Presidential job approval is at a new high since late 2012. Trust in newspapers to make presidential endorsements is low. And polling error is wider than you might think. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, October 6, 2016.
OBAMA’S APPROVAL RATING HITS HIGH MARK FOR HIS SECOND TERM - Jennifer Agiesta: “President Barack Obama’s approval rating stands at 55% in a new CNN/ORC poll, the highest mark of his second term, and matching his best at any time since his first year in office. The new rating outpaces his previous second-term high ― reached just after a Democratic convention that extolled the successes of his presidency ― by one point, and hits a level he’s reached just twice since the end of his first year in office: In January 2013 just before his second inauguration and in January 2011. The new poll continues a streak in which Obama’s approval rating has been at 50% or higher in CNN/ORC polls since February, a seven month run that is his longest since 2009. And taken together, Obama’s approval ratings in 2016 average 51% so far in CNN/ORC polls, his best mark since that first year in office.” [CNN]
The average across all polls is at a high point too - The HuffPost Pollster chart shows the president’s approval is at 51 percent across all polls, which is the highest it’s been since late 2012 when Obama was re-elected. The upward trajectory started late in 2015 and has continued throughout 2016 so far.
MOST AMERICANS DON’T THINK NEWSPAPERS SHOULD ENDORSE - HuffPollster; “If newspaper endorsements counted as presidential votes, Hillary Clinton would be winning in a landslide….But according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey, most Americans either aren’t aware who their paper is endorsing, or don’t care ― and neither do they think that papers should be issuing such endorsements in the first place. A 51 percent majority of Americans polled say that newspapers should not endorse political candidates. Just 24 percent believe that they should, while the rest are unsure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since this year’s endorsements have favored their candidate, Democrats are more likely to support the practice….Just 19 percent of Americans who read a local paper say they know whether it endorsed someone, with 15 percent saying their paper came out in favor of Clinton, and 4 percent saying it was in favor of Trump.” [HuffPost]
PEOPLE PLACE LESS STOCK IN POLLS THAT SHOW THEIR CANDIDATES BEHIND - Ozan Kuru, Josh Pasek and Michael Traugott: “In a survey, we found evidence that ordinary citizens are more likely to believe in the accuracy of polls that show their favored candidate winning….Individuals were strongly biased toward evidence that their candidate was winning. The results replicated our earlier results on issue polling. In fact, people so completely rejected the idea that the opposing candidate could win that they endorsed polling results that favored their candidate even when that poll was objectively questionable….When the better quality poll reported that Trump was ahead, Republicans acknowledged that this poll was more accurate. But Democrats declared that the two polls were only equally accurate. However, when the first poll favored Clinton, Democrats reported that it was indeed more accurate while Republicans claimed that both were equally accurate on average.” [WashPost]
POLLING ERROR HAS TO DO WITH MORE THAN JUST SAMPLING - David Rothschild and Sharad Goel: “As anyone who follows election polling can tell you, when you survey 1,000 people, the margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. This roughly means that 95 percent of the time, the survey estimate should be within three percentage points of the true answer….But the real-world margin of error of election polls is not three percentage points. It is about twice as big. In a new paper with Andrew Gelman and Houshmand Shirani-Mehr, we examined 4,221 late-campaign polls — every public poll we could find — for 608 state-level presidential, Senate and governor’s races between 1998 and 2014. Comparing those polls’ results with actual electoral results, we find the historical margin of error is plus or minus six to seven percentage points….All these nonsampling errors show up in two ways. First, polls within a race vary from one another slightly more than one would expect from classical textbook explanations. Second, and most markedly, polls tend to systematically overestimate or underestimate the true answer….This November, we would not be at all surprised to see Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump beat the state-by-state polling averages by about two percentage points. We just don’t know which one would do it.” [NYT]
WHAT THE LATEST POLLS SHOW:
-North Carolina: Quinnipiac finds Senate incumbent Richard Burr (R) tied with Deborah Ross (D) at 46 percent, and gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper (D) leading incumbent Pat McCrory (R) 48-46; Pollster average has Burr up 1, Cooper ahead by 3. [Quinnipiac, Senate chart, gubernatorial chart]
-Ohio: Monmouth finds Clinton up 44-42, and GOP Senate incumbent Rob Portman leading 54-39; Quinnipiac has Portman ahead 55-38;Pollster average shows a less than 1-point margin in the presidential race, and Portman up by 13. [Monmouth, Quinnipiac, presidential chart, Senate chart]
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THURSDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-A majority of Americans think race relations have declined over the past 8 years. [CNN]
-Philip Bump explains that young voters are much more likely than older voters to support third party candidates. [WashPost]
-Asian Americans favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a large margin. [NBC]
-David Wasserman introduces an interactive tool that allows users to investigate how different demographic groups could affect the election outcome. 
-YouGov’s model of the election gives Hillary Clinton 334 electoral votes. [YouGov]
-Margot Sanger-Katz examines the partisan divides in different medical specialties. [NYT]
CORRECTION: This story originally stated incorrect results for Quinnipiac’s poll of the North Carolina gubernatorial race.