Tag Archives: seniors

Combatting the Polling Problem

In addition to fixing a clearly broken brand and attracting more voters, Republicans need to address getting blind-sided by their own internal polling:

In the weeks before Election Day, both Republicans and Democrats were nervous about their poll numbers. Both sides of the aisle have smart pollsters, they reasoned, so how could the numbers that Democrats were seeing diverge so sharply from the numbers the Republicans were seeing? Deep down, I wrote at the time, both parties secretly worried that their side was missing the boat.

What went wrong:

“Everyone thought the election was going to be close. How did [Republicans] not know we were going to get our ass kicked?” lamented Rob Jesmer, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “I don’t understand how we didn’t know. That’s the part that’s most puzzling and frustrating and embarrassing.”

The underlying causes of the errant numbers are the assumptions that the pollsters made about the nature of the electorate. Most pollsters believed the electorate would look something like the voters who turned out in 2008, just with slightly lower numbers of African-Americans, younger people, and Hispanics heading to the polls.

But exit polls actually showed a much more diverse electorate than the one forecast. Black turnout stayed consistent with 2008, Hispanic turnout was up, and younger voters made up a higher percentage of the electorate than they had four years ago. White voters made up 72 percent of the electorate, according to the exits, down 2 points from 2008 and a continuation of the two-decade long decline in their share of the electorate.

That meant that even though Mitt Romney scored 59 percent of the white vote — a higher percentage than George W. Bush won in 2000 and 2004, higher than Ronald Reagan in 1980 and matching George H.W. Bush’s 1988 score, when he won 426 electoral votes in 40 states — it wasn’t enough to overcome the 80 percent support that Obama scored among nonwhite voters.


Pollsters should fix voter screens, used to weed out of their samples irregular voters who aren’t likely to vote. Including only likely voters often leads to a more Republican-heavy sample. But in an era of fine-tuned turnout machines and get-out-the-vote drives, even those irregular voters are likely to show up. Polling all registered voters, rather than those most likely to make it to the polls, would at least give Republicans an idea of the worst-case scenario.

Pollsters should also control more for age, gender, and race than for party identification. One prominent party pollster pointed to a late survey conducted for Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock that showed him leading Democrat Joe Donnelly by 2 points. That survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, showed that 56 percent of Indiana’s electorate would be over age 55. Exit polls revealed that number to be vastly overstated; only 43 percent of the electorate was over 50.

The party-identification question gets to the heart of another misperception that pollsters make. Tell almost anyone that Romney would have won self-identified independent voters by 5 points and logic would dictate that Romney would win a clear victory. But Democratic pollsters say that metric is flawed, and that many Republicans remain so disaffected by their own party that they refuse to identify with it. Instead, some say that pollsters should look at self-described ideology, rather than party identification. Indeed, Obama beat Romney among the 41 percent of voters who call themselves moderate by 15 points.

Pollsters also recognize that Americans’ daily routines are changing, something that has an impact on their surveys. About one-third of all households do not have a landline, according to the National Health Interview Survey, meaning that a significant swath of the electorate is available to pollsters only by cell phone. The percentage of younger Americans who don’t have a landline is almost double that. Pollsters who don’t include a sufficient number of cell-phone respondents in their surveys risk missing out on younger voters — voters most likely to back Democrats, thus skewing polls to the right.

About that Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — Seniors, Youth, Hispanics

Over the weekend Chuck Todd pointed out what regular readers of this blog have known all along: President Obama’s 2008 coalition is both less supportive and less enthusiastic than they were in 2008. In a Politico Battleground poll today the same enthusiasm trends shine through.  What is even worse for Obama about these figures, is they are all before the disastrous debate performance:

Well, it’s simply an enthusiasm gap. And we’re seeing it across the board. Look at here in this first one. 79% of Republicans call themselves extremely interested in this election. On a scale of one to ten, that means they said they’re a nine or a ten on interest in the election. 73% of Democrats.

Look at four years ago. It was a 13 point gap in favor of the Democrats. Let me go through some various voting groups. This is an important voting group. Seniors are an important voting group to Mitt Romney now. He leads them by about 10 points in our NBC Wall Street Journal poll. Look at this in engagement in the election. Four years ago was 81%, pretty higher. Even higher this time at 87%. And Romney’s doing better among seniors than McCain did.

Let me go to an important voting group for the president, young voters. Look at this engagement level: 52% now they call themselves, voters 18 to 34, call themselves extremely interested in this election. Four years ago it was 72%. That 20 gap. The president wins young voters by huge margins. He’s winning them by some 20-plus points. [ed.- but down from 34 pts in 2008] But if you don’t have this kind of enthusiasm, they’re not going to show up to the polls.

And then let me give you this last one here, because this is, I think, the most important one. And that’s Hispanics. The President’s winning Hispanics by 50 points. He hit the 70% mark. However, look at this in terms of interest in the election. 59% now, it was 77%. What does that mean? President got 65%, I believe, of Hispanics four years ago.

So even though he’s going to get more Hispanics, if less of them turn out, it’s a net zero. And yet, you look at Republican enthusiasm, up, senior enthusiasm, up. It’s a huge problem. And by the way, all of this, pre-debate.

Paul Ryan’s Impact on Battleground State Seniors — Definite Plus to No Impact

In the immediate aftermath of Paul Ryan’s selection as Romney’s VP, the Obama re-election team in the media televised and wrote countless ominous stories about Ryan  having a meaningful negative impact the Romney campaign, going so far as to write off some battleground states.  We immediately told you those stories were complete bunk and every poll since then has confirmed this.  We’ll set aside the controversial Foster McCollum poll for now and look at just the Seniors vote in this morning’s Democrat over-sampled Quinnipiac polls.

In Florida, where we showed the sampling to be a Democrat wave meaningfully higher than 2008, Seniors preferred Romney-Ryan by 13 points 55 to 42.  In 2008 Seniors voted for John McCain by 8 points 53 to 45.  So a five point bump among seniors in a poll that over-samples Democrats.

In Ohio, where the sampling matched 2008’s Democrat wave that isn’t going to be repeated, Seniors preferred Romney-Ryan by 8 points 52 to 44.  In 2008 Seniors voted for John  McCain by 11 points 55 to 44. That’s a 3-point drop both within the margin of error and reflective of the Dem over-sampling.

In Wisconsin, where the sampling was nominally below the 2008 Democrat wave, Seniors preferred Romney-Ryan by 2 points 49 to 47. In 2008, seniors were perfectly split 50-50, so a 2-point bump for Romney -Ryan.

The bottom line is the Paul Ryan impact on seniors is a net positive with momentum shading towards being a decided positive based on the likely voter identification on election day in November — completely contrary to what the media was breathlessly telling you in the immediate aftermath of his selection.

Seniors Love Paul Ryan, But Your Knew That Already — Washington Post

We saw this recently is the much talked about Foster McCollum poll in Florida, and we blogged the truth immediately after Paul Ryan selection in the face of relentless media smears, but now the Washington Post comes right out and says it — “Seniors ❤ Paul Ryan“:

Grandma isn’t scared of Paul Ryan. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 41 percent of Americans view the new GOP vice presidential nominee favorably, while 37 percent rate him unfavorably — slightly improved from last week’s polling. Among seniors, though, the numbers are even better for Ryan: 50 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable. Fully one-third of seniors say they have a strongly favorable view of the Wisconsin congressman, while one-quarter have a strongly unfavorable view.

The numbers suggest Democrats’ attempts to turn Ryan’s Medicare proposal against the GOP haven’t stuck yet among the most pivotal group: seniors. If a Medicare attack was working, after all, seniors would likely be the first group to start deserting Ryan.

Ryan’s Medicare plan, of course, isn’t designed to affect current seniors; it would turn the entitlement into a voucher program for future beneficiaries, starting in 2023. But that doesn’t mean Democrats haven’t tried to use it for leverage with elderly voters — a reliable and important voting group in the 2012 election — and one that generally favors the GOP.

This poll states the obvious — both the Democrats smears and the Obama water-carriers in the media have grossly failed thus far despite their best efforts.  Expect both groups to double down over the coming months.

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