, and find Clinton’s advantage over Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson has slipped to just 39-37-8 percent, an indication that the gap is closing even though many establishment Republican leaders continue to make anti-Trump public statements.

The new Fox News poll (June 26-28; 1,017 US registered voters) finds Clinton to be in a bit stronger position than does Quinnipiac, however. Fox forecasts a 41-36-10 percent Clinton edge over Trump and Johnson.

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Why the Panic?

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2016 — It is clear that most Republican insiders, and many elected delegates preparing for the national convention in Cleveland, appear terror stricken over the Trump campaign’s current status. Now, a long-shot move is underway to attempt to change the GOP convention rules so all delegates would be free to vote as they choose, thus dissing state laws and binding planks in a last-ditch attempt to deny Donald Trump the nomination.

Trump, himself, is being portrayed as showing signs of panic with his abrupt firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but this act is likely a response to the poor fundraising operation that came directly under the departed top staff man’s purview. The Trump campaign reports an embarrassingly low $1,289,507 million cash on hand.

But is there reason for such panic? As often seems the case, the people directly involved in the political process appear to pay more attention to media stories than to numbers and maps because the empirical data is telling quite a different story.

Quinnipiac University just released polls in three key states, all taken between June 8-19. Their new Florida poll (975 registered Florida voters) finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump 47-39 percent, a significant gain in this most important of swing states, but the relatively modest eight point spread is her best showing, by far.

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How Rubio’s Decision Affects Others

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2016 — It appears that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will change course and run for re-election after repeatedly saying he would not. GOP leaders, fearing they would lose the seat without him, have apparently prevailed upon him to seek re-election after exerting intense pressure. We will know for sure very shortly, because the state’s candidate filing deadline closes Friday afternoon.

But, Rubio’s decision will not only affect the Senate race. Two House district campaigns could also drastically change if he launches a new campaign.

Already, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) has left the Senate race and returns to his Pinellas County congressional district to fight an uphill battle for re-election in an unfavorable post-redistricting seat. The state Supreme Court drew a new 13th CD that greatly favors the Democrats, and party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist will be Jolly’s general election opponent.

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McCain Teetering

By Jim Ellis

May 20, 2016 — A new Public Policy Polling survey (May 13-15; 896 registered Arizona voters, 443 likely Republican primary voters) provides further evidence that the Arizona Senate race will attract a great deal of attention in the fall campaign. If this data is accurate, then the Aug. 30 Republican primary will be noteworthy, too.

According to the results, five-term Sen. John McCain (R) holds only a 42-36 percent lead over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in the general election pairing. Though the ballot test presents an ominous sign for McCain, this data is actually better for him than an April Behavior Research Center study. That poll found he and Rep. Kirkpatrick tied at 42 percent.

But this PPP survey, for the first time, shows McCain becoming potentially vulnerable in the Republican primary. The senator has four Republican primary challengers, including former state Sen. Kelli Ward.

According to the primary ballot test question, McCain would only lead the GOP field with 39 percent, followed by Ward who registers 26 percent support. Adding all of the minor candidates together totals an additional nine percentage points, with 27 percent undecided. If McCain and Ward are isolated in a one-on-one contest, the two are actually tied with 41 percent apiece.

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What Are They Seeing?

By Jim Ellis

May 17, 2016 — To listen to most media political pundits, the Democratic Party leaders, and even many Republican Party chieftains, one would think that Hillary Clinton is going to defeat Donald Trump in a November political tsunami.

Understanding that it is way too early to accurately predict the general election, the early polling numbers do not support the previous supposition. In fact, while the survey research certainly shows Clinton leading the race her margin is actually small, opposite to what one might conclude from watching and reading the various public pronouncements.

Six polls have been conducted since the 2nd of May from six different pollsters and all find Clinton leading the national popular vote. Now, we all know that the aggregate national vote does not elect a president, but it is a good gauge as to what people are thinking.

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A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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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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Nevada and SC Numbers

Feb. 19, 2016 — All of the presidential campaigns head to the Nevada Caucus next Tuesday: the Republicans immediately after their South Carolina primary Saturday, and the Democrats before their own Palmetto State vote on Feb.  27.

A new Nevada Caucus CNN/ORC survey (Feb. 10-15; 1,006 adults; 282 likely Nevada Democratic Caucus attenders, 245 likely Nevada Republican Caucus attenders) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, trailing 48-47 percent.

Even a Sanders victory in Nevada would do little to help him close the delegate gap, however. It is likely that Clinton will actually gain a greater advantage, win or lose, because of her dominance within the Super Delegate category. Whether increased Sanders’ momentum from another strong electoral performance will help him in the Deep South is questionable. Such won’t be known until the following Saturday in South Carolina and throughout the southern region including Texas, the third-largest delegate pool (252) within the Democratic universe, on March 1.

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