« Citizens to slash wind-coverage limit in half to $1 million | Main | Attorney General Bondi challenges fund for lawyers in BP oil spill lawsuit »

Why Quinnipiac's Florida poll might be completely accurate -- unlike Democratic criticisms

From Quinnipiac University pollster Doug Schwartz:

Yesterday’s Quinnipiac University Poll of Florida voters was criticized by Democratic pollster David Beattie for the partisan composition of its sample.  He writes “In short the results raise some concerns because more Republicans than Democrats are interviewed, which is not going to happen on Election Day in Florida. They model that 32% of the turnout will be Republican, 29% Democrat and 32% Independent in the 2012 election, this is NOTHING like what the reality will be.  There will be a net 2 percentage point or more Democratic registration advantage on election day.”

One problem with Mr. Beattie’s analysis is that he assumes that we know prior to the election what the exact partisan composition of the electorate will be on Election Day.  One only has to look at past Florida exit polls to see that the party distribution of the electorate can change from election to election.  In 2008, there were more Democratic voters than Republicans by a 37-34 percent margin.  However, in 2004, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by 4 points 41-37 percent.

We are currently using the same methodology that we used when we accurately predicted the Florida presidential results in 2004 and 2008.  Respected New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver found that we were the most accurate poll in predicting the 2010 elections.


It should also be noted that Mr. Beattie is comparing apples to oranges.  He cites our party identification numbers and then compares them to party registration figures.  Major independent pollsters and political scientists have long recognized that party identification is a better measure of political attitudes than party registration.  Some people register with one party and even though their political attitudes have changed, they don’t bother to change their party registration.  Party identification measures whether people generally consider themselves a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, regardless of party registration.    It is important to understand that all of the major polls – Gallup, Pew, Quinnipiac, CBS, ABC, and NBC- do not weight their data by party.  Those polls, as does Quinnipiac, weight their data for things such as gender and age to match the Census data because these things don’t change.

There is always going to be some small fluctuation in party identification in polls.  It might be due to sampling error or short term events.    These small movements are generally not worth mentioning.   If however, there is a big change that holds up over time that would be a significant finding.  Such a phenomena is very rare in public opinion.  It is called a “party realignment” and happens when there is a major event, like the Depression in the 1930’s, which causes a substantial number of people to permanently change their party identification.

In our recent poll, we found that in party identification Republicans outnumbered Democrats 32-29 percent, which is not a statistically significant difference.    In our three prior polls the Republican percentage was between 29-31 percent and the Democratic percentage was between 32 and 33 percent. This sample is a little more Republican than those earlier polls.  But the difference is so small that it is not meaningful.  Even with the slightly more Republican sample, the results of the matchup between Obama and Romney were the same for the last 3 polls. In each survey, Romney was ahead of Obama by a statistically insignificant 3 point margin.

All of these Quinnipiac polls have shown that the party distribution in Florida is about evenly split.  Given our poll numbers it is certainly possible that there will be a small Democratic advantage on Election Day or there could be a small Republican advantage, or it could be a tie.

One early indicator of a potential problem for President Obama is the enthusiasm gap in Florida.  As we’ve seen in other states, Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting than Republicans.  So even though the party breakdown is roughly evenly split, Republicans could outnumber Democrats on Election Day if they are more excited about voting in November.

It should also be pointed out that we are about 10 months from the election.   This was a poll of registered voters.  It is too early to be talking about likely voters.  We don’t even know who the Republican candidate for President will be, although it is obviously looking good for Romney.   No pollster can tell you what is going to happen in the election in November in January, not even Mr. Beattie.  A poll is a snapshot in time.  We will have a better idea of what will happen in the election come September and October, with the most accurate polling right before the election.

Finally, I would suggest that whenever a partisan pollster criticizes the methodology of an independent pollster, it be taken with a big grain of salt.  The goals of a campaign pollster are very different from an independent pollster.  The job of a campaign pollster is to help their candidate get elected.   As an independent poll, Quinnipiac’s goal is to provide accurate polling data to the public.  Unlike campaign pollsters, Quinnipiac is completely transparent about its methods and poll results.    I would suggest that partisan pollsters also be completely transparent and disclose to the news media their own methodology and poll results.  If campaign pollsters are going to go on the record criticizing other polls, shouldn’t they be expected to go on the record explaining how they do their own polls? We welcome any members of the news media to visit our Polling Institute and see how we do our surveys.  We wonder whether Mr. Beattie or other critics, partisan or independent, are willing to make the same offer.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Doremus

Go Newt!

Anything done to Mitt will be but a minor foreshadow of the pummeling awaiting him at the hands of Obama.

We can't win the presidential election, with “Obama Lite.” Romney will be a repeat of the ‘98 train wreck, just instead of McCain vs Obama, this time it will be McPain vs. Obama. McPain’s only vision is to notch another credential on his Mormon Resume. Even if, by miracle, he wins, America will be little better off, more business as usual. Yada Yada Yada.

This may be our last and BEST chance to change the destiny of America. We need a bold visionary with sweeping changes (remember 1994 Republican revolution) by a man that knows history and economics and can rally the pride and industry of our country. Newt will get us energy independent, rebuild our infrastructure, bring manufacturing and industry back to America, wage an effective war on terror without losing sight that China and India are our real competitors.

Anyone but Mitt. Well anybody but Ron Paul.

naplesbob

Honestly, if this election comes down to excited voters; It's President Obama, in a landslide.No moral person could vote for Newt. No Evangelical person could vote for Mitt. No sane person could vote for Ron Paul. No person who believes in a Woman's equality could vote for Santourm.In fact a "real" American who believes in "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happyiness; could not vote Republican at all.So that leaves either a third party, or President Obama. I as a long time Republican; but a longer time American,; can not and will not votr Republican this year.

BD

I am convinced Ron Paul is the Thomas Jefferson of the 21st Century! And I agree with the last part of the following quote by JFK also;

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been ga...thered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." -John F. Kennedy

It needs to be realized that if Ron wins the nomination, theres a big chance for a landslide victory over Obama. Ron will carry 90% or more of the Libertarian vote (including mine regardless of what ticket he runs under), all the tea party vote, the rest of the Republican party that will always vote Rep, the college and under 30 vote, and a whole bunch of democrats and independants from all catagories that believe in Individual Liberty and limited Fed government.

If Newt wins the nomination, theres no way he can win even though he is an excellent debator and articulator, no Libertarians will vote for him and he has no chance of getting any democrat/independant vote from anyone that thinks highly of either of the Clintons. A very limited upside.
If Romney or the others wins the nomination it will be a repeat result of the 2008 election.

If Americans don't recognize Ron Paul as the only intellectual politician in the 2012 Campaign and give him a huge republican majority of electoral votes in their states, then they deserve the continued punishment and stupidity from their government that will most certainly follow!!

Mr.Stephen Schweter

Fellow American's

Do your own research Ron Paul is the best that man for the Job.
He never voted for any bill that was in conflict
with the law of the land. the constitution.
He voted NO for going into Iraq,We now know that was based on lies.Viet-nam was also.The law of the land states only go to war if declared by congress do the job AND GET OUT. WE WON ww2 IN 4 YEARS,AND WE CAN'T OR ARE UNWILLING TO NOT HAVE THE CURRENT MESS MOPPED up BY NOW. Maby the crazy rules of engement arenot helping. Dr.Ron paul = liberty,honesty,freedom. Why has not OB repealed the TSA grouping act or the NDAA which in signed 12/31/11. Did he not swear to up hold the constitution we now con be held without benefit of a trial all they have to say is you have ties to bad guys the do not
have to prove it. The more you learn about DR.Ron Paul if you take the time to check him out other then what the Media puppets have to say about him. Google "Orwell rolls in his grave grave" ther are many parts to the program
full version is 3 hours long.
Stewphen

GetAGripOnReality

And these people wonder why they are called ron paul wackos.

Little Lotte's Angel

I will be voting for Mitt Romney. His understanding of the economy is just sublime! Furthermore I am a proud gay republican and he is the only man in this race who shows gays respect!!! I could care less for marriage "rights" but i would like the same benefits and the respect i deserve. Santorum and Gingrich embody everything that is wrong with our party... Santorum truly does hate gays and quite possibly women in roles of Authority. Gingrich is a pompous arrogant pathetic man who says some pretty outlandish and offensive things. However, those statements are dismissed by our party but they will be his downfall in the general election! And Ron Paul is crazy!!! Mitt Romney is the only one worth voting for!!! I'm finally old enough to vote and this will be my first time voting for president. The nation is changing and we as a party must change somewhat or we will fade away. If Lincoln could see us now he would be so ashamed. The GOP used to stand for something, we were tolerant and giving. We are now portrayed as greedy and ignorant. We can say that's just the liberal media or we can go out and show the world who we are, what kind of people vote republican, and what we stand for. The best way is to vote for something new!!! A somewhat moderate Mormon is by far something new for the GOP!!! Come on we can do this!!!

The comments to this entry are closed.