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Politico: 5 numbers that mattered this week

Reposted from  POLITICO_Logo

Publication date 7/16/2016

Continuing our POLITICO feature, where we dig into the latest polls and loop in other data streams to tell the story of the 2016 campaign. Here are five numbers that mattered this week.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — Donald Trump’s now-official choice of running mate on the GOP presidential ticket — enters the national political arena as a virtual clean slate, according to an average of two recent polls.

In this week’s CBS News/New York Times poll, a whopping 74 percent of registered voters said they hadn’t yet heard enough about Pence to have an opinion. An additional 13 percent described themselves as undecided or refused to answer the question.

Only 5 percent of voters in the CBS News/New York Times poll said they have a favorable opinion of Pence, and 8 percent viewed him unfavorably.

More voters had an opinion of Pence in a McClatchy-Marist poll this week: A combined 68 percent said they hadn’t heard of Pence or had no opinion. Pence’s favorable rating was just 12 percent, compared to 21 percent unfavorable.

The discrepancy is likely due to question wording: The CBS News/New York Times poll specifically offers respondents the option of saying they are undecided, or they haven’t heard enough about the subject to form an opinion. That leads to lower favorable — and, consequentially, unfavorable — ratings for all figures.

For example, Hillary Clinton’s favorable rating in the same CBS News/New York Times poll, which showed a tied race on the ballot test, was just 28 percent — 11 points lower than her average favorable rating, according to HuffPost Pollster. But the percentage who had an unfavorable opinion — 54 percent — was 3 points lower than the national average.

That doesn’t mean the way the CBS News/New York Times poll asks the question leads to less accurate results. Indeed, for little-known figures like Pence, it might be more accurate — giving respondents the option of saying they don’t know the person rather than being forced to express an opinion.

Between Trump’s announcement this week and next week’s convention, Pence is about to step on to the national stage. But it’s more likely that opinions of Pence track closely with Trump’s image, which means it’s likely his favorable rating will be upside-down after the convention — that is, more Americans will view him unfavorably than favorably.

Either way, Pence enters with virtually no name identification. In the McClatchy-Marist poll, he was the potential running mate with the lowest name-ID among GOP short-listers — a list that also includes relatively unknown Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and freshman Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.

Race and ethnicity — especially the growing Hispanic vote — represent the sharpest dividing lines of the 2016 campaign.

We’ve written recently about the difficulty in getting accurate results for Hispanic voters, and a new survey this week, commissioned by Univision and conducted by two separate polling firms, underscores one of the major challenges: language.

In the poll, conducted earlier this month, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 48 points among Hispanic voters nationwide, 67 percent to 19 percent.

But there’s a language barrier: Clinton’s lead among Hispanic voters interviewed in English was just 39 points, 60 percent to 21 percent. But she leads by 59 points among those interviewed in Spanish, 71 percent to 12 percent.

Since Spanish speakers represent a relatively small share of the electorate, and hiring bilingual interviewers is expensive, few public pollsters make that effort.

But especially in battleground states with larger Hispanic populations, missing that the small slice of more Democratic Spanish-speaking voters could make Hispanics appear a little more Republican in the polls.

The general election is more than a month old, but this week finally brought a wave of polls in the key states that will decide the winner of the Electoral College.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist released seven swing-state polls this week — each one surveying roughly 800 voters or more. Two other Northeastern universities — Monmouth and Quinnipiac — followed with three self-commissioned surveys each. Fox News’ polling operation hit another two swing states.

And in a state ignored by those national pollsters this week, Wisconsin, the leading in-state academic survey outfit released its latest poll.

The results weren’t uniform: Quinnipiac’s polls in Florida and Pennsylvania had Trump in the lead, while Marist’s surveys in the same states showed significant Clinton advantages. That disparity is one reason why we’ve launched the POLITICO Battleground States polling average, a look at the race across the 11 states most likely to determine who wins the November election.

Current polling shows Clinton leading in all 11 states, with an overall, weighted advantage of a little more than 5 percentage points.

The 2016 presidential campaign is entering a more active, spirited phase — but voters want no part of it.

The CBS News/New York Times poll this week asked voters if they were looking forward to the next few months of the campaign, and few are. Overall, just 37 percent said they were looking forward to the next few months, while more than six-in-10 weren’t.

There’s little difference by party: Democrats (57 percent) and Republicans (59 percent) were equally likely to say they weren’t looking forward to the campaign.

Independents are especially turned off, however: More than two-thirds, 67 percent, said they aren’t looking forward to the next few months. Just 32 percent said they are eager for the rest of the campaign.

Trump’s campaign hasn’t run television advertisements since he vanquished his rivals for the GOP nomination back in May, but don’t tell that to voters who are seeing him on television day after day.

Republican super-lobbyist Bruce Mehlman posted a slide on Twitter this week with data from online pollster Fluent, LLC, showing 45 percent of voters said they’ve seen television ads in support of Trump. (Fluent’s most recent survey, conducted last Sunday, had that number at 43 percent.)

The number speaks to the extent of Trump’s free-media exposure, which is significant. But there’s another element to this number: Voters don’t tell the truth.

Republican pollster Alex Lundry — whose Arlington, Virginia-based firm, Deep Root Analytics, seeks to marry data analytics with television-ad buying — tweeted that in his time as director of data science for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, they found similar number of voters would say they had seen specific Romney television ads. Only the ads didn’t exist.

Fluent
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