Manchin Ahead in Senate Special Election Polls for WV

Joe Manchin III (D-WV) has been eyeing the United States Senate for awhile. The death of the longest serving Senator in United States history and one of West Virginia’s representatives, Robert C. Byrd, has left a seat vacant with a contest taking place.

The special election to fill the vacated seat will be held in November, and the two top contenders are Governor Joe Manchin, and 2nd Congressional District Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Manchin is nearing the end of his second term as governor of the Mountain State, and Capito has held her Congressional seat comfortably since 2001. (Capito is the daughter of the controversial Arch Moore of West Virginia.)

Rasmussen Reports poling (not my favorite by any means) has reported that Manchin has a solid 14% lead going into the early weeks of July.

It is pertinent and relevant to mention that this matchup is still hypothetical and is waiting a stamp of approval from the Attorney General.

A special Senate election this November to replace the late Robert Byrd is still awaiting the green light from West Virginia’s attorney general, but popular Democratic Governor Joe Manchin is the early leader in hypothetical matchups with two of his possible Republican opponents.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in West Virginia, taken Thursday night, shows Manchin with 53% support, while Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito earns 39% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer another candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
If former West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland is his GOP rival, Manchin captures 65% voter support. Ireland picks up 26%. Three percent (3%) again like some other candidate, while six percent (6%) are undecided.

Source: Rasmussen Reports

Robert C. Byrd was a legend in West Virginia. His record was marred in his earlier life with his ties to the KKK, but has since redeemed himself, freed from those shackled that once stained his public life and reputation. The filling of his seat is going to be controversial and historic. Byrd has large shoes to fill and the person seated in his place will no doubt have big hills to climb.

Given his popularity still among the state and if numbers remain the same, Manchin should have no problem defeating a GOP contender for the seat in November

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) said Friday that he will almost definitely run for the open Senate seat in West Virginia this year, a move that should provide a measure of relief for Democrats concerned about another battleground this year.

But are Republicans ready to throw in the towel in a race that isn’t even official yet?

Manchin said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Friday morning that it is "highly likely" that he will run for the seat held by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). He even broached the process for replacing himself as governor – a sure sign that the deal is as good as sealed.

"I want to serve my state to the highest possible position I can," Manchin said. "(There are) a lot of important things not just for my state, but for this nation. I look forward to having the opportunity to serve."

Source: Washington Post


Florida Senate Race Aggregate Polls Show Tie

This might be old news, but I'm pretty sure its new (at least to me).  I've been out of the election news loop due to preparing for a Kenyan expedition, so correct me if this has been posted before.

Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, and Kendrick Meeks are in a hotly contested race for the United States Senate in Florida. This race became high profile with Crist’s departure from the Republican Party to declare himself an Independent. (generally considered to be conservative and lean right) compiles aggregate polls from sources ranging from Rasmussen to Quinnipiac to Gallup, and beyond.

The most recent RCP Average (average of the polls together for a combined general idea of how the polls are leaning) shows that Crist and Rubio are statistically tied for the US Senate race in Florida. Meeks (D-FL) is trailing behind them significantly with

The Polls Read as follows

Rasmussen Reports Sampling:
{Date: 5/16 – 5/16} Sample SIze: 500 LV Rubio-39 Crist-31 Meeks-18; Rubio +8

Mason Dixon Poll
{Date: 5/3 – 5/5} Sample Size: 625 LV Rubio-32 Crist-38 Meeks-19; Crist +6

Quinnipiac Poll
{Date: 4/8 – 4/13} Sample Size: 1250 RV Rubio-30 Crist-32 Meeks-24; Crist +2

RCP Average: Rubio-33.7 Crist-33.7 Meek-20.3 Tie

Courtesy Real Clear Politics

The race has been pretty heated, and Rubio was pulling way ahead for awhile. Crist seems to be holding his own being a newly anointed Independent. I’m excited to see this race develop.

The Importance of the Question

A number of people have wondered why the numbers from Rasmussen Reports look different from polling conducted by other outlets, specifically why Barack Obama's approval rating in their daily tracking poll comes in lower than most other surveys. Central to the answer of this question is the fact that Rasmussen surveys only those it believes to be "likely voters" -- a value judgment, particularly this far away from the 2010 and 2012 elections -- and, additionally, that Rasmussen is using recorded interviews rather than live interviews. But that's not all.

As noted last week, and as I have been meaning to write about for some time (but have been waylaid with preparing for finals), the question being asked in the survey matter, too. Rasmussen was good enough to run three simultaneous polls last month asking three variations of approval rating questions: (1) Asking respondents whether they approve or disapprove; (2) Giving respondents four choices rather than two, asking them if they strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove; and (3) Giving respondents four choices, but four unbalanced ones, asking respondents if they think the President is doing an excellent, good, fair or poor job (unweighted because it lumps the ambivalent answer of "fair" into the disapprove category). For reference, Rasmussen traditionally uses question (2). Here were the numbers they found:

The differences are quite apparent: While the traditional question yields numbers that look a lot like the national trend, the question normally used by Rasmussen yields numbers that are flipped on their head. The third question, used by some pollsters like Harris, yield even more divergent numbers, data that look nothing like other polling.

Why does this matter? Many aggregating the polls are lumping together every survey regardless of the question being asked. While this is effective in gauging the overall trend -- which, don't get me wrong, is extremely important -- it obscures the picture of where the President currently stands by including with the traditional approval/disapproval question survey questions that tend to yield much lower "approval" ratings. In other words, it lumps in three different things as if they were the same. It would be like putting in a basket oranges, mandarins and pummelos but simply calling them all "oranges" when it used to be that you only placed oranges (but not mandarins or pummelos) in the basket.

So it's something to consider when looking at Rasmussen surveys, as well as trend estimates of the President's standing among the American people.

There's more...

The Numbers Rasmussen Was Hiding

Last month I called out Rasmussen Reports for skewing questions in its Minnesota polling to make it seem as though the state's Republican Governor -- and seeming Presidential aspirant -- Tim Pawlenty was more popular than he actually was relative to the state's well-known Democratic Senator, Al Franken. After Mark Blumenthal of got on Rasmussen's case, the pollster fessed to have run a bad poll. Now, via pollster SurveyUSA, we have an indication of what Pawlenty's numbers look like relative to those of Franken -- and not too surprisingly, when the same question is asked about both elected officials, they show Pawlenty in a significantly weaker position.

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tim Pawlenty is doing as Governor?

Approve: 45 percent
Disapprove: 52 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Al Franken is doing as United States Senator?

Approve: 49 percent
Disapprove: 44 percent

Rasmussen claims that it was all a big mistake, that the different questions for the two candidates was unintentional. Fair enough. Let's take them at their word. Nevertheless, what we do know is this: When Rasmussen asked two separate questions gauging approval -- one that tends to show higher approval numbers for Pawlenty, one that tends to show lower approval numbers for Franken -- the numbers came out as expected, with Pawlenty scoring 15 points higher than Franken. When SurveyUSA asked the same question about both Pawlenty and Franken, Franken came out ahead. So much for the notion of Pawlenty being popular in his home state, let alone more popular than other elected officials there.

There's more...

Rasmussen Fesses to Bad Poll

Yesterday I asked why Rasmussen Reports appeared to be skewing the results of its latest Minnesota poll in a way that made Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty look better and made Democratic Senator Al Franken look worse. Mark Blumenthal of, whose explainer on dueling approval questions I cited in my post (in short, one tends to lead to more favorable results for a politician and one tends to lead to less favorable results -- and you can guess which one Rasmussen used for the Republican and which one they used for the Democrat), picked up the story and got a sheepish response from Rasmussen.

It was a mistake that slipped through the cracks. The matter has been addressed internally with all involved.

We work with a local TV station that provides us with local knowledge. In exchange, they get first look at the data and Scott Rasmussen goes on air to discuss the results. In practical terms, this means they suggest questions and topics that are likely to be of interest in their state.

They do not commission the poll, it's a Rasmussen Reports poll and we are ultimately responsible for the questions.

We work with a standard template that includes the President's Job Approval rating and the Governor's. In this case, the station suggested a variety of topics ranging from politics to the Vikings playoff chances and Bret Favre. The station recommended the questions on the Senators and did so with the excellent, good, fair, poor rating. The person preparing the script noted (correctly) that this was an acceptable format we have used before in other surveys. However, they should have noted the inconsistency with the other approval questions and asked all in the same way. The editor reviewing the process also failed to pick up the inconsistency.

As Blumenthal notes, Rasmussen does deserve some credit for owning up to their mistake (though at least a part of me wonders if their problem here was in the question or in having gotten caught) -- but that they should also add a correction to their original release on the poll explaining their mistake. They haven't done this yet, as of the time of this posting, but we'll let you know if they do...

There's more...


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