The Corner

Re: Virginia Poll

Am I alone in being intrigued by the fact that Allen’s lead among Hispanics is even greater than Webb’s enormous lead among blacks?

Update: One theory, from a reader:

I tend to dismiss SurveyUSA’s polling data. Wikipedia’s entry is a good reason why…

The difference between SurveyUSA and other telephone polling firms is two fold. First, SurveyUSA does not use live call center employees, but an automated system. Taped questions are asked of the respondent by a professional announcer (usually a local news anchor), and the respondent is invited to press a button on their touch tone telephone or record a message at a prompt designating their selection. Secondly, SurveyUSA uses more concise language, especially for ballot propositions, than competitors. This can lead to diverging results, such as for California Proposition 76, where one version of the SurveyUSA question with a one sentence description, polled significantly differently compared to another version with a three sentence description (which was similar to a version of the question used by other pollsters, which used a five or six sentence question). [1]

You marveled at how Allen did better among Hispanics than Webb did with Blacks. That’s a tough one to figure out but I’ll take a stab at it. Unlike the actual ballot boxes which have ballots printed in different languages, SurveyUSA only asked questions in English. A sizable subset of people who will be voting by utilizing a Spanish language ballot tend to be poorer than those Hispanics who speak English and thus, more likely to vote for Webb. Allen shouldn’t be popping the champagne corks just yet. 

And several readers make this point: 

Don’t put any stock in the Hispanics numbers in the that SurveyUSA poll.

According to the breakdown they polled a total of 628 likely voters of

which only 3% are Hispanics.  That comes out to just 19 respondents who

are Hispanic.  That’s nowhere near a statiscally vaild number.

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