04/09/2014 05:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

HUFFPOLLSTER: New Jerseyans Divided On Christie


New Jersey residents don't buy Christie's defense, but half still approve of his performance. An ACA focus group in Colorado gets a long form write-up from USA Today. And non-representative XBox polls are both a scientific advance and the most boring video game ever. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

TWO NEW POLLS FIND NEW JERSEY DIVIDED ON CHRISTIE - Quinnipiac: "The investigation clearing New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie of involvement in Bridgegate was a 'whitewash,' Garden State voters say, as the governor's job approval drops to 49 - 44 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. New Jersey voters are divided 48 - 48 percent on whether Gov. Christie is more of a leader or more of a bully, his worst "bully" score ever. The governor's job approval is down from a 55 - 38 percent score in a January 15 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, in which 54 percent of voters said he was more of a leader while 40 percent said he was more of a bully." Quinnipiac


Rutgers poll finds skepticism of Christie defense Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: "While Christie has stemmed the fall in his personal ratings after a double-digit drop in the wake of 'Bridgegate', voters are generally negative about Christie’s truthfulness and recent developments in the investigation. Half of voters have a favorable impression of the governor while 42 percent feel unfavorable, essentially unchanged since February. Job performance numbers also show little change: 55 percent approve and 41 percent disapprove. But, just 22 percent fully believe Christie’s explanation regarding the lane closures while 26 percent say they somewhat believe him. The largest group, 49 percent, says they do not believe him at all. As for the recent taxpayer-funded report commissioned by the governor’s office that cleared Christie of all wrongdoing, nearly two-thirds say the internal review does not offer an objective assessment, versus three in ten who say it does. [Eagleton Poll]

Why the approval rating matters - NBC's First Read: "In today’s political climate, having an approval rating near 50% is more of a blessing, especially given all the negative scrutiny surrounding Christie. But here’s what is problematic for the governor when it relates to 2016: A rationale for a presidential bid was going to be predicated on being the INCREDIBLY popular Republican governor of a blue state, not someone who was close to 50% in job approval." [NBC]

And nationally? - Kathleen Frankovic does a "reputation audit" on Christie using YouGov's national polling: "Economist/YouGov Polls in January found opinions of Christie becoming more negative after Bridgegate became better known...In the latest poll, just 30% have a favorable opinion of Christie. Nearly half are negative... Democrats, who began the year judging Christie positively, are now overwhelmingly unfavorable...The Governor has had problems with Republicans for a while. Compared to other possible more conservative GOP 2016 candidate, Republicans have tended to view Christie less favorably. Most Republicans call themselves conservatives, and don’t see Christie that way. 38% of Republicans agree that Christie is conservative, but more think of his as a moderate – or even a liberal. But the poll finding that may be the most disturbing to Christie and to those who support his presidential candidacy in 2016 is that today relatively few Republicans want him. Just 30% of Republicans say they want Christie to run for President; only 41% of Republicans even think he has the qualifications to do so. [YouGov]

HOW NON-RANDOM SAMPLES CAN WORK - Andrew Gelman: "The traditional gold standard of polling is probability sampling, where you contact people selected at random from a list of the population. But probability sampling isn’t so great anymore. With response rates in the 10 percent range, there is concern that the select group of people who happen to respond to surveys are nothing like a random sample of the population of adult Americans, or even the population of voters…An alternative approach is opt-in polling, often performed on the Internet…We analyzed data from an opt-in poll from the Xbox—that’s right, the Xbox gaming platform—collected during the month or so before the 2012 presidential election...After adjusting the Xbox responses via multilevel regression and poststratification, we obtain estimates in line with forecasts from leading poll analysts, which were based on aggregating hundreds of traditional polls conducted during the election cycle…The moral of the story is not that Xbox always wins or that a non-representative poll will always do fine. It’s all about the adjustment. For a political poll with background variables such as age, ethnicity, state, and previous vote, we have a lot of good information that allows a sharp adjustment. In more unknown settings, we have to be more careful. But for many purposes it looks like we can move beyond the brute force approach of calling thousands of people on the phone." [WashPost]

Twitter reactions:

-Political scientist Drew Linzer: "Some people aren't going to like this, but count me a fan: Scientific polling from biased samples." [@DrewLinzer]

-Pollster Steve Koczela, responding to Linzer: "Indeed some aren't. But the conversation is well-past due." [@skoczela]

-Political Scientist Kevin Collins (D): "Opt-in polling, when adjusted using MRP, can predict election outcomes..." [@kwcollins]

-Political scientist Michael McDonald, responding to Collins: "in pres elections maybe (N=1). Relies heavily on party weighting so maybe key is party weighting" [@ElectProject]

-Loyal Democrat DCCyclone: "Well even if it works 'Election Poll!' is still the most boring X-box game ever." [@DCCyclone]

FOCUS GROUP FINDS EVOLVING REACTIONS TO ACA - Susan Page: "Six months ago, USA TODAY brought together 10 uninsured Coloradans in the Mile High City to discuss what they thought about the Affordable Care Act as the law's first enrollment period was about to open. A few hours before the March 31 midnight deadline when enrollment would close, six of those participants and five additional people in similar circumstances gathered over soft drinks in a conference room at KUSA-TV to discuss what they had done about it. Their stories reflect the promise and the problems of the biggest expansion of health care in America in a half-century. Four are delighted and relieved to finally have health insurance. Three made at least some efforts to sign up but found the process too complicated or confusing to complete. And the final four decided they'd rather take their chances and pay the fine….A statewide poll taken by USA TODAY and Princeton Survey Research Associates found that Coloradans, insured and uninsured, have learned more about the law during the past six months but don't like it any better. Nearly three of four say they understand its impact on them and their families, at least somewhat. Six in 10 have seen TV ads sponsored by Connect for Health Colorado." [USA Today]

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

-Two leading Democrats begin with early leads in the contest for Massachusetts governor. [WNEU]

-The New York tri-state region complains most about high taxes. [Gallup]

-New Jersey residents are divided on legalizing marijuana. [Monmouht]

-California Gov. Jerry Brown's approval rating hits a new high of 59 percent. [Field]

-Democrat Bruce Braley leads his possible Republican rivals for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat. [Suffolk]

-Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) has a double-digit lead over rival Mary Burke. [WBAY]

-Rasmussen finds Republican Senate candidates leading in Nebraska. [Rasmussen]

-Many Republican Senate candidates this year are perceived as relatively mainstream in comparison to 2012 Tea Partiers. [WashPost]

-Asian American voter turnout in midterm elections lags behind that of other racial groups. [Pew Research]

-Democracy Corps (D) tests a "women's economic agenda" they argue "has the power to impact the vote and turnout." [DCorps]

-Micah Roberts (R) sees independents taking Republican stands on key issues for 2014. [POS]

-Mark Mellman (D) finds voters prefer their representatives spend more time at home rather than getting to know their D.C. colleagues and "building the personal relationships that will allow them to break the gridlock." [The Hill]

-David Hill (R) sees an anti-marijuana backlash coming. [The Hill]

-Adrianna McIntyre assesses the RAND report on changes in the uninsured rate. [Incidential Economist]

-White Americans are more likely to describe themselves as conservatives after being told that whites might soon be a minority in the U.S. [Vox]

-Most Americans say doing taxes is easy. [AP]

-eHarmony data shows that people want to date people like themselves. [538]