WPA Intelligence CEO Chris Wilson appeared on Fox Business to discuss the Virginia Governor’s race, Republican prospects for 2022, and more.
WPAi CEO Chris Wilson on Fox Business
Conor Maguire Named to AAPC’s “40 Under 40”
Conor Maguire, WPA Intelligence Principal and Managing Director of our DC office, was awarded the distinct honor of being named to the American Association of Political Consultant’s 40 Under 40 list for 2021. The list is maintained yearly by AAPC to highlight the efforts of strategists from both sides of the aisle.
Conor’s dedication to data and analytics, alongside his experience with competitive campaigns across the country, has made him an invaluable asset to our team. As part of WPA, Conor has maintained a commitment to serving our clients with the most sophisticated polling and analytics in the field, while leading our DC team’s efforts for campaigns and corporate clients.
WPA Intelligence CEO Chris Wilson had this to say in regards to Conor’s achievement:
“Conor Maguire has quickly proven to be a leader in the polling and data industry. Conor’s dedication is proven by the success of our clients. His leadership as part of our DC team has not only expanded our capabilities, but developed one of the most talented teams in political data. This recognition is extremely well deserved.”
Conor becomes the 5th WPA strategist to be recognized with this award, including last year’s awardee and WPA Research Director Trevor Smith as well as WPA’s Director of Analytics Matt Knee.
Poll shows Oklahomans strongly support SQ 780, criminal justice reform – Published 03/11/2021
EMBARGOED UNTIL THURSDAY, MARCH 11 AT 11 A.M. CST
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2021
Contact: Chris Wilson
Office: (202) 470-6300
Cell: (202) 664-3300
Poll shows Oklahomans strongly support SQ 780, criminal justice reform, and funding for treatment and other crime prevention programs
OKLAHOMA CITY — A majority of Oklahomans support common sense criminal justice reform, according to a recent poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in February 2021. Sixty-nine percent of Oklahomans say they support criminal justice reform, and 66% believe it is important to reduce the number of people in prisons or jail.
“Oklahomans’ support for criminal justice reform is clear and consistent across party lines,” said Chris Wilson, president of WPA Intelligence. “The data show a majority of Oklahomans support reforms that would safely reduce the jail and prison population, save taxpayer dollars, and provide people who have committed nonviolent offenses with the resources and treatment they need to safely reenter their communities.”
Oklahoma has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the country, and for three decades, incarcerated more women per capita in the nation. “Sixty-five percent of respondents are more likely to vote for candidates who support criminal justice reform, and this support is consistent across party lines,” said Wilson. “Candidates put their electoral futures at risk if they do not support criminal justice reform.”
Oklahomans continue to overwhelmingly support SQ 780, approved by voters in 2016, which reclassified simple drug possession and low-level property crimes as misdemeanors. In the recent survey, over three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they support SQ 780, and 65% of Oklahomans voiced support for using additional funding to reduce crime by investing in drug or mental health treatment, education, and victim services.
In addition, of those surveyed, 78% said they support the Violence Prevention Innovation Fund (HB 2879), a bill introduced during the 2021 legislative session. The Fund would reinvest savings from sentence enhancement reform into services for survivors of violence and crime prevention programs.
“This polling further proves what we already know — that Oklahomans want smart justice reform that prioritizes treatment over longer prison sentences,” said Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “Oklahomans want action on criminal justice reform, and expect elected leaders to make it a priority. Voters continue to strongly support SQ 780 and lawmakers should not pass legislation that would undo that impactful reform. Voters know we must address our state’s incarceration crisis and overwhelmingly support prioritizing reentry services or treatment to help people safely return to their communities and be productive citizens.”
The poll was conducted by WPA Intelligence, an Oklahoma-based firm with polling experience in political races across the nation, between February 22-25, 2021.
The full survey results memo can be found here.
Nevadans becoming more accepting of COVID-19 vaccine, poll finds – Published 03/05/2021
Nevadans becoming more accepting of COVID-19 vaccine, poll finds
By Mary Hynes
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Published March 5, 2021
More Nevadans have warmed to the idea of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 over the past five months, according to a new Review-Journal poll.
Seventy-three percent back inoculation, with 35 percent already having received a shot and 38 percent planning to get vaccinated, according to The Nevada Poll™, a phone and online survey of 500 likely voters conducted by WPA Intelligence from Feb. 26 through March 1. The survey has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
That’s a gain of 10 percentage points from the 63 percent who said they planned to get the shot when polled in early October, with the converts coming from the ranks of the undecided. Those opposed to being vaccinated dropped just 1 percentage point to 19 percent — still nearly one-fifth of those polled.
“I think there’s a lot more confidence out there” now in vaccines to protect against the coronavirus, Trevor Smith, research director of pollster WPA Intelligence, said of the shifting public opinion. “People are seeing a lot more people getting the vaccine. There’s less fear.”
Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine, agreed, describing the shift as “significant.” He believes that many people initially were hesitant to be vaccinated because they didn’t want to be among the first recipients when they thought vaccine development might have been rushed.
“There’s starting to be an acceptance that things look OK. Nobody has grown a third arm or keeled over from vaccinations,” he said jokingly. “So I think that makes people comfortable.”
With vaccine acceptance higher than 70 percent, the community could be inching toward herd immunity, authorities said, where enough people are immune to the coronavirus to prevent its transmission. They estimate that 70 percent to 90 percent of people need to have immunity for this to happen.
Dr. Walter A. Orenstein says we’re not there yet. He noted that despite the high rate of effectiveness of the vaccines, they are not perfect, and that 1 in 20 people who are inoculated with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, for example, won’t be protected.
He described acceptance rates reflected in the poll as a “good step in the right direction, but I think we need to go higher.” Orenstein is a professor of medicine at Emory University and the former director of the U.S. Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey indicates that women have been more concerned about getting inoculated than men. Forty-two percent of men polled said they had been vaccinated, compared with just 29 percent of women. But moving forward, there may be less of a difference: 57 percent of women who hadn’t gotten the vaccine planned to get it, compared to 59 percent of men.
Caplan believes the gender difference may reflect unfounded concerns that the vaccines can affect fertility by altering DNA.
At least one poll respondent mentioned this, saying: “My wife and I still hope to have kids. There is no research that definitively shows how the vaccines will affect fertility.”
Republicans have been less likely to get vaccinated, the poll found, with 30 percent saying they had gotten the vaccine, compared with 36 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independent voters and those of other parties. Moving forward, three-quarters of Democrats plan to get vaccinated, compared with 43 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independent voters.
Forty-four percent of Trump voters said they would not get the vaccine, compared with just 13 percent of Biden voters.
“It is ironic, since one of the great things that was done under the Trump administration was the development of these vaccines,” Orenstein said.
Hesitancy fault lines
The survey also exposed some vaccine hesitancy fault lines among various racial groups.
Thirty-eight percent of white respondents said they’d gotten the vaccine, compared with 23 percent of Hispanics and 38 percent of Blacks.
Fifty-eight percent of whites said they planned to get vaccinated, compared with 64 percent of Hispanics and 54 percent of Blacks. However, the subgroup of Blacks was small enough to substantially increase the margin of error, calling into question the finding, Smith said.
Dr. Margot Savoy, an associate professor at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, said that as physicians and other trusted members of minority communities have begun to advocate for the vaccine, that has “shifted the tide a bit” away from the distrust.
Savoy, who is Black, said she was frank with her patients, telling them as recently as December that she couldn’t recommend the vaccine before she had reviewed the data from clinical studies
“But now we’ve been able to review the data and see how limited the number of serious side effects have been and how many people have now been vaccinated and not had any real serious issues come up,” she noted.
More important, she said, communities are seeing that people who have been vaccinated are avoiding hospitalization and death from the virus.
Wealthier, more educated people were more likely to have gotten the vaccine. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed who had college degrees and household incomes above $75,000 had gotten a vaccine, whereas just 24 percent of those without a degree and with a household income below $75,000 had been inoculated.
Yet across the socio-economic spectrum, poll respondents want the vaccine. Fifty-seven percent of those without college degrees and with household incomes of less than $75,000 want the vaccine, compared with 68 percent of those with a college degree earning more than the threshold.
“We do see numbers that consistently show that the rich are doing better than the poor in the country in terms of access” to vaccine, Caplan said, due to factors that may include education levels and less access to the internet to make appointments.
‘An aggressive side of the flu’
Smith, the pollster, said responses from those who did not want the vaccine primarily reflected concerns about the speed at which they were developed and possible long-term health impacts.
“It was put together too quickly, and it’s just a trial. We don’t know what side effects it could cause,” said one woman who voted for Trump.
A Democrat who voted for Biden also said she was “afraid of the long-term side effects.”
“I don’t trust the politicians or the pharmaceutical companies,” replied a self-described moderate male who voted for Trump.
“I am very healthy. I won’t get it. I drink apple cider every day,” said one 82-year old man who voted for Trump. “This is just an aggressive side of the flu.”
Nevadans also were asked how they thought vaccine should be distributed, with 32 percent favoring prioritizing pre-existing conditions and immune health, 29 percent favoring an age-based approach and 17 percent saying it should be based on employment.
In Nevada, employment has been a major driver of who gets the vaccine first, with hospital workers being the first to get vaccinated, followed by emergency responders and public security personnel. Many other employment groups also are now eligible, along with residents 65 and older.
Those 64 and younger — with or without pre-existing conditions — are not yet eligible for vaccine.
But Caleb Cage, who directs the state’s COVID-19 response, said public opinion is one thing, while sound public policy is another.
“Polls are not necessarily aligned with the scientific ethical and equitable approach that the state has been using from the very beginning, based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) input,” he said.
This article was originally published here.
Club for Growth endorses Mandel in Ohio GOP Senate primary – Published 03/04/2021
Club for Growth endorses Mandel in Ohio GOP Senate primary
By James Arkin
Politico, Published March 4, 2021
The conservative Club for Growth is endorsing former state Treasurer Josh Mandel in next year’s Ohio Senate primary, giving him a high-profile backer in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
Mandel, a 43-year-old Marine veteran, was the first Republican to enter the race after Portman announced he would not seek a third term. Former state party chair Jane Timken has also launched her campaign, and several other Republicans are seriously considering running.
The Club for Growth previously endorsed Mandel in 2012, when he lost to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, and in 2018 when he launched a second campaign against Brown before dropping out of the race due to family health concerns. Along with the endorsement, the Club released internal polling showing Mandel with a big edge over the rest of the potential Republican field largely thanks to a huge advantage in how many GOP voters know him, according to details shared first with POLITICO.
“Josh Mandel is not only an American patriot who served two tours in Iraq, but he is also a strong constitutional conservative who believes in limited government, balanced budgets, low taxation and parental school choice,” David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth PAC, said in a statement.
The endorsement could be a big boost for Mandel in what is expected to become an expensive and crowded primary. Timken is the only other announced candidate and has already aired TV ads on Fox News since launching her bid. Several others considering the race, including businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno, state Sen. Matt Dolan, and Reps. Steve Stivers and Warren Davidson, among others.
Several potential candidates could invest their own funds in their bids, making the primary even more expensive. Mandel started with more than $4 million in his campaign account from previous runs for office.
In a poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in early February on behalf of the Club, Mandel had 38 percent support among GOP primary voters, while Stivers had 11 percent and Timken had 6 percent. More than one-third of voters were undecided. The early polling is likely based significantly on name ID, as Mandel, who has appeared on a statewide ballot in three different elections, is much better known than other prospective candidates.
The poll showed Mandel with 69 percent name ID among primary voters, with 42 percent viewing him favorably and just 9 percent viewing him unfavorably. Stivers was the second best-known candidate, followed by Timken and Gibbons, all of whom had positive ratings but were largely unknown.
WPA intelligence surveyed 509 likely GOP primary voters from Feb. 1-3, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
This article was originally published here.
Majority of Nevadans support Sisolak’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic, poll shows – Published 03/03/2021
Majority of Nevadans support Sisolak’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic, poll shows
By Rory Appleton
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Published March 3, 2021
Nevadans have favorable views of how Gov. Steve Sisolak and President Joe Biden are leading the state and nation, according to results of The Nevada Poll released Tuesday.
More than half of those surveyed supported Sisolak’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nevada Poll surveyed 500 likely voters across the state by phone and online from Feb. 26 to March 1, with a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
About 47 percent of respondents approved of Biden’s overall performance, compared to 40 percent who disapproved.
Gov. Sisolak’s approval was similar, at about 48 percent, with 43 percent disapproving. This marked an increase in both approval and disapproval for the governor since October, when 47 percent of respondents favored him and 40 percent did not.
“What’s changed for Sisolak since October is the independents, who were at 35 approve to 40 disapprove, have come around, as well as what we call the gray-collar workers — people without a college education who make more than $75,000 per year,” said Trevor Smith, research director for WPA Intelligence, who conducted the poll on behalf of the Review-Journal.
More than half (53 percent) of respondents approved of Sisolak’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. About 43 percent did not.
A little more than one-third (36 percent) of those surveyed were unhappy with the state’s vaccine distribution under Sisolak, while 49 percent approved of his work marshalling the mass-vaccination.
As is typical for the state, Biden and Sisolak, Democrats both, have slightly positive approval ratings in Washoe County, stronger support in Clark and much more negative ratings in the rural counties.
Smith also noted that while just 17 percent of Republican respondents approve of Sisolak’s overall performance, more than one-quarter (26 percent) approve of his vaccination plans.
Sisolak is up for re-election in 2022, and has been raising money for a second bid for the office, though he has not officially announced his intentions.
“The governor’s complete focus is on reopening safely, getting Nevadans vaccinated and helping get people back to work,” said Jim Ferrence, spokesman for Sisolak’s campaign. “The results clearly indicate Nevada voters support the governor’s leadership and steady hand during these incredibly trying times.”
On Tuesday, Biden announced the country will be able to vaccinate every American by the end of May.
The state’s vaccination process also ramped up on Tuesday, as vaccination lanes opened up for more frontline workers.
The political party registration breakdown of the latest Nevada Poll’s respondents was 38 percent Democrat, 36 percent Republican and 26 percent nonpartisan or third party. About 46 percent said they had voted for Biden in 2020, while 44 percent chose former President Donald Trump.
Two-thirds of the Nevada Poll’s respondents identified as white, 14 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 9 percent as Black or African-American, 5 percent as Asian-American and 3 percent as another race or ethnicity.
Slightly less than half (49 percent) of respondents identified as men, and 51 percent as women.
The Nevada Republican Party criticized Sisolak in a statement Wednesday, saying he has subjected Nevadans to “a year of tyranny” and has failed to provide unemployment benefits to vulnerable Nevadans.
“Governor Sisolak has failed Nevadans at every turn during this pandemic,” the state GOP said. “What the polls do not reflect are the heart-wrenching stories of business owners and families struggling to make ends meet while the governor unilaterally shuts down our state with no meaningful plan for reopening.”
Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II cheered the poll results in his own statement.
“Despite relentless and baseless attacks from the Nevada GOP, Nevadans know what we know: Governor Steve Sisolak continues to put working families first when faced with incredibly difficult decisions regarding our state’s response to COVID-19,” McCurdy said.
“Nevada is among the hardest hit states, but with Governor Sisolak at the helm, we’ve been able to reopen safely, get Nevadans vaccinated, and get employees and small business owners back to work.”
This article was originally published here.
Newsom tours Long Beach & Central Valley to promote vaccine “Through-Put” – Published 02/22/2021
Newsom tours Long Beach & Central Valley to promote vaccine “Through-Put”
By John and Ken staff
KFI AM, Published Feb 22, 2021
Gavin Newsom is touring the state and trying to get the heat off him.
Newsom was in Inglewood and Boyle Heights over the weekend. We’re pretty sure he’d rather be drinking some wine somewhere.
He is asking the public for optimism, saying the state can administer vaccines with “through-put” and an “equitable overlay” within months.
What a maroon.
Check out this internal poll released over the weekend by the National Review:
An internal poll from WPA Intelligence for former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s (R) campaign (Feb. 12-14; 645 LVs; +/-3.9%) found 47% of respondents would vote to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), while 43% would not.
Of Republican voters, 80% would vote to recall Newsom. Of Democratic voters, 26% would vote to recall the governor, compared to 64% who were opposed and 10% who were undecided. For those with no political party preference, 53% would vote to recall Newsom, 35% were opposed, and 13% were undecided.
You have to hear John & Ken react to audio of Newsom talking today in Long Beach and the Central Valley!
Gavin Newsom is officially in panic mode.
This article was originally published here.
The Failure of Mike Bloomberg’s ‘Data-Driven’ Approach – Published 11/12/2020
The Failure of Mike Bloomberg’s ‘Data-Driven’ Approach
By Tobias Hoonhout
National Review, Published November 12, 2020
Mike Bloomberg likes his money well spent, even in politics.
“‘I’m not in the business of wasting money — I want to put money into races that can be won with extra effort,’” top political adviser Kevin Sheekey recalled the billionaire telling him ahead of the 2018 midterms.
And after a spending spree in the 2018 midterms netted 21 Democratic wins out of 24 targeted races, the former New York City mayor decided to double down on his data-driven approach this cycle.
What came next was Hawkfish, a Bloomberg-backed firm founded in 2019 by Silicon Valley insiders with the aim of boosting Democrats’ digital efforts. The former New York mayor put the firm to work during his Democratic primary run, spending $100 million to buy up troves of voter databases. And even after Bloomberg’s campaign faltered, Hawkish saw itself as the best way to help Bloomberg achieve his ultimate goal of ensuring a blue wave in 2020.
The firm “argued for a plan where Bloomberg would no longer need the ground operation and consultants, and could scale down to the quants, the engineers and the data teams,” according to a Wired profile.
With a wealth of information at its fingertips, Hawkfish set out to help Democrats in the general election, inking contracts with the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Super PACs American Bridge and Unite the Country.
“Because we have this better raw data set than our competitors do, we’re able to help campaigns make smarter decisions about who they target for voter registration, who they target for persuasion, and then who they target for turnout,” Hawkfish senior consultant Mitch Stewart bragged in August.
But as the dust continues to settle from November 3, Hawkfish’s impact — and Bloomberg’s efforts writ large — appear to have fallen flat.
Despite spending over $100 million to boost Joe Biden in Florida, Ohio, and Texas, Bloomberg failed to turn any of the three battleground states blue. A $60 million outlay to defend the Democrat majority in the House and pick off vulnerable Republicans also fell flat, with the GOP having gained six seats so far — of the 21 races Bloomberg helped win in 2018, Republicans have flipped back three and are currently neck-and-neck in California’s 25th district.
Some have argued that the spending was successful in forcing Republicans to divert resources. “Our goal was to make Trump fight for a state he was taking for granted and draw resources from blue-wall states, allowing Joe Biden to become more competitive in those states,” Sheekey explained to CNBC.
Outgoing DCCC chair Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) echoed the rhetoric. “By building a big battlefield, triggering Republican retirements, and going on offense, we stretched Republicans,” she reportedly said on a Wednesday caucus call.
But others remain unconvinced. “I think the vendors should refund the money they charged,” prominent pollster Frank Luntz told National Review when asked about Bloomberg’s 2020 efforts.
At the state level, Republicans believe that Bloomberg’s strategy of flooding the airwaves and big data focus on mail-in and early-voting turnout failed to make up for the lack of a Democrat ground game — especially in Florida.
“Bloomberg seemed to have been playing a 2000-era ‘save it all to the end and go negative on TV’ in an election with massive vote by mail and in-person early voting,” Republican data analyst Chris Wilson said in an email. “Especially with the partisan split where most of the votes left at the end were hard core Republicans, he was talking when very few persuadables were left listening.”
On October 21, Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle that “the Trump team has far more ground to make up on election day than Democrats should.” While Florida Democrats led the early-vote margin by over 460,000 at that point, 13 days later the lead had shrunk to only 113,000. Hawkfish’s own modeling showed that Trump had narrowed the gap by five points from October 20 to November 2, but still showed Biden in the lead. Republicans surged on Election Day to overtake the race and boost Trump’s margin from 2016.
“Florida is not for sale,” Florida GOP executive director Helen Aguirre Ferré told National Review. “There is no substitute for a strong grassroots effort to connect with the community.”
Ferré explained that, under Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Republicans went to great lengths to register new voters and narrow the gap to 134,000 — “the smallest difference between the two parties in Florida history” — while Democrats “did nothing.”
“Florida’s impressive results on Election Day were a direct reflection on the entire Republican Party of Florida team effort, which saw record numbers of volunteers knocking on doors, making phone calls, putting up signs and donating their talents in myriad other ways,” she stated, pointing to shifts among Latino voters as proof of work paying off. While Bloomberg spent millions in get-out-the-vote advertising for Florida Latinos, Democrats lacked the same canvassing, with fears over the pandemic driving the party away from traditional efforts and towards Bloomberg’s cash.
Similar scenes played out in Ohio and Texas, where Bloomberg — citing internal polling — pumped $15 million in additional ad buys over the last week of the race. “We believe that Florida will go down to the wire, and we were looking for additional opportunities to expand the map,” Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson told the New York Times. “Texas and Ohio present the best opportunities to do that, in our view.”
The result? Democrats faltered, with local officials complaining that the spurning of direct outreach in favor of macro trends hurt their chances
“What did we expect was going to happen?” South Texas Democrat organizer Amanda Salas told the Wall Street Journal after Trump made record gains in the traditionally blue area that Democrats ignored.
“The message that Democrats were pitching nationally, it was not going to resonate,” Representative Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) said bluntly. “Hispanics in South Texas or in South Florida and other areas, we might have certain similarities but then you have to fine-tune the messaging.”
This article was originally published here.
Public Polling’s Predicted Blue Wave Meets Red Reality in Texas – Published 11/6/2020
Public Polling’s Predicted Blue Wave Meets Red Reality in Texas
By Brad Johnson
The Texan, Published November 6, 2020
The election four years ago became almost synonymous with erroneous polling. While the national popular vote polling was within spitting distance of the outcome — which matters not a lick in this federalist electoral system — the polling in a handful of key swing states were errant enough to get the Electoral College outcome substantially wrong.
This go-around, public polling — meaning publicly available, mostly media-based polling aiming to take a snapshot of voters’ opinions at a moment in time — had just as bad an evening, if not worse.
And Texas was a focal point.
Unofficial results show President Donald Trump emerged victorious by 5.8 percent in Texas. Substantially lower than his 2016 margin of nine points and significantly dwarfed by Mitt Romney’s 15-point 2012 victory in the state.
But the RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average — an aggregated average of all public polling — projected a Trump +1.3 environment. RCP’s average is not a proprietary poll, but a calculation of other polling outfit’s results.
These outfits include national firms such as Quinnipiac, Emerson, Rasmussen, UMass Lowell, and the NY Times/Sienna.
Averaged out, Quinnipiac’s polling had Trump at +0.2 percent throughout the race — a virtual dead heat. Similarly, Emerson’s average projected Trump +0.75 percent. UMass Lowell’s averaged out to Trump +2.5 percent and, closer than most other national outfits, Rasmussen’s one poll from early October projected Trump +7 percent — which was errant in the other direction.
Local outfits had more mixed results.
The Dallas Morning News was wildly off, with its average projection of Biden +0.5 percent, and its most recent poll to Election Day had Biden up three percent in the state.
The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune’s polls averaged out to Trump +5.25 percent, strikingly close to the final result.
A University of Houston poll conducted from October 13 to 20 had Trump +5.3 percent.
In the other big statewide race, the U.S. Senate, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) walloped Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar by 9.8 percent. The Senate polling was less mistaken than in the presidential race, but the RCP average was still 3.3 points off.
The NY Times/Sienna was nearly spot-on in their late-October poll, putting the race at Cornyn +10 percent. Emerson, meanwhile, had Cornyn +5 in their home stretch poll.
Quinnipiac, despite its wild error in the presidential race, was not so far off in the Senate race with an average of 7.6 percent. However, their final poll, conducted from October 16 through 19, projected Cornyn +6. UMass Lowell was about the same.
Rasmusssen’s one poll showed Cornyn +9.
Locally, the Dallas Morning News erred the opposite way, but less severely than its presidential portfolio, averaging Cornyn +11.25 percent while its October poll projected Cornyn +8 percent. The University of Houston’s October survey showed Cornyn +7 percent and the University of Texas/Texas Tribune’s had Cornyn +8 percent.
Broken down between national and local, the average of national outfit’s Texas polls were off substantially. Their averaged polling collection projected Trump +1.8.
Locally, they didn’t fare much better at a Trump +2.5 average. However, when the Dallas Morning News polls are removed as potential outliers, the average jumps to a much more accurate Trump +5.25 percent.
Derek Ryan, Texas political consultant and founder of Ryan Data & Research, highlighted the local-national divide, telling The Texan, “The local pollsters were much more accurate. They have a far better understanding of the state than do pollsters thousands of miles away.”
With the exception of the Dallas Morning News, Ryan is spot on.
“I’d trust any Texas polling firm more than a national one,” he underscored.
Chris Wilson, CEO of conservative data and polling firm WPA Intelligence, told The Texan, “This was a tale of two stories: the media polling was historically bad, but the private polling I was privy to was really quite good.”
One of WPA’s polls in Nevada, done for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, showed the state very close, contrary to much of the publicly available polling which projected an easy Biden win, and the state is still too close to call with Biden in a narrow lead.
Wilson expounded on an evolution he sees within the GOP polling industry by which more accurate turnout models are built by abandoning the voting history focus and moving more to an algorithm-based voter score model.
The scale he and WPA use is zero to one, and any voters above a 0.5 rating are likely voters while those below are not.
Building an accurate turnout model is hard work. Ryan stated, “It’s getting harder and harder to get prospective voters to answer polling calls. Oftentimes it can take 30 to 40 calls to get one answer from the identified voter.” This all compounds the time and resources necessary to complete the job.
Wilson, as a pollster himself, employs a varied approach which does include traditional phone calls from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. However, when it becomes difficult to reach an identified voter, WPA and the other polling outfits he works with often text or email the voter in advance to set up a phone interview. That way the voter can pick the time that works best for them.
Just as became popularly known after the 2016 election, an errant turnout model will swing results vastly. In short, lots of voters who had little-to-know voting history showed up to vote for then-candidate Donald Trump, who were not accounted for in many of the turnout models.
This time around, a late-October Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Democratic candidate Joe Biden up 17 points in Wisconsin. When the dust settled on Wednesday, Biden had won the state only by 0.5 percent. “It’s difficult to argue that a poll such as that did not discourage in some respect Wisconsin Republicans from turning out — when your guy is behind that much, it’s dispiriting,” Wilson added.
Media polling, Wilson stipulated, is different than private industry polling because the latter faces much more competition. If a pollster gets their client’s race wrong, that reputation builds until, eventually, they’re out of business. “The attrition from just a short time ago of polling outfits is immense, and it’s because if you don’t get it right, nobody will hire you.”
Media outlets’ financial security does not hinge on the accuracy of their polling.
He continued, “I see two crimes among the media polling, one of omission and one by commission.” Omission constitutes errant assumptions of who will turn out to vote. By just analyzing voting history, pollsters cannot account for drastic voting population changes in their models. In 2016, that was the aforementioned Trump voters with next to no voting history.
This year, the models were wrong in not accounting for a proportional turnout uptick among Republicans as was projected for Democrats. In Texas, millions of new Democratic voters turned out to vote, but so did millions new GOP voters. And so, the “Blue Wave” projections turned out to be no more than a ripple.
Ryan’s early voting reports illustrated this trend. His final report showed that 28 percent of early voters had Republican voting histories whereas only 22 percent had Democratic voting histories. No turnout advantage materialized at all for Democrats, which became apparent Tuesday as Democrats made virtually no electoral gains in Texas.
“The crimes of commission are where a firm starts out to build a narrative. Most media firms don’t do that, but some do such as Public Policy Polling,” Wilson continued. In that effort, firms will ask a loaded question on the front end that inevitably shifts the opinion of the respondent — also known as a push poll.
When analyzing the veracity of polls, Wilson and Ryan offer some advice.
Ryan points to the question phrasing, knowing that if a push poll-type question comes up, the poll is likely bunk.
He also looks to the “cross tabs” or breakdown of the responses based on things like age, race, and partisan history. The weight placed on those categories, compared with comparison weighting, is another factor Ryan identifies.
“If your poll has a higher rate of urban turnout versus suburban and rural and the environment doesn’t reflect that, then it’s going to be off,” he added.
If obvious errors arise in the demographic makeup, then that calls the poll into question, which goes hand-in-hand with Wilson’s point on voter sample construction.
For Wilson and WPA, they have an employee whose job it is to find reasons within a poll that show it to be wrong. Surface level exploration can be done looking at the margin of error and the sample size, but that only gets one so far.
Wilson keys in on the more in-depth methodology in terms of how the sample is built, which isn’t always publicly available. But in those cases for which it is, on balance, a poll that used voter probability — the aforementioned scale methodology — as opposed to voter history is a good place to start.
An example of this played out in Texas with Hispanic voter projections being so off, specifically within the southern border region. Numerous counties that voted heavily for Hillary Clinton in 2016 narrowly went for Biden this time, and some even flipped to Trump entirely. That exposed errors in the modeling. It also reflected the increased difficulties of getting likely voters on the phone.
When analyzing a poll, Ryan further underscored, “I always ask, who’s releasing the poll? Do they have a reason to release it?” Many of the polls that appear in fundraising and outreach emails from campaigns are designed to motivate supporters into opening up their wallets or getting out the vote.
After the 2016 results, much of the public polling industry engaged in introspection, hoping to find the errors within their practices. And after this year’s election, and the polling which led up to it, that introspection is still left wanting.
This article was originally published here.
Polling outlets draw fire after missing mark again – Published 11/4/2020
Polling outlets draw fire after missing mark again
By Jonathan Easley
The Hill, Published November 4, 2020
The polling industry and election forecasters suffered another embarrassing election night that will call into question the usefulness of public opinion surveys and horse race political coverage that appeared to once again underestimate President Trump’s support.
Votes are still being tallied in critical battleground states, meaning the final verdict on polling and forecasting may not be known for several days, but the results so far are much closer than most analysts predicted in the lead-up to Election Day.
The polls in Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Texas — all states won by President Trump — were mostly wrong, though Democratic nominee Joe Biden appears to have the upper hand in the race for 270 electoral votes and is the favorite to be the next president.
Pollsters failed to register the possibility that Trump would not only hold on to his support among white working-class voters in the Midwest, but that he would also add scores of new Latino voters to his coalition in battlegrounds that were flooded with polling, such as Florida and Texas.
The polling was even worse down-ballot, where Democrats were heavy favorites to win the Senate and expected to pick up five to 15 seats in the House to expand their majority. Republicans are now in a better position to keep control of the Senate and might pick up several House seats.
Democratic all-stars such as Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, who was running even in the polls with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), were routed despite outspending their GOP rivals by tens of millions of dollars.
Democrat Sara Gideon has conceded to Sen. Susan Collins (R) in Maine, where not one major public poll released this year found Collins in the lead.
“To all the pollsters out there — you have no idea what you’re doing,” Graham said in his election night victory speech.
Not all of the polls were wrong. In battlegrounds such as Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona, it’s possible that the final spread will be in line with public polling.
Vote tallies indicated Biden is continuing to build on his national popular vote lead, although it is unlikely that he will end up winning by the double digit margins that many polls indicated.
The punditry and polling leading up to Tuesday suggested a broad victory for Biden was likely, both in the popular vote and the Electoral College.
In the FiveThirtyEight model, Biden started Election Day with a 90 percent chance of winning the White House, and analysts talked up Biden’s chances of winning right-leaning states like Iowa, Florida, Ohio and even Texas based on public polls.
Trump won Florida by more than 3 percentage points — a large margin for the perennial swing state — despite being down in both the FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics (RCP) averages on Election Day.
Both the FiveThirtyEight average and RCP average showed Trump ahead by only 1 point in Texas. The final Dallas Morning News poll found Biden ahead by 3 points. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Trump leads by more than 6 points with 96 percent of the votes in, and he improved on his 2016 totals by 20 points in a half dozen of the counties with the heaviest Latino populations in the state.
In Ohio, both FiveThirtyEight and RCP also showed Trump leading by 1 point. Quinnipiac University, which routinely found massive leads for Biden all over the map, showed him ahead by 4 points in Ohio in their final poll. Trump leads by 8 points — his 2016 margin — with 90 percent of the vote counted.
Wisconsin is headed for a photo finish, although Biden led by 7 points in the RCP average and by 8.4 points in the FiveThirtyEight average of state polls. One late survey from ABC News and The Washington Post found Biden ahead by an astonishing 16 points in Wisconsin, a survey that has already become a talking point for the Trump campaign.
In Iowa, the averages showed Trump ahead by 1 or 2 points. He leads by 7 points.
The Des Moines Register, viewed as the gold standard in the Hawkeye State, nailed the Iowa race. However, when that poll was released, many experts dismissed it as an outlier.
One of the major issues for election analysts was the abject dismissal of polling data that was favorable for Trump throughout the cycle.
The Trafalgar Group was a prime target, as pollster Robert Cahaly told anyone who would listen that there was a submerged Trump vote that was not being picked up in states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The Trafalgar polls — which were mocked by some of the biggest names in election analytics — are poised to be among the closest to the outcome in key states, and possibly in a few others.
“Polling is an inexact science, but we were more exact than anyone else,” Cahaly said.
Republican pollster Chris Wilson said the 2020 race is different from 2016, when the polls were close but many analysts ignored the data because they didn’t think Trump had a legitimate chance to win.
Rather, he said it’s more like the 2012 polling miss, when former President Obama’s support among Black voters was underestimated compared to the eventual turnout. This time around, it looks like pollsters failed to account for higher turnout among rural and working class whites, who were viewed as a tapped out demographic from 2016.
A lot of pollsters also missed the seismic shift among Hispanic voters, who appear poised to end the cycle as a key voting bloc in the Trump coalition.
However, Wilson saved his most withering critique for the data analysts who determined that Trump and the Republicans had a far worse chance of winning than they did in 2016.
FiveThirtyEight, after giving Trump a 30 percent chance to win in 2016, gave him only a 10 percent chance in 2020. Trump is on track to win all five of the states that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups.
The major congressional handicapping outlets also forecast significant gains for Democrats in the House and Senate, but it appears that most of the toss-ups and many of the lean Democratic seats are breaking for Republicans. Cook had estimated Democrats would pick up five to 15 House seats.
“The forecasters have a lot more to answer for,” Wilson said. “They’re just throwing math at data and what they’re producing has a lot more to do with their preferences than it does a real attempt to probe where the input data might be wrong, what it might be missing or what the counterfactual might be.”
Raghavan Mayur, the head pollster for the IBD-TIPP poll, which routinely found Trump doing better nationally than other polls, likened the 2020 experience to landing an airplane.
The final IBD-TIPP poll found Biden leading by 4 points nationally, which may end up being spot on or at least very close, while many others found Biden with a double-digit lead.
“Pilots trying to land their planes shouldn’t look outside the plane or you’ll get scared, just look at your own instruments,” Mayur said. “If you look outside it can wrack your nerves to see other polls where the difference is 10 point or more. But you shouldn’t look elsewhere, you just go by what you get and if it’s a kamikaze mission in the end, so be it.”
This article was originally published here.