New Hampshire: Franklin Pierce: May 2016

Surveys from states that comprise my Swing State Symphony continue to come in and I am most happy for it.

The latest example comes from New Hampshire. Franklin Pierce University (FPU) and The Boston Herald released a poll last month (405 likely voters, margin of error 4.9 percentage points, report here, results here) that showed a statistical tie between the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, and the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump. In the poll, Clinton wins 44.4% of the vote of a sample of New Hampshire’s citizens while Trump wins 43.7% (and most news outlets round those figures to a 44%-44% tie).

In a previous post (seen here) on this blog,I wrote about a WBUR poll that showed that a sample of New Hampshire voters favor Clinton over Trump by 2 percentage points (44%-42%). In that post, I compared the WBUR poll (done in May) to an April survey performed by WMUR which showed a Clinton victory of 19 percentage points. In that comparison attempting to explain why the Democratic Party nominee’s lead evaporated by 17 percentage points, I highlighted the role of men, party identification, the young, and older voters.

With the FPU-Herald survey showing a tie, do those demographics still help explain the disappearance of Clinton’s lead in the Granite State?

Trump’s share of the male vote continues to expand in New Hampshire. In the May WBUR poll, male voters preferred Trump over Clinton 50%-35% with 14% selecting another option (7% don’t know, 5% another candidate, 2% refused). Later in the month, with the FPU-Herald poll, male voters now prefer Trump over Clinton 55%-33% with now only 9% unsure. Trump grew his share of the men’s vote by 5 percentage points.

However, Clinton also increased her share of the female vote. The WBUR poll showed women voting for Clinton over Trump by a margin of 49%-30% with 21% selecting another option (11% don’t know, 7% another candidate, 3% refuse). The FPU-Herald survey shows female voters now choosing Clinton by a margin of 53%-32% with 15% unsure. Clinton grew her share of the women’s vote by 4 percentage points.

Taking the difference between Trump’s growth in the male vote (5 percentage points) and Clinton’s growth in the female vote (4 percentage points) shows a net gain for Trump of a single percentage point.*

Unsure Republican voters in New Hampshire are moving closer towards Trump also. Early in May, in the WBUR survey, 68% of Republican voters chose their party’s nominee while 13% selected his opponent (with 19% choosing another option). With the FPU-Herald survey, Trump’s share of GOP voters increased slightly to 72% (an increase of 4 percentage points). While 13% of GOP voters still vote for Clinton, the percentage of “unsure” Republican voters dropped to 15% (a drop of 4 percentage points).

Clinton’s share of Democratic Party voters did increase 9 percentage points from 78% in the WBUR poll to 87% in the FPU-Herald survey. However, Independent voters increased their support for Trump from 39% (WBUR) to 42% (FPU-Herald). Clinton’s slice of Independent voters moved from 41% (WBUR) to 43% (FPU-Herald). The difference between Trump’s increase in support from Independent voters (3 percentage points) and Clinton’s increase in support from Independent voters (2 percentage points) shows a net gain for Trump by a single percentage point.

When it comes to comparing ages, the brackets used by the two polls are not the same so an exact comparison cannot be precise. The young moved away from Trump between these two surveys. In the earlier WBUR poll, 47% of voters between the ages 18-29 would vote from Trump (33% for Clinton). In the later FPU-Herald survey, Trump now won 43% of that age bracket and so did Clinton. However, the FPU-Herald survey also has a 25-34 age bracket and Trump wins a majority of that age bracket with 51% of that vote to Clinton’s 43%.

For the elder set, the WBUR survey had a bracket for voters 60-and-over. In that poll, Trump defeats Clinton by two percentage points (42%-40%). In the FPU-Herald survey, the age bracket used is for voters 65-and-over. With that group, Clinton wins 46%-45%, but in the bracket right below it (55-64), Trump again wins a majority (51%-43%).**

Since the age brackets between the WBUR and the FPU-Herald figures are not a one-to-one comparison, I don’t feel I can make a judgement as to whether Trump’s increase (or Clinton’s decrease) among the various ages help to explain the 44%-44% tie that the latest poll in New Hampshire has found.

I will go so far to say that Trump’s gains among men and fellow Republicans helped his cause to coming closer to winning the four votes in the Electoral College that New Hampshire holds.

 

*While both candidates expanded their share of their respective genders, Trump comes out better in the FPU-Herald survey because more men (206) were respondents than women (199). The earlier WBUR had more female respondents (269) than male (232), which helped the Democratic Party nominee.

**The April poll done by WMUR (report here) did have an age bracket for voters 65-and-over. In that survey, Clinton won 54% of that vote to Trump’s 35%. Therefore, from April to late May, Trump saw his support among the 65+ group increase by 10 percentage points and Clinton’s support dropped by 8 percentage points.

New Mexico: PPP: May 2016

And there was much rejoicing.

The last of my Swing State Symphony, New Mexico, has finally released a survey documenting the presidential preferences of the citizens of the Land of Enchantment.

In my baseline tally, I categorized New Mexico as a “Tossup” state. One reason for this designation has to do with the state’s history in previous American presidential elections. Over the past seven elections (since 1988), the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party has won five (1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012) and the presidential nominee of the Republican Party has won two (1988, 2004). Over the last four presidential elections (since 2000), the average margin of victory for the three wins by the Democratic Party has been 8.45% (2000: Gore beats Bush by 0.06%, 2008: Obama defeats McCain by 15.13%, 2012: Obama wins over Romney by 10.15%). When the Republican Party victory in 2004 where Bush defeating Kerry by 0.79% is thrown into the equation, the median margin of victory for the Democratic Party over the past four presidential elections is 5.11%.

Those historical numbers did not persuade me by enough of a margin to place New Mexico in the “Leaning” bucket. So, since New Mexico is in the “Tossup” bin, I was incredibly enthusiastic to learn that a state poll had been released to see where the balance now lay.

In the middle of May, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey (802 likely voters, margin of error 3.5 percentage points, report here) that showed that in a hypothetical presidential contest, the nominee of the Democratic Party (Hillary Clinton) wins 41% of the voter’s support, the nominee of the Republican Party (Donald Trump) wins 33% of the voter’s support, and the nominee of the Libertarian Party (Gary Johnson) wins 14% of the voter’s support.

It is no surprise that Johnson is included as an option to New Mexico voters as he once served as the governor of that state.

From the report, the writers make this assertion about party affiliation and how wedded Republican and Democratic voters are to their respective nominees:

Clinton and Trump hold large leads among their parties, but not at levels normally seen among nominees. Clinton receives the support of 67 percent of Democrats to Trump’s 11 percent and Johnson’s 10 percent. Trump, meanwhile, receives the support of 62 percent of Republicans to Johnson’s 16 percent and Clinton’s 14 percent.

In terms of race, the report has the following figures:

Clinton receives the support of 56 percent of Hispanic voters to Trump’s 19 percent and Johnson’s 19 percent. Trump leads with white voters at 47 percent to Clinton’s 29 percent and Johnson’s 14 percent. In ethnicities listed as “other,” Clinton leads 41 percent to Trump’s 23 percent and Johnson’s 21 percent.

I look forward to more polls from New Mexico to see how this data and other figures vacillate between now and Election Day.

Ohio: Zogby: May 2016

On May 3, 2016, after winning the Republican presidential primary in Indiana, Donald Trump became the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party when his two main opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kaisch, dropped out from the race.

There is a thought floating around the Internet that once he became the last person standing in the Republican Party nomination process, GOP voters would begin to coalesce around Trump (see sample of such articles here, here, and here).

But is this coalescence universal throughout all of the states in the Union?

My previous post (as seen here) showed that while Trump did indeed see a boost to his support in Florida after the Indiana Republican presidential primary, that level of support over a trio of surveys in the Sunshine State shows it level at 42%.

The next state to be compared using surveys taken after Trump’s win in Indiana is Ohio.

On May 10, Quinnipiac University released a poll (1,042 registered voters, margin of error 3 percentage points, results here) surveying the presidential preferences of the citizens of Ohio. In this poll Trump defeated the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, by a margin of 43%-39%. The previous poll in the Buckeye State, taken before Trump’s victory in Indiana, was released on May 2 by Public Policy Polling (PPP). That survey by PPP (799 registered voters, margin of error 3.2 percentage points, results here) show a Clinton victory of 45%-42%.

Note that in the surveys taken in Ohio released right before and right after the May 3 Indiana Republican presidential primary, Trump’s level of support only increases by a single percentage point (43% in the Quinnipiac post-Indiana poll to the 42% in the PPP pre-Indiana survey).

Since the Quinnipiac survey, there have been two other polls taken in Ohio. Both show Clinton victories. The first poll after the Qunnipiac survey was done by CBS News/YouGov (perviously written about here) which showed the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party defeating the presidential nominee of the Republican Party by a margin of 44%-39%.

The most recent Ohio poll is from Zogby Analytics, published on May 25 (679 likely voters, margin of error 3.8 percentage points, report here), shows a Clinton victory by a margin of 6 percentage points (45% to 39%). Even when respondents are given the option to select between Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton defeats Trump by 5 percentage points (Clinton 38%, Trump 33%, Johnson 6%, Stein 3%).

After his win in Indiana, Trump saw his level of support in Ohio jump to 43% based on the results from the Quinnipiac poll. That jump in Republican support – and the possibility that Ohio’s eighteen votes in the Electoral College could go to Trump – caused political writers to wax on about a tightening of the contest in Ohio citing the Quinnipiac numbers (see articles here, here, and here).

Since the Quinnipiac survey, what happened to the Republican Party presidential nominee’s support? Why has Trump gone from 43% (Quinnipiac) to 39% (Zogby) – a drop of 4 percentage points, while Clinton has seen her numbers increase 6 percentage points from 39% (Quinnipiac) to 45% (Zogby)?

The report from Zogby does not go into great detail about the demographic breakdown of its respondents, but I’ll see what I can tease out of their report and compare it to the Quinnipiac poll.

The writers at Zogby say, “Hillary Clinton does better than Donald Trump among women (46% to 35%)”. Less than a month earlier, the Quinnipiac survey showed Clinton’s support of female voters only at 43% (Trump’s share of the female vote was 36%).

The presidential nominee from the Democratic Party slightly increased her margin of support with women voters by 3 percentage points in less than a month, but is that enough to account for her jump in Ohio?

The writers at Quinnipiac wrote in early May that, “Independent voters go 40 percent for Trump and 37 percent for Clinton.” Less than a month late, Zogby notes that, “Clinton and Trump are statistically tied among Ohio independents, 37% to 35%.”

The presidential nominee from the Republican Party saw his margin of support among Independent voters drop by five percentage points in less than a month, but is that enough to account for his opponent’s jump in Ohio?

In the Quinnipiac poll, 62% of the respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton (versus 34% who saw her favorably, giving her a favorability rating of -28%). In that same survey, 57% of the respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump (versus 36% who saw him in favorably, giving him a favorability rating of -21%). This survey from Zogby (679 likely voters, margin of error 3.8 percentage points, report here) asked the favorability question a bit differently, but here are the results. Sixty percent of the respondents in Ohio had an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump (13% “somewhat unfavorable”, 47% “very unfavorable”). Hillary Clinton chimes in with 56% of the respondents viewing her unfavorably (12% “somewhat unfavorable”, 43% “very unfavorable”).

In terms of favorability, 43% of the Ohioans in the Zogby survey view Clinton as favorable, giving her a favorability rating of -13% (56% unfavorable versus 43% favorable) – which is a gain in favorability since the Quinnipiac survey of 15 percentage points. For Donald Trump, 37% view him as favorable, giving him a favorability rating of -23% (60% unfavorable versus 37% favorable) – which is a drop of 2 percentage points since the Quinnipiac survey.

The presidential nominee from the Democratic Party saw her favorability ratings rise (while still being underwater, mind you) in less than a month, but is that enough to account for her jump in Ohio?

No, but when you combine the three factors mentioned above (women, Independents, favorability), the sum probably accounts for a majority of Clinton’s jump in Ohio during the month of May.

Florida: Mason-Dixon: June 2016

On May 3, 2016, after winning the Republican presidential primary in Indiana, Donald Trump became the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party when his two main opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kaisch, dropped out from the race.

Since the third of May of this year, when polling organizations have asked people in surveys who they would vote for if the American presidential election were held today, Donald Trump has always been the person representing the Republican Party.

Before 05/03/2016, this was not always the case and respondents had a variety of Republicans to choose from in hypothetical contests between the nominee of the Democratic Party whether it was Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

One thing that has happened since the Indiana Republican presidential primary is that Trump’s support has increased in a variety of state polls. The state of Florida is just one such example. The last poll taken before May 3 was done by Associated Industries of Florida (604 likely voters, margin of error 5 percentage points, report here) on April 27 and its results showed Clinton defeating Trump by a margin of 49%-36%.

The next poll taken in Florida, taken after the Indiana Republican presidential primary after Cruz and Kaisch drop out of the race, is a May 8 survey done by Quinnipiac (1,051 registered voters, margin of error 3 percentage points, results here) that showed Trump’s support increasing to 42% and Clinton dropping to 43%.

While interesting to note that Trump’s level of support in Florida climbing by 6 percentage points before and after the Indiana Republican presidential primary, it is also worth noting that in the three surveys taken since the Quinnipiac poll, his support has stayed constant at 42%.

A May 18 poll by Gravis (2,542 registered voters, margin of error 2 percentage points, report here) had Trump at 42%, but Clinton at 46% (+3 percentage points from the Quinnipiac poll).

A May 19 survey from CBS News/YouGov (995 likely voters, margin of error 4 percentage points, results here) had Trump again at 42%, but Clinton won the survey (barely) with 43% (same level of support as the Quinnipiac survey).

The latest poll representing the presidential preferences of the citizens of Florida comes from Mason-Dixon (625 likely voters, margin of error 4 percentage points, results here) and it shows Trump at (you guessed it) 42% and Clinton at 45% (a gain of 2 percentage points from the post-Indiana Quinnipiac poll).

Comparing the early May Quinnipiac survey to the early June results from Mason-Dixon provides some insight as to why the needle has not moved for Trump since the post-Indiana bump…and perhaps why Clinton has seen a slight bump in her support.

Let’s look at five things: favorability, gender, party identification, race, and age.

In the Quinnipiac poll from the previous month, both presidential candidate were greatly disliked. Both Trump and Clinton had a favorability rating of -20% (both candidates received responses of 37% favorable versus 57% unfavorable). A month later, in the Mason-Dixon survey, Trump’s favorability rating inched down to -22% (31% favorable versus 53% unfavorable). Meanwhile, Clinton saw her favorability rating in Florida jumped up to -6% (41% favorable to 47% unfavorable).

Not sure why, but within a month, Florida voters have warmed to the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party while remaining the same (even cooling) to the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

The male voters of Florida, in the Quinnipiac survey, lean towards Trump by a margin of 49%-36% (+13 percentage points). Female Florida voters, in May, threw their support to Clinton by a margin of 48%-35% (+13 percentage points). Since both candidates won their genders by the same margin, the Quinnipiac poll shows no gender gap. In June, the Mason-Dixon survey, Trump share of the men’s vote increased to 52%-34% (+18 percentage points), but Clinton’s share of the female vote increased to 55%-33% (+22 percentage points). The gender gap in the Mason-Dixon poll skews towards Clinton by four percentage points.

Not sure why, but within a month, the two genders of Florida’s electorate have increased their separation towards their respective candidates, but they have increased their leaning towards the female candidate even more.

In May, Independent voters told Quinnipiac that 39% of them would support Trump and 39% of them would support Clinton. In June, Independent voters told Mason-Dixon that 40% would support Trump and 34% would support Clinton.

Not sure why, but within a month, those respondents who claimed allegiance to neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party, threw their support to Trump and away from Clinton.

From the Quinnipiac May survey comes this line, “White voters go Republican 52-33 percent, while non-white voters go Democratic 63-20 percent.” From the Mason-Dixon June survey, the results table shows that White voters went for Trump 55%-31%, an increase of 3 percentage points for the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, and that non-white voters support Clinton by a margin of 76%-13%, an increase of 13 percentage points for the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Not sure why, but within a month, African-American and Hispanic voters in Florida drove up their support for Clinton while White voters slightly increased their support for Trump.

Young voters (between the ages of 18-34) supported Clinton in May by a margin of 49%-27% (+22 percentage points). In May, older voters (age 65 and older) supported Trump by a margin of 50%-37% (+13 percentage points). A month later, the 18-34 bracket go for the Democratic Party 53%-26% (+27 percentage points) and the 65-and-up group go for the Republican Party 51%-44% (+7 percentage points).

Not sure why, but within a month, those voters between the age of 18-34 increased their support for Clinton, while Trump saw his support among those 65 and older erode slightly (although he still retained a majority of that demographic).

I would also like to note for the record that from January to early May, Real Clear Politics documents five surveys (list here) taken in the state of Florida that asked people their choice in a hypothetical Trump-Clinton presidential race. In three of those surveys, Trump wins with levels of support of 47%, 46%, and 45%. He loses two of those races while still earning support levels of 43% and 41%. For those five surveys, his average level of support has been 44.4%.

The four surveys taken after the Indiana Republican presidential primary all show Trump with a level of support at 42%. Rather than seeing Florida voters coalescing around the Republican Party nominee, the case appears (for the moment) that his support has slightly eroded and topped off.

As always, we’ll see what the next survey brings.

Virginia: Gravis: May 2016

Gravis Marketing released a poll in May (1,728 registered voters, margin of error 2 percentage points, results here) documenting the presidential preference of the citizens of Virginia. These latest results show the presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, defeating her opponent, the presidential candidate from the Republican Party, Donald Trump, by four percentage point (45%-41%).

Gravis, in the report that I link to, does not provide a breakdown of which demographics voted for which candidate so I cannot pontificate on how well Clinton did among older female voters (or not) or how well Trump did with younger male voters (or not).

What I can say is that since the start of the year, the overall support for the Republican Party candidate has increased.

In January, Roanoke College released a poll (previously mentioned here in this post) showed Trump only garnering 35% of the vote with Clinton taking a majority (52%) of the respondent’s preference.

In April, Christopher Newport University released a poll (previously mentioned here in this post) that still showed Trump at 35% of the vote while Clinton’s share declined to 44%.

A month later, and after Trump’s win in the Indiana Republican Party primary which saw his two main opponents (Ted Cruz, John Kaisch) drop out of the race leaving Trump the last person standing in the Republican Party presidential race, Trump increased his share of the vote in Virginia 3 percentage points to 38% in a Roanoke College survey (previously mentioned here in this post) showing a 38%-38% tie between himself and Clinton.

Later in May (and the title of today’s post), the most recent survey from Gravis shows Virginia’s support for the Republican Party presidential candidate surpassing the 40% (albeit to 41%) mark.

Granted, Clinton still wins and with the margin of error, her victory in the Gravis survey is nearly decisive, but my first point with this particular post is to show a possible trend of Trump’s share of the vote increasing among Virginia voters keeping the Old Dominion squarely in the realm of tossup states. As always, more polls will be needed to see if this is indeed a trend, but the fact remains that over four polls since the start of 2016, Donald Trump has seen his support rise 6 percentage points while his opponent has seen her share of the Virginia vote decline by 7 percentage points.

However, Trump’s share of support could suffer if a third option is available in the Old Dominion.

In the Gravis survey, respondents were asked who they would vote for in a hypothetical three-person contest between Trump, Clinton, and the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson. When that question was asked, Clinton wins 44% of the vote (-1 percentage point from her result in the two-way contest), Trump now only wins 38% (-3), and Johnson takes home 6% of the vote, with 12% still undecided. As only two percent of previously undecided voters (from the 45%-41% two-person question) moved to Johnson and only a single percentage point moved from Clinton to Johnson, half of those who said they would vote Libertarian came from those who had said they would support the Republican in the two-way race.

Still Tied Up in Nots

Maybe it is simply too early to be doing any worthwhile polling in the first place.

Earlier, I wrote a post about the legions of the Nots, those people in surveys who choose neither Donald Trump (Republican Party candidate) nor Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party candidate) when asked to give their preference on who they would pick to be the next President of the United States of America.

Two recent polls highlight to me the fact that the Nots continue to be a factor when trying to figure out how the citizens of a specific state will vote.

Public Opinion Strategies released a poll in May (600 likely voters, margin of error 4 percentage points, results here) about how the people of Wisconsin felt who they would select to be the next resident of the White House. In that survey, Clinton tops Trump by 12 percentage points, 43%-31%. It is not the margin of victory that interests me, but the percentage of respondents who choose neither. In this poll, only three-quarters (74%) of those answering the questions chose Trump or Clinton. Over a quarter of the sample (26%) selected another option. Sadly, this survey does not break down what the other responses were (i.e., none of the above, third-party candidate, unsure, etc.) so I can only make the assertion that 26% of the respondents are in the Not camp (Not-Trump and Not-Clinton).

In fact, since the start of January, Real Clear Politics has tracked six polls taken in Wisconsin (list here). In those six polls, the percentage of people choosing neither Clinton nor Trump has been increasing. In January, a Marquette poll was released showing Clinton defeating Trump 47%-38%. In that survey, only 15% chose another option. In March, another poll released by Marquette, showed 16% of the respondents selected neither the Democratic Party candidate nor the Republican Party candidate for president. One month later, a poll released by Wisconsin Public Radio showed Clinton defeating Trump by a margin of 46%-34%, which means that 20% of the poll takers choose not to chose Clinton or Trump (technically, 12% chose “Other” and 8% answered “Not Sure”).

The Legion of the Nots is growing in Wisconsin.

The second poll I will be using as an example comes from Zogby (679 likely voters, margin of error 3.8 percentage points, results here) and it asked the citizens of Ohio who they would select as the next American president. The respondents, when only given the choice between Trump and Clinton, opted for Clinton 45%-39%, which means 16% were undecided. However, when Zogby gave respondents the option of selecting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the number of undecided Ohioans actually goes up to 20%. In this four-person hypothetical race, Clinton wins 38%, Trump 33%, Johnson 6%, and Stein 3%.

Even when given addition options, the Legion of the Nots does not shrink in Ohio.

How long will it be before these Nots make up their minds?

Or, will they never go to the polls at all?

That would make for an interesting survey question: If you are an undecided voter, why are you undecided? Also, what would make you decide?

Swing State Symphony Status – June

On this first day of June, there are 160 days until Election Day (Tuesday, November 8, 2016) when American citizens will go to the polls and make their selection for the next President of the United States of America.

On this first day of June, there are 201 days until the day when the next President of the United States of America will be actually be selected. That day, the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December (which in 2016 will be the 19th), is when the members of the Electoral College gather in their respective state capitals (and the District of Columbia). It is those 535 members, strewn in fifty-one locations, who will actually choose the next American Chief Executive by marking their ballots.

Those days are still far, far away, but that in no way shall deter this blog from prognosticating about the current state of the Electoral College on this first day of the sixth month of 2016.

As I have written before, I have a baseline tally of where I think each of the fifty states (plus the District of Columbia) stands in terms of how they lean towards the presidential candidate of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. I have four categories where I place each state (and DC). Those buckets are “Solid”, “Mostly”, “Leaning”, and “Tossup”.

“Solid” states, whether solid for the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, have a high confidence rating that they will vote for that political party. There is little chance, short of an amazing confluence of events that stagger the mind, that a “Solid” state will flip to the other party.

States that are classified as “Mostly” can be fairly certain to vote a certain way. There is a possibility (not an impossibility, but mostly an improbability) that a state could flip to the other party, but it would take a considerable expenditure of resources.

I see states classified as “Solid” and “Mostly” as safe states for their respective political parties and their presidential candidates. These states will remain (caveat: unless an event of meteoric proportionality occurs) blue or red for the remainder of this election season. With that in mind, when the “Solid” (dark blue/red) and “Mostly” (blue/red) states are filled in on a map, the Electoral College looks like this (and huge respect goes to the people at 270towin.com for this great interactive map)…

270ToWin_SolidMostly

From now until Election Day, the Democratic Party can count on a minimum of 202 votes in the Electoral College and the Republican Party can count on a minimum of 181 votes in the Electoral College.

The remaining thirteen states (tan), and the 155 votes in the Electoral College that they control, are the members of my Swing State Symphony which I believe will determine the fate of the 2016 American presidential election.

This blog post is to fill in those baker’s dozen of states and see where, in my analysis, the balance of the Electoral College stands. My one constraint in this exercise is that I cannot punt or hedge: I must turn each of these thirteen states red or blue. For my analysis, I will be using the state polls that have been taken since the start of 2016.

Proceeding alphabetically, I would start with Colorado, but I am going to skip the Rocky Mountain State (for reasons I will explain later), and instead will start with Florida. In the Sunshine State, there have been ten polls taken (list here). The first three, taken in mid-January, late February, and early March showed a victory for the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Donald Trump. His average margin of victory in that trio of surveys is 2 percentage points. The next seven polls, from early March until the middle of May, show Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, winning the state. Over those past seven straight polls showing Clinton as the victor, her average margin of victory was 5 percentage points. Thought the trend is skewing downward for Clinton (her average margin of victory in the most recent four polls was only 2 percentage points), I will award Florida (for the moment) to the Democratic Party.

Iowa is next and the Hawkeye States poses a tiny problem as there have only been two polls taken since the start of the year (list here). One survey shows a draw and the other shows a Clinton victory of 8 percentage points. I hesitate to make a prediction on such a small data sample, but I cannot punt and Iowa goes blue.

In my original baseline tally, Colorado, Florida, and Iowa were classified as “Tossup” states. This meant that, based on historical analysis of previous presidential elections, I could not determine which way that state leaned. The next state in my Symphony is Minnesota and my baseline tally had placed this state in the “Leaning” category. A “Leaning” state was a state that, based on historical analysis of previous presidential elections, had shown a slight tendency towards one of the two major, but could easily flip to the other side with some prodding (read my previous post as to why Minnesota is a “Leaning” state). The Gopher State started this exercise leaning towards the Democratic Party and since there have only been two polls run in Minnesota since January (list here) and both show victories for Clinton (with an average margin of victory of 9 percentage points), the Land of 10,000 Lakes will stay in the Democratic fold.

The Show-Me State of Missouri is also a “Leaning” state, but this state leans towards the Republican Party. This designation is because of its history. Over the last four American presidential elections (since 2000), Missouri has voted for the candidate from the Republican Party. Over the past seven (since 1988), it has voted Republican five times. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won a majority of votes (53.76%) and beat Democrat Barack Obama by 9 percentage points. Since the start of this year, there have only been a pair of surveys in Missouri (list here). Both polls show wins for Trump with an average margin of victory of 3.5 percentage points). Missouri stated Republican and has stayed Republican. Thus, it goes into the red column.

Next up is Nevada, but it will be passed over for the time being for the same reason Colorado was.

New Hampshire, a “Tossup” state in my original baseline tally, might need to have its category modified. Since January, with one exception, every survey run in the Granite State has shown a Clinton victory (list here). The sole exception is the most recent poll (Boston Herald, 405 likely voters, margin of error 4.9 percentage points, report here) which showed a 44%-44% tie between Clinton and Trump. The Boston Herald draw aside, the previous seven surveys (as listed by Real Clear Politics) show Clinton defeating Trump (average margin of victory is 8.2 percentage points) for New Hampshire’s four votes in the Electoral College. As it stands now, New Hampshire goes for the Democratic Party.

New Mexico also needs to be skipped and join its brethren Colorado and Nevada.

North Carolina, another “Leaning”-Republican state, has definitely seen its share of surveys. By my count, there have been 11 polls taken in the Tar Heel State since the year started (electiongraphs.com shows ten, the missing poll is this one from SurveyUSA taken in March). In those eleven polls, Trump wins six, Clinton wins four, and there is one tie. By the squeakiest of margins, I will place North Carolina with the Republican Party.

In Ohio, in the “Tossup” bucket, there have been eight polls taken since the start of the year (list here). In those eight, Clinton is the victor six times and Trump is the victor twice. One of Clinton’s victories is even outside the margin of error making it a decisive victory for her. Ohio goes blue.

Another “Leaning”-Democratic state in my Swing State Symphony is Pennsylvania. Since the year began, there have been seven polls taken in the Keystone State. Of those seven, the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party wins six times (twice decisively, meaning a victory even when the margin of error is taken into account) and there is one tie. Pennsylvania leans blue and remains blue for this post.

Virginia (“Tossup”) has only seen four surveys since January (list here). Of that quartet, Clinton is victorious three times (including two decisive wins) and there is one tie. The Old Dominion and its thirteen votes in the Electoral College favor the Democratic Party.

Wisconsin (“Leaning”-Democratic) was by far the easiest to place in this exercise. In 2016, there have been eight polls (list here) documenting the presidential preferences of the citizens of the Badger State. In all eight, Clinton wins decisively (meaning she wins even when the margin of error is taken into account).

The three states that I skipped (Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico) were all passed over in this exercise because there have been no surveys taken in these states since the beginning of the year. As it turns out, it does not matter which way this trio of states swings in this particular exercise. With the other ten painted either red (Missouri, North Carolina) or blue (Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin), the resulting map (with “Solid” and “Mostly” from the first map now turned dark blue/red and my Swing State Symphony states turned light blue/red depending on the above analysis) now looks like this…

SwStSy_State_asof201606

With eight of the Swing State Symphony states, as of June 1, leaning towards the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton now has a projected 312 votes in the Electoral College regardless of how the citizens of Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico vote. At best, the presidential candidate for the Republican Party, in this projection, can win 226 votes in the Electoral College, but that is still 44 votes short.

The above is by no means a prediction. It is only how I see things as of June 1 based on my analysis of state polling since January. Election Day, as stated above, is 160 days (a shade over 5 months) away and a great many things can happen. Polls will continue to come out and we’ll see where the state of things are come July.

 

The Legions of the Not

In a previous post, I commented that there appears to be a sizable chunk of survey respondents who choose not to select either of the presidential candidates the two main American political parties are choosing to nominate for the office of President of the United States of America.

In that previous post, I used the figures from three polls to highlight the rather large number of undecided voters. A Roanoke College survey from May showed that 24% of the Virginia respondents chose neither Donald Trump (Republican Party) nor Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party). A Quinnipiac poll in May in Ohio showed 17% would not select either major party candidate. Minnesota respondents, according to a Star-Tribune poll in April, all showed that 17% of survey-takers were undecided about how to cast their vote for.

While I ended that post by asking a series of questions such as “Who are the “undecided”?”,  “What is their demographic breakdown?”, “What do they want?”, and “What will it take to make them decide one way or another (or a third way to a third-party candidate)?”, this post will come nowhere near to answering those inquiries.

Instead, I want to look at the number of undecided voters that have been surveyed and compare them with the last presidential election.

Since the start of 2016, there have been sixty-three polls taken in the ten of the thirteen states that comprise my Swing State Symphony. The missing three states are those whose latest polls are from 2015 (Colorado, Nevada) or who have not had a poll taken since the 2012 presidential election (New Mexico). The ten states that I have polling from are Florida (10 surveys), Iowa (2), Minnesota (2), Missouri (2), New Hampshire (11), North Carolina (11), Ohio (7), Pennsylvania (7), Virginia (4), and Wisconsin (7).

From these sixty-three surveys, I collected three sets of numbers.

One) The percentage of respondents who said they choose Donald Trump in a hypothetical election between himself and Hillary Clinton,

Two) The percentage of respondents who said they choose Hillary Clinton in such a hypothetical election

Three) The difference between the number 100 and the sum of Clinton supporters and Trump supporters.

As an example, the May 2016 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey in North Carolina (as previously seen here on Swing State Symphony) showed 47% supporting Trump and 43% supporting Clinton. This means that my third category would be the number 10 (100-(47+43)), which is the percentage of respondents who chose neither the candidate from the Democratic Party nor the candidate from the Republican Party.

Now, this third category is a catch-all for my purposes in this post. Different surveys had different categories for the respondent who chose neither Trump nor Clinton. Regardless of whether the response was “undecided”, “unsure”, a named third-party candidate, or “refused to answer”, I am lumping all the neither-R-nor-D responses into  one giant bucket I am calling “Not”.

These are the folks who are Not-Clinton and Not-Trump.

One question I wanted to answer was what is the percentage of Not respondents in these sixty-three surveys. Of these polls, the number of people who chose neither of the major party candidates ranged from a high of 36.9% (Dartmouth poll from New Hampshire in April; link to previous post here) to a low of 7% (NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll from Pennsylvania from April; full results here).

The median number of Not responders was 15%. The median is the number where half of the data points are above that figure and half is below that figure. I like the median better than the average (which, in this case, was 14.79%) for these types of situations because that’s just the type of person I am.

This median number for the Nots checks out because, from the same sixty-three polls, the median number of the percentage of respondents who would vote for Clinton is 45% and the median percentage number of respondents who would vote for Trump is 40%.

45+40+15 = 100

There’s such balance in math.

So now we have a median number of Not responders of fifteen percent. But how does this compare with an actual American presidential election?

I grant you that I will only be providing one example, but my answer to the above question is, “Not very well.”

In the 2012 American presidential election, only 1.7% of the voters made their selection for someone other than the candidate from the Republican Party (Mitt Romney) and the candidate from the Democratic Party (Barack Obama). Less than two percent cast their vote for the candidate from the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, Peace and Freedom Party, Justice Party, and America’s Party.

Barring any last-minute entrance from a well-known political figure, I am working under the assumption that the 1.7% figure from the 2012 election will hold for the 2016 election. What this means to me is that the 15% of Nots being tallied in swing state polls since the start of this year is fair game for both Trump and Clinton. I have not done a drill-down analysis that breaks down the demographics of the Nots to determine who would they be most likely to support. Though I don’t have the time, I would bet that data-crunchers within the Democratic Party and Republican Party organizations are being given all the time and resources they need to find out who the Nots are, where they are, how best to reach them, and what do they want.

That 15% will whittle down to between 1%-3% between now and November and the next occupant of the Oval Office may be the person who can get most of the Nots on their side.

I would call it a Not-y situation, but this blog is above such frayed pun-ditry.

Georgia: Not so Peachy

I have written before about the state of Georgia (link here) and how the surveys that have been taken since the start of 2016 show it underperforming in terms of the Peach State’s average margin of victory for the Republican Party during Ameican presidential elections.

Granted, the four polls (analysis from Real Clear Politics (RCP) here) taken since January 2016 have all shown a Trump victory, but the average margin of victory from the four polls tracked by RCP show a Trump victory of 4.3 percentage points. Since 2000 (the last four American presidential elections), the average margin of victory by the Republican Party presidential candidate was 9.78 percentage points. The difference between 4.3 and 9.78 is why that earlier post about Georgia talked about underperformance.

This post is not so much about underperformance, but to look into why the presidential candidate for the Republican Party for the 2016 American election, Donald Trump, has declined in popularity since the start of 2016.

In February, SurveyUSA released a survey (1,261 likely voters, margin of error 2.8 percentage points, crosstab results here) showing a Trump victory over his opponent, Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, by a margin of 50%-41%.

In May, Opinion Savvy, in conjunction with FOX 5-Atlanta, released a survey (587 likely voters, margin of error 4 percentage points, full results here) showing a Trump victory over Clinton by a margin of 44%-41%.

The May survey still shows a Republican win, but given the margin of error, the percentages could easily be Clinton 45%, Trump 40%. So how did a decisive Trump victory in Georgia in February become a statistical draw in May?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know I have my usual suspects so let’s look at them.

The breakdown between the two surveys is not a one-to-one relationship, but I think it serves our purpose. In February, the SurveyUSA poll showed that of the Republican Party respondents, 91% of those who identified as “Strong Republican” and 80% of those who identified as “Republican” supported Donald Trump. In May, the Opinion Savvy poll, showed that only 72.1% of the respondents who classified themselves as Republican supported Trump. This 72.1 number is even after the Indiana Republican primary when Trump’s two other challengers, Ted Cruz and John Kaisch, dropped out of the race. In a news cycle talking about the Republican Party rallying around Trump (sample articles here, here, and here for your reading pleasure), the opposite seems to be the case in Georgia.

Gender also plays a role here. In February, 54% of male voters backed Trump. In May, that figure drops to 44.3% (-9.7 percentage points). Trump’s appeal among female voters also declined, but not by the same amount. In February, 48% of female voters supported Trump while, in May, that number dropped almost four percentage points to 43.9%.

Another core demographic for Trump, voters over 65, also falters in their support for the Republican Party presidential candidate. In February, 58% of that age bracket supported Trump. In May, while still (barely) a majority of those over 65 support Trump, that number is now 50.3% (-7.7 percentage points).

Trump’s support among White voters also decreased from February to May. In the second month of 2016, Trump received 69% of the White vote. Three months later, only 57.5% (-11.5 percentage points) of the White vote would select Trump.

Those four demographics (Republican, male, over 65, White) all took away their support from Trump in a period of three months. Given the fact that Clinton’s share of the overall vote remained steady at 41% between the February and May surveys, where did the former Trump supporters go?

The answer is to the third-party candidate.

In the February survey, SurveyUSA only asked respondents to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Those who wanted a third option could only respond with “Undecided”. In May, the folks at Opinion Savvy asked respondents to choose between Clinton, Trump, and “a Libertarian or Independent candidate” (without providing a specific name such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein).

Let’s go back to the four demographics that fled Trump.

In February, 6% of those who identified as “Strong Republican” and 12% of those who classified themselves as “Republican” choose to be undecided rather than select Trump or Clinton. In May, only 4.4% of Republicans selected “Undecided” while 11.4% of GOP respondents chose the third-party candidate.

A scant 7% of male voters were undecided in February and that figure drops to 3.8% in May. Also in May, 15.2% male voters select the Libertarian or Independent candidate. Since Clinton’s share of the male vote only decreased from 39% in April to 36.7% (-2.3 percentage points) in May and Trump saw his share of the male vote drop by 9.7 percentage points (54% in February, 44.3% in May), it is fair to say that more male voters moved from the Republican candidate to the third-party option than moved from the Democratic Party choice to the Libertarian or Independent candidate.

When speaking of the over-65 set, Trump’s loss in that demographic is a more an effect of Clinton gaining support and less from the inclusion of a third-party option. As stated above, Trump’s support among the 65-and-over set drops from 58% to 50.3% (-7.7 percentage points). In those same three months, Clinton’s share of that demographic increased  from 34% in February to 41.4% (+7.4 percentage points). In February, 8% of those over 65 are undecided and in May that figure dwindles to 3.9% with 4.4% choosing the Libertarian or Independent option.

Trump’s drop in support among White voters is a mix between the gains of Clinton and the addition of a Lib/Ind candidate (with the third-party option receiving more of the credit). As shown above, Trump’s share of the White vote declined 11.5 percentage points in three months (69% in February, 57.5% in May). Clinton saw her support of White voters increase 3.4 percentage points during that same time frame (22% in February, 25.4% in May). As for those who could not make up their minds, 9% of White voters chose “Undecided” in February while only 4.5% made that selection in May. Also, 12.6% of White voters went with the third-party option. It is fair to say, given those numbers, that White voters who were for Trump in February migrated to Clinton (a little) or to a third-party (by a bit more).

As always, here are my caveats. These are just two polls and the November election is still far away. The party conventions have not been held in Cleveland and Philadelphia. The debates between Clinton and Trump have not been scheduled. A great many things can (and will) happen.

Can Trump turn around the Peach State and make its sixteen votes in the Electoral College less of a battlefield? Can Clinton make more inroads among certain demographics to keep Georgia as a place that the Republican must expend resources?

I’m tingling to find out.

North Carolina: Civitas: May 2016

In the past week, two polls have been released documenting the presidential preferences of the citizens of North Carolina. In a lovely quirk that dovetails perfectly with this blog’s love of analysis, both organizations that released survey results this month also ran polls in April.

I wrote about the April and May results from Public Policy Polling (PPP) earlier in this post (link here), so now let’s dive into the second survey.

Civitas released a survey (600 likely voters, margin of error 4 percentage points, press release here, crosstab results here) that shows in a three-way presidential race between Donald Trump (Republican Party), Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party), and Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Trump wins the Tar Hall State by a margin of 39%-36%-8%.

However, those percentages, I believe, need to be modified a smidge.

In this survey, respondents were allows to respond that were “leaning” towards one of three candidates. The initial support figures of 39% for Trump, 36% for Clinton, and 8% for Johnson do not take into account the “leaners”. There were an additional 4% of respondents who said that they were leaning towards one of the three presidential hopefuls. When the leaners are added to each candidate’s total (9 leaners for Trump giving him a total 243 supporters, 14 leaners for Clinton giving her a total of 229 supporters, and 3 leaners for Johnson giving him a total of 49 supporters), the percentage breakdown in this survey is now Trump at 40%, Clinton at 38%, and Johnson stays at 8%.

Last month, Civitas released a survey whose results that I have discussed before (link to previous post here) that showed Hillary Clinton definitively defeating Donald Trump by a margin of 49%-40%.

So what happened in a month to drive Clinton’s share of support down by 11 percentage points (49% in April compared to 38% in May), keep Trump’s share of North Carolinans stable at 40%, and turn a decisive Clinton win into a Trump victory?

One immediate answer is the question that asked in both surveys. In the April survey, Civitas only asked respondents to choose between Trump and Clinton. The only other options respondents had were “Undecided” (6%), “Someone Else” (2%), and “Refused” (2%). In May, respondents were given the Libertarian option of Gary Johnson and eight percent of the polled population took that option.

This additional option cut into Clinton’s support between the two surveys. In the April poll, Clinton won 82% of the voters who identified themselves as members of the Democratic Party. She also took 42% of those voters who identified themselves as Independents. Come May, and Clinton’s Democratic support falls to 61% (-21 percentage points) and her Independent support falls to 30% (-12 percentage points). For the Republican candidate, when Johnson is thrown into the mix, Trump actually sees his Republican support jump three percentage points (69% in April, 72% in May) and his share of the Independent voters only drops by four percentage points (38% in April, 34% in May). In the May survey, Johnson took 6% of the respondents who identified themselves as members of the Democratic Party and 15% of those who saw themselves as Independent.

Johnson’s addition in the May survey cut into Clinton’s support from Independent voters, but only slightly with Democratic voters. Where did the rest of Democratic voters go?

They threw their support for Trump.

In the April survey, Trump won 11% of respondents who identified themselves with the Democratic Party. A month later, Trump’s share of “party-jumpers” climbed six percentage points to 17%.

Party affiliation is another reason for Trump’s stability in his poll numbers and for Clinton’s free fall. As mentioned four paragraphs ago, Republicans increased their support for their party’s presidential nominee by three percentage points (69% in April, 72% in May) and Democrats decreased their level of support for their party’s presidential nominee by 21 percentage points (82% in April, 61% in May).

The gender demographic was another pitfall for Hillary Clinton. In April, Clinton (in the hypothetical two-way contest between her and Trump) took 41% of the male vote and 56% of the female vote. For comparison, Trump in April took 42% of the male vote and 32% of the female vote. A month later, and with the inclusion of presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, Clinton only wins 27% of the male vote (-14 percentage points) and 44% of the female vote (-12 percentage points). For comparison, Trump’s gender support increases slightly with 46% of the male vote (+4 percentage points) and 33% of the female vote (+1 percentage point).

Most of Clinton’s losses among men and women go to Johnson. Some “party-jumpers” went to Trump, but Clinton loses her support among the genders to the Libertarian Party candidate.

The young also flock to the Libertarian Party candidate. In April, Clinton wins 53% among voters 18-25 (Trump wins 28%). In May, Clinton’s share of that age bracket falls eighteen percentage points to 35% (Trump drops five percentage points to 23%). Gary Johnson, in May, wins 11% of the youngster vote, taking most of his share from Clinton’s bucket.

To me, this analysis brings home the point that polling organizations should stop asking respondents to only pick between Party D and Party R. Polling organizations should take more time and research who will potentially be on the ballot come November and then ask respondents to choose between all of those candidates. Yes, it will potentially mean asking people to choose between the candidates of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, Reform Party, American Constitution Party, etc., but the benefits should outweigh the cost. S

Since more than two candidates is the reality voters will face on Election Day, why shouldn’t polling organizations (even this far out from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November) reflect this reality?