Going into the fourth debate Carson,Trump still stalled. Q & A from viewers about Polls, Primary Races, etc.
On the eve of the fourth Republican debate, new polls (November 9-10) from South Carolina and nationally continue to show back and forth lead changes–but also continue to show that BOTH Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson’s support levels have stalled in the 20s. Both retain their core supporters but are failing to garner support from the remainder of Republicans; In my last post, I gave suggestions as to why this has happened. Now clearly in third place, Marco Rubio has edged up–thereby earning the infamous Trump negative attacks. Most poll experts believe that Trump, for reasons cited in my earlier poll analysis, has peaked and will definitely not be the Republican Candidate for President. Carson’s demise is less certain with the greater Fox support and still high “favorables”–though a deeper look into poll data shows that as voters become familiar with him, he, too, has trouble expanding his core base of support. Carson’s surge over the last couple of weeks seems to have stalled as well. A window of opportunity has therefore opened for Rubio, Cruz and Bush. Thus far none of the three has had a real surge, though as noted, Rubio has edged into third place, and Bush appears to have changed his campaign style, trying for a more forceful image, though it hasn’t yet translated into increased poll support; as previous analysis has shown, he probably will have to change Republican voters’ relatively high “unfavorable” opinions of him. He clearly is turning up the power in an attempt to do this. We’ll see if it is effective.
Because of the large number of emails I’ve received articulating the same concerns, I will now present a short Q & A in an attempt to answer some of those concerns.
Q. Why don’t you use Drudge, Breitbart, and similar online polls?
A. Their polls do not use probability-based samples. In fact there is no attempt at raandom sampling at all. The “voters” come from their viewers and hardly represent the broader populations of voters. Furthermore only those who are motivated enough to take their “polls”vote–and there is no mechanism to prevent the same person voting several times. Such polls are useless, except to reassure their self-selected viewers. And, if you compare their results with those from the large probability-based polls, you will see how far off they are in their findings.
Q. Your name (pragmaticliberalism) shows your bias, why should we believe you?
A. My regular poll analyses are strictly data driven. The results are what the polls show. I have decades of experience in poll data analysis and if you look at the “about the author” portion of this blog, you will see some of my credentials. I do state that I am a Bobby Kennedy type liberal, and in normative posts that may well seep in. But in data analysis, Unh, Uh. Don’t forget the “pragmatic” portion of my blog’s name. I try to avoid being an ideologue of any stripe–with me, empirical data trumps ideology all the time.
Q. Why do the poll results change so often? Isn’t that proof that they are worthless?
A. Every major campaign that I have heard of uses polling. If they don’t, they suffer from a serious, probably fatal, handicap. This early in the campaign, polls are subject to wide swings–as the first polls reflect little more than name recognition. As respondents learn more about the policies and styles of the various candidates, their opinions about them may change. Polls claim no validity other than what would happen if the election were on the day they were taken. Many voters don’t even tune-in until the campaign is well under way–though in this election, online social media may shorten this time for some respondents. In general elections, voters have the party identification of the candidates to help them make their minds up. This is not the case in primary elections–however, labels such as conservative, very conservative, social conservative, moderate, liberal, socialist, right, and left, to name a few, may get attached to some of the hopefuls and influence candidate selection.
Q. Why all the “hate” online posts. Can’t voters respect their opponents even while supporting others?
A. I’m not sure how much this has changed over the history of our country. Some of the early and venerated campaigns, such as that between the life-long friends John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were pretty vicious, with claims of false slandering commonplace. Surely the tones set by the candidates will affect the online words of their supporters. There is a tendency to demonize the “other” party’s candidate. Consider how high Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings were while she was Secretary of State. Once she became not only a candidate for the nomination, but the presumed Democratic candidate for president, some Republican voters’ favorable opinions of her immediately changed. Forget the scandals. Those conveniently pop-up in virtually every campaign. For some, once a person becomes the “other” party’s nominee, they become the object of “hate” and scorn. That’s just the way of partisan politics. It happens election after election.