July 23, 2015 — The ABC News/Washington Post poll that posts Donald Trump to a 24-13-12 percent lead over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, et al, joins a long line of bogus polls.
Once again, as we saw with national polls released last week, this latest respondent sample is inherently flawed. The Suffolk University and Monmouth University surveys that we covered five to seven days ago employed miniscule primary voter samples that were far below statistically relevant levels. Therefore, the aggregate polling results became unreliable.
The new ABC/Post poll is equivalently flawed, in similar and different ways. Taken during the July 16-19 period, the pollsters interviewed 1,002 respondents, which is an acceptable number for a general election sample. But, checking their segmentation of political party identification percentages, we again see primary voting samples of between 200-300 for both national parties.
The fundamental problem with this poll’s methodology, however, is making no attempt to screen for registered voters. The 1,002 participating individuals were classified as “adults”, and nowhere did the questionnaire segregate actual voters from non-voters. Though the respondents do generally align themselves with one party or the other it is a certainty that many of the respondents are not part of the voting pool.
With such a sample the results are likely to skew left, favor the most well known candidates, and feature high percentages of respondents choosing either the least definitive answer, or claiming they don’t have enough information to make an educated decision.
The ideological questions lend particular support to the supposition that the polling sample is unreliable. When asked whether each candidate is too liberal, too conservative, or just about right, the overwhelming preponderance of responses for each candidate was “just about right”. Additionally, setting Hillary Clinton to the side, the “no opinion” responses associated with each candidate were high, ranging from 19-43 percent. The “just about right” scores fluctuated from 69 percent (Clinton) down to 35 percent (Sen. Ted Cruz).
The span pertaining to the ideology question is simply too great when testing highly diverse candidates. For example, let’s look at the two contenders commonly viewed as being the most extreme in the field, senators Bernie Sanders (I/D-Vermont) and Texas’ Cruz.
Despite self-describing as a “socialist”, only 13 percent of this sample felt Bernie Sanders is too liberal, while 9 percent even more stunningly said “too conservative”. A full 40 percent said he is “just about right.” Regarding Cruz, 18 percent said he was “too conservative”, yet 10 percent said “too liberal”. These strange responses are indicative of a sample that is not likely representative of the national voter pool.
Though polls like the ABC/Washington Post’s latest effort attract a lot of headlines and television time, they are not reflective of how the race currently stands.
Gov. John Kasich
Before a roaring crowd at an Ohio State University auditorium, Gov. John Kasich announced his intention Tuesday to officially enter the Republican presidential primary. He becomes the 16th Republican candidate who will qualify for the ballot and run a professional effort. The field is expected to swell to its maximum size when former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore joins the contest next month.
Gov. Kasich begins well back in the second tier of candidates, but is just 10 points away from the respectability realm. He has a built-in advantage in that his home state of Ohio –- just recently, and with Kasich himself signing the legislation -– enacted a new election law that places their 66 Republican National Convention delegates in the Winner-Take-All category (WTA).
Done as a way to boost Kasich, the governor also increased his own stakes when he signed the legislation in June. Though winning his home state will provide him a sound base of delegates from which to grow, his action could well end his campaign, too. Should he prove uncompetitive in the early states, losing his own WTA state could well cost him all viability.
Kasich’s short-term objective must be to develop himself as a national candidate from an important swing state with a good record, thus propelling him to exceed expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and the other southern states that will precede the Ohio vote on March 15th.