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New Politico Poll Tells Us Much Less Than People Think It Does

polling-stick-figures-1

Politico is out with a new poll that purports to show that Democrats are in trouble in the upcoming midterm elections:

President Barack Obama’s job approval slump and voters’ entrenched wariness of his health care law are dogging Democrats ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, and Republicans have captured a lead in the areas home to the year’s most competitive races, according to a new POLITICO poll.

In the congressional districts and states where the 2014 elections will actually be decided, likely voters said they would prefer to vote for a Republican over a Democrat by 7 points, 41 percent to 34 percent. A quarter of voters said they were unsure of their preference.

President Barack Obama’s job approval slump and voters’ entrenched wariness of his health care law are dogging Democrats ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, and Republicans have captured a lead in the areas home to the year’s most competitive races, according to a new POLITICO poll.

In the congressional districts and states where the 2014 elections will actually be decided, likely voters said they would prefer to vote for a Republican over a Democrat by 7 points, 41 percent to 34 percent. A quarter of voters said they were unsure of their preference.

The poll reveals that voters — even in the more conservative midterm states like Georgia and Arkansas, and tossup House districts in states such as Illinois, West Virginia and California — still lean in a liberal direction on several issues Democrats have championed this year, including immigration reform, pay equity for men and women and background checks for gun purchasers.

But none of those issues comes close to approaching health care as a major concern for midterm voters. Nearly nine in 10 respondents said that the health care law would be important to determining their vote, including 49 percent who said it would be very important.

By comparison, only 28 percent said that immigration reform was “very important” to determining their vote, and 16 percent who said the same of male-female income disparity.

(…)

Among voters who had an opinion of the ACA, the electorate was almost exactly split between those who want to repeal the law entirely and those who favor either leaving it alone or keeping it in place with modifications.

Forty-eight percent of respondents endorsed repeal, versus 35 percent who wanted to modify the law without repealing it and just 16 percent who said it should be left unchanged.

The poll was conducted in sixteen separate states — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia  — all of whom are considered potential or likely Republican pickups in the November election. At the same time, though, the entire poll consisted of just 867 people, was conducted over an eleven day period, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. Additionally, if you dig down into the polling sample you find that the partisan breakdown of poll respondents 34% Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 26% Independents. While I’m not among those people who puts much significance in the D/R/I breakdown for reasons I discussed at length during the 2012 election cycle, it’s worth noting that this is somewhat more pro-Republican than the breakdown in the 2010 Exit Polls, which showed voters nationally at 35% Democratic, 35% Republican and 29% Independent in what was, obviously, a very good year for Republicans. Given those caveats, it’s entirely possible that we’re looking at something of an outlier poll here.

More significant than the outlier issue, though, is the very nature of the poll itself. This wasn’t an individual poll of the races in each of these sixteen states, for example, and it’s at the individual race level that this election is going to be decided. For example, Mark Pryor in Arkansas , Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, and Mark Begich in Alaska continue to put out poll numbers that show them as being very competitive against their Republican challengers. Additionally, while some polling has suggested that Republicans could be competitive in states like Michigan, New Hampshire, and Oregon, other polling has shown the Democratic candidates in those states, two of whom are incumbents, holding seemingly solid leads over Republican challengers. Finally, I’m not even sure why Minnesota was included in this mix since Al Franken doesn’t appear to be vulnerable at all this year, which is something of a surprise given how close the 2008 election was in that state. In other words, when you look beyond the forest of this Politico poll, the trees show that the battle for Senate control is far more competitive than the top line numbers would indicate.

At the most, this poll shows us that the 2014 landscape will be tough for Democrats, but that’s something we’ve known for the past year at least. If you really want to know what’s going on in the battle for the Senate, you need to look at the individual state polls.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The poll was conducted in sixteen separate states — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia

    It’s so hard to believe that 48% of the respondents wanted ACA to be repealed. I wonder what the results would have shown had populous Blue States been polled?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. C. Clavin says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Given that list of states its amazing ONLY 48% want it repealed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Additionally, if you dig down into the polling sample you find that the partisan breakdown of poll respondents 34% Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 26% Independents. While I’m not among those people who puts much significance in the D/R/I breakdown for reasons I discussed at length during the 2012 election cycle, it’s worth noting that this is somewhat more pro-Republican than the breakdown in the 2010 Exit Polls, which showed voters nationally at 35% Democratic, 35% Republican and 29% Independent in what was, obviously, a very good year for Republicans. Given those caveats, it’s entirely possible that we’re looking at something of an outlier poll here.”

    WTF…I have to give it to you left wing blogs: You do a great job bucking up the troops and “explaining” away what is obvious to everyone. You never talk about “caveats” when you hive up left wing polls from outfits such as PPP showing Repubs in trouble, but you now have to provide us with the “unskew” explanation now that Dems are not looking so good. The fact of the matter is that you are whistling in the wind just like that Unskew.com guy was 2 years ago on the other side.

    Moreover, you purport to claim that Landrieu, Begich, Hagan, Pryor, et al are doing well and that folks like Franken are home free based on….what….wait for it….partisan polls from outfits like PPP which has been discredited in every major “non presidential” poll in the past 8 years. What I find most rich about this posting is the irony of ironies: A far left portal whose posters and commenters ridiculed the Unskew guy 2 years ago, now go through all kinds of gyrations to explain what is painfully obvious: The “intensity” gap and lack of enthusiasm makes this a VERY dangerous election for Dems this year.

    All these polls that you claim suggest Franken has MN in the bag this year and the rest of the ObamaCare crew competitive is not capturing the “intensity” factor I assure you. This year more than ever I would pay attention to Likely voter models. I think that is what Politico, a far left outfit to be sure, was trying to capture I think.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  4. CB says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Not to engage trolls, but I NEED to know how you classify OTB and Politico….POLITICO…as far left outfits. I mean, how do you manage to get to that conclusion? And is RCP far left too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. Tyrell says:

    People often say one thing on a survey or poll, and then do something entirely differently when they get in a voting booth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Not to engage trolls, but I NEED to know how you classify OTB and Politico….POLITICO…as far left outfits. I mean, how do you manage to get to that conclusion? And is RCP far left too?”

    Too funny!!! You’re kidding right?? If it walks like a duck, it is a duck. In the case of OTB, all the posters are far left and almost all the commenters appears to be far left or overwhelming Liberal. Stay around here long enough and you’ll be lucky to see 1 conservative commenter out of 100. Once in a while I do see a conservative commenter come here to scramble all the left wing hacks that hang out here, but conservatives are few and far between around here.

    As far as Politico is concerned, their 2 owners (John Harris & Jim Vandehei) are long time left wing reporters from the Washington Post who are at home at the MSNBC fever swamp spinning the Liberal line. Plus I don’t believe Politico has a single Conservative reporter. Go read their web site. It is obvious all their stories are written from the left of center perspective.

    Btw, WRT to your “trolls” hit job, I used to post regularly at OTB 7 – 8 years before Dr Joyner hired a bunch of left wing bloggers and took his platform to the left right around the time Obama because President. Now here we are: 6 years later Obama has turned out to be a weak, empty suit who masterminded perhaps the biggest white collar scam in history with his “You Can Keep Your Plan” & ObamaCare lie. Obama is lucky he isn’t sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff for the fraud he perpetrated. That Dr Joyner threw his lot in with this fraud shamwow, sweet talking used car salesman named Obama and turned his blog over to left wing crazies is a shame. This place was once a balanced forum where both left & right POVs were appreciated and posters were evenly balanced if not more right of center.

    Anyways, I think you were pulling my leg right with your original question right? You have GOT to be kidding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  7. Grewgills says:

    @CB:
    Red State and Brietbart are the center, the rest follows from there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    @Smooth Jazz: Hey creep,

    Why don’t you go ask some poor parents who can finally get health insurance for their children about this great “fraud” that you keep whining about? Hopefully they will beat you within an inch of your life for trying to take away what they’ve needed for so long.

    You were fun as an idiot troll lusting after Sarah Palin. But the ACA is real now. It’s helping millions of people. It’s saving lives across the country. But to you it’s a fraud because your idiot overlords told you to repeat this wherever you go.

    Sorry if I sound a little irritable, but I just had a weeklong encounter with the medical establishment, and if I weren’t insured, they probably would have sent me home to die slowly instead of hospitalizing me until I was healed. I know I’m lucky, and I don’t any American to be less fortunate than me. But you would take that away just to score cheap, sleazy political points.

    You’re not cute anymore. You’re as ugly as the rest of them. Ugly and evil.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  9. CB says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Obama has turned out to be a weak, empty suit who masterminded perhaps the biggest white collar scam in history with his “You Can Keep Your Plan” & ObamaCare lie.

    Yeah, you fit the definition of balance to a T…

    @Grewgills:

    Exactly.

    Sorry for the potential thread jack. I don’t have much to offer to the topic except to say that I see nothing to disagree with in Doug’s last paragraph. No one expects a great Fall for the Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. CB says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    And for what its worth, I do wish there were a few more conservative voices in the comment section. But you go to war with the commentariat you have, not the commentariat you want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. Eric Florack says:

    smooth jazz…. Correct.
    and lets save time for Doug…. a shorter version is ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain over there.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  12. Hal_10000 says:

    Hal’s Rule of Polls: polls mean nothing. The only poll that means anything is the one taken on election day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Kari Q says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Moreover, you purport to claim that Landrieu, Begich, Hagan, Pryor, et al are doing well and that folks like Franken are home free based on….what

    Actually, you should like PPP in some of these races, since they are showing closer races than anyone else. In Arkansas, for example, they show a one-point race with Pryor leading Cotton 43-42. NBC/Marist and NYT polls both show Pryor with 10 point leads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. An Interested Party says:

    Wasn’t Smooth Jazz one of a handful of idiots who told us that Obama wasn’t going to be elected president and yet here we are after he has won two presidential elections…I hope no one is betting any money based on this Carnac the Sham…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  15. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “smooth jazz…. Correct.”

    I do hope that as Smoothie basks in your praise, he flips over to your blog where he can read you describing him as a ni@@er.

    Oh, and moderator — no need to spring the version where I spelled out the word….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. wr says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s actually better than that. He spent months informing us that Sarah Palin was going to be president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @CB:

    And for what its worth, I do wish there were a few more conservative voices in the comment section.

    I’d change that request to “a few more conservative voices interested in *discussion and debate* in the comment section.”

    That middle part is critical. We need more folks like Boyd, Hal, Andy and Pinky (most of the time) — people who are not doing bad Right Wing Media Host imitations. People who are willing to try and add to the conversation — not just rack up points or try to show how smart they are/how bad liberals are.

    Unfortunately, the conservatives most likely to contribute at OTB folks like Smooth Jazz who, as @An Interested Party anfd others have pointed out, in 2008 and 2012 predicted that all the polls were wrong and that Obama would lose both elections. In the process he also attacked Nate Silver and our own Steven Taylor for “liberal bias” and not getting the facts right.

    To this day he has never acknowledged how wrong he was in either case. And he continues to present himself as some sort of authority on polling.

    That’s not the conservative we need around here. And frankly, it’s not the type of conservative that the country needs either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. CB says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Agreed, and amen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0