Category Archives: Polling

A Pair of Flawed Polls Out Of
Florida and Pennsylvania

By Jim Ellis

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Aug. 25, 2021 — We saw two polls released into the public domain covering major races from Florida and Pennsylvania, and both appear to have reliability failings.

In the Sunshine State, the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll (released Aug. 22; 1,000 likely Florida voters, interactive voice response system) finds Sen. Marco Rubio (R) leading Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), 55-45 percent. While the margin is reasonable and believable, the partisan segmentation is not.

In looking at Listener’s published crosstabs, the Democratic segment yields a 52.5 – 47.5 percent split in favor of Rubio. Among Republicans, the senator scores only a 58.1 – 41.9 percent result, again a bizarre count for an incumbent within his own party with no personal scandal at such an early time in the cycle. In an era of strict partisanship, these numbers are not fathomable. Therefore, the entire ballot test has a reliability risk.

To put the partisan numbers in perspective, as an example of a scandal-ridden politician’s standing within his own party, the Civiqs polling organization surveyed the New York Democratic electorate on a rolling track from Feb. 16 through this past Sunday (of 32,623 respondents participating at some point during the period) and found outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability at 47:36 percent positive to negative even while being forced to resign under the threat of impeachment.

Another flaw is the polling sample’s political persuasion division does not equate to Florida’s ratios. According to the July 31 voter registration report from the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Democrats have a partisan registration percentage of 36.0; Republicans’ 35.7; and Unaffiliateds’ 26.5. The Listener Group survey sample contained 45.0 percent Democrats, 43.8 percent Republicans, and 11.2 percent Unaffiliateds, far from the actual partisan share positions, and particularly so among those not belonging to one of the major political parties.

In Pennsylvania, the latest Franklin & Marshall College statewide survey was released (Aug. 9-15; 446 registered Pennsylvania voters, combination live interview and online). While the study provides a realistic picture as to where the voters are on issues of the day and favorability ratings on national and statewide figures, analyzing their ballot tests for the Republican and Democratic primaries for the state’s open US Senate race leaves something to be desired from a reliability standpoint.

The fundamental problem is that their sample sizes are much too low to accurately depict where these primary races stand.

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Perdue’s Georgia Governor Test

Former US Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2021 — The Fabrizio Lee polling firm, conducting a survey for former President Donald Trump’s Save America PAC, recently tested former US Sen. David Perdue opposite the Georgia Republican gubernatorial field including the party’s incumbent, Brian Kemp.

At this point, Perdue has not indicated that he will be on the ballot for any office in 2022, but that did not stop the Trump pollsters from releasing data showing how he would fare as a gubernatorial candidate. Former DeKalb County Executive and ex-state Rep. Vernon Jones, a former Democrat who became a Trump spokesman during the 2020 campaign, is Gov. Kemp’s principal challenger to date.

The Fabrizio Lee poll (Aug. 11-12; 500 likely Georgia Republican primary voters, including 100 Independents who plan to vote in the Republican primary, live interview) finds Gov. Kemp still saddled with tepid approval numbers from the GOP base. His favorability index is 69:27 percent favorable to unfavorable, which does show weakness for an incumbent within his own political party. Comparatively, Trump’s favorability index is 93:6 percent.

In the four-way primary Gov. Kemp fails to reach 50 percent, which would force a runoff vote if this poll were the final electoral result. The ballot test finds the governor leading 41-19-16-3 percent over Jones, Perdue and announced candidate Kandiss Taylor, respectively. The Perdue number is also weak, but his standing changes when another piece of information is given the respondents.

The pollsters isolated Gov. Kemp and ex-Sen. Perdue after telling the survey participants that Trump would support Purdue. Knowing that, the two-way test yields a Kemp lead of only 46-40 percent, with 25 percent saying they are “definitely” voting for Kemp while 20 percent would “definitely” support Perdue. The remainder favoring each man said they would “probably” vote for their stated individual.

The paradigm changes when all of the candidates are added to the ballot test with the respondents having the information that Trump supports Perdue. Under this scenario, it is Perdue who assumes the lead with 41 percent, while Gov. Kemp posts just 26 percent. Jones records 14 percent, and Taylor, a minor 2020 US Senate candidate, again attracts three percent support.

The Trump endorsement also played a factor in the responses for the US Senate race. Here, former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker easily outdistances state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Walker has not committed to run, while Black is an announced candidate.

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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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