Category Archives: National politics

North Carolina’s racial divide

Much of the early punditry said that African American voters weren’t quite as fired up for President Obama as they were in 2008. That could be true in some parts of the country, but it doesn’t appear to be the case in North Carolina.

In the latest Elon University Poll, 88% of African American likely voters said they were going to vote for Obama to only 2% for Gov. Romney. The racial divide is stark. Among white likely voters, 59% prefer Romney and 33% prefer Obama.

“Survey results and official statistics suggest that black turnout is on pace to match 2008 numbers,” said poll director Ken Fernandez.

Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage, which many black churches oppose, doesn’t seem to have hurt him.

— John Robinson

State polls or national polls?

“There have been plenty of elections before when the outcome was highly uncertain down the stretch run or on Election Day itself. But I am not sure that there has been one where different types of polls pointed in opposite directions. Anyone in my business who is not a bit terrified by this set of facts is either lying to himself — or he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

That’s Nate Silver, host of the influential FiveThirtyEight blog of the New York Times. He explains the issues surrounding national polls that say one thing and state polls that indicate another.

— John Robinson

Who won the VP debate?

The real results to that question won’t be known for awhile (if ever). But overnight results are in.

CBS: 50% of uncommitted voters gave it to Vice President Joe Biden and 31% said Rep. Paul Ryan won. (19% said it was a tie.) “The percentage of voters who say they believe they can relate to Biden spiked from 34 percent before the debate to 55 percent; 48 percent think Ryan is relatable, up from 31 percent before the debate.”

CNN: Among voters, it went 48% Ryan, 44% Biden, (within the margin of error). “Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan’s 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.”

What does it mean? Well, not a whole lot. But satirist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker had one faux pollster’s take: “In a poll of Democratic voters taken immediately following Thursday night’s Vice-Presidential debate, a wide majority said they wanted Vice-President Joe Biden to appear in all remaining 2012 debates.”

— John Robinson

Stop polling in North Carolina? Never!

The president of Suffolk University Political Research Center made a bit of a splash earlier this week when he said that the center had stopped polling in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida — three swing states.

 “I think in places like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, we’ve already painted those red,” David Paleologos said. “We’re focusing on the remaining states.”

He later told Huffington Post: Paleologos said that Obama has consistently polled at 47 percent of the vote in the three states, making a win for him “not impossible, but highly improbable,” especially in North Carolina. The state, which Obama carried in 2008, is currently trending red, and several pollsters agree that it’s one of the strongest battleground states for Romney.”

The good folks at the Huffington Post asked Elon University Poll Director Ken Fernandez his thoughts.

“We’ve seen the lead changes in North Carolina a dozen times and results have almost always been within the margin of error. I don’t think you will see many well-funded polling organizations pulling out of North Carolina, Florida, or Virginia,” he said.

Fernandez noted that pollsters with limited time and money might choose to focus on different states, but “it seems premature to make a methodological decision based on a single campaign event and poll change,” he said.

Fernandez pointed to 1948, when Gallup stopped polling two weeks before the election and predicted that Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry Truman. “When you make such a decision with incomplete information, you are increasing your chances of being wrong, very wrong.”

The Elon University Poll isn’t abandoning North Carolina. It goes into the field with another statewide poll later this month.

— John Robinson

Who won the debate?

Who won last night’s presidential debate?

Overnight polls say Gov. Romney in a landslide.

CNN— “…67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious….While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.”

CBS“…46 percent of voters gave the economy-centric debate to Romney, 22 percent said they believed the president was the winner, and 32 percent called it a tie. More good news for the GOP nominee: 56 percent of those polled said they viewed Romney in a better light after watching the debate.”

And an analysis from the New York Times’ Nate Silver: “There is not a lot of empirical research on the relationship between instant reaction polls and their eventual effect on the head-to-head polls. However, these were strong numbers for Mr. Romney where comparisons to past post-debate polls are available”

His conclusion on the FiveThirtyEight blog: “My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount.”

— John Robinson

 

Where do you stand?

In our polling last month, most people seemed pretty firm about which presidential candidate they planned to vote for. But is their allegiance based on party, on politics, on positions or something else?

Pew Research Center has a 12-question survey that might help you determine the answer to that. It’s fun, easy and you can see where you fit with others who have taken it. You may surprise yourself.

Cash and presidential politics

Most Americans, like most North Carolinians, don’t care for all the money flowing into the election process. “More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections”

In the April Elon University Poll, most North Carolina residents said the unions should restrict the amount of money that corporations, associations and individuals can give to campaigns.

But we are a fickle bunch when it comes to government authority and reach.

Most Americans think the government is doing too much, according to our friends at Gallup. “A majority of Americans (54%) continue to believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, although that is down from the record high of 61% earlier this summer.”

Meanwhile, the presidential race is coming to North Carolina with a passion. Both the Charlotte Observer and the News & Record in Greensboro document both the ground game and the visits by outsiders politicking for their candidate.

Seems the state is still considered a battleground.

An added note: The Charlotte Observer writes about polling in North Carolina. The Elon University Poll isn’t mentioned — the paper’s loss — but the article describes the various differences in types of polls. (The Elon Poll is independent, doesn’t accept contract business and uses humans for its polling!)

— John Robinson

Happy days aren’t here again quite yet

Are you more optimistic about the direction of the country than you were last month? A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that many Americans are, even as most people think the country is still going the wrong way. “The telephone poll, conducted September 7-10, showed 39 percent of Americans believed the country was moving in the right direction, while a still-high 55 percent believed it was on the wrong track.

“The numbers represented a sizable change from August, when 31 percent of those surveyed thought the country was going in the right direction and 64 percent on the wrong track.”

In a separate poll, Pew Research Center reports that Democrats are feeling a bit better about the economy. Republicans? Eh, not so much. “Just 15% of Democrats say recent economic news is mostly bad, down from 31% a month ago and among the lowest percentages over the last four years. Six-in-ten Republicans (60%) say news about the economy is mostly bad, as do 36% of independents. Opinions among Republicans and independents are largely unchanged from a month ago.”

A convention bounce? Pleased with the direction of the stock market? Ignoring the soft employment numbers? Who knows?

— John Robinson

North Carolina is first!

It appears as if the first two votes cast in the 2012 presidential election were cast in North Carolina, thanks to absenttee ballots. Is there significance to that?

No.

But the Huffington Post reports: The number of absentee ballot applications is down by nearly half from 2008. In 2008, election officials had received 37,539 applications compared to 20,695 in 2012, or 45 percent fewer applications. The number of applications from registered Republicans is down more than Democrats, which are also down. The percentage of registered Republicans declined by 55 percent while the percentage of registered Democrats declined 35 percent. Thus registered Republicans composed 51 percent of the earliest absentee ballot applications in 2008 and 42 percent in 2012.

In other news from the world of polling, we present what we hope is the last of the post-convention polls. Gallup reports that Americans liked the Democratic National Convention more than the Republican National Convention.

But:  At the same time, a relatively high 38% of Americans say the convention made them less likely to vote for Obama, resulting in a net impact rating of +5, which is on the low-end of Gallup’s historical comparisons.

And finally, it appears Americans are judging the election as a choice between two candidatesrather than a referendum on President Obama’s first term.

A majority of voters say their opinion of Obama has gotten worse since he took office, the poll found.

Forty-one percent said they have a “much worse” view of Obama now than in 2008; 11 percent said their opinion is “slightly worse,” while 38 percent overall said their view of him had improved.

By contrast, a near-majority of voters — 47 percent — say their view of Romney has improved as they have learned more about him, compared to 39 percent who said their opinion of the GOP candidate has become worse.

Are you excited about your presidential choices?

NBC reports that Democrats are facing an enthusiasm gap this fall. In the Aug. 2012 NBC/WSJ poll, just 52% of voters under 35 and only 49% of Latinos expressed high interest in the upcoming election, which was down about 20 points for both groups at this same point in ’08.

According to the Elon University Poll, likely voters in North Carolina seem pretty excited. Breaking it down, though, 51% of Romney supporters said they are “very excited,” 44% said they are “pretty excited” and 39% said they are “not that excited.” For Obama, it is 47% very excited, 47% pretty excited and 39% not that excited.

To NBC’s point about an enthusiasm gap, in North Carolina, likely voters between 18-30 have the lowest excitement percentages of any age group. And Democrats are, in fact, less excited by the race than Republicans. (Check out the breakdowns in detail on pages 15 and 16.)

Back to NBC: So this is the opportunity that the Democratic convention represents for the Obama camp and Democrats: maybe a final chance to rekindle some of the 2008 magic. If Mitt Romney had to close his likeability gap at last week’s GOP convention, Barack Obama and the Democrats this week have to close the enthusiasm gap.

— John Robinson