2/5: Trump’s Lead Narrows as Rubio and Cruz Close Gap in New Hampshire

Just days after his defeat in Iowa, businessman Donald Trump, 30%, leads his closest competitors, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 17%, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 15%, among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or who have voted absentee.  While Trump’s support is virtually unchanged from the 31% he had, his lead has declined from a 19 point advantage in the previous NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll to 13 points now.  Rubio has gained momentum in the Granite State, up 6 points, following his strong third place finish in the Iowa caucus.  Cruz had 12% in last week’s New Hampshire poll.

Trump continues to lead his GOP rivals among most key demographic groups.  He runs best among likely Republican primary voters who are under 30, do not practice a religion, those without a college degree, Tea Party supporters, or men.  But, Rubio has made notable gains across the board.  Cruz does best and leads all competitors among likely GOP primary voters who describe themselves as very conservative.

Among self-identified Republicans, Trump’s lead has been cut in half.  He now has 29% to 19% each for Rubio and Cruz.  Among independents, Trump has 31% followed by Rubio with 16%, Ohio Governor John Kasich with 14%, and Cruz with 11%.  Last week, Trump had a 12 point lead over his nearest rival, Kasich, among independents planning to vote in the GOP primary.

“Trump leads, but will he close it out this time?” asks Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “As in Iowa, Rubio and Cruz are second choice favorites.”

67% of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference report they strongly support their choice of candidate, up from 59% previously.  Large proportions of Trump’s supporters, 78%, and Cruz’s backers, 76%, express a high level of commitment to their candidate selection.  54% of those behind Rubio say the same.  Seven percent are undecided, and 11% say they might vote differently on Primary Day.

When it comes to the second choice of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference, Rubio, 20%, and Cruz, 16%, are the preferred selections.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Trump are the only other candidates with double digits.

Complete February 5, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Release of the Republican Primary Contest in New Hampshire

Complete February 5, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete February 5, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Republican Primary Voters)

Marist Poll Methodology for New Hampshire

Nature of the Sample for New Hampshire

2/4: Sanders Outpaces Clinton in New Hampshire

Looking at the Democratic presidential contest in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 58%, outdistances former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 38%, among likely Democratic primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or who have voted absentee.  Sanders’ lead in the Granite State is virtually unchanged from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll conducted prior to the Iowa caucus.  Last week, Sanders led Clinton by 19 points, 57% to 38%.

Sanders is ahead among almost all key voting groups.  But, his lead is fueled by remarkable support among the state’s younger likely Democratic primary voters including younger women.  Sanders receives the support of 76% of likely Democratic voters under 30.  He is backed by 72% of those under 45 years of age including a 29 point lead over Clinton among women in this age group.  His strong showing among these voters was a big factor in the competitiveness of the Iowa caucus last week where he was backed by 84% of those under 30, according to the Edison Research Entrance Poll.  Clinton leads among women over 45 where she is ahead by nine points.  Sanders is also ahead among independents likely to vote in the Democratic primary by 43 points.  Among Democrats, he narrowly leads by 5 points.  Among likely Democratic primary voters who self-identify as very liberal or liberal, Sanders outpaces Clinton by 27 points, up 7 points from the previous poll.  His lead among moderates is 8 points, down from 18.

“As their rivalry intensifies, Sanders and Clinton are turning up the heat,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “But, so far in New Hampshire, it’s all Sanders as Clinton faces an uphill fight.”

When it comes to intensity of support, 79% of likely Democratic primary voters with a candidate preference including absentee voters strongly support their choice.  Among Clinton’s supporters, 80% have a high level of commitment to her while a similar proportion of Sanders’ backers, 77%, express the same level of support for him.  Three percent are undecided, and 6% say they might vote differently on Primary Day.

President Barack Obama’s job performance continues to receive low marks from New Hampshire residents.  43% approve of how President Obama is doing his job, the same score he received in the state late last month.  83% of likely Democratic primary voters approve of the job the president is doing in office.

Complete February 4, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Release of the Democratic Primary Contest in New Hampshire

Complete February 4, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete February 4, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Democratic Primary Voters)

Marist Poll Methodology for New Hampshire

Nature of the Sample for New Hampshire

 

1/30: The Enduring Value of Public Polls

January 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Lee Miringoff

In this primary season the only conclusion that makes sense is that very little has made sense.  Rigorous, scientific public polls have provided a very useful road map.  As fellow pollster Gary Langer has commented: although public polls, the good and the bad, are often mixed together like champagne, cola, and turpentine, where would we be without good measurements of public opinion?  What started out as a Bush/Clinton inevitable matchup, has emerged as anything but.  Public polls have provided insights (and, there are many) about the staying power of Donald Trump and the emergence of Bernie Sanders.

caricature of Lee Miringoff

In Iowa, we are finally on the eve of when voters officially join the fray.  This time four years ago, the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll showed Mitt Romney (+2) and Ron Paul in a statistical dead heat with Santorum surging into third place with 15%.  The final Des Moines Register poll handicapped the contest the same with Romney (+2) to Ron Paul and Santorum surging into third place with 15%.   These polls were excellent explainers of where the contest stood at that time and provided many additional insights into what the numbers showed under the hood.

A couple of weeks ago, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll and the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll again mirrored each other.  Marist had Cruz (+4) over Trump, and the DMR had Cruz (+3) over Trump.  Rubio was in third place in both polls by the slimmest of margins over Carson.  On the Democratic side, Marist had Clinton (+3) over Sanders.  It was Clinton (+2) over Sanders in the DMR poll.

The final NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll has Trump (+7) over Cruz, but with Rubio in third and closing.  Clinton remains (+3) over Sanders.  The final DMR poll has Trump (+5) over Cruz with Rubio in third.

Both polls offer an inside-the-numbers look into what might tip the scales on Monday night.  But, the campaigns don’t stop once the polls do.  The GOP (Trump-less) debate, the latest flap over Clinton’s emails, the final ads, and the good ol’ ground game translate into, dare I say, these polls providing a narrative not a precise prediction.  They represent serious attempts to measure public opinion, inform poll-watchers, and serve as a resource for political journalists.  Now, let the voters decide.

This topsy-turvy election year, perhaps more than others, will ultimately require all of us to re-think polls, politics, and the press.  But, isn’t that what each election season demands?  The development of the new normal about candidates and campaigns is for another day.  In the meantime, safe travels to my friends in Iowa, happy caucus, and see you in New Hampshire (if you don’t get snowed in)!

 

1/28: Trump Leads in IA, NH, and SC… Clinton and Sanders Competitive in IA, Sanders up in NH, Clinton Leads in SC

First things first, in Iowa, both businessman Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are banking on inspiring potential first time attendees to caucus.  In contrast, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton draw strength from voters who have been down this path before.

The latest results in Iowa for the GOP show Trump, 32%, has taken the lead over his nearest rival, Cruz, 25%, by 7 points among likely Republican caucus-goers statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Trump’s support has increased by 8 points while Cruz’s has decreased by 3.  Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 18%, remains in third place but has improved his standing by 5 points.  Cruz, 28%, edged Trump, 24%, by 4 points in the previous NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll of the state earlier this month.

In New Hampshire, Trump, 31%, has a 19 point lead over his closest competitor, Cruz, 12%, among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or voted absentee.  Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich follow, each with 11%.  Trump’s lead is comparable to the 16 point advantage he had over Rubio, who was his closest competitor, earlier this month.  Of note, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was in third place with 12%, now receives 7% of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire and places sixth behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 8%.

In South Carolina, Trump, 36%, also has a double-digit lead over, Cruz, 20%, among likely Republican primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Rubio is in third with 14% and is the only other candidate with double-digit support.

It’s worth noting that in all three states, Cruz is the preferred second choice candidate among likely Republican voters with a candidate preference followed by Rubio in each state.

“Trump is positioned to run the house in these first three states.  His supporters are committed and plan to turn out,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Will it happen?  The answer depends on when or if anti-Trump sentiment will coalesce to interrupt his march to the nomination.”

In Iowa, when compared with the previous NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll, Trump is now ahead or closely competitive with Cruz among key voting groups.  Trump has increased his support since last time among likely Republican caucus-goers who are Tea Party supporters (+16), those who practice a religion (+13), white Evangelical Christians (+12), conservatives (+12), independents (+12), those without a college education (+12), or men (+11).  Cruz and Trump now divide Tea Party supporters, 39% for Cruz and 38% for Trump.

In New Hampshire, Trump continues to lead among all key demographic groups.  His support is especially bolstered by those who say they strongly support their choice of candidate, are not married, do not practice a religion, are under 45 years old, are men, do not have a college degree, or identify as Republican.

In South Carolina, Trump also has the advantage over his GOP rivals among all demographic groups.  Trump does best among likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina who strongly support their choice of candidate, do not practice a religion, earn less than $50,000 annually, have not voted in a previous Republican presidential primary, or do not have a college degree.  He also does well among men, those who are not married, or are Tea Party supporters.  Also noteworthy, Trump leads Cruz by 8 points among white Evangelical Christians in the state.

In Iowa, 61% of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers with a candidate preference, including 76% of Trump backers but only 58% of Cruz supporters, are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  Three percent of likely Republican caucus-goers are still undecided, and 11% report they might vote differently.

In New Hampshire, 59% of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference strongly support their candidate selection.  72% of Trump’s supporters say they will not waver in their commitment to him compared with 59% of Cruz’s backers.  Five percent are undecided, and 12% say they might vote differently.

In South Carolina, 56% of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference, including 68% of Trump’s backers, say they are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  57% of Cruz’s supporters and 37% of voters behind Rubio express a similar level of support for their candidate.  Six percent are undecided, and 13% might vote differently.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 48%, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 45%, remain competitive among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, unchanged from earlier this month.

It’s a different story in New Hampshire where Sanders, 57%, has opened up a 19 point lead over Clinton, 38%, among likely Democratic primary voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate or voted absentee.  Previously, Sanders had 50% to 46% for Clinton.

In South Carolina, Clinton’s firewall is intact.  Among likely Democratic primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Clinton, 64%, outpaces Sanders, 27%, by more than two-to-one.

“The stakes are sky high for Clinton and Sanders in Iowa,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “If Clinton carries Iowa, she can absorb a defeat to Sanders who has a home field advantage in New Hampshire and then move on to South Carolina.  But, if Sanders carries Iowa and then New Hampshire, this contest will, indeed, be a marathon.”

In Iowa, the contest is unchanged from earlier this month.  Clinton leads among those age 45 or older, Democratic Party identifiers, women, or those who have participated in a previous Democratic presidential caucus.  Sanders leads among those who consider themselves independents, are under 45 years old, men, or are first time participants.

In New Hampshire, Sanders now leads Clinton among most key demographic groups.  The biggest change has occurred among those who identify as Democrats.  Sanders is now ahead of Clinton by 8 points among the party’s base.  Previously, Clinton had an 18 point advantage over Sanders among Democratic identifiers who are likely to vote in the primary.

In South Carolina, Clinton outpaces Sanders by more than three to one among likely primary voters who consider themselves Democrats.  However, independents divide in their support, 47% for Clinton to 46% for Sanders.  Six in ten likely Democratic primary voters in the state are African American, and Clinton leads Sanders by 57 points among this group.

Looking at intensity of support, 77% of likely Democratic caucus-goers with a candidate preference in Iowa, including 79% of Clinton supporters and 76% of those who are for Sanders, strongly support their choice of candidate.  Four percent are undecided, and 6% say they might vote differently.

Three in four likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire with a candidate preference, 75%, have a high level of commitment to their candidate selection.  77% of Clinton’s supporters and 76% of Sanders’ backers strongly support their choice of candidate.  Three percent are undecided, and 5% report they might vote differently.

Nearly two-thirds of likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina with a candidate preference, 65%, including 68% of Clinton’s supporters and 58% of Sanders’ backers, are firmly behind their choice of candidate.  Seven percent are undecided, and 10% say they might vote differently.

South Carolinians consider job creation and economic growth, 27%, to be the most important issue of the 2016 presidential campaign.  National security and terrorism, 24%, follows closely behind.  However a partisan divide exists.  Among likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina, national security and terrorism, 34%, is the issue driving the campaign.  For likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, job creation and economic growth, 42%, is most mentioned.

When it comes to other pressing issues in the campaign, opinions mostly align along party lines.  Likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina are more likely to support sending combat troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria and banning Muslims from entering the United States.  They oppose same-sex marriage, creating stricter gun laws, providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and government action to combat climate change.

Likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina are more likely to support stricter gun laws, government steps to combat climate change, creating a pathway to citizenship, and same-sex marriage.  They are more likely to oppose banning Muslims from entering the United States and sending combat troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The one issue on which likely Republican and Democratic primary voters agree is free trade.  About six in ten in each party support free trade with foreign countries.

Turning to the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire, Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte, 45%, edges her Democratic challenger Governor Maggie Hassan, 40%, among registered voters statewide.

Looking at President Barack Obama’s job approval rating, his score is upside down in all three states.  Among residents in Iowa, 42% approve of his job performance.  43% of those in New Hampshire, and 42% of South Carolina residents agree.

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Release of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Likely Republican Caucus-Goers)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Likely Democratic Caucus-Goers)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Republican Primary Voters)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Democratic Primary Voters) 

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of South Carolina (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of South Carolina (Likely Republican Primary Voters)

Complete January 28, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of South Carolina (Likely Democratic Primary Voters) 

Marist Poll Methodology for Iowa 

Nature of the Sample for Iowa 

Marist Poll Methodology for New Hampshire 

Nature of the Sample for New Hampshire

Marist Poll Methodology for South Carolina 

Nature of the Sample for South Carolina

1/10: Cruz and Trump Vie in IA, Trump NH Favorite… Clinton and Sanders Competitive

With just weeks to go until the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 28%, edges businessman Donald Trump, 24%, among likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 13%, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 11%, are vying for the “third ticket” out of Iowa.

In New Hampshire, Trump, 30%, outdistances Rubio, 14%, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 12%, among likely Republican primary voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 10%, Ohio Governor John Kasich, 9%, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 9%, follow.

 

Cruz does better among likely GOP caucus-goers in Iowa who support the Tea Party, identify as conservative, are white Evangelical Christians, are men, or college graduates.  Trump is ahead among those who do not practice a religion, those who are unmarried, and moderates.

In New Hampshire, Trump leads his Republican rivals among all key demographic groups.  He does especially well among likely GOP voters who are college educated, those who do not practice a religion, Tea Party supporters, or conservatives.

Looking at intensity of support, nearly six in ten Iowa likely Republican caucus-goers with a candidate preference, 59%, report they are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  A similar proportion of likely Republican primary voters with a candidate preference in New Hampshire, 55%, also express a high level of support for their candidate of choice.

Cruz, 21%, is the preferred second choice candidate among likely Republican caucus-goers with a candidate preference in Iowa followed by Trump and Rubio each with 16%.  Among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire with a candidate preference, Rubio, with 17%, is the preferred second choice candidate.  Christie comes next with 14% followed by Cruz with 13%.

“Trump and Cruz are battling for the insurgent lane in Iowa, and likely GOP caucus-goers divide over who will get the third ticket out of the Hawkeye State,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “In New Hampshire, the big question is whether anyone will emerge to unite the GOP establishment and overtake Trump.”

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are competitive among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa and among New Hampshire likely Democratic primary voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  In Iowa, Clinton has 48% to 45% for Sanders.  In New Hampshire, Sanders is backed by 50% compared with 46% for Clinton.

Among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, Clinton has a 15 point lead among Democrats while Sanders has a 33 point margin among independents.  Clinton has a wide lead over Sanders among likely Democratic caucus-goers who are 45 or older.  Sanders has a more than two-to-one lead over Clinton among those under 45 who plan to caucus.  A gender gap exists. Clinton lags behind with 39% among men but receives majority support, 56%, among women.

In New Hampshire, Sanders outpaces Clinton by more than two-to-one among likely Democratic primary voters who identify as independent.  Clinton leads by a wide margin, 18 points, among likely voters who are Democrats.  A gender divide exists.  Clinton narrowly leads Sanders by 4 points among women likely to vote in the Democratic primary.  Among men, Sanders has a 16 point advantage over Clinton.  He also outdistances Clinton by 33 points among voters under 45 whereas Clinton surpasses Sanders by 9 points among voters who are older.

Looking at intensity of support, in Iowa, 71% of likely Democratic caucus-goers with a candidate preference are strongly committed to their choice of candidate.  76% of likely Democratic primary voters with a candidate preference in New Hampshire express a similar level of support for their selection.

“The Democratic contests in Iowa and New Hampshire could still go either way,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “So, if your New Year’s resolution was to have clarity in 2016, you better also have resolved to be patient.”

Turning to the general election, when Clinton and Sanders are each matched against, Trump, Cruz, or Rubio, Sanders does better than Clinton among registered voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire.  In Iowa, Sanders achieves his largest lead, 13 points, against Trump and is ahead of Cruz by 5 points among the statewide electorate.  Sanders and Rubio are tied among registered voters in Iowa.  Sanders leads Trump and Cruz by 19 points in New Hampshire and has a 9 point lead over Rubio in the state.

Looking at Clinton’s general election prospects, she does best against Trump.  Clinton leads Trump by 8 points in Iowa, but she is in a statistical dead heat with him in New Hampshire.  In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton trails Cruz and Rubio.  Her largest deficit is against Rubio in New Hampshire.  Rubio leads Clinton by 12 points among registered voters statewide.

When it comes to the issue driving the 2016 presidential election, Iowa likely Republican caucus-goers, 35%, and New Hampshire likely Republican primary voters, 36%, consider national security and terrorism to be critical.  However, Iowa likely Democratic caucus-goers, 29%, and New Hampshire likely Democratic primary voters, 30%, say job creation and economic growth is the most pressing topic.

Partisan differences are also reflected in attitudes about many of the hot-button issues facing the United States.  Iowa likely Republican caucus-goers support free trade with foreign countries, sending combat troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and banning Muslims from entering the United States.  They oppose tightening restrictions on the sale of guns, taking action against climate change, and same-sex marriage.  They divide about creating immigration policies which include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  In New Hampshire, likely GOP primary voters are also more likely to support free trade and sending U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS.  However, they support same-sex marriage.  Likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire oppose banning Muslims from entering the United States, strengthening restrictions on the sale of firearms, immigration policies which include a pathway to citizenship, and combating climate change.

The likely Democratic electorates in both Iowa and New Hampshire support same-sex marriage, taking action to combat climate change, strengthening laws covering the sale of firearms, immigration policies which include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented or illegal immigrants, and free trade with foreign countries.  They oppose banning Muslims from entering the United States and sending troops to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating continues to be upside down among residents in Iowa and New Hampshire.  51% of Iowa residents disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, and 40% approve.  In New Hampshire, 50% of adults disapprove of how the president is doing his job, and 42% approve.  President Obama’s approval ratings in Iowa and New Hampshire reflect those reported previously in October’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll.

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Release of Iowa and New Hampshire

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Likely Republican Caucus-Goers)

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of Iowa (Likely Democratic Caucus-Goers)

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Adults & Registered Voters)

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Republican Primary Voters)

Complete January 10, 2016 NBC News/WSJ/Marist Poll Tables of New Hampshire (Likely Democratic Primary Voters)

 Marist Poll Methodology for Iowa

 Nature of the Sample for Iowa

 Marist Poll Methodology for New Hampshire

 Nature of the Sample for New Hampshire

1/8: A Psephologist’s Lament (And, You Can Look It Up)

January 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, Lee Miringoff

Poll Watcher Season is upon us big time.  And, with it comes both the good and the bad.  Each election cycle resurrects some oldies about the failings of public polls and typically ushers in a few new critiques.  Expect 2016 to follow the same pattern.

caricature of Lee Miringoff

In an attempt to shed a little light on the discussion… here goes.  Pre-election polls are not predictive even though many continue to treat them that way.  Common sense tells us that a poll conducted substantially before voting cannot be predictive.  Instead, pollsters like to describe their work as a “snapshot,” although as Gary Langer correctly points out, “portrait” is more accurate.  Without pre-election polls, we would be clueless about the surprising and lasting electoral appeal of Donald Trump.  No summer romance was he.  Or, how would we know that JEB! hasn’t connected with GOPers?  It would be impossible to assess how Hillary Clinton’s main opponent, Bernie Sanders, is doing.  Will she turn out to be inevitable this time, or will she be derailed again?

Public polls help us understand the emergence and decline of different candidates and also let the public in on the secret that campaign pollsters and strategists see in their private poll data.  If you want to understand why Bush, Rubio, Christie, and Kasich are battling each other for the “third Lane” of so-called establishment voters (and, have chosen, at least for now, to give frontrunners Trump and Cruz a free ride), check out the public polls.

These insights are also accompanied by a wave of criticism about public polls, and some of this fallout is well deserved.  There are a growing number of faulty polls.  The public is well-advised to check out the sponsorship of polls, when they are conducted, whether they consider likely voters, the track record of the organization, and the method of data collection utilized.  Answers to these and many more questions separate good quality public opinion research from the hit and run poll-liferation that now characterizes our number crunching campaign coverage.  Poll aggregators that provide an average of the averages are useful but only if the organization tries to sort out the good polls, from the bad, and, especially, the ugly.

A word of caution.  Don’t be thrown by sample size and the margin of error.  For example, the margin of error is a statistical concept that largely relates to the numbers of people interviewed.  It is often misunderstood in that it is not really an error at all but the acceptable range that poll findings would fall within had you interviewed the entire population.  Who you interview, how you interview them, and how you model your data are more significant indicators of quality than the number of people in a poll.  Put it this way, if you have a badly constructed sample, the more people you interview the more inaccurate your results will be. The errors in your data will multiply while the margin of error will shrink making the poll appear more precise and rigorous.

Unfortunately, there are no foolproof guarantees that the best polls will be right all the time or that a bad poll will always miss the target.  In class, I like to tell students that even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day.  Public polls are aiming at a moving target.  The campaigns don’t take a break once the polls have spoken.  Get out the vote efforts, particularly in primaries and caucus states, are critical.  There is no copyright on defining a “likely voter.”

So, we are left with lots of poll numbers which hopefully present an accurate narrative of campaign dynamics.  But, accuracy is hard to achieve.  There have always been challenges, real and exaggerated, to the accurate measurement of public opinion.  And, that’s been the case every four years.

This election cycle will present its unique array of tests.  In the current atmosphere of voter frustration and declining response rates, debate will center on modes of data collection.  Traditional probability- based polls which use live interviewers and reach voters on landline and mobile devices are being joined with a variety of on-line and Internet measurements, some probabilitybased and others not.  It will be interesting to watch how the public opinion field assesses these developments.

Regardless of the mode of data collection, public pollsters worth their weight are striving to be accurate, and transparency helps the serious student of public opinion to better understand poll results.  But, transparency also feeds the criticism that pollsters are “cooking” their numbers to benefit one candidate or political party.  Social media certainly contributes to this hammering.

So, we are left with lots of poll numbers which are hopefully developed in an honest attempt to be accurate.  In the best of worlds, these public polls present a narrative of the campaign that reflects what is going on.  If you want precision in predictions, don’t ask public polls to go beyond what they can reasonably do.  If you’re looking for guarantees, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

 

12/8: Clinton Leads Trump and Cruz… Competitive against Bush, Rubio, and Carson

In the 2016 race for the White House, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 52%, leads businessman Donald Trump, 41%, by double digits and is ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz by seven points, 51% for Clinton to 44% for Cruz.  However, the race tightens when Clinton is matched against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.  Clinton edges Bush by four points, Rubio by three points, and she is in a virtual tie with Carson.

Among Latino voters nationally, Clinton has a wide lead.  However, all of these Republicans, except Trump, are getting a greater proportion of Latino voters than either Romney or McCain did in their presidential bids against Obama.

Americans, 58%, including most Latinos, 64%, think the Democratic Party better represents the views of Latinos.

When it comes to impressions of the candidates, Clinton’s rating is upside down among Americans.  Yet, a majority of Latinos have a positive opinion of her, and a plurality thinks she is improving the image of the Democratic Party.

On the Republican side, Carson remains the candidate with the highest positive rating among Americans.  However, as Carson has become better known, his negatives have more than doubled.  Still, Carson and Rubio are the only candidates with higher positive than negative scores among both Americans and Latinos.  Trump has the highest negative rating among Americans, 55%, and Latinos, 67%.

In addition, Trump is considered by nearly six in ten Americans, including nearly two-thirds of Latinos, to be hurting the Republican Party.  Majorities of Americans and Latinos also consider Trump to be insulting and offensive and do not believe he is the type of leader the nation needs now.  Republicans disagree.  71% of registered Republicans believe Trump “tells it like it is.”  76% think he is the kind of leader the country needs although a majority of these voters think he should better censor how he says things.

What do voters value in a candidate?  Half of the national electorate, 50%, thinks it is more important that a candidate reflects their positions on the issues while 46% say it is more important that a candidate share their values.  Latino voters are slightly more likely to prefer a candidate who shares their values, 51%, than one who identifies with them on the issues, 47%.

Most voters, including nearly three in four Latinos, say it would not affect their vote if a presidential candidate chooses someone of Latino or Hispanic background to be their running mate.  There is less of a consensus about whether or not voters would be more or less likely to support a candidate who supports the rollback of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

When it comes to the issue driving the election, jobs and the economy still ranks first among both Americans and Latinos.  Of note, terrorism has jumped to the number two spot among Americans.  Latinos mention education and immigration as their next two important concerns.

Most Americans watched at least some of presidential debates.  A notable proportion of both Americans and Latinos say the debates changed their mind about whom they would support for president.

Complete December 8, 2015 MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist Poll of the United States

Poll points:

  • Clinton, 52%, leads Trump, 41%, by 11 points among registered voters nationally.  In the September MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist Poll, Clinton was ahead of Trump by 13 points.  Among Latino voters, Clinton’s lead over Trump is 69% to 27%.  In September, Clinton outdistanced Trump by 47 points among Latinos.
  • Clinton, 51%, also has the advantage over, Cruz, 44%.  Clinton’s lead against Cruz has narrowed slightly from 11 points three months ago.  Clinton, 61%, outpaces Cruz, 34%, among Latino voters.  Clinton previously led Cruz by 33 points among the Latino electorate.
  • Clinton, 49%, edges Bush, 45%, among the national electorate.  The two candidates’ support is identical to what it was in the last poll.  Among Latino voters, Clinton, 61%, has a 26 point lead against Bush, 35%.  She previously led Bush by 30 points.
  • Clinton, 48%, and Rubio, 45%, are competitive.  Earlier this fall, Clinton, 50%, edged Rubio, 44%.  Among Latino voters, Clinton, 57%, outdistances Rubio, 38%, by 19 points.  However, in September Clinton was ahead of Rubio by 30 points among Latinos.
  • Clinton, 48%, and Carson, 47%, are in a virtual tie among registered voters.  However, Clinton outpaces Carson by 26 points among Latino voters, 61% to 35%.
  • Looking at the generic ballot, the Democratic candidate, 45%, and the Republican candidate, 45%, have identical support.  Among Latino voters, the Democratic candidate, 56%, is the favorite, but 36% say they would support the Republican candidate.
  • With 89% of Democrats reporting they would support the Democratic candidate and 94% of Republicans saying they would back the Republican candidate, there is a clear partisan divide.  Among independent voters, 42% would vote for the GOP candidate while 39% would support the Democratic candidate.  A notable 18% of independents are undecided.
  • 58% of registered voters, including 64% of Latino voters, think the Democratic Party better represents the views of Latinos.  22% of the national electorate, including 24% of Latino voters, believe the Republican Party better reflects the opinions of Latinos.
  • A majority of Americans, 55%, including 56% of Latinos, believe there have been enough members of the Clinton and Bush families in the White House.  40% of adults and 37% of Latinos disagree.

 Candidates’ Images

How do Americans view the leading candidates for president?  Only Carson and Rubio have a higher positive rating than negative score among Americans.


Only 32% of Americans, including 43% of Latinos, think Hillary Clinton is helping the image of the Democratic Party.  A majority of Democrats, 56%, believe Clinton is having a positive impact on their party.

A majority of Americans, 58%, including 65% of Latinos, believe Donald Trump is hurting the Republican brand.  Republicans divide.  43% think he helps the image of the party, and 40% believe he hurts it.  Americans and Latinos, alike, have reservations about Trump.  A majority of Americans, 52%, including 65% of Latinos, consider Trump to be insulting and offensive.  In contrast, 43% of Americans, including 31% of Latinos, say Trump tells it like it is.  In September, Americans divided about Trump’s manner of speaking.  49% thought he was insulting while 45% valued his candor.

When it comes to whether or not Trump is the kind of leader the nation needs, a majority of Americans, 55%, and an even greater proportion of Latinos, 68%, do not think he is the kind of leader the country needs now.  Most Republicans, 76%, disagree including 24% who think he is right for the times and 52% who report he is the kind of leader the nation needs if he can rein in his rhetoric.

Deciding Factors                                                                                       

When deciding for whom to vote, 50% of registered voters nationally believe it is more important that a candidate is closest to them on the issues while 46% want someone who shares their values.  Among Latino voters, 51% prefer a candidate who reflects their values while 47% think it is more important that a candidate is closest to them on the issues.

Most voters nationally, 88%, including 74% of Latino voters, say it makes no difference to their vote if a presidential nominee chooses a vice presidential candidate who is of Latino or Hispanic background.  A notable 23% of Latinos, though, would be more inclined to vote for a candidate who chooses a Latino or Hispanic running mate.

There is less consensus about whether or not voters would be more likely to support a candidate who favors the rollback of President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.  36% of the national electorate would be more likely to cast their ballot for such a candidate.  26% would be less likely to do so, and 33% say a candidate’s position on the issue makes no difference to their vote.  The views of Latino voters closely reflect those of the overall electorate.  54% of Republicans would support a candidate with this position compared with only 22% of Democrats.

But, do Americans consider immigration to be a key component in deciding their vote?  Jobs and the economy, 28%, remains the leading campaign issue.  Terrorism, 15%, health care, 12%, education, 12%, foreign policy, 9%, immigration, 9%, and taxes, 5%, follow.  In September, jobs and the economy, 32%, topped the list.  Education, 15%, health care, 13%, and immigration, 11%, also received double-digits.  Of note, the proportion of Americans who cite terrorism as the leading campaign issue has more than doubled from 6% in September.

Among Latinos, the number one issue in deciding their voter is jobs and the economy, 25%.  19% mention education followed closely by 18% who say immigration.  Terrorism is a concern of 11%.  10% mention health care.  Seven percent cite foreign policy while 6% say taxes.  In September’s survey, 31% of Latinos considered jobs and the economy to be the leading issue in the presidential contest followed by immigration with 24%.

Debates Draw Large Audiences

More than three in four registered voters, 76%, including 77% of Latino voters, watched at least some of the televised Republican presidential debates.  When it comes to the Democratic debates, more than six in ten registered voters, 63%, including 66% of Latino voters have tuned in for, at least, some of them.

Do the debates matter?  Among registered voters who watched the debates, 61%, including 58% of Latino voters, say the debates have not changed their minds about the candidate they plan to support.  Notable proportions of both registered voters, 35%, and Latino voters, 37%, say they have switched their support as a result of tuning into the debates.

Americans Confident U.S. will Defeat ISIS… More than One-Third Concerned about Terror Attack

Nearly seven in ten Americans, including 72% of Latinos, think the United States and its allies will be able to defeat ISIS.  However, concern about another terror attack exists.  A plurality of Americans say they are more concerned they will be a victim of a terror attack than of gun violence or police brutality.

Poll points:

  • 69% of Americans and 72% of Latinos think the U.S. and its allies will be successful in defeating ISIS.  24% of residents overall, including 22% of Latinos, do not think the U.S. will be successful.
  • 36% of Americans are more worried that they or someone they know will be a victim of a terror attack than gun violence, 31%, or police brutality, 17%.  Among Latinos, 32% express concern over terrorism, 31% are worried about gun violence, and 24% are concerned about police brutality.  More African Americans are concerned about being a victim of police brutality, 41% than either gun violence, 29%, or a terror attack, 16%.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

11/13: Clinton Leads Sanders by 22 Points among Democrats Nationally

In the race for the Democratic nomination for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 57% to 35%, among Democrats and Democratic leaning independents nationally.  Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley receives just 4% from the Democratic electorate.

While Clinton is ahead of Sanders among most key demographic groups, Sanders leads Clinton among Democratic leaning independents and Democrats under 30 years old.

Democrats and Democratic leaning independents are not suffering fatigue from hearing about Clinton or Sanders.  More than six in ten, 63%, say the more they hear about Clinton the more they like her.  A similar 62% report the more information they receive about Sanders, the more they like him.

What do Democrats value in their party’s nominee?  Half of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents, up slightly from 46% in August, think it is more important that the nominee move the nation in a new direction rather than continuing the policies of President Barack Obama, 46%.

“On the eve of the next Democratic debate, both Clinton and Sanders have plenty to accomplish,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Clinton wants to build upon the momentum she’s had over the last several weeks.   Sanders is looking to broaden his support beyond the people he is popular with currently.”

Complete November 13, 2015 McClatchy-Marist Poll of the United States

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poll points:

  • Looking at the Democratic primary, Clinton, 57%, leads Sanders, 35%, among Democrats and Democratic leaning independents nationally.  O’Malley has 4%.
  • While Clinton is ahead of Sanders among Democrats, 65% to 28%, Sanders leads Clinton, 50% to 38%, among Democratic leaning independents.
  • 81% of African American Democrats are for Clinton compared with only 13% for Sanders.  Clinton also has the backing of a majority of Latino voters, 54%, to 36% for Sanders.  Among whites, 50% are for Hillary while 41% support Sanders.
  • Sanders, 58%, leads Clinton, 35%, among Democrats and Democratic leaning independents under 30 years old.  Clinton is competitive against Sanders, 50% to 45%, among those 30 to 44 years old.  However, Clinton leads Sanders among older Democrats.  She receives 64% to 26% for Sanders among Democrats 45 to 59.  And, among those 60 and older, Clinton, 69%, leads Sanders, 21%, by more than three to one.
  • Among both men and women, Clinton is out in front.  But, women, 62%, are more likely than men, 50%, to support her.
  • 63% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents report the more they hear about Clinton, the more they like her.  31% say they like her less after learning more about her.
  • 62% like Sanders more after receiving additional information about him.  25% say they like him less.
  • Half of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents, 50%, report it is more important that the Democratic nominee move the nation in a different direction.  46% want the nominee to continue Obama’s policies.  When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in August, Democrats divided.  46% wanted their party’s nominee to change course while 45% wanted the nominee to further Obama’s initiatives. 
  • 62% of Democratic leaning independents, up from 56% during the summer, want the nominee to move the nation in a new direction.  46% of those who identify as liberal or very liberal, up from 37%, also have this view.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

11/13: Voters Question Clinton’s Private Email Server… Divide about Benghazi Investigation

American voters do not give presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a pass when it comes to her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.  However, they do not necessarily think she did something illegal.  A plurality of voters, 40%, think Clinton did something unethical but not illegal.  The rest divide.  28% believe her actions were illegal, and 27% report she did nothing wrong.

The proportion of voters who think the use of the server was illegal is driven by Republicans, 56%, and those who support the Tea Party, 57%.  Clinton also does not come out unscathed among Democrats.  Although nearly half of Democratic voters, 49%, think the former Secretary of State did nothing wrong, four in ten, 40%, believe Clinton did something unethical but not illegal.  A plurality of independents, 46%, question the ethics of using a private email server, not its legality.

When it comes to whether voters think it’s time to close the book on the Republicans’ investigation into the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, the American electorate divides.  49% report Clinton has sufficiently answered questions about the incident which occurred during her time as Secretary of State while 45% say the Republicans in Congress should continue their investigation.

Not surprisingly, a partisan divide exists.  Most Democrats, 79%, think Clinton has thoroughly addressed the incident while most Republicans, 80%, believe there is more to be uncovered.  Independents divide.  46% say it is time to turn the page, and 48% think the investigation should continue.  Men and women also have different viewpoints.  While a majority of women, 52%, thinks Clinton has adequately divulged information about the incident, 49% of men believe Clinton has more to tell about Benghazi.

Complete November 13, 2015 McClatchy-Marist Poll of the United States

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

 

11/12: McClatchy-Marist Poll

Do voters think former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton do something wrong by using a private email server during her time at the State Department?  Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll.

To read the full McClatchy article, click here.

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