A plurality of Americans say they want the VA secretary to resign. The most influential voters -- those who split their tickets -- are likely the least knowledgeable about politics. And one pollster takes a stand against #RespondentAbuse. This is HuffPollster for Friday, May 23, 2014.
A PLURALITY OF AMERICANS THINK ERIC SHINSEKI SHOULD RESIGN - Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus: "As pressure mounts on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, many Americans think he should have to resign over the VA hospital scandal, a new CBS News poll released Thursday shows. The VA is roiled in scandal over allegations that numerous VA medical centers maintained secret waiting lists to conceal the number of patients who were not able to see doctors within a 14-day period - a goal set by Shinseki to speed up veterans' medical care. Forty-five percent think Shinseki should have to resign, while 31 percent don't think he should, and 24 percent don't know enough to say. Republicans (56 percent) are particularly likely to say Shinseki should resign….Sixty-two percent of Americans believe the problems involving VA medical facilities are widespread; just 23 percent think they are limited to a few isolated incidents. Those who have heard or read a lot are particularly likely to see the problem as widespread (75 percent), as are veterans (70 percent)....Overall opinion of the Veterans Administration itself remains more positive than negative, though positive views have declined since last fall." [CBS]
TICKET SPLITTERS ARE CRUCIAL, BUT MAY BE LESS INFORMED ABOUT POLITICS - Lynn Vavreck: "Split-ticket voting is quite rare for top offices like president and senator. But those who do choose candidates from different parties on Election Day have at least one thing in common: They know less about politics than people who vote the straight party line. Where you live and who is running for office certainly shape the odds that you will split your ballot, but by far the best predictor is how much general political knowledge you have….In 2012, nationwide, only 7 percent of voters who cast ballots for both the presidency and the Senate split their votes across the two major parties, according to the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project run by YouGov….Consider an otherwise average voter who is a self-described moderate and independent. At low levels of knowledge, this voter splits his or her ticket a third of the time (34 percent). At an average level of knowledge, the rate decreases to 18 percent of the time, and at the highest levels, these voters rarely split their tickets (10 percent). That’s a 24-point difference, which is a shift of nearly the same size as the one observable in the different political environments of Wyoming and West Virginia." [NYTimes]
HOW SURVEYUSA ASKS ABOUT 24 CANDIDATES - SurveyUSA issued a refresher Thursday on its method for dealing with overcrowded races, tweeting a link to a poll from 2012 that that asked California voters to choose from among 24 candidates that ran in the state's nonpartisan blanket primary for U.S. Senate. "This is what it looks like," the tweet read, "when you name every candidate in a blanket primary...#RespondentAbuse". [@SurveyUSA, results]
"Implied in the hashtag is SurveyUSA’s strong belief that every moment of a respondent’s time is precious," SurveyUSA founder Jay Leve explains via email. "Anything we (as researchers) can do to shorten the survey experience, and obligate respondents for fewer minutes, is worth our time."
At HuffPollster's request, Leve explained how his company used their automated, recorded voice methodology to present a ballot choice with 24 different options: "In drafting the questionnaire for a Primary Election poll, a pollster often must make a judgment about how many candidates to name. When there are a handful of candidates, it is possible to name them all... In the extreme case, where there are dozens of candidates on the ballot, it is counter-productive to list all of the candidates at once, since a majority of them will receive 0%, 1% or 2% of the vote. The tweet contained a link to a 2012 CA primary poll that SurveyUSA released where there were 24 candidates running in an election for US Senate in CA. We did eventually name all 24 candidates, using a set of question that unfolded like this:
1. In the California primary for United States Senate, there are 24 candidates running. Do you plan to vote for incumbent Dianne Feinstein, or one of the 23 other candidates?
[if Feinstein, skip ahead to next section of poll]
2. Will you vote for … one of the 14 Republican candidates? Will you vote for one of the 5 Democratic candidates? Will you vote for one of the 4 candidates from another party? Or do you not yet know?
[if Republican, continue to Q3; if Democratic, skip to Q4; if Other, skip to Q5; if do not yet know, count as undecided and skip ahead to next section of poll]
3. Which of the Republican candidates will you vote for? (order rotated)
Dirk Allen Konopik?
Rogelio T. Gloria?
[skip ahead to next section]
4. Which of the Democratic candidates will you vote for? (order rotated)
[skip ahead to next section]
5. Which of the other candidates will you vote for? (order rotated)
Kabiruddin Karim Ali, from the Peace and Freedom party?
Marsha Feinland, from the Peace and Freedom party?
Don J. Grundmann, from the American Independent party?
Gail Lightfoot, from the Libertarian party?
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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Americans say the Army is the most important part of U.S. national defense. [Gallup]
-Most American men over 65 are veterans; the proportions are much smaller among younger men and all women. [Gallup]
-Sean Sullivan ranks the top 11 Senate races. [WashPost]
-Ted Cruz gets a YouGov reputation audit. [YouGov]
-About half of the residents of 15 countries identify as feminist. [Ipsos]
-Americans remain split on abortion. [Gallup]
-The ACA still gets negative ratings, but those who've signed up say the costs are in line with their expectations, an AP-GfK poll finds. [ABC]
-How the work of America's "most poli-sci friendly reporter" prospered on the web. [CJR]
-Mona Chalabi launches a data-driven advice column. 
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