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Politics & Policy

A Few More Thoughts on that Washington Post Poll…

The Washington Post is going to get some mockery and grief today about their new poll of all 50 states. The results just seem odd all around, with a lot of states that looked to be leaning heavily in one direction in other polls appearing neck-and-neck in this survey: Hillary Clinton leads in Texas by one point, Trump leads in Ohio by three points, ties in Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Hillary leading by just one in Michigan, 3 in Pennsylvania, and 2 in Wisconsin, Trump ahead by just 2 in Mississippi… 

The poll is a nice idea, surveying all 50 states, just to see where the candidates stand in traditionally non-competitive states like Wyoming or Hawaii.  The sample size is really large, particularly in most of the big swing states, where more than 2,000 registered voters participated. (People are scoffing at the result in Texas, but that sample is more than 5,000 people!)

The biggest problem is that the poll was conducted online from August 9 to September 1, which is a really long stretch to be asking questions. Voters’ mood may shift from the beginning part of the survey period to the latter parts. Trump had a really lousy stretch after the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, but Clinton’s convention bump steadily dissipated during that stretch.

Some poll observers may wonder about the respondent selection criteria:

The sample of registered voters living in each of 50 states was drawn from the pool of respondents to user-generated poll conducted on SurveyMonkey’s platform, which typically includes roughly 3 million people each day. After completing an unrelated survey, a sub-sample of those respondents were invited to participate in a second survey asking “Where do you stand on current events? Share your opinion.” Results were analyzed among those who reported they are registered to vote.

I suppose it would have been too much to ask the poll managers to keep track of which candidate is certain to be on the ballot in which state.  Jill Stein will not be on the ballot in South Dakota, and the state doesn’t count write-ins. The Post poll had Stein getting 3 percent in South Dakota.

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