Category Archives: Pollapalooza

Trump Put Immigration Back In The Headlines. Will It Boost GOP Turnout?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Poll(s) of the week
President Trump has fixated on immigration in the days leading up to next week’s midterm elections, perhaps in the hopes that it will drive Republicans to the polls. Since mid-October, he has made the thousands of Central American migrants who have said they are traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum a focal point of his tweets and public statements, most recently in a press conference Thursday. And earlier this week, he intensified his hardline immigration agenda, telling Axios that he wants to use an executive order to ban birthright citizenship. It’s difficult to know whether, or how much, stoking fears about illegal immigration will help Republicans turn out the vote, but a new poll from The Economist and YouGov gives us some clues as to why Trump might think it will.
For starters, there’s evidence that Trump’s rhetoric on the migrant caravan has resonated with his base. Republicans — especially Trump voters — were more likely than Democrats to have heard “a lot” about the caravan, and a majority of Republicans said the U.S. should “reject all of the immigrants in the caravan” (as opposed to accepting all of them or accepting only those who have a valid claim for asylum). Also, Trump’s dubious claim that the caravan contained “unknown Middle Easterners” (there have been no reports from intelligence agencies to suggest that this is true, and Trump later said he has no proof to support it) appears to have been widely believed by Republicans. Forty-seven percent said they thought that “some” of the people in the caravan were “Middle Eastern terrorists.” And 72 percent of Republicans said they “strongly approve” of Trump’s order to deploy thousands of troops to the border ahead of the caravan’s arrival.
Also in the YouGov poll, immigration was the most frequent response among Republicans when they were asked what the most important issue to them was; 20 percent chose it from a list of 15 issues (the economy ranked second, with 17 percent). Among independents, immigration came in second (13 percent said it was the most important issue to them) — which could be good news for Republicans looking to win among independents. (Among Democrats, immigration was tied for sixth place — their top answer was health care.)
So maybe Trump really is tapping into an issue that will motivate Republicans to vote. But much of his success will boil down to whether he is able to turn out voters in key swing states with close races. That said, a recent CBS News/YouGov poll of voters in Arizona, Florida and Indiana found that a vast majority of Republicans said immigration was “very important” to their vote for Congress this year. All three states have a competitive Senate race on the ballot. Several House races in Arizona and Florida are especially close, and Florida has a tight gubernatorial race as well.
What voters see as an important issue and what motivates them to vote can depend on the current news cycle, although the effects can fade. For instance, Republican enthusiasm about the midterm elections surged in October polls after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s heated confirmation hearing. But there are some signs that the excitement has died down. In the most recent Economist/YouGov poll, Republicans’ enthusiasm to vote in the midterms dropped 3 points, compared with the previous week.
It’s still too soon to know what will happen in the polls in the wake of the pipe bombs that were mailed to prominent Democratic critics of Trump or in response to the anti-Semitic shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead. So while it’s possible that immigration could drive Republicans to vote on Election Day and maybe even make a difference in some key races, it’s also entirely possible that enthusiasm around immigration issues could weaken in the coming days.
Other polling nuggets

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS of Arizona’s Senate race found that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema had lost ground to Republican Martha McSally but was still ahead by 4 percentage points. An NBC News/Marist College poll, meanwhile, found that Sinema had a 6-point lead. As of Thursday afternoon, FiveThirtyEight’s Classic forecast rated the race as a “toss-up” and gave Sinema a 3 in 5 chance of winning.
A poll of North Dakota voters by Trafalgar Group found Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp 9 points behind her Republican opponent, Kevin Cramer (including leaners). Heitkamp has lagged behind Kramer in the polls for a while, and Cramer’s odds of winning in our forecast have improved recently. As of Thursday afternoon, he had a 3 in 4 chance of winning.
The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, scored a 5-point lead against Democrat Phil Bredesen in an NBC News/Marist poll.
In the Texas Senate race, Republican Ted Cruz maintains a strong streak with a 5-point lead over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in a Quinnipiac University poll.
A Marquette University Law School poll found Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, tied with Democrat Tony Evers — both received 47 percent in support. As of Thursday afternoon, our forecast rated the seat as a “toss-up.”
43 percent of Americans said the #MeToo movement had gone too far, according to an NPR-Ipsos poll. Americans were more divided along party lines than by gender: The gap between Democrats and Republicans was 54 points (75 percent of Republicans said the movement had gone too far, compared with 21 percent of Democrats), while the gap between men and women was 15 points (51 percent of men vs. 36 percent of women).
60 percent of Massachusetts voters said Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claim of Native American ancestry is “not at all important” to their vote in a WBUR poll conducted by MassINC polling.
Last week, NBC canceled Megyn Kelly’s talk show after she asked on the air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. In a poll that was conducted before and after the cancellation, Morning Consult found that 45 percent of Americans thought that punishment would be “too harsh.” Only a quarter of respondents thought canceling her show would be appropriate. However, 42 percent of black Americans said cancellation would be appropriate.
A majority of Americans expressed a lack of confidence in U.S. election security, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they’re confident that U.S. election systems are secure and less likely than Democrats to believe that Russia or other foreign governments will try to influence the midterm elections.

Trump approval

President Trump’s approval rating is 42.0 percent, according to our tracker. His disapproval rating is 53.2 percent. That makes for a net approval rating of -11.2 points — nearly 2 percentage points worse than last week’s rating of -9.4 points. One month ago, Trump’s net approval rating was -10.9 points (41.8 percent approved and 52.7 percent disapproved).
Generic ballot

Democrats have an 8.5-point lead over Republicans on the generic congressional ballot (50.3 percent to 41.8 percent), according to our tracker. Support hasn’t shifted much from a week ago, when Democrats were at 50.0 percent and Republicans were at 42.0 percent. One month ago, Democrats held about the same advantage, 49.4 percent to 41.0 percent.
Check out our 2018 House, Senate and governor forecasts and all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the midterms.
 


Can Heitkamp Pull Off A Second Upset In North Dakota?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Poll(s) of the week
Democrats’ chances of holding on to the North Dakota Senate seat — which is critical if they stand any chance of winning the upper chamber — look quite bleak according to a recent Fox News poll. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has long faced a tough uphill battle to win re-election in a state that President Trump carried by 36 percentage points in 2016. As you can see from the seven polls we’ve collected on the race so far, Heitkamp has trailed Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer for months. And two recent polls suggest that Heitkamp lost even more ground in the last couple of weeks, falling 10 to 12 points behind her opponent (before poll adjustments); in early September, she was only 4 points behind.

FiveThirtyEight’s Classic forecast currently gives Heitkamp just a 1 in 3 chance of winning re-election. Those odds aren’t great, but Heitkamp surprised everyone in her first bid for the seat in 2012 — more on that in a moment.
There is some speculation that Heitkamp’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination — a decision that was both politically and personally difficult for her — may have eroded the senator’s support among voters.6 But it’s difficult to say what impact, if any, her vote against Kavanaugh has had, as there hasn’t yet been any polling since the vote. That said, since the North Dakota contest is one of the most competitive Senate races this year, there will probably be at least a few more polls in the final weeks before the election.

Make no mistake, the polling so far is not great for Heitkamp, but this is a political candidate well acquainted with being an underdog. Heitkamp trailed her opponent in several polls in 2012, only to go on to win by less than 1 percentage point. It was one of the biggest election upsets that year. What’s more, her victory came even as Barack Obama lost the state to Mitt Romney by 20 points.
Although Heitkamp was able to pull off an improbable victory in 2012, there are already some signs that she might not be able to do the same this time around. Our polls database shows that eight polls conducted in October 2012 had her losing the race by as much as 10 points or winning it by as much as 6 points. But polls this year tell a different story. Only one poll has found her ahead, and it was conducted in February. The most recent poll suggests she’s trailing by as much as 12 points.
The political environment is more favorable for Democrats this year than it was in 2012, which could give Heitkamp a boost, but unfortunately for her, North Dakota has likely moved more to the right since she was elected, making it tougher for Democrats to compete there. To give you a sense of just how hard it is for Democrats to win in the state right now, consider North Dakota’s 2016 Senate race, where Democrat Eliot Glassheim lost to incumbent Republican John Hoeven by a whopping 62 points. And in this year’s congressional race,7 the Democratic candidate has less than a 1 in 100 chance of winning.
It could also be that Rep. Cramer is a stronger candidate than Heitkamp’s 2012 opponent was. That year, Rep. Rick Berg was a one-term congressman and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, who drew criticism for his ties to a controversial property-management company. But Cramer, a three-term Congressman, seems to be just as well liked as Heitkamp. What’s more, President Trump has a 64 percent approval rating in the state and has endorsed Cramer and even held a rally for him earlier this summer.
In 2012, Heitkamp’s strategy was to focus on local issues, like farming and energy, and avoid partisan politics. But that same strategy might not work as well this time around as she faces an increasingly nationalized landscape where more voters opt for the same party in every race. Furthermore, Heitkamp did not have a voting record to criticize in her first run. Now she does. Heitkamp has voted in line with Trump just 54 percent of the time, far less than we’d expect based on Trump’s margin of victory in her state. She voted against the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and against the GOP’s tax plan, opening her up to attacks from conservatives. But voting alongside Republicans may not have helped her re-election bid either. Her vote for the Keystone XL pipeline for example, could hurt her with Native American voters, who helped put her in office in 2012. And even if most Native American voters still support her, new voter ID requirements in the state are expected to depress turnout among tribe members in this election.
In the end, voting against Kavanaugh may be the least of Heitkamp’s worries. Heitkamp has less than a month to improve her poll numbers (or outperform them), and if she doesn’t, Democrats’ longshot odds of taking back the Senate become much longer.
Other polling nuggets

In Tennessee, a Siena College/New York Times live poll, which updates in real-time as respondents are called, has Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn leading her Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, by double digits. FiveThirtyEight’s classic forecast, which considers both polling and fundamentals, now gives Blackburn a 4 in 5 chance of keeping her seat. But our Lite forecast, which only uses polling data and listed the race as a toss-up last week, now gives Blackburn a 3 in 4 chance of keeping her seat.
In Virginia’s 10th District, a Washington Post-Schar School poll found Democrat Jennifer Wexton with a double-digit lead over Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. The FiveThirtyEight Classic model gives Wexton a 5 in 6 chance of unseating Comstock.
CNN found a 35-point gender gap in its most recent generic ballot poll; that’s up from a 29-point gap last month. Sixty-three percent of women and 45 percent of men said they were more likely to support a Democrat in their congressional district. Only 33 percent of women said they were more likely to support a Republican candidate, compared to 50 percent of men who said the same.
80 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa own a mobile phone according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center.8 While that percentage has held steady since 2014, rates of internet usage and smartphone ownership have increased.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, 38 percent of Canadians and 31 percent of Mexicans believe that the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its people. That’s down significantly from 2013, when 75 percent of Canadians and 55 percent of Mexicans said the same. What’s more, in 21 out of the 22 countries surveyed, negative perceptions of the U.S. government were more common than they had been in 2013.
42 percent of adults in the U.S. say that they “strongly disagree” with the notion that they are interested in the political and social opinions of celebrities whose work they enjoy, according to a Morning Consult poll conducted with The Hollywood Reporter.
A poll of young people aged 18-24 conducted by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement and GfK found that 34 percent say they are “extremely likely” to vote this November. If that comes to pass, it would be an unusually high turnout rate for young adults in a midterm election.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that two different sampling methods for national political polls, random digit dialing (RDD) and registration-based sampling (RBS), yielded similar results. RDD involves finding a selection of potential voters that is representative of the national electorate by dialing random numbers, while RBS involves conducting polls using a list of registered voters. Many national polls use RDD, but this research suggests RBS may also produce good results.
Brazil’s presidential election has gone to a runoff after no candidate gained at least 50 percent of the vote during the first-round elections on Sunday. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote, while his best-performing opponent, leftist Fernando Haddad, won just 29 percent. Although polling prior to the first round suggested that a Bolsonaro-Haddad runoff could be close, a Datafolha poll published after the first round of voting found Bolsonaro leading Haddad 58 percent to 42 percent. The runoff election will be held on Oct. 28.

Trump approval

The president’s net approval rating currently sits at -10.7 points , according to our tracker. That’s about the same as it was one week ago. But Trump is doing better with voters than he was one month ago, when he had a -13.5 net approval rating (40.0 percent approved and 53.5 percent disapproved).
Generic ballot

Democrats haven’t improved their position by much over the last week. According to our generic congressional ballot polls, Democrats lead Republicans by an 8.3-point margin (49.7 percent to 41.4 percent). Last week, Democrats had a 7.7-point advantage over Republicans. One month ago, they were doing slightly better with an 8.6-point margin against Republicans.
Check out our 2018 House and Senate forecasts and all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the midterms.
CORRECTION (Oct. 12, 2018, 9:15 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Rep. Marsha Blackburn as an incumbent senator in Tennessee. Republican Bob Corker currently holds the seat.