Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

The more you look, the worse the poll numbers are for Barrett


Today’s Marquette University Law School Poll had plenty of bad news for Democrats. It shows Governor Scott Walker ahead of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 50% to 44% among registered voters, 52% to 45% among likely voters.

Walker’s approval rating is 51% to 45%. Barrett’s favorable/unfavorable rating is upside-down at 41% to 46%. Public Policy Polling earlier in the recall discovered resistance to recalling a sitting governor and they estimated Walker could probably survive 55% disapproval.

The poll has more bad news on the issues of the campaign. Walker is moving the jobs debate his way with an 18% improvement over the last poll on the question of whether the state is creating jobs. Walker is perceived to be better at creating jobs 50% to 43%.

The John Doe probe is also not helping the Barrett campaign as much as they had hoped. The poll found 77% had heard of it, but only 46% consider it something serious while 47% see it as “just more politics.”

Voter intensity is on the Republican side, something we saw evidence of during the primary. Republicans were more likely to respond that they were “absolutely certain to vote,” 92% to the Democrats’ 77% and independents at 84%. That may be offset by the early voting and strong turnout efforts by the Democrats, but there is currently not enough intensity compared to the Republicans to overcome the 7% gap among likely voters.

Democrats had complained after the last Marquette poll that the poll oversampled Republicans, a complaint Senator Jon Erpenbach echoed today on At Issue with Ben Merens on Wisconsin Public Radio. However, this time the poll sample had 33% Democrats, 28% Republicans and 36% Independents. The poll showed former governor Mitt Romney losing to President Barack Obama 43% to 51%.

Barrett’s campaign tried picking fault with the sample by claiming that the youth vote was under-sampled. However, Hotline pointed out that the poll Barrett’s people did like sampled less youth voters.

But if the Marquette poll is undersampling younger voters, the Lake robo-poll ignores them almost entirely. Respondents to the automated Lake poll were asked, using their touch-tone phone, to enter their age near the end of the survey. Just 2 percent of respondents to the Lake poll said they were between ages 18 and 29. Meanwhile, in the Marquette poll, 16 percent of registered voters — and about 12 percent of likely voters — fell within the 18-29 age range.

According to the 2010 exit poll, 15 percent of voters were between 18 and 29 years old; they broke for Barrett, 55 percent to 45 percent, despite his single-digit loss. In 2008, which the Barrett campaign thinks is a better analog for next week’s recall vote, 22 percent of voters were under age 30, and they voted for President Obama over John McCain, 64 percent to 35 percent.

Why does the Lake robo-poll — the poll to which the Barrett campaign is clinging and even using as a fundraising tool — undersample young voters so egregiously? Most automated polls undersample younger Americans because automated polls cannot call respondents on cell phones, according to federal law. The latest data from the National Health Interview Survey, from the first half of last year, show that nearly six-in-ten Americans aged 18-29 lived in households without a landline telephone, almost twice the rate among all American adults. Celinda Lake’s office said she was traveling out of the country Wednesday afternoon.

Marquette Law School visting professor Charles Franklin, the poll’s director, told Hotline On Call that his poll, which did include respondents contacted via cell phone, is weighted for age, and that their target for registered voters was 16 percent.

Asked whether the fact that the percentage of young voters decreases to 12 percent after applying the likely-voter screen means that their poll is undersampling that group, Franklin said, “I think we’re in the ballpark. We know that the youngest voting cohort is the lowest turnout.”

Democrats had expected the poll numbers to change once spending evened out a bit more and they attacked Walker on the John Doe issue. Instead the poll numbers have moved in Walker’s direction despite an increased sampling of Democrats. When you add in the news that the federal government has verified the employment numbers released by the Department for Workforce Development, this has been a very, very bad day for the Barrett campaign.

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