Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Iowa: Questioning the Polls

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2020 — Every political observer remembers that the cumulative polling community incorrectly predicted the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the 2016 Trump-Clinton presidential race, but further research finds additional significant misses in succeeding elections.

Political research reveals that two of those campaigns came in Iowa during the 2016 presidential race and the hotly contested governor’s race two years later. Today, we look at the Hawkeye State numbers with the goal of potentially ascertaining if there is a common polling pattern or consistent error factor.

In October, four polls have been released for the 2020 contest from a like number of different pollsters, two from left of center organizations while the other two are independent entities. The research organizations are Data for Progress, Civiqs for the Daily Kos Elections webpage, YouGov, and Quinnipiac University. Each has conducted one October Iowa survey.

In the presidential race, the polls yield former vice president Joe Biden an average lead of just over one percentage point. The cumulative ballot test mode then finds Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D) topping Sen. Joni Ernst (R) with a margin of four percentage points.

How do these numbers compare to recent polling vs. results electoral history, and is there an inherent Republican under-poll present?

In 2016, the Real Clear Politics polling average from Nov. 1-4 found then-candidate Donald Trump leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a mean average of three percentage points derived from three polls and three different polling firms. On Election Day, Nov. 4, 2016, Trump carried the state by a much larger 9.5-point margin.

Overall, 26 Iowa polls were released during the 2016 election cycle, with Trump recording a cumulative average lead of under half of one percentage point. According to the Real Clear Politics polling archives, 12 firms combined to reach the grand total, including Public Policy Polling (5 surveys), NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College (5), Loras College (3), Quinnipiac University (3), Emerson College (2), and Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register (2). The widest spread came from Loras College (Clinton plus-14) at the end of June. The Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register poll produced the most accurate finding, Trump plus-7, at the very end of the election cycle (Nov. 1-4, 2016).

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Why Arizona is So Pivotal

By Jim Ellis

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

Sept. 16, 2020 — For several reasons, the Grand Canyon State of Arizona is possibly the most important state on the political map to determine the ultimate presidential election outcome.

Primarily, Arizona is one of five core states that President Trump must win to form a foundation for a favorable remaining state coalition map. The other four, geographically from west to east, are Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Should Joe Biden break through in any one of these five states, he will likely win the national election.

At this point, Arizona appears to be the most precarious of the Trump core states. While the President’s numbers are improving here, the September polls find him trailing Biden in all six publicly released surveys from a range of one to nine points among likely voters, with a mean average of Biden plus-4, and a median of Biden plus-3.5.

The five states are so critical to President Trump, or any Republican national candidate, because, as a unit, they yield a relatively easy remaining victory map. Carrying the five southern sector domains and assuming no leakage in Ohio or Iowa, and even while not winning Nevada or New Hampshire, the GOP nominee then claims the presidency with a victory in any one of the key Great Lakes states: Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin. For a Democrat to win under this scenario, he or she would be forced to sweep the aforementioned quartet.

President Trump won the 2016 Electoral College vote 306-232, which means he can relinquish a net 36 electoral votes in 2020 and still win the national election. Under the scenario of him taking either Wisconsin or Minnesota, along with keeping Arizona, he would defeat Biden with exactly 270 electoral votes. This model also assumes he wins the 2nd Congressional District from both Nebraska and Maine, the two states that split their electoral votes. He won both in 2016. Under this scenario, Michigan and Pennsylvania would go to Biden.

Arizona, now potentially teetering toward the Democrats, is critical to the president’s prospects because Trump cannot afford to trade it for one of the western Great Lakes States, either Minnesota or Wisconsin. Such a loss would force the president to win two of the four Great Lakes, but only one could be Minnesota or Wisconsin since those two states have 10 electoral votes and Arizona has 11.

Therefore, simply put, losing Arizona because of its 11th electoral vote would mean that Trump would be forced to carry either Michigan or Pennsylvania in addition to one of the other three remaining Great Lakes States. A further scenario involving Trump losing Arizona and replacing it with both of the 10-electoral vote states (MN and WI) could result in the election ending in a 269-269 tie. This would force a tiebreaker to be decided in the US House of Representatives.

Let’s look at the chances of Trump winning Arizona by comparing his current standing to where he was at this point in 2016. Looking at the Real Clear Politics polling archives, we find that 19 Arizona polls were conducted during the entire 2016 election cycle. In 2020, just since the July 4th holiday break, 25 surveys were publicly reported in the Grand Canyon State.

Four years ago, at the end of August through mid-September, two individual polls came from Gravis Marketing (Aug. 25-27, 2016) and NBC News/Marist College (Sept. 6-8, 2016). These surveys yielded Trump four and one-point leads, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the trend began to turn Hillary Clinton’s way. The OH Predictive Insights survey (Sept. 28-30, 2016) found the two candidates tied at 42 percent apiece, while Emerson College (Oct. 2-4, 2016) and the Arizona Republic newspaper poll (Oct. 10-15, 2016) detected consecutive leads for Clinton of two and five points.

Therefore, Arizona did not turn toward Trump for good until the Monmouth University survey in late October (Oct. 21-24, 2016), which put him just one point ahead. Going into the election from that point, and remembering the 2016 election was on Nov. 8, Trump led in the final four polls from a two to five-point margin. He would eventually win the actual vote count by 3.6 percentage points, 48.7 – 45.1 percent, meaning a raw vote margin of 91,234 votes of more than 2.573 million ballots cast.

Because of Arizona’s fast population growth, the state has changed in four years. During that interval, the overall population expanded five percentage points to 7,278,717 individuals according to the Census Bureau’s July 2019 estimate, the latest available.

Minorities, specifically Hispanics and blacks, account for approximately 69 percent of the population gain, thus at least partially explaining Biden’s improved prospects in the state. Overall, Hispanics represent 31.7 percent of the overall Arizona population, and blacks 5.2 percent, as compared to the non-Hispanic white position receding to 54.1 percent.

The population changes suggest that this already tight political state will likely become even closer as we head for Nov. 3.

A Polling Comparison

By Jim Ellis

Neck-and-neck polling in a few key battleground states between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden shows interesting parallels to the 2016 race between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Sept. 10, 2020 — With a plethora of presidential polls being released every week providing sometimes radically diverse results, it is often difficult to draw a clear picture of where the electorate is heading.

The conventional wisdom and preponderance of polling trends suggest that Joe Biden is leading the presidential race, but that President Trump is making a comeback, and the race is beginning to show some of the same characteristics found in 2016.

Three of the key states that baffled the political pollsters four years ago were Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As we will remember, President Trump was expected to lose them all but scored close upset victories in each place.

The aggregate group of 2016 pollsters missed in each of the three states and the Real Clear Politics polling archives still publicly maintains all of those survey results. Therefore, we have the historical data to draw clear parallels between then and now.

In Wisconsin, 33 polls were taken during the election cycle and only one, from the Trafalgar Group at the end of the campaign season, placed Trump in front. A total of 62 polls were conducted in Pennsylvania with only three, again including a Trafalgar poll, projecting the future president into the lead. In Michigan, 42 polls were publicly released with Trump ahead in just two.

Though it is not generally statistically significant to average polling results because the polling methodologies, and certainly sample sizes, are very different, doing so does give us a guide as to the error factor that was present in 2016, and possibly a glimpse into what might exist this year.

In Wisconsin, the average Hillary Clinton lead advancing into the general election was 6.5 percentage points. With a 0.7 percent win for Trump, the overall error factor became a whopping 7.2 percent. The Pennsylvania numbers were closer but still a significant miss. Clinton’s average lead heading into Election Day was 2.1 percent and the president won there by the same 0.7 percent that he carried Wisconsin. Therefore, the Keystone State error factor was 2.8. Michigan was a similar story. Error factor: Clinton plus-3.6 percent. Trump victory margin: just 0.3. Total Michigan error factor: 3.9.

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Presidential Polling Progress

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 27, 2020 — The Republican National Convention coverage featured several mentions of swing state polling getting closer between the two presidential candidates, and recent moves from both sides would seem to suggest that internal survey numbers also reflect such a trend.

Below, we compare the 10 most recent polls with the 10 prior surveys in each of the key states to better illustrate the campaign’s movement:


ARIZONA

Last 10 Public Polls: July 17 – August 23
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 3.2%

Previous 10 Public Polls: June 26 – July 24
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 4.4%

Swing: Trump +1.2%


FLORIDA

Last 10 Public Polls: July 17 – August 22
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 3.2%

Previous 10 Public Polls: June 8 – July 21
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 6.9%

Swing: Trump +3.7%


GEORGIA

Last 10 Public Polls: July 9 – August 15
• Trump Aggregate Average Lead: 0.4%

Previous 10 Public Polls: May 4 – July 2
• Trump Aggregate Average Lead: 0.1%

Swing: Trump +0.3%


MICHIGAN

Last 10 Public Polls: July 24 – August 23
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 7.0%

Previous 10 Public Polls: July 9 – July 26
• Biden Aggregate Average Lead: 7.4%

Swing: Trump +0.4%


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Rep. Omar, Georgia’s Greene Both Win

By Jim Ellis

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) won a hard-fought Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night.

Aug. 12, 2020 — The two most controversial candidates on the primary ballot yesterday were both nominated and advance into safe general election campaigns from their respective states.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) withstood a hard-fought and expensive Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night in a district election that drew the highest turnout of the night (just over 160,000 voters). Both candidates raised well over $4 million apiece for their respective campaigns.

In Northwest Georgia, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) who has drawn attention for her association with the QAnon movement, a loose organization of individuals who believe that the government’s “deep state bureaucrats” are conspiring to take down President Trump, won the Georgia 14th District Republican runoff election.

Greene defeated Rome area surgeon John Cowan by a 57-43 percent margin from what will likely be over 75,000 voters who participated in the runoff vote. The final turnout number could soar, however, since a relatively substantial number of mailed ballots remain to be counted. The primary election in this district drew over 108,000 voters.


CONNECTICUT

Very little fanfare occurred here as few races were contested. The only result of interest came in the state’s 2nd District Republican primary where the two candidates are separated by just 78 votes with approximately 90 percent of the precincts reporting. The winner advances to the general election and a sure loss opposite Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Vernon). All five Democratic candidates were unopposed for re-nomination last night and each is a heavy favorite for re-election in the Fall.


GEORGIA

In addition to Greene winning the 14th District Republican runoff and stamping her ticket for Washington, DC from her politically safe congressional district from which Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent), three other runoffs were settled.

In the Savannah-anchored 1st District, attorney and retired Army officer Joyce Griggs defeated former local Democratic county chair Lisa Ring in the party runoff. Griggs’ victory margin was 56-44 percent, but from a low in-person turnout of only about 28,000 individual voters. Griggs now becomes a heavy underdog against incumbent Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) who is running for a fourth term.

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