Category Archives: polls

Clinton Campaign Hires Latino Decisions for Polling

This is a smart decision by the Clinton campaign. Latino Decisions is the gold standard for polling Latinos, whose support will be critical if she hopes to secure the Democratic nomination and the Presidency.

The following is by Stephen A. Nuño:

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has hired Latino-owned firm Latino Decisions to join the campaign’s polling team, sources told NBC News Latino Wednesday.

The hiring of Latino Decisions brings aboard significant knowledge to the campaign about Latino voters that will continue to build up the outreach efforts of the Clinton campaign into the Latino community.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to emails and a call about the hiring.

The Clinton campaign has gone on an unprecedented hiring spree of Latino outreach specialists, such as Amanda Renteria, their National Political Director, and Lorella Praeli, the campaign’s Latino Outreach Director.

The firm’s co-Principles, Matt Barreto and Gary Segura, bring with them a significant amount of academic heft to their polling operation. Barreto is a professor of political science and Chicano Studies at UCLA and Segura is a professor of political science at Stanford University.

Michael Jones-Correa, a professor of political science at Cornell, welcomed the news about Latino Decisions as a step forward for the Clinton team.

“LD provides essential policy relevant public opinion on Latinos in the US today, reflecting the very highest standards and best practices in the public opinion field,” said Jones-Correa.

The addition of a Latino-owned firm to the campaign comes after findings in a study by PowerPAC+ reported by NBC News which highlighted the significantly small number of minority firms hired by Democrats to work on their campaigns as paid consultants. Even though the vast majority of Latinos and African Americans vote for Democrats, about 98 percent of of the $514 million spent by the three national Democratic Party committees in 2012 went to non-minority consultants.

Much of the advocacy work by Latino Decisions has been with groups with deep ties within the Latino community, such as America’s Voice and National Council of La Raza.

Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, has praised the work of Barreto and Segura.

“Latino Decisions has developed a methodologically-sound, data-driven approach to polling Latino voters. Given that the road to the White House cuts through the Latino community, the Clinton campaign is fortunate – and smart – to have them on board,” said Sharry.

The Trump and Other Meaningless Polling Moments

Poll: Trump surges to lead in big lead in GOP presidential race” is currently the lead headline trumpeted on the Washington Post website. While I am as big a poll junkie as the next person who follows politics like baseball, this seems a good opportunity to remember how meaningless presidential primary polls are at this point.

Money is Being Raised, Not Spent
While candidates are busy dialing for dollars, they aren’t spending their hoards of cash on media yet. When they do, it will play a major role in defining candidates and today’s leader easily becomes the next one on the garbage heap.

Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee in 2012 by going negative on each new anti-Romney in turn. As the following chart shows, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum each had their 15 minutes during the last go round.

2012-GOP-CHART-570

Election expenditures by Super PACs and others will also shape public opinion. Nearly $3.4 million dollars was spent by “outside groups,” including Super PACs supporting a candidate, attacking Gingrich in Iowa after he took a polling lead. After Gingrich resurfaced in South Carolina–groups favoring him spent $3.0 million there attacking Romney–other groups spent another $9.9 million pulverizing Gingrich into oblivion in Florida.

Media Moment
Most candidates are completely unknown to the American people, including the much smaller primary selectorate. Nothing gets media attention like making outrageous statements. Long before Donald Trump, we had Pat Buchanan closing speeches by calling people to “lock and load” for the conservanut revolution.

Inevitably, going up in the polls is followed by media scrutiny, which leads to either media gaffe or discovery of past embarrassment sure to be featured on all the news and comedy programs. Remember that Herman Cain’s ephemerally popular 9-9-9 plan was followed by “U-beki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.” Rick Perry couldn’t recall the Cabinet departments he planned to cut but now has new Google glasses designed to help him out this year.

In short, after the media has raised one up by giving red-meat remarks attention and the ripped them to shreds, the public and the cameras move on to the next one.

Ask a Stupid Question, Get a Stupid Answer
Asking people who they plan to support for president this far out from the event makes no sense. They haven’t focused on the election. Excepting Hillary Clinton, they don’t know much about any of the candidates.

When prompted by a question, people usually try to give answer. Doesn’t mean that their response on who they support is a fixed or remotely firm opinion. So just regard polls like the one in today’s Post as something designed to entertain us during the summer, sorta like Donald Trump’s hair, but not to be taken seriously in fall.

Nate Silver Gives Brown 93% Chance of Victory

FiveThirtyEight has released its gubernatorial forecasts. They say Brown will win by 9.7%–an outcome that would thrill Democrats in an increasingly hot contest.

Nate Silver’s forecast of a solid Brown win is squarely at odds with Charlie Cook’s forecast of a very tight race with an edge for Brown. It’s a great face off between people often regarded as the nation’s top polling aggregator and top political analyst.

We’ll find out who is closer to being right on Tuesday.

Sun Poll Gives Brown 7 Point Lead

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown leads challenger Larry Hogan by 7 points among likely voters according to the poll conducted for the Baltimore Sun:

The poll by OpinionWorks of Annapolis found Brown leading Hogan 49 percent to 42 percent.

Though Brown has a 7-point lead, the poll found his backers are less solid in their conviction than Hogan supporters. And many in Brown’s camp are younger voters, a bloc that historically is less likely to vote.

“Hogan has a much more engaged, committed base of support right now,” said OpinionWorks President Steve Raabe.

“This is not by any stretch a locked-up race,” Raabe said. “You can still see Brown winning comfortably. But you also can see Hogan winning.”

The poll of 800 likely voters, conducted Oct. 4 to Oct. 8, has a 3.5 percentage-point margin of error.

Unfortunately, the Sun does not provide the crosstabs, so it’s hard to glean any information beyond that presented in the article. Nonetheless, here are a few thoughts on two problems for Brown and one for Hogan:
  • Brown leads by 88-6 among African-American voters. Compared to other polls, there are many fewer black voters left for Brown to consolidate. Among African Americans, he will need to focus on the solid turnout he needs for victory.
  • The age gap persists with Hogan fairing better among older than younger voters. Brown will need to work to make sure that younger voters show up to vote. If he has success here, he may outpace expectations. Problem: the race has not really grasped the State’s attention.
  • Despite real problems, Brown still has a clear lead, so the current dynamic, though unfavorable to Brown,  doesn’t point to a Hogan win.

Brown Expands Lead in CBS/NYT/YouGov Poll

CBS/NYT/YouGov has good news for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. According to their poll, Brown leads Larry Hogan by 55-38 among likely voters, including leaners.

Inside the Survey

This poll, conducted September 20-October 1, reveals nice improvement for Brown. Their previous survey in the field from August 18-September 2 had Brown ahead by 51-37 among likely voters. So Brown is up 4 points and further above 50%, while Hogan is up only 1 point and still below 40%.

According to this survey, Brown’s improvement is due entirely to increased support among white voters. While Brown remains at 80% among black voters, he has increased his white support from 37% to 42%. And he still has room to grow among African-American voters.

The gender gap remains cavernous in the recent survey with Brown up 65-27 among women and Hogan up 52-44 among men. While Hogan needs stronger numbers in both groups, the poll indicates that he must make major improvement among women in order to be competitive on Election Day.

The breakdown by party identification reveals the strength of the Democrats. Brown is down 7-93 among Republicans and 37-52 among Independents. But it just doesn’t matter because he is up 86-6 among his fellow Democrats who compose one-half of likely voters according to the survey.

Reading the Tea Leaves

The key question raised by the survey is why did the Lieutenant Governor promise not to raise taxes in the recent debate. Even if it is the top issue for voters, a candidate leading 55-38 doesn’t need to bind his own hands.

Internal polling for the Brown campaign may show a much smaller lead over Hogan–even smaller than the 9 point lead in the recent Washington Post poll. While some Democrats exude confidence, there are also significant rumblings of concern around the State.

Alternatively, it may suggest that a Brown-Ulman Administration would veer away from the course charted by the O’Malley-Brown Administration in terms of tax and economic policy. A surprise to those who see Gov. Brown merely as O’Malley 2.0. Taking taxes off the table forces Brown either to curtail his progressive agenda or restructure State government to accomplish it.

Thoughts on the Gansler-Ivey Poll

The Gansler-Ivey poll results are catnip for people like me who follow campaigns but also a good example of why outlets that try to estimate the current shape of election campaigns (e.g. 538, pollster.com) do not include them in their analyses.

The press release includes some interesting numbers. I was less interested in the top lines than in the report of Doug Gansler’s favorability ratings. If opinions of the AG have indeed improved since the spate of very bad press earlier this year, that would certainly be good news for the Gansler-Ivey campaign.

However, the press release was more telling for what it did not include than what it did. There is no information about the questions that were asked. One poster on Seventh State’s Facebook page claims that the questions were primed to elicit negative responses about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

(Update: The Gansler campaign informs me this was not the case and that the questions about candidate ratings and horse race numbers were asked prior to the questions regarding the exchanges in any case.)

While the poll reported Gansler’s favorability ratings, it did not do the same for either Brown or Mizeur. Additionally, there are no demographic breakdowns. I’d be especially interested to know the gender, racial, and religious composition of the survey, as well as the results for these demographic groups.

This information would make it possible to answer several questions. For example, does the share of women estimated in the electorate correspond to past gubernatorial elections? Women routinely makeup a disproportionate share of Democratic primary voters in Maryland but do they in the polling sample? How strong does the poll state support is for candidates among groups whose support they might hope to consolidate?

So, while fun to read, I’ll be looking forward to the next poll reported by an outlet not associated with one of the campaigns.

Note: I’m supporting Gansler but I try to call it like I see it as is evident here.

Gansler-Ivey Release Poll

I’ll try to provide more analysis later but thought I would just share the document now. It shows Brown with a 31% lead with 22% for Gansler, 8% for Mizeur, and a whopping 40% undecided–less than reported in past polls for the Post and the Sun.

The release from the campaign also highlights that Brown has a 37% positive-47% negative rating on handling the health care exchange. It also says that Gansler’s favorability ratings have increased 10 points from previous media polls to a net 46% favorable and 16% unfavorable.

Gubernatorial Poll from Gansler-Ivey Campaign

More on the D16 Poll

After my post about the poll testing Jordan Cooper’s name came out, a highly placed spy close to the District 16 Race alerted me that Hrant Jamgochian also has a poll in the field. The pollster of record is PPP (Public Policy Polling).

PPP only does robopolls and are therefore prohibited from including cell phones in their surveys, which skews their samples a bit. Nonetheless, they are a top tier, reputable pollster. The survey was in the field a few weeks ago. It tested descriptions of Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian, Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly and Jordan Cooper. It also tested issues.

Push Polls in District 20?

MoonSmithShurbergThree of the District 20 Delegate Candidates: David Moon, Will Smith, and Jonathan Shurberg

District 20 has a lively delegate race with two vacancies caused by Del. Heather Mizeur’s gubernatorial run and Del. Tom Hucker’s county council candidacy. Local lawyer and Democratic activist Jonathan Shurberg is a candidate.

Jon has already loaned his campaign $125K and is rumored to be prepared to loan far more if needed to win the seat in his first run for elective office. Even in Montgomery County, he will clearly break towards the very high end of spending if he follows through and loans his campaign similar amounts in the future.

Rumors started earlier this week that Jon was the victim of a push poll when voters started receiving calls asking questions about Shurberg’s past three tax liens and previous disbarment, actually suspension, from the practice of law in Maryland (see also here and here) due to having misappropriated client funds. The poll also asked for responses to positive statements about his opponents.

Some speculated that David Moon or Will Smith–two other candidates in the race–had possibly sponsored the poll to undermine Jon’s campaign. Both know quite a bit about campaigns, especially in District 20. David ran Jamie Raskin’s 2006 campaign, has worked extensively as a campaign consultant, and is the author of the Maryland Juice blog, Will Smith, a former Obama appointee in the Department of Homeland Security, ran the D20 slate’s successful reelection campaign in 2010.

However, I could not imagine savvy, experienced campaign consultants like either David or Will carrying out a push poll because it just wouldn’t make much sense in this case.

First, the multi-seat nature of delegate races offers little incentive to go negative. When campaigning in these sorts of races, it’s best to be on friendly terms with everyone. If you meet a voter who says they like a rival candidate, it makes it easier to respond “she’s great, I hope you’ll vote for me too!” Attacking another candidate mainly risks losing votes from their supporters.

Second, there is no guarantee that it will benefit the ad’s sponsor, particularly in a race with so many candidates. Instead, it may aid another candidate, especially when the target denounces the ad as scurrilous and its sponsor as throwing mud. Finally, polling is costly and the money would be better spent on voter contact.

So who did the poll?

Turns out Jon did the poll to test out the impact of potential attacks and positive messages that other candidates may use.

Not a good use of campaign funds. Money is a very helpful campaign resource but only if it is spent wisely. Polling results are often dubious in down ballot races with so many candidates. Name recognition of the candidates is low. Voters respond as much to cues from endorsers as much as message.

One can test messages but it hardly requires a poll to know that voters will be suspicious of an attorney threatened with disbarment. Moreover, it’s working to counter a message that will likely never be used. Better to have spent the money on voter contact instead of exposing voters to negative information about his past.