08/14/2013 05:44 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Spitzer Holds Wide Lead In Comptroller's Race


Eliot Spitzer's early advertising seems to have given him a boost in the New York City comptroller's race. Skepticism abounds about the potential of Twitter mentions to predict election outcomes. And on that note, congratulations to Bo Obama on his status as 2016 frontrunner. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, August 14, 2013.

SPITZER LEADS IN COMPTROLLER POLL - Quinnipiac: “With no gender gap and a lead among black voters of more than 3--1, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer tops Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 56 - 37 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in the race for New York City comptroller, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today....With four weeks until the primary, 68 percent of Spitzer voters and 74 percent of Stringer voters say they definitely will vote for the candidate they name today.” Quinnipiac]

Gain follows big TV buy - The Quinnipiac poll, conducted over the past week, comes after Spitzer has spent over $2 million dollars on television advertising through August 5, while his opponent had yet to air broadcast advertising. Last week, CNN's Peter Hanby wrote: "Spitzer, who is financing his own campaign, has had the television airwaves to himself for roughly two weeks in an effort to define the campaign on his own terms before commercial breaks become swamped with ad buys from the city's many mayoral candidates." By comparison, according to a New York Times report, Stringer had spent "about $173,000" on his campaign, "including $101,800 on polling." Kantar Media CMAG, a company that tracks television advertising for political campaigns and corporations, confirms to HuffPollster that Spitzer still had the airwaves to himself as of Wednesday morning. [CNN, NYTimes]

But three weeks left - Last week's fundraising filings showed that Stringer had $4.6 million yet to spend in his campaign account. On Wednesday, according to the NY Daily News, the Stringer campaign previewed its first television advertisement: "Stringer’s ad, entitled 'Making it,' is set to hit the airwaves Thursday morning and is the first of several ads the campaign will run between now and the September 10 primary. The ad for Stringer — the Manhattan Borough President — will air on all seven local television channels as well as cable, a spokeswoman said." Several "Super PAC" committees have also been formed, though their promised flood of anti-Spitzer advertising has yet to materialize. But regardless of what the anti-Spitzer groups do, the final three weeks of the campaign will be different than the last month. The big question for poll watchers is whether a more competitive campaign -- in which voters see and hear the messages from both sides and not just from Spitzer -- will alter preferences in the comptroller's race. [Daily News on Stringer ads , anti-Spitzer Super PACs]

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR’S APPROVAL CONTINUES TO FALL - HuffPost: “North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has seen his approval decline sharply since this spring, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Just 39 percent of North Carolina voters approve of McCrory's work, while 51 percent disapprove, according to the poll -- a record low for the first-term governor. In a May PPP survey, McCrory had a 48 percent approval rating....A majority of voters also said it was inappropriate for McCrory to offer cookies to abortion rights protesters.” [HuffPost]

SOCIOLOGIST DISCUSSES HIS SYSTEM FOR PREDICTING ELECTIONS THROUGH TWEETS - Robert Siegel: “Is the political poll a 20th century dinosaur lumbering toward extinction to the accompaniment of triumphant tweets? Well, a team at Indiana University says you can predict election results just as well by mining Twitter for the names of candidates as you can by polling. They examined a sample of just over a half a billion tweets from August through October 2010.” [NPR]

Stuart Rothenberg is skeptical - “Since House re-election rates have been over 90 percent in 19 of the past 23 elections, you don’t need polls or tweet counts to predict the overwhelming majority of race outcomes. In most cases, all you need to know is incumbency (or the district’s political bent) and the candidates’ parties to predict who will win. So, it’s possible that tweet counts simply reflect — and are a function of — existing name recognition, which is crucial in races where one candidate has it and the other doesn’t. But other than that, the idea that the content of tweets is irrelevant, and that it doesn’t matter if the tweets originate from inside a district or from people who cannot even vote in the race, seems to fly in the face of logic and everything that political scientists believe....Technology and new media are hot topics, of course, and everyone in the media strives to be the first one to discover some new trend or truth. But Twitter can’t predict elections just yet, and it can’t cure cancer either.” [Roll Call]

As is HuffPost’s Jason Linkins - “Can Twitter help predict an election? Please, please, let the answer be ‘no.’...Lots of people who write tweets about candidates are writing negative things about those candidates. Surely that makes raw "tweet share" completely useless as a measurement, right? But Rojas says that it doesn't matter if the message is positive or negative....Well, then, congratulations to the next Mayor of New York City, Anthony Weiner!” [HuffPost]

And Researchologist’s Mike Donatello - “In the opinion and marketing research communities, resource constraints are resulting in social media measurement being substituted for more rigorous and projectable methods of research. Most advocates of the swap probably don’t understand the implications of their advocacy or, if they do, don’t particularly care whether the resulting research product is of quality.” [Researchologist]

And other members of the Twitterverse

-GMU’s Michael McDonald: “Twitter can be used to predict election outcomes...but it can't tell you how to win. Still need polling for that.” [@ElectProject]

-MassINC’s Steve Koczela: “.@ElectProject I would say ‘could have been used to predict outcomes in one election cycle’ rather than the more general statement.” [@skoczela]

-WaPost’s Jon Cohen: “For those taking new, "real-time" assessment that @Twitter could have predicted 2010 House races, recall Pres. Paul http://t.co/Curb8oYGJ2” [@jcpolls]

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

-Sean Trende reviews survey evidence that Republicans are not really out of step ideologically. [RCP]

-Nate Cohn argues that while the NC voter ID law will have a "disparate impact" on Democratic voters, the growth of the non-white share of the electorate will be greater. [New Republic]

-Ross Barkin examines the battle for African American votes in the New York City mayor's race. [Politicker]

-Alan Abramowitz and Ruey Teixeira reminds Robert Putnam that the late 50's were not "the good ol' days" for progressives. [Think Progress]

-Alan Reifman reviews state level polls on Medicaid expansion. [Health Care Polls]

-Study finds BMW drivers are more prone to road rage. [WSJ, via @vavreck]

-Matt Ortega ‘unskews’ a chart of presidential vacation days. [@MattOrtega]