Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Not So Inevitable After All

SWING STATE POLLS BADLY MISSED THE MARK …

The 2016 presidential election is in the books and the mainstream polls – as they did during the “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom – wildly missed the mark.

Republican nominee Donald Trump won the presidency with victories in several states that appeared to be locks for Democrat Hillary Clinton heading into the election.

The biggest shocker of the night?  Wisconsin – a state that hadn’t voted Republican since Ronald Reagan‘s reelection in 1984.   On the day of the election, aggregate polling data from RealClearPolitics showed Clinton winning the state by a comfortable six-percent margin.

Meanwhile the website FiveThirtyEight.com gave Trump only a 16.5 percent chance of winning the state.

In fact the pollsters were so confident Clinton would win America’s dairyland that Wisconsin wasn’t even included among the website’s fourteen “battleground” states.

Continue reading Not So Inevitable After All

2016: Is It Already Over?

ASSESSING THE INEVITABILITY MYTH …

To hear the pollsters and pundits tell it, the 2016 election is over.  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is going to defeat GOP nominee Donald Trump in a popular and electoral landslide – and that’s that.

It’s a done deal, they say.   You can “take it to the bank,” “stick a fork in it,” “cue the fat lady” or use any other turn of phrase you wish.

How inevitable is a Clinton victory?  According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com,  Clinton currently has an 85.8 percent likelihood of winning the White House on November 8.  Trump, on the other hand, has a 14.2 percent chance of victory.

Take a look …

Continue reading 2016: Is It Already Over?

End Of The “Meet And Greet” Era?

LET’S LOOK AT THE DATA …

All politics is local … or is it?

Market Research Foundation has studied this issue in the past – and determined that local issues matter a great deal in statewide and national races.

But what about candidate visits?  Do these “meet-and-greets” – which offer candidates a chance to weigh in on local issues – really provide an advantage?

New data from Ohio State political scientist Thomas Wood suggests they do not.  According to Wood – who examined data from the 2012 election cycle – the era of the “meet-and-greet” is over.

“Campaign events probably don’t influence voters,” Wood told The (U.K.) Guardian.

Continue reading End Of The “Meet And Greet” Era?

Big Brexit Miss

BUT WHY?

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union – the “Brexit” – is a seismic development.  A stunning rebuke of the global corporate and bureaucratic elite, the vote has already yielded regime change in London – and shaken the EU to its core as other nations mull departures of their own.

Putting politics aside for a moment, though, the “Brexit” offers a fascinating case study for pollsters – nearly all of whom missed the outcome of the election.

Two polls released just ahead of the big vote showed “Remain” prevailing.  According to an Ipsos MORI survey released one day before the voting, 54 percent of Brits were supposed to vote “Remain” compared to only 46 percent voting “Leave” – an eight-point margin of victory.  Meanwhile a YouGov poll released on the day of the vote had “Remain” prevailing by a 52-48 percent margin – identical to a follow-up Ipsos MORI survey released on the same day.

“The results are close and it’s too early to call it definitively,” YouGov’s pollsters noted.  “But these results, along with the recent trends and historical precedent, suggest a Remain victory is the more likely outcome.” 

In fact the outcome was so certain the leader of the “Leave” faction – Nigel Farage – actually conceded the outcome on the day of the vote.

“Looks like Remain will edge it,” he said.

When all the votes were counted, though, “Leave” prevailed 52-48 – meaning Ipsos MORI and YouGov’s final polls missed the mark by eight points.

What happened?  Well, when survey results fail to project electoral outcomes any number of factors could be involved.

Continue reading Big Brexit Miss

Has Trade Policy Become A Voting Issue?

YES …

In an election year dominated by the illegal immigration issue, are there any other hot-button topics capable of moving the needle among America’s angry electorate?   Yes, according to a new survey from veteran pollster Pat Caddell.

Conducted on behalf of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), Caddell’s latest survey explored public sentiment regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a massive global trade deal currently being pursued by U.S. president Barack Obama and certain Republican members of Congress.  At first blush, a majority of respondents (51 percent) said they “didn’t know enough” about TPP to form an opinion of it – hardly qualifying the issue for “hot button” status.  Meanwhile 22 percent oppose the agreement (9 percent strongly) compared to 15 percent who support it (3 percent strongly).  Another 11 percent were undecided.

Informed of the deal’s potential to “open the door for more foreign workers to enter the American job market without any restraints” and to “benefit entrenched global corporations but hurt working Americans, small businesses and startups,” public perception on the agreement changes dramatically.  Even when coupled with positive statements about the TPP – including the claim that it will “lead to improved wages, economic growth, and access to other markets” – the informed vote on the trade deal becomes decidedly negative.

After hearing both positive and negative information on TPP, opposition to the deal more than doubles from 22 to 45 percent – including 17 percent who strongly oppose it.  Meanwhile the percentage of respondents who support the bill peaks at 32 percent – including just 5 percent who strongly support it.

That’s a big intensity gap – one that continues expanding the more people learn about the controversial pact.

Continue reading Has Trade Policy Become A Voting Issue?

Immigration Exit Polling

HOW DONALD TRUMP WON THE FIRST TWO GOP PRIMARIES SO CONVINCINGLY

Electoral science is all about digging deep – uncovering elusive wisdom from within reams of seemingly divergent data.  In fact those who succeed in this business do so precisely because they know how to dig – and more importantly, where to dig.

Sometimes, though, we don’t have to get our hands dirty to find the answer.

Sometimes the answer is sitting right there on the surface – staring us in the face.

Take the big victories registered by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump in New Hampshire and South Carolina – which held the first two GOP primary elections of the 2016 cycle this month.  Granite State voters have traditionally been viewed as more centrist – i.e. more friendly to GOP candidates residing on the left end of the party’s ideological spectrum. Meanwhile voters in the Palmetto State are viewed as far more conservative – especially on social issues – and far more eager to support candidates who appeal to their evangelical beliefs.

Neither of those electoral universes would seem to be especially receptive to a candidate like Trump – yet he won convincing victories in both states.

In New Hampshire, Trump won 35.3 percent of the vote – easily outdistancing centrist Oho governor John Kasich.  In South Carolina, Trump captured 32.5 percent of the vote – giving him a ten-point edge over both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, a pair of candidates who made overt appeals to socially conservative voters (and attacked Trump for his social liberalism).

What gives?  Immigration, that’s what.

According to exit polling in New Hampshire, 65 percent of GOP primary voters supported Trump’s proposal to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration into the United States.  In South Carolina, exit polling showed 73 percent supported Trump’s plan.  Those are compelling majorities.

Continue reading Immigration Exit Polling

Inside The Disenfranchised Conservative Electorate

INSIGHTS FROM EARLY-VOTING SOUTH CAROLINA

It’s no secret conservative voters have felt disenfranchised in recent election cycles – especially in dark red states like South Carolina.  Previous surveys conducted for Market Research Foundation (MRF) in the Palmetto State have shown the strain this disenfranchisement has had on party loyalty – while national polling has highlighted the need to appeal to voters on ideological as opposed to partisan grounds.

But is something more fundamental undercutting these established perceptions?

As the 2016 cycle ramps up, there is a major push underway across the country to identify disenfranchised voters, assess their motivations (or lack thereof) and determine which candidates might be able to get them to the polls (using what combination of messages).  Numerous presidential campaigns are vying for these voters all over the country – nowhere more fiercely than in early-voting South Carolina, which has successfully predicted the eventual Republican nominee in all but one of the last seven contested GOP primary elections.

According to a new Palmetto State survey conducted for MRF by Norman Analytics and Research, disenfranchised conservative “leaners” are actively eschewing the pervasive national political correctness and gravitating toward unvarnished candidates who are using non-traditional, “politically incorrect’ conservative messaging.

The survey focused on two niche audiences.  The first audience included voters who were modeled to be Republicans yet didn’t vote in either the 2008 or 2012 presidential primary race.  These GOP non-voters were filtered according to their general election history – with pollsters taking the top half of those deemed most likely to vote in 2016 and including them in the survey’s “high propensity” universe.

Obviously this universe is solid gold real estate in the upcoming “First in the South” presidential primary election – scheduled for February 20.

The second audience consisted of voters who cast ballots in either the 2008 or 2012 GOP presidential primary (but not both).  This group of past primary voters wasn’t modeled by party affiliation – but was filtered by general election history and reduced to a group deemed less likely to vote in 2016.

Not surprisingly, campaigns best able to target the first universe – while identifying common themes running across both universes – stand the best chance of not only winning this important primary bellwether, but also of turning out similarly modeled voters in crucial swing states in the 2016 general election.

Who is currently doing both of those jobs better than any other GOP candidate?  Donald Trump.

Trump is backed by 34 percent of likely Palmetto State GOP primary voters in these two groups – positioning him well ahead of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (13 percent), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (12 percent), former Florida governor Jeb Bush (10 percent) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (6 percent).  Including unlikely voters among these demographics, Trump is backed by 20 percent – putting him ahead of Carson (13 percent), Bush and Rubio (9 percent each) and Cruz (7 percent).

“Among both segments identified for this research, Trump is the clear GOP presidential primary frontrunner,” researcher Erin Norman said.  “His support intensifies when the audience is narrowed to likely primary voters and those who say they intensely support their chosen candidate.”

Driving Trump’s support is a strongly held belief that he is willing to speak truths avoided by other politicians.  In fact this perception of Trump cuts across the support of other top GOP candidates – with 62 percent of Marco Rubio supporters and 55 percent of Ben Carson supporters saying they believe Trump is “willing to speak the truth other politicians avoid.”  Only a majority of Jeb Bush supporters feel differently – with 60 percent of them describing Trump as a “loose cannon and not a serious contender.”

Among all respondents, sixty percent of men – and 72 percent of white men with no college degree – embraced Trump as “willing to speak the truth” compared to just 36 percent and 21 percent, respectively, who described him as a “loose cannon.”

Is this perception likely to move voters to the polls, though?  In a word, “yes.”

Telling the truth was the top turnout driver of this universe of South Carolina voters, garnering 73 percent of all mentions and 38 percent of top mentions when voters were asked what was “most likely” to make them “go out on Election Day and support a candidate.”  Next up was foreign affairs (58 percent and 19 percent, respectively) and immigration (47 percent and 10 percent, respectively).

“Having candidates who are willing to speaking in a direct, forthright manner is the best way to drive turnout at the polls,” Norman concluded.  “Sharing views with candidates on foreign policy is also important – and sharing views on immigration is especially important to Trump supporters.”

But voters’ affinity for a candidate who will shoot straight to them cuts across campaign lines.  Big majorities of Rubio supporters (79 percent) and Carson supporters (78 percent) in South Carolina also mentioned truth-telling most frequently when they were asked what would get them to the polls – with 39 percent of Carson backers and 29 percent of Rubio backers listing it as their top mention.

That’s worth watching over the next few weeks as the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary could conceivably further winnow the presidential field heading into South Carolina.   It’s also worth watching as campaigns look to the general election and targeting both of these universes in swing states.

Norman Analytics and Research surveyed 400 registered voters in South Carolina via telephone using live operators from December 4-7.  The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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MRF Featured In George Will Column

NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST HIGHLIGHTS OUR RESEARCH

Market Research Foundation (MRF) has received a nod from nationally syndicated columnist George Will.  In assessing the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize winner referenced our work in discussing Cruz’s efforts to “substantially reconfigure the electorate.”

“Cruz’s plan for winning the necessary 1,236 convention delegates is an extrapolation from his strategy for winning 270 electoral votes,” Will wrote in his latest column.

Part of Cruz’s reconfiguring and extrapolating?  Targeting nonvoting whites – especially those without college experience.  These are the Americans who sat on their hands in 2012, thus denying Mitt Romney the presidency.  They are also the ones warming to the ascendency of current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who is credited by Will with “energizing people whose alienation from politics has made them nonvoters.”

Should he become the GOP nominee, can Cruz successfully identify and turn out these alienated voters?  Or as Will puts it, can he “leaven the electorate with people who, disappointed by economic stagnation and discouraging cultural trends for which Republican nominees seemed to have no answers, have been dormant during recent cycles.”

That’s a good question – although as we have repeatedly noted, much fertile ground is to be gained via precisely such a strategy.

Citing MRF’s research, Will notes “whites without college experience include disproportionate numbers of nonvoters.”  He then delves into efforts by Cruz’s data scientists to locate these voters and prepare “a package of three- or four-issue appeals” aimed at moving them from dormant to the polls.

It’s a fascinating column highlighting the nuts and bolts of a modern turnout operation – not to mention a broader ideological evolution that deserves heightened scrutiny as the 2016 primary is now in full swing.

To read Will’s column in its entirety, click here …

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Staggering Declines In Landline Usage

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR POLITICAL POLLING?

In December 2013 a report from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that roughly two out of every five Americans – 39 percent – did not use a landline telephone.  Meanwhile another 18 percent of Americans said they had a landline but rarely used it.

Not surprisingly, age, race and income are prominent factors in determining who does – and doesn’t – use a landline.  Younger, non-white, low-income Americans are far more likely to only use a cell phone – distinctions pollsters continue to monitor closely as they seek to provide their clients and the public with accurate information about upcoming elections.

Of course the shift in landline usage is moving so fast it’s becoming increasingly difficult to accurately account for these variables.  This spring, GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer revealed that 44 percent of Americans did not use landline telephones last year – up from 26 percent in 2010.  That’s a seventy percent jump in just four years.

Navigating this communications evolution in pursuit of accurate data – or even better, predictive analytics – is not easy.  Nor is it without controversy.

Earlier this month, a Survey USA poll showing GOP frontrunner Donald Trump leading all Democratic comers in a hypothetical general election was pilloried from the left.

“Supposedly SurveyUSA has a good track record … but this is ridiculous,” the liberal website Daily Kos noted, claiming the poll was over-reliant on landlines.

“Among cell phone users Trump gets walloped,” the website stated.

Of course Daily Kos neglected to mention that in 2012, Democratic researchers at Public Policy Polling had one of the most accurate records – despite the fact that they did not incorporate any cell phones in their surveys.  Gallup, on the other hand, had one of the least accurate records despite its pollsters using the most cell phones in their surveys.

What gives?  Well, the broader no-landline universe – projected to soar to 55 percent of the electorate in 2016 – consistently outpaces the no-landline voting universe by more than 20 percentage points.  In fact the percentage of cell-phone only voters is likely to clock in at around 33 percent next year, if current trends hold.  That means a poll which sampled cell phones at 55 percent would dramatically overstate the impact of younger, poorer, non-white voters.

To be clear: No credible poll ignores cell phones. And the growth of America’s cell phone only population shows no sign of slackening.  But pollsters must be careful not to overcompensate as they account for the impact of this seismic shift.

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Rise Of The Outsiders

TAPPING INTO SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THE “TRUMP SURGE” 

Another poll was released this week showing billionaire businessman Donald Trump well ahead of his Republican rivals in early-voting South Carolina. In fact the pollsters – from New Jersey’s Monmouth University – expressed little surprise in assessing the outcome of their Palmetto State survey.

“We’ve become accustomed to Donald Trump leading in every poll, as the candidate himself likes to remind us,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

That’s true.  Market Research Foundation (MRF) has previously examined Trump’s rise (and the rise of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) within the context of rampant voter disaffection and dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C.  In fact we’ve done extensive research on what’s motivating this disaffection in several states – including South Carolina.

But within the latest South Carolina data is affirmation of a direct corollary to this trend – namely that it’s driving anti-establishment electoral preferences far beyond the Trump phenomenon.  For example, polling in second place in South Carolina (behind Trump’s 30 percent showing) is retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who received the support of 15 percent of likely GOP primary voters.  Tied for fourth place in the latest South Carolina survey?  Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who was backed by six percent of likely Republican voters.

Add it up and you’ve got 51 percent of the Palmetto State’s GOP electorate backing a candidate who has never held elected office before.  With 11 percent of the state’s primary voters undecided, that leaves the remaining fourteen candidates – all of whom have held elected office – fighting for 38 percent of the vote.  In fact if you throw out U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (who is receiving four percent support in his home state), that “establishment candidate” universe dwindles further, to 34 percent.

“Political experience is not a particularly valuable commodity this primary season,” Monmouth’s pollsters noted.

That’s quite an understatement.

Monmouth’s survey noted that 61 percent of respondents want “a president from outside of government who can bring a new approach to Washington” as opposed to only 28 percent who prefer “someone with government experience who knows how to get things done.”

Carson and Fiorina are performing comparably at the national level, too, with the latest data showing them drawing 9.7 percent and 6.3 percent support, respectively.  Add that to Trump’s 22 percent and we’re looking at a huge chunk of the GOP electorate that’s firmly in the camp of outsider candidates.

As global economic headwinds intensify – further straining America’s already less-than-robust consumer “recovery” – will the outsiders reap additional electoral benefits?  Or can any of the conventional candidates find a way to tap into the prevailing angst?

Count on MRF to keep you posted …

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