Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dueling Polls



Via Swing State Project, which was via Hotline, the Walberg campaign released an internal poll:
Mark Schauer (D): 31
Tim Walberg (R-inc): 47
Margin of Error +/- 5.7%, over July 8th and 9th, surveying 300 "likely voters" conducted by National Research.

I have a few thoughts on this poll.

For starters, it doesn't look good. Walberg leading by 16 points hurts. Obviously, we (meaning both the Schauer campaign and concerned voters in general) need to do a better job.

At the same time, there are some things that make me a little suspicious of whether or not this is actually the real state of the race. This is an internal poll, commissioned for Tim Walberg, but that doesn't mean it isn't accurate. It's not in their interest to get bad data. However, they do get to sit on it for as long as they want without showing it to the media, which they did. The poll was taken early in July, and they kept it quiet until they had a bad news cycle (with Schauer outraising Walberg again).

That means that this could be one of multiple polls they've commissioned over the last few months. It's in their interest to only release favorable polls, so they can just sit the results they're getting until they get one that looks good. It's not dishonest and it's still statistically accurate-- for those that recall their high school math classes, you know that one in twenty polls will be off by more than the margin of error. That's just statistics.

So, I don't doubt that Walberg is leading or that his campaign got that data in their poll. All I doubt is whether that's the only data they have. They probably have other polls taken other times that aren't nearly as favorable, but decided to release this one. I don't believe that Tim Walberg is leading by 16 points.

--------------------

So, I thought I posted the above last night. Apparently, Blogger disagreed, and I went to bed not knowing that it didn't show up, nor did other things I had written. Hrm.

I discovered this a few minutes ago, moments after I also discovered another internal poll in my inbox, this time conducted for the Schauer campaign. For this one, I have a little more information.

This poll was conducted by Meyers Research & Strategic Services over May 8 to 15, 2008, surveying 600 "likely voters." The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent.

When asked about the Schauer-Walberg match-up, the poll found:
Mark Schauer (D): 37
Tim Walberg (R-inc): 40
When undecided voters were "allocated to candidates based on their self-described partisan leanings," it was:
Mark Schauer (D): 45
Tim Walberg (R-inc): 47
They also tested two other races. Incumbent Democratic Senator Carl Levin leads Republican Jack Hoogendyk by 15 percent and Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are tied in the district at 42 percent each.

Other findings, from pollster Andrew Myers:
On other key measures Walberg also proves wounded. Walberg’s re-elect is an abysmal 35 percent, with one-third of voters saying they would prefer someone new (33 percent), and perceptions of his job performance remain net negative as well, with just 34 percent saying he is doing an excellent to good job, while a plurality, 42 percent, say fair to poor.

Today, Schauer is identified by 42 percent of voters and continues to earn a better than two-to-one warm to cool ratio, 23 percent warm, favorable reviews, and 9 percent cool, unfavorable reviews. Walberg, on the other hand, remains far better known than Schauer from the start, with 74 percent able to identify him, but his warm to cool ratio is less than two-to-one, 36 percent warm, 23 percent cool.

While the contest remains generally unchanged, there is evidence that voters are ready for change. Specifically, while voters were sour to begin with in our survey in August, this electorate has soured further, and just two-in-ten voters today report that things in the United States are on the right track, while seven-in-ten say they are pretty seriously off on the wrong track.

Bottom line, this contest remains close despite Walberg’s significant expenditures on
incumbency protection, and Walberg remains critically wounded on every key measure for an incumbent. Voters appear more aligned for change today, and Schauer will have the resources to press the case come Election Day.
(Emphasis added.)

So, where does this leave us? Obviously, the same notes on the Walberg poll above apply here. The Schauer campaign sat on this until they needed it-- this time, for two-and-a-half months. As far as the actual state of the race, I'm inclined to think that it's closer to three points than sixteen. Chances are, Walberg's lead is somewhere in the five to 10 range.

But Eric at Michigan Liberal picks out the other significant finding:
I don't put a great deal of stock in polling, especially 100 days out and super especially internal polls. The story here, I think, is that not even Walberg's own internal polling has him above 50 percent, which is just not good news for him especially since he's being outraised.
(Emphasis added.)

He's right about that. An incumbent under the 50 percent has a metaphorical target painted on his back. If the national Republican Party is forced to prioritize which seats they're going to defend, they're not going to pick the guy whose own polls show him doing badly.

Now, what we really need is some independent and transparent polling. There are a lot of questions that could be asked about the candidates and the issues, and I'd love to see a county-by-county breakdown of the race. I'd do it myself, but I'm only one man!

As of July 09, 2008, I have been working with the Schauer for Congress campaign in Lenawee County. My thoughts and writings are my own opinions, and I do not speak for Senator Schauer or anyone else in his organization.

NOTE: This disclaimer was added a few days late... I keep forgetting to add it at the end.

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