Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Missouri Poll: Bad News for Everyone — Almost

Aug. 13, 2015 — Public Policy Polling often presents surveys that find virtually everyone with a negative personal approval rating, but their new Missouri study may be the most bizarre they’ve ever released. While it is typical for most of their political figures to record upside-down personal favorability ratios – their automated results skew negative – it is strange when virtually the one public official holding a positive number was tainted with a highly publicized sex scandal.

Three years ago, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) had to drop his bid for governor because of embarrassing news stories detailing his relationship with a stripper. Kinder quickly pivoted away from trying to seek a promotion, and was surprisingly successful in winning a 49-46 percent re-election victory despite his spate of negative publicity and the Democratic governor cruising to victory.

The new PPP survey released Tuesday (Aug. 7-9; 859 registered Missouri voters; 440 Missouri Republican primary voters) tested several Missouri 2016 campaigns, including the open governor’s race and Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R) re-election bid. They did not release any numbers for presidential candidates, neither favorability scores nor ballot tests.

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Trump Ahead in Iowa; New Dem Numbers, Too

Aug. 12, 2015 — Public Policy Polling (Aug. 7-9; 619 usual Iowa Republican primary voters; 567 usual Iowa Democratic primary voters) surveyed the Hawkeye State electorate and found, as in all other places, that Donald Trump has pulled into a lead. The survey has a methodological issue, however.

The pollsters screened for “usual primary voters” and not likely caucus attenders. As we know, both parties hold caucus meetings in Iowa rather than a direct primary. How this affects the poll’s reliability is open to conjecture, but it is a considerable factor.

According to the data, Trump has overtaken Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the man who has been leading here for the better part of a year. In this study, Trump takes 19 percent of the committed support, followed by Walker and Dr. Ben Carson with 12 percent apiece. Ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush posts 11 percent, and Carly Fiorina, enjoying a major bump from her debate performance in the secondary event, catapults to 10 percent. It remains to be seen if Fiorina can develop staying power or whether this improved performance is simply a debate hype blip.

Each of the Republican candidates, including Trump, has healthy favorability ratings with the exception of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (34:44 percent positive to negative), Sen. Rand Paul (31:45 percent), Sen. Lindsey Graham (22:33 percent), former governors George Pataki (14:25 percent), and Jim Gilmore (4:16 percent).

The poll detects how the candidates might fare if people went to the polls and voted, but organizing a caucus participation system is a dissimilar format that could produce substantially different results.

For the Democrats, headlines continue to suggest that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton, but his movement is negligible. According to PPP, Clinton leads Sanders 52-25 percent, which isn’t markedly different than what we have previously seen.

No other candidate scores in double-digits. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley registers seven percent, with ex-Virginia Sen. Jim Webb attracting three percent, and former Rhode Island Governor and Sen. Lincoln Chafee barely scratching the polling surface at one percent. The poll did not include Vice President Joe Biden.

The methodology has two flaws for the Democrats. As on the Republican side, the sample is based upon “usual primary voters” and not caucus attenders. Considering that Clinton will likely have a superior campaign ground organization to Sanders, her numbers will probably increase in the caucus format.

Excluding Biden, however, may be the bigger problem. Since the Vice President is seriously considering entering the race, the poll does not provide an accurate depiction of the electorate’s position without his presence.

Webb and Chafee are the two candidates who have upside down favorability ratings. Webb records a 16:21 percent negative ratio, while Chafee, a former Republican, scores 9:22 percent.

Clinton does extremely well on the favorability question among members of her own party, scoring 75:15 percent. Again, we see the pattern that virtually all of her negative ratings, which normally do produce overall upside-down ratios, come almost wholly from Republicans and Independents.

Vitter Drops Behind; Pence Update

Aug. 11, 2015 — A new poll suggests that early predictions regarding the Louisiana governor’s race may be changing. It has been a foregone conclusion that Sen. David Vitter (R) will win his state’s open chief executive position later this year, and then appoint his own successor. That may well be the end result, but this latest data indicates his victory path may not be so clear-cut.

Pollster Verne Kennedy’s Market Research Insight, a Pensacola, Florida-based survey research firm that concentrates on southern political campaigns, released a new study placing Vitter behind another Republican candidate but remaining ahead of the top Democrat in the jungle primary format. The polling dates and sample size are not yet available.

According to the reported MRI data, it is now Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) who leads the field with 24 percent, followed by Vitter’s 21 percent, while Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards holds 20 percent.

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First Florida Map

Aug. 10, 2015 — Prior to the opening of the special state legislative session convened to re-draw the Florida congressional map, Sunshine State legislative leaders released their initial plan late last week. It is likely that his map will not pass in its current form, but it does provide a good starting point.

The plan radically changes four districts and makes several more competitive, but allows the GOP a chance at maintaining its 17-10 delegation majority.

Three districts are designed to change hands. What the state Supreme Court isolated as the focal point for declaring eight of the 27 districts as legally non-conforming, Tampa Bay’s District 13 — Rep. David Jolly (R) — would become decidedly more Democratic according to the 2012 presidential election result. The addition of St. Petersburg to this seat, as directed by the court, represents a Democratic voter increase of 9.2 percent based upon the previous configuration. With incumbent Jolly now in the Senate race, FL-13 becomes a prime conversion opportunity for Democrats most likely in the person of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

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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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