Author Archives: Jim Ellis

A Polling Dichotomy in Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Sept. 15, 2018 — Two succeeding polls were just released with one showing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) barely leading in his fight for a third term, while another predicts he will be blown out. Yet, the two seemingly contradictory polls both find an almost identical Senate race status.

NBC News/Marist College went into the field during the period of Sept. 30-Oct. 3 (943 Wisconsin adults; 781 registered Wisconsin voters; 571 likely voters) and found Democratic superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers, leading Gov. Walker by a whopping 53-43 pecent among the likeliest of voters (52-43 percent within the registered voter segment). But, Marquette University Law School, a prolific Wisconsin pollster since the 2012 election cycle, actually finds the governor clinging to a one-point, 47-46 percent edge in their just-released survey (Oct. 3-7; 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters; 799 likely voters).

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

While the two pollsters are far apart in how they see the governor’s race, they are very consistent in projecting the US Senate contest between first-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). NBC/Marist gives Sen. Baldwin a 54-40 percent advantage within their likely voters cell, while Marquette finds a similar 53-42 percent spread.

A simple explanation suggests that the governor’s race is quite volatile while the Senate campaign is virtually decided. The two polls were run consecutively with NBC/Marist ending on Oct. 3 and Marquette beginning on that day. Obviously, this means the Marquette data is the most recent.

The Marquette sampling universe looks to be the stronger, as both the registered and likely voter cells are larger than NBC/Marist’s. Additionally, since Marquette exclusively polls the Wisconsin electorate and does so on what appears to be a quarterly basis but more frequently when closer to an election, their knowledge of the voter base is likely superior to NBC/Marist, which is a national pollster. Therefore, the greater local knowledge likely provides them a superior ability to better pull a reflective sample.

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McSally Surges in New Arizona Poll

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Oct. 12, 2018 — A new OH Predictive Insights survey for ABC News 15 in Phoenix (Oct. 1-2; 600 likely Arizona voters) brings new information about the open Arizona Senate race. According to the ballot test results, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has overcome Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Phoenix) consistent small lead in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and claims a six-point advantage, 47-41 percent.

Though this is the first time that Rep. McSally has scored a lead beyond the polling margin of error, the new result is plausible.

For several weeks, surveys have projected that Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is expanding his small advantage over Arizona State University professor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia into a double-digit lead, but the same polls continued to forecast Rep. Sinema with a tight edge in the Senate race. It seemed only a matter of time before the act of Ducey cementing his margin would begin to help McSally.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Secondly, McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first woman to fly a combat mission and command a flight squadron, has been hitting Sinema over her role as a war protester prior to the latter woman being elected to the state legislature. The contrast is a compelling one and should play to McSally’s favor. Arizona may be more politically competitive that in past years, but Republicans still maintain a statewide advantage here. Additionally, the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain brings greater attention to those engaged in military careers, thus further helping McSally.

An outside conservative organization then began attacking Sinema over legislation she drafted while in the legislature that made it more difficult to charge individuals in child prostitution cases. Sinema’s argument was that men should not be held totally responsible for engaging in such a crime if the prostitute in question is made to look much older than her true age. This attack appears relatively weak and may miss the mark, but it adds to the multi-pronged strategy to cast Rep. Sinema in a negative light.

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New Nevada Data

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 11, 2018 — The new NBC News/Marist College survey (Sept. 30-Oct. 3; 920 NV residents; 780 registered Nevada voters; 574 likely Nevada voters) detects movement toward the Republicans in the two major Nevada statewide races (governor and senator), while keeping both contests in the pure toss-up column.

Marist College is an “A” rated pollster from the 538 statistical analysis organization and has partnered with NBC News since the 2012 election. Already releasing several statewide polls this year, Marist tested the Nevada electorate knowing that Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in a tough re-election campaign against freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), while the open governor’s race, featuring Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), had begun to turn toward the latter.

According to the NBC/Marist ballot test results, Sen. Heller posts a 46-44 percent edge among likely voters and an almost identical 45-43 percent within the registered voter sample. When the Libertarian Party nominee is added and a question asking whether any of the candidates are satisfactory, Sen. Heller maintains the lead, 44-42 percent, with eight percent going to Libertarian Tim Hagan, and another two percent saying they want “none of these candidates.” Among registered voters, the respondents split 42-41-8-3 percent in Sen. Heller’s slight favor, with Rep. Rosen closely following, and Hagan and “none of the above” trailing respectively.

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Early Voting:
When, Where & Possibly Why

By Jim Ellis

voteOct. 10, 2018 — There is great discussion within political circles about the importance of early voting and whether an advantage can ascertained for one party or another, or if it is a predictor of the associated election that is decided in the succeeding vote.

As more states adopt early voting – 37 currently have enacted some form of the balloting process – it is still unclear as to whether it brings more voters into the election cycle. Offering elongated voting times does make ballot casting more convenient, no doubt, and Democrats usually are more prodigious in their use of the procedure, but there are no long-term patterns that suggest the use of early voting actually leads to more Democratic victories.

The early voting calendar is also elongating the election process, and the periods for such ballot casting are getting longer. Right now, pre-election voters in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North and South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming already are casting their Nov. 6 ballots. This week, Arizona, California, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, and Ohio voters can join them. The states with the latest early voting start dates are Florida (Oct. 27), Maryland (Oct. 25), and West Virginia (Oct. 24).

Those who exercise their right to vote early, however, do miss the critical part of the advertising campaign, which may or may not cause them to re-think and change their votes, and it is clear that early voting has altered the campaign cycle. Thus, it is relatively clear that the more decided voters, possibly meaning the most partisan from the various parties, are the ones who generally cast their votes before Election Day.

The only states that carry early voting through Election Day itself are the three where all votes are cast via mail: Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. All others end early voting before the official Election Day, which is Nov. 6 this year.

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The CBS/YouGov Series

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 9, 2018
CBS News and the YouGov international online pollster again teamed to test four key US Senate races as part of the former’s Battleground Tracker series and finds Republican and Democratic candidates both leading in two states. All of the polls were conducted between Oct. 2-5. The polling margin of error ranges from 3.4 to 3.9 percent. The responses were submitted online and not via live telephone operators.

CBS News/YouGov Poll

CBS News/YouGov poll results (click image above to see full results posted on CBSNEWS.com)

In Arizona (1,010 registered Arizona voters), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) continues to lead Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) by a small plurality. According to this poll, which is consistent with other known data, Sinema claims a 47-44 percent edge.

Regarding the economy, 80 percent of the Arizona respondents believe the economy is very good (26 percent) or somewhat good (54 percent). Rep. McSally is viewed as the stronger candidate on immigration, crime, and gun policy. Rep. Sinema is considered to be the stronger candidate with regard to healthcare, which is the most important issue cited.

The respondents are breaking evenly about supporting or opposing President Trump, though his job approval is an upside down 46:53 percent favorable to unfavorable.

CBS/YouGov then surveyed Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) chances of winning re-election in New Jersey (1,009 registered New Jersey voters). Here, the senator scores a 49-39 percent advantage, one of the better reported polls for him during this election cycle.

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