Friday, August 31, 2007

Charlotte Mayor Republican Primary

The recent Charlotte Observer poll asked a subset of their sample about the Republican mayoral primary. Among the 180 respondents (+/- 7.3% MofE) who are eligible to vote in the September 11 Republican primary, 70% support incumbent Pat McCrory. Only 17% support challenger Ken Gjertsen.

Pollster Profile: Hertzog Research

Durham County hired Hertzog Research in Carrboro to conduct its survey on upcoming bond and tax referenda. Hertzog Research is a fairly new establishment, started in 2003, but it already has an impressive client list of corporations, law firms, non-profits and government agencies. For example, GE, Intel, the Federal Transit Administration, the NEA, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Their website claims that they do candidate polling as well, but don’t list any political clients.

The company’s principal is Mark Hertzog. Before beginning his own company, Hertzog worked with TARP and FGI Research. Both companies have extensive experience in market research, costumer satisfaction surveys and more. Hertzog Research seems to have a similar focus.

Mark Hertzog is also the author of a book, The Lavender Vote: Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in American Electoral Politics.

Charlotte views on growth; mostly good, some bad

The Charlotte Observer released more of their recent poll of Mecklenburg County residents. Today's results indicate that a majority think that rapid growth is a good thing. Meanwhile 33% think that growth has been harmful. 9% say both. I can't believe only 9% say both.

From Charlotte Observer

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More on the Durham County survey

I got a copy of the Durham County survey presentation. Click here for the PDF. Here is how some of the questions shook out:

$195 million school bond
For 45.4%
Against 28.8%

$.25 sales tax increase
For 57.7%
Against 24.9%

.4% transfer tax
For 22.6%
Against 60.1%

[Paraphrase] Regardless of how you would vote on these proposals, if you HAD to choose between them which one would you choose: $.25 sales tax increase OR .4% transfer tax.
Sales tax 59.2%
Transfer tax 32%

The survey presentation does not give the exact question wording for most of the questions, but they do provide some information. The sales tax and transfer tax questions were preceded by information about estimated first-year revenue from each and the impact they would have on property taxes for a $200,000 house. That is a fairly good explanation of the situation. However, in the voting booth that information will not be available.

Also of note was the sampling. While the survey was taken of registered voters, they were first screened to see if they were likely to vote in the 2007 elections. If respondents were probably or definitely not voting, they were excluded. That’s not the most accurate way to determine a likely voter (many people will lie to say that they will vote) but it’s better than nothing.

Bad news for the transfer tax in Durham County

Durham County, one of a handful of counties prepared to put a transfer tax on the ballot this fall, just released the results of a poll conducted to gauge the opinion of Durham County voters on the transfer tax, sales tax, and other bond referenda. The news is not good for transfer tax proponents.

Only 23% of respondents favor a .4% land transfer tax. Meanwhile 58% are willing to vote for a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax. According to the state budget pass earlier this month a county can choose to have either the transfer tax or the sales tax increase, but not both, and only if it passes a county-wide referendum first.

Durham County also has a $195 million school bond on the ballot this fall. Support for the bond hovered around near 50% in the survey. 45% support the bond without a sales tax increase, and 51% support the bond with the sales tax increase.

The poll was conducted between August 10 and 20 by Hertzog Research. There were 365 respondents for a margin of error of +/- 5.1%.

This information comes from the News and Observer. I am currently attempting to get a complete copy of the results. You’ll get more information on this poll when I see more results.

*Something to think about…this poll was of all Durham County registered voters, not likely voters in an odd-year election. That is a much different electorate, but nevertheless the results don’t look good for the pro-transfer tax crowd.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pollster Profile: Braun Research

Our latest pollster to profile is Braun Research, which recently conducted a poll of Charlotte area residents for the Charlotte Observer and WCNC. Braun Research was established in 1995 and is located in Princeton, NJ. It is a marketing and public opinion research firm that conducts traditional telephone surveys, as well as, internet and mail surveys and focus groups. Paul Braun is the company’s President.

Before this poll I had never heard of Braun Research and there was very little information about Braun Research to be found by googling or by searching newspaper records. Their website has no client list. The company must focus on marketing research and do little political polling which would get picked up in the newspapers or campaign finance reports.

If anyone knows anymore about Braun Research, please let me know!

Monday, August 27, 2007

NC vs the nation

Just for fun let's compare the trend lines for the Republican presidential race in North Carolina and nationwide side-by-side. The hometown factor for John Edwards renders similar comparisons for the Democrats meaningless.

North Carolina

Nation (from

I tried to match the colors for the candidates' trend lines. The beginning of the NC trend corresponds with the blue vertical line on the nationwide graph that signifies the beginning of 2007.

As you can see, Fred Thompson is doing much better in North Carolina than he is nationally. Also, Rudy Giuliani is dipping nationally and in North Carolina. Same goes for McCain, who is falling off the charts. Nationally, Romney has not quite reached McCain's level, but he has in NC.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mecklenburg supports transit rax, barely

According to a Charlotte Observer/WCNC Poll 52% of Mecklenburg residents support keeping the county's half-cent sales tax for mass transit projects like buses and light rail. 45% oppose the tax. A vote on the tax, which was initially approved by referendum in 1998, is scheduled for the November ballot.

I don't have the complete crosstabs, but the article linked to above does a job explaining what groups favor or oppose the tax. Interestingly, Republicans support the tax at a higher rate than Democrats. Also, poorer residents said they were less likely to use the mass transit system, while the wealthiest residents were the most likely to ride. That's opposite the conventional wisdom on who would most benefit from mass transit.

We'll keep an eye on this referendum.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Below are four North Carolina primary tracking graphs that include all polls (not just PPP) and trendlines.

Democratic President

Republican President

Democratic Governor

Republican Governor*

*The Republican governor's race graph is slightly skewed at the end because we do not have any data from Civitas for August. Civitas' results have been significantly different than all other polls.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer doldrums

Apparently the term “summer doldrums” can refer a lot of things, but it might as well be talking about polling as well. I usually check to see if any new North Carolina polls are out there by googling [poll “north carolina”]. Most of what I get is national, New Hampshire or Iowa polls that mention “former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.” I also get a lot of college sports top 25 polls. But so far this week there has been no new public opinion polls in North Carolina. Raleigh city councilor Tommy Craven has been running a poll in his district. I know because my mom and others have answered it. We’ll wait and see if any of it is publicly released.

So in the meantime I’m just going to post the poll that is most on my mind right now:

AP Top 25

1. Southern California
2. LSU
3. West Virginia
4. Texas
5. Michigan
6. Florida
7. Wisconsin
8. Oklahoma
9. Virginia Tech
10. Louisville
11. Ohio State
12. California
13. Georgia
14. UCLA
15. Tennessee
16. Rutgers
17. Penn State
18. Auburn
19. Florida State
20. Nebraska
21. Arkansas
22. TCU
23. Hawaii
24. Boise State
25. Texas A&M

Friday, August 17, 2007

Crone-ic bias 3

Sexless Democrats for Perdue? lol.

Meek Speculation

Ryan at Under the Dome must’ve had fun speculating as to why we included Jerry Meek in our latest poll. None of his theories are correct, but in fact the answer is much simpler; we are running out of legitimate possibilities. Hopefully some Democrat will step up to the plate soon and we can end this exercise. Otherwise, we may have to resort, as one person suggested, to testing Clay Aiken against Elizabeth Dole.

Dole vunerable on Iraq

Under the Dome reported yesterday on a poll conducted for the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The survey of 1000 people in seven states found that seven Republicans Senators up for reelection in 2008 would lose to a generic Democratic opponent.

Dole strategist Mark Stephens complained putting all those states together is misleading for a more conservative state like North Carolina. I agree that this particular poll doesn’t mean that Dole would lose to generic Democratic candidate.

However, the poll makes a good point and one that I don’t think has been made often enough. The War in Iraq is incredibly unpopular and that provides an opening for a Democratic Senate candidate. Elizabeth Dole has been one of President Bush’s most stubborn supporters of the war. The North Carolina media has yet to make that a big deal, but they could. There has not been a lot of press critical of Dole’s stance on the War, nor has she had to explain herself to critics—something that should come during a competitive Senate campaign. If a Democratic candidate can tie Dole to this unpopular war, her poll numbers should fall.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dole vs. Jerry Meek and Ted Kaplan

Our newest poll results can be found here. Here are the numbers:

Dole vs. Jerry Meek
Dole 47%
Meek 32%

Dole vs. Ted Kaplan
Dole 47%
Kaplan 28%

Meek and Kaplan do not perform as well as Democrats with better statewide name recognition like Perdue, Moore and Cooper. However, Dole is still below 50% against relative unknowns.

Bush Approval
Approve 41%
Disapprove 55%

This is an improvement from last month when only 35% approved. For whatever reason, Bush’s numbers nationwide have been ticking upward slightly.

Dole Approval
Approve 48%
Disapprove 41%

The North Carolina General Assembly finished its legislative session early this month. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the legislature did this year, or do you not know enough to have an opinion?
Approve 14%
Disapprove 45%
Don’t know enough 41%

I’m not sure what to make of these results, but it’s fascinating.

Perdue = Liberal, Moore = Conservative ???

That's the sense you get reading the cross tabs from the North Carolina Poll, just released. Beverly Perdue does much better among Democrats who consider themselves very or somewhat liberal. While Moore wins among moderates and wins big among very or somewhat conservative Democrats.

I find that surprising. Most people I talk to think that the candidates are very similar on the issues, and Perdue might be slightly more conservative. But I guess that's not the way support is shaking out.

Crone-ic bias 2

Under the Dome has more on the Crone-Sinclair poll. A reader points out that Question 12e is very similar to a question (Q4) in a recent poll for the Realtors for which Brad Crone consulted. The key is the use of the phrase "when it comes to taxes, my family has hit the limit..." Crone's explanation via the N&O:

Crone said the question came from a focus group in January.

"A guy was sitting there and he said, 'My family has hit the limit when it comes to new taxes,'" Crone recalled.

I think that's a legitimate reason and it is certainly an interesting question to ask. But I wouldn't be too bothered by the results because in the question directly preceding it, 12d, the public says they are in favor of new taxes for road maintenance and construction. I'm not surprised by that at all. In all the polling we've done at PPP I can tell you that people don't like taxes. And they won't support new taxes in poll question-- unless you give them context for the taxes. They are willing to support higher taxes and fees if they pay for schools, roads, health care, and other things.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crone-ic bias?

Apparently Under the Dome readers are complaining that the Crone-Sinclair poll might be biased, because Brad Crone is negotiating with Beverly Perdue's campaign. For what it's worth, their poll numbers are pretty similar to our latest poll on the race. In fact, their numbers are better for Richard Moore than ours.

Of course, if Crone does end up working for Perdue he should disclose that on any polling that may have an impact on the race. Then it's up to everyone else to judge whether it may be biased or not.

South of the Border

I have never actually visited Pedro, but I sure have noticed the billboards! Anyhow we did some polling south of the border this week. Here are the results:


Clinton 36%
Obama 33%
Edwards 12%
Biden 3%
Richardson 3%
Kucinich 1%
Dodd 0%

Thompson 22%
Giuliani 18%
Romney 17%
McCain 11%
Huckabee 7%
Brownback 3%
Paul 2%
Hunter 1%
Tancredo 1%

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The North Carolina Poll

What a catchy name!

I've been busy today and now Under the Dome has beat me to a story! Democratic consultant Brad Crone and Republican consultant Chris Sinclair are teaming up to create a monthly poll on North Carolina politics and public policy that will be available to subscribers only. They sent out a preview of the poll this week.

The preview featured questions asked to likely primary voters about the upcoming Gubernatorial primaries. They found that Democrats back Beverly Perdue over Richard Moore, 35% to 29%. And Bill Graham leads the Republican race with 22%, followed by Fred Smith with 21% and Bob Orr with 16%.

It will be interesting to watch this poll. Will this business model work? Will a poll geared towards both parties be thought provoking or will it end up being dull? I'm also interested in what polling company will be making the phone calls.

Ron Paul wins straw poll

The Gaston County GOP held a straw poll this week and long shot Republican hopeful Ron Paul was victorious. Non-candidate candidate Fred Thompson was a strong second. Way back in third was Mike Huckabee.

Why do Republicans love straw polls? Does anyone really think Ron Paul is going to win North Carolina or even Gaston County?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Disaster strikes! My world is coming to an end!

Apparently the Civitas Institute has canceled the August edition of their poll! I don't know what I am going to do with myself this week. What am I going to write about? The horror! :(

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Inaugural Financial Services in North Carolina Survey

The North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks released a survey of North Carolina consumer yesterday. Read the news reports here and here. Honestly, financial stuff bores me and I don’t feel like reading the 121 page PDF results file. Read the executive summary for more detail. Here are some excerpts from their press release:
North Carolina consumers are generally satisfied with financial services in the state but indicated concerns about fairness of mortgage lending, according to the inaugural Financial Services in North Carolina Survey. The survey, conducted on behalf of the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks, is the first poll ever of North Carolinians’ perceptions of the fairness of the state’s financial services industry and the NCCOB’s role as regulator. …

Some of the key findings of the study include:
  • Residents were more concerned about the fairness of mortgage lending than any other type of financial services product.
  • The top fairness concerns for financial services customers are:
  1. fairness of checking and savings account rates and fees;
  2. misrepresentation of mortgage information; and
  3. fairness of fees charged for alternative financial services.
The survey also noted that 500,000 adult residents (8 percent of the state’s total adult population) do not have an account at a depository institution. …

The survey was conducted by an independent third party, MarketSearch Corporation of Columbia, S.C., that polled 500 citizens from rural and urban counties across the state to
represent a sampling of the state’s population. NCCOB plans to conduct this survey annually to monitor public perception of financial services companies and NCCOB’s effectiveness in regulating them. NCCOB was established by the General Assembly in 1931. NCCOB currently regulates 99 state-chartered banks, thrifts, savings and loans, trust companies, and more than 1,600 mortgage lenders/brokers and 18,000 loan officers, as well as numerous consumer finance companies, check-cashers, and other financial services.
Update: It's too hot to think about stuff right now. According to it is 105 degrees where I am.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


See whose talking about our latest poll results:

All American Blogger
Free Republic
Blogs for Fred Thompson
Hegdgehog Report
The Green Room
The Seventh Sense
Wide Awakes
TPM Cafe
Taylor W. Buley

And Under the Dome get into Bill vs Billy Graham.

Polling as propaganda

This morning's column in the N&O by Rick Martinez is a good example of how polling data can be misused. Instead of being about public opinion or science, it is reduced to propaganda. Discussing the Realtors' anti-transfer tax campaign, Martinez sites the Realtors own poll to prove that the campaign worked.

"The Realtors produced a poll in late July that showed 77 percent of North Carolinians opposed to the new tax."

Take a look at the poll yourself to see if you really believe that statistic. But now Martinez is helping that poll number become part of the public debate over the transfer tax despite its lack of merit.

I'll be very interested to see polling on the transfer tax county-by-county. It may not be popular (most new taxes are not), but that Realtors poll is not proof.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BILL Graham, not BILLY Graham

Many people have asked me whether or not I think Bill Graham is leading the Republican gubernatorial primary because voters are confusing him with the Rev. Billy Graham. Now we have an answer. No.

BlueNC's Anglico asks and Mark Stephens answers. Bill Graham's own polling has gone in depth with Republican primary voters to find out what they know about the candidates. And according to Stephens they are not confusing Graham with Graham.

Monday, August 6, 2007

NC Primary Results

Click here for complete results.

Democratic President
Clinton 29%
Edwards 29%
Obama 23%

Obama drops a bit among black voters. Might just be fluctuations.

Republican President
Thompson 30%
Giuliani 20%
Romney 12%
McCain 7%

NC mirrors national trends. Giuliani is falling from front-runner status, while Romney is gaining. McCain is sinking and Thompson leads in the South.

Democratic Governor
Perdue 38%
Moore 28%

Perdue had been leading by 4% for about 3 months. The change can be explain by normal fluctuations and margin of error. It also suggests that her lead had always been on the higher side of 4%.

Republican Governor
Graham 23%
Smith 11%
Orr 9%

Nothing changing here. Civitas' polls continue to be starkly different than our results and the results coming out of the Graham campaign.

Democratic Lt. Governor
Dalton 10%
Dellinger 10%
Smathers 9%
Besse 7%

NC Primary Poll sneak peek

Our NC Primary Tracking Poll is coming out tomorrow morning. Here are a bit of the results, something even Mark Stephens might appreciate. :)

Republican Gubernatorial Race

Graham 23%
Smith 11%
Orr 9%

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stephens Reply

Below is the comment we received from Mark Stephens in regard to my latest post. I figure its fair to give him front page space to reply. For what its worth I disagree with most of what he has to say, but I will save my comments for the comments section.


The logic of your blog entry of August 3 is founded on two basic premises.

First - that because a client of mine chooses to refer to PPP polling, I must have personally encouraged the client to do so. While I wish my clients would always take my advice, that is not the case. In fact, I've never called a reporter to push a poll on them - yours or others - that employ a similar methodology utilized by PPP.

Second - that because that particular client of mine referred to a PPP poll, it somehow proves that the methodology utilized by PPP is sound and accurate. That logic is even more flawed than your polls.

I've been around this stuff for nearly 30 years. During that time, I've seen various new technologies come and go. Some good and useful - some not so good. If it's good, you keep it and use it.

The polling methodology utilized by PPP is not new. It's been around for some time. It lacks accuracy and I would never recommend it to a client that requires accuracy. I would never recommend it to anyone in the media that is attempting to analyze a political issue or campaign. The selling point for the product is that it is cheap.

I've never contended that it is totally useless. Over a period of time, it may serve to track trends and movement, but the data of any given poll is not reliable enough to make sound judgments.

I have nothing against your company. You serve the liberal political community in North Carolina and elsewhere. If they want to buy your wares - that is fine with me.

The only time I've voiced objections is when your company and clients attempt to persuade the media that your polling - or political spin based on that polling - has equal weight with traditional methodologies that have been tried and tested over decades. IMHO - that is not true and can mislead the media and their readership.

For what it's worth, that's my two cents.

Mark Stephens

Friday, August 3, 2007

Stephens Duplicity

Our last Pollster Profile of McLaughlin & Associates got me thinking. The Bill Graham campaign is consulted by the Fetzer Stephens firm, the same people who are running Elizabeth Dole's campaign. Three weeks ago Mark Stephens complained to WRAL (see the comments) about one of our polls, saying we used "questionable polling techniques."

This week Mark Stephens sent out the latest Bill Graham poll conducted by their own "traditional" pollster that showed Bill Graham leading 21% to 9% for Smith to 6% for Orr. PPP's last Republican primary poll had Graham leading by a very similar 23-9-9%.

Does Mark Stephens think our Republican primary poll was phooey? It was pretty much the exact same as his poll. Plus our numbers have been consistent in that race month after month.

Like I said three weeks ago, he was only complaining because he didn't like our results -- which indicated Elizabeth Dole was in trouble. In the case of Bill Graham he doesn't complain because he likes our results.

Oh wait a minute. He must really like our results because the Bill Graham campaign is touting our numbers on the website! He ought to think twice the next time he criticizes our "questionable polling techniques."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pollster Profile: McLaughlin & Associates

Today's Pollster Profile concerns Bill Graham's campaign pollster, McLaughlin & Associates (M&A). M&A is run by Jim and John McLaughlin, who both have extensive experience polling for Republican campaigns and corporate clients nationwide. The company has offices in New York and Northern Virginia.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted polling for former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, who is now a consultant for the Bill Graham campaign (Fetzer Stephens).

M&A's client list is impressive, full of numerous major national corporations, Republican Senators, Governors and Congressmen, and the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC. North Carolina clients include Jesse Helms, Lauch Faircloth, Fetzer, Paul Coble and Richard Vinroot.

The latest poll, was a second by M&A for Graham this year. An earlier one came out in April.

Graham has Graham in the lead

New poll results from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham. According to his poll, he leads the Republican race with 21%, followed by Fred Smith at 9% and Bob Orr at 6%. These results closely resemble our latest tracking poll that had the race at 23-9-9%. FYI, our August tracking poll goes into the field tonight. You’ll get the results early next week.

The poll was conducted for Graham by McLaughlin & Associates between July 24 and 26 and included 500 likely Republican primary voters.

Thanks to Under the Dome for the news.

I’d love to see the press release or any other results released. Can I get some help?

Update: Thanks Ryan! Here is the polling memo (PDF). Obviously, they only released questions with positive results for Graham.

The most interesting nugget of info was name recognition. Graham had the highest name recognition (68%), followed by Orr (55%) and Smith (49%). That's not a huge lead, but it could explain some of Graham's lead.
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