08/13/2013 06:41 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Bill de Blasio Leads In New NYC Primary Poll


A new poll shows a new leader in the NYC mayoral race, as the television ad wars there begin in earnest. And even the rain can't knock Cory Booker from front runner status for tonight's Senate primary in New Jersey. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, August 13, 2013.

DE BLASIO LEADS NEW NYC MAYORAL POLL - HuffPost: “New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio leads the Democratic primary field for the city's 2013 mayoral elections, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Among likely Democratic voters, de Blasio took 30 percent of the vote, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 24 percent, former comptroller Bill Thompson at 22 percent, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) at 10 percent, comptroller John Liu at 6 percent and former council member Sal Albanese at 1 percent. Another 7 percent was undecided. De Blasio also held the lead in three potential runoff scenarios, beating Quinn by 54 percent to 38 percent, Thompson by 50 percent to 40 percent, and Weiner by a whopping 72 percent to 22 percent. But voters' choices are hardly set in stone: 34 percent, including 37 percent who backed de Blasio, said there was a good chance they'd change their minds.” [HuffPost], Quinnipiac release]

Poll follows de Blasio TV ad launch - The field dates of the Quinnipiac poll (August 7 to 12) align almost perfectly with the launch of paid television advertising by the de Blasio campaign, which debuted in the news media on August 7 and began airing on August 8. Kantar Media CMAG, a company that tracks television advertising for political campaigns and corporations, confirms to HuffPollster that de Blasio's initial run of broadcast advertising was heavy enough to be noticed by ordinary viewers. Previously, only Quinn's campaign had been airing broadcast advertising. Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner's campaign began airing its first spot on Monday, and Thompson has not yet aired broadcast ads. [see HuffPost & NYTimes on de Blasio's ad, MSNBC on Weiner's first ad]

Second strong showing in Quinnipiac poll - Keep in mind that de Blasio had slightly more support on the previous Quinnipiac poll (21 percent) than on surveys conducted by other pollsters before de Blasio's ads started running (17 percent on the one-night Marist/WSJ/NBC 4 poll in late July and 14 percent on the Siena/New York Times poll in early August). So there may be a small pro-de Blasio house effect at work in the most recent survey, or perhaps Quinnipiac's polls have picked up a trend others have missed.

Pollster chart is skeptical, for now - The classic Pollster chart uses a regression model (known as "loess") to smooth out the mostly random variation in all available public polls. For better or worse, it more or less ignores the occasional poll that produces what appears to be an outlier result and, for the moment at least, the algorithm smooths away the big jump for de Blasio measured by the last two Quinnipiac polls (partly because the Siena poll in between showed no such jump). This "skepticism" is statistical, and not a judgement about the quality or accuracy of the most recent surveys. The chart will adjust quickly should other surveys produce similar results. [Full Pollster chart, with Quinnipiac poll highlighted]

Harry Enten is also skeptical - @ForecasterEnten: “Last week, Siena had de Blasio at 19% among whites. This week Q-Pac has him at 39%. Cud be real or not. Heck of a jump if it is tho.” Before the Quinnipiac release this afternoon, Enten dismissed de Blasio’s chances: “Somewhere near 30% of the primary electorate will be African Americans. White males will comprise only a little more than 15% of the vote. White males who aren't Jewish will number even fewer. Thompson has a natural ethnic voter base that De Blasio cannot match. De Blasio has been doing best among white liberals, unsurprisingly. His two best percentages in the recent Marist poll were among whites and Manhattanites, despite his being from Brooklyn. The issue is that there are just not enough of these voters....Now, De Blasio is close to Thompson and historical precedent is made to be broken, but the evidence suggests that Thompson is more likely to make it.” [Guardian]

Cat memes, however, approve. [Tumblr]

DOES WEATHER AFFECT TURNOUT? - It rained in Newark and much of New Jersey Tuesday morning, leading some to speculate about the impact of the weather on turnout in tonight’s New Jersey Senate primaries. The folklore has it that storms matter. Consider the 2002 "Election Night" episode of The West Wing, in which a young campaign manager wills a rainstorm in an effort to depress turnout for their opponent. Other characters in the fictional account go on to explain: "In the 47th, Horton Wilde, who's dead, is losing by 88 votes. It was a perfect storm... . Low Republican turnout because the President won the Midwest. Low supporter turnout because Webb didn't have an opponent, and the DNC gave up on it a week ago, so the RNC left town, and they never saw the exits your guy Will Bailey was seeing...Plus, there was an actual storm." (Aside: Exit polls in a congressional race capable of accurately forecasting a margin of a few hundred votes or less? That's definitely fiction)[YouTube, West Wing Community Guide]

Maybe it does, a little - HuffPollster asked our political scientist friends on Twitter for citations to any studies that might confirm the folklore. They suggested two. The first, published in 2007 by Brad Gomez, Thomas Hansford and George Krause examined "meteorological data drawn from over 22,000 U.S. weather stations" to estimate rain and snow amounts in each county on election day for 14 presidential elections. Their finding: "when compared to normal conditions, rain significantly reduces voter participation by a rate of just less than 1% per inch, while an inch of snowfall decreases turnout by almost .5%. Poor weather is also shown to benefit the Republican party's vote share." [Journal of Politics, gated]

But not for close contests - A second study, published in 2011 by Bernard Fraga and Eitan Hersh, questioned the assumption that any such effects would be comparable in competitive and non-competitive races. Their conclusion: "while rain decreases turnout on average, it does not do so in competitive elections." So could the weather affect the outcome of Tuesday's Democratic primary contest for U.S. Senate? Given the magnitude of Cory Booker's lead in pre-election polls, it's extremely unlikely. [Quarterly Journal of Political Science, gated; thanks to @kwcollins @prowag @RyanDEnos @dwilc @NatalieMJ84 & @ElectProject for their comments on Twitter]

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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Jennifer Agiesta says horse race polling on the 2016 election is meaningless. [AP]

-Nate Cohn lays out the numbers behind his prediction that Texas won’t go blue. [TNR]

-Sean Trende begins a new three-part series by asking, "what if elections are simply random?" [RCP]

-Harry Enten isn't buying the de Blasio boomlet theories on the NYC mayor's race. [Guardian]

-PPP finds Kay Hagan leading several possible Republican challengers. [PPP]

-White Californians favor basing college admissions on grades and test scores -- unless they’re told how well Asians do on those metrics. [Inside Higher Ed]

-Craig Charney explains his work as a "crisis pollster." [Time]