Voters don't have much confidence in Donald Trump's ability to run the economy. Bernie Sanders is gaining in states that haven’t voted yet, but it’s not clear what that means. And Google search data helps shed light on which issues Americans really find important. This is HuffPollster for Monday, April 25, 2016.
DONALD TRUMP COULD COST THE GOP THEIR ADVANTAGE ON THE ISSUES - A new George Washington University Battleground poll to be released Monday morning shows some promising signs for Republicans. Six in ten voters nationally say they want the next president to take a different direction from President Obama’s policies, and Republicans have a perceived edge over Democrats on their ability to handle a number of topics. The GOP is more trusted on the economy by an 11-point margin, on taxes by a 9-point margin, on jobs by an 8-point margin, and on foreign policy by a 4-point margin. Unfortunately for the Republicans, the same didn't hold true when voters were instead asked to compare Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton on the issues. Clinton leads Trump by 1 point on the economy, and by a whopping 27 points on trust to handle foreign policy, while lagging only a point behind on taxes and jobs. On traditionally weaker issues like health care and "caring about people like you," Trump drives the GOP deficit even deeper.
"The Republican Party has a strongly favorable political environment for winning the White House. If a mainstream Republican candidate were the presumptive nominee, the GOP would likely be in a strong position for a lot of wins, top to bottom, in November," write Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber of the Tarrance Group (R), which conducted the survey along with Lake Research Partners (D). "However, the party is facing the challenge of the possibility of an unconventional nominee who is likely to squander most of this favorable environment due to his temperament and rhetoric. There is still a lot of time and contests between now and when the Republican Presidential nominee will be selected. Should that nominee be Donald Trump, the GOP looks to be headed towards a tough, if not losing race at the top of the ticket, which is certainly likely to have a ripple effect of losses down the ballot and across the country."
SANDERS IS GAINING IN STATES THAT HAVEN’T VOTED YET - HuffPollster: "[A]t this point in the calendar, many of the people included in national polls live in states that have already voted rather than those that still have upcoming contests. National pollsters often don’t try to differentiate between those groups, viewing their results as a barometer of political attitudes rather than a tool for predicting who’s likely to win. But the NBC/SurveyMonkey tracking poll, which has been following the race since the beginning of the year, was able to look at the divide between the states that have already voted and those that have yet to do so.….the two groups have generally tracked more or less closely through much of the year. But that seems to have changed in the last several weeks, with Clinton’s edge in the remaining primary states bottoming out to a tie.It’s hard to know exactly what that shift across more than a dozen states means, or how significant it is….Still, the results could indicate Sanders is gaining significantly in some of the final states to vote, many of which have seen little or no state-level polling….Regardless, even a notable uptick for Sanders may end up being too little, too late to overcome his current deficit in either pledged delegates or the popular vote." [HuffPost]
Would Sanders have won more if poor people voted in higher numbers? - John Wagner and Anne Gearan: "White House hopeful Bernie Sanders said Saturday that many of his losses to Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries were because 'poor people don’t vote....' Sanders said that while his campaign has done a good job of attracting young voters, he’s had less success driving up turnout of lower-income people….It's not clear that larger turnout among poor voters would have actually helped Sanders against Clinton, however. Sanders has lost Democratic voters with household incomes below $50,000 by 55 percent to 44 percent to Clinton across primaries where network exit polls have been conducted. (He has lost by a wider 21 percentage-point margin among voters with incomes above $100,000, and by 9 points among middle income voters.)" [WashPost]
Would Sanders have won more votes if fewer states had closed primaries? - Philip Bump: “No candidate has benefited more from the surge in political independence than Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. As we’ve noted, in states for which we have exit polling, at least 30 percent of Sanders’s overall support comes from independents pretty consistently — and in some states that figure creeps up to nearly 50 percent. That’s one reason that Hillary Clinton blew him out in New York. There are a lot of independents who lean toward the Democrats who wanted to vote for Sanders, but the state’s primary system — a closed primary in which only registered Democrats can vote — meant that they weren’t able to. Having them vote probably wouldn't have changed the lopsided outcome, but, combined with the early deadline for changing registration, it provided for a lot of frustration." [WashPost]
Vice President of Edison Research Media Joe Lenski explains how exit polls work in an interview with The Fix. [WashPost]
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GOOGLE SEARCH DATA CAN HELP INFORM ‘MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE’ QUESTIONS - Matt Dabrowski (R) - “[T]he ‘most important issue’ question is a staple of political polling. There are a few popular ways to ask the question, such as: What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? (CBS/NYT)...[F]or public opinion researchers and campaign strategists, the problem with the ‘most important issue’ question is that it doesn’t seem to change much in response to events. ‘Jobs and the economy’ has led the polls continuously since at least 2008. Meanwhile, private-sector job base has grown for six straight years and the stock market has gained 200% over its 2009 lows. If this question were always a reliable and valid measure of concern about the real economy, the data would demonstrate at least some fluctuation in response to positive change in the economic data. So if the ‘most important issue’ question misses some part of the picture, how can we know what issues are getting the most attention? Analysts and academics are turning to Google search data….According to Google, the top issue in 2016 hasn’t been the economy, income inequality or even race relations; it’s been immigration.” [HuffPost]
THE WEEKEND’S POLLS
-Clinton and Sanders are in a tight race in Connecticut, while Trump leads the Republican field. [PPP]
-Clinton beats all Republican candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups. [Ipsos]
MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Harry Enten highlights what's at stake for Republicans in the Northeast elections. 
-Eric Van Susteren makes the case for why Ben Carson would be a popular Republican vice presidential pick. [SurveyMonkey]
-Keith T. Poole, Howard Rosenthal and Christopher Hare predict that House Republicans will become more polarized with Hillary Clinton as president. [VoteView]
-Women are paying less attention to the 2016 election than men are. [Gallup]
-Jo Craven McGinty explains the complex method the US government uses to conduct surveys. [WSJ]
-The number of PhD students is on the rise, but they face a difficult job market after graduating. [The Atlantic]