Category Archives: Polling

Perusing Presidential Predictors

By Jim Ellis

July 18, 2019 — Most of the attention surrounding the upcoming presidential campaign has revolved around polling, but other factors may be better long-term predictors of what may happen in next year’s national election.

Economic indicators might be the most accurate predictor in presidential elections. | pandologic

The Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas firm, a bipartisan public affairs enterprise, has compiled some interesting historical trends that may provide major assistance in at least determining what to study in preparation for the next presidential campaign.

Two of the strongest factors relate to a candidate’s Washington experience and the state of the economy during a president’s two-year re-election cycle.

The Vietnam War and Watergate scandal prove to be an interesting historical divider. According to the Mehlman firm’s research, prior to Vietnam and Watergate, the candidate having the most Washington experience won nine of the 10 presidential elections from 1936 through 1972, inclusive. Yet, after Vietnam and Watergate, the candidate with the most Washington experience lost nine of the next 11 presidential contests from 1976 through 2016.

This series of statistics doesn’t play well for former Vice President Joe Biden. Of all presidential candidates in US history, Biden has the most Washington experience having served in elective office for 44 years when combining his time in the US Senate and two terms as vice president.

Should Biden not become the nominee, Sen. Bernie Sanders would then have the most Washington experience, a total of 30 years at the campaign’s end when combining his service in the House and Senate. Sanders aside, the remaining candidates, including President Trump, all have relatively equivalent Washington experience meaning this topic would not be much of a factor unless the Democratic nominee were either of the aforementioned Biden or Sanders.

The economic indicator, however, might be the most accurate predictor. Charting the presidential elections for 100 years between 1912 and 2012, the Mehlman group found that in the 12 elections where the incumbent was running for a second term and there was no recession during the two-year election cycle, all 12 won the related campaign. In the six elections where an incumbent president was running when facing a recession during the concurrent campaign years, five were defeated. Only President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 was re-elected under such circumstances.

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The Budding Five-Way Race

By Jim Ellis

July 16, 2019 — We’ve seen an interesting trio of polls released over the past week that tested the New Hampshire Democratic electorate all within the same relative time span. The cumulative result produced three different leaders and found the top five candidates all within striking range of the top position.

As we reported last week, Change Research simultaneously conducted polls in three of the first four voting states, including New Hampshire, which, as we know, hosts the first primary election on Feb. 11. Though the state is small and has only 24 first ballot delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the primary is an important contest because front runners failing to meet early expectations often find themselves initiating a downward spiral.

Change reported that their June 29-July 4 New Hampshire survey results (420 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) projected Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to be ahead of the pack, but through a very slim margin. It’s not particularly surprising to see him leading here when we recall that he took 60 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The top candidates scored 26-24-14-13-13 percent in this first Change Research Granite State poll in the person of Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ex-Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively.

This week, Change is back with an updated New Hampshire survey, and this time uses a much larger polling sample (July 6-9; 1,084 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters). Now, the research organization projects Sen. Warren to be the leading candidate, with a commensurately small advantage, 22-20-19-15-13 percent over Sanders, Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg.

Since the margin between Sanders and Warren is equivalent when both are forecast as leaders, the order is largely irrelevant. Basically, the Change data is suggesting that the two are tied with the other three lurking closely behind.

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Change Reasearch Three-State Polling Shows Interesting Results

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2019 — Just before the July 4th holiday break Change Research conducted a series of research studies in three of the first four Democratic presidential caucus and primary states.

The firm tested either 420 or 421 likely Democratic nomination event voters in each place during the period of June 29-July 4: in Iowa (420 respondents), New Hampshire (420), and South Carolina (420).

Iowa is, as we know, the site of the first caucus vote, which is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020. This will be followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11 and the South Carolina primary pegged for Saturday, Feb. 29. The Nevada Democratic electorate, with their caucus placed on the calendar for Saturday, Feb. 22, was not polled.

Part of the media coverage surrounding these surveys looks at the aggregate numbers that these three individual places produced. The three states are highly important because they, together, will set the race’s early tone. But, from a statistical perspective, the aggregate total has little bearing as to who would eventually become the Democratic nominee.

These aggregate Change Research numbers, however irrelevant to the actual race trajectory, have captured some attention because they are so close. The sum of the candidates’ support percentages from the combined three states, from a total of 1,261 respondents, find Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) leading the group with 19 percent apiece, closely followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 18 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 17 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posting a combined 15 percent preference. No other even candidate breaks the three percent level.

What carries much greater weight, however, is the individual candidates’ status in the individual early trend-setter states. As has been prevalent in Iowa’s electoral history, neighboring regional Midwestern candidates have typically done well in the first caucus. Such is the case again according to this Change Research poll.

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The Trump Issues

President Donald Trump | whitehouse.gov


By Jim Ellis

July 12, 2019 — International pollster YouGov, surveying for The Economist magazine (July 7-9; 1,500 US adults from the YouGov opt-in Internet panel, 1,140 US registered voters, 592 likely Democratic primary voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden maintaining a lead over the nomination field, but his margin is dissipating.

In this poll, Biden has a 22-17-14-11-5 percent advantage over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, respectively, but the survey contains much more information.

This YouGov poll presents an exhaustive study of the electorate and some of the more interesting findings containing the respondents’ views regarding President Trump’s performance in certain key issue areas. In fact, the YouGov pollsters queried the respondents on 17 different subjects that yielded various conclusions.

In almost every poll, President Trump records upside-down overall job approval ratings. In this particular survey, his approval index is 43:53 percent (-10) positive to negative within the registered voter sample.

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Is Sen. Markey (D-MA) Vulnerable?

By Jim Ellis

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D)

July 8, 2019 — The Politico news site ran a story last week befor the Fourth of July break quoting a Massachusetts consultant saying that Sen. Ed Markey’s seat “is there for the taking,” and predicted the state’s extremist Democratic Party faction will make defeating him a major objective in the guise of freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Boston) successful challenge to then-veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D) in the last election.

An early June Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll is cited as the source for concluding that Sen. Markey is having some political trouble. In our analysis of the study, we see some Markey vulnerability, but it is inaccurate to say that signs are pointing to the senator possibly losing his re-nomination campaign.

The Suffolk/Globe poll (June 5-9; 600 registered Massachusetts voters, 513 self-identified Massachusetts Democratic (207) or Independent voters (306), 370 Democratic responses to the US Senate ballot test) is the same one that drew some national publicity because it projected home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren posting only 10 percent support in the presidential Democratic primary ballot test, as former Vice President Joe Biden led the field with a 22 percent preference score. It is not a stretch to predict that this race would likely poll differently if re-tested today.

The main reason that Sen. Markey is viewed as vulnerable relates to his 44 percent preference among the Democratic respondents on the senatorial ballot test. While this number is indisputably low for an incumbent, we must also view the results in context. His two announced opponents, labor union attorney Sharon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton, both only record a support level of five percent. Though Sen. Markey should reasonably be commanding majority support, he is still almost 40 points ahead of his closest known competitor.

The upstarts who want to see Markey challenged generally hope one of the top name Democrats will jump into the race, such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh or US Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton), but it is highly unlikely that either of these men will run.

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Poll: Biden Falling

By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization immediately went into the field after the second night of the Democratic presidential forum (June 27-28; 2,407 US self-identified Democratic registered voters) and found that former Vice President Joe Biden’s support slipped, at least as an immediate reaction to what is commonly viewed as his poor debate performance, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), evaluated as performing quite well, gained.

The MC data still finds Biden in first place, but down five points from their previous survey. On June 23, just three days before the first forum, Biden led Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 38-19 percent while Sen. Harris lagged at six percent support. Just after the debate, when completing the poll on June 28, Biden dropped to 33 percent, but Sanders remained constant at the 19 percent level. Conversely, Sen. Harris doubled her past support to 12 percent.

MORNING CONSULT POLL RESULTS:

Click on above graphic to go to complete Media Consult poll results story.

In the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also posted 12 percent support, which was virtually on par with her standing in their June 23 poll when she recorded 13 percent preference. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who actually scored well on the second debate night, had a similar result to Sen. Warren. While he was polling seven percent on the June 23 poll, he basically remained constant one week later, dropping to six percent on the MC June 28 survey.

Former Texas representative, Beto O’Rourke, who was dogged with poor debate reviews from his first night performance, also dropped in the Morning Consult polling. Before the forum, O’Rourke was only in the four percent range, and after, even lost half that support base, dropping to two percent.

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Debates Begin; Some Polls Tighten

By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2019 — Several polls were released just before the presidential debate series began and we see some inconsistency. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads in the most recent national surveys, but by varying margins.

The closest poll comes from YouGov (June 22-25; 522 likely US Democratic primary voters) and finds Biden’s lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be 24-18 percent. In a close third place is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 15 percent.

All other candidates are in single digits. Those who have been experiencing a recent downward trend, Sen. Kamala Harris, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke, again posted poor support scores, this time seven and three percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been polling inconsistently in recent surveys. Here, we see downward movement, as he registers only five percent support, a polling range that has also been detected in other late June polling.

YouGov also finds two of the lower-tier candidates performing a bit better in this survey. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reaches three percent national support, and Sen. Cory Booker posts two percent support. All others are at one percent or below.

But the Morning Consult data, with a much larger survey sample, tells a much different story. Their poll (June 19-26; 7,150 likely US Democratic primary voters via automated response device) detects a much larger Biden lead. The results find the former vice president at 35 percent support with Sen. Sanders in second place – as he has been in most national polls – with 18 percent, and Sen. Warren in third at 12 percent. Like in the YouGov poll, only the top three finishers posted double-digit support numbers.

The lower tier is very similar to the YouGov results sans Gabbard. They find Sen. Harris (six percent), Mayor Buttigieg (six percent), O’Rourke (four percent), and Sen. Booker (three percent) comprising a second tier. All the rest are at one percent or less.

The HarrisX survey (June 24-26; 892 self-identified Democratic registered voters) brandished a middle-sized sample with commensurate results. HarrisX also finds Biden leading the Democratic race, but his 29 percent support factor falls virtually evenly between what was found in YouGov and Morning Consult.

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