HUFFPOLLSTER: Clinton Ratings Fall, Biden Gets A Bump

Biden gets a polling bump, even though he hasn't declared intentions to run. Hillary Clinton's favorable rating drops, but much of the decline was predictable. And polls show Republicans opting for outsider candidates. This is HuffPollster for Friday, September 4, 2015

ECONOMIST/YOUGOV FINDS 'BIDEN BUMP' - Kathy Frankovic: "The possibility that Vice President Joe Biden might enter the 2016 Democratic nomination contest has boosted his support among Democrats [from 14 to 21 percent]. At the same time, continued discussion of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State has taken a toll. While changes in the Economist/YouGov Poll have been incremental at best from week to week, Clinton’s support from Democrats for their party’s nomination is at its lowest level since criticism of her use of private emails exploded earlier this summer. In this week’s poll, 44% of registered voters who call themselves Democrats choose Clinton as their preferred nominee.  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders remains in second place, but Biden is clearly catching up, gaining seven points in the last two weeks. The as-yet-unannounced candidate is only four points behind Sanders." [YouGov] 


CLINTON’S RATING FALLS - Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement: “It’s been a bad summer for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s polling numbers, and a new Washington Post-ABC News poll brings additional bad news for her brand. But it also shows something else: She continues to be popular among a broad coalition of Democrats, and is still better liked than GOP heavyweights Donald Trump and Jeb Bush with the public at large….. Fully, 53 percent have an unfavorable impression of her, the highest since April 2008 in Post-ABC surveys.” [WashPost]

Part of a pattern... - Greg Sargent: "Clinton does better in the polls when she is not seen as a partisan political figure, and she sinks in the polls when she is seen as a partisan political figure….this pattern has been visible in polling of Clinton that goes back over two decades. Scott Clement, one of the Post’s crack polling gurus, whipped up this chart of Clinton’s favorable ratings in national Post polling going all the way back to before 1992, when Hillary’s husband first won the presidency." [WashPost, Kevin Drum annotates the chart (below) to indicate past campaigns]


...because politics means criticism - More Sargent: “‘The political science would say that people assess Clinton based on the information they’re given,’ John Sides, a George Washington University political science professor who founded the Post’s Monkey Cage blog, tells me. ‘When she moves out of electoral politics, she’s still at some remove from the day-to-day hullabaloo. When Clinton enters into electoral politics, she gets criticized by the opposing party and scrutinized by the media. The information voters get is less consistently positive, and as a consequence, people’s assessments change.’”

Or put another way - Brendan Nyhan: “Whenever anyone is under scrutiny during a high-profile campaign, unfavorables tend to go up.” [@BrendanNyhan]

Can Clinton overcome 'liar factor'? - Steven Shepard: "In an era of declining confidence in government, it’s not unusual that voters would find a politician less than honest. But the striking reality is that, for Clinton, a lack of trust is the first thing many think of....Interviews with pollsters suggest Clinton has a long way to go to restore her standing among voters, but that it can be done. A perception of untrustworthiness can be difficult to overcome, especially when it’s so pervasive. But Clinton does have other strengths to build on, according to recent polls: Voters admire her leadership, and women believe she cares about them." [Politico]

REPUBLICANS OPTING FOR OUTSIDERS- HuffPollster: "Non-politicians are having a moment in the Republican primary. It's not just Donald Trump. Since July, two other candidates have seen their numbers rise significantly in national polls: retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former CEO Carly Fiorina, neither of whom have held public office in the past. Historical precedent goes against them. Virtually every presidential nominee since the 1900s has held a previous elected office, or, more rarely, another high-level government position, not to mention the backing of their party establishment. The exception to the rule, businessman Wendell Willkie, was soundly defeated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. But Trump, Carson and Fiorina combined currently hold nearly 46 percent of the primary electorate in HuffPost Pollster's aggregate of national surveys. Add in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has repeatedly aligned himself with Trump, and that total rises to nearly 52 percent." [HuffPost]

REPUBLICANS LIKE OBAMA'S IDEAS BETTER WHEN THEY THINK THEY'RE TRUMP'S - HuffPollster: "Figuring out what the public really thinks isn't always an exact science, as anyone who's seen two polls touting completely contradictory results can affirm. One reason for that: most Americans, regardless of their political views, don't have a solid opinion about every single issue of the day, particularly when it concerns a complicated or obscure topic. People tend, reasonably, to rely on partisan cues -- if a politician they support is in favor of a bill, they're likely to think it's a good idea, or vice versa….How much can namedropping a politician matter? Conveniently, Republican front-runner Donald Trump shares a couple of policy positions with Obama and other leading Democrats. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, we randomly assigned one half of the 1,000 Americans surveyed to say whether they agreed with positions Trump held. The rest were asked whether they agreed with positions held by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry or current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The trick: the positions were actually the same." [HuffPost]

IOWA WILL BE THE LITMUS TEST ON IMMIGRATION - Ronald Brownstein: "The gulf sep­ar­at­ing lib­er­als and con­ser­vat­ives on the volat­ile is­sue of im­mig­ra­tion some­how seemed even wider be­cause their dis­agree­ments were ex­pressed so po­litely dur­ing an af­ter­noon for­um on Sat­urday in this pic­tur­esque lake­front com­munity about two hours North­w­est of Des Moines. Even without the in­flam­mat­ory rhet­or­ic about im­mig­ra­tion now roil­ing the pres­id­en­tial cam­paign rol­lick­ing through the state, the con­ver­sa­tion cap­tured the for­mid­able dis­tance between the per­spect­ives and pri­or­it­ies of the two sides in the de­bate….The for­um un­der­scored the un­ex­pec­tedly com­plex back­drop Iowa’s first-in-the na­tion caucuses in Feb­ru­ary may present for the im­mig­ra­tion de­bate rum­bling through the 2016 pres­id­en­tial race, par­tic­u­larly as Don­ald Trump has surged to the lead in the GOP con­test be­hind prom­ises of a harsh crack­down on un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants." [National Journal]

CNN AMENDS DEBATE CRITERIA... - Mark Preston: CNN is amending the criteria for its Republican presidential debate on September 16, possibly opening the door for Carly Fiorina to join the other top-tier candidates on the stage.The cause: a lack of national public polling following the August 6 debate has so far provided only three new polls to determine the lineup for the Reagan Presidential Debate, according to a CNN statement. As a result, CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August, the network  announced Tuesday. Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 7 and September 10 will be included. [CNN]

...After defending it - Ben Kamisar: CNN is defending its debate criteria after repeated assertions from the Carly Fiorina campaign that its methodology could bar her from the September debate’s main stage. The network told The Hill in a statement that it remained confident in its decision to include polls from before the Fox News debate — before Fiorina’s surge in national polls. It added that it is not allowed to change the criteria after it's been announced, even though Fox News changed its criteria for its undercard debate in August. [The Hill]

REASONS TO WORRY ABOUT 2016 POLLS - Andrew Gelman: "We rely on opinion polls, not just to get a line on the horse race that is the presidential election campaign, but also to learn what Americans (and people in other countries) think about important issues. As George Gallup said many decades ago, polling is central to modern democracy. But there are real and growing concerns that polls can’t always be trusted. In statistics jargon, we talk about 'total survey error.' That includes not just sampling error (the familiar 'margin of error' of plus or minus three percentage points or whatever) but also nonsampling error, either coming from survey responses we don’t believe or from a pool of respondents who do not match the population of interest." [WashPost]

WEBCOMIC XKCD CONDUCTS SURVEY TO FIND 'WEIRD CORRELATIONS': "There's no specific reason for any of the questions. The goal is to create an interesting and unusual data set for people to play with. (This is obviously not going to be a real random sample of people, but in the interest of getting cooler data, if you're sharing this with friends, try sending it to some people who wouldn't normally see this kind of thing!)" [XKCD]


-Bernie Sanders runs 7 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton in Iowa. [Bloomberg]

-Onetime favorite Republicans Rand Paul and Chris Christie are barely pulling any support. [MSNBC]

-Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied in a Monmouth University poll conducted in Iowa. [CNN]

-Donald Trump's favorability rating is up sharply among Republicans. [Gallup]

-Carson climbs second to Trump in a national Monmouth poll [CNN]

-Fewer Americans now say they go without healthcare due to its cost. [HuffPost]

-The rate of smokers in the U.S. reaches a historic low. [HuffPost]

-Women are four times more likely than men to say they've been denied a raise because of their gender. [HuffPost, via Gallup]

-Millennials don't want to be identified as millennials [Pew Research]

-Americans stand divided when it comes to how the media should handle graphic images. [HuffPost]

-Only 6 percent of voters say they'd consider voting for Kanye West for president in 2020. [HuffPost]

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THIS WEEK'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports on polling's ‘spectacular disasters’. [Marketplace]

-Iowa's Ann Selzer answers questions about the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Iowa poll. [WashPost]

-Nate Silver warns against "game changer" punditry. [538]

-Harry Enten explains how he "got Berned." [538]

-Ben Carson's rise in trial-heat polls coincides with an increasing share of national news coverage. [WashPost]

-Patrick Ruffini (R) explains when we can expect primary polls to really start to matter. [Medium]

-Sean Trende argues a Biden candidacy would make Clinton stronger. [RCP]

-Steve Koczela charts the rising tide of independents in the New Hampshire primary. [NHPR]

-Americans have grown less supportive of gun control despite years of mass shootings. [HuffPost]

-Obama's job approval takes a slight dip among union members. [Gallup]

-Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray is either a "highly respected pollster" or one who "couldn't be a less objective," depending on which Republican presidential candidate you ask. [NJ.com]

-RIP Sidney Hollander. [Baltimore Sun]