huffpollster an early look at 2014 senate polling

When people talk about how well early Senate polls predict the future, we can link to our growing collection of 2014 Senate poll charts. Americans want stricter gun laws, but they aren’t sure if they work. And here’s where you can make a joke about polling on lab-grown organs. Today is Thursday, April 17, 2014, and this is HuffPollster.

FORECASTING THE SENATE IN 2014: TRIALS AND OBAMA APPROVAL – Harry Enten says that early polls show that six important Senate races (in Kentucky, Georgia, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina) are close, even though President Obama has low approval ratings in those states. So, how good have early polls been in the past? “The midterm elections are more than six months away, and current polls and past events are competing for our trust. I looked at which measure is more accurate for predicting what will happen in November, and it turns out that polls are more accurate than job approval, even though there is still a lot of time until the election. That doesn’t mean a president’s approval rating isn’t useful, though. It can help make early polls more accurate by giving more information. Taking both into account, it doesn’t look good for Democrats in Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, or Louisiana this year… Some Democrats should be worried in 2014 about the fact that early horse-race polls aren’t the only things that matter. I think Obama’s approval rating in Alaska, Arkansas, and Kentucky is somewhere between 30% and 33% right now. I think it’s going to be in the high 30s in Louisiana.” [538]


A similar conversation on Twitter:


“Contrary to what you might think, HuffPollster’s averages show that the GOP is not ahead in a single Senate race:” [@ThePlumLineGS]


-HuffPollster: “Given the error bands, I wouldn’t say anyone in KY, AR, AK, LA, or NC is “leading.”” [@MysteryPollster


“Agreed, but you wouldn’t know that from the media’s story,” said (D) Aaron Strauss in response to HuffPollster. [@aaron strauss]


“My point is just that the combined polling data shows a lot of close races, not a huge GOP advantage,” Sargent told HuffPollster. [@ThePlumLineGS]


-@Taniel: “It’s not looking good for the GOP in a large number of Democratic seats (not counting the probably lost trio of WV, SD, and MT).” [@Taniel]


-Republican Jim Hobart: “Not in the lead in any GOP Senate race, including mine. No charts for WV, SD, or MT.” [@thejimhobart]


-@Westwit: Landrieu is one point behind in the Louisiana Senate, but that was changed an hour ago. [@Westwit]


About those charts from the Senate – As part of HuffPost’s Election Dashboard, a polling company has put out charts for most of the important races for senate and governor in 2014. (you can click the arrows there to scroll through available charts, or type a state name into the search box at the top right corner of the page). When there are at least 5 public poll results, we make a chart. So, we now have charts for Senate races in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, West Virginia (just added), and Iowa and Alaska, where there are more than one possible matchup. In each case, we used a new poll tracking model that plots coloured bands to show how statistically uncertain each trend line is. This model also helps correct for “house effects,” which is the tendency for some polling companies to give estimates that are consistently higher or lower for one candidate than estimates from other polling companies. [More on the new way of keeping track of polls]


OBAMA SEEN AS DISHONEST (OH, AND ALSO HIS APPROVAL’S UP) – Dana Blanton: “About six in ten American voters think Barack Obama lies to the country on important issues sometimes or most of the time, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday…. Obama’s overall job performance score has gone up, which is good news for the White House. A new poll shows that 42% of voters are happy with the job he’s doing, while 51% are not. That means he’s nine percentage points in the red.” [Fox]


Americans mostly want stricter gun laws, but they’re not sure if they’ll work – Emily Swanson: “Now, 49% of Americans agree that gun laws should be made stricter. That’s the same number as in a December HuffPost/YouGov poll, but it’s less than the peak of 60 percent in January 2013, a month after the Newtown school shooting. In the new poll, 24% of people said they didn’t think gun laws needed to be changed, and 20% said they should be even less strict than they are now…. Only 30% agree that making it harder to get guns would make it harder to kill people because it is harder to kill someone with something else. But 55% said they don’t think gun control would stop murders because killers would just use other weapons. [HuffPost]


POVERTY ATTRIBUTED TO LACK OF OPPORTUNITY – Arthur Delaney and Emily Swanson: “Conservatives often say that the poor and unemployed are the way they are because of their own mistakes, but Americans usually blame the free market. The results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, which came out on Thursday, show that most Americans think both the rich and the poor are where they are because of the chances they had in life, not because of their own successes or failures. Americans as a whole said that they think poor people are mostly poor because they don’t have enough chances, while only 30% said it’s mostly because of their own mistakes. More specifically, 47% said that poor people are poor because there aren’t enough good jobs, while only 28% said that poor people are poor because they don’t work hard. [HuffPost]


AMERICANS BELIEVE THE FUTURE WILL HAVE LAB-GROWN ORGANS, BUT NOT WEATHER CONTROL – Pew Internet: “A large majority of Americans (81%) think that within the next 50 years, people who need an organ transplant will be able to get one made in a lab. When it comes to making music, novels, paintings, or other important works of art, 51% of Americans think this will happen in the next 50 years, while 45% don’t think it will. From a list of futuristic inventions that includes space colonies and teleportation, Americans are least sure that people will be able to control the weather in the future. Only 19% of the public thinks this is likely to happen. [Pew Internet]


HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! – You can get this daily update by email every day during the week. Just click here, enter your email address, and click “sign up.” That’s the end of it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).


THURSDAY’S “OUTLIERS”: Links to the best polling, politics, and political data news stories:


-Harper (R) gives American Crossroads five new polls (R). [Politico]


-The Polling Company (R), which did a survey for the Washington Free Beacon, found that Bruce Braley’s (D) numbers in Iowa are going down [Washington Free Beacon].


-Bloggers at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs look at two new polls about how Americans feel about Ukraine. [Running Numbers]


-Sean Trende talks about how unlikely it is that Democrats will win Senate seats. [RCP]


Stuart Rothenberg talks about the limits of handicapping ground games in a campaign.




-Joe Scarborough says that the changes to the Census Bureau’s questions about health insurance are an attempt to “cook the books” that is “especially clumsy.” [TPM]


Paul Krugman stands up for government statisticians and calls Scarborough’s claim “vile.” [NYTimes via TPM]

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