Different Methodologies,
Same Result

Sept. 22, 2015 — Two national media polls were released this weekend. Though the methodologies employed in each survey were very different, both arrived at remarkably similar conclusions.

NBC News ran an online survey and CNN/ORC conducted one of their regular research studies of the post-debate national Republican electorate. The two found confirmation of what was developing before the debate – the trio of never-elected Republicans: Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina attracting more than bare majority support – also happening after the forum.

According to NBC Online, 54 percent of the GOP primary voting sample chose one of the non-politicians. The top elected or former elected official, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, scored a mere eight percent. CNN/ORC reported a similar finding: 53 percent, with one elected official, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, actually breaking into double-digits at 11 percent.

NBC developed their 5,113 person polling sample with SurveyMonkey on Sep. 16-18, from a pool of more than the three million people who answer SurveyMonkey questions each day. The NBC officials classify this as a “non-probability survey” that was demographically weighted with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Of the 5,113 adult sample, 2,070 are registered or self-identified Republican voters. The reported GOP segment ballot test responses follow:

Donald Trump ……….. 29%
Dr. Ben Carson ………. 14%
Carly Fiorina ………….. 8%
Sen. Marco Rubio ……. 7%
Sen. Ted Cruz ………… 7%
All Others ……………… 3% and below

Interestingly, this poll detects another key shift. Before, when asking polling respondents whom they thought would win the Republican nomination regardless of which candidate they support, Jeb Bush was typically the overwhelming choice. Now, that sentiment has switched to Trump. In this poll, 32 percent said they believed Trump would be the GOP nominee; 14 percent still said it would be Bush, while 10 percent replied that Dr. Carson would eventually be nominated.

The CNN/ORC poll again followed their typical methodological formula, beginning with just over 1,000 adults (1,006 in the case of their most recent Sept. 17-19 survey), narrowed to registered voters (924), and then to those who consider themselves Republican or lean Republican (444). As we have commonly stated in previous Updates when analyzing the CNN/ORC studies, the primary voter sample sizes are very small for a national survey. Therefore, the error factor grows high.

In this case, however, the results track well with the bigger NBC Online poll. In fact, the differences between the two sets of conclusions are quite small even though the actual results are not the same.

The CNN data finds Trump leading with 24 percent, but projects Fiorina nipping Dr. Carson for second place, 15-14 percent. The latter poll’s main difference is their detecting of a much stronger standing for Sen. Rubio. This survey finds the Florida lawmaker moving past Bush into fourth place, and only three points behind Carson. He is the only elected or former elected official who registers in double-digits.

It remains to be seen just how long this “outsider” trend continues, but the pattern is showing short-term staying power at the very least.

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