Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Poll story bias at NPR? Another poll shows Johnson ahead

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How National Public Radio describes the latest poll in the Feingold/Johnson race by Time/CNN:

Russ Feingold (D-WI) Tied With Ron Johnson (R) In CNN Senate Poll

Time Magazine doesn’t see a tie between the two candidates:

Poll: GOP Leads in Three Key Senate Races — But Not Delaware

Even the liberal Talking Points Memo sees Johnson ahead:

CNN/Time Poll: Feingold Behind By 6 In WI-SEN Race

So why the difference?

For some reason the NPR story emphasizes the poll numbers for registered voters instead of likely voters.  Poll numbers for registered voters does not have the same predictive value as likely voters, and even tends to show a bias toward the Democrats. Not only does the NPR story focus on the numbers for registered voters, it does not even mention the poll numbers for likely voters.  As a news story it is absolutely worthless to the reader except to provide false comfort to Democrats hoping everything else they are hearing about the impending election is wrong.

That said, let’s take a look at the numbers.  CNN’s 51%-45% margin is relatively consistent with Rasmussen 51%-44% and PPP 52%-41%.  Suddenly the New York Times FiveThirtyEight forecast actually predicts Ron Johnson is more likely to beat the incumbent Russ Feingold.  Johnson now has a 79.5% chance to win, and is currently projected to win 51% to 46.5%.

Two interesting numbers in the poll results.  Among independents, Johnson leads 52% to 42%.  In Milwaukee County, Johnson leads 48% to 47%.  Neither number is very good for Feingold, although I don’t believe the Milwaukee County number will hold.  There is where there is room for Feingold to improve his standing in the polls and narrow the race.

Russ Feingold also released a new ad that is supposed to make us feel nostalgic for the senate candidate from 18 years ago.

If you watch the ad, it looks like Feingold is standing in front of a green screen instead of actually in front of his house. It was probably just a result of the odd camera angle, but it is funny looking. John Kraus of the Feingold campaign (and formerly of One Wisconsin Now) denies that it was a green screen. I’ll leave it to the viewer to decide.

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