Tag Archives: FiveThirtyEight

A Nevada Stunner

First-term Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
Is there re-election trouble brewing?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 30, 2021 — A publicly released Nevada US Senate survey released late last week revealed an eye-opening result. According to the VCreek/AMG poll conducted for the conservative Americas PAC (Aug. 9-14; 567 registered Nevada voters, live interview), former attorney general and recently announced US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt (R) holds a stunning 42-32 percent lead over first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

Cortez Masto was elected in 2016, defeating then-US Rep. Joe Heck (R), 47-45 percent, in another of Nevada’s typically close recent elections. Prior to winning the Senate seat, Cortez Masto served as the state’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015, winning two statewide elections for that position with substantial percentage margins, 59-36 percent in 2006 and 53-36 percent in 2010.

Preparing for what she believes will be a close contest, the senator has already raised $11.6 million in her first term and held a whopping $6.58 million in her campaign account at the June 30th Federal Election Commission finance reporting deadline.

The biggest surprise among the segmented numbers was Sen. Cortez Masto’s poor standing within her own Democratic Party. Her base vote was only 60 percent among those respondents who describe themselves as “strong” Democrats. Her preference was just 50 percent within the cell calling themselves “regular” Democrats. Among Republicans, she was taking three percent from the “strong” Republicans and recorded 13 percent support among the regulars.

Laxalt’s partisan numbers were better. He was holding 78 percent of those calling themselves strong Republicans, but a lower 62 percent from the “regular red” voters. Among Democrats, he was performing slightly better than a typical GOP candidate. Within the strong Democratic cell, he scored 10 percent preference, but reached 20 percent from the regular Democrat segment.

The moderates, or those who V/Creek terms “purple,” may be the senator’s greatest concern. Within this important segment, Laxalt held a 40-29 percent advantage. The Cortez Masto partisan numbers among Democrats will eventually return to form meaning that the 2022 Senate race will likely transform into another typically close Nevada campaign: hence, the enhanced importance of where this “purple” group falls.

To gain the Senate majority in the next election, Republicans need additional targets especially with having so many more seats to defend (20R-14D in the 2022 cycle).

Democrats appear well positioned to convert Pennsylvania and hold the pair of 2020 special election winners who must run for a six-year term next year, Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA). In addition to the New Hampshire race, particularly if Gov. Chris Sununu (R) challenges first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), the Nevada contest may be the only other GOP conversion opportunity on their board.

The other two questions VCreek posed to the sample participants related to election fraud and the Senate filibuster. A total of 73 percent of the sampling universe rates election security as “very important.” Relating to the filibuster, which has attracted much attention in the previous months, 59 percent said they favor keeping the 60-vote cloture rule intact.

VCreek/AMG is graded a B/C survey research firm according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s 2021 pollster rankings. The group, headed by analyst Nate Silver, forecasts elections, and annually rates the polling community.

This year, the ranking survey totals 482 research entities from which VCreek/AMG ranks 378th. FiveThirtyEight categorizes V/Creek/AMG with a slight Democratic bias of 0.4. In the current 538 report, however, the ranking was based on a small number of VCreek surveys, meaning a larger sample would likely propel the firm to a higher rating.

Regardless of whether this VCreek/AMG poll is accurate or flawed, expect the Democrats to quickly counter with numbers showing Sen. Cortez Masto in much stronger re-election position. If Laxalt remains close, however, this race will quickly enter the competitive top tier.

Florida Polling – What to Expect

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 20, 2021 — Two pollsters released Florida ballot test data yesterday, and the combined results are a likely prelude of what we can expect from the vast multitude of survey research firms that will be testing the Sen. Marco Rubio – Rep. Val Demings general election campaign in the coming year.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Susquehanna Polling & Research (Aug. 4-10; 700 registered Florida voters, live interview) posted their survey result, which found Sen. Rubio topping Rep. Demings by a relatively substantial 50-39 percent clip.

This was immediately countered by a St. Pete Polls survey conducted later in the month (Aug. 16-17; 2,068 registered Florida voters, online) that sees the race already dropping into a virtual dead heat, with Sen. Rubio only holding a two-point edge, 48-46 percent.

Florida polling history suggests we will see this type of divergent pattern among pollsters probably until the next election. In Sen. Rubio’s 2016 re-election race, for example, where he defeated then-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) with an eight-point victory spread (52-44 percent), most of the pollsters were forecasting a much closer finish.

During the period from Oct. 25 through election day 2016, 11 polls were released covering the Rubio-Murphy race according to the Real Clear Politics polling archives, and while all but one correctly predicted Sen. Rubio would win re-election, only five were within the correct final margin range. The others were forecasting a very close Rubio win of between a virtual tie and four percentage points.

Looking at the Biden-Trump 2020 Florida aggregate research studies tells a similar tale. Again, beginning with polling occurring from Oct. 25 through the election, 19 Florida presidential ballot test polls were published. Only six of the 19 correctly predicted a Trump Florida victory and all of those were close to the final margin of 3.3 percentage points. One of the pollsters who called this race almost exactly was Susquehanna Polling & Research. St. Pete Polls missed, wrongly projecting a close Biden win.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s polling firms rating chart, Susquehanna and St. Pete Polls are at parity. Susquehanna rates as the 92nd firm of the top 100, while St. Pete finishes three slots behind them at number 95. Both receive an accuracy letter grade of B+.

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Youngkin Within Two of McCauliffe in Virginia Governor’s Campaign

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin (R), Terry McCauliffe (D), left-to-right, Virginia gubernatorial candidates

June 15, 2021 — A just-released Virginia governor’s campaign survey yields a surprising ballot test result, especially when seeing that the data was collected before last week’s Democratic primary.

WPA Intelligence (WPAi), in their most recent poll for the Glenn Youngkin for Governor campaign (June 2-6; 506 likely Virginia voters, live interview), already finds the Republican gubernatorial nominee climbing to within two percentage points (48-46 percent) of the newly crowned Democratic nominee, former governor, Terry McAuliffe.

While certain elements point to a slight Republican survey skew, it does signal, as other research has, that the 2021 Virginia governor’s race may be tighter than the state’s most recent elections that have definitively favored the Democratic candidates.

Several analysis points need reviewing. First, WPAi is a credible Republican pollster. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website pollster rankings, WPA Intelligence has a very respectable 0.8 predictive rating with just a slight 0.7 percent Republican bias factor.

Second, some of the geographic segmentation returns, however, appear a bit too optimistic for the Youngkin team. While the Washington, DC DMA sector breaking 56-39 percent for McAuliffe and the Roanoke/Lynchburg DMA posting a 49-46 percent edge for Youngkin are both wholly believable, the projections for two other segmented regions raise eyebrows.

Youngkin leading 51-44 percent in the Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News DMA, which also includes the Virginia Beach area, isn’t particularly consistent with the way the Tidewater region has voted in the most recent elections. Additionally, the same should be said for the Richmond/Petersburg DMA where WPAi sees Youngkin pulling ahead with a 48-44 percent split.

Third, these latter numbers appear too favorable for Youngkin, and particularly so in the Richmond/Petersburg area where the McAuliffe favorability rating in this same poll is 45:40 percent favorable to unfavorable. Conversely, however, if the trend were to continue for these two places and is proven accurate, it would basically signal a return to the voters’ previous electoral pattern. The Virginia historical election matrix was much better for Republicans than the numbers found in elections since the early 2000s.

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Disputing the Georgia Poll

By Jim Ellis

Former DeKalb County, Georgia chief executive officer and ex-state representative, Vernon Jones

May 11, 2021 — At the end of last week, the Remington Research Group released a survey of the Georgia 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary for their client, former DeKalb County chief executive officer and ex-state representative Vernon Jones. The results were met with some derision.

The poll (May 1-3; 1,040 likely Republican primary voters, interactive voice response system) finds Gov. Brian Kemp leading Jones only 39-35 percent, and an Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter responded with negative comments about the poll’s credibility and cited unnamed GOP consultants who allegedly agree with this analysis.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC said in response to the poll’s publishing, “suffice it to say we have not found one person with proven knowledge about Georgia politics who believes the poll is credible.” He further stated that, “the last two independent polls I’ve seen show Gov. Kemp leading Jones 74-17 percent and Kemp up 64-14 percent.” There is no evidence that these latter polls have been publicly released, however.

To reject the Remington poll in such a manner should not be considered a legitimate response. The Remington Research Group is a national pollster that specializes in interactive voice response systems and are certainly a well-established survey research firm.

According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website that ranks polling firms, we find the RRG earning a B grade and placed as the 103rd entity of the 482 polling organizations in the FiveThirtyEight universe. This means the pollster lands in the top 22 percent of all tested survey research firms. Therefore, to reject Remington’s latest Georgia findings as not credible is an analysis and comment trail that should be discounted.

Gov. Kemp’s popularity among Georgia Republicans clearly suffered after the election controversy in his state. At the low point, according to the Morning Consult data intelligence firm, his personal favorability rating stood with a 62:31 percent positive to negative ratio among members of his own party, which is touching the danger zone for any office holder.

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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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Newsom Recall Election Likely

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

Feb. 15, 2021 — Proponents of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), with more than a month remaining until the March 17 deadline to collect the necessary number of valid signatures, are already close to forcing a removal election.

Five other attempts have been made to recall Gov. Newsom, but this is the first that had a serious prospect of qualifying. According to the latest poll of the state’s electorate, dissatisfaction with both the governor and the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the uprising.

Under California election law, state officials can be forced to stand for a recall election if a number of registered voters equal to 12 percent of the total number of votes cast in the most recent governor’s election, in this case the 2018 contest, sign a state certified petition. The total number of qualified signatures needed for the 2021 recall must equal a minimum of 1,495,709. Yesterday, the proponents reported that they have collected 1.47 million signatures. To ensure qualification, the organizing committee members have a goal of obtaining over 1.8 million signatures.

CALIFORNIA GOV. NEWSOME RECALL EFFORT:

 • Signatures Needed • Signatures Collected
 1,495,709 1,470,000
 • Signatures Reviewed • Signatures Validated
 485,650 410,087
 • Signature Approval Rate • Total Signatures Needed
 84.4% 1,772,169

At this point, the Secretary of State’s staff has reviewed 485,650 of the submitted signatures according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website, and 410,087 have been ruled valid. This translates into an approval rate of 84.4 percent. If this ratio were to continue, the proponents would have to submit a minimum of 1,772,169 signatures. At their most recent reported gathering rate of over 100,000 signatures per week, they should easily reach their quota.

The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies released their latest statewide survey (Jan. 23-29; 10,357 registered voters from online stratified random samples) and compared it with the results from their September 2020 poll. The results show a significant deterioration in the governor’s support base in the short period between the two research studies.

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