Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clinton leads in NC?

That's what a new poll from Insider Advantage says.

Looking at the crosstabs a couple things jump out:

-They only have the black electorate at 25%. Survey USA, Rasmussen, and PPP all have it at 33%. That doesn't mean that IA is wrong, but it does help explain why Obama is doing so much worse in their poll than in others.

-They also only have Obama receiving 64% of the black vote at this point, which would be unusually low for him.

We'll see how the race moves over the last six days.

A post I regret

About a month ago I wrote a post where I took the numbers from our tracking poll, distributed the undecideds in the proportion of current candidate support, and used them to help assess which races were headed for runoffs.

My intent was not to say that x candidate would beat y candidate by z margin if the election was that day, but to show how the relative standing at that point might or might not imply a runoff was in the future.

I should have known, however, that in contests for offices like Treasurer and Lieutenant Governor where there is little or no media coverage any bone I threw a campaign would be used for maximum advantage.

Later the same day an e-mail came out from Janet Cowell's campaign claiming based on the analysis that Janet was the candidate best positioned to cross the 40% mark.

Then Friday of that week Walter Dalton declared that we said if the election was held that day he would win by ten points. That made me cringe because the reality is I did not say that. I said that if the undecideds were distributed in the levels of current candidate support that Dalton would have 33 and his closest opponents would be at 23. Undecideds breaking in the same percentages as current candidate support is a big if and is a lot different than saying Dalton would win by ten if the election was that day. Hampton Dellinger fairly disputed Dalton's characterization in an email to the press later that day.

What really got me was an email from David Young today. He claimed that his 19-16 lead in this week's tracking poll was outside the margin of error! Their claim was based on their own extrapolations of the undecideds to 100.

I'm sorry but taking a poll with over 50% undecideds, distributing those voters in the same percentages as the 43% who are decided, and then claiming to have a lead outside the margin of error just is not correct. A three point lead with a +/- 2.8 MOE is a statistical tie and it is not accurate to claim it as anything else.

I'm not mad at the Cowell, Dalton, or Young campaigns for the claims they've made. It's my fault for writing that stupid post in the first place. But I hope campaigns will be more accurate in their portrayal of our numbers from here on out.

Democratic Race Six Days Out

I don't know that the reason Bev Perdue has solidified her lead in the polls over the last week or so is that voters like the fact that she's running a positive campaign. She was already leading by 8 when she made the pledge and last week her lead was only up to 9.

I'm pretty sure the reason she's up to 14 now is because she made the pledge though. Sound inconsistent? No. More important than any goodwill the pledge built with voters is that it caused Richard Moore's campaign to go off the deep end. And that's why Perdue's lead has expanded.

During the bomb throwing stage of the race things were going well for the Moore campaign. Their negative ads were a lot more effective than Perdue's. The polls were closing in. I think if things had continued on like that Moore would have won the primary because the race was being played on a field that was favorable to him.

By putting an end to her negative ads, Perdue changed the game. It's been pretty clear the last few weeks that the Moore campaign hasn't figured out how to respond. At first it seemed like they laid off a little bit. They started running some positive ads again. The numbers didn't move so last week they decided to ratchet up the negativity to a whole new level.

The KKK thing may have been a stretch but the 'Confederate hats' press conference was a truly ridiculous (and counter productive) act of political showmanship. It was an indication that the campaign had gotten in so deep that they had sort of lost track of reality and how people would react to their actions.

I have not talked to one person who thought that was a good move. I know undecideds who it moved into the Perdue column. I know Perdue supporters who were so enraged they said they wouldn't vote for Moore in the fall if he managed to pull off the nomination. And I know Moore supporters who were embarrassed for their candidate. But I don't know anyone who thought it was anything but a stupid move.

Richard Moore is a good politician and has a good team. They've already come back from the brink once in this campaign. But they have a whole lot of ground to make up in not a lot of time.

Republican Race Six Days Out

Our new poll yesterday showed that Fred Smith has closed to within five points of Pat McCrory.

What's interesting is that over the last month McCrory's level of support has remained remarkably stable. He was at 35% in the first poll of the month, went up to 36, down to 34, and now back to 36 for the last two weeks. So it's not like he's losing support.

He is remaining stagnant though, while Smith is on the climb. Smith started the month at 23%, went to 26, had a one week blip back to 25, then went up to 29 and now 31.

My guess is that conservative voters who were undecided between Smith, Bill Graham, and Bob Orr have started moving into the Smith column because they realize he's the only one with a chance.

It is hard to predict what will happen this final week, especially with 21% of voters still undecided. I am particularly interested to see what impact Bill Graham's tv advertising will have. Orr and Graham have combined for 11-12% in our last four polls, which is not a good enough performance to cause a runoff. But if they managed to push their level of support into the 25% range, say 15% for Graham and 10% for Orr as undecideds break and Graham steps up his campaign, we could see the McCrory-Smith dynamic end up at 39-36 or 38-37.

My guess is that even our final poll will not make it much more clear what's going to happen on Tuesday because I still think 10% or more will report as undecided. It may be that those folks end up not actually voting, or make decisions based on relatively spurious reasoning.

We'll know this time next week!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Indiana Results

Hillary Clinton 50
Barack Obama 42

PPP's first Indiana poll shows Hillary Clinton with a solid lead in the state.

Her support is coming from the same groups that she usually does well with- women (54-39), whites (54-38), and older voters (55-36).

Obama's strongest performances, as usual, are with black voters (73-21) and voters under 30 (50-40).

It's not clear which candidate is benefiting more from Indiana's open primary. Clinton has a one point lead with Republicans, but Obama is up 52-37 with those voters who don't identify with either party.

Full results here.

Republican Tracking Poll: the Other Stuff

Robert Pittenger is pulling away in the contest for Lieutenant Governor. He is now at 25%, with Greg Dority his closest competitor at 10%. Jim Snyder and Timothy Cook are further behind with 8% and 6% respectively.

The Republican race for Superintendent continues to show a high level of undecided voters. Former co-speaker Richard Morgan leads, as he has in all our polling, with just 16%. Eric Smith and Joe Johnson are at 10% and 9% levels of support respectively.

Elizabeth Dole has a commanding 81-12 lead over challenger Pete DiLauro.

Full results here.

Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 36
Fred Smith 31
Bill Graham 6
Bob Orr 5
Elbie Powers 1

There is no doubt that Fred Smith is whittling away at Pat McCrory's lead. It peaked at 12 points the first week of April and has gone down every week since then- to 10, then 9, then 7, and now 5.

That seems to be an indication that Smith's attacks on McCrory are working- but did they come too late? Smith's movement had been slow and steady, and with just one week left it may not be enough time to make up the rest of the gap. Smith has plenty of personal wealth, he'll need to make a huge investment this last week to pull ahead.

Another interesting factor is that Bill Graham is going on the air. At this point I would say there is no chance of a runoff with McCrory and Smith both in the 30s and around 20% still undecided. But if Graham can somehow push his support into the teens in the next week it may keep either of the front runners from hitting the magic 40 mark.

Full results here.

Dueling Presidential Polls

Two new North Carolina polls out this morning with somewhat divergent outcomes:

-Rasmussen has Obama up 14.
-Survey USA has Obama up by only 5.

Who knows?

In the Democratic race for Governor, Survey USA shows the same five point movement in Bev Perdue's direction that we did this week. Her lead over Richard Moore in their poll goes from 4 to 9, while it went from 9 to 14 in our poll.

Their Republican gubernatorial numbers show Fred Smith pulling within a 36-32 margin of Pat McCrory. We'll have our numbers in that race out in a little bit- they are nearly identical to what SUSA is showing.

Should be an interesting final week.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Democratic Tracking Poll: Everything Else


Kay Hagan 36
Jim Neal 8
Marcus Williams 4
Duskin Lassiter 3
Howard Staley 2

The question at this point isn't really whether Hagan will win, but by how large of a margin.


David Young 19
Janet Cowell 16
Michael Weisel 8

For the last few weeks Young has been on tv and Cowell hasn't, and Young has taken the lead. Cowell will be for the last week though, so this race seems likely to continue to be a close one.


June Atkinson 35
Eddie Davis 17

Atkinson has maintained a steady lead in our polls for months.


Beth Wood 27
Fred Aikens 20

Like Atkinson, Wood has shown a steady margin throughout our polling.


Wayne Goodwin 21
David Smith 18

Goodwin moves back into the lead after a tie the week before.


Mary Fant Donnan 12
John Brooks 12
Robin Anderson 11
Ty Richardson 9

This race is headed for a runoff and at this point all of the candidates have a decent chance of being in it.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Governor

Bev Perdue 47
Richard Moore 33
Dennis Nielsen 4

Richard Moore spent last week throwing every piece of mud he could find at Bev Perdue but it appears it's bouncing right off her and sticking back on him. This is the biggest lead she has shown since early March.

His campaign tried to erode Perdue's credibility with black voters by tying her to the Klan and 'confederate hats,' but Perdue is maintaining a 56-27 advantage with that group.

Meanwhile Perdue appears to be getting an Andy Griffith bounce, polling 53-29 with voters over 65, a much better performance than she has shown in most recent polling.

Perdue leads in every region of the state.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: President

Barack Obama 51
Hillary Clinton 39

Obama's lead has dropped after varying from 18-25 points in PPP's last five North Carolina polls.

The primary movement in the last week has been among white voters. Our last survey showed Clinton leading by only five points in the state with that group but now her margin is up to 56-35. Per usual Obama's overall lead comes from dominating the black vote, which he leads 83-9.

One piece of good news for Obama in the poll is that he has a lot more votes in the bank than Clinton. 14% of those surveyed said they had done early voting already, and with those folks Obama has a 63-31 advantage.

Obama continues to lead in every part of the state except the Mountains. PPP will have its final North Carolina Presidential poll next Monday.

Full results here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Political Connections

I was one of the guests for Political Connections this weekend, check it out tonight at 6 and Sunday at 11 AM on News 14.

One of the issues we discussed was Richard Moore's new ad trying to tie Bev Perdue to the KKK. I said that one of the problems for Moore in trying to do that is that the vast majority of the black political leadership in the state supports Perdue and is happy to talk about that. And then as soon as I got to work I saw that indeed Rep. Alma Adams had already cut a commercial denouncing the ad.

Someone summed up the difference between Moore and Perdue's outreach to the black community this week. In her advertising on black radio stations, Perdue has well known public figures speaking out on her behalf. Moore has what seem to be paid actors and I have heard from several people that they think his ads stereotype and border on patronizing.

Of course this is all from political people, I guess we'll find out more about what the general public thinks this weekend in our polling.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Andy during Andy?

Tonight I watched the Andy Griffith show block on TV Land from 7 to 8 PM as I do while I'm running our polls whenever I get a chance.

I just realized I didn't see his ad endorsing Bev Perdue once during the hour. I'm no expert on tv buys but it seems like the first place you'd make sure you get your Andy Griffith ad placed is every episode of his shows between now and the election- it's a pretty good bet anyone watching the show is going to have a favorable view of him!

Fun with crosstabs pt.2

Last week I posted that we produce way more crosstabs than we actually release and some of them are interesting if not particularly important. Here's another round based on this week's poll:

-As usual Bev Perdue does better with Obama supporters (47-35) than Clinton supporters. (45-39). The national media has swooped on down here and wanted to say that Perdue is akin to Hillary, but the reality is that their electoral coalitions are quite different. If Perdue did as well with white women as Hillary does the Governor's race would be over. At the same time Clinton would kill to have Perdue's support with black voters.

-I pointed this trend out last week but it continues to be true- Clinton supporters seem to be much more tuned in to the rest of the ballot than Obama supporters. In the Senate race 49% of Obama supporters are undecided while just 38% of Clinton supporters are. In some of the other races the differences are even more vast- 70% of Obama supporters for Insurance Commissioner to 52% of Clinton supporters for instance. This phenomenon is probably a result of Obama bringing new people into politics who might not follow or be that interested in the other races.

-83% of Hillary Clinton's supporters are white, while 52% of those going for Obama are black.

-Although Jim Neal is running a 'no politics as usual' campaign and has endorsed Barack Obama, he is actually the only one of the Senate candidates whose supporters are going for Clinton. Obama has a 53-39 lead with folks voting for Kay Hagan.

-There are some pretty strong correlations between certain candidates' support. For instance among Janet Cowell's supporters, 60% support Kay Hagan, 51% support Beth Wood, 64% support June Atkinson, and 48% support Robin Anderson or Mary Fant Donnan. That's a pretty strong indicator that some folks are voting a female ticket, particularly in the down ballot races.

SurveyUSA Crosstabs

I'm a day or two late on this one but here goes:

SurveyUSA, like us, shows Richard Moore leading with white voters and Bev Perdue leading with black voters. Turnout demographics could end up playing a pretty large role in how this race shapes up.

It was interesting to see Perdue doing a lot better with unaffiliated voters than Democrats in this poll, since it's usually the opposite. She's up 46-32 with U's and 42-40 with D's. It could be that her positive campaign pledge is resonating with voters who don't like politics as usual and thus don't identify with either of the major parties. Or could it just be a fluke- keep in mind as always that the margins of error on crosstabs can be pretty high.

On the Republican side, Fred Smith is finally narrowing the gap with voters who describe themselves as conservatives- it is now 33-28. It's hard to see a path to the nomination for Smith without winning that demographic given that Pat McCrory has a 22 point advantage with self described moderates.

One thing that amazes me is that McCrory is in last place and polling at only 8% down east. I don't know much about McCrory's ads buys but this would seem to be an indication he's done little or nothing in the Wilmington and Greenville/Washington/New Bern tv markets, or else they're just really suspicious of him out there for some reason.

There's nothing in the Senate or President crosstabs that really jumped out at me but feel free to look at them and leave a comment if you see something interesting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sustaining the Momentum

Last week I posted that while Bev Perdue seemed to be getting some initial good will from her positive pledge, I thought it would be hard for her sustain the momentum for the next three weeks.

Well having Andy Griffith cut an ad for you is sure a good way to do it.

We've shown over and over that there are few solidly committed voters in this race. There's been an awful lot of clutter with the volume of different ads each campaign has run, and I imagine that for most voters it's hard to keep it all straight.

An ad with an Andy Griffith endorsement is the kind of thing that can cut through all the noise and leave an impact with people.

It might also help improve Perdue's numbers with older white women, a demographic she has under performed with in our polls. I know my grandmother sure does love Andy Griffith.

A good move for the Perdue campaign I think but we'll see what happens the next couple weeks.

Yukon Ho!

In penance for our Pennsylvania poll, I was banished to the Yukon this morning.

Actually the CBC affiliate in Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon, was one of seven Canadian radio stations I did interviews with this morning in cities large (Vancouver, Edmonton) and small (Whitehorse, Corner Brook, etc.)

What I found really interesting was that several of the folks I talked with were truly surprised at the possibility of McCain winning this fall. Their perception was that the Democratic nominee would easily win in the general election, but at this point I think it's pretty much a toss up.

It will really come down to how well both candidates cooperate with each other once one finally loses. If Obama is the nominee, both halves of the Clinton couple need to go out and campaign for Obama in places where it would be helpful this fall. If the Clinton campaign genuinely thinks Obama is going to have a hard time winning in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania then they need to go out into the interior of those states and campaign with him to convince the folks who put her over the top in those primaries that he's better than McCain.

If Clinton somehow winds up with the nomination, Obama needs to do the same to ensure that young voters and black voters who have come out for him will also turn out to support her at the polls.

I hope the perceptions of these Canadian journalists were correct, but I think it's going to be a close one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where did we go wrong?

The networks have called it for Hillary and I think after Florida in 2000 they're not going to make that mistake again, so obviously our polls were wrong.

First off, please do not call us or e-mail us and tell us we suck! We are well aware, and it does not feel good.

It's pretty easy, based on the exit polls, to see where we went wrong. We had the black vote at 18% when it turned out to be 14-15%, and we had the under 45 vote at 41% when it turned out to be 31%.

I reweighted the results from our final Pennsylvania poll to those figures for race and age, and the result of our poll was flipped- Hillary leading 49-46. Assume she pulled 60% of the undecideds and that gives her the 52-48 lead that the extrapolation from the original exit polls does.

So it's pretty easy to see where we went wrong. I'm glad that it was misweighting rather than some sort of systematic issue with our polls. Obviously we'll take some heat in the next few weeks for being so far off, and we certainly deserve it, but at the same time I don't think this should completely discount our credibility as a company- we've been pretty darn good a lot of other times this cycle.

Update: I posted this after Fox called the race while the exit polls still extrapolated to four points. Obviously the margin got greater as the night went along. Looks like the two areas where we were particularly off, as might have been expected, were with white women and senior citizens. We showed the race too close with both of those groups in our final poll, and Hillary ended up winning them by the kind of large margin that would have been expected. Live and learn...

We will just move on and try to do better in North Carolina.

New SurveyUSA Poll

Survey USA finally joins us in showing Kay Hagan dominating Jim Neal in the Democratic race for Senate- they have the race at 38-16. Marcus Williams, Howard Staley, and Duskin Lassiter lag at 6%, 4%, and 3% respectively.

They show Bev Perdue with a 43-39 lead over Richard Moore, which is not terribly dissimilar from us. I know we are projecting a larger black turnout than they are, which accounts for at least some of the difference between us and them on that race.

They have Barack Obama up 50-41 on Hillary Clinton, which like the SUSA poll two weeks ago is somewhat closer than what most other polls in the state are showing- certainly doesn't mean it's wrong.

Their Republican Governor numbers are relatively similar to us- Pat McCrory at 35%, Fred Smith at 24%, Bob Orr at 9%, Bill Graham at 8%.

Story here and I'll break down the crosstabs once I see them.

Republican Tracking Poll: the Other Stuff

Robert Pittenger is slowly inching ahead in the race for Lieutenant Governor, now with a four point lead over Greg Dority. Pittenger has 15% to 11% for Dority, 10% for Jim Snyder, and 5% for Timothy Cook.

Elizabeth Dole will have no trouble winning renomination, with an 82-11 advantage over Pete DiLauro.

The Republican race for Superintendent is tight, with Richard Morgan at 13%, Eric Smith at 11%, and Joe Johnson with 7%. This race is a good runoff possibility if no one does anything to separate themselves from the pack in the next couple weeks.

Full results here.

Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 36
Fred Smith 29
Bob Orr 7
Bill Graham 5
Elbie Powers 1

His opponents have ratcheted up the attacks in recent days but Pat McCrory is holding steady with a seven point lead in the Republican race for Governor.

McCrory trails Smith when the Charlotte metro area is taken out of the equation, but his 70-11 lead at home exceeds Smith's margin in the rest of the state. McCrory will need to do more to build support beyond his geographic base if he hopes to win the general election.

Smith is still within striking distance but even after taking his criticisms of McCrory to the airwaves it hasn't put much of an immediate dent into his support. It could be that the attacks will become more effective with time.

Bob Orr and Bill Graham just haven't been able to get any traction since McCrory entered the fold.

Full results here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

GOP numbers

If you need to know where the field stands in the Republican race for Governor as soon as possible tune into WBT, 1110 AM in Charlotte, at 7:40 tomorrow morning for the exclusive announcement of the latest numbers.

The full GOP poll will be released later in the day.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Everything Else


Janet Cowell 15
David Young 15
Michael Weisel 7

It actually seems like pretty good news for Cowell that she's not behind since Young has been running tv ads and she hasn't. This race will be close going right down to the wire.


June Atkinson 34
Eddie Davis 14

Davis has seemed to run a more active campaign than Atkinson but this race hasn't moved a whole lot in the six months we've been polling. Atkinson should win renomination with a solid margin.


Beth Wood 26
Fred Aikens 16

Wood has shown a consistent 7-10 point lead since we started polling this race.

Insurance Commissioner:

Wayne Goodwin 17
David Smith 17

Another close race.

Labor Commissioner:

Mary Fant Donnan 13
John Brooks 11
Ty Richardson 9
Robin Anderson 7

These folks are basically competing to be in the top two and get into a runoff and the race is close enough right now that any of the four candidates has a decent chance of getting there.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Senate

Kay Hagan 35
Jim Neal 8
Duskin Lassiter 4
Marcus Williams 4
Howard Staley 2

Kay Hagan is pretty much a lock to win the Democratic nomination for Senate. Her numbers have improved considerably in the two weeks since she started running television ads, and there's no sign of a similar effort from Jim Neal on the horizon. Neal has run a really active and admirable campaign but I think the bottom line here is going to end up being that you can't beat a good media campaign with a good grassroots campaign in the 21st century in this state.

Hagan leads 61-7 with the 35% of likely voters who reported seeing her television ads in the last week.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Governor

Bev Perdue 45
Richard Moore 36
Dennis Nielsen 4

The Democratic race for Governor is in a bit of a holding pattern now. Perdue has led by 8-10 points in our polls over the last three weeks.

The race is basically back to where it was for all of 2007. Perdue generally led by a margin of about 6-11 points in our polling last year. The Perdue campaign had a much better January and February than Moore did and saw its lead expand a good deal in both our polls and those of Survey USA. Then the Moore campaign had a tremendous March and pulled even in our survey and others. Now the race is back where it was ten weeks ago and for most of last year.

It will be difficult for Moore to make up this margin in the next two weeks, but they've already proven once that they can come back with their backs against the wall so I wouldn't write off it happening again as the campaign closes.

One thing seems for certain. Moore does much better at negative than Perdue, and Perdue does much better at positive than Moore. Each of their campaigns is taking a direction right now that accentuates their strength, and it will be interesting to see how it finally ends up playing with the voters.

As usual Perdue's strength comes from black voters, with whom she leads 52-29. Moore actually has a one point advantage with white voters.

Full results here

Democratic Tracking Poll: President

Barack Obama 57
Hillary Clinton 32

The bigger question than whether Obama would win North Carolina at this point might be whether it will even matter. If Obama manages to pull out a win or even a narrow defeat in Pennsylvania tomorrow, it seems quite possible that Clinton would drop out before the NC primary.

Regardless, this is the fifth consecutive PPP poll that has shown Obama with a lead over 18 points in North Carolina. His success is pretty much across the board- a 17 point lead with women, a 36 point advantage with men, large leads across every age group, and in most regions of the state.

Obama is doing particularly well in the areas where he had successful events and a ton of media coverage last week- a 36 point lead in the Triangle and a 31 point margin in eastern North Carolina.

Full results here.

Final Pennsylvania Poll

Barack Obama 49
Hillary Clinton 46

For the fourth week in a row we are showing the margin between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Pennsylvania to be at three points or less.

With such a close race the final result tomorrow should hinge on turnout. If there is disproportionately high turnout in the Philadelphia metro area, where Obama has a 58-32 lead, he could pull out a victory. Clinton is dominating throughout pretty much the rest of the state.

Regardless of whether Clinton or Obama finally wins this primary, it is almost certain the margin will be so small as to have minimal effect on the delegate count.

The key to Obama's small lead is that he is doing better with his core constituencies in the state than Clinton is doing with hers. He leads 55-34 with men, 81-12 with African Americans, and has around a double digit lead with voters under 45.

Clinton, on the other hand, leads by just nine points with women and six with voters over 65. She'll need to do better with those groups than this poll is showing to pull out the win tomorrow.

Full results here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

North Carolina Polls

There were so many new North Carolina Presidential polls this week I had trouble catching up:

-The LA Times poll had the most substantive issue polling for the state I've seen in a long time. This focused on issues as it relates to the Presidential race, while this focused on the views of state voters about the economy and trade.

There's more depth and detail in those polls than I have time to process or comprehend but I thought folks should know about it if they'd like to peruse the data.

The Times also shows Barack Obama leading the state 47-34.

-Insider Advantage has Obama leading 51-36.

-ARG has Obama with a 52-41 advantage.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Elon Poll: Mixed Message on Dole

The newest Elon poll is out, and what caught my interest the most was some weird answers to questions about Elizabeth Dole.

The poll shows an impressive 56% approval rating for her.

Yet 45% of respondents said it's time for a new Senator compared to just 37% who said Dole deserved to be reelected!

If Kay Hagan or Jim Neal can really get their act together once one of them is the nominee that number shows there's at least a sliver of a chance of knocking off Dole.

Tracking Poll Preview

Depending on how crazy things get with our final Pennsylvania poll on Monday I might wait to release the North Carolina poll on Tuesday and Wednesday. Time will tell.

Either way this is what I'm interested in:

-Fred Smith has finally started attacking Pat McCrory, but on radio instead of tv. We're going to try to figure out the extent to which voters are seeing and hearing McCrory and Smith's ads, and whether they're tightening the race at all. My guess is that radio isn't going to get the job done but that's what the poll is for.

-We'll see if television advertising is having much of an effect on these down ballot races. For instance, David Young has been running ads in the Treasurer's race. Can folks in these lower interest races buy enough for it to make a difference?

-I imagine that with another week of tv under her belt Kay Hagan has further expanded her lead over Jim Neal. You have to give the Neal campaign credit though- I've seen numerous media reports this week across the state that the race is tied even though only one poll, conducted before tv started, is saying that. They're doing a good job of making it seem like the SurveyUSA one is the only poll out there.

-We're in week two now of the Bev Perdue 'positive campaign.' She got a little momentum off of that last week but can she hold it in the wake of Richard Moore's new ad this week criticizing her record as a business owner? We'll find out.

Why is Pennsylvania so undecided?

Mark Blumenthal's column yesterday took an interesting look at the Pennsylvania polls.

He notes that there's a relationship between the percentage of undecideds in polls and how Obama and Clinton are performing relative to each other. Basically most polls show Obama's percentage within a small range but Clinton's number is all over the place- greater in polls with small undecideds, worse in polls with larger undecideds. This could be an indication that leaners are going for Clinton, but we don't really prod them to pick one of the two candidates whereas other companies might do more of that. That could help explain why Obama is doing so much better with us than in other polls.

Our double digit undecided level got me to wondering what we showed in our other polls this cycle before the last weekend, and the conclusion is that Pennsylvania is a bit of an outlier. This table shows the percentage of undecideds we've had in our second to last polls so far since the race came down to just Clinton and Obama:













We haven't done it before but since PA is showing such a high level of undecideds I'm going to ask people this weekend who say they're undecided who they're leaning toward, and we'll report both numbers. That should help bring a little more clarity to the race.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I voted

When I was a junior in college I did a lot of the volunteer coordination for the Democratic campaign on campus at UNC for the 2004 election.

We had the then bold goal of having at least two students outside of Morehead Planetarium during the entire early voting period handing out Democratic voter guides. No one had ever done it before and it was quite a struggle to get enough volunteers to cover all the time slots but we pulled it off.

So imagine my surprise this afternoon when I went to cast my ballot and saw about 25 students out there vying to get me to support their choice for President (and one person for Hampton Dellinger as well.) We begged and cajoled to get two people an hour during the general election last time around and now there's a swarm for the primary.

I guess that was my first in person visual experience of how different this year is.

Anyway, it was great to see a line out the door of students voting on this first day. I cast the 393rd ballot at about 1:30. There were around ten people in the same day voter registration line, two of whom were middle aged! That was a really neat thing to see.

Obviously 99% of these people are there to vote in the Presidential race, which made me wonder how on earth all these folks decide how to vote on the rest of the ballot. Most of them haven't had much exposure to the Governor's race, much less candidates for offices like Labor Commissioner or Auditor.

If I was consulting a well heeled candidate I would encourage them to send a direct mail piece out to voters 18-25 who registered in the last six months focused on issues like college tuition and minimum wage. This is really an untapped market of voters and for the most part we haven't shown any clear favorites with younger voters in the races down ballot from President.

And since I voted now and can't take it back, all you candidates and candidate surrogates can harp on PPP all you want for the next 19 days without the risk of losing my personal vote!

Breaking down our Pennsylvania Poll

Thank you to everyone who e-mailed and called yesterday to let us know that our Pennsylvania poll was an outlier. We were kind of aware of that :)

It's an uncomfortable position because certainly if we're wrong we're going to get a heap of abuse for it. That said, we interviewed over 1,000 people each of the last three weeks and these are the results we've gotten. It's not like we're going to change them so they look more like everyone else's.

One reason I have faith in our numbers is that in six out of seven Democratic polls so far we've underestimated Obama's performance. The only place where we said he would do better than he ended up doing was Ohio where we said he would lose by 9 and he ended up losing by 10. So I feel a lot more comfortable as the outlier showing Obama doing better than everyone else than I would if it was the other way around.

Here are some of the common reasons for a poll being off:

-Bad demographic composition. I don't think that will be the case for us if we are wrong because we are largely in line with everyone else. We are showing a stronger black electorate (17%) than SurveyUSA (14%) but that only accounts for a little of the 17 point difference our companies are showing in Pennsylvania right now. We're largely in line with other companies on the percentage of the electorate under 45 (likely Obama supporters) and over 65 (likely Clinton supporters, although her margin with that group was surprisingly low in our last poll.)

-A bad sample. Simply put, sometimes you can get a bad poll because you got a bad sample. I don't think that's the reason for our disparity either though since we've shown it within the margin of error three weeks in a row now. Plus weighting should correct some of that even if you do get a bad sample.

-Bad turnout model. My guess is that if we end up being wrong in Pennsylvania our model of assessing likely voters (people who voted in the 2004 or 2006 primary or the 2006 general) will be the culprit. This worked for us in Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin but every state is different and it could be that for whatever reason it's not a good way of doing it in Pennsylvania. One difference between PA and those three states is that it has a closed primary whereas those places have open primaries. I don't know why that would throw it off but it's a possibility.

We'll have one more Pennsylvania poll out Monday, but barring some major event in the next few days I imagine we'll continue to show one of the candidates with a lead under five points. Hopefully the results will bear out our polls but if not we'll figure out where we went wrong and try to fix it so we do better in the future.

Perdue, Hagan, and White Women

If Bev Perdue doesn't win the Democratic primary for Governor, a weak performance with white women will be the reason.

Perdue leads Richard Moore just 38-33 with that demographic in our latest poll.

It seems like with Perdue being the first serious female candidate for Governor that she would do extremely well with other white women. But our polls have consistently shown that she doesn't put up the kind of huge margin with them that you might expect.

Perdue's base is actually more similar to Barack Obama's than Hillary Clinton's. More of her supporters are black- 48%- than white- 45%- in our latest poll.

Kay Hagan's success, on the other hand, has a lot to do with white women. She leads Jim Neal 31-7 with them. Hillary Clinton has a large lead over Obama in the state with that group as well.

I don't know why Perdue isn't as popular with white women as Hagan and Clinton are. But if the race tightens again her comparative lack of popularity with them could end up making the difference.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fun with crosstabs

With our polls on a week to week basis we have way more data than we publicly release, mostly to avoid an information overload. Here is some of the interesting stuff from within the crosstabs:

-Folks who support Hillary Clinton are much more likely to have their minds made up for Governor and Senate than those who support Barack Obama. In the Senate race 44% of Clinton supporters and 65% of Obama supporters are undecided. For Governor it's 15% and 26% respectively.

Given that Obama is bringing a lot of newer voters into the process it makes sense that they haven't paid as much attention to the other races as those going for Clinton.

-There are large gaps in both of those races based on Presidential support. Kay Hagan leads Jim Neal 37-9 among Clinton supporters but just 22-6 with Obama folks, a possible indication that gender could be a major voting criterion with those voters. Bev Perdue actually has the opposite trend though- a 44-26 lead with Obama supporters but a 41-40 deficit to Richard Moore with those going for Clinton. That is not surprising given Perdue's popularity with black voters.

-Voters supporting Kay Hagan are strong Perdue people while those going for Jim Neal are Moore people. Perdue leads 52-34 with Hagan supporters, Moore leads 53-30 with Neal supporters.

-Perdue has more black supporters than white supporters- 48-45 in our latest poll. Moore's breakdown is 66-24 in favor of whites.

Pennsylvania Poll Results

Barack Obama 45
Hillary Clinton 42

It seems more clear with each passing day that Hillary Clinton's efforts to hurt Barack Obama for his 'bitter' remarks are not working. Earlier this week PPP showed Obama maintaining a 20 point lead in North Carolina, and now for the third week in a row we show the race in Pennsylvania as a statistical tie.

Obama's gain since PPP's poll last week is not attributable to any major shifts of support from any particular demographic. He simply cut Clinton's lead with whites and women, and increases his advantage with men and black voters.

High turnout in the metro Philadelphia area seems likely to be the key to Obama's success or failure. Right now he leads 53-33 in that region, with Clinton showing a strong advantage in most of the rest of the state.

This race could go either way depending on how the campaign unfolds over the last week. If Obama does win, it may be that his superior ground game ends up making the difference to put him over the top in the closing days.

Full results here

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pennsylvania Poll Tomorrow

Five companies have released Pennsylvania polls in the last two days that did them last week too.

One, Survey USA, showed Barack Obama gaining four points on Hillary Clinton from their last one.

Another, Quinnipiac, showed the margin between them the same as last week.

Rasmussen and Strategic Vision both showed Clinton gaining four points on Obama compared to their previous polls.

Finally, ARG showed a 20 point Clinton gain.

So they've been all over the map in terms of movement in the race in the last week. Where does PPP fit in? Check back tomorrow morning to find out. We're pretty sure that for better or worse our numbers will cause a stir.

Republican Tracking Poll: the Other Stuff

Robert Pittenger has taken the lead in the Republican race for Lieutenant Governor with 12%. Greg Dority, Jim Snyder, and Timothy Cook trail with 10%, 9%, and 3% respectively.

Per usual none of the candidates are showing much support outside of their home bases yet. Pittenger is strong in Charlotte, Snyder in the Triad, and Dority in the east.

Pittenger figures to blow this open sometime in the next few weeks when he starts spending his money.

Elizabeth Dole continues to lead challenger Pete DiLauro by an overwhelming margin, 81-12.

Full results here.

Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 34
Fred Smith 25
Bill Graham 6
Bob Orr 5
Elbie Powers 0

Pat McCrory is looking more and more likely by the week to win the Republican nomination without a runoff.

The most interesting thing in this poll is that McCrory leads Smith 38-28 with voters who said their top issue was immigration. McCrory's opponents have been hammering him on the issue over the last week, but they've been doing it in debates and earned media. The reality is that few voters are paying attention to either of those things. If the rest of the field really wants to draw any blood on McCrory they're going to have to make an investment in paid media to be effective.

McCrory also has a slight 34-31 lead over Smith with voters whose main concern is moral and family values. Again, Smith has no chance if he can't convince voters that he's the true social conservative in the race, and for now he is not doing that.

52% of voters still say they could change their minds between now and the election. But they're not likely to do so without a change in tactics from McCrory's opponents.

Full results here.

Other Poll Results Yesterday

-Civitas released a new Presidential poll. They show Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton 45-27 in the state, which seems about right.

They also did general election match ups, showing John McCain leading Obama 48-39 and Clinton 50-37. That tells a different story than the Rasmussen poll released Saturday showing a tie between McCain and Obama.

Looking at the Civitas demographics, they all look pretty much fine to me. Even though I'd rather believe the Rasmussen poll I'm more inclined to think Civitas has it right at this point, especially since I can't compare who they polled since Civitas gives us that and Rasmussen doesn't.

-Speaking of Rasmussen, they put out a new general election poll on our Senate race yesterday. They have Elizabeth Dole up 52-39 on Kay Hagan and 51-37 on Jim Neal. That's about in line with what we've shown in the past. Hopefully once the Democrats settle on a nominee that individual will be able to raise some serious money and make this into more of a contest.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Democratic Tracking Poll: Senate

Kay Hagan 28
Jim Neal 7
Howard Staley 3
Marcus Williams 3
Duskin Lassiter 2

For the first time in weeks PPP is showing some real movement in the Democratic primary for US Senate, with Kay Hagan opening up a 20 point lead after beginning to run tv commercials.

Just 32% of respondents reported having seen her ad, but within that group she has a remarkable 48-6 advantage over Neal.

It is clear that unless Neal can match Hagan on the airwaves in the closing weeks of the campaign she is likely to win a lopsided victory.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Governor

Bev Perdue 41
Richard Moore 31
Dennis Nielsen 4

Bev Perdue's pledge to eliminate negative advertising for the rest of the primary campaign is an instant hit with Democratic voters. Her lead is back up to double digits for the first time in four weeks.

56% of likely voters reported having heard about the promise, and within that group Perdue has a dominant 47-31 lead. The race is basically a tie with the rest of the electorate.

The big question for Perdue though is whether she will be able to sustain the positive momentum she received from her announcement last week over the last three weeks of the contest, especially as Richard Moore continues to hit her with negative ads that have tended to be pretty effective.

Given how well she is doing with those who have heard about her promise, another goal should be to turn the 56% of voters who have heard about it to 100%.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: President

Barack Obama 54
Hillary Clinton 34

The controversy over Barack Obama's 'bitter' comment doesn't appear to be hurting him in North Carolina, at least so far. His 20 point lead is consistent with where PPP has shown him over the last four weeks.

The poll was conducted Saturday and Sunday, making it possible that some of those polled still had not heard about his comments.

Notably, Obama leads in every region of the state, including those that are predominantly comprised of rural areas and small towns.

Obama also leads across every age group. This poll showed an unusually small gender gap with Obama leading men by 22 points and women by 17 points.

Full results here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Polling for six year olds

Yesterday my six year old cousin, Walter, abruptly asked 'what's your job?'

It kind of stopped me cold. How do you explain polling to a six year old?

I told him that my job was to find out what people think about things.

He paused, gave me a quizzical look, and then said in a voice filled with incredulity, 'someone pays you for that?'

Didn't really know how to respond to that one. It was pretty funny.

If you know of a way to explain polling to a six year old that will make sense to them let me know!

Rasmussen General Election Poll

Pretty big news from a Rasmussen North Carolina general election poll- they show Barack Obama and John McCain tied 47-47 in a possible match up. McCain leads Hillary Clinton 51-40.

Three weeks ago they showed McCain up nine points on Obama and 16 points on Clinton. So the poll is a clear sign that the presence of the Democratic candidates in the state is helping both of their prospects.

Not much more to analyze here since Rasmussen makes you pay for their crosstabs, but it looks like North Carolina will be the most competitive it has been in the general election here this fall since Bill Clinton almost won the state in 1992.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Civitas Governor Numbers

-Civitas has its newest numbers for Governor out. On the Republican side they show a pretty similar picture to us- Pat McCrory leading Fred Smith by about ten points with Bill Graham and Bob Orr pretty much out of the picture. On the Democratic side they have Richard Moore leading Bev Perdue by one point, 37-36.

A key difference between their poll and our most recent poll that explains at least some of that is they have the African American vote at 28% for the primary while we have it at 36%. That's a demographic that goes strongly for Perdue, and it's safe to say she'd be leading if they had it at the same level as us. I don't know who's right and who's wrong on that count, that's why we have the election.

They also have their electorate much older than we do. They have 17% of primary voters between 18-44, we have somewhere around 40% in that same age group. Perdue's leading that group by about ten points in their poll.

This is an interesting case study in how polls can show different results. I imagine that those who responded to our most recent poll and those who responded to theirs gave pretty much the same answers. But the major differences in the racial and age composition of our polls can lead to us showing Perdue up by 8 and them showing Moore up by 1.

The reason we can do this sort of comparison is that Civitas released their topline demographics. Kudos to them for that.

Tracking Poll: What's Coming Up

Here are the issues we're delving into on this week's tracking poll:

-The effect of the Perdue pledge. We'll ask poll respondents if they've heard that one of the candidates for Governor has promised to end the negative advertising. It will only have been 48 hours since Bev Perdue made the pledge when we go into the field tomorrow but she will have been touting it in tv ads and it got a lot of media coverage this morning so it'll be interesting to see what the immediate impact of that is, if any.

-Kay Hagan going on the air. We'll see how many people report having seen her ads so far. My guess is a small bump for Hagan in our poll, maybe up to 25%. But nothing drastic.

-Impact of potential Edwards endorsements, part 2. When we did it the first time we only asked folks who were undecided or supported Barack Obama if an Edwards endorsement would move them toward the Clinton camp. I didn't ask people who already supported Clinton how it would affect them, but after seeing how many people said an endorsement from him would make them less likely to vote for her it now seems worth looking into. Even though an Obama endorsement seems like a long shot at this point, we'll ask about the impact that would have as well.

Moore's New Endorsement

It hasn't received a ton of attention, but EqualityNC announced its endorsement yesterday of Richard Moore for Governor. I don't know anything about Moore and Bev Perdue's comparative positions on their issues of concern, but either way I say good for them. Why?

Progressive groups are at a disadvantage getting what they want done in Raleigh because they're so under funded compared to business and corporate issues trying to get their way.

The great potential equalizer is supporting a candidate through the electoral process, particularly when a group takes a risk.

The Democratic primary for Governor could go either way, although Bev Perdue is still a slight favorite. Often in situations like this a group, worried about antagonizing either candidate if they get elected, will either stay out of the race or issue a lame endorsement of both candidates.

When you do that, neither candidate owes you anything if they get elected. The reality is that once in office a Governor or legislator or whoever has a thousand interests pulling them in every direction. But they'll remember who was with them when it was a calculated risk, and often those concerns will rise to the top.

Equality NC has gone out on a bit of a limb with the Moore endorsement. But I guarantee if Moore wins, he'll remember who took a risk to support him. And the reality is that groups who chicken out of taking sides in tough races ensure there's no chance that their issues are going to be a top concern when someone new takes office.

This may or may not work for Equality, but more progressive groups should take their lead if they want their agendas to be taken seriously.

Obama on another plane

I'm in Upstate South Carolina for the weekend to visit my grandmother and see the Tar Heel baseball team play at Clemson.

I thought I might be getting a respite from the North Carolina political campaign, so I was pretty surprised yesterday when I got into town and heard Barack Obama ads running on the top 40 station in Greenville.

The truth is though that Asheville doesn't really have a top 40 station. So a lot of young people in western North Carolina who want to listen to popular music listen to B93.7 in Greenville. It's a savvy choice of place to advertise for him to reach the 18-35 demographic that he's so popular with.

It also shows that the Obama campaign is just operating on a different level with its savviness, which of course is made possible when you raise a whole heck of a lot of money.

On another note, when I took a walk through campus and downtown Chapel Hill yesterday morning, three people decked out in Obama shirts and stickers tried to register me to vote.

Obama's expanded his lead in North Carolina and narrowed the field in Pennsylvania considerably in the last few weeks. Folks always want to look to major national news stories to explain this movement, but his superior ground game shouldn't be discounted either.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Perdue's pledge

The pledge Bev Perdue made today to eschew negative advertising for the rest of the primary is bold and admirable. It's also politically risky.

Richard Moore has climbed back in the polls in good measure because of his effective ads attacking Perdue's record. If he doesn't make the same move in response to Perdue's announcement today she faces the risk of continuing to be hurt by his withering attacks without being able to respond in kind. She's backed herself into a bit of a corner.

Nonetheless it is a very impressive gesture. I wrote Sunday that the only way there would be any lessening of the negativity in this race would be a mutual disarmament pact between the candidates. Perdue has gone out on a limb by making that choice without any parallel guarantee from Moore and as a Democrat I respect that.

We'll probably put something on the tracking poll this weekend, without naming either Moore or Perdue, to see what percentage of likely voters have heard that one of the candidates has pledged to end negative campaigning between now and the primary. It'll be interesting to see how much attention this gets, and how the Moore/Perdue vote breaks down among voters who have heard about it.

SurveyUSA Crosstabs

I know I promised this yesterday, but better late than never, right?

The most interesting thing to me about the numbers on the Democratic gubernatorial race was Richard Moore taking the (statistically insignificant) lead among voters who described themselves as liberals.

When I wrote this post last month Moore was winning with conservatives and getting clobbered by Bev Perdue among liberals and moderates, probably because of his earlier ads that some described as Republican-lite railing against things likes commissions and studies that nobody cared about.

Shortly after SUSA released its poll last month Moore came out with his new ads focusing on populist issues of greater concern to the Democratic base like the minimum wage, affordable college tuition, and property tax relief for those who need it. The fact that he's leading with liberals now is just more confirmation that the revamp of his campaign has been effective.

On the Republican side two things caught my attention. The first was that Pat McCrory has a 29-21 lead over Fred Smith in the region that encompasses the Triad and the Triangle. That's just more confirmation that his ad campaign has made him into a true statewide candidate. His leads earlier in the campaign were largely coasting off of racking up huge majorities in Charlotte but now it's moved beyond that.

The other is that McCrory leads Smith 32-23 among voters who described themselves as conservatives. Not to beat a dead horse, but there's no way Fred Smith wins the nomination without garnering the support of those who think of themselves as conservatives, and if he wants to win those folks he's going to need to tell them that McCrory isn't one.

In the Democratic Senate race the same disconnect between normal voters and politically active people that has shown itself in previous polls is still there. Kay Hagan leads among liberals and moderates, while Jim Neal leads among conservatives. The way the campaign is actually playing out is sort of the opposite of that, but the fact that the numbers don't square with how the highly involved political folks are lining up is just another indication of how little the voters really know about these candidates.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Someone has it right

When I was in the 'waiting room' to go on the Tara Servatius show on WBT in Charlotte this afternoon I heard an ad in which former state senator Bob Rucho, running to take back his old seat, pilloried his opponent, Charlotte City Councilman Andy Dulin, for pretty much any bad thing the Charlotte City Council has done in the last few years.

He attacked him for raising taxes, for some some sort of taxpayer funded junket, and some other things I don't remember.

The ad was a little over the top, but it sure got me to wondering. Why is a Charlotte City Councilman being attacked in paid media for his record as a public official, but the Mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory, running for Governor, is not?

I think Fred Smith or Bill Graham, who have money, need to take a page from the Rucho playbook if they want to have any chance of defeating McCrory.

Minimum Wage: the issue of 2008?

If you can find a Democratic politician in North Carolina who can't (or won't) take credit for increasing the minimum wage, let me know. Right now it seems like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

In the last week Kay Hagan, Richard Moore, and Walter Dalton, running in three different races, have all put up ads touting their work on the issue.

It's an interesting issue electorally. There isn't a very meaningful percentage of the primary electorate that's personally impacted by the minimum wage. But it's certainly an issue that resonates with good hearted Democrats looking out for the poor.

I'm sure it polls well, which is doubtless the reason the candidates are making so much hay out of it.

Bill Clinton's North Carolina Stops

Bill Clinton's coming back to North Carolina again this week, and once again he's largely eschewing the city's urban centers. Last week he went to places like Pembroke, Laurinburg, and Monroe. Now he's headed to Roanoke Rapids, Wilson, Goldsboro, Kinston, and other points east.

The thinking of the campaign is that his appearances will create a buzz in places that aren't used to seeing a President. But our recent polling also shows that the places he's going are the most potentially fertile territory for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.

Barack Obama is dominating among voters who describe themselves as living in cities in the state. A poll we conducted last week showed him leading by 32 points with that group. The race is much closer with folks who live in rural areas or small towns. Voters who said they reside in rural areas support Obama by just six points, while those living in small towns give him an 18 point advantage.

Rural areas and small towns also have the most voters who haven't made up their minds yet for the Presidential primary. 25% of rural voters are undecided and 17% of those in small towns are.

If Hillary Clinton is going to have any chance of winning North Carolina she's going to need to get those undecideds in her camp and generate significant turnout in the counties where I-40 and I-85 do not pass through. Sending Bill around to those places helps generate momentum for her, and while the odds of Hillary taking NC are not good, their strategy for deploying Bill is an intelligent one.

Thanks to Ferrel Guillory at UNC for the post idea.

Pennsylvania Results

Hillary Clinton 46
Barack Obama 43

Hillary Clinton has moved back into the lead in Pennsylvania after trailing by two points in our poll last week. Still, this result is further confirmation that it's likely to be a close race in the Keystone state.

Clinton's rebound in the last week has come almost entirely from improving her standing with her core demographics of women, whites, and senior citizens. Her lead with woman went from 10 points to 16, with white voters it went from 11 to 17, and with voters over 65 from 16 to 21.

It's hard to tell exactly why Clinton has rebounded during a relatively slow news week, but it may be that negative effects of the Bosnia story have started to wear off as the issue gets less attention.

Obama has large leads with men, African Americans, and younger voters.

The survey also found that 37% of likely primary voters in Pennsylvania are concerned that the protracted nature of the Democratic contest will hurt the eventual nominee's chances of defeating John McCain this fall. Obama leads Clinton 47-41 with those voters. Among the 52% of voters who are not worried about it Clinton has a 50-40 advantage.

PPP will have its next Pennsylvania poll a week from today.

Full results here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Survey USA Crosstabs pt. 1

I will take a more substantive look tomorrow at the crosstabs on the Survey USA North Carolina poll, but for now I can't help but point out that Richard Moore leads among liberals, moderates, and conservatives. I guess that means Bev Perdue is holding onto a tie by dominating voters who don't believe in anything :)

Wednesday Morning

We'll have our newest Pennsylvania numbers out around late morning.

Also I'll be doing the AM morning show circuit. I'll be on WPTF (680) in Raleigh talking about our latest polls at 6:10 and on WBT (1110) in Charlotte talking about the Governor's race at 8:05. Tune in if you want to put a voice to the blog.

Survey USA North Carolina Numbers

WTVD has the newest Survey USA numbers for North Carolina up.

They show Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton 49-39. PPP and Rasmussen both released polls in the last few days that had Obama with an advantage of more than 20.

They have Bev Perdue and Richard Moore dead even at 40% apiece. That certainly confirms the narrowing trend we've shown in the race, although these numbers are more similar to what we had last week than what we found this week.

In the Democratic Senate race they have Kay Hagan at 21%, Jim Neal at 20%, Duskin Lassiter at 6%, Marcus Williams at 5%, and Howard Staley at 4%. We have repeatedly been at odds with Survey USA on the strength of Neal's numbers.

In the Republican race for Governor they show Pat McCrory likely to win without a runoff if the election was today, just as we do. He's at 38%, followed by Fred Smith at 19%, Bob Orr at 10%, and Bill Graham at 9%.

Survey USA has had some of the best polling in the country for this primary cycle but so have we since Super Tuesday, so who knows who's closer in the places where we differ!

Republican Tracking Poll: the Other Stuff

Not much to report on the races for Senate and Lieutenant Governor. Elizabeth Dole leads Pete DiLauro 80-11 and Greg Dority has 12%, followed by Robert Pittenger and Jim Snyder at 10%, and Timothy Cook at 3%.

Full results here.

Republican Tracking Poll: Governor

Pat McCrory 36
Fred Smith 26
Bill Graham 6
Bob Orr 5
Elbie Powers 1

Fred Smith is continuing to spend his money on tours instead of tv, and Pat McCrory is continuing to hold a double digit lead. There's a definite cause and effect relationship between those two things in the Republican race for Governor.

McCrory has been running an extensive television advertising campaign and the result of that has been much improved standing in areas of the state outside Charlotte. He leads Smith 38-23 now in the Triad and trails just 33-25 in the Triangle. His customary huge advantage in his home base, 74-7 this week, provides most of his statewide lead.

The good news for Smith is that 52% of voters reported that they could change their minds between now and the election. But he'll need to readjust his campaign strategy in order to pick off the number of votes he'll need to get from McCrory.

Graham and Orr have essentially become non factors in this race. Not only are they polling in the mid single digits, but even among their supporters most said they could jump ship. Only 27% of Orr and 39% of Graham's supporters are solidly committed to voting for them.

Full results here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Even more on the N&O poll

Over at Talk Politics Leroy Towns, a political veteran, chimes in on the flaws of the N&O poll.

I agree with his points. Towns also points out that I am not unbiased when criticizing the poll because I am a competing pollster. That's true, but at the same time I am very glad that respected national companies like Rasmussen and Survey USA are polling in North Carolina. I think SUSA will have new numbers tomorrow for the Democratic primaries for Governor and Senate and the Republican primary for Governor and I eagerly anticipate that to see how we're matching up.

I think it's great the McClatchy papers commissioned a poll. I just think they should have picked more carefully, or recognized the limitations of who they hired and only printed numbers they felt were reliable.

N&O Poll

Over at the Dome blog Ryan Beckwith explains the reasoning behind the N&O poll with the headline 'Not a horse race poll.'

But they released the horse race and wrote a whole article about it, so it is a horse race poll.

I think it's great to do more issue focused polling and my advice to the outlets that commissioned this poll would be to just skip the horse race next time.

You should either do it right or not do it at all.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Senate

Kay Hagan 18
Jim Neal 9
Marcus Williams 5
Duskin Lassiter 2
Howard Staley 2

As usual the undecideds in this race are the main story. The most important thing to note in this race is the news last week that Hagan has a million dollars in the bank. As impressive as Neal's grassroots efforts have been, they haven't created much movement in the numbers. TV creates instantaneous movement. If Hagan has it and Neal doesn't, she should end up winning this primary by a wide margin.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: Governor

Bev Perdue 41
Richard Moore 33
Dennis Nielsen 3

Bev Perdue is back up to an eight point lead after falling into a statistical tie with Richard Moore last week.

The major movement in the race over the last three polls has been with the black vote. Two weeks ago Perdue led by 21 points among likely African American voters. Around that time Moore began running advertisements in heavy rotation on radio stations that have large black listenership, and last week that helped him cut Perdue's edge to five points with that group.

Over the last week the Perdue campaign has focused heavily on outreach to likely black voters with a robo call and a direct mail piece touting her endorsement of Barack Obama. Those efforts have paid off with her advantage going back up to 19 points in this survey. That's the biggest difference maker between the numbers last week and this week.

This race will likely continue to fluctuate over the next four weeks. 49% of likely voters said they could change their minds between now and the primary. Perdue has the advantage for now but this race will be won or lost by who runs the most effective campaign from here on out.

Full results here.

Democratic Tracking Poll: President

Barack Obama 54
Hillary Clinton 33

Barack Obama's large lead in North Carolina has really stabilized over the last few weeks. His lead in PPP's tracking poll is now consistently in the 18-21 point range.

One reason may be that Democratic voters want the nomination contest to be over. 43% of likely voters said they were concerned that the drawn out campaign between Clinton and Obama would hurt Democratic prospects this fall. Within that group, Obama has a 29 point lead, which could be an indication that some folks are moving toward his camp because they see a decisive victory for him as a way to end the infighting and shift the focus to John McCain.

Obama continues to do better with white voters than he has in many southern states, trailing Clinton 47-38. He has his customary large advantage with black voters, 81-10. He also has large leads across all age groups except senior citizens, among whom he and Clinton are in a statistical tie.

Full results here

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Negative Campaigning in the Governor's Race

In his column today Rob Christensen wrote about how the negativity in the Democratic primary for Governor could hurt the party's prospects this fall.

I certainly wish that the race didn't have the tenor it does. But neither of the candidates has had much choice about it.

Two different polls in February and March showed Richard Moore trailing by 20 or more points. There is no way he could have made up that gap the way he has without relying on negative advertising. He could have kept the race positive- but the result would have been certain defeat.

Once Moore started attacking, Bev Perdue didn't have much choice but to respond. You can't have your opponent muddying the waters about your character without trying to create the same kind of doubts about him. With the race narrowing at a remarkably fast pace, the Perdue campaign would almost certainly lose its lead without responding in kind to Moore's attacks.

Fred Smith's growing gap against Pat McCrory shows what happens when you don't spend money attacking the front runner.

It would have been nice if Moore and Perdue had signed some sort of mutual disarmament pact about negative campaigning from the get go. But barring that, neither has any choice if they want to win the primary. It may be sad, but that's politics.

Bottom Line on the McClatchy Poll

Apparently we can look forward to a story tomorrow about how most voters in North Carolina are undecided in the state's key races. That is true for the Democratic Senate race, but not for the Gubernatorial races on either side and certainly not for the Democratic Presidential race.

Here's the number one piece of information that needs to be released about this poll- of the folks they called who said they were registered to vote in North Carolina, what percentage of them said they intended to vote in the primary?

Whatever that figure is is essentially what the poll is pegging as voter turnout for the primary. We started out with a model that estimated about 20% turnout and switched it a few weeks ago to one that projects about 40% voter turnout.

I'm guessing that the call everyone in the phone book and simply ask them whether they intend to vote or not voter model yields a yes rate of more than 60%, maybe even more than 70%. That's the same as the McClatchy poll being based on a premise of 60-70% voter turnout, which is not even close to realistic.

It's also the reason why the undecideds in their horse race questions are skewed so inaccurately high. If there's little chance that half the people you interview for your poll are actually going to vote in the primary, they probably haven't been following the races closely and that's why they're undecided.

As I said yesterday, I think it's great for media outlets to commission polls. WTVD has it right by working with Survey USA, which is an outstanding political polling company. I look forward to their survey coming out every month. But it's pretty disappointing to see McClatchy not have the sense to hire a political pollster to do a political poll. Look at a google news search for Braun Research and you'll see they specialize in breakfast food and retirement planning, not calling elections. It's unfortunate the News&Observer and Charlotte Observer are splashing a deeply flawed poll all over their front pages.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New Rasmussen Poll

Rasmussen has a new North Carolina poll showing Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton 56-33 in the state.

That sounds about right to me. We had it a little less last week but the bottom line is that Obama is winning big time.

One interesting thing in the poll though- they report 56% of Clinton supporters said they would not vote for Obama in the general election. I don't really buy that but even if the number is half of that it's not a good sign.

A suspect poll

The Charlotte Observer, News&Observer, and two North Carolina tv stations teamed up for a detailed poll on the primary in North Carolina. The poll was conducted by Braun Research, which Justin Guillory profiled when he was still at PPP, and apparently does little election or campaign polling.

In one sense the poll is a good thing because they were able to delve a little more deeply into voters' attitudes toward the race and the candidates than most public polling on the race has so far.

At the same their horse race results make no sense, and unfortunately that casts a bit of a pall over the worthwhileness of the entire poll.

In the Presidential race it shows a 35-26 lead for Barack Obama among 'likely' voters and that 39% undecided rate really makes me wonder how seriously any of the poll can be taken.

Five different companies that specialize in elections- PPP, Survey USA, Rasmussen, ARG, and Insider Advantage- have released polls on the North Carolina race in the last month and the undecideds in those polls ranged from 4% to 17%.

It has been months, maybe over a year, since I saw any poll in any state that used any sort of likely primary voter model that showed this level of undecideds.

In the race for Governor they show Richard Moore leading Bev Perdue 25-19. I'm not necessarily surprised that Moore is in the lead considering the recent direction of the race, but the poll showing over 50% undecideds is a major red flag. That just is not correct.

In the US Senate race they have Kay Hagan at 10%, Jim Neal at 3%, Marcus Williams at 2%, and Duskin Lassiter and Howard Staley at 1%. Again, 60% undecided in that race? Sure. 80% undecided in that race? No.

I think the fatal flaw with this poll is the 'likely voter' model or relative lack thereof. It looks like they called everyone in the phone book irregardless of voting history and simply asked them if they're going to vote.

The problem with that is that virtually everyone is going to tell an interviewer they intend to vote, even if they don't really.

Most good election pollsters either call folks based on voting history to identify likely primary voters, or ask a series of questions to really nail down whether someone intends to vote instead of asking a simple yes or no.

My problem with this poll is the same as my problem with when the Elon Poll releases horse race numbers. If you're going to do the horse race and pretend like your numbers matter, you need to try to get the poll to really reflect what you expect to happen at the polls on election day. Either stick to the issues and skip the horse race, or employ a legitimate likely voter model so your horse race numbers make some sense.

Here are the poll questions and poll results.

I certainly hope the McClatchy papers will not start reporting these numbers like they're the gospel truth. Because the simple reality is that they are wrong.

Other issues with the poll:

-Unless I missed it they did not release the topline demographics. I would be interested to know if their racial, gender, and age distributions are anywhere in the ballpark of where they should be.
-Where are the full crosstabs? Media polls should be a beacon of transparency but I do not see these on the website of any of the four outlets that commissioned this.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Libertarian Creed

Less government, more road signs?

That's what I've been wondering with the recent proliferation of signs for Republican/Libertarian Congressional candidate BJ Lawson, who is facing Augustus Cho in the primary for the right to be David Price's sacrificial lamb this fall.

It was one thing when they started sprouting up on the main drags in Chapel Hill. But tonight I saw a bunch of them while driving out to the UNC baseball team's temporary home in the boonies of Cary. There were no signs for any other candidates anywhere else in that vicinity.

The Ron Paul Republican/Libertarian Presidential campaign was of course also known for its sign placing prowess.

Speaking of which, I was doing an interview with KDKA in Pittsburgh Wednesday night about our latest Pennsylvania poll when the host cut me short and told me they needed to bring on their next guest...which was none other than Ron Paul! Couldn't blame him for booting me for that.

Tracking Poll Monday

We'll have our new Democratic tracking poll Monday.

I don't see any reason things would have changed much in the race for President or Senate from last week. The word from Kay Hagan that she has over a million dollars in the bank is pretty significant for further on down the road. I've said several times that if she does a significant ad buy and Jim Neal doesn't I think she'll win by 20 points or more. This is confirmation she has the cash to do it, now we'll just see if she has a little more sense than Fred Smith with her money.

I'm beyond trying to predict what's going to happen in the Democratic gubernatorial race on a week to week basis. I think the ad Bev Perdue rolled out this week is better than her previous ones. It's a little more on point in its criticisms of Richard Moore and does a good job of tying positive information about her endorsements into the end of the ad as a sort of complement to the negative stuff about Moore.

That said, I still think the Perdue campaign needs to do a better job of showing how Moore's tenure as Treasurer has hurt average North Carolinians (if that's the theme they're trying to project.) There's not much in there to strike folks at a personal level. There aren't that many voters in NC who have a deep and abiding hatred of Wall Street.

Moore's ads continue to be very sharp as well. He's done a good job of staying on this new theme of populism that he has successfully projected over the last month. Accusing Perdue of 'caving into special interests' and producing 'tax cuts for the wealthy' fits in well with previous ads focusing on affordable college tuition, minimum wage, etc. No wonder we found last week that those who like John Edwards like Richard Moore.

I think his ads are more of a stretch factually when he tries to project the whole state budget onto Perdue or talks about investigations into her campaign finances that she was ultimately cleared for. The reality in politics though is that the truth is what you can get people to believe. Moore's ads are accurate enough that the stations aren't pulling them off their air and so far they seem to be effective in painting a pretty sinister picture of Perdue. At least that's what our numbers are saying.

It'll be interesting to see where things stand.

Frustrating Fred Smith

"I am the true conservative in this governor's race," Smith said, garnering an ovation from the crowd.

That's a line from a story in the New Bern Sun Journal on Wednesday, and it's the story of both the promise and the failure of Fred Smith's campaign for Governor.

The race for the Republican nomination has become a two person contest between Smith and Pat McCrory. And Smith has a lot of material to back up the claim that he's the true conservative in the race when he compares himself to McCrory.

The problem is that while hundreds of thousands of likely Republican primary voters across the state heard McCrory tell them he'll hold the line on taxes during commercials of the UNC-Louisville game last weekend, Smith's still only really spreading his message at comparatively small campaign events with Lee Greenwood.

I figured when the barbecue tour ended, Smith would finally start running a real company with significant media buys both touting his conservative credentials and tearing down McCrory as a liberal. Instead it appears he's moved on to the next marginally effective grassroots tour around North Carolina.

Smith's original strategy was great in a race against Bob Orr and Bill Graham. But when McCrory entered the race the whole landscape changed. Smith's game plan hasn't changed with it. And that may just allow McCrory to walk off with the nomination without a runoff.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Yesterday at PPP

Our Pennsylvania poll yesterday generated 176,063 visitors to the blog and a call from 'Barack Obama.'

The call from Obama was probably the most bizarre incident of the day. It sounded like someone had created some sort of program where you could type words and it would come out in Obama's voice. So Obama, talking the slowest he's probably ever talked in his life, called to thank us for the poll.

We received many vitriolic e-mails and phone calls. That's par for the course but some people are stupid about it. Most people send them from yahoo or gmail accounts that are untraceable. But one person sent a particularly ugly message from his work email at a hospital in Massachusetts. So I looked up the head of the hospital and forwarded the email to him and asked what their policy was about employees using their work time and resources to send such nastiness was.

There is a gender imbalance in the preferred medium for these irate communications from Clinton supporters (and Obama supporters too when they were mad about our Texas poll.) Men call and leave the ugly voice mails. I've never received an unpleasant call from a woman, but I still hear from them. However, they stick to email.

The most frequent question I got from more level headed media folks yesterday was whether we were surprised at the results. Of course we were. Usually this far out from the election, we'll put out a poll based on one night of polling. But we were surprised when Obama led the poll on Monday so we did a second round on Tuesday. It showed the same results and we ran with it.

Several folks have suggested we shouldn't have released the poll because it was an outlier. Well our South Carolina and Wisconsin polls were outliers too, and at the time we released our final Texas poll it was an outlier too before several other polls showing Clinton ahead came out later in the day. Those polls all ended up being pretty good.

I'm very confident that this poll correctly gaged public opinion as it stood in Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday. We'll do it weekly from here on out.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll never have a post get 457 comments again. But who knows.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kos is full of it

Over at Daily Kos, Kos himself calls our Pennsylvania poll 'ridiculous' and predicts a 15 point victory for Clinton.

In Texas, Kos predicted a 12 point victory for Obama, while we said Clinton would win by 6. She won by 4, which made him off by 16 points off and us off by 2 points.

If he's off by 16 points again in Pennsylvania, Obama will win by one, which will put off our poll by one single point.

I think the only thing 'ridiculous' here is Kos so flippantly writing off our poll, when our recent track record is a heck of a lot better than this.

4/24 Update: Since Kos is linking to this post we'd love for you to take the time to look at our track record this cycle. Our Pennsylvania polls obviously were way off and we're learning from it but overall we have done a pretty good job and hope to bounce back quickly.
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