Tag Archives: Survey USA

Reading North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2020 — CNN released new North Carolina poll results earlier this week, and we again see a familiar pattern unfolding. There has been a Republican under-poll in the southern states detected in the past few elections, and the North Carolina pattern appears to form relatively consistently upon studying its most competitive statewide races in 2014, ’16, and what may be happening in 2020. There were no statewide Tar Heel State contests in 2018.

The CNN poll (conducted through the SSRS statistical firm; Sept. 9-13; 787 likely North Carolina voters; live interview through landline and mobile phones) found former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump, 49-46 percent; Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham edging incumbent Republican Thom Tillis, 47-46 percent; and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) easily outdistancing Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, 53-44 percent.

How do these mid-September races compare with other campaigns at this same interval, and what does that tell us for autumn?

First, the CNN poll is one of seven polls conducted in North Carolina during the month of September, and its three-point margin for Biden is the Democrat’s second-best showing within this group. The only better Biden performance came from the Fox News poll at the beginning of September (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 722 likely North Carolina voters, live interview), which posted him to a four-point, 50-46 percent, advantage.

Among the five other surveys, Biden is ahead in two, President Trump in two, and one has the pair tied at 47 percent apiece (Survey USA for WRAL-TV; Sept. 10-13; 596 likely North Carolina voters). From the eight polls conducted from Aug. 29-Sept. 13, Biden’s edge is just 0.7 percent, meaning the two candidates average to a statistical tie.

Recent political history suggests that this type of an average spread sets up well for President Trump, and possibly Sen. Tillis. It appears that Gov. Cooper’s margin is beyond the statistically relevant late-term Republican swing.

In September of 2016, a total of 14 publicly released polls were conducted during that month. Within this group, Hillary Clinton led in 10 of the surveys with an average spread of 2.4 percentage points. Trump was ahead in just three polls with an average margin of 2.0 percent. Two polls found the candidates tied. Therefore, Clinton’s overall September edge was an average 1.1 percent.

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Maine’s Ranked Choice Primary

By Jim Ellis

Maine Congressional Districts

July 9, 2020 — It is likely we are going to soon see another Maine congressional race decided through the controversial Ranked Choice Voting system. A new Fair Vote commissioned Survey USA poll, from this group that supports Ranked Choice Voting, finds the three 2nd District Republican congressional candidates in a relatively close battle, but with no one realistically nearing the majority support necessary to win the party nomination.

According to the S-USA poll (June 30-July 6; 604 likely ME-2 Republican primary voters), former state representative Dale Crafts would lead ex-gubernatorial aide and former journalist Adrienne Bennett and ex-state senator and 2018 Republican US Senate nominee Eric Brakey, 37-25-19 percent. While Crafts seems to have a comfortable lead even though the three are bunched relatively close together, the fact that no one is likely to reach the 50 percent threshold means that some voters’ alternative choices would next be counted.

The Ranked Choice Voting system was adopted by the Maine electorate in 2016 and first used two years later. Though former US representative Bruce Poliquin (R) had enough votes to place first in the 2018 race, which would have normally awarded him the election, he lost in the Ranked Choice rounds. Poliquin attempted to overturn the system in a federal court challenge but failed to advance it beyond the district level.

The RCV, or “instant runoff,” system, is designed to produce a majority winner after multiple rounds of voting. Maine is the only state that employs the concept. Other domains, mainly in the South, who want party nominees to win a primary with over 50 percent support, hold a secondary election on a future day. In the RCV system, the initial primary and runoffs are conducted on the same ballot.

In the 2nd District Republican primary this coming Tuesday, since there are only three candidates, voters will mark their ballots from 1 to 3, thus clarifying their preferences beyond the individual they initially choose from the field. After the first round of voting, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and election officials then comb through all of the cast ballots to find those where the last place candidate was the first choice. These ballots are then added back into the pool with their second choice added to the aggregate vote. If no candidate receives a majority after the second round, a third begins sans the new last place candidate if there are more than two contenders remaining.

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Biden Poised to Have Potentially Defining Day in Today’s Primaries

Former VP Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

March 10, 2020 — During the early prognostication phase regarding the Democratic presidential nomination campaign, the two most important primary dates appeared to be March 3, Super Tuesday, and March 17. The latter date is important because more than 60 percent of the first ballot would be locked into place once St. Patrick’s Day voting ends.

That actually may not now be the case, however. Rather, the clinching primaries may be today.

The March 10 elections, featuring six states, haven’t attracted much attention, but the half-dozen results tonight could be the defining moment for coalescing around a new nominee.

Looking at today’s voting in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks to have his back up against the wall. It would be hard to see him continuing in viable fashion if he fails to win all of the day’s northern states, and particularly Michigan, which has 125 first-ballot bound delegates.

Late polling, however, is suggesting that former vice president Joe Biden may sweep the six states, and that might be what he needs to at least unofficially clinch the party nomination.

Three late Michigan surveys, from a place where Sen. Sanders held the lead over the Democratic field and slipped past Hillary Clinton in 2016, 50-48 percent, suggest the electorate is now turning toward Biden in a big way. In fact, the Target Insyght poll taken on Sunday, typically not a good polling day, through an automated voice response system (March 8; 600 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds Biden outpacing Sen. Sanders by 41 percentage points, a breathtaking turnaround from pre-Super Tuesday research studies. The TI result finds the Biden split over Sanders at 65-24 percent.

Others don’t show this level of separation, but they are projecting Biden to be developing a substantial advantage. YouGov (March 6-8; sample size not disclosed) finds the Biden margin to be 54-42 percent. Monmouth University (March 5-8; 411 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) sees a 15-point Biden advantage, 51-36 percent. Michigan-based pollster EPIC-MRA (March 4-6; 400 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds a similar 51-27 percent. All suggest a big Wolverine State night for Biden, the exact opposite of what Sen. Sanders needs to rebound.

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A Polling Dichotomy for Joe Biden

Former Vice President and 2020 Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden (D)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2019 — We covered a series of polls Friday that were projecting former Vice President Joe Biden regaining his early campaign advantage. On closer review, however, it was found that only the small sample polls with a large error factor were yielding the unusual Biden margins. The large sample surveys found a much closer split among the top three candidates: Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Several new polls were just released during the latter half of the month, all conducted after Oct. 15 with large or statistically acceptable sample sizes, yet the conclusions drawn nationally and in key states were very different.

The following table compares the analyzed polls, which are national, and two each from California and Iowa. Both of the states have unique positions in the Democratic nomination process. Iowa is the first voting state, and thus a trendsetter, while California has the largest contingent of delegates, 416 on the first ballot and 495 when the Super Delegates are added to the total.

The new Quinnipiac University survey released last Thursday (Oct. 17-21; 1,587 US registered voters; 713 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Warren capturing the national lead, with Biden and Sen. Sanders following. Mayor Pete Buttigieg breaks into double digits in a country-wide poll for the first time since early June.

National Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Q-Poll 21 28 15 10 5
Morning Consult 30 21 18 6 6
Survey USA 32 22 17 5 7

 

Iowa Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Civiqs 12 28 18 20 3
Suffolk 18 17 9 13 3

 

California Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Change Research 19 28 24 9 8
Survey USA 33 18 17 4 8

This result, however, directly conflicts with both the Morning Consult track (Oct. 16-20; 11,521 likely Democratic primary voters; online US) and Survey USA’s most recent national poll (Oct. 15-16; 1,071 US likely Democratic primary voters), both of which report consistent result spreads and a Biden edge.

Inconsistencies are also present in Iowa and California. The new Civiqs/Iowa State University poll (Oct. 18-22; 598 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters) returns the worst numbers for Biden of any poll either nationally or in a state.

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A Biden Resurgence?

Former Vice President, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2019 — A series of recently released national political polls finds former Vice President Joe Biden re-establishing the type of horse race leads over the Democratic field that he enjoyed before the debate process first began. Yet, how reliable are the polls?

CNN, YouGov, Emerson College, and HarrisX, all report new data and see Biden again posting significant leads, two of which are well beyond the polling margin of error.

CNN (Oct. 17-20; 424 US Democratic registered voters) gives the ex-VP a 34-19-16 percent lead over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HarrisX (Oct. 21-22; 440 US registered Democratic voters) finds the Biden lead reaching 27-19-14 percent over Warren and Sanders. Emerson College (Oct. 18-21; 430 US Democratic likely voters) sees a similarly close cut among the top three candidates, but they find Sen. Sanders slipping past Warren into second place. The Emerson split shows Biden up 27-25-21 percent over Sanders and Warren, respectively.

Looking more closely at the polling methodology for each, we find that all three of these surveys have very low sample sizes, which means the error factor is high. The respective respondent universes are only between 424 and 440 people from which to derive a national trend. These numbers are more typically found in a congressional district or small state survey.

The YouGov poll (Oct. 20-22; 628 US Democratic likely voters) used a larger national sample and found a much tighter standing among the candidates, but with the prevalent Biden-Warren-Sanders order intact through a 24-21-15 percent result. In all of the aforementioned surveys, no other candidate reaches double-digit support.

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