Monday, April 30, 2007

Pollster Profile: Garin-Hart-Yang

Back in February the DSCC released a poll claiming that their results showed Senator Elizabeth Dole weakened and in danger for reelection. The poll was conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group.

Garin-Hart-Yang is the political division of Peter Hart Research Associates, a Washington based polling firm. They do research for numerous corporations, media organizations, labor unions, and non-profits. The political division does work for Democratic candidates and committees.

Peter Hart is one of the leading Democratic pollsters on the national scene working for more than 40 senators and 30 governors during his 30+ year career. Most of the political work is now carried out by Geoffrey Garin, President of Hart Research, and partner Fred Yang.

Garin-Hart-Yang’s current clients include 12 senators and 18 representatives, including Congressman David Price. Other North Carolina clients include Governor Mike Easley, Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue and former Senate candidate Erskine Bowles.

Pollster Profile: Tel Opinion Research

I’m going to do a little profile about each of the pollsters who are doing work in North Carolina. I think it’s fun and informative to know a bit more about the people behind the numbers.

First up is Tel Opinion Research. They do the polling for the Civitas Institute.

Tel Opinion started in 1995 and is based in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s run by Barry Zeplowitz and Bill Lee, two long time Republican pollsters and strategists.

Barry Zeplowitz is based in Buffalo, NY and has done polling in numerous states for political and market research. He has also been a major player in New York State Assembly Campaigns for the Republican Party. Zeplowitz runs his own polling firm in NY in addition to being VP for Tel Opinion. I'm not sure if Tel Opinion's calls are actually made in NY, but that's a possibility.

Bill Lee, based in Virginia, has worked for four Republican Presidential campaigns, was the first Chairman of the National Association of Republican Campaign Professionals, and he has worked for major Republican committees, professional associations and corporations.

Some of Tel Opinion’s notable clients are American Airlines, Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry, Leo Daughtry, Phil Berger, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Neal Hunt, the John Locke Foundation, the NRCC, the RNC, the RGA, and the NC Senate Republican Caucus.

Tel Opinion played an interesting role in the 2006 Wake County School Bond campaign. In April of 2006 they conducted a poll for the John Locke Foundation that found that a $994 million school bond would fail 32% to 63%. In September of 2006, they were hired by the pro-bond campaign, Friends of Wake County, and that poll found that the bond would pass 56% to 37%.

Friday, April 27, 2007

May Primary Tracking Poll Preview

There has been an up tick in presidential campaigning in our region this month. Barack Obama was in Charlotte two weeks ago, Rudy Giuliani is in Raleigh today, and all the Democrats had their first real debate last night across the border in South Carolina.

South Carolina voters say Obama “won” the debate.

Also in April we found out that Obama’s campaign was able to raise nearly as much money has Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and he has narrowed the gap in national polls to within a few points. John Edwards has also risen in the polls to a stronger third place.

Fred Thompson is showing real signs that he will get into the presidential race on the Republican side, and therefore he will be in the next tracking poll.

Will any of this an effect on the primary race in North Carolina? We will find out next week with our next set of primary tracking polls.

FAQs: Weighting

Why do we weight our results?

Accurate polling requires the demographic breakdown of a survey to closely resemble the same breakdown for the population you are trying to measure. For example, North Carolina likely voters breakdown about 53%-47% women to men and about 77%-18%-5% white to black to “other” and we try to have our surveys match those ratios as close as possible.

One drawback of IVR polling is that you are not sure of exactly who you are interviewing until the end of the survey. We can’t set quotas for demographics like traditional pollsters, so we just let the telephone calls run and then work with the data after the fact.

Traditional pollsters can manipulate their respondents during the survey by beginning each survey by asking for the “second oldest woman in the household” or some other method so that they reach their quotas for demographic groups like gender and race.

The most common demographic “problem” for us is that more women answer the surveys relative to men, and not enough African-Americans answer our surveys. To achieve relatively accurate demographic breakdowns we have to employ weighting schemes.

How do we weight?

The first step in weighting we achieve by surveying more than enough people. That allows us to go back and randomly reject individual surveys from demographics that are overrepresented. For example, if you saw one of our surveys with 500 respondents, in actuality 600 people may have answered the survey, but we had to reject 100 female responses. It’s like using a quota but after the fact, and our random selection eliminates any potential bias from the rejections.

We also employ a mathematical weighting scheme that will assign a weight based on one demographic. For example, if a survey is 82% white and 13% black, but needs to be 77% white and 17% black the weighting formula can take care of that mathematically.

It’s hard to be exact on each demographic when weighting, but we try to get our numbers as close as possible. This is when polling becomes somewhat of art. But our end results are available for all to see and to scrutinize.

Pre versus Post weighting

You would think that weighting would have an impact on the survey results. It does, but I am always amazed by how little an impact. Usually the numbers for our substantive polls questions only move 0-2% from before weighting to after weighting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Death Penalty in North Carolina

More analysis of the recent Elon Poll, specifically public opinion on the death penalty, as reported by the Associated Press.
The poll found that 58 percent of adults support the death penalty, but only 48 percent said it's always the most appropriate punishment for those convicted of first-degree murder, according to researchers at Elon University. Another 10 percent said the sentence depends on the circumstances.

About 38 percent of respondents said they believe life in prison is the most appropriate sentence for murderers.

Those numbers indicated a significant shift from a November 2005 poll that showed nearly two-thirds of adults supported the death penalty, and 61 percent said it was always the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder. Just 27 percent preferred life in prison.

Poll director Hunter Bacot said North Carolinians are reviewing their positions on the death penalty in light of several exonerations and the botched case against three Duke University lacrosse players, in which a zealous prosecutor charged the men with rape despite flimsy evidence. Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the players innocent earlier this month - a year after they were charged.

"There's always been the sentiment that the system is fair for the most part," Bacot said. "But people are now looking back and wondering if people are truly getting a fair shake in the courts."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another approval graph

This Bush Approval in North Carolina graph goes back to 2005. Data is mostly Survey USA and Civitas Polls with some PPP data too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bush Approval in North Carolina

The North Carolina Democratic Party is harping on President Bush’s falling approval rating in North Carolina. The Elon Poll has his approval at 36%, while 61% disapprove. That’s all well and good in the political arena, but it may be a bit of fool’s gold.

The previous five approval rating polls in NC, all since the beginning of February, have Bush at no lower than 38% and the last two have him in the 40-41% range. See the tracking graph below; the last data point represents the Elon Poll.

So what’s the big deal? There’s not much difference between 36% and 41%. Well, in a close election five percent can mean the world.

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly the latest Elon Poll is of all citizens, not just registered or even likely voters. Here is an instance where that odd methodology may lead to an insight. If the Elon Poll really shows Bush with lower approval ratings among all citizens than among likely voters that means non-voters are even more disapproving of the President.

So among the people who really matter in elections (the voters), Bush’s approval might not be falling right now, but is more likely stagnant. It also means that if the Democratic Party can get more historical non-voters into the process they will create an even more anti-Bush electorate.

Elon: Third Edition

Here’s the data from the final installment of the Elon Poll.
Public Education in North Carolina

Right direction 42.0%
Wrong track 44.0%

How important is the immigration issue

Very important 65.3%
Somewhat important 27.6%
Not at all important 5.8%

Effect of Latino immigration

Good 23.1%
Bad 50.4%
No difference 14.0%

Agree with proposals that would allow undocumented immigrants to stay if they have job

Agree 34.2%
Disagree 62.6%

Corporal punishment in public schools

Support 54.5%
Oppose 40.2%

Raise the age for when you can be tried as an adult to 18

Support 37.0%
Oppose 47.1%

Appropriate punishment for first degree murder

Death penalty 48.3%
Life w/o parole 37.5%

Death penalty for first degree murder

Support 58.4%
Oppose 31.1%

Monday, April 23, 2007

More smoking ban contradictions

The Elon Poll shows a divide in public opinion over the proposed public smoking ban much like the recent Civitas poll. People support the smoking ban and they support property rights. It’s a contradiction. Earlier I suggested the disconnect may have been between public buildings versus restaurants. But the Elon results led me to think of another theory for the contradiction.

People want public places free from smoking. So they support a ban. They also don’t want the government forcing property owners to do anything. The public essentially wants business owners to ban smoking from their offices and restaurants on their own volition. They’d rather the businesses do it themselves, but if it takes government intervention, so be it.

That’s the theory.

Regardless, the smoking ban as it is understood in the public lexicon is popular and if legislators follow through with it, then they will have a good issue for the next campaign. Property rights is a fine argument if you dislike the smoking ban, but being anti-smoking ban probably won’t do you any favors come Election Day.

Misrepresenting the transfer tax debate

Many legislative issues are too complicated for quick poll questions. Some need more explanation and I think the transfer tax is one of those issues. While the smoking ban, for example, is self-explanatory.

The transfer tax is not simply one more tax to give the government more of your money. The unfortunate reality in many counties is that tax revenue is not keeping up with the costs of building schools and roads. The transfer tax proposal is a way to give local governments another stream of revenue so that they don’t have to hike property taxes…again.

If you simply ask do you support a new tax to raise revenue, without explaining what the money is for or in the case of the transfer tax how this will save you from more property taxes, of course people are going to be against it! That’s pretty much exactly what Elon did:

“As you are likely aware, there are some proposals being considered for raising revenue for North Carolina local governments . . . one way to do this is using a county land transfer tax, also called a real estate transfer tax . . . just so I'm clear a land transfer tax is a tax charged when someone buys or sells property… Would you support or oppose the land transfer tax?”

The transfer tax is not raising revenue for the sake of revenue. It's proposed because there is a need for more money for infrastructure like schools and property taxes are being raised too much.

More from the Elon Poll

More from the recent Elon Poll is now available. They tackled transfer taxes, the smoking ban and the OLF. Here are the results and some analysis will come later.
Transfer Tax

Support 23.9%
Oppose 68.5%

Transfer Tax if all revenue went towards education

Support 50.3%
Oppose 42.0%

Impact Fees

Support 54.7%
Oppose 36.2%

Statewide Smoking Ban

Support 62.0%
Oppose 33.9%

Whose responsibility should it be to ban smoking?

Government 28.6%
Business Owner 63.9%


Aware 49.4%
Unaware 49.0%


Support 31.7%
Oppose 34.7%

OLF among people who were aware of the issue

Support 29.4%
Oppose 55.4%
Check here for Mark Binker’s thoughts on the poll.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Media coverage of the Elon Poll

In my last blog post I warned readers to be careful with the latest Elon poll. The methodology is unorthodox for political polling. The results are legitimate but using it as a comparison to other polls or as analysis of the 2008 elections can be dangerous. You are comparing apples and oranges.

On Friday two friends told me they heard on the radio that John Edwards was behind in North Carolina. I’m not sure who reported that, but it was probably either WPTF or WUNC.

According to the Elon poll, Edwards was behind, sort of. He was behind according to an open-ended question asked to all adults, not just voters—or even likely voters—or even likely primary voters.

So any thought that Edwards’ campaign was faltering in his home state would be an overreaction to these poll results. Newspapers and TV did a better job not hyping an anti-Edwards theme. Examples here, here, here and here. But I did find one station, WXII, that ran this headline on an internet news story “Poll: John Edwards Trails in NC.”

I would have preferred that news sources also explain how this methodology was different from other polls too. For example, the approval ratings of President Bush and Senator Elizabeth Dole are a much different measure than those from Civitas and PPP polls, which interview only likely voters.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Elon Poll is out

The latest Elon Poll is out. Here are some excerpts from their press release:
The poll, conducted April 16-19 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 476 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or their likelihood of voting in an election. The questions concerning the 2008 presidential and gubernatorial races were open-ended, and the respondents were not given a list of candidates from which to choose. Additionally, these questions were asked without regard to party affiliation…
This is a very odd methodology, so be careful to read the results for what they are. On the 2008 Presidential race:
…When asked an open-ended question about who they plan to support in the 2008 presidential election, 57 percent of respondents said they do not know or it is too early to tell.

Ten percent said they plan to support Hillary Clinton, followed by Barack Obama (9 percent), John Edwards (8 percent) and Rudy Giuliani (5 percent). John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Al Gore were each named by 1 percent...
On Elizabeth Dole:
…North Carolina citizens were also asked if they approve or disapprove of the way Elizabeth Dole is handling her job as U.S. Senator. Fifty-two percent approve or strongly approve of her performance, 30 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove, and 18 percent do not know…
On Bush:
…The poll also asked citizens about George W. Bush’s job performance as president. Sixty-one percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s performance. Thirty-six percent approve or strongly approve of his job performance, down from 45 percent in a September 2006 Elon Poll…
On Iraq:
…Twenty-eight percent approve or strongly approve of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq, down from 38 percent in the September 2006 Elon Poll. In this latest poll, 70 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq.

Sixty-five percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq; 32 percent approve or strongly approve. When asked whether they support or oppose plans for setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2008, 60 percent support or strongly support such a plan, while 35 percent oppose or strongly oppose such a plan…

Do national polls inflate Hillary Clinton's lead?

Chris Bowers at MyDD has developed an interesting theory that national polls are inflating Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic presidential race. He explains his theory here, here and here. Then Mystery Pollster comments here.

To summarize, national pollsters are using subsets of their national polls to ask about primary voting intentions, but those subsets are too all encompassing to accurately reflect the primary voting population.

For example, if you were to sample 1,000 voters for a national survey, you might get 400 Democrats and 400 Republicans. Then the primary questions would be asked among those 400 from each party. However, the primary voting population is much smaller than that. Not every Democrat and Republican who votes in a general election will vote in the primary. Primary voters are more ideological and better informed, and would be less inclined to be affected by the draw of Hillary Clinton’s celebrity…according to Bowers.

I tend to agree, theoretically. At Public Policy Polling we go about primary polling completely differently. We don’t use subsets of a general electorate poll, but conduct completely separate primary polls. We sample only households that have a history of voting in party primaries. That way we know we are only reaching those likely to vote in a primary.

Therefore, I suggest that the best primary polling would be those conducted using a sample based on voter history. Unfortunately, that type of sampling is unavailable nationally—only about 3/4ths of states have that information available.

Comparing North Carolina to the nation

When it comes to public opinion North Carolina is following national trends. While we might be slightly more conservative than average, our collective opinions on the President, the War in Iraq and the Presidential candidates are following the same patterns as the nation.

The latest round of Presidential approval ratings have Bush’s approval at between 31% and 38%. The last two North Carolina polls show Bush’s approval at 41% (Civitas) and 40% (PPP). So as a “red state” we are slightly more in favor of Bush than the rest of the nation, but his approval began to fall two years ago and it has remained low.

North Carolina also shares the national sentiment when it comes to which issue is most important. According to the latest Gallup Poll, 43% of Americans say that the war will be the biggest factor when they decide who to vote for in the 2008 presidential election. (Here’s an article from the People’s Republic). According to PPP’s latest primary tracking poll 31% of Republicans and 41% of Democrats say that the war is the most important issue.

There has not been a simple support/oppose the Iraq War poll question in North Carolina for a few months, but questions regarding the troop surge and a timetable for withdrawal indicate that a majority of North Carolinians are unhappy with the war.

When it comes to choosing Presidential candidates North Carolina is also following the national pattern on the Republican side. On the Democratic side native John Edwards is skewing the results.

North Carolina Republicans and the nation are choosing Rudy Giuliani first with more than 30% support. John McCain is second with around 20% support and Mitt Romney is a distant third.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Being honest with polls

I was very impressed with the two guest speakers at the Civitas luncheon, freshman Representatives Ric Killian (R-Mecklenburg) and Larry Hall (D-Durham). They were insightful, engaging and knowledgeable of the issues that were raised during the discussion. Representative Hall made one point that I thought deserved some more discussion. He said that we all needed to be honest about what the polls really mean and how we use them to justify our arguments.

He gave a good example from the Civitas poll. One question asked: “One-third of North Carolina students who start high school do not graduate. Would you support or oppose an increase in the number of charter schools that provide extensive career and technical training as one way to increase the number of students who stay in school and graduate?” 75% support, 16% opposed

That question could be used to justify arguments in favor of more charter schools, but would the results have turned out any differently if we switched the word charter for public? Are not people actually in favor of more extensive career and technical training? Larry Hall thinks so, and I do too.

Pollsters are often in precarious situations like this. While it is our job to measure public opinion, often times we are used by clients and others to help make justifications for their own arguments. To show that the public is behind your proposal can be a powerful lobbying and public relations tool.

PPP and every other pollster are caught up in this. And it’s important for people who are trying to interpret our poll results to be honest about what the results are really saying.

Smoking ban vs. Property rights

From the April Edition of the Civitas Poll:
Do you support or oppose legislation allowing a restaurant, bar or tavern owner to decide their own smoking policy as long as the policy was clearly posted at the entrance to their business?

Support 70%
Oppose 26%
From the March Edition:
Do you think the state should pass a law banning smoking in all buildings open to the public, including bars and restaurants?

Yes 61%
No 34%
Seems to be a contradiction, right? Jack Hawke of the Civitas Institute tried to describe a disconnect between the public's approval of a smoking ban and their support of property rights. He thinks that these results prove that the property rights argument is stronger than the smoking ban. That’s possible.

Art Pope spoke up during the discussion and said that he thought that the inclusion of the words “open to the public” in the March edition increased support for the smoking ban.

I’m closer to Art Pope’s thinking. To me the public is VERY MUCH in favor of a ban on smoking in public buildings, but lukewarm on smoking bans in restaurants. (That’s my personal opinion too). I think they would approve of no smoking in most restaurants, but if there are a few bars and restaurants that want to allow smoking they are alright with that.

So I think the difference between the two results is that the April edition only discusses bars and restaurants, while the March edition discussed all public buildings. Not necessarily a vindication of property rights.

Voting reforms

According to the latest Civitas poll (PDF) North Carolina voters disagree by a wide margin with a number of voting reforms designed to make it easier for people to register and vote. Apparently the potential for voter fraud outweighs the benefits of increased participation.
Do you agree or disagree that voter registration forms should be provided in foreign languages in an effort to increase voting among immigrants?

Agree 27%
Disagree 66%

Do you agree or disagree that a person registering to vote for the first time should be required to prove they are a US citizen?

Agree 96%
Disagree 2%

Do you agree or disagree that a person who wishes to vote should be required to show photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot?

Agree 86%
Disagree 10%

The State House has passed legislation allowing a person to register and vote by simply showing some form of residency such as a utility bill. Do you support this same day registration and voting legislation without photo identification and proof of citizenship?

Agree 9%
Disagree 87%
These results look pretty damning for voting reforms, but I have some issues with the way these questions were handled. Each question was asked with only the negative side of the issue expressed with the implicit and sometimes explicit suggestion that illegal immigrants or others were trying to corrupt the voting.

While voting fraud could be a by-product of reform, the intent of the reforms is to open up the democratic process to more people. Allowing same-day registration or not requiring photo ID will increase voter turnout. These are complicated issues that require better explanation, before you ask for an opinion.

Here is a clumsy yet more accurate way to handle the same-day registration question:
The State House has passed legislation allowing a person to register and vote during the early voting period by showing some form of residency such as a driver’s license or utility bill. Supporters argue that this bill will increase turnout, while opponents argue it will increase the chances of voter fraud. Do you support or oppose same-day voter registration during early voting?
Additionally, this poll is only of likely voters, not the public at large. That is an entirely reasonable decision by Civitas; most of PPP’s polls are only of likely voters too. But in this particular case that misses the opinions of the exact people the voting reforms are intending to benefit—those who are not already participating in voting. Elected officials should remember that when they examine these results.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Civitas Poll: April Edition

According to the latest Civitas poll the political dynamics in North Carolina have not changed over the past month. Indicators like right track/wrong track and President Bush’s approval rating have not moved significantly. There is some new data on Iraq.
Do you think the troop surge is reducing the level of violence in Baghdad and other parts of the county?

Yes 28%
No 52%

Do you approve or disapprove of legislation passed by Congress that requires a timetable for withdrawal of all troops within the next year but also provides full funding for our troops presently fighting in Iraq?

Approve 46%
Disapprove 42%
Here is the latest on the 2008 primary races:
Democratic Presidential Race

Edwards 26%
Clinton 20%
Obama 20%

Democratic Gubernatorial Race

Perdue 34%
Moore 23%

Republican Presidential Race

Giuliani 32%
McCain 22%
Romney 10%

Republican Presidential Race (with Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson)

Giuliani 26%
McCain 16%
Thompson 13%
Gingrich 10%
Romney 6%

Republican Gubernatorial Race

Orr 13%
Smith 14%
Graham 7%
Check back for much more on the issue questions from the latest Civitas poll.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Civitas poll comes out tomorrow

Come back Wednesday afternoon for some results and our initial reactions.

FAQs: Sampling

We are often asked how to we get our samples. So let me explain…

The vast majority of our surveys are dealing with campaigns, politics and public policy. So the opinions of people who vote, and actually influence the system, matter most. Therefore, our samples are usually based on the voter registration database of a given state.

We find this method to be more accurate for political purposes than random digit dialing.

Voter registration databases have lots of information on each individual voter including gender, race, party affiliation, age, address, precinct, municipality, county, districts, and voter history. But they do not have phone numbers.

A company called Aristotle International, Inc. takes the voter databases of each available state and then appends home phone numbers to match each voter. We purchase our samples from these lists.

In targeting our surveys we can select on any of these criteria. For example, we could conduct a survey of only black voters from Cumberland County who are registered Democrats.

Most of our surveys are only targeted to likely voters. For the most recent “Dole vs. Miller” poll we created a pool of likely 2008 general election voters. That pool consisted of any voter who voted in either 2004 or 2005 or 2006 in North Carolina. Then from that list of more than 2 million voters who also had home phone numbers, Aristotle removes duplicates and randomly selects numbers for us to poll.

In addition to the sample, at the beginning of each survey we ask everyone if they are a registered voter—to make sure we are talking to the right person, and weed out non-registered phone answerers. For some surveys we may get even more specific like “…do you intend to vote in the Republican primary in 2008…” It’s not perfect, but we try our best to talk with only the people who will actually be casting ballots.

Monday, April 16, 2007

College fan crosstabs

Here are the really important crosstabs. Is Carolina liberal? Is State conservative? Now we have the answers. According to the three measures below the answer is yes, sort of.

UNC fans are the most Democratic and anti-Bush, but Wake Forest is a close second. NC State is more Republican/conservative than UNC, but not nearly as Republican as Duke.

Of course this is a measure of fandom, not alumni. A poll of alumni could yield different results.

Straw Polls

The Brunswick and Richmond County Democratic Parties held straw polls over the weekend. I usually won’t discuss straw polls on this site because they are not scientific, but it’s a slow news day.

In Brunswick County 100+ people participated and they chose John Edwards as their top presidential choice. Clinton came in second and Obama third.

Results were much different in Richmond County. They chose Barack Obama first, with the support of 27% of the 75+ people participating. Clinton got 21% and Edwards got 20%.

Why was Richmond County different? Richmond County has a slightly higher than normal black population, which might have aided Obama’s victory. In Richmond County during the 2004 primary about 33% of the Democrats were black, that’s higher than the 26% state average.

Or this could be another sign of how popular Obama is among activist Democrats—the type of people willing to volunteer, have bumper stickers and make small campaign donations.

In the gubernatorial race, Richmond County chose Beverly Perdue first with 48% and Richard Moore second with 31%.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Who else is discussing the poll?

The Dole vs. Miller poll has proven to be our most popular poll to date. Here's a sampling of where others are discussing it...

Blue South at Swing State Project
Capital Beat
Blue South at DailyKos
The Fix
An Eye on Washington
US Elections Zone

More on the OLF

Tom Jensen at the NC Sierra Club blog had this to say about our latest poll, specifically about the OLF:
A poll released today by Raleigh's Public Policy Polling shows that North Carolinians are strongly opposed to the proposed OLF in Washington County with 47% opposed to the plans and only 32% supportive.

These numbers came without any explanation to respondents about the potential negative implications of the site, including disastrous impact on wildlife and the quality of life for local residents. It's a good bet that the 21% of folks who didn't have an opinion would be strongly opposed if they knew all the facts.

I've been bugging Justin Guillory over at PPP for a long time about doing a poll sometime and breaking it down by whether those who respond are Carolina, State, Duke, or Wake people and he finally did it for this one.

Apparently there's at least one thing that fans of all ACC schools can agree on- they think the proposed OLF location is wrong for North Carolina. Partisans of the ACC quartet, as well as North Carolinians who identify with a different school, are all opposed to the current plans by margins ranging from 13 to 17 points.
I have to agree with Tom that our OLF question was very limited. We did not give any arguments for or against the project. It was almost a test to see if people knew enough about it with little prompting to have opinion. If we had made the arguments or explained who has come out for and against the site, the results probably would have been even more anti-OLF.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Elizabeth Dole vs. Brad Miller

According to Public Policy Polling’s latest survey, Brad Miller is within striking distance of Elizabeth Dole if he were to challenge her in 2008. Complete results here (PDF).

Dole 44%
Miller 33%
Undecided 22%
Instant Analysis: Dole is below the 50% danger mark for incumbents. While Miller’s support still has plenty of room to grow amongst Democrats and African-Americans. It’s an uphill battle, but he would be competitive.

Other results from the poll:
Do you support or oppose the construction of an outlying landing field or OLF for U.S. Navy Jets in Washington County, North Carolina?

Support 32%
Oppose 47%

Bush Job Approval

Approve 40%
Disapprove 55%

Dole Job Approval

Approve 43%
Disapprove 40%

Easley Job Approval

Approve 46%
Disapprove 38%
And one final question we added just for fun (the crosstabs for this question are sure to interest many of you).
Who is your favorite college sports team?

Duke 18%
NC State 26%
UNC 35%
Wake Forest 5%
Other 16%

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

AARP NC Survey

AARP North Carolina released a survey last week that was conducted by our sister company OnPoint Polling and Research. The survey shows strong support among North Carolina voters for six key AARP legislative priorities. Here is a shorthand version of the results.

Do you favor creation of a rating system for adult care homes?
Favor – 78% Oppose - 12% No Opinion - 9%

Do you favor additional state taxpayer funding so that older adults and mentally ill persons can be housed separately?
Favor – 71% Oppose - 22% No Opinion - 7%

Do you favor a law requiring health insurance companies to cover treatment of mental illness?
Favor – 66% Oppose - 24% No Opinion - 10%

Do you favor requiring hospitals to publicly report information such as infection rates, medical errors and medication mistakes?
Favor – 82% Oppose - 12% No Opinion - 6%

Do you favor re-enacting a law providing a tax credit of up to $350 for purchase of long term care insurance?
Favor – 69% Oppose – 22% No Opinion – 9%

Do you favor additional state taxpayer funding for the Home and Community Care Block Grant, providing services such as home-delivered meals, in-home aide services and adult day care?
Favor – 75% Oppose – 18% No Opinion – 8%

Complete results including the exact question wording and crosstabs can be found here (PDF).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Polling Early and Often

Adam Nagourney of the NY Times writes about “Polling Early and Often” in the presidential race. Campaigns, media organizations and others are all doing their own polls. It seems that there is a new poll every day. Today’s poll comes from Gallup.

This is unprecedented, especially so far out from Primary or Election Day. The phenomenon is affecting the campaigns. How should a campaign handle the curse or blessing of instant judgment of daily polls? A drop or rise from one day to the next can make a campaign look like its faltering or surging. The polls also provide lots of free research.

I wonder how the increase in polling is affecting races in North Carolina. Between PPP and Civitas there are two new polls on the gubernatorial primary races each month—13 months before Primary Day. We are certainly providing a service to the public and interested parties by keeping tabs on how things are going. But are the campaigns worried by the latest upcoming polls? Do they have to strategize how to deal with the outcomes? Or do they appreciate the extra and free research?

Combining Polls

Charlie Cook from the the National Journal discusses the practice of combining polls. Essentially the idea is to combine the data of two or more surveys with the exact same question wording in order to increase the sample size. By doing this you increase the accuracy and decrease the margin of error for crosstab categories.

Maybe we ought to try it. For example, it could help explain the racial dynamics in the Democratic primary races.

Monday, April 9, 2007

An ogre disagrees with our latest poll...

I think he is a libertarian.

Carolina Issues Poll

NC Policy Watch has unveiled its Inaugural “Carolina Issues Poll” – conducted by Public Policy Polling! There is a lot of in depth analysis at the NC Policy Watch site. I will only copy the quick take from Rob Schofield here:
NC Policy Watch, North Carolina’s leading provider of commentary and analysis on state public policy issues, has added yet another feature to its fast growing menu of products and services – the “Carolina Issues Poll.”

In the poll’s inaugural edition, Policy Watch sought to gauge the opinion of North Carolina registered voters on two timely and important policy topics: mental health and affordable housing.

Results from the poll show that North Carolinians are broadly supportive of new publicly funded efforts to aid the mentally ill, oppose executing mentally ill persons convicted of murder and support more public efforts to ease the state’s affordable housing and foreclosure crises.
For the complete results of the poll click here (PDF).

A closer look at the smoking ban

North Carolina’s proposed comprehensive smoking ban looks to be in jeopardy. It is being rewritten and weakened because the stronger version didn’t look like it could pass. This has to be a victory for the smoking industry and other interest groups, because taking a closer look at our poll results would show that every constituency group was in favor of the ban.

North Carolina favored the smoking ban 67%-30%.

Women favored the ban 71-26.
Men favored the ban 62-36.

Democrats favored it 68-27.
Republican favored it 63-36.

Whites favored it 62-36.
Blacks favored it 84-9.

Only the 18-29 year-old age group did not favor the ban. At least 65% of every other age group favored it. 18-29 year-olds opposed it 43-57, but I caution to take those numbers with a grain of salt. There are so few 18-29 year-olds in the sample that the margin of error is extremely high.

So practically every group strongly favored the smoking ban. There are very few issues we poll that show this kind of unanimity.

Update: Some more chatter on the poll at The Progressive Pulse.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Voters support smoking ban and more...

According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey North Carolina voters overwhelmingly support a ban on smoking in public places.

Click here for complete results (PDF).
Currently being considered in the legislature is a bill that would ban smoking in restaurants and public places, with very few exemptions. Do you support a ban on smoking in public places?

Support ban 67%
Oppose ban 30%
North Carolina voters also support the government giving tax breaks and financial incentives to companies that are looking to create jobs in the state. However, they feel differently about the recent $260 million deal for Google.
In January the internet company, Google, announced plans to build a data center in Caldwell County. Google will invest nearly 600 million dollars in the facility and it will create more than 200 jobs. Google decided to build in North Carolina after state and local governments offered an estimated 260 million dollars in tax breaks and financial incentives. Do you favor or oppose state and local governments offering 260 million dollars for Google to build in North Carolina?

Favor 36%
Oppose 46%

In addition to Google, North Carolina governments have offered incentives to many other businesses looking to relocate here. In general, do you support or oppose the state offering tax breaks and financial incentives to companies which are looking to create jobs here in the state?

Support 58%
Oppose 30%
Voters also support tax breaks for fuel efficiency…
Do you support the state government giving tax breaks for fuel efficiency? For example, using ethanol fuel.

Support 65%
Oppose 20%
Finally, North Carolina slightly favors two proposals to increase health insurance coverage…
In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a health care plan that would require every individual to buy health insurance. Individuals without health insurance would be required to buy a plan, and at the same time businesses and hospitals would pay fees that would lower the costs for the uninsured. Would you support such a health care plan for North Carolina?

Support 41%
Oppose 35%

The state legislature is also considering a bill to create a statewide high-risk health insurance pool. The insurance pool would sell affordable insurance to people who don’t have health insurance or whose premiums are extremely high because of chronic medical conditions.
Money for the insurance pool would come through higher than normal premiums and through a fee charged to health insurance companies in North Carolina. Would you support such a high-risk insurance pool for North Carolina?

Support 41%
Oppose 36%

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Might as well... the other two tracking graphs.

Republican Governor's Race

Republican Presidential Race

North Carolina is mirroring the national tide in the Presidential race. Also Romney, while still in third, has been trending upwards since January.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Richard Moore closes in on Beverly Perdue

The biggest story from our latest tracking poll has to be State Treasurer Richard Moore’s gaining on Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue despite the negatively publicity he has received of late. Perdue had been leading by double-digits in each previous tracking poll as well as a survey we did back in July. For the first time Moore is within ten percentage points and he is, in fact, within the margin of error. Moore narrowed the gap by 6% this month and by 11% over two months.

What I would like to know is why? What has Moore done to improve his position? Is there something going on that I am unaware of? The only idea I can come up with is that all the negatively publicity is actually increasing his name recognition.

If that is the case then it may be a bit of fool’s gold for Moore. By Primary Day, more than a year from now, both candidate’s name ID will be nearly universal among primary voters and this campaign contributions controversy may come back to bite him.

Check out the tracking graph so far. In about six months these graphs could be fascinating.

April Primary Tracking Poll

PPP released today the complete results of its latest 2008 North Carolina Primaries Tracking Poll. Click here for the complete results (PDF).

Republican President

Giuliani 30%
McCain 19%
Romney 14%
Different Candidate 25%

Republican Governor

Graham 17%
Orr 12%
Smith 6%

Democratic President

Edwards 39%
Clinton 25%
Obama 20%
Different Candidate 8%

Democratic Governor

Perdue 33%
Moore 29%

Democratic Lt. Governor

Dalton 13%
Besse 10%
Smathers 9%
Dellinger 6%

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tracking poll sneak preview

The rest of the tracking poll results will be released tomorrow, but here is a sneak preview. John Edwards has received a surge of support in North Carolina in the last month. The surge reflects national trends after Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer announcement.

Edwards 39%
Clinton 25%
Obama 20%

And a new feature is our tracking graph which includes all polls I could get my hands on (PPP, Civitas, etc.).

Monday, April 2, 2007

Tracking polls preview

We will be in the field with our latest primary tracking polls today. Results will be available later in the week. Here are some things to look for:

1. There will be some changes in the survey’s choices. We’ve decided to eliminate candidates who are not actively campaigning (either announced or unannounced). Say goodbye to Newt Gingrich, Robert Pittenger and Bill Faison. This might have a major impact on the Republican presidential primary as Gingrich had been in a strong second place.

If Pittenger or Faison begin making noise again about running, then we will add them back in. If Fred Thompson shows more concrete signs that he is jumping in the presidential race, then we’ll add him too.

2. How will the Elizabeth Edwards cancer disclosure impact the Democratic primary?

3. Fred Smith tried to make a splash with his official announcement last week and he is supposedly running TV ads now (though I haven’t seen an ad yet, and I watch too much TV). Will it make a difference?

Many think that the reason Bill Graham leads in the polls is the $1 million + he spent on TV ads fighting the gas tax. (Others think it might be that voters misidentify his name with the Rev. Billy Graham.) It is unclear how much Fred Smith is spending on TV, but will the same laws apply? More $ on TV = More support.

Early polling could mean very little

Frank Williams at the NC Republican Roundtable blog reminds us all that early polling can mean very little. He provides us with an example from only three years ago.
...I stumbled upon a July 2004 issue of The Raleigh World...

On page 3 of the publication I found a brief article entitled "A two-man governor's race." The article says, "a new poll suggests that the governor's race in North Carolina -- at least on the Republican side -- has become a two-man race." The article says that the statewide poll, conducted by The Anderson Group, showed Richard Vinroot leading the pack with 26%, followed by Bill Cobey with 22%.

Here's the kicker. The article goes on to say, "the big loser in the survey is Patrick Ballantine, who was thought to be a serious challenger, but who so far has been able to poll only 12 percent."

Just a few short weeks later, Patrick Ballantine emerged as the primary winner, followed closely by Vinroot.

So much for a two-man governor's race.

Bill Graham releases polling numbers

There is lots of juicy polling news in the N&O’s Under the Dome this morning.

First, they report on the USA Today-Gallup Poll that found that most Americans support John Edwards’ decision to continue his campaign in the face of his wife’s cancer. The N&O also highlights a University of Iowa poll showing the revelation of Elizabeth Edwards’s health did not negatively impact his chances in the Iowa caucuses.

Second, and more interestingly, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham released a portion of his own poll. Not surprisingly, the results show him to be in the lead for the 2008 Republican primary. According to the McLaughlin & Associates poll, Graham leads with 16%, Bob Orr is in second with 10% and Fred Smith garners just 3%. The poll was conducted March 19-20.

These results are in line with PPP’s latest tracking poll, but it differs from the last Civitas poll which had Bob Orr in the lead and Graham in third.

McLaughlin & Associates has done polling in North Carolina before for former Senators Lauch Faircloth and Jesse Helms, as well as former Raleigh Mayors Tom Fetzer and Paul Coble.

Apparently we all got scooped by my friend Kris Wampler. His blog has even more on the poll. Among the tidbits, 88% of primary voting Republicans believe that corruption in state government is a problem.
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