Monday, March 1, 2010

Just one poll.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't explain why Kasich's situation with Qpac in Feb. 10 is WORSE than it was in Nov. 09.

Still waiting for why you shouldn't be concerned about that ....

Tom Blumer
That was a comment left on my last post about the Quinnipiac Poll that showed Ted Strickland up on John Kasich, 44-39.

And it's a reasonably good question.

But its premise is faulty.

Kasich's "situation" is not necessarily "worse". In fact, it's virtually unchanged.

As we begin looking into this more in-depth, let's remember the margin of error (MOE) of the poll was 2.4%.

From the previous poll, overall support for Kasich dropped by only 1%. Clearly, well within the MOE.

But despite the negligible drop, we can still ask how the support changed that led to losing that single digit.

Kasich only dropped 1% among Independents. 1% among Democrats. And 3% among Republicans. Miniscule changes, but they add up.

Essentially, this poll wasn't about Kasich performing substantively worse, but more about Strickland improving his standing among Democrats and Independents.

Of course, it didn't have much of anywhere to go but up.

Among Democrats, his approval numbers enjoyed a net gain of 9 points, and a net gain of 10 among Independents.

But what's most important is name ID.

As I've been reinforcing, Quinnipiac only tests registered voters this far out from the election. Not likely voters. This means they are testing people less likely to vote, and history shows that these types of polls virtually always help Democrats.

Furthermore, since the opponent is almost always unknown among registered voters, polls of registered voters tend to only be a decent gauge of where the incumbent stands. Ultimately, until Kasich's name ID substantively improves, polls of registered voters won't provide an accurate picture of how the two candidates stack up against eachother. That's why the Ohio News Poll and Rasmussen have provided a more accurate picture - because they focused on likely voters.

But as I reviewed the Quinny poll, I wanted to do a little toying with the numbers to project where Kasich could end up among the all-important Independent vote.

Overall, Kasich's name recognition improved by 7%, going from 69% not knowing him to 62%. The good news is that as more got to know him, they still approved and disapproved of him at the same rate as the last poll with the approval to disapproval ratio remaining unchanged at 2.5-1.

Among indies, his name ID went from 72% unknown to 61%. Interestingly enough, as name ID among this demographic improved, so did his approval. His approval rating among Indies improved by 7 points while his disapproval only went up by 5.

So, just for the fun of it, let's assume Kasich's approval/disapproval numbers increase at the same rate for every 11% of Independents that get to know him. Furthermore, let's assume, by the time of the election, Kasich will be just as well known among Independents as Strickland is right now after nearly 3.5 years as Governor. That means his name ID will improve by 45%. Multiply that out and you have his approval increasing by 28% and disapproval increasing by 20%.

In other words, his approval/disapproval numbers among Independents would be at 57-30. Compare that to Strickland's current number of 45-37. +27 to +8 means one heckuva win among Independents. And where do Independents stand now? Tied at 38. In other words, Kasich would win the Independents big, and swing the election.

I know, I know. You were told there would be no math. Sorry about that. And ultimately, who knows where Kasich will end up among Indies?

But it's done to reinforce an important lesson - that name ID means one helluva lot. And that's why polls like this one, where only registered voters are tested, makes it difficult to honestly gauge where the opponent stands in the race. Afterall, it's hard to analyze anything where nearly 2/3 of voters don't yet have an opinion.

But they do have an opinion of Ted Strickland. And as I've stated before, it isn't good.

As I mentioned in my last post on this poll, Nate Silver did an analysis of polls where incumbents tested under 50 in early polls and compared them to where they ended up.

He states the following:
5 of the 15 incumbents to have under 45 percent of the vote in early polls also won their elections.
That's Ted Strickland. He has less than 45 percent of the vote.

Additionally, he comments on the latest poll from Quinnipiac:
If we instead look at those cases within three points of Ted Strickland's 44 percent, when the incumbent had between 41 and 47 percent of the vote in early polls, he won on 11 of 17 occasions.
That may give some Democrats hope. But it shouldn't.

Silver, who is unabashedly liberal, is being a bit dishonest with the numbers by isolating the single Quinnipiac poll in his analysis of where the race stands.

If he wanted to play fair, he would use the same standard he used in his overall analysis, the incumbent's average in the early polls, and according to, Strickland is averaging 40.5%.

So, using his method and looking at cases within three points of where Strickland is actually averaging, from 37.5% to 43.5%, 7 incumbents lost and 4 incumbents won.

In other words, with nearly a 2-1 ratio, the odds are against Ted Strickland.

Ultimately, the Quinnipiac poll is just that, one poll. Both sides are going to go up and down over the next few months. As Kasich's name ID improves and as voters start paying more attention, these polls will become more and more accurate.

Until then we'll learn what we can from the information we have. This last poll showed us two things:
  1. Strickland has marginally improved his standing among his base and Independents.
  2. Registered voters don't know John Kasich.
That's it.

But it's the trend that matters. And one poll does not a trend make.

The trend shows Kasich is stagnant, and will likely remain that way until his name ID improves. And Strickland's support in early polls is still at a dangerously low level.

Ultimately, I'm very happy with where things stand.

1 comment:

  1. I think "stagnant" is a fair admission, and a bit of a drop-off from the original "good news for John Kasich" take (yes, I know that Strick's under-45 position as an incumbent is historically good news).

    Kasich can't "stay stagnant" and win unless Strickland implodes (which he seems to working on). I don't think he will stay stagnant and I do think he can win, but he's got to take it away, not count on the other guy to fall on his face. More important for the state, he needs a convincing victory margin that compensates for the ORP's nutty tampering with the rest of the ticket, and that gets the OH House back to a GOP majority.

    Also, don't forget that Rasmussen with LVs went from +9 to +6.


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