Polls Don’t Make Sense If Johnson is Not Included
A new poll suggests that Hillary Clinton did get a “bump” from her convention. The Reuters/Ipsos poll has Clinton with a six-point lead between just the two of them, but tied if Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein are included. However, the poll has a “credibility interval,” so Trump could actually be ahead. More importantly, there’s criticism of the poll’s new methodology.
Nearly 41 percent of likely voters favor Clinton, 35 percent favor Trump, and 25 percent picked “Other,” according to the new July 25-29 online poll of 1,043 likely voters, which overlapped with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
The poll has a credibility interval of 4 percentage points.
A separate Reuters/Ipsos survey that provided respondents with the option to choose from Clinton, Trump, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, has Clinton and Trump tied at 37 percentage points.
Of the alternative party candidates, Johnson came in third with 5 percentage points, followed by Stein at 1 percentage point, according to the July 25-29 survey of 1,426 likely voters, which has a credibility interval of 3 percentage points.
That means that in a one-on-one match-up, Clinton might be only two points ahead. But we don’t have a one-on-one match-up. The other candidates will be on the ballot, it’s unrealistic to ignore them. With them included, either main candidate could be ahead by three points. Here’s the change made in the poll:
In a presidential campaign notable for its negativity, the option of “Neither” candidate appears to be an appealing alternative, at least to participants in the Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.
Many voters on both sides have been ambivalent in their support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, complicating the task of the pollsters trying to track the race.
That sentiment may help explain an apparent skew that recently emerged in the Reuters/Ipsos poll results. Given the choice, a relatively large group of voters opted for “Neither/Other” candidate compared with other major polls, leading to an underreporting of several percentage points for one or other of the two major contenders at times in the race.
Breitbart claims that the change was made to underreport Trump’s support. But Maurice Tamman, the leader of the Reuters news service’s New York City-based data mining and investigative reporting team, seems to say the opposite. For some reason, Breitbart refers to him as “Mammon,” perhaps as a biblical slur?
Mamman wrote that in the “Year of Neither,” the swing came from an underreporting of Trump support before the Republican National Convention held in Cleveland July 18 to July 21.
“From the beginning of June until the middle of July, the Reuters/Ipsos survey showed consistently lower support for Trump than other polls were capturing,” he wrote. “At times, the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Clinton with a lead over Trump as wide as about 12 percentage points among registered voters – five percentage points higher than Clinton’s lead in some other comparable polls.”
Reuters has a reputation for accurate polling, so it is significant that Mamman made this decision as the presidential campaign enters its last 100 days with both conventions adjourned.
As we noted elsewhere, there are many things that can cause polls to be off. One is whom is interviewed. In the early days, everyone had a landline phone, and people often felt flattered to be asked their opinion. Today, most people have cell phones, caller ID to allow them to avoid unknown callers at home, and many people either refuse to participate, or give false answers out of spite. Wording is important, too, as well as the time the poll is taken, and many other variables.
In addition, there’s what they call the “Shy Tory Factor” in British poll reporting. That is, for whatever reason, respondents are afraid or embarrassed to say they support the Conservative Party—so the party’s results consistently beat their poll numbers. Likewise, the “Brexit” vote was a big surprise, since polls had shown strong support for Britain to remain in the European Union. Reuters/Ipsos feels that the same thing is happening here—people not wanting to say they’ll vote for Trump.
The real problem this year’s polling presents to Democrats is the reluctance, especially among more educated voters, to confess their support of Trump. Other pollsters have noted the divergence between polls conducted with live operators and robo-phone calls. Live operators have long been considered the preferred, most accurate method inside the polling community. However, live operator polls uniformly show lower support for Trump than online or automatic-dial phone polls.
Much has been made of Trump’s lack of support among college-educated whites, a stronghold of Republican support, but it could very well be that these people, susceptible to social perceptions, have not abandoned the Republican nominee but are giving the socially acceptable answer–until they are alone in the voting booth.
Writing in the New York Times on May 11, Thomas B. Edsall fleshed out this phenomenon as the primaries were winding down. “Findings suggest that Trump will head into the general election with support from voters who are reluctant to admit their preferences to a live person in a phone survey, but who may well be inclined to cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day.”
It seems to me that by offering the option, “other,” the poll is inviting error. Who wouldn’t want to vote for a candidate “other” than those who are running this year?? The intention is to find if they are voting for someone “other” than the top two candidates, but that’s not what it says. Instead of dropping the “neither,” they should have dropped the “other.”
Even “neither” doesn’t exactly say it. “Will not vote” would be a more clear option. The real worry of both major candidates is that their supporters will just stay home. It’s more of a worry among Clinton supporters, since while Bernie Sanders supporters have almost all said they will now “vote for” Clinton, it’s clear that they are not excited about the prospect, so they may not make the effort to go to the polls.
The thing that seems most unexpected is that if the minor candidates are added to a poll, Clinton’s numbers drop off. Since she is the “establishment” candidate, one would think that adding non-establishment candidates would take away from anti-establishment Trump. In this poll, ignoring the error rate, Trump actual gains when other candidates are added. The 41-35 Clinton-Trump rating changes to 37-37 when Johnson and Stein are added. That’s particularly surprising, since Republicans claim they include libertarian thinkers, and the Libertarian candidate (a former Republican governor) is not drawing support away from Trump.
Johnson is attracting between 8 and 12 percent in most polls. That’s a significant number, so no poll can be taken seriously if he is not included. If Johnson can bring his numbers up to 15%, he will have to be included in the presidential debates. And if that happens, the entire race could change.
One thing that could make Johnson stronger would be if NeverTrump people endorse him. Johnson says he may get Mitt Romney’s endorsement, saying the two have talked—and Johnson was not the one who started the conversation.
Romney had previously told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in June that he really liked the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and, more specifically, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld:
“If Bill Weld were at the top of the ticket, it would be very easy for me to vote for Bill Weld for president,” Romney said. “So I’ll get to know Gary Johnson better and see if he’s someone who I could end up voting for. That’s something which I’ll evaluate over the coming weeks and months.”
What if more, such as the Bush family, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and/or others joined in?
In this most recent CNN interview, Weld also brings up the point that some in the Bush family have endorsed the Libertarian ticket and hopes former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will endorse the ticket too.
Here’s a report on that interview:
Marvin Bush, the youngest son of George H. W. Bush, has declared that Johnson is the President for him.
“I’m voting libertarian, 100 percent, these two guys. . .[are] fiscally conservative and their essential message is get bureaucracy off our backs. It used to be a part of what the Republicans believed.”. . .
Johnson continues to rack up the endorsements from high profile names, including recently Glenn Beck, Drew Carey, and the now former vice chair of the DC GOP.
If JEB Bush were to swing to Johnson, it would be a whole new ballgame.
First it was Glenn Beck who said he’d likely take his vote away from the Republican party to give it to the Libertarians and now we have yet another doing the same.
Former Governor of Florida, and defeated candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Jeb Bush, has been flirting with the idea of getting behind the Johnson/Weld ticket for a bit now.
Even if other NeverTrump people don’t immediately follow JEB, he’d get a lot of press, certainly from the conservative Weekly Standard, which has been solidly NeverTrump for months.
While Jeb Bush may or may not bring many votes to the Libertarian ticket with an endorsement, the announcement will bring a lot of press, and attention to the Johnson/Weld campaign. . .
At this rate, the 15% approval rating Johnson needs to attain a spot on the debate stage is definitely going to be reached, with or without Bush’s help.
If Johnson gains support, and if that support continues to come from Clinton, she may be doomed. And if Johnson gets enough support to win a few states, the race could be thrown into the House of Representatives, where Clinton would have no chance of winning at all.