Democratic campaigns are reaching more voters with ads and volunteers. Outlier results pop up in Kentucky and Iowa. And Stan Greenberg (D) sees a 'tipping point' in the Senate battlegrounds. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, October 7, 2014.
SURVEY SHOWS DEMOCRATS RUNNING MORE EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGNS - Nate Cohn: "It may look right now that Democrats are at a disadvantage in the fight for the Senate, but the party in recent weeks appears to be benefiting from running the more effective campaigns. Democrats have an edge on the air with ads, with one notable exception, and a significant advantage on the ground contacting voters in some of the year’s most crucial contests, according to the most recent wave of data from The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online panel. We asked voters three questions about how they’re experiencing the campaigns: whether recent advertisements made them more or less likely to support a candidate; whether they had been contacted by either campaign; and whether what they had heard or read over the last few weeks made them feel better or worse about a candidate. By these measures, the campaigns are fighting to a draw in Iowa, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Georgia, where neither party has a decided advantage on the air or on the ground. But Republican campaigns appear to be underperforming either on the ground or in the air in Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas and Colorado." [NYT]
Kevin Collins (D): "This is not the right way to measure campaign effectiveness, at least if you're a campaign and can run experiments...Asking recall of contacts is good, but asking people to introspect on what influenced their opinion is a lost cause." [@kwcollins here and here]
Patrick Ruffini (R): "States where ground game is most likely to make a difference for Dems... AK, CO, and IA. [Less so in NC because] 1) Concentration of staff probably higher in the other states, 2) Dems already favored in NC" [@PatrickRuffini here and here]
GREENBERG SEES 'TIPPING POINT' - Democrats Stan Greenberg, James Carville, Page Gardner and Laura Swartz on the latest Democracy Corps poll for the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund: "For the first time in this election cycle, the WVWVAF-Democracy Corps Senate battleground shows a consistent move toward the Democrats across a broad range of indicators that suggest the Democrats are more likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate than not. This election is still on a knife-edge; the overall vote remains unchanged and many states are within a couple of points. But the underlying dynamics and key metrics have all moved away from the Republicans….The big story is that the Democratic campaigns have succeeded in making the candidates’ positions on women’s issues the second biggest reason voters are voting for the Democrat – after the economy, of course….But when Republicans are attacked on their opposition to equal pay and to women not being charged more for insurance, and when they are attacked on their use of unlimited secret money to keep taxes down for billionaires and CEOs, the race shifts from Republicans ahead by 2 points to Democrats ahead by 2." [DemCorps]
Democrats cite ACA as reason for vote - Greg Sargent: "[P]erhaps the most interesting finding of all concerned the Affordable Care Act. While disapproval is still high in the battlegrounds, core Dem voter groups are now citing it as a leading reason to vote. For single women as a category unto themselves — and for the [single women, young voters and minorities] too — a candidate’s position on the health law is the second most important factor, behind the economy. This, Greenberg suggested, may help explain another of the poll’s key findings: Democrats appear to be closing the “enthusiasm gap” with Republicans in the battlegrounds. The poll found that of those likely voters who say they are voting Democratic, 91 percent of them are almost certain to vote — while only slightly more, 93 percent, of those who are voting for Republicans say the same. 'The health care law has become much more important as a reason why people are voting for Democrats,' Greenberg said. 'The threat of repeal appears to be giving unmarried women and minority voters a reason to vote.'" [WashPost]
POLL FINDS GRIMES RISING IN KENTUCKY - HuffPollster: "A SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll, released Monday, gives Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes the advantage over Republican Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Senate race for the first time since May. Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state, leads the Senate minority leader by 46 percent to 44 percent. The new poll differs from the handful of other nonpartisan surveys released since September that give McConnell a lead ranging from 4 to 8 points, but it lines up with Grimes' internal polling conducted by Mark Mellman, a pollster with a history of correctly calling long-shot races for Democrats in North Dakota and Nevada. HuffPost Pollster's Senate model continues to show McConnell as the favorite, with a 4-point edge over Grimes and about a 63 percent chance of winning -- moderately better than a tossup." [HuffPost]
DUELING POLLS IN IOWA - Two Senate polls released Monday provided significantly different views of the race, with a live-caller Loras College poll finding Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R) tied at 42 percent, and an automated Magellan (R) poll for a Republican group giving Ernst a 9-point lead. Other recent polling has mostly shown a close race, although Quinnipiac and the most recent Des Moines Register/Selzer polls found Ernst up by 6. HuffPost Pollster's model gives Ernst a 4-point advantage. [Pollster Iowa chart]
Nate Cohn: "The party registration on this Magellan poll is way more Republican than 2010, let alone 12/RVs" [@Nate_Cohn]
LITTLE MOVEMENT IN PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR'S RACE - Quinnipiac: "Businessman Tom Wolf, the Democratic challenger for governor in Pennsylvania, leads Republican Gov. Tom Corbett 55 - 38 percent among likely voters four weeks before Election Day, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This compares to a 59 - 35 percent likely voter lead for Wolf in a September 11 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University." Other surveys similarly show a stale race, with Corbett continuing to trail. [Pennsylvania chart, Quinnipiac]
WHEN POLL AVERAGES GO WRONG - Larry J. Sabato: "By contrast with presidential elections, where we’re inundated with polls in every swing state, there simply aren’t enough good public surveys in some statewide races and nearly all congressional districts to make averages in those places work well. It’s risky to rely on just a few intermittent polls. Even where the polls are plentiful, the averages can be wrong—not often, but frequently enough to give us pause in tight contests. Take a look at the polling averages in competitive Senate races for the last four elections...Overall, the post-Labor Day poll averages performed well, pointing to the winner in 37 of the 42 cases. But that leaves five winners (about 12 percent of the total) who trailed in at least one aggregator’s average….if there should be multiple Senate contests where the pre-election polling average has the candidates separated by three percentage points or less, the polling leader in about a third of these cases may well lose. Therefore, if we’re headed for an election that produces a Senate divided by only a seat or two, don’t expect polls to precisely predict the outcome. Even well-conducted, large-sample surveys are blunt instruments with a margin of error." [Politico]
BARRETO AND SEGURA CALL OUT 'SERIOUSLY FLAWED' LATINO SAMPLE IN GA - Matt Barreto and Gary Segura: "Recently, NBC-11 in Atlanta produced what seems to be a 'news story' with the headline, 'Hispanic voter buck assumptions, back GA GOP candidates.' That story reported leads for the two Republican statewide candidates, despite the huge presence of foreign-born Latinos of Mexican ancestry, groups that overwhelmingly tilt Democratic in all Latino Decisions polling conducted in 2014. Are Georgia's Latinos somehow mysteriously different from all others? In a word...no. The problem is that the NBC-11 poll they rely on is based on a sample size of 38 survey interviews with Latinos, conducted entirely in English, and partially collected via smartphone app or tablet response. The margin of error on a sample that small is a whopping +/- 16%. Moreover, since approximately 35% of all Latino registered voters nationally are Spanish dominant--and even more in immigrant heavy states like Georgia--the absence of Spanish language interviews skews the results significantly since it structurally fails to interview the most Democratic portion of the electorate. The Latino sample, and any inferences made from it, is both unreliable and biased." [HuffPost]
HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday morning via email! Just click here, enter your email address, and and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).
TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Americans are divided on whether the Secret Service's recent lapses are signs of a bigger problem with the agency. [Pew]
-Views of the Supreme Court continue to be closely divided. [Gallup]
-Jonathan Bernstein recaps the reasons the polls could get it wrong this year.
-Seth Masket doubts election forecasts will affect the election's results. [Pacific Standard]
-Stu Rothenberg ponders how Democrats could upend his prediction of a Senate gain of at least 7 seats for Republicans. [Roll Call]
-Paul Gronke and Phillip Ardoin review political scientists' election predictions. [WashPost]
-Chris Cillizza notes relatively low interest in the midterms. [WashPost]
-Harry Enten notes the economy plays far less of a predictive role in congressional elections than presidential ones. 
-Brendan Nyhan explains why campaign fundraising appeals tells voters their side is losing. [NYTimes]
-Americans still love the Roosevelts. [YouGov]