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US: New polls show voters ready for a change

By The Rainbow
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With nearly two-thirds of voters looking to vote for change in 2014, two new national surveys offer good news for the Republicans. Survey respondents are more likely to describe themselves as an “independent” when talking to a live interviewer. And do you like polarization? You’ll love Milwaukee. This is HuffPollster for Monday, May 5, 2014.

TWO POLLS SHOW GOP EDGE IN GENERIC BALLOT TEST – CNN: “A small edge right now in a key indicator of the midterm elections could lead to a big advantage for the Republicans over the Democrats come November. That’s the suggestion from a new CNN/ORC International poll, that also indicates that President Barack Obama’s lackluster approval ratings and pessimistic perceptions about the economy could also make 2014 a good year for the GOP at the ballot box….Six months before Election Day, the GOP has a one point edge over the Democrats (46%–45%) among registered voters nationwide in the generic ballot. The question asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. While that margin is well within the survey’s sampling error, any advantage is noteworthy, since Republicans normally perform better among the smaller pool of those who vote in midterm elections than the wider group of registered voters….The GOP’s margin grows 48%–45% when looking just at those who say they voted in the last midterm elections, in 2010….’The results among 2010 voters is not a likely voter model because it is still too early to get a valid estimate on who is likely to vote this year. But looking at the 2010 electorate does help adjust for the fact that midterm voters are quite different from the general public or from voters who only vote in presidential years,’ says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.” [CNN]

USA Today/Pew Research shows slightly larger GOP margin – HuffPollster: “Democrats are likely to face a daunting challenge in November’s midterm elections, according to a Pew Research/USA Today poll release Monday — the latest addition to a string of surveys that point to weak numbers for President Barack Obama and a lack of enthusiasm on the left. Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they’d choose a GOP congressional candidate to represent their district, while 43 percent said they would prefer a Democrat. Pew’s last three polls had Democrats slightly ahead, and other recent polls have shown a more even split between the two parties: an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll fielded on roughly the same dates had the Democrats and Republicans tied, while an ABC/Washington Post survey gave Democrats a 1-point lead.” [HuffPost, Pew Research results, USA Today article]

‘Republican Wave?’ – The current Republican advantage, as measured by the USA Today/Pew survey is larger than Republicans enjoyed in November Pew Research mid-term surveys from 1994 to 2010. [USA Today]

HuffPost Pollster’s model, which incorporates all public polling, estimates that Republicans lead Democrats by about a point.

Desire for change – Pew Research: “the public's desire for a change from the president's policies is almost as widespread as it was during Bush's second term. Thinking about the next presidential election, 65% would like to see the next president offer different policies and programs from the Obama administration while 30% want Obama's successor to offer similar policies. In April 2006, 70% wanted the next president to have policies different from Bush; 23% wanted similar policies. By contrast, in June 1999, at a later point in the Clinton administration, just half wanted the next president to pursue different policies.” [Pew Research]

PARTY ID DEPENDS ON HOW POLLSTER ASKS – Charles Franklin delves into whether the way pollsters ask — using live interviewers or some automated technology — affects how people answer the party identification question: “It is widely understood that the population sampled, whether adults, registered or likely voters, has some effect on the distribution of partisanship. But mode differences among live interview, automated phone and internet data collection also shift the distributions….The most prominent effect is on the size of independents. Both automated phone and internet modes produce substantially smaller estimates of Independents than do live interview phone polls (which include cell phone strata.)…Where the independents go in the different modes varies a bit. Republicans are substantially more numerous in automated samples (33.8% vs 26.7% in live phone) but not so in internet samples (25.8%). Meanwhile Democrats are more common in both automated phone (38.1% vs 34.0% for live phone) and (more modestly) for internet (35.1%).” [Polls and Votes]

COUNTIES BECOMING INCREASINGLY POLARIZED – Craig Gilbert, on Milwaukee as a case study in political polarization: “When you look at an election map of southeastern Wisconsin, you see a patch of dark blue flanked by fields of bright scarlet. For more than 40 years, the blue parts have been getting bluer, the red parts have been getting redder and the chasm between them has been growing. That's the subject of my series on polarization, Dividing Lines, that began Sunday and continues this Wednesday. But how typical is that pattern of other large metros? Marquette Law School professor and pollster Charles Franklin, who collaborated on the research for this project, charted the county-by-county partisan trends within the nation's top 50 metros to help answer this question. What he found was that the prevailing pattern was one of polarization; in most big metros, counties that were bunched more closely together a few decades ago in their presidential voting are now much more spread out, with the bluest counties getting bluer and the reddest counties getting redder.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, full series on polarization]

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