What the talking heads don’t tell you about the NBC/WSJ poll internals

by Datechguy | June 16th, 2011

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What the talking heads don't tell you about the NBC/WSJ poll internals

There are a lot of num­bers being thrown around about the NBC poll today. On Morn­ing Joe they point out Obama’s is given a 49% approval, but there are some inter­nal num­bers in this poll that you need in order to under­stand that approval fig­ure and where we actu­ally are. So lets exam­ine the inter­nals.

We’ll start with the splits:

Strong Demo­c­rat .….….….…. 19
Not very strong Demo­c­rat .…. 13
Independent/​lean Demo­c­rat …10
Strictly Inde­pen­dent .….….….14
Independent/​lean Repub­li­can ..10
Not very strong Repub­li­can .…11
Strong Repub­li­can .….….….…13
Other (VOL) .….….….….….… 8
Not sure .….….….….….….…. 2

So this means that the skew of the poll to begin with is 42% dem vs 34% GOP. Gee do ya think an 8 point dif­fer­ence in party affil­i­a­tion might have some­thing to do with the num­bers? I’d say polling nearly 25% more democ­rats than repub­li­cans might help the democ­rats bot­tom line fig­ures a tad.

Now lets see how those peo­ple voted last time

Yes, Voted
Voted for Barack Obama .…. 42
Voted for John McCain .…… 32
Voted for some­one else .…… 5
Not sure .….….….….….…… 3
No, Did Not Vote .….….…… 18
Not sure .….….….….….….… -

The spread of Obama vot­ers vs McCain vot­ers in this sam­ple is 3 points greater than his actual 2008 elec­tion spread but lets look deeper:

Nearly 1 in 5 of the peo­ple who answer claimed they did not vote last time in an elec­tion that drew huge turn out, so lets extrap­o­late those fig­ures with­out the 18% that claim they didn’t vote. What kind of spread does that leave us com­pared to the actual 2008 results (52.9 Obama vs 45.7 McCain)?

Voted for Barack Obama .…. 52
Voted for John McCain .…… 40
Voted for some­one else .…… 6%

In the last elec­tion Pres­i­dent Obama got 52.9% of the vote so the poll reflects that fig­ure within 1% but John McCain got 45.7% of the vote. This means this poll under-​represents McCain vot­ers by over 11%

But if the McCain num­bers were under-​represented by almost six points how is it that Obama’s num­bers are within 1% of his actual fig­ure. Look at the “voted for some­one else” fig­ure 6%. In the elec­tion only 1.5% of the elec­torate voted for a non-​major party can­di­date. How on earth does this poll man­age to over­sam­ple that group by a fac­tor of 4?

How is it pos­si­ble? Well I’ve inter­viewed thou­sands of peo­ple over the past 18 months from all over the coun­try. I have talked to many peo­ple who voted for McCain and were proud of it, but have not talked to a sin­gle per­son who voted for McCain who regret­ted it. I’ve talked to plenty of peo­ple who voted for Barack Obama as well, but I’ve also talked to many Obama vot­ers who were very apolo­getic about that vote who now regret it.

I sub­mit and sug­gest that quite a few of those who were “not sure” or “did not vote” or “voted for some­one else” in this poll were actu­ally Obama Vot­ers who didn’t want to admit it. This would be con­sis­tent with both my inter­views and the trends that we will dis­cuss later on.

Now lets look at this set of num­bers of reg­is­tered vot­ers and how they say they’ll vote in 2012:

Prob­a­bly vote for Pres­i­dent Obama .….….….…..45
Prob­a­bly vote for Repub­li­can can­di­date .….….…40
Vote for other party (VOL) .….….….….….….. …2
Depends/​Depends on who oppo­nent is (VOL) .….11
Not sure .….….….….….….….….….….….….…. 2

In the inter­nals of the polls you can see that the 45% fig­ure (with one excep­tion a 43%) has been steady since Feb. I sub­mit that this is a ceil­ing for the pres­i­dent. Con­sider in a poll with 42% self iden­ti­fied Democ­rats only 45% will “prob­a­bly” vote for Pres­i­dent Obama.

Mean­while in a poll where you had only 32% repub­li­cans 40% say they will prob­a­bly vote for the GOP. This tells you where the inde­pen­dents are trending.

Finally lets tackle that 49% approval number.

There are two items that needs to be addressed. The first is the approval trends that I have alluded to before.

In this poll for approval the choices are not “Pos­i­tive” “Neg­a­tive” and “Neu­tral” they are “Very Pos­i­tive” “Some­what Pos­i­tive” and “Some­what Neg­a­tive” and “Very Negative””

If you look at the tend num­bers for the first 4 months of his term he was over 40% Very Pos­i­tive (Max 47%), for the fol­low­ing three months he was over 30% Very pos­i­tive, since then “Very pos­i­tive” has been below 30% (27% this month) Mean­while the “some­what pos­i­tive” has remained between 18 – 23% through­out his pres­i­dency while “Neu­tral” has ranged from 9 – 15% (14% this month) This means that the trend since inau­gu­ra­tion has been a full 20% of sup­port slip­ping into disapproval.

Finally con­sider these demographics:

White .….….….….75
Black .….….….…..11
Asian .….….….….. 2
Other .….….….….. 3
His­panic (VOL) .….. 7
Not sure/​refused … 2

It is not up to me to speak for the black com­mu­nity but I’m telling you that peo­ple of var­i­ous nation­al­i­ties tend to be less likely to cri­tique on of their own pub­licly than pri­vately. You will find this in fam­i­lies and in almost every eth­nic group. You are even less likely to see an eth­nic group pub­licly “dis­ap­prove” the first of their own in any par­tic­u­lar job. The black com­mu­nity runs 90 – 95% Demo­c­ra­tic and voted that way last elec­tion. If you think that more than one in 20 black Amer­i­cans are going to tell a national poll­ster that they dis­ap­prove of the first Black Pres­i­dent you are absolutely out of your minds.

One can spin it any way you want but if you look at the inter­nals of this poll the bot­tom line is Barack Obama is hem­or­rhag­ing his pop­u­lar­ity and bar­ring some cat­a­clysmic fail­ure on the GOP side or incred­i­ble suc­cess on his side he is not going to win re-​election.

Update:
Just got some of the most crush­ing news I’ve had in years, An Insta­lanche doesn’t cure it but it cer­tainly can’t hurt.

Update: 2 Got my first ever link from the weekly stan­dard. That’s kind of cool. Still a tad down but hard let finan­cial prob­lems get to you when you are fundrais­ing for peo­ple who have lost absolutely every­thing.

There are a lot of numbers being thrown around about the NBC poll today. On Morning Joe they point out Obama’s is given a 49% approval, but there are some internal numbers in this poll that you need in order to understand that approval figure and where we actually are. So lets examine the internals.

We’ll start with the splits:

Strong Democrat …………….. 19
Not very strong Democrat ….. 13
Independent/lean Democrat …10
Strictly Independent ………….14
Independent/lean Republican ..10
Not very strong Republican ….11
Strong Republican …………….13
Other (VOL) …………………… 8
Not sure ……………………….. 2

So this means that the skew of the poll to begin with is 42% dem vs 34% GOP. Gee do ya think an 8 point difference in party affiliation might have something to do with the numbers? I’d say polling nearly 25% more democrats than republicans might help the democrats bottom line figures a tad.

Now lets see how those people voted last time

Yes, Voted
Voted for Barack Obama ….. 42
Voted for John McCain ……. 32
Voted for someone else ……. 5
Not sure ……………………… 3
No, Did Not Vote …………… 18
Not sure ………………………. -

The spread of Obama voters vs McCain voters in this sample is 3 points greater than his actual 2008 election spread but lets look deeper:

Nearly 1 in 5 of the people who answer claimed they did not vote last time in an election that drew huge turn out, so lets extrapolate those figures without the 18% that claim they didn’t vote. What kind of spread does that leave us compared to the actual 2008 results (52.9 Obama vs 45.7 McCain)?

Voted for Barack Obama ….. 52
Voted for John McCain ……. 40
Voted for someone else ……. 6%

In the last election President Obama got 52.9% of the vote so the poll reflects that figure within 1% but John McCain got 45.7% of the vote. This means this poll under-represents McCain voters by over 11%

But if the McCain numbers were under-represented by almost six points how is it that Obama’s numbers are within 1% of his actual figure. Look at the “voted for someone else” figure 6%. In the election only 1.5% of the electorate voted for a non-major party candidate. How on earth does this poll manage to oversample that group by a factor of 4?

How is it possible? Well I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the past 18 months from all over the country. I have talked to many people who voted for McCain and were proud of it, but have not talked to a single person who voted for McCain who regretted it. I’ve talked to plenty of people who voted for Barack Obama as well, but I’ve also talked to many Obama voters who were very apologetic about that vote who now regret it.

I submit and suggest that quite a few of those who were “not sure” or “did not vote” or “voted for someone else” in this poll were actually Obama Voters who didn’t want to admit it. This would be consistent with both my interviews and the trends that we will discuss later on.

Now lets look at this set of numbers of registered voters and how they say they’ll vote in 2012:

Probably vote for President Obama ………………45
Probably vote for Republican candidate …………40
Vote for other party (VOL) …………………….. …2
Depends/Depends on who opponent is (VOL) …..11
Not sure …………………………………………….. 2

In the internals of the polls you can see that the 45% figure (with one exception a 43%) has been steady since Feb. I submit that this is a ceiling for the president. Consider in a poll with 42% self identified Democrats only 45% will “probably” vote for President Obama.

Meanwhile in a poll where you had only 32% republicans 40% say they will probably vote for the GOP. This tells you where the independents are trending.

Finally lets tackle that 49% approval number.

There are two items that needs to be addressed. The first is the approval trends that I have alluded to before.

In this poll for approval the choices are not “Positive” “Negative” and “Neutral” they are “Very Positive” “Somewhat Positive” and “Somewhat Negative” and “Very Negative””

If you look at the tend numbers for the first 4 months of his term he was over 40% Very Positive (Max 47%), for the following three months he was over 30% Very positive, since then “Very positive” has been below 30% (27% this month) Meanwhile the “somewhat positive” has remained between 18-23% throughout his presidency while “Neutral” has ranged from 9-15% (14% this month) This means that the trend since inauguration has been a full 20% of support slipping into disapproval.

Finally consider these demographics:

White ……………..75
Black ………………11
Asian ……………… 2
Other ……………… 3
Hispanic (VOL) …… 7
Not sure/refused … 2

It is not up to me to speak for the black community but I’m telling you that people of various nationalities tend to be less likely to critique on of their own publicly than privately. You will find this in families and in almost every ethnic group. You are even less likely to see an ethnic group publicly “disapprove” the first of their own in any particular job. The black community runs 90-95% Democratic and voted that way last election. If you think that more than one in 20 black Americans are going to tell a national pollster that they disapprove of the first Black President you are absolutely out of your minds.

One can spin it any way you want but if you look at the internals of this poll the bottom line is Barack Obama is hemorrhaging his popularity and barring some cataclysmic failure on the GOP side or incredible success on his side he is not going to win re-election.

Update:
Just got some of the most crushing news I’ve had in years, An Instalanche doesn’t cure it but it certainly can’t hurt.

Update: 2 Got my first ever link from the weekly standard. That’s kind of cool. Still a tad down but hard let financial problems get to you when you are fundraising for people who have lost absolutely everything.

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