Another crisis in the Middle East adds to President Obama's job approval woes. Arkansas provides a case study for the difficulty of dealing with partisan polls. And the CBS/Times telephone poll says reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
OBAMA GETS LOW MARKS ON ANOTHER FOREIGN CRISIS - Scott Clement and Peyton Craighill: "President Obama gets mediocre marks for handling of international conflicts flaring up this summer, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But yet another overseas crisis has emerged as a headache: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When it comes to Obama's handling of the increasing tensions in Gaza, the poll shows 39 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove, with one-third disapproving 'strongly.'…The reason Obama is weak on the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Subpar support within his own party and among younger people -- a key Democratic Party constituency in recent years. Sixty-five percent of Democrats approve of Obama's efforts, but this falls significantly below the number approving of him on foreign policy overall (77 percent)." [WashPost]
AMERICANS FELT PREVIOUS SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA DIDN'T GO FAR ENOUGH - Laura Mills and Juergen Baetz: "U.S. and European sanctions against Russia's energy and finance sectors are strong enough to cause deep, long-lasting damage within months unless Moscow persuades the West to repeal them by withdrawing support for Ukrainian insurgents….An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted just before the latest expansion of sanctions found 53 percent of Americans felt the U.S. had not gone far enough in sanctioning Russia, up from 41 percent who felt that way in March. A majority also supported expanding sanctions to target the Russian economy, including its energy sector, according to the survey of 1,044 Americans. The expanded sanctions drew rare cross-party support among the American public, with majorities of both Democrats and Republicans backing the move." [AP]
POLLING FINDS KASICH IN RELATIVELY STRONG POSITION - HuffPollster: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has the edge in his re-election battle against his Democratic rival, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, two new polls find. Kasich leads FitzGerald by 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent, among registered voters in a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, and by a relatively narrow 6-point margin, 51 percent to 45 percent, in an online CBS/New York Times/YouGov survey of likely voters released Sunday….Polls released by the Democratic firm PPP, often for the Ohio Democratic Party or other partisan sponsors, had painted Kasich as potentially vulnerable, with a survey in July giving Kasich just a 1-point edge. Every non-partisan poll of the matchup, however, has given Kasich a lead of 5 points or more." [HuffPost]
CONFLICTING RESULTS IN ARKANSAS POLLS - Ohio isn't the only state where polling from partisan camps produces a very different outlook. The epitome of dueling polls this cycle may be in the Arkansas Senate race -- more than 70 percent of the surveys released since last March were by partisan pollsters or for partisan sponsors, mostly Republicans. With surveys out this month showing everything from a 6-point Pryor lead to a 7-point Cotton lead, here's a look at how the results vary (the charts don't yet include a survey from the Democratic pollster Anzalone Liszt Grove, released late this afternoon, which gave Pryor a 2-point edge) [Pollster chart]:
The Pollster tracking model, which builds on an approach we first used during the 2012 presidential election, is different from the classic Pollster trend lines that we continue to use for our "create your own" charts. The newer model helps correct for "house effects," the tendency for some survey houses to produce estimates that are systematically higher or lower for one candidate than other pollsters'. That correction pulls results toward the "industry average" for all pollsters (not polls) in a state. The view of "non-partisan polls" in the chart above is based on the old approach, which has no house effect correction. While our tracking model helps to tamp down the house effects of the partisan pollsters, it does not eliminate the potential statistical bias coming from having so many partisan polls in the mix. Our work on the Pollster tracking model is ongoing. Stay tuned. [HuffPollster, Oct. 2013]
WHY SOME POLLS MIGHT START SUDDENLY LOOKING BETTER FOR GOP - Craighill and Clement: "Pretty soon, the country's top pollsters will make a subtle change that even some political junkies won't process: They will shift from reporting results of registered voters to only those most likely to vote in the 2014 election -- a.k.a. 'likely voters.' For those who follow polling closely the distinction between the two is key to understanding the true state of play in a race. It's also likely to cause an apparent shift -- almost certainly in the GOP's favor -- that some will misinterpret as newfound momentum….Quite simply, not all registered voters are likely voters. The behavior and attitudes of the two groups can be slightly different -- a factor that can be especially important in midterm elections in which fewer than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots….Midterm elections, in which there is no national candidate and less of a focus on a broad, national campaign attracts different types of voters. Specifically, non-white and younger voters have been less apt to turn out for midterm elections. These are two key Democratic constituencies that turned out reliably in 2008 and 2012 and gave a big lift to President Obama. These two groups were less reliable for Democratic candidates in the 2010 election….The biggest reason pollsters report registered voters instead of likely voters is uncertainty. The further you are from an election, the more likely it is that the political dynamics have not gelled and voters themselves have not figured out whether they will cast ballots." [WashPost]
THAT NEW YOUGOV/UPSHOT POLL WON'T REPLACE THE CBS/NYT TELEPHONE POLL - On Wednesday, HuffPollster and other news organizations received the following statement from NYT Editor of News Surveys Marjorie Connelly: "The release of The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker last weekend has created some confusion in the polling community over YouGov's role in The New York Times/CBS News Poll, which we would like to clarify. The Times/CBS News Poll will continue to use traditional random digit dialing polls for our political and social surveys. The Times and CBS News have a nearly four-decade history of producing the highest quality surveys together. The YouGov opt-in panel is being used by The Upshot to supplement, not replace, these traditional polling methods. The YouGov data will be used to monitor public sentiment in the election forecasting model in key congressional races and Senate battleground states. CBS News partnered successfully with YouGov on similar projects in 2012 and 2008."
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WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-LGBT Americans tend to be liberal Democrats. [Gallup]
-Americans favor a partial ban on smoking. [Gallup]
-The Kaiser Family Foundation says 3.4 million formerly uninsured adults in California have gotten coverage since the ACA went into effect. [Kaiser]
-Almost no Russians believe pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine shot down MH17. [WashPost]
-Nate Silver finds MSNBC talking about impeachment far more often than Fox News. 
-Mark Mellman (D) says Israel is "a lot like us." [The Hill]