Marist Poll Senior Editor John Sparks caught up with Nadel at the Rangers Spring Training site in Surprise, Arizona. Watch the video below.
What is the latest from the Cactus League?
The Marist Poll’s John Sparks is at Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona. Find out the latest details in Sparks’ discussion with Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, below.
What does Major League Baseball’s American League West look like this year? What are the chances of the Los Angeles Angels, and what are the odds they will face-off against the Dodgers in the World Series?
The Marist Poll’s John Sparks is in Peoria, Arizona with the latest. View his discussion with Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, below.
Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is still a few weeks away, journalists and sports fans alike flock to Spring Training games. Among them is Senior Editor for the Marist Poll website, John Sparks!
It might be said that in polling you get what you ask for. That’s the case in the word choice of questions that measure the approval rating of an elected official. Different polling organizations use different approaches. For more than three decades, The Marist Poll, has relied upon a four-point question asking respondents to pick from “excellent, good, fair, or poor.” “Excellent” and “good” in this measure are combined as a positive score.
In the interest of transparency, all of our poll results are released publicly sometimes creating a poll-watchers give-and-take. This is the case in the minor dust-up in our latest NYC measure of Mayor Bloomberg. Some have argued that our measure undercounts how well the mayor is doing because some voters who say “fair” have a positive view of his job performance.
Several points need to be made. First, we recognize that many voters who believe that Mayor Bloomberg is doing a “fair” job would tell us, if asked, they “approve” of his job performance. Therefore, on a two-point approve-disapprove question, his job performance would be scored somewhat higher than it is on our four-point measure. But, a two-point measure, which includes some “fair” responses as positive, represents exceedingly tepid support for the mayor and nothing you would want to build a campaign around if you are seeking to replace him next year. It inflates his standing for 2013 beyond his campaign value.
Second, an approval rating with a four-point measure offers a look at the intensity of voters’ views… the “excellents” and the “poors.” And, because of our long history of polling New York public officials, we can provide trend data on this question. Third, the combined “excellent” and “good” responses can serve as a barometer of an office holder’s re-election prospects.
In the case of Mayor Bloomberg this election year, it’s a useful way to assess the potential impact of his endorsement or whether a candidate is helped or harmed by being too closely identified with him. The results from this Marist Poll of Mayor Blomberg’s approval rating is 50%. In fact, when New Yorkers are asked specifically whether his endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate, 36% say “yes” and 44% say “no.”
The Mayor need not apologize for a decent approval rating as he approaches a dozen years in office. But, these numbers suggest that candidates this year will not be running on the mantle of anything that resembles making their election Bloomberg’s fourth term. Among the Democrats, City Council Speaker Quinn will need to deftly pick and choose from the city’s accomplishments. For the other Democratic candidates, it requires them to both try to tie Quinn to the mayor while separating themselves from the pack of alternatives. The mayor’s influence is not much different for candidates vying for the Republican nomination. It’s Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement that matters for the GOP nod.
Along with most of the nation today, I’m thinking inauguration. My first memories of a president taking the oath of office date to 1961. My age. Ask not! My favorite inauguration was the first I had attended, Bill Clinton’s in 1993.
There are many great memories from those few days in Washington from the swearing in (excellent seats) to attending the NYS ball that evening (rubbed shoulders with Nelson Mandela).
The top recollection, after the passage of several decades, remains watching the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from Senator Moynihan’s apartment. Our own private viewing stand.
My contact with Senator Moynihan dates to phone calls I would regularly receive in the early ‘80s about his latest Marist Poll numbers from his, then, staff aide, Tim Russert. The relationship with the Senator grew over the years to include seminars at Marist College where he would treat political science students to his special take of politics and policy. On one occasion, he was even a good enough sport to try his hand at an interview as “Daniel Patrick” with a voter who unfortunately couldn’t rate Senator Moynihan because he had never heard of him. (Won’t ever try that again.) And, there were the lunches in the Senate dining room always full of insight and dripping with Capitol lore.
But, his invitation to attend his inauguration party was the best. And, the memories stay fresh as does my recollection of Senator Moynihan as a great host and gentleman.
It’s been 6 years since our mentor, colleague, and friend’s death. Warren Mitofsky was a clear thinker and major innovator of the public polling community. Beyond his methodological rigor, he communicated long-lasting, yet, simple messages to the profession. His thoughts remain vital through the 2012 election cycle.
Despite this year’s successful scientifically based public polls, the road was rocky, beset by a drum-beat of critics. Yet, Warren’s frequently uttered message, now ably echoed by Joe Lenski, remains a guide. “Believe your numbers!”
If your methods are scientifically sound, and
…you uncover unique results which pin the tag “outlier” on your findings, believe your numbers.
…you have a wider than expected spread in party identification, that brings a cascade of unwarranted criticism about weighting to party, believe your numbers.
…you are labelled a “newcomer” to Florida polling when you have Obama +2 and other long-standing polls have Romney +6, it isn’t a “house effect”. Believe your numbers.
…you detect a changing demography… an increase in minorities… in your likely voter models, it may simply reflect changing demography. Believe your numbers.
…more voters are telling your interviewers that they have already voted than are being reported by state tallying sources, it may reflect a time delay in mailing and recording early votes. Believe your numbers.
And, if you are being hammered for belonging to a conspiracy of pollsters who are cooking numbers and skewing results, stay focused.
Yes, it was “shoot the messenger” time and public pollsters were definitely in season.
Warren also advised us to always, always, always, poll right up to Election Day, even if you opt, to avoid confusion with Election Day exit polls, not to release the poll. Recognizing that campaigns don’t stop when you finish your “final” survey, sometimes a week out, there just might be something to be learned for future elections about the electorate and your likely voter models with this “exercise.”
We forgot his sage advice on the eve of the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary when Hilary Clinton “upset” Barack Obama. It would have saved us re-calling our respondents all week to ascertain the late movement among women to Clinton.
This year, the initial impact of Hurricane Sandy was picked up in our pre-weekend NBC/WSJ/Marist Polls of FLOHVA — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. But, was there any late movement on the eve of the election? We decided to invest, as per Warren’s dictum, in one last poll, bringing the grand 13 month total to 53 surveys. Sunday and Monday, we conducted a national survey and found Obama +3 among registered voters and +2 among the likely electorate.
There were many juicy poll nuggets in this survey including information about independent voters, approval ratings, the electorate’s view of the direction of the nation and the economy, minority participation, and where undecided voters were likely to end up. This all provided a context for Tuesday’s official tally and will guide our polls, especially our likely voter models, in future election cycles.
So, Election 2012 is now comfortably in our rear view mirror. Thanks, Warren, for being the lead driver once again.
Four weeks. It’s been four weeks since the tides swelled, the water rushed in, and the lights went out. Still, the lingering question is, Will we ever get back to normal?
All things considered, we are extremely blessed. Our electricity came back after twelve days of darkness, and we have hot water. We are still without heat but just received word that a new boiler will be installed mid-week. The demolition and clean up in the basement continues.
I call Howard Beach, Queens home. I have done so my entire life. The “we” to whom I refer is my husband, John, my mother, Elaine, and my brother, Bill. My childhood home lies on an often picturesque portion of Jamaica Bay, directly across from the main strip of retail stores. My mother still lives there. On the evening of Monday, October 29th, I stayed at my mom’s, expecting a small amount of basement flooding, perhaps, one to two feet, like we experienced during Hurricane Irene. Nothing prepared us for what Sandy’s wrath would bring.
With more than two hours until high tide, the water broached our backyard. With each passing minute, the water came higher and higher. The sandbags we stacked next to our side doors did nothing to keep the water from coming into our basement. Bill entered the lowest level of the home to see if anything could be done. Realizing we would have to wait out the storm, he came upstairs and closed the basement door. The lights went out. We cut the circuit breakers and turned off the gas, fearing an electrical fire. Transformers on Cross Bay Boulevard exploded. We could not see the fences in the yard, and no one dared speak of the possibility of water entering the first floor of the house.
As the tide continued to rise, I periodically checked in with my husband. To be close to his place of employment, John hunkered down in our apartment in the “new” side of Howard Beach. It was a section of the neighborhood no one expected to flood. A little after 8 p.m., he asked me the time of high tide. With about half an hour to go, two feet of water surrounded our first floor apartment, and he expected it to invade our home shortly. I began to panic. We hung up, agreeing to touch base in thirty minutes.
I could not contact John at the appointed time, and my emotions escalated from panic to near hysteria. The reality was worse than John was letting on. Water had already come into the apartment, and he had to make a quick decision. The apartment still had power, and he feared the water would rise to the level of the power outlets. Within five minutes, he pulled on his rain gear and left into a sea of waist high water. Luckily, our neighbor was home, and he found shelter on the second floor of her home. After what felt like hours, John called me. He was safe!
Truly, that is all that matters. Our family survived the storm. The aftermath has not been easy. We have our good days and our bad days. John and I lost our apartment but are grateful to be able to stay at my mom’s house. The apartment has since been gutted. We estimate about two feet of water entered our home. Our furniture, electronics, and a good amount of our clothes were destroyed. In total, our family lost four cars to the flood. These can be replaced.
What is most difficult to face are the lost memories – the pictures, weddings cards, and treasured collectibles that are no longer. My mother’s basement had more than six feet of water in it. That basement was home to five generations of memories. The piano on which I learned to play had floated across the room and was atop a freezer that had tipped in the chaos. My great grandfather’s Social Security card was discovered but was too saturated to be saved. My grandmother’s baptismal certificate and grandfather’s college books are strewn across the driveway as are my mother’s original lesson plans from when she taught. My college notebooks and papers are, now, a watered down mess.
However, I feel guilty bemoaning our losses and inconveniences. Many in our neighborhood are still without power. Our pastor received electricity over the weekend, but he is still using the gas jets in the rectory to provide him with heat. Many of our friends not just lost their basements but the first floors of their homes. Some have lost their houses entirely. Piles of rubble lay where homes, victims of fire, once stood. Again, we are lucky.
Some of the stores on Cross Bay Boulevard happily display signs that they are open for business. A welcome indication that aspects of the life we once knew may be returning. Banners have been printed and hung with the text, “Howard Beach United.” We are truly a community bonded by tragedy and hope. But, as the recovery moves on, we will have to wait and see what our new definition of “normal” will be.
When it comes to public opinion polls, this election cycle has had more shoot the messenger reactions than ever before. There’s little doubt that pollsters are in season for October and November.
Maybe this results from the growing twitter-sphere. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve had to explain that we don’t weight by party, can’t weight by party, and shouldn’t weight by party. Party identification is a variable that moves from election to election and from poll to poll. If you had used the ’04 exit polls as a guide for ’08, McCain would have been elected.
Ironically, I’ve never been asked why we might be undercounting young people or overcounting conservatives. I guess the criticisms of poll data are motivated by the political cliche: “Where you stand depends upon where you sit.”
Pollsters can adjust data when there are population parameters but not for attitudes. By way of example, pollsters can weight by age because it is a known number, but not by whether you consider yourself to be young, middle-aged, or old, an attitude.
Then, there’s the issue of pollsters “cooking the numbers” to create some pre-desired result. This criticism is often tied to the “weighting by party” argument.” If you have any worries about pollsters forming a conspiracy, you should attend a professional gathering of number crunchers and watch them try to figure out where to go to lunch. There isn’t a scientifically based public pollster I’ve ever come across in more than three decades of polling who isn’t motivated exclusively by the desire to be accurate and informative.
Then, there’s the matter of track record. A couple of facts about The Marist Poll. In the presidential election of 2008, we polled five of the current battleground states. We called every one right. The average difference between our final estimates and the Election Day results was 2%. And, we underestimated Obama in each case. We are sufficiently humble enough to understand that you are only as good as your last election cycle. And, the battleground states this time are very close.
We are firmly committed to transparency, and make all of our numbers available to the public. Unfortunately, it is our belief in sharing all of our internal numbers that frequently creates the misuse of our polls. But, we will continue to provide the numbers nonetheless because so many people find them valuable and informative.
Finally, I’ve never been convinced that voters are waiting for the next poll to decide who to support. It’s really the other way around. Public polls measure what voters think based upon what the candidates and their campaigns are doing.
Now, I’ve been asked my take on who will win the battleground states. The ‘ol perfessor Casey Stengel used to say, “It’s very difficult making predictions, especially about the future.” Nonetheless, affix your bayonets… Here goes.
Obama has a slight advantage in Ohio and Iowa. Nevada and Wisconsin are leaning his way. The remaining swing states: Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Carolina are simply too close to call.
If (and, it’s still a big “IF”) you give Obama Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and Wisconsin, and Romney the remaining five states, then Obama ends up with 277 electoral votes to Romney’s 261. The assumption here is that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota all remain blue states (another ”IF,” even if not as big). We have not polled these states.
Also, recognize these states are all within single digits and most are within the margin of error. Late movement among undecided voters and get out the vote efforts can still have a big impact on all the contested states. Why? Because it’s very close!
Have a good Election Day. My thanks and gratitude to the more than 100,000 voters who have taken their time to share their views with us this election year.
With all the political spin, polarization, and cynicism that accompanies much of the chatter about Campaign 2012, it’s easy to lose sight of what Election Day represents. At the Marist Poll at Marist College, the election season (which seems to get longer and longer) is a time to engage our students and provide a “laboratory” to understand democracy in action.
Since last fall, more than 500 Marist College undergraduates spoke first hand to voters across the country about their views on the presidential election, the economy, foreign policy and important issues and events of the day. As part of our partnership with NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, these students also got to focus their efforts on first, the opinions of voters in Republican primary states and, then, voters in nine critical battleground states.
In collaboration with the McClatchy News Service, we spoke to Americans about their hopes, concerns, and solutions for solving many problems facing the country. We found a consensus of values and a multiplicity of solutions. But, more importantly, agreement that compromise was needed and attainable.
All told, over 100,000 people across the nation took the time, one by one, to share their experiences, opinions, and intentions. We are grateful. Although polls are often characterized as villainess inanimate objects for political spin, we and our students know and have a connection with the spirited and very real individuals from all walks of life who participated in sharing their thoughts.
We also value transparency. The Marist Poll team worked tirelessly to make sure all the survey information, toplines, internals, and methods were detailed and accessible. If we missed something, survey questions were answered and information provided. But, with transparency comes responsibility. A warning to those who choose to use transparency to distort: a knowledgeable public will not tolerate such mischaracterizations for long. We will continue to explain, inform, and hopefully enlighten.
So, thank you to all who participated in this statistical chronicle of Campaign 2012. Regardless of whether or not your candidate won, we hope you will continue to be energized to speak your opinions and make your voice heard. To quote President Lincoln, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” That’s how democracy works!