Tag Archives: New York Times

The Polling Machine

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2018 — In news that got pushed aside because of all of last week’s primaries, the Siena College Research Institute entered into a polling partnership with the New York Times to survey what the news organization spokespeople indicate will be nearly 100 US House campaigns. The Times’ statement also says more people will be “talked to (in sampling groups) than ever before.”

sienna-college-research-institute-jim-ellis-insightThe other interesting twist is that the results will be published in real time, meaning readers can see the responses as they are being recorded. The full sample is targeted to be in the 500 range per congressional district, a very healthy size. But readers should be cautioned about trying to project a pattern before the individual respondent universe is fully developed.

Siena College has been the featured New York Times pollster for several election cycles, concentrating on New York races. They regularly poll the state to test a governor’s approval rating, and how the electorate rates certain state-related and federal issues, along with conducting candidate ballot tests.

The 538 political analytics organization, which rates national, regional, and local pollsters, among other research, awards Siena an A grade in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, saying they have called 82 percent of the races correctly from 66 political surveys (60 in the 2016 election cycle, and six this year).

Siena records an average polling error rate of 4.9 percent, and concentrates on the live phoner method that includes conducting some respondent interviews on cell phones. The 538 organization records a Siena bias factor toward the Democrats of just 0.1 percent, which ties for one of the lowest in the polling universe and behind only Iowa’s Selzer & Company and Fairleigh Dickinson University, which scored a perfect 0.0 percent bias factor rating.

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Fake Analysis?

By Jim Ellis

June 30, 2017 — As we all know, one of President Trump’s favorite gambits is to call out reporters for what he terms their “fake news” stories, and we see an example this week of where he may be right. The New York Times is one of the president’s favorite whipping posts, and Nate Cohn’s analysis in the publication’s Political Calculus section about the Democrats’ chances in the 2018 election cycle is at least dangerously close to fitting into that category. While Cohn’s analysis may not be “fake”, he certainly omits a great many facts that don’t conveniently fit his premise.

Cohn is right in the early part of his article when he states that for Democrats to win the net 24 seats they need to capture at least a one-seat House majority they must expand the political playing field. He goes so far as to say they need to challenge perhaps as many as 70 Republican incumbents or nominees in open Republican seats in order to obtain that number, and his statement may well be correct.

But the “fake” part of the analysis again surrounds the special elections just completed. The author reiterates the common narrative that the Republicans under-performed in these seats, which, therefore, lays the foundation for a Democratic sweep in next year’s House races.

The premise of Republican under-performance in these campaigns simply isn’t accurate in three of the four GOP-held seats. While true President Trump recorded big percentages in the four districts, and House Republican incumbents previously racked up large victory margins against weak opponents, an “apples to apples” comparison puts the results into better perspective. In past open seat or challenger contests in these same seats, the Republican special election victors came within at least similar range with previous winning GOP candidates in like situations. The current analyses isolate the Trump numbers, which in many cases aren’t like other Republican totals, while adding landslide incumbent wins that skew the underlying vote history.

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Setting the Record Straight

By Jim Ellis

May 30, 2017 — More incorrect post-election analysis is coming to the forefront after last week’s Montana special congressional election.

After a similar Kansas special electoral contest in April yielded stories saying that a 7,600-vote Republican victory was an under-performance and reflected poorly upon a besieged President Donald Trump, similar analyses came immediately after Greg Gianforte’s 23,000-vote (22,990) win last Thursday over Democratic nominee Rob Quist.

In response to the media stories in April, we pointed out that the 52-46 percent Ron Estes victory in Kansas’ Wichita anchored district was only slightly behind previous open seat or challenger GOP victories – Todd Tiahrt first converting the seat in 1994 with 53 percent and Mike Pompeo winning the open district seven years ago with 59 percent – rather than a precursor to a coming Democratic wave election. In both the Kansas and Montana post-election analysis, the past Republican-Democrat performance was generally only defined as how the candidates performed in the 2016 and 2012 presidential elections, while failing to account for the particular region’s more complete voting history.

The New York Times ran a story last Friday, the day after the Montana election, that portrayed liberal Democratic base activists as being upset with the party chieftains who didn’t prioritize converting the at-large Big Sky Country campaign. Again, the 50-44 percent Republican victory was couched as Quist being in range for an upset if more outside support would have come from national Democratic party organizations and affiliated outside organizations. Citing President Trump’s 20-point victory in the state as basically the sole determining factor as Montana being a “solid Republican state”, the Gianforte victory pales in comparison.

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Clarifying the Process

By Jim Ellis

March 18, 2016 — A great deal of confusion exists over whether Donald Trump can reach the necessary 1,237 committed delegate threshold to clinch the Republican presidential nomination before the Republican National Convention begins in mid-July. Yesterday, the New York Times released an analysis entitled “The Upshot” in which they claim that should Trump continue upon his present course he will secure a first ballot victory. This is not correct.

In actuality, Trump would have to commit 55.3 percent of the available delegates, or 65.5 percent of those delegates in the “bound” category, now that the delegate count has been adjusted upward to 693 Trump votes. The changes come because more unbound delegates are announcing support for Trump and the Missouri results are largely settled.

At this point, Trump has secured the votes from 46.5 percent of the 1,489 delegates who are committed by law, party rule, or announcement, though the unbound supporters have the right to change their vote. Continuing at this pace would give him 1,150 delegate votes, or 87 short of the necessary plateau.

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NYT: Harry Reid to Retire

The New York Times is running a major story today saying that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made the decision not to seek re-election and will soon announce his course of action.

Reid had been vociferously denying the many retirement rumors that were circulating earlier in the year, and was actively raising funds and taking steps to hire a campaign team. Now, the Times says he is reversing course.

Reid’s departure will naturally change the Senate in a dramatic way, but the decision has major political ramifications, as well. Republicans will be much more competitive in an open seat situation in Nevada, and will now likely see stronger candidates come forward.

Previously, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and representatives Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) have all either said or indicated that they would not challenge Reid in 2016. In an open seat situation, this could all change.

The Reid retirement will fundamentally change the 2016 political picture.

This is a developing story.