Saturday, September 27, 2008

More On The Schauer Poll

While you're all watching Senators McCain and Obama, I thought I'd finally get around to writing more about the poll the Schauer campaign released. Just for a reminder, here's what the poll found:
Mark Schauer vs. Tim Walberg

Mark Schauer (D)
- 42 (37)
Tim Walberg (R-inc.) - 36 (40)

Mark Schauer vs. Tim Walberg (Plus Undecideds, allocated based on stated partisan leanings)

Mark Schauer (D) - 48 (45)
Tim Walberg (R-inc.) - 41 (47)

Name Recognition

Mark Schauer (D) - 67 (42)
Tim Walberg (R-inc.) - 76 (74)

Walberg Job Performance

Positive (Good or Excellent) - 34 (34)
Negative (Fair or Poor) - 46 (42)

So, what does all of this mean? Schauer's pollster, Andrew Myers, picks out one important finding:
This survey demonstrates that Schauer’s communications are clearly taking root. Today Schauer is known by 67 percent of voters, a substantial 25 point jump in identification since May
That's the big one, much more than the 42-36 headline. It shows that Schauer's breaking out of his Senate district and getting more attention elsewhere in the district. This is good-- it means the money they're spending on television ads and field organizing is working. It shows that the overall strategy of introducing Schauer to more voters is working. Remember, Schauer doesn't have to win Lenawee County or Hillsdale County to win the election, he just has to not lose too badly, and then perform well in his base. Man, I'd love to see a geographical breakdown of the results.

Of course, by running mostly attack ads, Walberg might be helping to increase Schauer's name recognition. Walberg's attacks might drive up some of Schauer's negatives, but it also makes sure people know that there's an alternative to Tim Walberg. Oh, the irony.

But let's get back to that headline. Schauer leads, 42 to 36. But it's also an internal poll, commissioned by Mark Schauer through a Democratic polling outfit. It must be rigged, right?

No. Just like Walberg's internal poll released a couple of months ago, I don't doubt that the poll was conducted with fair, legitimate polling practices. It's not in anyone's interest to pay for inaccurate polling-- the Schauer campaign probably cares a lot more about getting useful information than about sending out a good press release and having a favorable news cycle.

Does that mean that this poll is accurate? No, not necessarily. A 95 percent confidence level means that 95 percent of the time, the poll will be correct to within the stated margin of error (in this case, 4.38 percent). Schauer's lead is within the margin of error, though it's better to be leading and within the margin of error than losing. But it's also possible that this is one of those 5 percent polls (like I think Walberg's was), where it's not accurate by more than the margin.

Supposing Schauer's poll is absolutely correct, this is a big deal. There are still a lot of undecideds-- and a lot of people who are paying close attention to Obama-McCain, but haven't thought about Schauer-Walberg. But among those that are decided, Schauer is leading a sitting congressman by six points. That's a tough thing to do.

I don't know that I'm saying anything new or interesting tonight, I just wanted to share a few thoughts. It's a good poll for Schauer.

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