Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Public Opinion Strategies’

Looking Beyond Tomorrow’s Final Primaries

In Governor, House, Senate on September 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

MA-6

Last week we wrote about the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District Democratic primary where Rep. John Tierney faces a formidable opponent in ex-Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton. According to a new poll, the challenger has the critical momentum and is pulling to within three points of the congressman, holding him below 50 percent.

The Emerson College Polling Society (Sept. 2-4; 343 likely MA-6 Democratic primary voters) finds Rep. Tierney clinging to a 47-44 percent lead over Moulton, hardly a comforting margin for a nine-term incumbent. Clearly, the late trends are riding with Moulton; the only question is will they be enough to carry him over the political finish line tomorrow. The Society conducted two other polls of this race, one in April and the other in June. Tierney held leads in those studies of 64-11 percent and 59-17 percent, respectively.

The Emerson College Polling Society is comprised of a group of students at the named educational institution. They came to fame shortly after the 2013 Virginia governor’s race when all of the professional Continue reading >

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Lankford Surging in Oklahoma Senate Race

In Polling, Senate on June 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm

The Oklahoma special Senate election to replace resigning Sen. Tom Coburn (R) has witnessed topsy-turvy polling. When the candidates announced in January, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) enjoyed major leads over former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. In April, Shannon then gained momentum and overtook Lankford, capturing the lead 42-32 percent according to a Public Opinion Strategies survey (April 21-22; 500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters). Now in May, the third consecutive poll projects that Rep. Lankford has re-assumed the advantage.

According to a new American Viewpoint poll, conducted for the Foundation for Economic Prosperity (May 27-29; 500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters), Lankford now has re-established a commanding lead, 48-26 percent, over Shannon. Earlier in May, the Tarrance Group (May 12-14; 501 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) gave the congressman a slight 43-40 percent edge. The Sooner Poll (May 5-10; 580 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) found a similar 34-32 percent Lankford edge.

Geographically, the data shows Lankford  Continue reading >

A Quick Check-in on the Nebraska, West Vriginia and Oklahoma Primaries

In House, Polling, Primary, Senate on May 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Voters in two more states visit their polling places tomorrow, as Republican and Democratic primaries are taking place in Nebraska and West Virginia. A total of 29 states are voting in May and June.

Nebraska

The Republican primary is key in the Cornhusker State, as the GOP nominees for governor and senator will be heavy favorites to win in November.

In the governor’s race, six Republican candidates vie for the nomination but the campaign is evolving into a contest among three. Attorney General Jon Bruning, who lost the 2012 US Senate Republican primary to now-Sen. Deb Fischer, appears to be the favorite going into Election Day. He was just recently endorsed by popular outgoing Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who is ineligible to seek a third term. Former US Senate nominee Pete Ricketts, part of the Ricketts family who founded the Ameritrade national investment house and own the Chicago Cubs baseball club, and State Auditor Mike Foley are also viable candidates. With no run-off election system, the candidate  Continue reading >

Virginia’s “Firehouse” Primary Tomorrow; Other Primary Developments

In Election Analysis on April 25, 2014 at 11:09 am

A congressional nomination will be decided tomorrow in the Washington, DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Expectations suggest a limited number of Republican voters will participate in what is termed a “firehouse” primary.

The characteristics of such a voting event are unique. First, only 11 polling places will be open throughout the entire district: just one apiece in Clarke, Frederick, and Prince William Counties, and in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester. Fairfax County will feature two polling locations, and Loudoun County, a locality housing more than 350,000 residents, will have only three. Instead of voting in one’s own neighborhood as is normally the case, individuals will have to travel, in some instances more than 20 miles, and stand in what could be a long line because there are so few polling places. Thus, participating in this election will take a much greater commitment from every voter than in normal primaries.
 Continue reading >

Oklahoma in Flux

In House, Senate on April 24, 2014 at 10:14 pm

A new poll commissioned for a 527 organization supporting former Oklahoma House Speaker T. W. Shannon (R) shows him overtaking Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) in the state’s open Republican Senate campaign. Sen. Tom Coburn (R) is resigning at the end of this year, thus adding another senatorial election to the 2014 political calendar. The winner will be eligible to stand for a full six-year term in 2016.

The Oklahomans for a Conservative Future organization’s poll (Public Opinion Strategies, April 21-22; 500 likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters) gives Shannon a 10-point, 42-32 percent lead over Rep. Lankford, representing an incredible swing of 45 points since the first POS poll was taken in February (Lankford then leading Shannon, 51-16 percent).

The survey was fielded after OCF spent $400,000 in media and mail promoting Shannon and depicting Lankford as not being conservative enough for the Oklahoma Republican electorate. As House Republican Policy chairman, the congressman is part of the GOP leadership, a group held in generally low esteem by the  Continue reading >

GOP Senate Momentum Has Stalled

In Polling, Senate on November 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

The Indiana Democratic Senate campaign of Rep. Joe Donnelly released its internal Global Strategy Group poll (Oct. 28-30; 600 likely Indiana voters) that posts their man to a 43-36-9 percent advantage over Republican Richard Mourdock. The latter number is going to Libertarian Party candidate Andrew Horning. Mourdock countered by making his internal data public, a poll that claims his deficit is only one point. But even this latter margin is a reduction in support for the reeling Republican as a rape-related abortion comment in the final candidates’ debate could prove to be the deciding factor.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Rep. Mike Pence probably confirms Donnelly’s lead with his latest actions. Though releasing positive numbers for his own campaign and that of the presidential contest, the Pence team remained mum on the Senate race, leading to speculation that their internal data also shows Donnelly leading.

Taking Indiana would be a huge boon to the Democrats and will go a long way toward achieving their goal of holding the Senate majority.

In two western states, however, the GOP trend may be improving.

The National Mining Association, through their continuing Count on Coal campaign, launched an attack against Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. The group goes so far as to say that Tester has joined Pres. Barack Obama’s “war on coal” for not supporting the coalition efforts and for his backing of federal regulations that have largely undermined the state’s coal production operations. Along with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Tester has refused to sign onto the Montana coal petition that pledges to protect the industry. Despite being a place of just under one million inhabitants, Montana ranks fifth in the nation in coal production, producing slightly under 45 million tons in its apex year of 2010.

Republican Denny Rehberg signed the pledge, as have most other candidates throughout the state, and the coal group is trying to make this issue the deciding factor of the campaign. In a race that has polled even for months, one coalition group heavily promoting a critical issue position could have a major effect. Energy issues are making an impact in races across the country, especially in the West.

Conflicting polls are now coming from New Mexico. Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic nominee, released his internal GBA Strategy numbers (Oct. 27-29; 600 likely New Mexico voters) that again places him 10 points ahead of former Republican congresswoman Heather Wilson. But, earlier this week, Wilson countered with her own Public Opinion Strategies survey (Oct. 21-22; 500 likely New Mexico voters) that showed her topping Heinrich, 44-43 percent in this case, for the first time in the campaign.

Heinrich’s numbers have held for most of the election cycle, and he has been in stronger position than one would have guessed running against a Republican former representative who proved she could win repeatedly in Democratic regions. If her earlier POS data is correct, it might signal that her campaign could be peaking at the right time and become the Republican sleeper race that many people suggested it might be earlier in the year.

Overall, however, the Democrats look to be in the more favorable position than Republicans in Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The GOP is likely to convert Nebraska, and is trending more positively in North Dakota. With the likely loss of the Maine seat to Independent Angus King, the Republicans could be trading two of their current seats for two others, but this still leaves them four short of majority status.

If Indiana and Montana cancel each other from a party division perspective, and Elizabeth Warren unseats Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the Democrats could actually end the night breaking even, or losing fewer than the four seats than the GOP needs to snatch away the majority. Democrats are protecting 23 seats in this cycle as compared to the Republicans’ 10, thus giving the GOP many offensive opportunities. But their early positive momentum has definitely stalled.

Matheson Gets No Love

In Election Analysis, House on September 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

Rep. Jim Matheson

A new internal Public Opinion Strategies poll for Utah congressional candidate Mia Love shows the challenger opening up a huge lead over six-term incumbent Jim Matheson (D-UT-2). The two contenders are running for the state’s new 4th Congressional District, a seat awarded the state in the 2010 reapportionment formula. The new UT-4 stretches from the southern Salt Lake City suburbs to the center of the state and includes such communities as South Salt Lake City, Millcreek, West Jordan and South Jordan, and Love’s home town of Saratoga Springs. Matheson only represents 33 percent of the new district, but it does contain the most Democrats of the state’s four congressional seats. Still, President Obama could only register 41 percent support here in 2008 and figures to do worse this time with semi-favorite son Mitt Romney leading the Republican ticket.

The new POS data for the Love campaign (Sept. 10-11; 400 likely UT-4 voters) gives the Republican a whopping 51-36 percent lead over Rep. Matheson. Though the congressman still has a positive image (57:33 percent favorable to unfavorable), a full 50 percent of those questioned now say they want a new representative.

Mia Love, 36, born of Haitian parents and elected to the city council and now mayor of her home town, received a prime speaking position at the Republican National Convention and scored rave reviews for her message and performance. The address jump-started her campaign and this new poll evidences that she is one of the country’s top Republican challengers. Expect to see a Matheson counter poll released shortly. Failure to do so will silently confirm the POS results.

The Conflicting Trends

In Election Analysis, Polling, Senate on September 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

Though we spend a great deal of time writing about and analyzing polls, it is important to remember that even though individual ballot test data is helpful and allows us to gauge campaign trends, the isolated individual polls themselves can be misleading. Today’s examples coming from Nevada and Ohio are a case in point. In both states, polls conducted during the same sampling period are producing considerably different results.

In Nevada, Public Policy Polling (Sept. 18-20; 501 likely Nevada voters) and Public Opinion Strategies (Sept. 19-20; 500 likely Nevada voters) can’t even agree on which Senatorial candidate is leading the race. A similar range conflict is found in the Ohio Senate race between Gravis Marketing (Sept. 21-22; 594 likely Ohio voters) and the Washington Post (Sept. 19-23; 759 likely Ohio voters), though the incumbent, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), leads in both studies.

Looking at the Silver State, PPP projects Democrat Shelley Berkley to have a 48-44 percent lead over appointed Sen. Dean Heller (R). But POS is posting Heller to the opposite position, as they show the Senator topping Berkley 44-39 percent. Among the Buckeye State likely voters (the Washington Post poll provides separate results for their larger sampling universe of 934 registered voters and the whittled down cell segment of 759 likely voters), the WP Poll gives Sen. Brown a substantial 51-43 percent advantage, while Gravis sees only a one-point difference (Brown over state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) 44-43 percent) between the two candidates.

Examining the aggregate for all four polls, the net swing in Nevada is D minus 7 points from PPP to POS, while both show the same level of support for Republican Heller (44%). Interestingly, the Gravis and Washington Post Ohio polls reveal a similar effect. While Democrat Brown swings seven points between the two surveys, Republican Mandel scores the same level of support in both, 43 percent.

The presidential numbers in both states also show similar divisions. PPP gives President Obama a 52-43 percent lead over Mitt Romney in Nevada, while POS shows the two candidates tied at 46 percent. In this case, PPP is six points higher for the Democratic candidate and three points lower for the Republican for a net swing of nine points. In Ohio, the Washington Post gives Mr. Obama a 52-44 percent edge among likely voters while Gravis Marketing projects only a one-point 45-44 percent margin in the President’s favor. Again, the two polls detect the same level of support for the Republican candidate, but vary rather substantially (once more, a difference of seven points) for the Democratic contender.

All four of these polls are live interview surveys, as compared to those using the Interactive Voice Response method, so these studies are all in the “apples to apples” comparison category. All are making their own unpublished determination as to what they define as a “likely voter.” The pollsters weight the responses to mirror the state’s population and voter registration and preference history but don’t reveal their particular weighting equations. And, clearly, this distinction is key in relation to the Democratic scale because the Republican numbers among these various studies remains constant, or virtually constant (GOP presidential number in Nevada is different).

What does this tell us? Again, looking beyond the original ballot test numbers, we are seeing clear variance, particularly on the Democratic side. This is more than likely the result of the particular pollster’s sample selection, weighting equation, and likely voter determination while, of course remembering that all polls are a mere snap shot in time of a very small group of people. This is why contrasting multiple polls to obtain a picture of a particular campaign is so important, because the comparison tells a much different story than looking at any one of these polls individually.

Throughout this election cycle, pollsters have been detecting an electorate that is inconsistent and can abruptly swing. The polls we compare today certainly continue to show such characteristics. This means, to a large extent, that we are flying blind into Election Day, and that the final determining factors either haven’t yet happened or are not fully cemented.

Several Stunning Polls

In House, Polling, Presidential campaign on August 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Across the nation, some eye-opening new polls have cast several races in a different light. Except for the Missouri debacle involving Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO-2) and his quest for the US Senate seat, which has blown up on the Republicans over their candidate’s rape-related abortion comments, some other recently released data is decidedly breaking the GOP’s way.

In Florida, Foster McCollum White & Associates, in conjunction with the public affairs firm Douglas Fulmer & Associates, surveyed 1,503 registered Florida voters on Aug. 17 and found not only Mitt Romney leading President Obama by a heretofore unheard of 54-40 percent count, but Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14), fresh from his strong Aug. 14 Republican primary victory, also jumped out to a 51-43 percent advantage over his opponent, two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D). Mack has proved to be a stronger than anticipated candidate, thus paving the way for what is becoming a highly competitive campaign. This is the Republicans’ best Florida poll to date.

From an internal campaign survey taken over a month ago (OnMessage; July 16-17; 400 registered Colorado 7th District voters) for candidate Joe Coors Jr. (R) but just released now, the Republican challenger leads veteran Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) 45-36 percent. No data has shown anything close to this margin so far and the spread here doesn’t fit the district’s normal voting patterns. More data showing a similar trend will have to be released before such a result is confirmed as being accurate. Expect the Perlmutter campaign to shortly counter with a different set of numbers.

In Nevada’s new 4th District, another seat created via reapportionment, Public Opinion Strategies (Aug. 7-9; 400 likely NV-4 voters) polling for the American Action Network, gives GOP nominee Danny Tarkanian a 46-35 percent lead over state House Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D). Like the set of numbers mentioned above in Colorado, these numbers seem to paint a more rosy Republican picture than how the region normally votes. A Democrat candidate should have the advantage in this northern Las Vegas area CD, so more will have to be learned before such a result is fully accepted.

Finally, countering last week’s internal campaign poll from New York GOP nominee Chris Collins, which showed the Republican jumping out to a double-digit lead, Siena College (Aug. 12-14; 628 registered NY-27 voters) finds the former Erie County Executive to be leading freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) 47-45 percent. Since the new 27th CD is the safest Republican seat in New York, it is plausible that the Democrat incumbent would be trailing here. This race is a hotly competitive campaign and a must-win for New York Republicans.

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