Tag Archives: Polls

Where does the Trump Presidency stand a fortnight and a half in?

The most recent polling indicates that Donald Trump has a 43% approval and 53% disapproval rating. So he is not exactly loved by the American people, which is odd because he seems so lovable. And, he has told us that the American people love him. And his victory in the November election was unbelievably big league. But, that’s how it is, according the scientific polling.

Approval and favorability are apparently slightly different, but the pattern holds. The same polling tells us that the American people have a 45% favorable attitude about the president, which would be tremendous for any product in a market economy. But for a president it is not so good, as a majority of Americans, 52%, look at the president with an unfavorable eye.

But what about some of the specific, Trump Brand signature issues? How’s he doing, and what do people think?

Building The Wall

The wall is still not built, but Trump still intends to build it. But, the promise was that Trump would “make Mexico pay for it.” The president has now learned that you can’t do that, and it is in fact not going to happen. And, the wall is still not built yet.

According to this recent poll, 56% of Americans oppose building the all, 37% are in favor of it, if Americans are paying for it.

The Muslim Ban

Trump promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and to practice extreme vetting. One of the main reasons he got elected was because of this promise. How’s that going?

A Trump Tower in Turkey, a Muslim country not banned.
A Trump Tower in Turkey, a Muslim country not banned.
Trump’s idea of “extreme vetting” seems to be “don’t let anyone in who is trying to get in legally.” Which, of course, leaves the death squads that are streaming across our borders leave to come, but leaves people like graduate students, professors, folks who went overseas to visit their grandmothers, etc. in the lurch.

Also, the ban on Muslims only banned some Muslims, from certain countries, so Muslims from countries where Trump does business are unaffected. So there may be an ethical issue there.

As you know, a key Federal court ruled unanimously to uphold a lower court decision to stay the ban because it negatively affects people and states. No higher court ruling has come down about the Second Amendment violation but that may happen later. There are more law suits against this ban than hairs on a dog, so we can expect a lot more news in this regard.

Meanwhile, the recent pol shows that 49% of Americans are opposed to the ban, with 45% in favor of it.

More interestingly, though, the vast majority of Americans, a whopping 66%, think Trump’s ban was poorly executed (27% thought everything went just fine). A majority of Americans recognized the “Muslim Ban” as an effort to ban Muslims. (Trump’s people claim it never was, even when it was called a “Muslim Ban.”) A strong majority (65% over 22%) do not think Muslims should be banned. In a sense, the courts are helping Trump out here, by shutting down this whole operation so we can move past what has turned out to be one of the most self damaging political nosedives witnessed in American history.

By the way, a strong majority of Americans trust Judges over Donald Trump to make the right decisions for the United States.

Repealing and Replacing Obamacare

Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. Most observers were under the impression that Trump and Congress, between them, had no idea what to replace Obamacare with. Boy, were they ever right! Congress made a couple of initial procedural moves that will allow them to later undo Obamacare, ran in to major opposition, forgot to have any ideas about reforming Obamacare, and then stopped.

"The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care.  They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are -- are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like."
“The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are — are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”
The White House has been mostly silent on the issue. Polls show that a strong plurality of American support Obamacare (far more than those who oppose, with 47%-39% supporting-opposing). A YUGE majority of Americans, 65%, do not want Congress to repeal Obamacare and, rather, keep what works in the plan.

Keeping his Tax Returns Secret

Trump never did release his tax returns. He promised to release them after an “audit” was over. But soon after the election, spokes-minuteman Kellyanne Conway, announced a new policy: since Trump won, it must be true that nobody cares about his tax returns, or why would the majority of Americans have voted for him?

There are two problems with this “logic.” First, a majority of Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump. Second, at present, an overwhelming majority of Americans want Trump to release his tax returns. (58% say yes, 31% say no.)

Keeping his business ties ethical


Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 1.13.12 PMAt his first press conference, Donald Trump showed us piles of folders containing all of the plans to unlink him from his businesses. A lawyer explained how all the ethical rules would be followed. We were also told that all the ethical rules did not apply to the President anyway, and that nothing would really be done.

The folders, we learned later, were as empty as his earlier promises to disassociate his business and his activities as president. Indeed, just yesterday, Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News, representing the White House, and urged listeners to buy Trump’s daughter’s products. Perhaps, technically, though I don’t know, Trump himself has no direct ties to this business. But it is his daughter’s business so legal and ethical constraints apply. Conway should not have made the statement she made.

Had she been a Democrat, the calls for her being fired would never end. But since she is a Republican, there was a minor outcry. But, the event was a clear enough case of unethical behavior that even the FOX news people sensed something was wrong:

The moment three FOX news anchors realize that Kellyanne Conway stepped over the line, legally and ethically.
The moment three FOX news anchors realize that Kellyanne Conway stepped over the line, legally and ethically.

By the way, 62% of Americans think Trump should fully divest himself from his businesses.

The Investigation of Voter Fraud

In his never ending but always unsuccessfull effort to not be the Biggest Loser, Trump issued the blatant lie that millions of people, mainly Illegal Immigrants, voted illegally in the last election, and that this is why he actually lost the vote. As you know, great efforts were made to recount the votes in several states, and this showed no problems. Also, the Secretaries of State across the country declared that there was no measurable problem with the voting. The White House has been relatively silent about this issue lately, perhaps because they sensed that the country was against them on this. Indeed, it seems that about 55% of Americans think there was no illegal voting by millions of people in the last election.

Be Presidential

During the election, Trump told us that he’ll be big league presidential. I assume this means, among other things, being, or at least, seeming, credible.

How’s that going?

Well, the poll I’ve been referring to all along (see below) pits the New York Times against Trump in credibility, which is appropriate because Trump has been engaging in an aggressive Twitter war against the Paper of Record. The result? 52% of Americans think the NYT is more credible than Trump, 37% think the opposite.

Saturday Night Live, the fictional, comedy, all the stuff is made up TV show of fame, doesn’t do quite as well as the New York Times. A mere 48% of Americans put SNL above Trump in credibility, with 43% saying the opposite. So, while it may be stranger than fiction, it seems that Trump is less credible than fiction in the minds of a plurality of Americans.

People are about evenly divided on whether or not Trump should be impeached, with about 46% saying each “yes” and “no.” That is a lot of people who want to see his presidency ended immediately. But, one might expect a higher percentage of people saying “Impeach” than indicated here, given all the above information.

Rachel Maddow has a theory as to why more people don’t, at the moment, want to see Trump thrown out of office. I’ll let her tell you. Watch the whole video, but the key moment starts about 4 minutes.

I hope you watched that whole thing to see how Trump supporters seem to not know about, or care about, the Constitution.

Donald Trump’s Approval Rating Over Time vs. Obama: No Honeymoon

Using mainly data from this poll, and RCP’s approval ratings page for Obama 2008, we get this graph.

Trump’s approval rating was never high, and at the moment of the election and shortly after, when the approval ratings for a president have gone up for every election since polls existed, Trump’s numbers have dropped.

How have events shaped the Clinton-Trump race?

It is unfortunate that “all the pundits” are now saying that Clinton will now win no matter what, and that Trump will likely suffer more scandal before the end of the process.

This is unfortunate because a weak get out the vote effort is probably worth a couple of points on election day. It is unfortunate because some Trump scandals increase, rather than decrease, his numbers. He could suddenly gain a couple of points if he says or does just the wright/wrong things. It is unfortunate because, for whatever reason, Hillary “My Middle Name is Target” Clinton has turned into the Teflon Candidate for now, but that won’t stick, as it were, for more than a day or two. Then Wikileaks, weak as it is, or some other issue, will come into play and knock two points off of her numbers.

It is unfortunate because the difference between Clinton and Trump is now between about 5 and 7 points, and 2 + 2 + 2 = 6.

Do the math. This race is not over.

In order to give some idea of the magnitude of things like the post-sexual-assault-revelations Trump Slump, or the conventions, or a given debate, in relation to the overall shifts of numbers across this race, I mad this chart, using RCP’s national polling averages, and adding in some key moments from the campaign:


While Clinton has always been ahead, on average, she has not always been that far ahead, and was, in fact, father ahead at various points in the past than she is now. In other words, for all the talk about BusTapeGate and debate performances, Clinton has not pulled out ahead of Trump father than she has been in the past. If you look at this graph, you do not see a clear breakout. And, if you look at the MOST current version from RCP, as I write this, the blue line on top is dropping (those data came in while I was drawing this graphic, and I did not adjust). See that earlier peak in September for Clinton? The current peak is starting to look like that.

So, no, this is not over, and it is not wise to insist that it is.

Who Won The Presidential Debate Weekend?

You can’t say who really won the debate, because on Friday, news broke, confirming other news from the prior Monday (and general suspicians) indicating that Donald Trump is not fit to be President in Yet Another Way, and his campaign essentially imploded. So, instead, we’ll ask, “who won the weekend?”

As you know, I’m the last person to write off Donald Trump. From the very beginning, without fail, I’ve been warning you that he’ll do well, that he’ll win the GOP debates, that he’ll win various primaries, that he’ll win the nomination, etc. All of it. I have never once been wrong about this.

The reason I’m never wrong is because I know something that you also know but that you refuse to admit because it is too painful. Most Americans, perhaps way more than a majority, share one or more opinions with the core Republican political and social philosophy. A smaller number, a minority but not fewer than about 40%, agree with most or all of those points of policy. Added to this Republicans tend to work better in lockstep than Democrats.

And this, dear reader, is why Republicans have been mostly in charge for most of the time since the Republican party became what it is today (staring in the 1970s).

Donald Trump, meanwhile perfectly represents most of that ~40% of Americans, and that is why he is their candidate.

However, more than one thing must be in place to win an election. One of these things is having a large and loyal base, and Trump has that. Another is money, from multiple big donors. Trump had that (including himself) but it is gone (except himself). Another is the support of the party elite and all those great surrogates that go out and stump for you. Trump lost whatever he had along those lines a while back, and as of a couple of weeks ago has had absolutely nothing in the way of surrogate support. It has been just Trump and Pence. And now, Pence seems to have stopped campaigning, so it is just Trump over the last few days, today, and tomorrow, at least.

There remained for a while the Basket of Hypocrites, such as Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and the others. These are mostly evangelical conservatives who were willing to throw every one in the country under the bus just to defeat Hillary Clinton, regardless of the cost. But with the culmination of sufficient evidence to regard Donald Trump as a supporter and likely doer of sexual assault on arbitrary females as a given part of his privilege, even the Hypocrites can not survive being associated with him.

And for this reason, over the weekend, these rats left the ship.

As of some time over the last 48 hours or so, the Trump Campaign is over, and this is true regardless of any debate.

Then, there was the debate.

One could argue that Trump did better than expected, and Clinton could have done better, but everyone who is not extremely partisan thinks Clinton pretty much won.

So, what do the polls show? A new poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, that does not include the debate (because it was conducted on Saturday and Sunday, before the debate) puts Clinton at 46% to Trump’s 35% in a four way match. Head to head, the spit is 52% to 38%, so if some of those third party snowflakes get with the program and actually vote in the election, the spread widens from 11% to 14%.

Those are double digit numbers. We’ve not seen double digit numbers from a major and legit poll since, I think, the start of the national campaign.

I’m pretty sure the debate did not push the polls back the other way. I’m pretty sure this weekend poll reflects the current situation, more or less. Of course, it is only one poll.

Looking at phone polls by major pollsters and/or major news agencies, excluding one outlier because its numbers are so far different (FOX), from September 1 to the present (including the poll mentioned above) we get this from HuffPo Pollster:


OK, now, pretend I’m wearing a Steve Kornacki mask and I’ve got a sharpie.



I could do more, but I think you get the point.

I expect more scandalous news.

Last week there were indications that the NYT had more about taxes that would eventually come out. I’ve heard rumors of a tape with Trump saying the “N-word.” Right now there is strong evidence that Trump is on board with the whole idea of sexual assault, and there is already some information out there about this, but with the Access Hollywood tapes out, may be we will start seeing actual victims, if any, come to the fore. And, there are known to be tapes from The Apprentice said to be similar to, maybe worse than, the Access Hollywood tapes.

These things will not come out today, because today, the news cycle is still finishing with Friday’s information, and still working on the Debate, so any editor or producer with something to say will wait until tomorrow. So, if something is out there, may be we’ll hear of it then. a few days ago I suggested that we’d be seeing approximately one Trump news dump about every four days until the election. The time span between Monday’s revelations (already forgotten) and Friday’s was about four days, right? Then there was friday ..let’s see … (counting on fingers) … friday, saturday, sunday monday, … TUESDAY! So, Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday. Stay tuned.

The Clinton-Sanders Race in Historical Context UPDATED

I’m going to make this simple. The primary season has not started yet. It starts in a few weeks. Everything we are doing now is pre-Primary. Not one person has put pen to checkmark in a voting booth.

Once that process starts, everything changes. Suddenly there is more polling in downstream states. Starting before the first primaries, but then ramping up as we head towards states that matter (and no, Iowa and New Hampshire don’t matter despite what you may have been told). Same with campaigning. We’ve seen a few debates, there’s been a lot of speeches, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. And other things (fund raising, more endorsements, etc.)

I thought I’d start out a discussion on the historic context by producing the simple graphic above. This is the course of polling (from Real Clear Politics) for the Clinton-Obama race in 2008 up to about now in the process, along side the Clinton-Sanders race this year. The graphic is rough, I just threw it together, but it kind of speaks for itself.

But in case the meaning is not clear, it means this: The primary season has not started yet. It starts in a few weeks.

I made a new graphic to underscore the meaning of the graphic above. Here, I took the 2008 primary season and the 2016 primary season RCP polling data for the two main candidates and ROUGHLY scaled them together. That moment when everything changes for 2008 is about now, or about the beginning of the actual primaries. Will that be what happens this year?

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 2.28.11 PM

2016 US Presidential Election: Trump/Carson/Somebody vs. Clinton (polls)

The current polling as shown on the Huffpo Pollster, using only “likely voters” and “non partisan polls” shows that Trump and Carson are neck and neck and have been close for a week. Most of the other candidates are so low it is impossible to imagine any of them rising to a level of significance. On the other hand, there are still so many clowns in the clown car that it is hard to say. If eight or nine of the candidates dropped out over the next few weeks, it is possible that someone will rise up.

On the other hand, there is a thing about how the Republicans pick their candidate that may have a significant effect and cause neither Carson nor Trump to get the nomination. It works like this. There are many states (and/or Congressional Districts, which matters more in some states) where there aren’t that many Tea Bagger Republicans, but still a good number of delegates. States like New York could be sending a very large number of delegates who would never consider a Trump or a Carson, while states like Alabama might send a small number of delegates who are strongly in favor of the fringe candidates (like Trump and Carson, fringe in the sense of their, well, you know what I mean.) So, we’ll see. Frankly, we might not know what is going to happen in the GOP race until Super Tuesday or later.

In the Democratic Race, looking again only at likely voters and non-partisan pols, Clinton has been ahead of Sanders all along and her relative position has risen slightly. Hillary Clinton currently has a commanding and steadily growing lead over Sanders.

The Gop poll is shown above, the Democratic poll shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 1.32.45 PM

Trump, The Others, and A New Test of the Hypothesis

A couple of days ago I assimilated data from a bunch of on line polls where people could informally and unscientifically express their opinion about who won the GOP debate (the big boy debate only, with ten candidates). I suggested a series of hypotheses to isolate the idea that this sort of on line unscientific effort might reflect reality, with the idea of testing the results of those polls with upcoming formal polls.

Now we have a couple of formal polls to test against. I took the raw percentages for the ten GOP big boy debate candidates, recalculated the percentages, and came up with the standings of those candidates in the more recent scientifically done polls. The polls are by Bloomberg and WMUR. The former is national, the latter pertains to New Hampshire, which will have a key early primary. Here is the relevant graphic:

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.50.08 AM

We see verification of Trump being in the lead. His performance during the debate was liked by a large majority, and he is the leader of the pack, still by a large majority, by those subsequently polled. What appears to be a drop is more a factor of the difference between asking who won the debate vs. who one would vote for.

There is a big difference, though, in the back field. Bush and Walker were in the lower tier of the back field in people’s response to the debate, but are moving into a shared second place.

So, two things. First, Trump is still winning, and really is winning, the GOP race. Second, unscientific online polls seem in this case meaningful. The polls initially gave uncannily similar (not random) results, and the application of a more scientific methodology verifies them.

I quickly add this. This is not a prediction of who will win the GOP nomination, or who will win the election for President.

Nate Silver makes some excellent points about this question in this blog post. The bottom line is that polling at this stage, or even well into the primary process, does not predict either outcome very well. But I think Silver also misses an important point. These polls are not meaningless. If you view them as having only one function, predicting primary or general election outcomes, they are useless. But they do something else.

Polling at this stage in a presidential race is not about who is going to be President. Rather, such information is a good indicator of what people are thinking, how the politics are operating, how campaigns are doing, what issues are motivating people, and all that stuff. If you see polls early in the process this way, they are interesting. If you want to know who will be on the ballot in November (next November, not this November) or who will win, then … well, no.

Unscientific polls rocket Trump to way top spot.

Trump went into the GOP debate last night with a roughly 20% poll standing. Everyone will tell you to ignore polls early in this race, they never predict the outcome of a primary or a general election. That, however, is a non sequitur. We do not look at early polls to predict the distant future. We look at them to help understand the present, and to get a handle on what might happen over the next few weeks. The meaning of the polls shifts quite a bit before the first primaries, then they meaning of the polls has to be re-evaluated after every primary. At some point the re-evaluations start to return an end result like “Candidates A and B are in a horserace” or “Candidate A is the clear leader.” After that, you can get caught on a boat with your mistress, or you can be killed, and that can change things, but not much else does. Democrats believe in the Dark Horse but no one has ever captured one to my knowledge. But up until that point, polls are useful, and meaningful, if done scientifically, but no, the fact that they don’t predict an outcome over a year in advance is not a surprise and does not mean they don’t have interest or utility.

But what about unscientific polls?

Well, they are not scientific and thus not worthy. However, over the last few hours, several non-scientific polls, and in this case I mean internet polls where anybody who happens on a site can vote, have come out asking who won last night’s GOP primary.

If a bunch of unscientific polls that all return the same result become scientific, or at least, believable? That is a hypothesis I’d like to test with the current polling. It seems to me that if informal web based polls from across a spectrum of political orientation (of the site, not the poll clickers … we don’t know who the poll clickers are) all show similar results, then they might mean something. So, here is the hypothesis. If several informal polls show a very similar result, we expect to see that result reflected in the first scientific polls that come out.

I got poll results from the following sources (shown in order from left to right on the charts):

Right Scoop
Fox 5
Palm Beach Post
News OK

Sadly MNSNBC had a poll but it was fairly useless in the way it was conducted. Also, HT Politics had a poll with similar results as those above, but I found it after I’d made the graphs.

Trump was a clear winner in these polls.


Trump’s numbers ranged over several points, but are always higher than everyone else, and approached or met 50%. One hypothesis predicts that formal, scientific polls should have Trump as the front runner. Another hypothesis predicts that Trump’s numbers in a scientific poll should be between about 40% and 50%, give or take a few points.

The gaggle of low numbers is difficult to even see on this graph, so I made a second graph with everybody but Trump:


Here we see what looks to me like two tiers. Walker, Christie, Bush, Huckabere and Paul are all really low, while Cruz, Kasich, Carson and Rubio are all relatively high. Note how variable Cruz’s numbers are. But aside from Cruz, just as is the case with Trump, the results are fairly similar across the polls.

One hypothesis would then be that Walker will be shown as dead last in upcoming proper post debate polls. One could produce a number of other hypotheses as well, but it could get messy. Let’s try this hypothesis. Upcoming proper post debate polls will have a rank order statistically like this:


An additional hypothesis should probably be made, that the rank order for all the non-Trump candidates will be as shown. (This avoids the problem of having such a large magnitude of difference between the first and second rank).

There is one poll that I know of that was conducted by pollsters. It is by One America News Network, a conservative news agency that bills itself as “credible” (which is funny, why would you have to say that if you were that?)

If we take this poll by itself, most of the above suggested hypotheses are smashed. Here is the result of the poll questions “who won the debate” and “who lost the debate.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 2.02.20 PM

This poll asked questions of “Republican poll participants.” It shows Ben Carson beating Trump, and a lot less spread between leader and others than the on line polls indicated. Also, very few people thought Scott Walker, who was a big looser in the on line polls, had lost the debate. Generally, the rank order between this poll and the on line polls is different.

Reading the reporting of this poll, it looks a lot like a shill for Ben Carson. Details of the methodology are as follows:

Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a random survey of 904 registered Republican voters across the U.S. Questions included in the poll were focused only on the top ten GOP candidates that participated in the 9 PM ET debate. The poll has an overall margin of error of +/- 3%. The polls were conducted on August 6, immediately following the GOP debate using interactive voice response, IVR, technology. The poll was conducted exclusively for One America News Network.

I should add that the agency reporting the poll is owned by the company that commissioned the poll. Gravis, the pollsters, are used at Real Clear Politics. So I’m on the fence about the legitimacy of this poll and eagerly await other results.

The Tide is Turning on Climate Change

If you are running for office, note that the majority of Americans think global warming is real, important, and can and should be addressed by government.

This has been happening since two elections back, when we started to see candidates threatened, if only to a limited degree, based on an untenable position on climate change. Last election cycle this became even more important as organizations like ClimateHawksVote had remarkable successes in supporting climate hawk candidates — candidates that place climate change at the top of the list of important issues. Since then even more has happened, including changes in the way broadcast media addresses climate change (the false balance is melting away) and various and sundry activities in the US Congress (see this). All along the way polls have indicated that Americans are increasingly accepting of the consensus climate science, and increasingly concerned about climate change. Having 2014 as the warmest year on record, and all of the 10 or 15 warmest years (depending on how you like to count) having happened in the most recent decades has probably added to this.

Now, there is a new poll by the New York Times and Stanford University that shows that most Americans support “government action to curb global warming.” Not only that, but a large number of Republicans, who are generally directed by their leaders to not accept climate change science, are on board as well.

According to the poll, 78% of Americans believe that global warming will be a serious problem in the future. Only 10% think it is not serious at all. Similarly, 83% of Americans indicate that global warming will be serious world wide. 56% of Americans think global warming has hurt them personally, though most of them feel it has done so to a moderate amount or “a little.” 78% of Americans think global warming has not helped them. A full 85% of Americans think global warming will hurt future generations.

About 42% of those polled think that doing something in the US about global warming will help the US economy, 24% think it would be neutral, and only 30% think it would hurt.

Regarding elections, and candidates, 66% would be more likely (21% say no effect) to vote for a candidate that has a strong issue statement on global warming, saying it is real, matters, and that we need to shift to new forms of energy.

13% of Americans, by contrast, would be more likely to vote for a candidate that expresses the position that global warming is a hoax and a fraud. 67% would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

78% think greenhouse gasses should be limited.

The poll asks far more questions than I just summarized.

When these questions are asked of just Republicans, similar but weaker support for the reality of the science and the importance of taking action are found.

For example, when asked if global warming be a problem for the United States:

Of all respondents, 78% say somewhat to very serious. Of Republicans, 54% say somewhat to very serious. Also, among all respondants, among the youngest age group (18-29) 85% say somewhat to very serious, with 47% indicating very serious.

That pattern, with something close to a majority of Republicans, a strong majority of all respondents, and a very strong majority of younger respondents, stating that global warming is real, should be addressed, should require government action, and matters in their voting preferences, holds.

The bottom line is that accepting the science and calling for action is the position that will garner more support among Americans, though as expected, this does not hold for the Tea Party. A majority of Tea Party “members” do think global warming is serious, and even feel that it will hurt. But a strong majority also feel that if nothing is done to reduce global warming that this will not help future generations. A slim minority of Tea Parties would support a Climate Hawk candidate. Candidates claiming global warming is a hoax do not garner huge support from the Tea Party. But, 49% would be more likely to vote for a candidate who claims “I am not a scientist.” So I guess that ploy plays.