Category Archives: Polling

The Early States’ Delegate Formula

Dec. 16 2015 — When voting starts in the Iowa Caucus on the first day of February, much more will be happening than simple vote counting. Here, delegate apportionment begins and it is this latter system that will determine who becomes the party nominee.

Since the Democratic battle is virtually clinched for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we will concentrate on the Republican side for the purposes of this report. Under Republican National Committee rules, all states voting before March 15 must use a proportional system to divide their delegates. By definition, this means multiple candidates will be awarded delegate votes, thus expanding the chances that the nomination process will deadlock after all 56 primaries and caucuses are conducted.

The Republicans allow several delegate apportionment systems: Winner-Take-All, where the candidate with the most statewide votes is awarded all of the particular state’s delegates; Winner-Take-All by congressional district, where each CD hosts its own “election”, if you will, and awards three delegates to the candidate with the most votes; while the remaining entities require either 20, 15, 13, 10, 5 or 0 percent of the vote to qualify for delegate apportionment.

In chronological order:

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“Cruz-ing”

Dec. 15, 2015 — Two new surveys, both conducted during the Dec. 7-10 period from two different pollsters, find Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) eclipsing Donald Trump in Iowa for the first time in a month. A third poll, that from Monmouth University (Dec. 3-6; 425 likely Iowa caucus attenders) and reported upon last week, also found the Texas senator surging into first place among likely Hawkeye State GOP caucus attenders.

The Selzer & Company poll conducted for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News (804 likely caucus attenders; 400 Republican; 404 Democratic) posts Sen. Cruz to his largest lead to date, 31-21 percent over Trump. Dr. Ben Carson, consistently losing support in Iowa since topping Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Trump 27-17-15 percent, respectively, in the Iowa State University poll (Nov. 2-15; 518 likely Iowa Republican caucus attenders), places third with 13 percent. Sen. Rubio follows with 10 percent, the last candidate placing in double-digits. Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) trail with five percent apiece.

The Fox News poll (807 likely caucus attenders; 450 Republican; 357 Democratic) finds similar results, but with closer margins. Here, we see Cruz leading Trump 28-26 percent, with Rubio and Carson trading places and percentages. This poll finds Rubio at 13 percent and Carson with 10 percent, meaning the two are virtually tied when comparing results. Bush registers six percent, with Sen. Paul, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), and ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) each drawing three percent support.

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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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Iowa: Trump Leading and Trailing

Dec. 9, 2015 — Two polls, conducted during the same basic time frame, show different leaders for the upcoming Feb. 1 Iowa Republican Caucus. The Monmouth University survey (Dec. 3-6; 425 registered Iowa voters) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) usurping Donald Trump for first place, displacing the New York real estate tycoon in the Hawkeye State for the first time since the summer.

But, simultaneously, CNN/ORC (Nov. 28-Dec. 6; 2,003 adults; 552 likely Republican Caucus attenders, 442 likely Democratic Caucus participants) still finds Trump holding a healthy lead. In contrast, the two are yet another example that polling is a rather inexact science.

According to Monmouth, Cruz now has a 24-19-17-13 percent over Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Dr. Ben Carson, respectively. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) has dropped to six percent, but is ahead of all remaining candidates.

By contrast, the CNN results are not even close to Monmouth’s. They find Trump still ahead of the field with 33 percent, followed by Cruz 13 points behind at 20 percent. Third and fourth place are different, too. CNN finds Dr. Carson claiming third with 16 percent and Rubio fourth at 11 percent as opposed to Monmouth having Rubio at 17 percent and posting Carson with 13 percent. This poll also projects Bush fifth, but with an even worse four percent standing.

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Trump’s Lead: Real or “Trumped Up”

Dec. 8, 2015 — As expressed in recent individual interviews, there is at least one major point that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) agree upon. That is, Donald Trump will not become the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. Such has been the conventional political wisdom for some time, but new national polling is again showing Trump gaining steam, not just on the ballot tests but also on the underlying issue and leadership questions.

The new CNN/ORC poll (Nov. 27-Dec. 1; 1,020 adults; 930 registered voters; 403 Democratic primary voters and Independents who say they lean Democrat, 445 Republican primary voters and Independents who say they lean Republican), for example, gives Trump a commanding 36-16-14-12 percent lead over Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Dr. Ben Carson, respectively. All of the other candidates fall to four percent or below. Bush’s three percent support figure is his worst showing in any poll since the campaign began.

The good news for Trump is his substantial lead among Republican polling respondents appears verifiable. What is likely more encouraging is his dominance pertaining to questions about key issue management.

According to CNN/ORC, when asked who would best handle the economy, a whopping 55 percent of Republican respondents answered the New York international businessman as compared to nine percent who believe Cruz would be best, and seven percent who tabbed Rubio and Carson. In battling illegal immigration, 48 percent believe Trump would do the best job with Rubio at distant second with 14 percent. In terms of handling the federal budget, 51 percent have the most confidence in Trump while 10 percent said Cruz.

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