Lane Changers?

Every now and them we conduct a poll that produces results that stubbornly swim against the current. That usually brings out our CSI lab coats to figure out why, and we sometime end up calling the results a simple outlier and letting it die on the vine. This one may be different. Over the last three nights, we’ve polled Virginia’s U.S. Senate race pitting former DNC chair/former governor Tim Kaine against former governer/senator George Allen. First the numbers:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 7-9, 2012 - Participants: 1,296 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
Tim Kaine (D)George Allen (R)UndecidedGOP / DEM / IND
41.26%46.01%12.73%34 / 32 / 34

Any time our numbers go that much against the grain of conventional wisdom, you can bet on us re-visting the race soon. But we decided to publish the results because there’s something interesting going on in Virginia and other states. There is a significant percentage of voters who are shifting their self-described political party affiliation; we refer to them as lane changers. People who are strict party loyalists sometimes find it disconcerting that affiliations can shift like this. In truth, its probably more accurate to simply call these lane changers Independents, but we’ve seen a lot of it lately, and that may why so many are wringing their hands about pollsters’ mix of GOP/Dem/Ind in their polls.

In our opinion, those who try to shape their samples based on the 2008 presidential mix are missing the boat. While digging into the reasons our numbers are different–and out of curiosity–we weighted the raw numbers out of Virginia based on that 2008 presidential ratio. Lo and behold…it moves Kaine AHEAD  by four points, about the same lead the the Real Clear Politics average is showing in this race. That doesn’t mean that other pollsters are using the wrong mix, but it makes us wonder.

In the Virginia Senate race, we’ll take our lumps if we’re wrong and we’ll self-report if future polls show we’re off the mark. But we think others ought to jump into this one and see if Mitt Romney’s sudden surge is having some coattails here.


Before our Drudge-induced website meltdown caused a lost 36 hours for us, we had plans to quickly post the results to the second question we asked on our 10/4 polls in Florida and Ohio: the races for U.S. Senate. If Mitt Romney measurably gained from his debate performance (he did), we wanted to know if there would be a coattails effect in the Senate races.

Please read this: any candidate, party partisan or political junkie who deems bounce-poll results as proof positive of a breakout is short-sighted. The results of these polls represent accurate snapshots of a very brief period of time; they simply cannot and should not be viewed in a vacuum. We’ll follow up soon to see if we have true love or merely a passing fancy.

Again, these Senate questions were asked during our recent presidential polls in these two states. We’re doing a rolling three-day poll in Virginia; you’ll hear about that soon. We’ve included the Real Clear Politics poll average for each race so you can see how far these results deviate. The final column contains the party splits from the self-described affiliation question. Those splits are the same as we had in our presidential polls.

Each of these automated polls had 1,200+ responses from likely voters. MoE 3%. Each was weighted to correct for over-/under-sampling among select demographics.
FLORIDANelson +6.5Bill Nelson (D): 43.8%Connie Mack (R): 43.9%Undecided: 12.3%38/33/29
OHIOBrown +5.6Sharrod Brown (D): 46.0%Josh Mandel (R): 43.5%Undecided: 10.5%34/38/28

The Florida race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Connie Mack varies widely in RCP results (the last two polls vary by 11 points!), but it appears to be a dead heat in this poll. In Ohio, Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel climbs a bit closer to Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown.

The Nelson/Mandel numbers in Ohio may only reflect an uptick with the margin of error of the average. The Nelson/Mack match, though, goes outside the norm and needs to be watched. We’ll revisit these races soon.

Meltdown & Mail

We Ask America had a helluva Friday. Our polls in Ohio, Virginia and Florida generated so much traffic from the Drudge Report, Real Clear Politics and a number of others that our website melted down. Actually, our hosting company pulled the plug, saying that we had “killed all the little mice running in the wheels.” Now PETA is probably going to come knocking on our door. Thanks to our technical team’s hard work we moved the site to a host that understands scalability. At least that’s the theory.

Back to Friday: nothing brings out the best in people like surprise poll results. We’d thought we’d share a few of those emails we’ve received and answer those folks who took time out of their busy days to send us their thoughts. Each is an actual email we received; the only thing we’ve done is turn them into PG-rated:

who are you? you owned by Jack Welch, or citizens united? your site is questionable. I mean come on now, after all this time, you now show up? what’s your real agenda?

Answer: We wish we were owned by former GE CEO Jack Welch…maybe we could get a good deal on that General Electric 600 megawatt turbine we’ve been eyeing. And may we ask: after “all this time” of reporting poll results showing President Obama’s growing lead, why did YOU now show up?



Answer: Darn it Mom…your caps lock is stuck on again.


we all know that you guys are a part of a big conspiracy to take over the nation by big business. i know. i got fired. 

Answer: I’m sorry you lost your job. I can’t loan you money, but would you like to borrow some capital letters from my mother?


What a crock of pig manure.

Answer: Finally…someone with a specific and constructive statement. You, sir, have a future as a pollster.


Did the Romney bounce have coattails? Watch soon for our newest U.S. Senate polls in Ohio, Virginia and Florida.



Few disagree that Mitt Romney won Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Even fewer would argue against the notion that Romney sorely needed that performance to put his campaign back on track. With the national polling averages hovering around three percent in Barack Obama’s favor, Romney’s inability to gain traction was resulting in a pundit-driven drum beat of inevitability.

Not so fast there, muchachos. Polling in key states has shown a widening gap, but in many states, the spreading numbers have been more meandering that directional. True, if it had continued that way the election could have gently slid into the point of no return for Romney, but they didn’t. There’s still time for this thing to get real interesting. Could Romney’s debate performance be the key that unlocks a surge?

To find out, we cranked up the blowers last night in Virginia, Ohio and Florida to ask the electorate who they would vote for if the election were held today. Here are those topline results along with the splits among Republican/Democrat/and Independent voters (self-described by participants):

Each of these automated polls had 1,200+ responses from likely voters. MoE 3%. Each was weighted to correct for over-/under-sampling among select demographics.
STATEObamaRomneyGary JohnsonUndecidedGOP / DEM / IND


We fully admit that polling this soon after this debate may only give us a needle-flick snapshot of a knee-jerk reaction and there’s no telling how long the big swig of go-juice that Romney got from the first debate will last.

But we have lots of phones and itchy dialing fingers. Stay tuned.

Horse races

We wrap up our latest round of polls with Missouri and Nevada.


NOTE: A reader just let us know that we originally misspelled Todd Akin’s name. It has been corrected, and we apologize for the error.

The Show Me State has shown America a fair amount of political upheaval in the last 12 months. One of the first states to legislatively reject federal health care reforms, its popular Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill got into hot water over not paying property taxes for a family-owned jet. To face McCaskill this fall, Missouri Republicans elected Todd Akin–the candidate many felt was the weakest on the ballot. Still, most experts put Missouri’s Senate seat in the Democratic loss column…until Akin’s infamous use of the term “legitimate rape” in an interview. That quote put Akin on the GOP’s persona non grata list and it was assumed that McCaskill would breeze to a win. But Akin has hung in and made it a horse race–undoubted aided by the fact that Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama in another tight race:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,145Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS44.5%47.7%2.0%5.8%
GOP ONLY12.7%82.6%1.2%3.5%
DEM ONLY86.1%9.8%0.3%3.8%
IND ONLY35.3%51.4%4.1%9.2%
SENATEClaire McCaskill (D)Todd Akin (R
ALL VOTERS46.0%45.2%8.8%
GOP ONLY12.5%78.8%8.7%
DEM ONLY87.4%8.0%4.6%
IND ONLY39.0%48.6%12.4%


Nevada’s race for president can’t be considered close (although it’s not over, either), but the race for U.S. Senate is among the tightest we’ve seen lately. Incumbent Republican Dean Heller is said to be running a textbook race against Democrat U.S. Rep.  Shelley Berkley, who has been under a cloud from an ethics investigation. Still, Nevada has been leaning left lately, so Berkley is nipping at Heller’s heels and most believe it will be a race to the wire:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,152 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS 52.5% 42.0% 2.3% 3.2%
GOP ONLY18.7%78.2%1.5%1.6%
DEM ONLY86.4%11.8%0.2%1.6%
IND ONLY35.3%50.7%5.7%8.3%
SENATE Dean Heller (R)Shelley Berkley (D)Undecided
ALL VOTERS 45.2% 44.9% 9.9%
GOP ONLY81.3%13.8%4.9%
DEM ONLY14.7%76.7%8.6%
IND ONLY54.7%28.0%17.3%

 Later today: Ohio results. UPDATE: The Ohio poll which we had hoped to publish yesterday was being used with the permission of a private client. That client later retracted their permission, so we’ll be doing a new poll there soon on our own dime…probably after Wednesday’s debate.








Western Front

Our second round of polling for today consists of neighboring states with differing opinions: Colorado and New Mexico.


The Centennial State’s electorate is a vibrant mix of aging hippies, current and retired military and nearly every walk of life in between. The eclectic mixture makes Colorado a tough state to predict. Here are our results from our last poll:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,273Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS49.3%45.5%1.3%3.9%
GOP ONLY15.9%80.1%0.9%3.1%
DEM ONLY85.2%12.5%0.2%2.1%
IND ONLY42.3%47.3%2.9%7.5%

As with all our polls, the topline results have been weighted with our propriety formula using 65 different criteria. We’re providing the self-described party affiliation cross-tabs since so many have asked for it. Again, these affiliations are self-described and not used in our weighting system.

New Mexico

While some thought New Mexico would be in play this fall (George W. Bush barely won here in 2004), the Land of Enchantment is clearly leaning left in the presidential and Senate race (Democrat Martin Heinrich vs. Republican Heather Wilson) this year:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,258 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.85%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS50.9%40.6%3.9%4.6%
GOP ONLY11.6%82.7%2.3%3.4%
DEM ONLY81.5%12.5%2.0%4.0%
IND ONLY36.8%44.5%9.2%9.5%
SENATEMartin HeinrichHeather WilsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS52.3%40.8%6.9%
GOP ONLY16.9%79.4%3.7%
DEM ONLY81.3%14.5%4.2%
IND ONLY41.2%48.9%9.9%

The only real surprise to us was that former NM Governor Gary Johnson isn’t doing better here. While New Mexico has been leaning left, Johnson was pulling down double digits early in the summer but has clearly faded since. His presence on the ticket was once believed to be a problem for Mitt Romney. Now, his meager draw isn’t taking enough chunks to matter, and Barack Obama is cruising toward the finish line.


We’ll quickly finish up our second round of our own “Big Ten” states today before the debates commence. This morning: Iowa & Michigan; the remaining states will get posted later today, so check back later.


It wasn’t that long ago that many respected prognosticators said that Michigan was in play. Mitt Romney did his best to lay claim to being a favorite son, and the early numbers indicated that he may have a chance to keep the state competitive. Today, that simply does not appear to be the case. President Obama has spent his time wisely in this state that was in huge trouble when the economic bubble burst. Whether or not you agree with the automotive industry bailout that was directed mostly at General Motors, those whose jobs were tied to the situation were paying attention. And they seem to be showing it in our latest results:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,064 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS52.0%39.9%1.1%7.0%
GOP ONLY14.3%81.2%0.3%4.2%
DEM ONLY89.0%6.0%0.5%4.5%
IND ONLY42.7%42.7%2.5%12.1%

As with all polls in this series, we’ve included Libertarian Gary Johnson to measure third-party support. And please note that the political party affiliation is self-identified in these polls.


Iowa must feel like the prettiest girl at the dance this year. Not only does their caucus system put them in the limelight early and often, both Obama and Romney targeted the Hawkeye State as a pivotal one in a tight race. Unlike Michigan, Iowa is still in play, though:

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 25-27, 2012 - Participants: 1,273 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS47.5%43.7%2.3%6.5%
GOP ONLY11.2%82.6%1.1%5.1%
DEM ONLY90.3%6.5%0.5%2.7%
IND ONLY44.8%37.6%2.8%14.8%

Again: watch for more results this afternoon!

Big Cheese

Wisconsin has experienced more than its fair share of political melodrama this year. The rancorous recall election aimed at Republican Governor Scott Walker in June was followed by a spirited Primary — especially in the GOP Senate race where former Gov. Tommy Thompson overcame an assault from outside money. He’ll face Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November. Tammy & Tommy…does anyone else have a hankering for a Beach Blanket movie?

Some pundits believe that Walker’s survival in the June recall puts the Dairy State in play for Mitt Romney this fall. Others think that Walker’s win simply doesn’t provide a strong political metaphor that may be applied to the presidential election. There’s still time for both sides to make their points, but for now we’re seeing a widening gap in Wisconsin: [Weighting was applied to correct for over-/undersampling.]

Poll type: Automated Date: Sept. 20-23, 2012 - Participants: 1,238 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt RomneyGary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS 52.5% 41.0% 1.2% 5.3%
GOP ONLY9.0%87.4%0.8%2.8%
DEM ONLY90.1%6.5%0.5%2.9%
IND ONLY50.4%37.6%2.1%9.9%
SENATE Tommy Thompson Tammy Baldwin Undecided
ALL VOTERS 40.4% 51.8% 7.8%
GOP ONLY84.7%9.5%5.8%
DEM ONLY8.0%86.7%5.3%
IND ONLY35.9%53.1%11.0%

We included Libertarian Gary Johnson to measure general support for third-party candidates. Note that we asked each participant if they consider themselves to be a Republican, Democrat or Independent voter. In this case, the split was 31% GOP / 32% Democrat / 37% Independents.

Obviously, things can change a lot in October. But for now, Barack Obama is the Big Cheese in Wisconsin.


We Ask America continues a second dip into our “Big Ten” states by revisiting Florida and Pennsylvania. Of the two, Florida clearly is viewed as the more pivotal region, and that’s where’s we’ll begin.


It may be a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but Medicare looms large in Florida. One of Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan’s first stops after being nominated was to visit seniors (including his mother) in central Florida. There, any change in senior services–especially health care–are measured as seismic events. But, like the rest of the nation, the debate currently isn’t about health care or even the economy in Florida. Instead, a big chunk of the Sunshine State’s population is counting themselves among the “47%” who receive help from our government–the very segment Mitt Romney inartfully mentioned in his candid camera appearance at a fundraiser. The aftergaffe (new word alert!) did as much damage as the gaffe itself–at least among the cable gabfest crowd. But how will the VOTERS react?

Tuesday night, we asked 1,230 likely Florida voters how they planned to vote. We included Libertarian Gary Johnson to see if a third-party candidate may have an effect. Since we hadn’t polled the race for U.S. Senate yet (Florida had a mid-August Primary), we asked our participants to also choose between Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Connie Mack. As always, the responses are weighted to correct for over-/under-sampling in a number of criteria:

Poll type:: Automated Date: Sept. 18, 2012 - Participants: 1,230 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.82%
PRESIDENTBarack ObamaMitt Romney Gary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS49.1%45.5%1.3%4.1%
GOP ONLY14.7%80.9%0.8%3.6%
DEM ONLY82.0%13.5%0.5%4.0%
IND ONLY43.7%45.6%3.3%7.4%
SENATEBill NelsonConnie MackUndecided
ALL VOTERS46.7%41.5%11.8%
GOP ONLY14.7%69.7%15.6%
DEM ONLY81.3%11.6%7.1%
IND ONLY41.7%40.4%17.9%


Republicans in the Keystone State hoped that their successes in 2010 would carry over into 2012. But Democrat incumbent Senator Bob Casey hasn’t yet been pushed hard by wealthy Republican challenger Tom Smith (RCP’s polling average gives Casey a 15% lead), and the wished-for “weakened” Barack Obama is thus far a pipe dream. We’ll poll the Casey-Smith race soon, but for now we’re more interested in whether Romney’s numbers will follow the pattern of ebbing we’re seeing in other key states. Let’s see:

Poll type:: Automated Date: Sept. 18, 2012 - Participants: 1,214 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.85%
 Barack ObamaMitt Romney Gary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS48.1%42.2%0.8%8.9%
GOP ONLY13.7%78.9%0.4%7.0%
DEM ONLY81.4%11.1%0.6%6.9%
IND ONLY39.4%44.5%3.0%13.1%

While Romney is doing relatively well with Independents, the burgeoning Democratic growth in Philly’s burbs and demise of the old Republican Machine is a steep hill for him to climb. As in Florida, President Obama’s ascent (or Romney’s decline) is incremental.  Sure, there’s been a notch brought on by a one-two punch of a strong Democratic convention bump and Romney’s stumbles, but the underlying numbers simple don’t support the theory that Romney is in a free fall.


Big 10-Round 2-VA

After a planned convention-time hiatus from our public polls, We Ask America is back with Round 2 in our Big 10 series of presidential polls–starting with Virginia.

Mitt Romney was doing well in Virginia in late June when we last polled here. But a lackluster convention, his stutter-step campaign and recently reported in-fighting among top staff have caused many pundits to wonder out loud about his prospects. Barack Obama has avoided similar problems…so far.

As in all of the series of states we’re polling, this survey was conducted by automated means. After qualifying each individual in regards to ability (registered voter) and intention to vote this fall, we asked the following straightforward question:

“If the election for president were held today, for whom would you vote?”

The options were randomize and included Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson to measure third-party support. We then followed up with such demographic questions such as gender, age, and political party I.D. Weighting was applied when any of those demographics fell out of the norm. In addition, we applied our proprietary weighting system that compares 65 other bits of criteria to what we believe should be expected. Here are our results with a Party ID breakdown:

Poll type:: Automated Date: Sept. 17, 2012 - Participants: 1,285 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.75%
 Barack ObamaMitt Romney Gary JohnsonUndecided
ALL VOTERS48.5%45.7%1.1%4.7%
GOP ONLY9.9%87.2%0.2%2.7%
DEM ONLY88.3%6.9%0.7%4.1%
IND ONLY41.1%47.6%2.3%9.0%

The nearly eight-point swing in results since June aren’t entirely surprising and shouldn’t be viewed by either side as a true trend–yet. Although cable news networks’ breathless reports have a tendency to magnify the slightest mood swings of the electorate, President Obama clearly received a nice bounce out of the convention while Romney has stumbled a bit. The hotly contest Senate race in Virginia featuring Democrat Tim Kaine vs. Republican George Allen will continue to suck some of the air out of the political atmosphere: the Real Clear Politics average show Allen up slightly, but our privately conducted polls for one client have him doing better than the average. At any rate, outside money is flowing into Virginia for Kaine and Allen at a rate fast enough to set an advertising rep’s heart a-flutter. Those ceaseless ads for the Senate race will eventually dull viewer’ senses to political messaging, making it tougher for those lagging behind to break through the clutter.

Clearly, Romney must quickly find his bearings in order to get back into the game in this must-win state.