Category Archives: Polling

A Wisconsin Senate Struggle:
Sen. Ron Johnson Trailing … Again

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R)

April 5, 2021 — Another tough statewide campaign appears to be brewing in the Badger State.
Thomas Nelson is the Outagamie County, Wisconsin, executive (Appleton area) and a former Wisconsin state assembly majority leader who is assessing his chances of challenging Sen. Ron Johnson (R) next year. For his part, Sen. Johnson has not indicated whether he will seek a third term. He has hinted both toward running again and keeping the pledge he made during his first campaign in 2010 to serve only two terms.

Nelson just released the results of an internal Change Research poll that posts him to a four-point 48-44 percent lead over Sen. Johnson. Looking back to the senator’s last election campaign (2016), trailing in a survey is nothing new. It was the repetitive data continually pegging him as trailing that led to the National Republican Senatorial Committee abandoning him as a lost cause until the late polls showed him rebounding with at least a chance to win.

In the end, Johnson defeated former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 50-47 percent, in one of the most surprising results of campaign year 2016.

Wisconsin is likely the least accurately polled state during the past few elections. In the aforementioned Johnson-Feingold race, a total of 74 surveys were publicly released, and 70 of them showed Sen. Johnson trailing. In the same election year, 33 research studies were placed in the public domain for the presidential race and only the Trafalgar Group, just as the campaign was closing, correctly projected Donald Trump with an edge.

In 2020, a total of 70 presidential polls were released and 66 gave Joe Biden the lead. He did carry the state, but only by 20,682 votes translating into a 0.7 percent margin. The final 20 polls, all conducted after Oct. 1, found President Biden carrying a 7.0 percent average advantage, well beyond the polling margin of error in relation to the final result.

Therefore, with a consistent pattern of underestimating Republican strength, seeing Sen. Johnson trailing by only four points in the early stages of the 2022 campaign suggests his actual standing is likely much better.

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New Pollster Ratings

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2021 — The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization released their latest political pollsters’ accuracy ranking chart toward the end of last week — a study that included 592 survey research firms.

Grades from A+ to C/D were assigned to the firms based upon four criteria:

  1. Their 2020 election cycle precision
  2. The predictive category that suggests how successful the firm will be in the future
  3. The number of polls analyzed in this most recent cyccle, and
  4. hat the FiveThirtyEight team terms as the company’s “mean-reverted bias” factor.

Four polling entities earned the top A+ rating. They are:

  • the Iowa-based Selzer & Company
  • ABC News/Washington Post
  • Siena College/New York Times
  • IDB/TIPP

Another six received A ratings:

  • Survey USA
  • Landmark Communications
  • Research & Polling
  • AtlasIntel
  • Monmouth University
  • Marist College
  • Fox News

Seven more posted A- rankings:

  • The Trafalgar Group
  • Public Opinion Strategies
  • CBS News/New York Times
  • Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy
  • Public Policy Polling
  • Emerson College
  • Quinnipiac University

On the other end of the spectrum, 18 firms were at the bottom of the list but a dozen from this group conducted less than 10 surveys. Of those featuring more than 10 polls, the lowest ranked of the group were Nielsen Brothers Polling, the Humphrey Institute, FM3 Research, Opinion Research Associates, McLaughlin & Associates, and Brown University.

Selzer & Company has long been recognized as one of the country’s better pollsters based upon its strong record predicting the Iowa Caucus presidential results and other races most often from the Hawkeye State.

In 2020, 12 of 19 published polls projected Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield as leading Sen. Joni Ernst (R). Approaching Election Day, only two pollsters posted the incumbent ahead four or more percentage points: Selzer & Company and Insider Advantage. Sen. Ernst’s final victory margin was 6.6 percentage points. The IA firm came closest to the end result (Ernst, plus-6; actual, 6.6 percent). Surveying for the Des Moines Register newspaper, Selzer & Company again landed within the accuracy realm (Ernst plus-4).

The ratings also included the polling firms’ partisan bias factor. The bias swing in favor of one party or the other ranged from 4.7 points toward the Democrats (Survey Monkey) to a 3.1 sway for Republicans (MRG Research). The overwhelming majority of pollsters with the highest bias rating favored the Democrats. Of the 28 firms that registered a 2.0 or greater partisan bias factor, 26 favored Democratic candidates.

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Louisiana Special Election Poll Suggests at Least One District Runoff

Louisiana congressional districts


By Jim Ellis

March 15, 2021 — Two of the upcoming special elections to fill vacancies in the US House will occur next weekend, and a new Louisiana poll suggests one of them will likely advance two candidates into a secondary April 24 runoff election.

The Edgewater Research/My People Vote survey tested 651 likely voters in Louisiana’s vacant 2nd Congressional District over the March 2-7 period in preparation for the March 20 jungle primary election. A likely voter for purposes of this study were people who have voted at least seven times in the last 10 statewide elections.

The pollsters, however, only named three of the 15 candidates on the ballot in testing the electorate. The query asked if the respondent is supporting “Troy Carter, Karen Carter Peterson, Gary Chambers, or someone else.”

The names refer to state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), and Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers. No Republican was named in the survey even though author Claston Bernard and Greg Lirette have raised more money than Chambers, for example. The latter man, however, is well known as an activist who attracts a great deal of attention in the Baton Rouge media market.

The ballot test found the electorate breaking 35-24-11 percent in favor of Sen. Carter, with Peterson and Chambers following, respectively. The response for “someone else” was 16 percent. Sen. Carter, however, leads Sen. Peterson only 39-35 percent among Democratic voters, the dominant party in this district that captures most of the city of New Orleans and meanders northwest to include heavily African American Baton Rouge precincts.

The 2nd District basically divides into just two races: black and white. Of the citizen voting age population, blacks account for 61.5 percent and whites 31.7 percent. All other race categories comprise the remaining 6.8 percent of the demographic composition.

Within the black vote, Sen. Carter leads Sen. Peterson, 40-26 percent with Chambers getting 11 percent and someone else 8 percent. Within the white vote, the contest is much closer. In this case, the someone else category places first at 28 percent with Sen. Carter then topping Sen. Peterson in a much tighter 23-20 percent spread. Chambers had 10 percent support in the white category.

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Cuomo Poll: Retirement Seen As
Preferential Over Resignation

By Jim Ellis

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)

March 8, 2021 — A new Quinnipiac University poll of the New York electorate (March 2-3; 935 self-identified NY registered voters, live interview) was released late last week after his press conference with mixed results for embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

While his numbers are consistently bad with Republicans and Independents, the governor remains strong with his dominant Democratic base. Thus, while a majority of the Q-Poll respondents don’t favor the governor resigning, a large number believes he should not seek re-election in 2022.

To begin, the governor’s favorability ratio is 45:46 percent favorable to unfavorable, which is not particularly bad considering the negative effects of his dual-scandal situation, one involving COVID-related nursing home deaths and the other sexual harassment claims from former staff members.

The positive rating, however, is almost exclusively from Democrats. By a margin of 65:27 percent, self-identified Democrats still view the governor’s job performance positively. Republicans are wholly opposed, 13:82 percent positive to negative, and Cuomo is also decidedly upside-down with Independents, 33:57 percent.

Surprisingly, the polling sample still gives him positive reviews for his handling of the Coronavirus situation (56:41 percent), but, again, most of the favorable ratings come from Democrats, 80:18 percent, while Republicans and Independents both hold strongly negative opinions about how the governor has managed COVID-19: 17:80 percent among tested Republicans; 42:54 percent among Independents.

Once a small number of Democratic officials opened the spigot of dissent toward the governor, many more joined to form a high-flowing chorus. The calls for Cuomo’s resignation aren’t having much effect, however, as a majority, 55:40 percent, do not favor the governor giving up his office before his term ends. As mentioned above, however, the same polling sample does believe he should not seek a fourth term next year, and on this question, even the Democratic response is close.

Overall, 59 percent of the respondents say he should retire at the end of this term, while 36 percent believe he should run again. The Republican pro-retirement ratio registers 90:9 percent. Virtually two-thirds of the Independents (66:28%) say he should retire at the end of next year, while Democrats still barely back him remaining in office after the next election, 50:44 percent.

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Florida Poll Boosts DeSantis

By Jim Ellis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) at the recent CPAC.

March 3, 2021 — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is quickly becoming a national talking point with regard to the 2024 presidential campaign, but he first must further prove himself with a 2022 re-election victory in the always politically close Sunshine State.

Over the weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Gov. DeSantis was clearly the choice of the conservative base as a potential heir-apparent to former President Donald Trump.

In the future presidential straw poll, former President Trump placed first among the several thousand individuals who participated. He took 55 percent of the first-place ranked choice votes. Gov. DeSantis was a clear second pick, however, with 24 percent. Without Trump in the field, it was Gov. DeSantis running away with the lead, capturing 43 percent with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem a distant 11 percent second-place finisher. Donald Trump, Jr. followed with eight percent support.

Just after CPAC, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released the findings from their Florida poll conducted during the Feb. 24-28 period. The organization surveyed 625 registered Sunshine State voters through a live interview process.

According to the M-D results, Gov. DeSantis’ job approval rating has improved to 53:42 percent favorable to unfavorable, a net 15-point gain from his standing in the July 2020 M-D survey that found him saddled with an upside-down ratio of 45:49 percent.

The job approval ratings are a precursor to his ballot test standing opposite a prospective Democratic gubernatorial nominee, of whom the two leading choices appear to be State Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried and US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) who may make his third run for governor.

From 2007-11, Crist was governor of the state, but served as a Republican. He switched parties after a failed run for the US Senate as an Independent, and won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, but lost to then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the general election.

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