Category Archives: Polling

Florida Polling – What to Expect

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 20, 2021 — Two pollsters released Florida ballot test data yesterday, and the combined results are a likely prelude of what we can expect from the vast multitude of survey research firms that will be testing the Sen. Marco Rubio – Rep. Val Demings general election campaign in the coming year.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Susquehanna Polling & Research (Aug. 4-10; 700 registered Florida voters, live interview) posted their survey result, which found Sen. Rubio topping Rep. Demings by a relatively substantial 50-39 percent clip.

This was immediately countered by a St. Pete Polls survey conducted later in the month (Aug. 16-17; 2,068 registered Florida voters, online) that sees the race already dropping into a virtual dead heat, with Sen. Rubio only holding a two-point edge, 48-46 percent.

Florida polling history suggests we will see this type of divergent pattern among pollsters probably until the next election. In Sen. Rubio’s 2016 re-election race, for example, where he defeated then-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) with an eight-point victory spread (52-44 percent), most of the pollsters were forecasting a much closer finish.

During the period from Oct. 25 through election day 2016, 11 polls were released covering the Rubio-Murphy race according to the Real Clear Politics polling archives, and while all but one correctly predicted Sen. Rubio would win re-election, only five were within the correct final margin range. The others were forecasting a very close Rubio win of between a virtual tie and four percentage points.

Looking at the Biden-Trump 2020 Florida aggregate research studies tells a similar tale. Again, beginning with polling occurring from Oct. 25 through the election, 19 Florida presidential ballot test polls were published. Only six of the 19 correctly predicted a Trump Florida victory and all of those were close to the final margin of 3.3 percentage points. One of the pollsters who called this race almost exactly was Susquehanna Polling & Research. St. Pete Polls missed, wrongly projecting a close Biden win.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s polling firms rating chart, Susquehanna and St. Pete Polls are at parity. Susquehanna rates as the 92nd firm of the top 100, while St. Pete finishes three slots behind them at number 95. Both receive an accuracy letter grade of B+.

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Virginia Polling: Still Close

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2021 — The co/efficient polling organization has conducted two surveys in the Virginia governor’s race within the last month and both continue to find a toss-up race.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe (D)

While the Glenn Youngkin (R) campaign has so far not defined former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in definitive contrasting terms — something that must occur if the Republican is to remain in victory range from a state that is cutting against his party — the numbers still remain close.

In co/efficient’s first August poll, taken for the Virginia Conservatives for Clean Energy organization (July 25-27; 762 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), McAuliffe’s lead was 45-40 percent. Six polls, from five different pollsters have been released in this race, and all show both candidates within the 40s. The first co/efficient survey, incidentally, returns the lowest individual support numbers for both candidates.

The second co/efficient survey, released yesterday according to The Hill newspaper (Aug. 8-9; 1,200 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), sees a closer ballot test, 47-45 percent in favor of McAuliffe, again returning similar results with their previous study and consistent with all other public polling beginning with WPA Intelligence’s release in early June (McAuliffe 48-46 percent).

Averaging all six public ballot test results, McAuliffe scores a mean of 46.5 percent as compared to Youngkin’s 43.2 percent, which tells us that a group of professional polling teams finds the race as a virtual dead heat with the former governor holding a slight edge. These margins are similar to the 47.7 – 45.2 percent final result that McAuliffe recorded over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in their 2013 governor’s race.

The 2021 race could actually be even closer. Since polling in the past several elections has tended to understate Republican support typically by two or so percentage points, the idea that the current race is nip-and-tuck is even further supported. Additionally, looking at the Democratic primary election, just over 34,000 less people voted in the 2021 Democratic primary than did in 2017. This is opposite of almost all other elections during the same time period that find drastically increased voter turnout percentages.

McAuliffe has already been tying Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, attempting to paint him as an extremist and linking him to a national candidate who fared poorly in Virginia both in 2016 and 2020.

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New Poll Again Shows Tight
Numbers in Georgia Senate Race

Georgia freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2021 — Late last week, Public Policy Polling released their new Georgia Senate findings (Aug. 4-5; 622 Georgia voters, interactive voice response system) and the results place the new Peach State Senate race in familiar territory: a virtual tie.

While PPP finds that freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leads three tested Republican potential nominees, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, retired football star Herschel Walker, and three-term state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, only when paired against Black does Warnock’s edge extend beyond the polling margin of error. This early poll suggests what the conventional political wisdom already predicts, that the 2022 Senate race will again feature a close finish.

To reiterate, Sen. Warnock, though winning his seat only in 2020, must run for a full six-year term next year because he won the special election to fill the unexpired portion of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. You will remember that Sen. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the seat until the special election was conducted.

The PPP results find Walker, who has yet to announce (and it’s still even unclear as to whether he will run), in the best position of the three tested potential candidates. In this poll, Sen. Warnock’s edge is 48-46 percent. Loeffler fares comparably with Walker, though slightly worse, trailing 44-47 percent. Commissioner Black, the only officially announced candidate of the group, falls behind by eight percentage points, 38-46 percent.

The favorability indexes provide further clues. Keeping in mind that almost everyone tends to skew negatively on the PPP favorability scores, the two benchmarks, President Biden and former President Trump, score 46:48 percent favorable to unfavorable and 43:48 percent, respectively. Sen. Warnock posts a 43:42 percent job approval score. Walker, obviously exclusively due to the personal recognition coming from both his college and professional football career, has the best result: 41:28 percent. Loeffler fares poorly: 28:47 percent, while Commissioner Black is an even split at 15:15 percent; still, that means 70 percent of the voters don’t have enough information about him to form an opinion.

These numbers provide us with several conclusions: first, Sen. Warnock has yet to establish himself beyond a partisan framework. The 85:8 percent score among Democrats carries his overall positive mark. He records a predictable 6:78 percent mark among Republicans, but perhaps most indicative, just 33:45 percent among those classifying themselves as political Independents.

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Newsom Recall Shock Poll

Embattled California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 10, 2021 — A stark new poll was released for the Sept. 14 California recall campaign, and the surprising results project Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) falling well behind in his battle to remain in office.

While several polls released in the past 10 days showed a weakening of Newsom’s position, the new Survey USA data (Aug. 2-4; 1,100 California adults, 888 registered California voters, 613 likely California recall election voters, 545 California voters who say they will answer the replacement candidate question; online) reveals a more extreme result.

Asked whether the sample of registered California voters would vote to recall the governor, for the first time, a 51 percent majority said they would. Those who support retaining him numbered only 40 percent.

Republicans, a distinct minority in the state but a more motivated group for this election, would vote to recall in an 8:1 ratio. Conversely, Democrats unsurprisingly favor retaining the governor, but by a smaller 3:1 ratio.

The S-USA poll sees a potentially very serious problem for Newsom in the independent category. By a 50-33 percent majority, the non-affiliated respondents would vote to remove him from office. Should this finding prove accurate, Newsom would be in danger of losing his position.

A major difference lies between those saying they are “certain” and “likely” to vote. The certain voters break 57-39 percent in favor of removal; the likely category: 43-36 percent for retention.

Differing patterns arise among racial segments. Whites heavily favor removal, 56-35 percent. Hispanics, by a 47-41 percent margin, do as well. Blacks and Asians are overwhelmingly in Gov. Newsom’s corner, however. Asians favor retention, 62-25 percent, while the small segment of blacks tested are virtually unanimous in their support for the governor.

Survey USA also segmented those claiming to be vaccinated, and those who do not. The unvaccinated, unsurprisingly, are overwhelmingly for the recall, 67-27 percent. Even a plurality of the vaccinated segment, however, also favors the recall: 47-43 percent.

The S-USA pollsters also identified reasons why those supporting the recall are doing so. Most of the responses center around how Newsom has handled the COVID-19 issue. A total of 34 percent said they are voting to recall because of “COVID issues.” Another 18 percent said the state spending is the main reason for their vote to remove Newsom. The unemployment compensation issue, and Newsom’s handling of it, was the significant reason motivating 12 percent of “yes” vote respondents (the position that supports removing the governor from office).

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Alaska Senate: A Re-Emergence

By Jim Ellis

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Aug. 4, 2021 — The Alaska Survey Research firm released a new Alaska Senate poll finding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) improving her standing, but an even more drastic potential development has surfaced.

The poll (July 11-21; 947 registered Alaska voters, online) shows Sen. Murkowski posting her best numbers of the year, leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27 percent. Tshibaka, already the candidate who the Alaska Republican Party and former President Donald Trump have officially endorsed, was leading the senator in earlier published surveys (Change Research: May 22-25; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, Tshibaka 39-19 percent. Cygnal: released March 29; 500 registered Alaska voters, Tshibaka 34-19 percent).

In the July ASR poll, state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller (R/Libertarian) trailed the two leaders with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates, however, would advance into the general election.

In even better news for Sen. Murkowski, the ASR poll tested her against Tshibaka in a head-to-head match-up and the incumbent would defeat the challenger, 55-45 percent. The bad news for Murkowski is the new Alaska voting system will not allow for such a pairing. Beginning with the 2022 election, all candidates run on a jungle primary ballot in the Aug. 16, 2022, nomination contest and the top four contenders, regardless of percentage attained will advance into the general election. Therefore, testing for a one-on-one ballot test should no longer be applicable in analyzing the Alaska electoral system.

Beyond the poll, a new development could be on the Alaska political horizon. Over the weekend, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, addressed a group of evangelical Christian leaders. Asked if she would run for the Senate, Palin retorted, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She then, however, scolded the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.”

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