POLITICS
09/10/2013 05:22 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Reviewing The Syria Polls, Day Two

AP

The Syria pollnado* continues for a second day, and Americans remain opposed to a U.S. airstrike there. New Yorkers go to the polls. And a pollster smells something fishy in PPP's random interview discard methodology. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

*hat tip: Scott Clement.

SYRIA POLLING, PART TWO - Yesterday’s newsletter summarized the release of seven polls addressing the situation in Syria, nearly all taken before new developments including a Russian proposal for Syria’s government to surrender its chemical weapons. Since then, six additional surveys have been released:

CBS/New York Times - Mark Landler and Megan Thee-Brenan: “The poll underscores a steady shift in public opinion about the proper American role in the world, as fatigue from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has made people less open to intervening in the world’s trouble spots and more preoccupied with economic travails at home. In the Syrian crisis, 6 in 10 Americans oppose airstrikes, according to the poll, with similar majorities saying they fear military action could enmesh the United States in another long engagement in the Middle East and would increase the terrorist threat to Americans. But the antipathy to foreign engagement extends beyond the current crisis. Sixty-two percent of the people polled said the United States should not take a leading role in trying to solve foreign conflicts, while only 34 percent said it should. In April 2003, a month after American troops marched into Iraq, 48 percent favored a leading role, while 43 percent opposed it.” [New York Times]

Fox News - Dana Blanton: “As President Obama gets ready to address the nation on Syria on Tuesday, a majority of voters say the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens. Even so, most say the United States should stay out of that country’s civil war. A Fox News poll released Monday also finds disapproval of Obama’s handling of Syria has jumped to 60 percent, up from 40 percent in May. And more voters describe him as a “weak and indecisive leader” on foreign policy (48 percent) than a “strong and decisive leader” (42 percent).” [Fox]

United Technologies/National Journal - Ronald Brownstein: “As the president prepares to make his case in a nationally televised address, the survey found that opposition to intervention in Syria largely transcends the partisan, racial, age, and regional boundaries that fracture the public on almost all other major issues. Not only do solid majorities of Republicans and independents oppose the use of force against Syria but so does a strong plurality of Democrats, according to the poll. Only a meager 13 percent of those polled--including just one-fifth of Democrats--say Obama should strike Syria anyway if Congress does not approve.” [National Journal]

NBC/WSJ - Mark Murray: “Opposition to military action only has grown since the president first sought approval from Congress and since the administration began waging an intense campaign to win congressional support. Congress is expected to vote on authorization this week but the timing is uncertain. And in another sign suggesting the public’s reluctance to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war, almost three-quarters of respondents agree with the statement that the United States should focus more on its domestic problems than promoting democracy and freedom abroad.” [NBC]

Reason/Rupe - Emily Ekins: “President Barack Obama’s standing on foreign policy has taken such a hit that the latest Reason-Rupe poll finds 64 percent of Americans, including 68 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats, believe President Obama’s handling of foreign policy is worse than, or the same as, former President George W. Bush’s handling of foreign policy….Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of Americans say striking Syria is not necessary to protect America's credibility and national security, while 26 percent say a strike is necessary. On the broad issue of foreign policy, 35 percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing, whereas 58 percent disapprove.”
[Reason]

Gallup - Frank Newport: “President Barack Obama's job approval rating on handling foreign affairs remains low, at 42%, although no lower than it was in June or August of this year. Thirty-one percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the situation in Syria, the first time Gallup has measured the president's approval rating on this issue….Although he has a low approval rating for handling the Syrian situation in particular, his rating on handling foreign affairs has not moved since June. Additionally, the public's perceptions of him on a series of key characteristics relating to leadership and government management have not changed in recent months.” [Gallup]

NEW YORK HEADS TO THE POLLS HuffPost will have live results here starting when the polls close at 9 p.m. EDT. Some thoughts on today’s mayoral and comptroller contests:

Will DeBlasio avoid a runoff? Harry Enten: "The question is whether or not he'll actually get to the magic 40%, to win outright in the first round. With De Blasio at 36%, 38%, and 39% in recently released polls, and with somewhere between 8% and 10% of voters undecided, it seems quite possible that he'll make it – should the undecided vote break his way. I still urge caution. In the last five competitive mayoral primaries, one of the two leading contenders received what they polled in pre-election polls but got no more. The other leading contender picked up the vast majority of undecideds. Normally, it's the leading candidate of color who picks up the most support. The complicating factor is that Thompson is trailing among blacks by 10pt to 15pt, depending on the survey. So, who knows if history will hold?" [Guardian]

Are polls underestimating Spitzer’s support? Dan Amira wonders if some voters who back Spitzer are uncomfortable telling pollsters they support the philandering former governor: “The Spitzer Effect, let's call it, would presumably be most prominent in phone interviews with real live humans, as opposed to automated phone polls. And, indeed, of the three comptroller race polls conducted in the past week, Spitzer's best numbers come from PPP's robopoll….Unlike Spitzer, Anthony Weiner is far out of contention in his race, but the same polling phenomenon would apply to him as much or even more so than it would to Spitzer. If both Weiner and Spitzer outperform the polls, that might be a good indication that the Spitzer Effect is real.” [New York magazine]

LOOKING AT PPP’S ‘BAFFLING’ DISCARD PROCESS - B.J. Martino: “While [PPP’s pollsters] claim to engage in the discard process as a kind of retroactive quota to account for more older, white women in their sample, it was the discards among the non-“older white women” that made me curious. That is, any respondent who was not meeting all criteria of being age 46+, white and female. I downloaded the data from all their 2012 surveys for Daily Kos/SEIU, and compared the sample of non-”older white women” within the unweighted released data as well as the discarded data. At least from the first six surveys I have looked at, there appears to be a consistent difference in the partisan composition of the released data and the discarded data for this group. In every case, the released data for this group was net Democratic in Party ID (Unw D-R), and the discarded data was net Republican (Dis D-R)....My thought is that they are getting too Republican a sample in this group because they never dial cell phones.” Columbia's Andrew Gelman adds: "I remain amazed that anyone would think it’s a good idea to throw away survey interviews that have already been conducted." [Monkey Cage]

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

-PPP finds Kay Hagan leading her Republican challengers in North Carolina. [PPP]

-Presidential speeches do little to move the needle on public support, Drew DeSilver finds. [Pew Research]

-Americans are increasingly concerned about their privacy rights. [AP]

-Two professors examine the limits of polling on the importance of issues. [Pacific Standard]

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