Tag Archives: University of New Hampshire

Senate Still in Limbo

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2016 — Entering the last week of campaigning, the Democrats are on the cusp of re-claiming the Senate majority they lost in 2014, but virtually no competitive outcome is yet secure.

The latest Hillary Clinton email revelations may cause irregular Republican turnout to increase, which should help the GOP Senate candidates. A demoralized Republican voter base, thinking that Donald Trump would have no chance to prevail against Clinton, is about the only way Democrats could have gained a wave effect, but that is no longer expected.

It appears that nine of 10 Democratic in-cycle states will remain in party control. Only Nevada is competitive on their side of the ledger. Republicans look to have 15 safe seats of their own, with another five: Arizona (Sen. John McCain), Iowa (Sen. Chuck Grassley), Georgia (Sen. Johnny Isakson), Florida (Sen. Marco Rubio) and Ohio (Sen. Rob Portman) all trending either strongly or nominally their way.

Democrats are in favorable position to convert incumbent Republican states in Illinois (Rep. Tammy Duckworth-D, unseating Sen. Mark Kirk-R) and Wisconsin (former Sen. Russ Feingold-D, re-claiming the seat he lost to Sen. Ron Johnson-R in 2010), in addition to being favored in the open Indiana seat (former Sen. Evan Bayh-D ahead of Rep. Todd Young-R).

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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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Sanders Gaining; Strange
Mississippi Primary Result

Aug. 7, 2015 — Over the past few weeks, VermontUniversity of New Hampshire has drawn great crowds on the presidential campaign trail while basking in nonstop media attention.  But the increased activity and notice had not translated into meaningful ballot test movement against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

A new Granite State Poll release from the University of New Hampshire and the state’s top television news station (WMUR-TV channel 9; July 22-30; 722 New Hampshire adults; 276 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) suggests that Sanders may now be closing the polling gap.  Climbing to within six points of Clinton, the Vermont Senator trails her 42-36 percent, suggesting a further possible erosion of the front-runner’s status.

In the past month or so things have continued to trend downward for the former Secretary of State and First Lady, particularly relating to her favorability index. With Sanders now potentially securing a foothold in New Hampshire, directly adjacent to his Vermont political base, the race has the appearance of becoming more precarious for her.

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Unreliable Poll Shows Bush Leading

May 11, 2015 — The University of New Hampshire is routinely among the most unreliable of public polling entities, and the institution’s new release in partnership with WMUR-TV in Manchester is no exception to that characterization. The poll is attracting attention because it is the first one in months to project former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as leading his fellow Republican competitors in any early voting state.

The survey, conducted during the very long sampling period of April 24 – May 3, interviewed only 293 “likely GOP primary voters.” The 10-day questioning period is seven days longer than the optimum timetable, and the sample size is only half as large as what one would typically see in a state the size of New Hampshire.

The pollsters will argue that because they are testing only likely Republican primary voters, the sample size will be smaller than a poll studying the entire electorate. While this is true, not even reaching 300 people taints the results with a very high error factor. By the pollsters’ own admission, the error rate in this study is greater than plus or minus 5.7 percent, which means the results could vary by as much as 10 points per individual.
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Scott Brown Closing … or Not in New Hampshire

Though the New Hampshire Senate race has been flirting with becoming competitive for months, no pollster has projected the race in the toss-up realm since January … that is, until now. The University of New Hampshire (Aug. 7-17; 827 New Hampshire adults) finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leading former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) by only a 46-44 percent clip. On the other hand, if ex-Sen. Bob Smith were to become the Republican nominee, the incumbent would enjoy a 50-36 percent margin.

In terms of public perception, Sen. Shaheen scores a 48:36 percent positive to negative personal favorability ratio, while Brown is upside-down at 36:38 percent. Smith is down to only 15:20 percent positive to negative, with just 35 percent saying they know enough about him to form an opinion. This gives us an idea as to how fast a population can change. The polling history shows that at Smith’s high point during his dozen years in the Senate (February, 2002 in this instance), he recorded a 51:31 percent favorability index with as many as 82 percent of the voting universe knowing enough about him to form a specific opinion.

The UNH ballot test is the good news for ex-Sen. Brown. The bright side for Sen. Shaheen is that they are the polling source. UNH has one of the worst track records in Continue reading >

New Hampshire Poll Shows Electorate Predictably Unpredictable

Since 2006, voters in no other place have created more pronounced political swings than in the Granite State of New Hampshire. Seven statewide or federal district incumbents have been defeated during that period, as opposed to only six who have been re-elected. In federal campaigns, the record is just three incumbent wins and seven defeats.

The University of New Hampshire and WMUR-TV have just released another Granite State poll (June 19-July 1, 669 New Hampshire adults; 263 likely voters in NH-1; 246 likely voters in NH-2) that suggests the 1st congressional district electorate is again primed to oust an incumbent.

According to UNH, former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-1), elected in 2010 and defeated in 2012, holds a 46-43 percent lead over Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1), elected in 2006, defeated in 2010, and re-elected in 2012. Against Republican Dan Innis, the former UNH business school dean, the congresswoman posts a 45-38 percent advantage. Should Guinta win re-nomination, this will be the third consecutive election in which Shea-Porter  Continue reading >

New Hampshire Consistent in its Inconsistency

No state has had more wild political swings than the Granite State of New Hampshire during the past four elections. Over that time, NH voters have turned out a US senator, defeated more members than they have re-elected, and deposed the majority party in five of the past 10 legislative chamber elections. A new early 2014 poll suggests that more upheaval is on the way.

The University of New Hampshire’s polling directors just released a survey completed during the Jan. 21-26 period in which 584 registered Granite State voters were questioned. A total of 304 respondents were in the eastern 1st Congressional District; 280 in the western 2nd CD. As has been the pattern with UNH polls, bizarre results are often produced that many times prove inconsistent with the findings of other pollsters and even their own previous data.

The Senate

The first bit of inconsistency in their latest poll comes in the Senate race. UNH finds  Continue reading >

Griffin to Retire in Arkansas; New NH Polls

As was widely reported yesterday, sophomore Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) announced that he will not seek a third term in the House, saying that he needs to spend more time with his young children, whom he described as being in their “formative” years.

With Griffin’s retirement, a 20th open seat will now be present in the 2014 election cycle and this one has a good chance of becoming competitive. Though Rep. Griffin and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney each garnered a healthy 55 percent of the vote in this Little Rock metropolitan district, Democrat Rep. Vic Snyder represented a similar configuration of the 2nd District for 14 years.

Recognizing that the Griffin retirement announcement came as a major surprise, names of potential candidates in both parties are quickly beginning to surface, nonetheless. For his fellow Republicans, who Griffin said he wanted to help by announcing his decision early, state senators David Sanders, Jeremy Hutchinson, Jason Rapert, ex-Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker, former state Rep. Ed Garner, and businessman French Hill are the most prominent names mentioned.

On the Democrat side, former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays is expected to announce his candidacy today. Considering forming a campaign committee are former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, state Sen. David Johnson, state Rep. Tommy Thompson, former state Rep. Linda Tyler, and Conway Mayor Tab Townsell.

The campaign’s early sector should yield a “Lean Republican” rating, but it would not be surprising to see this contest tip toward “Toss-up” territory once campaigning becomes heavy.

New Hampshire

Over the past few election cycles the University of New Hampshire has conducted political polling, but their reliability factor has proved questionable. The new UNH release is not likely to engender improvement because the  Continue reading >

Another Swing in Politically Volatile NH?

Since 2006, the state of New Hampshire has been the most politically volatile entity in the entire country. The swings in voter sentiment have been so severe that, since 2006 inclusive, more incumbent US House members have actually been defeated in this state than re-elected. The instability could again be present in the 2014 mid-term election, as the turnout model will return to lower participation territory, possibly creating a similar dynamic that led to a Republican sweep in 2010.

Hoping to make the latter statement a reality is former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-1), who defeated then-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) in 2010, but subsequently lost to her in a re-match during his first re-election attempt last year. For her part, Shea-Porter defeated then-Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH-1) in 2006, was re-elected in ’08, and lost to Guinta in 2010 before winning her comeback attempt.

Yesterday, Guinta officially announced that he will strive to come back in 2014. The move is not a surprise. He has been counted among several 2012 candidates or defeated incumbents who are potential re-match challengers. His path to the nomination isn’t clear, however. University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis, who is referred to as a “gay married man” in certain local press articles, is leaning heavily toward running for the seat. Guinta in 2010, sitting as the mayor of Manchester, which is the state’s and 1st CD’s largest city, came to office in the Tea Party wave. So, if both men do in fact enter the primary race, the campaign should be lively assuming Innis can attract the necessary funds to run competitively.

The 1st District occupies the central and eastern regions of New Hampshire and is the more conservative of the two seats. Rep. Shea-Porter has scored 51, 52, 42, and 50 percent in her four House elections. Clearly, never topping 52 percent during her entire electoral career makes her highly vulnerable in the ensuing election.

AL-1 Primary Election Today

As reported yesterday, tonight the votes will be counted in Alabama’s special primary election to fill the vacancy for resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R) seat. He left the House in August.

All the action will be on the Republican side, as the eventual GOP nominee will be the  Continue reading >

New Hampshire Volatility – Again

Over the past four election cycles, no state has generated more political ups and downs than the Granite State of New Hampshire.

During that time more US House incumbents have been defeated than re-elected, an extraordinary statistic for any state. (In the stretch from 2006 through 2012 in the state, five House incumbents have lost their seats and only two have been re-elected consecutively. Two incumbents have both lost and won during this span of elections.) New Hampshire voters have also defeated a US Senator and a House incumbent attempting to win the statewide office. They have also changed majorities in the state legislative chambers virtually at will.

Now the University of New Hampshire just released a poll (July 18-29; 516 New Hampshire adults) testing their federal incumbents’ job approval scores and again found signs that the electorate may already be getting restless.

It is wise to approach the UNH polls with caution, however. First, the University’s polling institute hasn’t been among the most accurate of pollsters during that past few years. It is fair to consider their numbers with skepticism. Second, as is typical for their polls, the sampling period of 12 days is much too long, especially for a sample size of just 516 respondents. Finally, this particular poll only tested “adults” and not registered voters.

That being said, the data does give us some insight as to how the four all-female federal office holders are faring.

The Senators

The strongest is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who stands for her first re-election next year. In 2006, after serving from 1997-2003 as the state’s governor, Shaheen defeated then-Sen. John E. Sununu (R), 52-45 percent after losing to him 47-51 percent in 2002. According to the poll results, Sen. Shaheen scores a strong 53:23 percent positive to negative on the personal favorability scale. Fifty percent of the sample believes she deserves to be re-elected in 2014, while 34 percent say they would prefer a generic “someone else.” Her re-elect score among Democrats is 78 percent. Among the self-identified Republicans, 27 percent favor her re-election.

Though first-term Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) is not on the ballot again until 2016, she was also tested. Her favorability score is a less impressive 41:32 percent, down from 50:25 percent from the last UNH poll conducted in April.
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Questioning the Reliability of Univ. of New Hampshire Polls

Over the years, the University of New Hampshire has released some polls that were later proven unreliable, and it appears they are at it again. The college just released the results of their latest study that shows both of the state’s Republican congressmen trailing their Democratic opponents, but the polling methodology is flawed in at least three different ways.

The results show 1st District freshman Rep. Frank Guinta (R) trailing former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), the woman he unseated in 2010. According to the UNH data, Shea-Porter leads the first-term incumbent 44-39 percent. In the more Democratic 2nd District, Rep. Charlie Bass (R) trails 2010 opponent Annie Kuster (D) 39-40 percent.

The first methodological error concerns the length of the sampling period, which stretches from April 9-20. Here, UNH uses a 12-day information gathering period when three is usually considered optimum. The longer sampling time frame has proven to skew results.

Second, the respondent universe of 538 “adults” does not appear to even screen for registered voters. Going beyond the normal voting pool always provides different numbers than one would see from those who are qualified and intend to actually participate in the election.

Third, the number of respondents for each congressional district are low (230 adults in District 1, 251 adults in District 2), thus further deteriorating the reliability factor.

Considering all of the methodology flaws, the current UNH poll should be discounted, though the conclusion that both of the state’s House races will be close and very competitive can certainly be accepted.