HUFFPOLLSTER: Reviewing Ted Cruz's Poll "Unskewing"

HUFFPOLLSTER: Reviewing Ted Cruz's Poll "Unskewing"
Sen. Ted Cruz R-TX speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action,on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Sen. Ted Cruz R-TX speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action,on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Thursday's new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll grabs the attention of Washington. We check Ted Cruz' attempt to "unskew." And Strategic Vision, LLC finds a way to celebrate its "ethics." This is HuffPollster update for Friday, October 11, 2013.

POLL BEARS BAD NEWS FOR THE GOP - An NBC/WSJ poll released Thursday night found Republicans taking a drastic hit. Per Chuck Todd, both members of its bipartisan team of pollsters described the results as "jaw dropping." HuffPost: "The Republican Party has been 'badly damaged' by the government shutdown, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday evening, which finds public opinion souring on the GOP and some of its core positions. Americans blamed Republicans over President Barack Obama for the shutdown by a margin of 22 percentage points, with 53 percent saying the GOP deserved more blame, and 31 percent saying Obama did….Voters were 8 points more likely to say they'd prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled Congress, a 5-point shift toward the Democrats since last month. Support for the new health care law, the touchstone of the government shutdown, rose a net 8 points from September, while the belief that government should do more to solve problems was up 8 points from June." [HuffPost]

Ted Cruz "unskews" the results - Kasie Hunt, Andrew Rafferty and Michael O'Brien: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday sought to cast doubt on the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal that reflected widespread public blame toward the GOP for the government shutdown and Cruz's own popularity suffering….'If you seek out liberal Obama supporters and ask them their views, they're going to tell you they're liberal Obama supporters. That's not reflective of where this country is,' Cruz told NBC News in an interview at the Capitol….'I'll note that that poll was very heavily weighted with an awful lot of Democrats with an awful lot of Obama supporters and 20 percent of the people polled were government workers,' Cruz said." [NBC]

-Too many Democrats? - No. By a "lot of Democrats", Cruz apparently means that 28 percent of the adults sampled self-identified as Democrats and 19 percent as Republicans. After the pollsters pushed the initially independent to say how they "lean," the totals rose to 43 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican. Contrary to Cruz, the NBC the results are in line with what other pollsters have found for national samples of adults. According to the First Read report, the "11-point Democratic advantage" on their latest poll "is consistent with the combined data for all of the NBC/WSJ polls this year – a 13-point Democratic edge." [see Pollster chart for Party ID chart and party ID: NBC/WSJ]

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-Too many government workers? No. Cruz complained that 20 percent of the poll respondents were government workers. Yes, Census estimates put the total number of government workers (federal, state and local) at about 9 percent, but according to First Read, "the NBC/WSJ pollsters say that such a result is consistent with other polls and statistical data. (After all, military personnel and teachers would be considered government workers.)" Gallup's polling in 2010, for example, found 17 percent of respondents saying they were government workers. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also asked respondents to report whether they "or an immediate family member" worked for the government, which also helps explain the higher number. [Brookings, Gallup, NBC/WSJ questionnaire]

Too few Romney voters? Too much confusion? The National Review's Jim Geraghty focuses on the question that asks respondents how they voted in 2012: "You’ll recall President Obama won the popular vote in 2012, 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent — a four point split in a high-turnout presidential year. This one splits… 44--35....Finally… who are these 5 percent of people who aren’t sure who they voted for president last November? Guys, it wasn’t that long ago." [National Review]

-No and no. - Via email, Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who conducted the survey shares a memo on this subject he co-authored with Democratic polling partner Peter Hart in April 2012: "When it comes to recalled vote behavior, 40 plus years of polling tell us people under‐report voting for the losing candidate. This is not a Democratic or Republican phenomenon, but human nature: People simply do not like to admit they voted for the loser. Therefore, when looking at recalled vote, the important number to watch closely is the winner’s percentage." Among those who voted and chose a candidate on the latest NBC/WSJ poll, the result is 51.7 percent for Obama, compared to 51.1 percent, his actual share of the vote. Also, note that the 5 percent recorded as "unsure" about their candidate would also include any who knew their vote choice but refused to share it. [Hart/McInturff]

McInturff shares more - Chris Cillizza shared a portion of another memo Republican pollster McInturff sent to clients on Friday: "Overall, this is among the handful of surveys that stand out in my career as being significant and consequential...I would also say this about my general experience with this type of data – 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Lehman collapse, debt ceiling in 2011 – once there is this level of movement and change, it takes months for things to settle down in a way that is stable and easier to understand. This type of data creates ripples that will take a long time to resolve and there will be unexpected changes we cannot predict at the moment as a consequence. From a Republican perspective, there is comfort though that the next federal election is a year plus away. Whether it be the impeachment vote in early 1999 or the use of force votes about Iraq, there have been episodes people assumed would drive the next election, but those votes/events were so far from the election they simply were not a factor by the next election." [WaPost]

ANOTHER POLL FINDS GOP BRAND DAMAGE - Democratic party affiliated pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner: "A just-completed national survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research confirms that the voting public is fed up with just about everyone in Washington, but Republicans are clearly bearing much more of their anger and it damaging their prospects for 2014. By a 16-point margin, 43 to 27 percent, voters blame the Republican in Congress, rather than President Obama and the Democrats, for the government shutdown. The shutdown had left an already damaged GOP brand in tatters and the party’s electoral prospects wounded. The party now has a 2:1 unfavorable to favorable rating, 26 percent favorable vs. 52 percent unfavorable (for a net --26 rating). Among independents their rating is --35. Democrats don’t fare great either, but with a net --5 rating (39 percent favorable vs. 44 percent unfavorable), they do much better. Perhaps most important, on the generic ballot, Democrats now lead by double digits, 46 to 36 percent." [GQR]

GENERIC BALLOT RESULTS: HOW BAD? - Nate Cohn: "An 8 point Democratic advantage on the generic ballot cannot be dismissed. That’s inching into the danger zone—the area where we can entertain the possibility of Democrats taking control of the House. But an 8 point edge doesn’t make a Democratic takeover likely. Far from it...The lack of GOP exposure to a Democratic wave is why Alan Abramowitz of Emory University calculates that Democrats need an advantage of about 13 points to retake the House in 2014. His model estimates that an 8-point advantage would result in a Democratic gain of about 8 seats—less than half of the number necessary to retake the House....Even without asserting that the shutdown is the GOP’s nadir, there are other reasons to question whether today’s Democratic advantage will endure for the next 13 months. Political scientists have found that the Democratic-edge in the generic ballot tends to fade over the year before an election. That might be especially true in 2014, since the economic fundamentals and the president’s approval rating aren’t exactly consistent with huge Democratic gains." [New Republic]

But +10? - Via Twitter, Cohn reacts to the subsequent release of the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll: "Wow, this @GQRResearch poll has D+10 on the generic ballot...that's more clearly in the danger zone...That said, I think these surveys would be better for Democrats if the Ds were closer to 50. Alot of this is GOP-leaners being undecided." [@Nate_Cohn here, here and here]

PPP FINDS MORE HOUSE REPUBLICANS VULNERABLE - Ryan Grim: "A new survey of voters in a dozen Republican-held districts indicates that the government shutdown has made the House increasingly vulnerable to a Democratic takeover. Polling in the districts, conducted by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling and paid for by, follows similar polling that found voters hostile to lawmakers supporting the shutdown….In the latest survey, based on a dozen Republicans, five trail Democrats and another is tied. Once voters were told the Republican supported the shutdown, another three fell behind the Democrat...A generic challenger, however, may paradoxically be stronger than the actual challenger. Democrats struggle to find top-tier candidates to run in midterm elections because it's easier for a Democrat to win during a presidential year….PPP did not poll Democratic-held swing districts and may have found a similar phenomenon if it had. However, the tea party wave already wiped out many of those, making the remaining Democratic seats harder for Republicans to take over." [HuffPost]

AN OBVIOUS FRAUD - A few weeks ago, HuffPollster received an email telling us that "Mystery Pollster" had been "recognized as a 2013 Excellence Award recipient" by something called "the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce." The email continued: "Our panel of industry executives and consultants oversees an annual survey commissioned by the SBIEC on various industries and determines which companies meet and exceed the industry benchmarks that have been set forth." For just $358.00, we could receive a framed certificate and and "crystal award" noting this accomplishment. We chuckled at this obvious scam, especially since "Mystery Pollster" is not a business, but rather a website that has been dormant since 2006. Who would fall for such an obvious ruse?

In related news... - An actual press release: "Suwanee, GA, October 11, 2013 --( Strategic Vision, LLC announces that it has been selected has been selected [sic] for the 2013 Georgia Excellence Award amongst all its peers and competitors by the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce (SBIEC) for the marketing and public relations sector... 'We are very honored and humbled to have been selected for the 2013 Georgia Excellence Award,' said David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC. 'This recognition is due to the hard and selfless work of our team and we could not have earned this honor without them.'...Strategic Vision has consistently demonstrated a high regard for upholding business ethics and company values." Strategic Vision, LLC is better known for purportedly releasing more than 100 fake polls between 2004 and 2009. [; for more background see HuffPollster, The Pelland Blog]

FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

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-A new Marist poll gives Bill de Blasio a 44-point lead over Ray Lhota. [Marist]

--60 percent of Americans say Democrats and Republicans do such a poor job that a third party is needed, a new high. [Gallup]

-Americans find little they like about Obama or either political party. [AP]

-Nate Silver thinks the shutdown, if it doesn't persist or lead to a default, is unlikely to have a major impact on 2014. [Grantland]

-Resurgent Republic (R) concludes that the shutdown has proven "more toxic" to voters than Obamacare. [RR]

-Sean Trende argues that Gerrymandering isn't the real cause of polarization. [RCP]

-Adam Carstens creates a helpful visualization of Trende's data. [Tumblr]

-Peter Wooley says Chris Christie is an "odds on favorite" but might still lose. [HuffPost]

-Sam Wang sees a greater probability of a Democratic takeover of the House. [PEC]

-The politics of Texas Hispanic voters tips to Democrats, but generally falls between the two parties. [Texas Tribune]

-AAPOR delays collection of membership dues until the shutdown ends. [@SKoczela]

-Cable news reaches only 38 percent of Americans, but those who watch devote twice as much time to it as those who watch broadcast news. [Pew Research]

-Here is a graph of the declining heights of the chairmen of the Fed, for some reason. [NYT]

-Searches for "happy hour" are way up in Washington. [WaPost via @LSimonetta]

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