POLITICS
07/10/2014 05:42 pm ET Updated Jul 10, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: Views Of Supreme Court Shift After Hobby Lobby Ruling

Kristy Tillotson via Getty Images

Partisans had a predictable reaction to Supreme Court in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision. Forecasters debate the merits of the polls, partisan and otherwise. And 40 percent of Americans think the government is spying on them. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, July 10, 2014.

SUPREME COURT FAVORABILITY ROSE AFTER HOBBY LOBBY DECISION - Kathy Frankovic: "Last week’s controversial Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed certain “closely-held” corporations to claim a religious exemption from some laws, appears to have helped the image of the Supreme Court – at least with some segments of the public. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans are closely divided in how they view the Court, but there has been a slight improvement in the last week. Although the Hobby Lobby decision was unpopular with Democrats, whose image of the Court shifted from mixed to negative after the ruling, Republicans (who were more positive about the Court to begin with) became even more positive. Favorable ratings of the Supreme Court jumped six points among Republicans, while unfavorable views rose seven points among Democrats. But the greatest change in perception of the Supreme Court came from independents. Last week, independents were more unfavorable than favorable, this week, a majority of independents are favorable." [YouGov]

HOW GOOD IS THIS YEAR'S MIDTERM POLLING? - Nate Cohn: "Polls have missed the result in three close Senate races in the last two cycles. But this year is particularly challenging. The rapid growth of partisan polls has contaminated the polling averages in states where surveying public opinion is already difficult. Many of these partisan polls employ dubious weighting and sampling practices. The combination will make it even harder for polls to nail the result. So far this year, 65 percent of polls in Senate battlegrounds have been sponsored or conducted by partisan organizations, and an additional 10 percent were conducted by Rasmussen, an ostensibly nonpartisan firm that leans conservative and has a poor record. The situation is even worse in the five states with vulnerable incumbent Democrats, including Louisiana and North Carolina, which are likeliest to determine control of the Senate. There, 75 percent of polls are from partisan organizations, and Rasmussen conducted about half of the remaining 25 percent of polls. There have been only seven nonpartisan, non-Rasmussen polls in these five states in 2014." [NYT]

Arkansas a particular problem - More from Cohn: The possibility that partisan polls could skew the averages is perhaps best illustrated in Arkansas, where partisan polls are breaking along predictably partisan lines. These polls wouldn’t be so problematic if we could simply ignore them and focus on nonpartisan polls. But the five nonpartisan [polls] conducted so far this year haven’t offered much clarity, with a net 16-point margin separating the most extreme findings." For the moment, at least, timing is also an issue: Six of the seven polls released on the Arkansas race in the past two months have had Republican sponsorship, and the seventh was conducted by Rasmussen in late May. [Pollster]

-Sam Wang: "[N]o May/June/July evidence contradicts the statement that Cotton (R) leads Pryor (D) in Arkansas Senate race...if Pryor were ahead, it would behoove Democrats to reveal a fresh poll. Yet..silence. Which is the dog that didn't bark." [@SamWangPhD here and here] ]

-Jonathan Bernstein, on the response to Cohn's article: "Unfortunately, the reaction of the usually astute Chuck Todd is to throw out the baby with the bathwater: He tweeted: 'Reason #5,324 why averaging polls is useless, now more than ever.' Well, no. Polling averaging is sound. Sophisticated polling aggregation, which can assess how much weight (if any) to assign to less reliable polling and otherwise correct for detectable biases, is even more important, not less, when the polls may be misleading….Even if we had a single, gold-standard pollster, and even if we all could agree on who that was, we would still be subject to the kinds of standard random errors that are inherent in even the best polls. Given those constraints, we’re far better off averaging what we have. Like it or not, the math works." [Bloomberg]

-John Sides: "Our model hasn’t incorporated polling data, although we’ll be doing so shortly. The [New York Times] Upshot’s model has factored in available polling data all along. This doesn’t stem from any philosophical differences in how to forecast elections. (There is no “War of the Senate models.”) As we noted in our first Senate forecast way back in January, our plan has always been to combine a forecasting model with polling data.….What we’ve found in examining 2008-2012 is that the combination of our model and the polls actually does offer a modest advantage for picking the winners of individual races, compared to just using the model or the polls alone. It’s not a large advantage, but it seems real and therefore worth taking into account….there is far more philosophical agreement than disagreement among the forecasters, even if their precise estimates differ somewhat. " [WashPost]

AMERICANS THINK NSA SURVEILLANCE OVERSTEPS - Emily Swanson: "Most Americans think government surveillance that gathers up masses of telephone and Internet data goes 'too far,' a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. And 2 in 5 think the government has recorded their own phone calls or emails. Fifty-nine percent of the survey's respondents said the programs that collect phone and Internet communications as a way to prevent terrorism collect too much information about Americans, while only 20 percent said the government strikes the right balance in deciding what data to collect. Six percent said the government doesn't go far enough in collecting that information." [HuffPost]

UNINSURED RATE HITS NEW LOW - Emily Cohn: "The percentage of Americans without health insurance fell to a new low in recent months, according to the results of a Gallup poll released Thursday. Specifically, the uninsured rate fell to 13.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014. That's down from its peak of 18 percent in the third quarter of last year, and it's the lowest quarterly average that Gallup has seen since it began tracking this type of data in 2008." [HuffPost]

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

-UNH/WMUR gives Jeanne Shaheen (D) a 12-point lead over Scott Brown (R). [UNH]

-New ACA enrollees -- including Republicans -- are happy with their coverage. [HuffPost]

-A survey from the libertarian Reason Foundation finds millennials distrustful of government. [Reason]

-Kyle Kondik says 2014 has been a better-than-usual year for incumbents. [Sabato's Crystal Ball]

-Alan Abramowitz charts partisans' growing antipathy to the other party. [Sabato's Crystal Ball]

-Frank Newport weighs in on the Quinnipiac poll naming Barack Obama the worst president since WWII. [Gallup]

-Megan Thee-Brenan looks at how pollsters have adapted to rising cell phone use. [NYT]

-Aaron Blake notes that supporting gay marriage may no longer be disqualifying for Republican presidential hopefuls. [WashPost]

-A new Commonwealth Fund survey finds that people who signed up for health insurance on the ACA marketplaces are happy with their purchases. [NYT]

-Some North Dakotans have half as much time as New Yorkers to vote on Election Day. [Smart Politics]

-Older Americans are more likely to say they like the way they look. [Gallup]

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