Tag Archives: Siena College Research Institute

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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Upset City in NY’s 9th CD?

The special election to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY-9) congressional vacancy in New York City will be held tomorrow and the latest poll from the Siena College Research Institute (Aug. 6-8; 886 likely NY-9 special election voters) suggests a possible Republican upset in this heavily Democratic district.

According to the Siena survey, Republican Bob Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, leads Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin 50-44 percent. This is on the heels of a Magellan Strategies study (Sept. 1; 2,055 likely NY-9 voters via automated telephone calls) giving Turner a 45-40 percent advantage. Furthermore, within the last 10 days, McLaughlin Associates showed the race to be tied at 42 percent, prompting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to counter with their own Global Strategy Group (GSG) survey (Aug. 30-31; 400 likely NY-9 voters), which posted Weprin to a 47-39 percent lead. The high error factor (4.9 percent) for a poll with a large congressional district sample suggests that the GSG results may be from the “educated” ballot test, meaning that people were given further information about the candidates after the respondents made their initial candidate preference selection.

An upset in a New York irregular election would be nothing new. In the past two years, three special elections have been held in the state, each producing a winner different from the early projected favorite. The one special election where the favored candidate won, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-29), was held concurrently with the 2010 general election. The others, all in Republican seats, elected Reps. Scott Murphy (D-NY-20), who was subsequently defeated in the succeeding regular election, Bill Owens (D-NY-23), and Kathy Hochul (D-NY-26).

As in all special elections, turnout will be the determining factor. With a superior Democratic Party operation in the city, Weprin certainly has a chance to win regardless of the late polling results. If the Democrats are motivated to turn out, then Weprin can survive. If they are not inclined to do so in sufficient numbers, then we could see a GOP upset.

Should Turner win this seat, the Republicans will likely sweep the two congressional special elections being held tomorrow. The other, in Nevada’s 2nd district, will likely elect Republican Mark Amodei. Winning the New York seat, however, will almost assuredly have national ramifications and won’t make any Democrat, including President Obama, feel overly secure.
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