02/19/2014 05:09 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: Problems With Polling Hawaii


A new poll in Hawaii provides a reminder of how challenging it can be to survey our 50th state. Gallup finds more Americans now say the Afghanistan war a mistake than say it was not . And Ohio's Republican governor holds a narrow lead against a poorly known challenger. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, February 19, 2014.

IT'S HARD TO POLL HAWAII - Steven Shepard examines the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii poll, linked to in yesterday's HuffPollster, that "brought a raft of surprising findings" such as showing close Democratic primary contests for U.S. Senate and Governor and finding Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie narrowly trailing his Republican challenger: "Just because the results are surprising doesn't mean this poll isn't accurate. But it does serve as a reminder that pollsters face unique challenges in Hawaii. Polling in Hawaii is notoriously tricky. The Aloha State's complex ethnic melting pot makes finding the right sample composition difficult -- especially important when a Caucasian candidate like Schatz or Abercrombie is facing an American of Japanese ancestry (AJA) candidate like Hanabusa or Ige. Ward Research, the Star-Advertiser's pollster, missed the Democratic primary in the state's 2nd congressional district last cycle by a wide margin. Schatz's campaign and other Democrats disputed the poll, which showed Hanabusa ahead, 48 percent to 40 percent. For the primary matchups, Democrats aligned with Schatz's campaign pointed out that 82 percent of all the registered voters surveyed participated in that question, even though far fewer than 82 percent of eligible registered voters are likely to cast ballots in the primary..."The voter file is terrible. It's in terrible shape," said one Democratic pollster with experience in Hawaii. "Nobody's really spent the money to make it good. So that's a problem." [National Journal]

GALLUP: AMERICANS NOW VIEW AFGHAN WAR AS MISTAKE - Frank Newport: "For the first time since the U.S. initially became involved in Afghanistan in 2001, Americans are as likely to say U.S. military involvement there was a mistake as to say it was not. Gallup first asked Americans about U.S. intervention in Afghanistan in November 2001, just after the U.S. sent armed forces into that country in an effort to retaliate against those who had harbored the al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. At that point, fewer than one in 10 Americans said U.S. involvement there was a mistake -- the most positive assessment of any war since Gallup first asked the "mistake" question during the Korean War in 1950...Republicans and independents who lean Republican are significantly less likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began under a Republican president, George W. Bush, but it has continued under Barack Obama, a Democratic president. Therefore, Republicans' higher levels of support may be related to a Republican president's initiation of the war, or an ideological inclination to support military involvement." [Gallup]


Other pollsters find similar trends - In late January, a Pew Research survey found just 51 percent willing to describe the decision to use military force in Afghanistan as "the right decision," the lowest level they have measured to date. Pew found fewer Americans willing to say the use of force was the "wrong decision" (41 percent) than Gallup found willing to describe sending troops as "mistake, though both show the same trend. [Pew Research]

QUINNIPIAC: OHIO'S KASICH NARROWLY LEADS 'UNKNOWN CHALLENGER' - HuffPost: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has a small lead over the potential Democratic candidate for governor, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Kasich leads FitzGerald 43 percent to 38 percent. That's only a slight change from a Quinnipiac poll released in November 2013, which showed Kasich leading FitzGerald by seven points. The new poll shows 51 percent of registered voters approve of Kasich's work as governor, while 36 percent disapprove." The Quinnipiac release notes that Fitzgerald trails by only 5 points despite being "largely unknown;" 70 percent say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion. [HuffPost, Quinnipiac]

EVEN FELONS SHOULDN'T LOSE RIGHT TO VOTE - Emily Swanson: "Eleven states strip some former prisoners of their right to vote forever. But most Americans don't support such a punishment even for felons, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Only 21 percent think that people convicted of felonies should permanently lose the right to vote. Fifty percent think felons should lose their voting rights only while they're serving their sentences, while 17 percent think they shouldn't lose their voting right at all....When it comes to the most serious felonies, however, the survey shows that Americans may be willing to permanently strip away voting rights... 51 percent said it should be possible for those convicted of manslaughter to permanently lose their voting rights, and 42 percent said the same for drug distribution." [HuffPost]

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

-ESPN surveyed 51 NFL players and found 44 who said a teammate's sexual orientation doesn't matter to them. [ESPN]

-Americans now see the Sochi Olympics as safe and successful. [YouGov]

-Bill Schneider says Democratic leaning voters divide into 10 constituencies, 8 of which are growing. [Reuters]

-Mark Mellman (D) reviews two recent examples of leading poll questions. [The Hill]

-David HIll (R) isn't impressed with Hillary Clinton's poll numbers. [The Hill]

-What can happen when a cross-tab includes a filter error. [WaPost]

-Liberals like cats more than conservatives do. [Time via @thosjleeper]

Ariel Edwards-Levy is off today. She'll be back on Thursday.