Category Archives: Polling

Presidential Polling Report – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Note: All the best for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Political Updates will return on Monday, Nov. 30.

Former VP Joe Biden

Nov. 25, 2020 — Now that the states are certifying their election results and the numbers are becoming clearer, we can look at the key battleground regions and assess the cumulative polling community’s accuracy.

Today we look at the key Great Lakes region and the states that turned away from President Trump and landed in former vice president Joe Biden’s camp. Polling had predicted Biden to win all four of the key states, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which he did, but they largely missed the mark when it came to margin. In three of the five instances the pollsters predicted substantial wins for Biden, not the close result he ultimately recorded.

In each place, we take the five publicly released polls conducted closest to the election and analyze whether the cumulative and individual survey research firms came close to the final result or missed beyond the polling margin of error.


Michigan

In Michigan, where Biden scored a 50.6 to 47.8 percent victory, the final five pollsters were the Trafalgar Group, Insider Advantage, CNBC/Change Research, Emerson College, and Mitchell Research. Insider Advantage came the closest, predicting a Biden two-point victory. Three pollsters missed beyond the polling margin of error. The Trafalgar Group actually predicted a Trump win.

Michigan – Biden 2.8 percent

Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1033 LV 46 48 Trump +2
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 49 47 Biden +2
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 383 LV 51 44 Biden +7
Emerson 10/29 – 30 700 LV 52 45 Biden +7
Mitchell Research 10/29 817 LV 52 45 Biden +7

Minnesota

Though Minnesota is the most loyal state to the Democrats in the presidential race, it appeared for a time that the state could become close, just like in 2016 when President Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of capturing the domain. In 2020, however, Minnesota returned to form and awarded Biden a 52.5 to 45.4 percent win. Here, the final five pollsters were Survey USA, the Trafalgar Group, KSTP/Survey USA (two separate polls), and Minnesota Post. All fell within an acceptable accuracy range.

Minnesota – Biden 7.1 percent

SurveyUSA 10/23 – 27 649 LV 47 42 Biden +5
Trafalgar Group 10/24 – 25 165 LV 48 45 Biden +3
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/16 – 20 625 LV 48 42 Biden +6
MinnPost 10/12 – 15 1021 LV 49 44 Biden +5
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/1 – 6 929 LV 47 40 Biden +7

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State has been the site of the most strenuous voter fraud lawsuits, which included a Trump legal victory. In the end, however, the victorious lawsuit(s) would not be enough to overturn the projected result, which was a close 50.0 – 48.8% finish. Polling was inconsistent with Rasmussen Reports coming closest to the final result. Three of the five firms actually predicted a Trump victory. The pollsters were: Susquehanna Polling & Research, Rasmussen Reports, the Trafalgar Group, NBC News/Marist College, and Insider Advantage.

Penn – Biden 1.2 percent

Susquehanna 11/1 – 2 499 LV 48 49 Trump +1
Rasmussen Reports 10/31 – 1 800 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1062 LV 46 48 Trump +2
NBC News/Marist 10/29 – 11/1 772 LV 51 46 Biden +5
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 47 49 Trump +2

Wisconsin

The Badger State was the closest of the four regional entities that touch a Great Lake. The final result saw the two candidates coming within just 20,608 votes, or a percentage breakdown of 49.4 – 48.8 percent in favor of the Democratic nominee. Polling from four of the five entities missed badly, all predicting a substantial win for Biden.

Susquehanna was the closest of the group, missing by just over two percentage points. CNBC/ Change Research, Susquehanna Polling & Research, Emerson College, Ipsos/Reuters, and Siena College/New York Times comprised the final group of survey research entities.

Wisconsin – Biden 0.7 percent

CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 553 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Susquehanna 10/29 – 31 450 LV 49 46 Biden +3
Emerson 10/29 – 30 751 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Reuters/Ipsos 10/27 – 11/1 696 LV 53 43 Biden +10
NY Times/Siena 10/26 – 30 1253 LV 52 41 Biden +11

NE-2

For the second time in the past four presidential elections, the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska went against the statewide trend and awarded an electoral vote to the candidate losing the statewide count. In addition to this year, the same pattern occurred in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the district but not the state.

This time the Biden victory was substantial with FM3 Research projecting the correct margin of 11 percentage points. The other pollsters, while forecasting a Biden win, significantly missed the actual winning spread. The five pollsters were: UNLV Business School, Change Research, Emerson College, FM3 Research, and Siena College/New York Times.

NE-2 – Biden 11.4 percent

UNLV Business School 10/30 -11/2 191 LV 50 44 Biden +6
Change Research 10/29 – 11/2 547 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Emerson College 10/29 – 30 806 LV 50 48 Biden +2
FM3 Research 10/1 – 10/4 450 LV 53 42 Biden +11
Siena College/NYT 9/25 – 9/27 420 LV 48 41 Biden +7

Political Overtime in Georgia & Maine

Note: Last week in the polling recount Update, a typographical error was made in one of the quoted Iowa polls. The Siena College/New York Times survey should have read: Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 45%, Theresa Greenfield (D) 44% (not 55-44%). We apologize for the mistake.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2020 — There has been discussion about seeing a great number of political campaigns not being called on Election Night, thus creating what could become a rather long “political overtime” period. Laws in two states, however, could send key Senate races into political overtime, but for a different reason than not having all of the ballots either received or counted.

Georgia and Maine have unique laws that create a secondary election period should no candidate receive majority support in the general election. Many states employ runoff contests in nomination battles, but Georgia and Maine are two entities with special laws governing the general election should no majority be achieved. In this particular year, three US Senate races, in a cycle where the battle for chamber control is close and intense, could be forced into political overtime in just those two places.

In Georgia, all contenders failing to reach the 50 percent mark sends the contest into a general election runoff. Considering the 2020 calendar, that secondary election date is scheduled for Jan. 5, meaning that the current election cycle would then be expanded for an additional two months. If the majority hinges on the two Georgia seats, it won’t be until the new year until we would have the opportunity of knowing which party would lead the Senate in the next Congress.

In the Georgia-A seat, polling hasn’t yet put one of the candidates, Sen. David Perdue (R) or Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff, at or over the 50 percent mark. In the last 10 polls of the Perdue-Ossoff race, neither man has reached 50 percent when any of the three minor party or independent candidates were listed, or referred to, in the survey questionnaire.

The Georgia-B campaign, which is the special election to fill the balance of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term, is certainly headed for political overtime. Here, the candidates are placed on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation.

Polling throughout this election year suggests that none of the four major candidates, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), and businessman Matt Lieberman (D), are anywhere close to majority support. Therefore, the top two finishers on Nov. 3 would advance to the secondary election on Jan. 5.

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The Latest Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 23, 2020 — Polls are being updated daily in the competitive Senate races. Below are the most recent two surveys from each major contest. Some states provide disparate results, others more consistent. The data source is FiveThirtyEight Polls.


ALABAMA

Moore Information (OCT. 11-15; 504 likely Alabama voters, live interview)
• Tommy Tuberville (R) – 55%
• Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 40%

FM3 Research (Oct. 11-14; 801 likely Alabama voters; live interview)
• Sen. Doug Jones (D) – 48%
• Tommy Tuberville (R) – 47%


ALASKA

Public Policy Polling (Oct. 19-20; 800 Alaska voters, interactive response system)
• Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – 44%
• Al Gross (D/I) – 41%

Siena College/NYT (Oct. 9-14; 423 likely Alaska voters, live interview)
• Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – 45%
• Al Gross (D/I) – 37%


ARIZONA

Ipsos/Reuters (Oct. 14-21; 658 likely Arizona voters, online)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 51%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 43%

Rasmussen Reports/Pulse Opinion (Oct. 18-19; 800 likely Arizona voters, automated)
• Mark Kelly (D) – 48%
• Sen. Martha McSally (R) – 44%


GEORGIA-A

Emerson College (Oct. 17-19; 506 likely Georgia voters; interactive voice response)
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 46%
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 45%

Garin Hart Yang Research (Oct. 11-14; 600 likely Georgia voters; live interview)
• Jon Ossoff (D) – 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) – 43%


GEORGIA-B – Special Election

Siena College/NYT (Oct. 13-19; 759 likely Georgia voters, live interview)
Jungle Primary; top two advance to Jan 5 runoff
• Raphael Warnock (D) – 32%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) – 23%
• Rep. Doug Collins (R) – 17%
• Matt Lieberman (D) – 7%
• Ed Tarver (D) – 2%

Emerson College (Oct. 17-19; 506 likely Georgia voters, interactive voice response)
• Raphael Warnock (D) – 27%
• Rep. Doug Collins (R) – 27%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) – 20%
• Matt Lieberman (D) – 12%
• Ed Tarver (D) – 2%


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“As Goes North Carolina,
So Goes the Senate”

First-term Sen. Thom Tillis’s campaign ad branding opponent Cal Cunningham as not trustworthy.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 22, 2020 — It looked like North Carolina Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham was building a strong lead over first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R) as the two candidates headed into October after what had already been a long campaign. Though the revelations coming forth at that time about extra-marital affairs that Cunningham was having didn’t immediately affect the campaign’s course to a great degree, we are now seeing significant movement in Tillis’ direction.

Since the end of September until last week, 18 polls were conducted of the Tar Heel State Senate race and Cunningham was averaging a lead of just under six percentage points. This included a range of a 13-point spread in one survey (Hart Research Associates; Sept. 24-27; 400 likely North Carolina voters, live interview — Cunningham, 54 percent; Tillis 41 percent) all the way to Tillis’s one-point edge (East Carolina University; Oct. 2-4; 1,232 likely North Carolina voters, interactive voice response system & an online panel — Tillis 47 percent; Cunningham 46 percent).

A new series of four polls, from a quartet of individual survey research entities, find the Cunningham lead being cut by almost two-thirds, down to just over two points. The most recent survey, from Ipsos/Reuters (Oct. 14-20; 660 likely North Carolina voters, online interview) projects that the two candidates are tied at 47 percent apiece.

Much of the reasoning behind the movement back toward Tillis’ direction is associated with the Cunningham affairs and how the two campaigns have handled the scandal. Cunningham has stopped holding virtual events and refuses to answer questions about whether there are more women than the two situations that have been already identified. In the one news availability that he held for reporters since the extra-marital scandal broke, Charlotte television reporters stressed several times that the candidate refused to answer four separate times whether he is involved with more women.

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Rep. Collins Makes His Move in
Georgia’s Special Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

Oct. 21, 2020 — Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) began the 2020 special Senate election campaign as the early leader, enjoying an advantage over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of former Connecticut US senator and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, and Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D), who now ministers the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once pastored.

The race, however, has changed significantly since those early days.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

By taking advantage of her huge personal wealth and being cleared of wrongdoing over controversial stock transactions that she and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made just after she received early COVID senatorial briefings, Loeffler eventually moved past Rep. Collins in the political standings.

Once Democrats began to coalesce around Rev. Warnock, the race again changed. The pastor began securing first place in multiple statewide polls after receiving many key national endorsements. This left Rep. Collins and Sen. Loeffler, the two Republicans, fighting each other for second place.

Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D)

The congressman, knowing he couldn’t compete with Sen. Loeffler’s wealth, or even the Democrats institutional money once the party establishment began to support Rev. Warnock in earnest, held a large portion of his resources for a strong late finish after raising $6 million for the race through Sept. 30.

Rep. Collins’ campaign strategy may be paying dividends. A new Emerson College survey (Oct. 17-19; 506 likely Georgia voters, interactive voice response system and online responses) finds another change in this rather uneven special election campaign. According to their data, Rep. Collins has now tied Rev. Warnock for first place in the jungle primary with 27 percent apiece. Sen. Loeffler trails with 20 percent and Lieberman, who had dropped well into single digits in many other polls, also rebounded to 12 percent support.

This poll conflicts somewhat with a recent Survey USA study (Oct. 8-12; 677 likely Georgia voters, online) that found Rev. Warnock at 30 percent, Sen. Loeffler posting 26 percent, Rep. Collins attracting 20 percent support, and Lieberman back in single digits with eight percent preference. Previous polls returned similar numbers to that of S-USA, but with larger percentages for Rev. Warnock.

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Iowa: Questioning the Polls

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2020 — Every political observer remembers that the cumulative polling community incorrectly predicted the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the 2016 Trump-Clinton presidential race, but further research finds additional significant misses in succeeding elections.

Political research reveals that two of those campaigns came in Iowa during the 2016 presidential race and the hotly contested governor’s race two years later. Today, we look at the Hawkeye State numbers with the goal of potentially ascertaining if there is a common polling pattern or consistent error factor.

In October, four polls have been released for the 2020 contest from a like number of different pollsters, two from left of center organizations while the other two are independent entities. The research organizations are Data for Progress, Civiqs for the Daily Kos Elections webpage, YouGov, and Quinnipiac University. Each has conducted one October Iowa survey.

In the presidential race, the polls yield former vice president Joe Biden an average lead of just over one percentage point. The cumulative ballot test mode then finds Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D) topping Sen. Joni Ernst (R) with a margin of four percentage points.

How do these numbers compare to recent polling vs. results electoral history, and is there an inherent Republican under-poll present?

In 2016, the Real Clear Politics polling average from Nov. 1-4 found then-candidate Donald Trump leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a mean average of three percentage points derived from three polls and three different polling firms. On Election Day, Nov. 4, 2016, Trump carried the state by a much larger 9.5-point margin.

Overall, 26 Iowa polls were released during the 2016 election cycle, with Trump recording a cumulative average lead of under half of one percentage point. According to the Real Clear Politics polling archives, 12 firms combined to reach the grand total, including Public Policy Polling (5 surveys), NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College (5), Loras College (3), Quinnipiac University (3), Emerson College (2), and Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register (2). The widest spread came from Loras College (Clinton plus-14) at the end of June. The Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register poll produced the most accurate finding, Trump plus-7, at the very end of the election cycle (Nov. 1-4, 2016).

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Georgia Polling Dichotomy

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 16, 2020 — An October polling plethora has been released in Georgia, which is becoming one of the most important 2020 election cycle states both in terms of the presidential and US Senate outcomes. As the only state featuring two US Senate races, Georgia has attracted more than its share of polling universe attention.

Quinnipiac University released new data yesterday that either is detecting a new trend or is an outlier. Their results give Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and US Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock big leads in their respective races, something no other survey research firm is reporting.

The Quinnipiac poll (Oct. 8-12; 1,040 likely Georgia voters, live interview) finds Biden posting a 51-44 percent lead over President Trump, Ossoff claiming a similar 51-45 percent advantage over Sen. David Perdue (R), and Rev. Warnock outpacing both Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) by 19 and 21 percentage points (41-22-20 percent).

Six other pollsters, also surveying in October, largely see things much differently.

Polling within the same period as Quinnipiac are Survey USA, Data for Progress, and Morning Consult.

Survey USA chose exactly the same sampling period as Quinnipiac, Oct. 8-12. With a sample size of 877 likely Georgia voters also in live interviews, they see a dissimilar political landscape. While they find Biden leading in the presidential race, his margin is only two points, 48-46 percent.

The two pollsters’ Senate numbers are starkly different. S-USA finds Sen. Perdue leading Ossoff, 46-43 percent, a net nine-point variance when directly compared with Quinnipiac. The jungle primary special election race is even more disparate. While Quinnipiac projects one of the biggest leads for Warnock during the entire election cycle, S-USA finds only a four-point difference between he and Sen. Loeffler, 30-26 percent, a far cry from the Q-Poll’s 41-20 percent.

The two pollsters even see a different ballot test order. While the Q-Poll finds a Warnock-Collins-Loeffler split, Survey USA projects a virtual three-way battle among Warnock, Loeffler, and Collins. The latter poll posts Rep. Collins’ statewide support at 20 percent.

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