Monthly Archives: September 2019

Multiple Choice, Multiple Candidates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 16, 2019 — The international polling firm YouGov for The Economist magazine just completed a major 86-question survey of 1,500 US adults (Sept. 8-10; online through an opt-in panel), 1,182 of whom are registered voters and found many interesting results. The most unique, however, might be their question asking the self-identified primary or caucus attending Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents (632) just how many of their party’s presidential candidates they would consider supporting.

The purpose of the question was to test for multiple responses; therefore, most respondents named several candidates. Possibly the most interesting phase of the response process was that only one candidate exceeded 50 percent under this format, and the person receiving the 55 percent consideration factor might not be who you would name with your first guess.

Of the 20 candidates identified in the questionnaire, 10 broke into double digits. This is not particularly surprising when remembering that respondents were encouraged to give more than one candidate they are considering and, in fact, could name as many individuals as they liked.

But the candidate receiving the 55 percent mention factor was not former Vice President Joe Biden. Rather, it was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and this type of outcome could be quite significant in determining who people might ultimately support. Biden was second but failed to reach a majority even from a respondent pool who could render multiple choices. He posted a 48 percent score.

In third position was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (40 percent), so here again we see these three candidates, Warren, Biden, and Sanders, capturing the top positions by a wide margin.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was fourth with 32 percent followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who was named by 27 percent of the sample. Others in double digits were New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 18 percent, ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke recording 14 percent, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro posting 13 percent, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York City businessman Andrew Yang both registering 11 percent under this format.

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North Carolina Polling Review:
Under-Estimating the GOP Vote

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2019 — The recent North Carolina special elections’ polling appears slightly flawed, containing a pattern that came to the forefront in the previous presidential race. The weakness: under-estimating the Republican vote. Doing so became a major discussion point within the research community after they cumulatively missed the 2016 Trump-Clinton race but did not regularly appear in most of the subsequent midterm campaigns.

In the two North Carolina special elections that were decided on Tuesday night, the winning Republican candidates exceeded the published polling projections. The same pattern also occurred in Pennsylvania back in late May when Rep. Fred Keller (R-Middleburg), while predicted to win comfortably, garnered a considerably larger vote percentage than projected when he scored a 68 percent special election victory.

Four different polls were publicly released during the week preceding Tuesday’s North Carolina elections. Only RRH Elections sampled the 3rd District and tested the eventual winner, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), against former Greenville mayor, Allen Thomas. The polling result projected Murphy to a 51-40 percent lead. He won 62-37 percent, meaning RRH under-estimated Murphy’s strength and over-estimated Thomas’.

The survey was conducted during the Aug. 26-28 period, two full weeks before the election, which means the situation on the ground could have certainly changed during the intervening time between the poll and the vote. Advertising was heavy during the campaign’s final two weeks, and the survey could not account for which campaign would be more adept at turning out its vote.

Three polls, from three different survey research firms, were released for the more competitive 9th CD at irregular times, and here RRH was the closest to the actual result. Their study was also conducted over the Aug 26-28 period, and it correctly forecast a close Dan Bishop win. At the time, RRH saw a 46-45 percent spread in favor of Bishop over Democrat Dan McCready, and the actual result was 50.7 – 48.7 percent.

Harper Polling, also testing during the same Aug. 26-28 span, missed. They projected McCready to be holding a five point, 51-46 percent advantage. At the time, we mentioned that their sample contained 56 percent female respondents, which could have been a major reason for the Democratic skew.

The final poll from a lesser known firm, co/efficient, also came very close to the actual result, projecting a 44 percent tie between the two candidates over a much later Sept. 5-6 period, but this result may have come through happenstance.

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Republicans Sweep the North Carolina Special Elections

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 12, 2019 — Republican special election candidates Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop won their respective congressional campaigns Tuesday night in different parts of North Carolina.

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

Murphy, a state representative from Greenville, was an easy winner in the 3rd District, as expected. He recorded a 62-37 percent win over former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas (D) in taking 16 of the district’s 17 counties and falling in Hyde County by just 43 votes. Rep-Elect Murphy now replaces the late congressman, Walter Jones (R-Farmville), who passed away in February.

For the special election, 113,607 individuals cast their ballots, some 40 percent fewer than the number voting in the 2018 regular election even though Rep. Jones was unopposed. In the presidential election year of 2016, congressional race turnout exceeded 323,000 voters.

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

The hotly contested election occurred to the southwest in the 9th District, the seat left vacant all year because the 2018 result was never certified because of voter fraud allegations in Bladen County. Today, the district finally has a new representative. Bishop, a state senator from Charlotte, slipped past Democratic businessman Dan McCready despite being outspent $5 million to $2 million — though the outside group spending, particularly from the National Republican Congressional Committee, added at least another $2 million to the Bishop support effort.

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The “First Four” And The Scramble
For Delegate Apportionment

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 11, 2019 — The YouGov international polling organization conducted four simultaneous surveys in the states whose electorates will cast presidential nominating ballots in February of next year, referred to in the college basketball tournament vernacular as “the First Four”. The quartet of states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Looking at the polls’ aggregate totals, it appears the contest is already gelling into a three-way race that could meld into a free-for-all should this particular YouGov polling trend translate into actual results.

All of the polling was conducted during the Aug. 28 – Sept. 4 period, and sampled between 492 (New Hampshire) and 785 (South Carolina) likely Democratic primary voters or caucus participants. All four polls found former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) occupying the first three positions, but in different orders.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg placed in the fourth and fifth positions in each entity, again not in the same order in all four states, yet neither reached double-digit percentages in any of the polls. Under this set of data, neither Harris nor Buttigieg would qualify for at-large delegates in any of the First Four states.

To reach the at-large delegate apportionment plateau, a candidate must receive 15 percent of the statewide vote. Candidates can also qualify for individual congressional district delegates, but those projections are not readily available from these polling results.

In Iowa, scheduled for caucus meetings on Feb. 3, Biden begins with a small lead according to the YouGov research. From the 682 individuals surveyed, the former vice president would score 29 percent, with Sanders closely following with 26 percent, and Warren posting 17 percent. Iowa has 41 delegates, and if the congressional district result followed the statewide percentage, Biden would receive 16 delegate votes, Sanders 15, and Warren 10.

Moving to New Hampshire, which will host the first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 11, 2020, it is Sen. Warren who places first, but the result among the trio is a virtual three-way tie. Warren recorded 27 percent in the YouGov poll, with Biden getting 26 percent, and Sanders 25 percent. Again, assuming New Hampshire’s two congressional districts would vote in the same proportion as the state, each candidate would receive eight delegate votes, equally splitting the state’s 24-person delegation.

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NC Special Elections Decided Today

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

Sept. 10, 2019 — Voters in eastern and south-central North Carolina will go to the polls today to fill the state’s two vacant congressional seats. The 3rd Congressional District is open because Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) passed away in February. The 9th District will finally get a representative after going vacant for this entire Congress. As we remember, the 2018 electoral result was not certified due to voter fraud allegations; hence, the calling of this new election.

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

The 3rd District, which includes the Outer Banks area that Hurricane Dorian recently hit, hosts the cities of Jacksonville, New Bern, and part of Greenville within the 17-county region. It should remain in Republican hands. The seat has performed strongly for the GOP, including a 60-37 percent win for President Trump in 2016. Jones represented the district since his original election in 1994, when he unseated then-Rep. Martin Lancaster (D) in the Republican landslide of that year. Rep. Jones averaged 74.5 percent of the vote in the four elections of the present decade.

The Republican special election nominee, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), is favored to defeat former Greenville mayor Allen Thomas, who won the Democratic nomination outright at the end of April. The latest available polling yielded a low double-digit lead for Murphy.

The 9th District begins in Charlotte, encompassing approximately 20 percent of Mecklenburg County, and continues to annex Union – the most Republican county and largest population entity – Robeson, Richmond, Scotland, and Anson counties along with parts of Cumberland and Bladen. The final county, Bladen, was the site of the voter fraud allegations in the last regular election.

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