HUFFPOLLSTER: Social Media Leaves Hazy Picture Of Debate Reactions

Internet data and media pundits try to point to a debate winner, but take it with big grains of salt. Iowa polls that show Hillary Clinton far ahead could be outliers. And Mark Blumenthal sums up his time at HuffPost. This is HuffPollster for Friday, October 30, 2015.
Post debate social media data provides mixed results of who won the debate.
Post debate social media data provides mixed results of who won the debate.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

DONALD TRUMP GENERATES THE MOST TWEETS AGAIN, BUT FEWER THAN IN PAST DEBATES - Amobee Brand Intelligence: "For the third consecutive Republican Presidential Debate, Donald Trump was the candidate generated the most real-time Tweets but unlike in the previous two debates that was anything but a forgone conclusion. Donald Trump generated 201,978 Tweets between 8pm - 10:20pm Eastern Time on October 28, 2015. In comparison, Donald Trump received 1,008,792 Tweets during the Second Republican Debate on September 16 and 836,388 Tweets during the First Republican Debate on August 7. The politician who had the most successful night was almost certainly Ted Cruz, who generated 200,151 Tweets...or 99% as many Tweets as Donald Trump in the same time period. In an increasingly adversarial environment; where the CNBC moderators and the candidates were both visibly agitated with each other; Cruz denounced media bias and accused CNBC’s line of questioning to have nothing to do with public policy and basically amounting to a smear campaign against all the Republican candidates. It was clearly the moment of the night and hit a bipartisan nerve in the audience."

Ted Cruz wins on Facebook - Per a release from Facebook, the most discussed moment of the night was when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized the debate questions. Cruz was also the most discussed candidate followed by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

John Kasich drives the most Google searches in the first hour - Philip Bump: "When Monmouth University polled Republican voters in September, 60 percent of the people they spoke with had never heard of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). That's a problem for a guy that wants to be president. So Kasich came into the third debate with a plan: Picking a fight. He started early, throwing rocks at Donald Trump. And Trump took the bait. And, for a moment at least, it worked. No candidate was more searched on Google during the first hour of the debate than John Kasich. Just for a moment, mind you. And what they were searching for was an answer to the point Trump raised: His relationship with Lehman Brothers, which is probably not ideal. But they were looking….On a more sustained basis, the winners were two people we've gotten used to seeing atop the pack: Ben Carson and Donald Trump. But also a newcomer. Marco Rubio received slightly more interest over the course of the debate than Donald Trump. [WashPost]

But don’t take those focus groups and instant online polls too seriously - HuffPollster: “‘While these discussions make for far more compelling television than dry survey statistics, they have important limitations,’ HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal wrote in a 2008 column. ‘Every group is a small, non-random sample, and it is hard to know the degree to which the views of participants may be influenced by the atmospherics of the telecast, the probes of the moderator or the opinions expressed by others in the group.’ And even if a focus group or online poll accurately takes the measure of public opinion, there's another, more fundamental challenge with trying to figure out who ‘won.’ Unlike a sports game or an election, debates don't necessarily produce clear-cut winners or an objective way of naming them. Supporters of a politician are likely to think their preferred candidate won, regardless of the outcome, and even a strong performance can have relatively little impact on the polls.” [HuffPost]

The real winner: Baseball - Americans, however, were overall more interested in the World Series than politics on Wednesday night: [WashPost]

REPUBLICANS PLAY TO ANTI-MEDIA SENTIMENT - HuffPollster: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed the media during Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate for supporting liberal and Democratic views, and both were rewarded with thunderous applause. There’s a reason. According to a recently released Gallup poll, only 32 percent of Republicans have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mass media. Gallup has asked the same question each year since 1997: 'In general, how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media -- such as newspapers, TV and radio -- when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly -- a great deal, a fair amount, not very much or none at all?' In every poll, Republicans have showed the lowest levels of trust.” [HuffPost]


IOWA POLLS SHOWING HUGE CLINTON SURGE MIGHT BE OUTLIERS - HuffPollster:: “Hillary Clinton holds an overwhelming lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) in two new surveys of the Iowa caucus, results that either stand out as significant outliers or mark a dramatic surge.Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by 41 points in Monmouth University's first survey of Iowa's Democrats. She leads by 38 points in a Loras College poll also released Tuesday, up from the 25-point lead she held in Loras' August survey. That's a sharp departure from the three other polls conducted in Iowa this month, which show Clinton ahead of Sanders by just 3, 7 and 11 percentage points.” The issue could be how Monmouth and Loras sampled: Both used registered voter lists, and Monmouth sampled Democrats who voted in at least one of the last two primary elections. Loras sampled Democrats who voted in past general elections. [HuffPost]

Why that might be a problem: As Nate Cohn wrote, “These two conditions — being a registered Democrat and recent primary participation — exclude many of Mr. Sanders’s supporters. He fares best among unaffiliated voters in most polls, and thousands of them will participate in the Iowa caucuses. To participate in the caucuses, you have to be a registered Democrat — but you can change your voter registration at the event, so people who are currently unaffiliated or even Republican could ultimately participate.” Cohn points out that the youth and unaffiliated vote was a strong force for Obama in his 2008 Iowa win, although it was an anomaly for those groups to participate in the caucus at high rates. [NYT]

TRUMP FALLS OUT OF LOVE WITH POLLSTERS - Philip Bump: "In April, not-yet-a-candidate Donald Trump tweeted enthusiastically about a new poll released by Monmouth University. 'Wow,' he said, 'the respected Monmouth University poll has me ahead of most Republican candidates nationwide, and most people don't think I'm running!' Over the weekend, Monmouth released another poll, this time showing Trump in second in Iowa.'The thing with these polls,' Trump said on 'Morning Joe' on Tuesday, 'they're all so different. One guy is up here, somebody else is up there, you see swings of 10 and 12 points and, immediately, even the same day. So right now it's not very scientific.'...Each time there's a new, unpleasant poll out, Trump retweets people who agree with him that the polls are goofy. Given that such occurrences are increasingly regular, we figured we'd debunk some of the most common arguments Trump and his fans have deployed in their own defense." [WashPost]

-Donald Trump: “I don’t believe those polls…because both of those pollsters don’t like me." [Politico]

-FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten: “Donald Trump’s guide to polls: 1. Polls that show Trump ahead are greatest of all time. 2. Polls that show Trump behind are worst ever.” [@ForecasterEnten]

GREENBERG: DEMS SHOULDN'T RUN FOR OBAMA 'THIRD TERM' - HuffPollster: "Bill Clinton's former pollster thinks it's a mistake for Democratic presidential candidates to essentially run for President Barack Obama's 'third term.' 'That's not what the country wants. It's not what the base of the Democratic Party wants,' said longtime Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, whose past clients include Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. 'The Democratic Party is waiting for a president who will articulate the scale of the problems we face and challenge them to address it.' Greenberg thinks it's time to go bigger. His comments came in an interview with The Huffington Post previewing his new book, America Ascendant, which chronicles what he describes as the 'revolutions that are changing America, changing politics, changing culture, changing economics.' Greenberg argues in the book that these revolutionary changes, including a population that is growing younger and more racially and culturally diverse, will lead to a period in which America will be "exceptional again." But he believes that renewal will require a period of sustained political reform, comparable to the Progressive Era at the turn of the 20th century, and the defeat of the "counter-revolution" being waged by the modern Republican Party. [HuffPost]

A PERSONAL NOTE - Mark Blumenthal: HuffPollster will be back next week as usual, but today is my last at the Huffington Post.

I started blogging in 2004 as Mystery Pollster. Together with Charles Franklin and with the support of Doug Rivers and Polimetrix (now YouGov), we founded in 2006. We partnered with the National Journal in 2008 and came to the Huffington Post when Arianna Huffington gave us a new lease on life in 2010. And we launched this newsletter in 2013. So perhaps, for me, some degree of restlessness has been there all along. Next month, I will begin another new job as head of election polling for SurveyMonkey.

Writing for the Huffington Post and its readers has been a special honor and privilege. It has given me a chance to work every day in a newsroom full of uniquely bright, talented, passionate journalists. I've learned to write for a wide audience and had my words greatly improved by some of the best editors are in the business. I got to team up with the first rate developers who rebuilt the charts from the ground up, fulfilling the vision we had for the site since our founding nine years ago. And I've had an unmatched ringside seat covering politics and polls during a period of challenge and reinvention for the survey research industry.

I have every confidence that Pollster and the HuffPollster newsletter are in the very able hands of newly promoted Senior Polling Editor Natalie Jackson, Director of Polling and Staff Reporter Ariel Edwards-Levy and Associate Polling Editor Janie Velencia.

To all who have turned to these pages over the years to use our charts or follow or reporting, and to all who have supported my work or contributed to it, I say thank you.


-YouGov finds Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Iowa, but not in South Carolina. [YouGov]

-YouGov also finds Donald Trump leading in Iowa and South Carolina and tied with Ben Carson in New Hampshire [YouGov]

-Carson surpasses Trump in a national poll. [CSB]

-Six surveys in a row show Carson even or pulling ahead of Trump in Iowa. [HuffPost]

-Americans stand evenly divided on the Affordable Care Act. [Kaiser]

-The Benghazi hearing didn't improve Americans' opinions of anyone. [HuffPost]

-Republicans view Donald Trump as their most electable option. [AP]

-Americans are more likely to blame mental health issues than inadequate gun control for mass shootings. [WashPost]

-In the wake of a series of mass shootings Americans' support for stricter gun control goes slightly up. [AP]

-Seven in 10 Republicans who support a candidate are not firm in their decision. [HuffPost]

-Tea Party support takes a hit. [HuffPost, Gallup]

-An experiment with Google Consumer Surveys shows Carson’s support might be even stronger than it appears. [Upshot, here and here]

HUFFPOST POLLSTER IS HIRING! HuffPost Pollster is looking for a fellow to work closely with the Pollster team in our coverage of political and pre-election polling. Applicants should be very detail-oriented with strong news judgment and a demonstrated interest in political campaigns, data, and especially campaign polling.

Primary responsibilities include monitoring polling news, collecting and entering new polls into our polling database, creating poll charts to track new races/questions, and managing existing charts in the HuffPost Election Dashboard. In addition, the position will provide opportunities to write about polling data, and a candidate with a strong statistical background may also have opportunities to work on data projects related to our election forecasts for 2016.

HuffPost fellows are considered an integral part of the bureau -- no general office duties or coffee-fetching; you will work side-by-side with the staff in the HuffPost newsroom. The fellowship is limited to 6 months.

The position is paid, full-time and located in our Washington, DC office. To apply, please send an email with cover letter and resume to with the subject line "Pollster Fellow."

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this weekly update every Friday morning via email! Just click here. Enter your email address, and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

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

-Bernie Sanders' campaign hires Ben Tulchin, a former pollster for Howard Dean. [CNN]

-David Catanese shares some of the Bush campaign's internal polling. [US News & World Report]

-The AP is partnering with GfK to conduct online exit polls. [AP]

-Steve Koczela wonders if a wave of support for Donald Trump was really a mirage. [Commonwealth]

-Government corruption ranks high on a survey of the nation's worst fears. []

-Sean Trende begins a series on basic stats. [RCP]

-Political scientists argue over whether college football outcomes affect presidential elections. [Monkey Cage]

-Jim Webb shouldn't get too excited about his 8% in a North Carolina poll testing him as an independent. [The Hill]

-America's' favorite Halloween candy is...definitely not candy corn. [HuffPost]

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