Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

The Polling Report Card

In Polling, Senate on November 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

As we all know, a plethora of polls were conducted throughout the country but some proved much more accurate than others. By and large, virtually every pollster correctly forecasted the races in Colorado and South Dakota, but fared very poorly in Kansas and Virginia.

Of the late polls taken, usually the last five immediately prior to the election, we look at which pollsters did the best and worst in the most competitive Senate campaigns.

Alaska
• Actual result: Dan Sullivan (R) 48%; Sen. Mark Begich (D) 46% – +2 points
• Closest Pollster: Public Policy Polling (Nov. 1-2): Sullivan, 46-45% – +1 point
• Worst Poll: Ivan Moore & Assoc (Oct. 24-26): Begich 48-42%; missed by 9 points

Arkansas
• Actual result: Rep. Tom Cotton (R) 57%; Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 40% (+17)
• Closest Pollster: University of Arkansas (Oct. 21-27); Cotton 49-36% – +13 points
• Worst Poll: Opinion Research Assoc (Oct. 25-26); Pryor 45-44%; missed by 18 points

Colorado
• Actual result: Rep. Cory Gardner (R) 49%; Sen. Mark Udall (D) 46% (+3)
• Closest Pollster: The final Public Policy Polling, Quinnipiac University, and YouGov surveys were all between one and three points
• Worst Poll: None; all of the Colorado participating pollsters correctly predicted the final trend.

Georgia
• Actual result: David Perdue (R) 53%; Michelle Nunn (D) 46% – +7 points
• Closest Pollster: Monmouth Univ (Oct. 26-28); Perdue 49-41% – +8 points
• Worst Poll: Landmark Assoc. (Oct. 29); Candidates tied @47% – missed by 8 points

Iowa
• Actual result: St. Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 52%; Rep. Bruce Braley (D) 45% (+7)
• Closest Pollster: Selzer & Co. (Oct. 28-31) Ernst 51-44% – +7 points
• Worst Poll: YouGov (Oct. 25-31) Braley 43-42% missed by 8 points

Kansas
• Actual result: Sen. Pat Roberts (R) 53%; Greg Orman (I) 43% (+10)
• Closest Pollster: None; all were off by at least 6 points
• Worst Poll: Rasmussen Reports (Oct. 20-21) Orman 49-44% – missed by 15 points

Kentucky
• Actual result: Sen. Mitch MConnell (R) 56%; Alison Grimes (D) 41%
• Closest Pollster: NBC/Marist (Oct. 27-30) McConnell 50-41% – +9 points
• Worst Poll: Survey USA (Oct. 15-19) McConnell 44-43% – missed by 14 points

Louisiana
• Actual result: Sen Mary Landrieu 42%; Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) 41% – +1 point
• Closest Pollster: Public Policy Polling (Oct. 30-11/1) Cassidy 48-47% – +1 point
• Worst Poll: Suffolk Univ (Oct. 23-26) Cassidy 48-41% – missed by 8 points

New Hampshire

• Actual result: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) 52%; Scott Brown (R) 48% – +4 points
• Closest Pollster: Public Policy Polling (Nov. 1-3) Shaheen 50-48% – +2 points
• Worst Poll: Vox Populi (Oct. 27-28) Brown 49-45% – missed by 8 points

North Carolina
• Actual result: Thom Tillis (R) 48%; Sen. Kay Hagan (D) 47% – +1 point
• Closest Pollster: Harper Polling (Oct. 28-30) Tillis 46-44% – +2 points
• Worst Poll: YouGov (Oct. 25-31) Hagan 44-41% – missed by 4 points

South Dakota
• Actual result: Ex-Gov. Mike Rounds (R) 50%; Rick Weiland (D) 30%; ex-Sen. Larry Pressler (I) 17% – +20 points
• Closest Pollster: Monmouth Univ (Oct. 24-27) Rounds 45-31-19% – +14 points
• Worst Poll: Mason-Dixon Research (Oct. 20-23) Rounds 42-33-13% – +9 points

Virginia
• Actual result: Sen. Mark Warner (D) 49%; Ed Gillespie (R) 48% – +1 point
• Closest Pollster: None; all missed by at least 7 points
• Worst Poll: Roanoke College (Oct. 20-25); Warner 47-35% – missed by 11 points

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