Negative perceptions of the Republican party are on the rise...among Republicans. Donald Trump may be leading in national polls, but Walker and Rubio are perceived as the most acceptable and viable candidates by activist Republicans. And a low response rate doesn't automatically mean a survey is wrong. This is HuffPollster for Friday, July 24, 2015.
REPUBLICAN PARTY IMAGE TAKES A DIP - Pew Research: "The Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of this year. Currently, 32% have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60% have an unfavorable view. Favorable views of the GOP have fallen nine percentage points since January. The Democratic Party continues to have mixed ratings (48% favorable, 47% unfavorable). The Democratic Party has often held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last fall. Today, the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years. Republicans, in particular, are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago.…[P]ositive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably; 29% today, compared with 37% six months ago. Democrats, by contrast, continue to express highly positive opinions of their party: 86% view the party favorably, little changed from 84% in January. Independents’ views of the Democratic Party also are unchanged since January, at 38%." [Pew]
Gallup finds similar pattern - A new poll finds the favorable ratings for both parties "close to their historical lows" with positive ratings of the Democrats up slightly since March (from 36 to 42 percent) and ratings of the Republicans down (from 42 to 35 percent).
Why the drop among Republicans? - HuffPollster asked our followers on Twitter for their their best guesses and two theories emerged. First, a sense of disappointment that the Republican majorities have not made progress on their agenda, and perhaps have lost further ground to President Obama. Second, in one word, "Trump", or more broadly the "chaos" in the 2016 field. Some highlights:
-Richard Freedman (R): "GOP has not stopped ACA, moved to secure border, reduced spending in logical manner, etc. While generally not...possible, disappointing. Also primary looks like clown show from afar. [@richfreed here and here]
-Brian Stryker (D): "Perceived impotence? Obama/libs lots of recent wins, and GOP just hasn't had a lot of chances to block things up" [@BrianStryker]
-Conn Carroll (R): "what has the GOP Senate accomplished since January exactly?" [@conncarroll]
-Michelle Diggles (D): "Republicans expect their leaders to get their way. When they don't (e.g., ACA not repealed) feel lied to." [@MichelleDiggles]
-Matt Dabrowski (R): "Portions of the base continue to be strongly dissatisfied. At the risk of being reductive, this is the Ted Cruz story." [@MattDabrowski]
Drop since December as strong among conservative Republicans as among moderates - HuffPollster asked Pew Research to break out the trend among Republicans by self-reported ideology. While the drop since January is slightly steeper among conservatives than other Republicans, there is little difference since December. Given the relatively small samples sizes, especially for moderate-to-liberal Republicans (just 139 interviews on the most recent poll), the changes are essentially indistinguishable.
HUFFPOLLSTER SURVEYS ACTIVIST REPUBLICANS; WALKER AND RUBIO EMERGE AS THE MOST VIABLE GOP CANDIDATES - HuffPollster: "...The Huffington Post worked with our survey partner YouGov to scour its Internet survey panel for activist Republicans: those who have run for or held office, served as party officials, worked on campaigns, or volunteered their time before elections. Our survey of 500 of these activists provides a look at the opinions of some of the GOP's best-informed and most politically involved supporters...[T]hese activist Republicans are far from reaching a consensus on a 2016 nominee. Half say they are 'still making up' their minds about whom they will support, with no clear frontrunner emerging in their first choices....The poll does show a clear top tier of candidates currently perceived as both worthy of support and electable by the activists. By those measures, Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio currently stand well above their rivals….Walker earns a few superlatives. Alone among the candidates, he's viewed 'very favorably' by more than half of the activists surveyed. Just 5 percent say they wouldn't back him under any circumstances....Still, Trump attracts considerably more backlash than most other candidates, joining Bush, Graham and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie among the candidates that more than 1 in 4 activists say they'd never vote for and that they'd be angry to see nominated." [HuffPost]
DOES A LOW RESPONSE RATE PRODUCE LESS RELIABLE POLLS? - Pew Research: "The short answer here is 'no.' The potential for what pollsters call 'nonresponse bias' – the unwelcome situation in which the people we’re not reaching are somehow systematically different from the people we are reaching, thus biasing our poll results – certainly is greater when response rates are low. But the mere existence of low response rates doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not nonresponse bias exists. In fact, numerous studies, including our own, have found that the response rate in and of itself is not a good measure of survey quality, and that thus far, nonresponse bias is a manageable problem. For example, our 2012 study of nonresponse showed that despite declining response rates, telephone surveys that include landlines and cellphones and are weighted to match the demographic composition of the population (part of standard best practices) continue to provide accurate data on most political, social and economic measures." [Pew]
PERCEPTIONS OF RACE RELATIONS HAVE WORSENED SINCE OBAMA TOOK OFFICE - New York Times: "Most Americans think race relations in the U.S. are generally bad, and blacks hold a particularly negative view of the nation’s racial climate – the worst since the country’s first black president took office in 2009. After Barack Obama’s historic win in 2008, both black and white Americans were notably sanguine about race relations in the nation. This was a striking reversal among blacks. Before the election, most blacks characterized race relations as bad; just several months into the Obama presidency, however, most rated them as good. Since then, the public’s perception of racial harmony in the U.S. has deteriorated." [NYT]
METHODOLOGY CHANGE FOR WASHINGTON POST/ABC - From an email sent by Langer Research Associates: "After extensive review we’ve revised the sampling methodology we use in the ABC News/Washington Post polls we produce for ABC...From October 2008 through last month we employed a non-overlapping dual-frame design, including two separate sampling frames – one for people who can be reached on landline phones, another for those who can be reached only on cell phones. We increased the cell-phone-only proportion as it increased over the years, based on ongoing estimates from the National Health Interview Survey …[A]s the incidence of cell-only users has grown, the proportion of young adults available via landlines has decreased. Our new approach makes use of an overlapping dual-frame design, which can be thought of as three frames – individuals who can be contacted on cell phones only, those who can be contacted on landlines only, and those who can be contacted on either. The total number of cell interviews continues to be set to reach the cell-phone-only target derived from NHIS estimates As such, starting with this week’s ABC/Post survey, 65 percent of our interviews are conducted by cell phone, 35 percent via landline interviews."
More Of This Week's Polls
-Donald Trump leads with 24 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. [ABC/WashPost]
-Although Trump maintains a slim lead, he has the highest unfavorable rating of any GOP candidate. [Morning Consult]
-Jeb Bush struggles with very conservative primary voters. [PPP]
-Conservatives sour on Pope Francis. [Gallup]
-Democrats are 12 times as likely as Republicans to smoke marijuana regularly. [Gallup]
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THIS WEEK'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-John Sides explains why Trump (and other candidates) "surge" in the polls in the months before the presidential primaries. WashPost]
-A New York Times visualization demonstrates the role of chance in using polls to select Republican debate participants. [NYT]
-Harry Enten says Donald Trump would lose a third-party bid, but could take down the Republican nominee in the process. 
-Trump says "I don’t need a pollster, I don’t want a pollster.” [NYT]
-Nate Silver calls out Trump as "the World's greatest troll." 
-A rising tide of anger may explain Trump's appeal. [WashPost]
-Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research (R) shares an internal Ted Cruz poll with Charlie Cook. [Cook Political]
-Jonathan Ladd offers two approaches to predicting which party will win in 2016. [Mischiefs of Faction]
-Desmoinesdem shares a transcript of a Democratic message testing poll. [Bleeding Heartland]
-Nicole McClesky (R) explains why marginal gains among Latino voters could "make a big difference" for the GOP. [POS]
-Elizabeth Wilner shares CMAG projections of 2016 television advertising projections. [Cook Political]
-Differential turnout by Labor and Conservative voters, not the "Shy Tories" theory, explain the polling error in the UK. [WashPost]
-Annie Petit live-blogs a European Survey Research Association panel on the representativeness of online panel surveys. [Love Stats]
-The Associated Press wins a $250,000 Knight News Challenge grant to test less-expensive, more accurate alternatives to exit polling involving online Election Day surveys. [Knight Foundation]