Poll Shows Romney up Huge with Seniors — Foster McCollum White & Associates

UPDATE: Be sure to read the first comment below.  It is from the President of Foster McCollum explaining in great detail their poll weighting that was not reflected in the disproportionate sample sized mentioned in my post as well as other trends they are finding.  There is a ton of additional data in that comment. In brief, according to Mr. Foster:

Based on the respondent universes, we made the adjustment weight for the five underrepresented groups. Even though our model projects a lower turnout among primarily voters under 50, we weighted the voters ages 18 to 30 at 12% of the possible election universe and voters ages 31 to 50 at 15%, for a total of 27%.

Additional factors within our cross tabs relate to the shift in Obama’s fortunes in the state:
• White Women – He is losing both in Florida and in our Michigan poll
• People ages 31 to 50 – He won this group handily in 2008, but with the economic challenges and housing struggles, this group is more disenchanted then before.
• Florida Latino voters – the Cuba community seems to be coming home to the Republican party.
• People don’t understand Obama’s plan to Ryan’s plan – Paul Ryan has provided Mitt Romney with cover for lacking details about his economic and budget plans. People can at least understand and make sense of what Ryan wants to change about Government. President Obama’s plan still seems vague to most voters. It isn’t in clear easy to understand bullet points.
• Joe Biden – Biden is not helping Obama with white men, Catholics and seniors anymore. His verbal missteps takes the Obama campaign off message.

Update II: Please take a second and check out my thoughts on the track record of polling firm Foster McCollum White & Associates.

Begin original post:
We have seen polling from Foster McCollum previously and identified the group as a Democrat polling firm.  At the time they showed Obama with a 1-point lead in Michigan which was in-line with multiple other polling in Michigan.  Today’s poll, however, is an enormous outlier relative to other polling in Florida. In the survey Romney leads by 15-points over President Obama in Florida.  But underneath this incredible headline result we see many problems with the make-up of respondents.

The major discrepancy is the age breakdown of voters.  Florida is a retirement haven for many seniors which skews the state polling disproportionately higher in age breakdown relative to the nation.  But this poll was 63.54% aged 66+ and 1.33% were 18 to 30.   Florida may be old, but not that old. Based on 2008 exit polls, the Youth vote made up 15% of the electorate in Florida while Seniors made up 22%. These two groups were hugely disparate in their preferences in 2008.  In a state where Obama won by 3 percentage points, Seniors in Florida voted in favor of John McCain by 8 points (63 to 45) while the youth vote was strongly in favor of Obama by 24 points, 61 to 37. So this survey seriously over-samples Seniors — a staunch Republican demographic while undersampling the Youth vote — a staunchly Democrat demographic.

Biasing the poll towards Obama, the gender breakdown in the poll was 57.62% women and 42.38% men.  In 2008 both demographics voted for Obama by 3-5 percentage points, but today men skew heavily for Romney while women skew heavily towards Obama.

The party ID was Dem 38%, Rep 41% (or R +3).  In 2008 the party ID was Dem +3 and in 2004 it was Rep +4.

The race breakdown also over-represented white and under-represented Blacks and Hispanics.

Based on the over-weighting of seniors as well as ethnicity problems, the only salient takeaway from this poll is that the Romney addition of Ryan to the ticket is hugely popular with seniors — contrary to relentless mainstream media misrepresentations that say otherwise

2 Comments

  1. Posted August 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hello.

    My name is Eric Foster, President of Foster McCollum White & Associates. I am the lead pollster for our firm and I wanted to clear up a couple of items that may create some confusion in our polling release.

    First, our polling call list was weighted to the historical weights for age, gender, race, region and congressional district area. Our list is also comprised of voters with previous voting histories in Presidential, state and local elections. We include the moderate and low performance voters, but the call files do contain a significant portion of voters who have a likely history to participate. We do not call voters who have never participated in elections but are registered.

    When we call through the list, we report the demographics of the respondents. We viewed the respondents to our data models for Florida and also considered the recent spike in Presidential election rates for the younger age groups and the representative portion that each group makes up of the registered voting base.
    Our PVBA model reviews election statistics for age, gender, voting participation pattern, gender and socio-economic factors to determine the likely voting universe for an upcoming election. Our turnout models are based on state based historical turnout statistics provided by the county clerks and secretaries of state’s office for age, gender, party, ethnicity and voting method (early, absentee, poll location) instead of exit polls. We trust the reliability of the election stats from the clerks to give us value data reads on future elections. For example, our PVBA model for the Primary election in Wayne County Michigan (the largest voting county in Michigan.) was within 0.316% of the actual August 7, 2012 primary. We projected a total county turnout of 246,299 voters for all 43 communities including Detroit and net actual turnout was 245,450 (after spoiled ballots were discounted for partisan contest). Florida’s base of high performing voters for a presidential and gubernatorial election is significantly older. The moderate and low performance voting demographics skew heavy towards the younger age groups. The impact of changing the rules for early voting and a general excitement gap among younger voters could produce a result where a minimum of 70% of Florida’s voters are over the age of 51. It is a trend line that we will continue to monitor. Based on the respondent universes, we made the adjustment weight for the five underrepresented groups. Even though our model projects a lower turnout among primarily voters under 50, we weighted the voters ages 18 to 30 at 12% of the possible election universe and voters ages 31 to 50 at 15%, for a total of 27%. Re-elections for Democrats tend to draw fewer younger and Minority voters then their initial election, per our historical analysis models. We believe that these groups tend to feel that they accomplished the major task of placing their change agent candidate into office and those they should have built enough of a base to sustain themselves.

    Our call file was reflective of the projected weight of Florida voters by race. The fact that the unweighted demographics were lower than expected reflects a possible enthusiasm gap for Democrats with these voting group. Additionally, we found that Obama is trailing among Hispanic voters. Our methods are based in solid historical analytics versus exit polling. The interest of voting groups to participate must be taken into account and we report based on what the respondent identify as their selections to the questions.
    Additional factors within our cross tabs relate to the shift in Obama’s fortunes in the state:
    • White Women – He is losing both in Florida and in our Michigan poll
    • People ages 31 to 50 – He won this group handily in 2008, but with the economic challenges and housing struggles, this group is more disenchanted then before.
    • Florida Latino voters – the Cuba community seems to be coming home to the Republican party.
    • People don’t understand Obama’s plan to Ryan’s plan – Paul Ryan has provided Mitt Romney with cover for lacking details about his economic and budget plans. People can at least understand and make sense of what Ryan wants to change about Government. President Obama’s plan still seems vague to most voters. It isn’t in clear easy to understand bullet points.
    • Joe Biden – Biden is not helping Obama with white men, Catholics and seniors anymore. His verbal missteps takes the Obama campaign off message.

    • Posted August 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to explain in greater detail some of the concerns with the poll. I have tried to reflect those comments, albeit briefly, in the post. I look froward to your future polls in this hotly contested election.

6 Trackbacks

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