Republican Polls are Changing – Can We Trust the Polls?

The race for the Republican presidential nomination is in a major state of flux.  Poll numbers are changing.  Political donors are changing who they support.  There are new concerns over the accuracy of the actual polling numbers, especially given the anti-party, anti-establishment, and anti-Washington frustration and anger of voters.  Even the Republican Congressional leadership is in a state of flux and upheaval.  What can we say about the current Republican presidential nomination race?  Will Trump walk away with the nomination?  Is he about to collapse in the polls to Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina?  Plus – can we even trust the polls?  It’s an exciting time.  Let’s discuss some of these issues now …

First Big Question – Where do the Polls Stand?

In the NBC/WSJ poll, in Iowa, Trump leads Carson 24 – 19.  In New Hampshire, Trump leads Fiorina 21 – 16. In the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average, Nationally Trump leads Carson 23 – 17.  But, in the latest IBD/TIPP poll released October 3rd, Nationally Carson has taken the lead over Trump 24 – 17. That’s a dramatic shift.

In last Friday’s Pew Research poll, Bush came in at only 4.  That’s a significant drop.

Second Big Question – What do these numbers mean?

Clearly, the dynamics of the Republican presidential nomination race is up in the air and changing.  It appears as if Trump has lost momentum and is dropping.  The RCP average moves slower that individual polls because it averages several polls over roughly the last two weeks.  The IBD/TIPP poll is the newest, as of Monday. October 5th.  Carson and Fiorina are waiting in the wings if Trump does stumble.  Cruz seems to have stable support in the 6 – 8 range.  Bush maybe losing support.

Third Big Question – What’s the significance of the Anti-Party, Anti-Establishment, Anti-Washington frustration and anger of voters?

Besides the obvious point that voters’ frustration and anger will impact election turnout and election results, it’s impacting the polls in ways researchers don’t fully understand.  As a result, the accuracy and reliability of polls should be questioned.  For example, some voters believe that polls are controlled by the establishment parties or the media.  Then, they choose not to respond to the polls or to give the wrong answers to fool the media. Obviously, this can really throw the numbers off.

Fourth Big Question – What are some important issues with the polls?

  1. Anti-Party, Anti-Establishment, Anti-Washington frustration and anger of voters polled - Ignore pollsters or give misleading responses
  2. Voters Won’t Answer their Phones – Voters giving up landlines and don’t answer on their mobile phones.  Hard to reach potential voters.  Hard to tell if they will actually vote.  Small response rates overall.
  3. Electorate is Changing Demographically – Pollsters unsure of underlying “Model” of electorate to use to extrapolate from polling data to actual results.
  4. Can Now Take 10 Times as Many Calls to Get Same Number of Interviews – Example – 15,000 calls to get 1,000 voters vs. before 1,500 calls to get 1,000 voters
  5. Item #4 above – Leads to need for more calls – Leads to higher polling costs – Leads to smaller sample sizes – Leads to less accurate and less reliable results
  6. Online Surveys Might Oversample Some Groups – Example – Young people
  7. Robocalls Can’t Legally Call Mobile Phones – Can’t handle all calls needed to be made
  8. Multi-Candidate Races are More Difficult to Get Accurate Polling Results – Two-person races are easier to get accurate results
  9. Margin of Error – Varies by poll – Helps to determine weight to be placed on the results
  10. Who is Included in the Polling Sample? – All Republicans, Republicans Likely to Vote in Primaries and Caucuses, Republicans who participated in 2012 primaries and caucuses, Independents?

New Book Coming!

Dr. Lameiro’s new book on the 2016 presidential election is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016.  Dr. Lameiro believes there will be some really big surprises with this presidential election.  You will definitely want to read this book as soon as it comes out.  Sandy Frazier is planning to conduct Dr. Lameiro’s National Book Tour in January.

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