Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm Right

On the even of the first debate, a new Zogby poll just came out in South Carolina. I hope they conduct a poll later in the week as well, in order to test if the debate moved any numbers. Also, the results among Democrats appear to be among likely primary voters, which is important and possibly revealing to The Inflated Clinton Poll Theory:
In the Democratic race, New York Senator Hillary Clinton is showing strength in the south with 33 percent of likely primary voters supporting her. Senator Barack Obama has 26 percent, former Senator and South Carolina native John Edwards is third with 21 percent. Edwards won the South Carolina primary in 2004. No other Democratic candidate is above 1 percent statewide.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the poll is the strength of Clinton. She leads Obama among young voters 49 to 10 percent. Clinton's only weak area seems to be among male voters where she trails both Obama and Edwards by a slim one percent margin. However, Clinton enjoys a huge 40 percent to 25 percent edge with women voters over Obama, with just 18 percent for Edwards. Perhaps most striking is that 47 percent of South Carolina Clinton supporters say they are "unlikely" to change their mind by January. Only 38 percent of Obama's supporters are that loyal.
Much more in the extended entry.
The numbers among younger voters are way more than just a little strange, given that Obama has consistently performed better in that demographic than Clinton. However, it is possible that the younger voter sample size is very small, that it is defined differently than in other polls, that South Carolina young voters are different, or that likely young voters are not as pro-Obama as unlikely young voters. Thus, it is not necessarily a disqualifier, especially since the other demographics appear to be in line with other polls. Further, it will be interesting to see what this poll means by "likely voters" once we ask for more methodological disclosure (which, ethically, pollsters are obliged to give, but Zogby has been reluctant to do in the past).

Now, every Zogby poll claims to be among "likely voters," so that need to be taken with a grain of salt. Further, these numbers are virtually identical to numbers produced by ARG two months ago, which perhaps leaves the South Carolina insider poll showing Obama well ahead the odd poll out. Still, these results make it worth emphasizing that the "Inflated Clinton Poll Theory" is just that--a theory. I haven't proven anything yet. Further, as Mystery Pollster shows in a post today, not all circumstantial evidence supports the theory. In discussing two Cook / RT Strategies polls from late 2005, he notes that a year and a half ago, there was in fact a test of the sort I am currently seeking for the theory, and at the time there was no evidence to support my central thesis:
Respondents qualified as a "hard core" Democrats if they said they voted in primary elections or caucuses "most of the time" on the first question and said they generally participate in Democratic Party primaries or caucuses on the second. The November 2005 survey yielded 476 registered voters that identified or leaned Democratic, the December 2005 survey yielded 460 -- roughly 46-47% of all adults. Appropriately, hard core Democratic primary voter universe was much smaller, just 169 respondents in November and 181 in December -- or about 17-18% of all adults.

Neither survey yielded much in the way of big differences between hard core Democratic primary voters and all other Democrats. The November survey asked a complex question about Hillary Clinton (that took different forms for different randomly selected respondents). When they rolled the difference versions together, the percentage agreeing that Clinton "would be a good candidate" was five points lower among hard core Democrats (60%) than among all Democrats and leaners (65%). While that difference is in the direction that the Bowers' theory would predict, it was not quite statistically significant given the small sample sizes.

Only the December survey asked about Democratic vote preference directly, and it showed virtually no difference. Clinton led among both groups, receiving 32% from hard core Democratic primary voters and 33% from all Democrats and Democratic leaners. Kerry and Edwards trailed with roughly 15-17% in both universes. Of course, the survey did not include Obama among the potential candidates, and a lot has happened in the nearly 16 months since.
Of course, these polls are sixteen and seventeen months old respectively, and they did not include Barack Obama, who I have always asserted will be the main beneficiary nationwide if the "Inflated Clinton Poll Theory" is correct. The point is that given the legitimacy of this inquiry, and the importance of presenting accurate information to the public on who currently leads the campaign, up-to-date, double-sample testing is needed from recognized, respected national polling outfits. At the end of his piece, Mystery Pollster adds:
But the main point here is that the only way to really test the Bowers thesis is to do a similar test involving a very large national sample of adults, or successive surveys rolled together to produce a large sample. Given the heavy attention being paid now to the 2008 nominating contests and the easily documented mismatch between past primary turnout and the universe of respondent asked primary vote questions (see also Bowers), it is the least the national pollsters can do.
There is no guarantee that this theory is correct. I still believe it is. It needs to be tested, and the sooner the better.

Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, inflated Clinton poll theory, John Edwards, polls, President 2008, South Carolina (all tags)



Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

That poll is definitely bad news for Edwards. Good news for both Clinton and Obama one of them is likely to win SC and the other will finish second.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

Yeah Edwards has his work cut out for him there unless he wins 2 or the first three (IA, NH, and NV). And he may need to win all three to get enough coattails to win SC. But if he does win the first 4 I think the nomination is his.

by adamterando 2007-04-23 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

At this point I think the scenario may end up with Clinton and Edwards within a few points of each other in IA, Clinton will likely win NH with Obama second and Edwards third and Clinton will win NV. If that type of scenario happens SC will be the last stand for Edwards and a win by Clinton or Obama in his home territory of SC will seriously damage Edwards.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

That is one scenario. Another is that Edwards has a good win and jumps 10 pts in NH which produces a win, the sling shot theory aND HE THEN WINS SC.

The dynamics of the race changes over time and many scenarios can play out.

by BDM 2007-04-23 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

I think Rob's theory is a bit more likely at this point.  Of course, there is a way to go, Edwards could make dramatic improvements in polls.  However, he simply can't afford to be in single-digits in any state when it gets closer to the primaries, especially not the big ones (who are also very early entries) with the most delegates, like Florida or California.  

by georgep 2007-04-23 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

the poll is pretty good for Obama but the methodoligy when it comes to young voters seems to put the entire poll in question.

by nevadadem 2007-04-23 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

I found it very interesting that Clinton is so far ahead of Obama with young people. Usually young voters go for something new.  Obama has been the flavor of the month but I believe that his support is softening because people might be getting scared to entrust this country to someone with so little experience.  Obama's people might have been wrong to start the campaign so early.

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

That will be a major factor in the primaries and general election.

by robliberal 2007-04-24 08:09AM | 0 recs
I look at it the opposite

If Clinton is running polls over, Edwards is getting it under, his numbers are underestimated.

Some of you, want to make everything look bad for Edwards, he is behind, he is this, he is that.

But, I think he is in the right place at the right time, and Obama can Clinton can go at it. Like Obamas remarks today about Bush and Hillary, just on the news a short while ago.

Edwards will suprise many, he got 44 endorsments from NH today: /23/13539/2183

by dk2 2007-04-23 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I look at it the opposite

Edwards is the candidate that the Republicans fear the most.  They have largely ignored the Edwards campaign except when they can say something nasty about him -- like the $400. haircut.  The media has fallen in love with Obama so therefore I support Edwards.

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:31PM | 0 recs
Re: I look at it the opposite

He defintely may, it's still more then 8 months to the finals.

But the reason there is a lot of "he is behind, he is this, he is that" news is that, at the moment, it's simply true.

When you look at the other major candidates, he isn't performing as well as them. With 8 months to go anything can happen, Well, we might even end up calling  Biden mr president.

Compared to the rest of the field he is doing fantastic and every one of them would give their right arm for his position, but with his postion comes that he gets rated as 1 of the 3 first tier candidates. So the good news is that the bad news comes from the fact that everybody takes him very serious.

by Ernst 2007-04-24 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory:

how can Zogby even publish young voters favor Hillary 49-10 v/s 33-26 in the state as a whole, when young voters overwhelming support Obama in much greater numbers than support him overall. The sample is simply not statistically possable unless he doesn't have an y college students in his poll, which is a flaw in itself considering all the on campus support Obama has around the country.

by nevadadem 2007-04-23 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory:

Many college students are not registered to vote and many do not vote if registered. Dean had massive campus support which did not translately into votes at the ballot box.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory:
  Dean collpased after one state because of the scream and other factors led to his demise. In Iowa electabilty issues (which Hillary faces) and a series of strategic bluders such as an ad war with Gephardt and too many out of staters telling Iowan's who to vote fo. After the "scream" and the coverage that insued in the media Dean looked unstable and was done, it had ZERO to do with his voters not showing up because they were college age, it had to do with many Dems thinking after Iowa that he was unstable and Kerry was a better choice, I was one of those voters who abandoned Dean. Kerry got
great turnout by young voters in the 04 general and the Obama psupporters show all the charachteristics of likely voters unlike the many Hillary supporters who only know of her by the Clinton name.
by nevadadem 2007-04-23 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory:

  Thank you.  I'm tired of younger voters having to take the blame for the collapse of Dean.  The caucuses aren't very amenable to youth participation either.

by cilerder86 2007-04-23 06:05PM | 0 recs

could the debate about these poll numbers now come down to how do you define likely?

example: If voting history is the definition Obama falters because many of his voters have never been interested in voting before.

If intensity of support determines likelyness to vote such as stating greater interest, attending a rally, signing up at a website or donating money then Obama would do real well in that screen. The history of primary's show that the "energy candidates" usually do quite well, and gain steam against establishment candidacy's
Howard Dean's unique collapse notwithstanding.
Lamont,Tester and Webbs primary performances come to mind.

by nevadadem 2007-04-23 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Cris
Dude, stop calling me "Cris"
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-23 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Cris

My bad I have a friend that spells it that way.

by nevadadem 2007-04-23 04:52PM | 0 recs
Reminds me of
DATA: My name - it is pronounced "dāta."
DATA: You called me "dăta."
PULASKI: What's the difference?
DATA: One is my name; the other is not.
by Rob in Vermont 2007-04-23 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Cris

34% of all voters (around 52 million) are not registered to vote.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 05:09PM | 0 recs
This new voter thing

doesn't usually pan out.  Dean supporters pitched this idea.  So did Lamont supporters.  Mostly the people who vote are the people who voted last time.

by Emma Anne 2007-04-23 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Cris

Its too early -- only candidates who have had alot of campaign experience are around for the long haul.

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:35PM | 0 recs

I saw surprised by the attitude in the article, as it appears Clinton does not have a firm lead at all. In fact, I am surprised that the numbers are so close.

The debate will be critical.

And while I don't put all that much into online support, I will say this. Just spend ten minutes flipping through the Obama myspace...and see that nearly every comment reads "I am a first time voter and proud to support you." It is the first time I've seen anything close to this.

by mattmfm 2007-04-23 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

A supposed 14 point Obama lead (by an obvious outlier poll) was touted by some here as THE poll.  This shows the Clinton lead that other polls had shown before in SC.   More importantly, however:  The race in SC has not tightened at all, has stayed the same, so the national Rasmussen numbers are somewhat suspect to that end.  Secondly, poll after poll shows that Clinton's support shows to be rather strong in her favor, unlikely to change their minds.   Many polls (both nationally and on the state level) are showing voters to be less clear and "strongly in favor" of Obama, like this poll here.  Perhaps that is the main reason the polls appear so different across the board?  

My thesis:  Obama has strong support from about 20%, but when a poll pushes very hard, his support rises.   The harder a poll pushes, the more folks who are unsure about Obama, but are leaning in his direction, will go into his camp in a given poll.  Some of that extra support is rather soft, unsure, subject to jump to other candidates, which also explains why Obama's supporters consistently answer with less clarity (on the whole,) less conviction, that they "strongly" support him.  He can turn that portion of current reluctant support into strong support over time if he does it right, which makes Obama, while behind Clinton due to the overall softness of his support, a formidable candidate, a candidate to be reckoned with.  

I for one am enjoying this race tremendously, so far.  A tight race will steel the mettle for the eventual nominee, will come in as invaluable experience for the general election battles.   This could be a primary battle for the ages.  The constant media attention is good for the Democratic party, and having two strong party representatives in the limelight is good for all of us, and the process.   No wonder us Democrats to the tune of 60% to 40% are absolutely satisfied with our choices of candidates.

by georgep 2007-04-23 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama
"The race in SC has not tightened at all, has stayed the same, so the national Rasmussen numbers are somewhat suspect to that end."

No, as I said earlier today to someone on the other side of the debate, you really can't compare movement (or the lack thereof) in a single state poll to movement (or the lack thereof) in a national poll. It just isn't compatible.
by Chris Bowers 2007-04-23 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

I did not mean to imply that this one poll shows us how the national picture is, but if you look at many state polls (which theoretically, all taken together, make up the national picture) you notice that they have not budged at all.  Yesterday's Florida poll showed Clinton with a strong 15% lead over Obama, we have this SC poll, which improves on a recent ARG poll for SC.  There does not appear to be a strong erosion in Clinton's state poll numbers so far (take the last 12 state polls published, for example) which should be the logical result of a truly tightening national race.  Clinton can't well lead in all states polled aside from a handful, and be tied with Obama nationally.    

by georgep 2007-04-23 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama
you make some good points, I disagree with your rasmussen theory because at this point they are atleast trying to determine who is likely to show up. I don't count Hillary out of this but Obama has 2 big cards to play as this race draws closer the first a huge ad buy featuring the "big 3 " on Iraq in 2002 and a subtle campaign that focuses on Hillary's "electability"
which is how Kerry won the 2004 nomination, the media will play that up if Hillary's negatives among the general electorate don't improve.
by nevadadem 2007-04-23 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

I agree that the Clinton negatives could become a problem in the long run, but they are not there amongst Democrats and they appear to be mostly the result of low-info right-wingers in the first place, given the disconnect between how she has governed as a Senator of New York and what the right-wing (which has certainly not focused on Democratic candidates as of yet) perceives her to be: An ultra-liberal pinko-commie who will throw the US into Russia-style communism/socialism.    I believe a lot of the 'negatives' will go away as even the right-wing becomes more "high-info" about our candidates.      

Don't dismiss the ability of Obama's opponents to be successful with a subtle campaign focusing on his lack of national government experience.  Also, Bill Clinton as well as Hillary Clinton are formidable campaigners.  Plus, Obama has had some negative impressions and raised eyebrows amongst Democratic rank-and-filers when he appeared unprepared to speak in front of important Democratic constituencies.    I won't count him out, he has a chance, but he needs to dramatically improve on his wonk-factor, as that is in high demand during debates and many, many speeches in front of very important Democratic groups.  

by georgep 2007-04-23 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama
  What we don't agree on is that many Democrats that view Hillary positively will come to beliecve that they shouldn't vote to nominate someone with such a polarizing image in the nation as a whole, as for Obama's "experience"
some find it a problem but as he points out he has more "election experience" than Hillary and he's accomplished alot more than her and can better get things done,which is a subtle dig at the health care debacle of 1993,If years in Washington is what matters most a voter can look elsewhere but I get the feeling that dem primary voters are starting to tire of nominating the best "qualified" but unlikeable loser after watching people like Reagan and W win general elections. I think this time the dems will try the likeable outsider.
by nevadadem 2007-04-23 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

How has Obama accomplished a lot more than Clinton?

by robliberal 2007-04-23 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

If Barack is planning on beating Hillary, then he may want to stop trying to be Bill Clinton.  That speech today, and yes I read the WHOLE thing, was very Clintonesque.  I could be wrong, but I don't think voters are going to leave Hillary CLINTON, to vote for Barack Obama, who reminds them of Bill Clinton, especially if they think voting for Hillary, gives them the ORIGINAL Bill again.  He had better cough up some of that audacity, because IMO there was nothing bold or transformative in the speech he gave today.  

by Kingstongirl 2007-04-23 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

I think in the end experience with be the deciding factor.  

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

Rasmussen is the Republican poll.  Zogby is the one to trust.

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Obamarama

State polls generally lag national polls and once the national polls show changes within a week or two, you will see state polls change.

Something has changed the dynamics:
Rasmussen even
GallUp  5pts
Time  7pts


Sienna came out today in NY and showed Hillary's favorables at 50 and un-favorables at 42 and her lead being cut in the primary and in the general election in NY.


by BDM 2007-04-23 06:59PM | 0 recs
young male demographic

is definitely the demo group that is the least pro Hillary, needless to say, that is the demographic of the frontpagers of a lot of left political blogs. You are in that demographic. I am not saying you are biased, but just that everyone starts to measure the world from their own vantage point...even if they end up elsewhere.

Hillary has a genuine lead among women voters and young women are part of that group.  And remember that women are 53% of the electorate and a larger percentage of the Democratic electorate.

I think you underestimate the galvinizing effect  of her being the first woman president. And there are a lot more American women than any other group....even in SC.

by debcoop 2007-04-23 05:28PM | 0 recs
*Very* interesting point

I am not favoring Hillary (I support Edwards at the moment), but I must admit that there is a little part of me that gets excited whenever I hear she is doing well.  The idea of a woman president is inspiring to me and probably to a lot of other women.  Even that fact that a woman candidate is taken seriously is pretty amazing, actually.  It wasn't thus even a few years ago.

Anyway, my point is that I can see why men might not  feel this way or understand that women feel this way. More Dems are women than men.  Something may be getting overlooked in the blogosphere.

by Emma Anne 2007-04-23 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: *Very* interesting point


Something may be getting overlooked in the blogosphere.

by debcoop 2007-04-23 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: *Very* interesting point

Emma -- I totally agree.

by changehorses08 2007-04-23 11:33PM | 0 recs
Re: *Very* interesting point

I am favoring Hillary and like you there is that part of me that gets excited at the thought that she taken so seriously and doing well.  I remember the Elizabeth Dole run and it was ridiculed from day one.

by Kingstongirl 2007-04-24 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Inflated Clinton Poll Theory: No Guarantee I'm

      I just want to say one thing about the Clinton candidacy.  I would have been much more supportive of her candidacy had she run in 2004.  I think she missed her best chance.  But no, Hillary was too afraid to take a risk and challenge a "war-time" incumbent.  She had to wait for the open seat so that she could run her blessed inevitability campaign.  I'm not amused.  Her not running in 2004, for me, was just another example of her fear of directly confronting conservatives.  If she were to be nominated, will she pretend Bush doesn't exist?  I think she would, and it would be a big mistake.

by cilerder86 2007-04-23 06:10PM | 0 recs
new south carolina poll reported by NBC

Hillary 24 Obama 23 Edwards 18

by nevadadem 2007-04-23 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: new south carolina poll reported by NBC

Another bad sign for Edwards.

by robliberal 2007-04-23 07:36PM | 0 recs


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