Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breaking It Down - The 2/24 Quinnipiac Ohio Senate Poll

Before we get into the results of the new Quinnipiac poll on the Ohio Senate race, I wanted to provide a bit more understanding for those not that familiar with polling methodology and specifically, the difference between Registered and Likely voters, as different pollsters test one or the other, or both. In this case, Quinnipiac has tested Registered Voters.

Typically, Registered voters are the group who in response to a standard poll question say they are "registered to vote in their precinct or election district." Meanwhile, Likely voters are those who respond positively to a battery of questions about past voting, current interest in the election, and self-reported interest in voting.

In regards to their accuracy, David Moore of states:
I would argue that in general we get a more realistic view of the general sentiment of voters, if the sample has been screened fairly tightly to produce a relatively small segment of likely voters rather than a much larger group of people - the general public or even "registered voters." In mid-term elections, turnout is only about half or so of turnout in presidential elections. Thus, screening out the non-voters is much more sensitive for understanding mid-term elections than presidential elections.


I would suggest that when polls diverge, one based on likely voters is probably a better reflection of the actual electorate than a poll based on the general population or even registered voters.
With all that said, one thing is clear...

Rob Portman is ahead in Ohio.


The Topline
The registered voter model that Quinnipiac uses (they evolve into a likely voter model as election day approaches) shows Portman within the margin of error with a three point lead over Lee Fisher.

While both Fisher and Portman maintain relatively equal support among their own Party, Portman's 12 point lead among Indpendents is what carries him to the lead. It also makes me question how heavily weighted Democrats were in the survey.

The Primary
Meanwhile, and I imagine much to the chagrin of Progressives in Ohio, Jennifer Brunner is down 29-20 to Lee Fisher. And considering you can't pay for TV time with food stamps, it's looking like Brunner should start preparing to accept defeat.

Amazingly, she ties Fisher among women. And when asked who is more liberal, Fisher wins 28-26. Considering how much effort Brunner has made to be to the left of Fisher, that has to hurt.

So much for that 'innovative grassroots campaign', eh?

Name ID
No one has any. Somehow Rob Portman's name ID is only 5% lower than Fisher and Brunner. That despite Portman never running statewide as both Democrats have done.

And this is good news for Portman. As evidenced in yesterday's poll, Ohioans are unhappy with Ohio's economy and job crisis. Fisher is primed to be defined as one of the men most responsible for that predicament. Meanwhile, Fisher has to rely on the "HE WORKED FOR BUSH!" model -- a strategy that's been debunked several times before here on 3BP.

The Tea Party
This is the number that particularly struck me. In a question asking about favorability of the Tea Party and the two mainstream Parties, favorability for the Tea Party among Ohioans stands at +9. The GOP is at -9 and the Dems are at -12. Now obviously the Tea Party isn't nominating anybody to run for office and doesn't have a record to be criticized.

But as I've discussed previously, Democrats who mock and minimize the Tea Party do so at their own peril. And these numbers confirm it.

With all that being said, and in affirmation of David Moore's analysis above, it's best to take the results of yesterday and today's Quinnipiac poll's with a grain of salt. Think of it this way, polls that are currently using the Registered Voter model are testing where the race is at among those that don't really pay attention and are much less likely to vote in November. The Likely Voter model that Rasmussen uses provides more insight into where the race stands among those who have paid reasonable attention and are much more likely to get to the polls in November.

Who is more accurate? Well, first remember Quinnipiac moves into the Likely Voter model as election day approaches. Both poll differently, Rasmussen by voice recording and Quinny by live interviewer. Most recently, the automated polling style was proven to be more accurate. But ultimately, both styles have proven their worth.

As far as this poll goes, Portman has to be happy with where he stands, particularly among Independents. Additionally, he understands Fisher's lack of name ID leaves the Democrat vulnerable to being attached, and justly so, to the jobs crisis currently facing Ohio.

The big loser? Jennifer Brunner. Again.

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