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Poll Watch
April 17, 2019

There's trouble in swing country for President Trump.

Poll results released on Wednesday by Monmouth University show that voters in swing districts — where the margin between Trump and his 2016 presidential election opponent Hillary Clinton was less than 10 percentage points — actually disapprove of Trump's performance in the Oval Office at higher rates than voters in districts who supported Clinton by more than 10 percentage points.

The results appear to back up the Trump re-election campaign team's plan to focus heavily in areas like Michigan and Wisconsin, which were sites of some of the smallest gaps in the 2016 contest. Trump eked out surprising victories in both states.

However, the Monmouth poll doesn't provide polling data from individual districts. That 31 percent approval rating is the aggregate of every district where the race was decided by less than 10 percentage points, some of which Clinton won. The poll also does not stipulate whether the voters who disapprove of Trump also refuse to vote for him in 2020 — the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Still, the results illustrate Trump's potential vulnerability.

The poll was conducted via telephone April 11-15, interviewing 801 U.S. adults. The total margin of error is 3.5 percentage points, though the margin of error in swing counties is 7.8 percentage points. See more results at Monmouth. Tim O'Donnell

March 10, 2019

So far, it seems, Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) early campaigning is paying off.

The latest Iowa caucus poll conducted by the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Although Biden has yet to announce that he will even run, he earned the support of 27 percent of those polled. But Sanders, who was in Des Moines on Saturday, was close behind at 25 percent.

No other candidate even breached double digits. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) were next in line at 9 and 7 percent, respectively. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who like Biden has yet to announce his candidacy, and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) were the only other names to rise above 1 percent.

Biden and Sanders led in the last caucus poll in December, as well. Though at that time, Biden held a 13-point advantage over Sanders.

Per CNN, the Poll was conducted by Selzer and Co. in Des Moines from last Sunday through Wednesday among a random sample of 401 likely Democratic caucus-goers. The questioning took place over the phone. The margin for error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

March 4, 2019

President Trump is competitive in 2020 but there are flashing yellow lights, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday. Forty-one percent of registered voters said they would definitely or likely vote for Trump next year and 48 percent said they will definitely or likely vote for his Democratic challenger. Trump's approval rating ticked up to 46 percent, from 43 percent in January, however, and he retains a strong 88 percent approval from Republican voters. "It's a 45-55 against the president at this stage of the game," Democratic pollster Peter Hart told NBC News.

Trump won't face a generic Democrat, of course, and Democrats and the general public broadly agree on the qualities they want in the next president. The poll asked about 11 presidential characteristics, and the ones voters were most enthusiastic about or comfortable with were an African American (87 percent), white man (86 percent), woman (84 percent), gay or lesbian (68 percent), and an independent (60 percent). Least popular? A Muslim (49 percent — up from 32 percent in 2015), a person over 75 (37 percent), and a socialist (25 percent). Democrats were a little more enthusiastic about a socialist (45 percent) but not about a candidate over 75 (33 percent).

Republican pollster Bill McInturff told Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press that economic optimism and rising approval mean "the president's in the ballgame," pointing also to the 38 percent of voters so fed up they think the U.S. needs a third party — a post-1995 high. Democratic pollster Fred Yang said Trump "has to do everything to win it, and it may not be enough," noting that Trump's inability or unwillingness to expand his base of support may prove fatal for a president elected with 46 percent of the vote, especially if 2020 is a two-way race.

The WSJ/NBC News poll was conducted Feb. 24-27 among 900 adults, including 720 registered voters, about half by cellphone. The overall margin of error is ±3.3 percentage points, ±3.7 points for registered voters, ±6.3 points for Democratic primary voters, and ±6.8 points for GOP primary voters. Peter Weber

November 5, 2018

Democrats head into Tuesday's midterm elections with a 13-point lead over Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, according to a CNN/SSRS poll released Monday. The Democrats' 55 percent to 42 percent lead among likely voters is unchanged from early October, narrower than the party's lead before the 2006 Democratic wave election, and a little wider than the GOP's 10-point lead before its 2010 red wave, CNN says. Polls from NBC News/Wall Street Journal and ABC News/Washington Post released Sunday found Democrats with slimmer leads of 7 points and 8 points, respectively.

The Democrats' lead in the CNN poll is premised on lopsided support among women, independents, and black and Latino voters. About 42 percent of likely voters say their vote will be to register opposition to President Trump while 28 percent said it will be to support him. Trump's approval rating in the poll is 39 percent. Democrats have only a 4-point edge in voter enthusiasm. SRSS conducted the poll for CNN by phone Nov. 1-3 among 1,518 adults, including 1,151 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is ±3.1 percentage points for all adults, ±3.5 points for likely voters.

Polls notwithstanding, "on the cusp of Tuesday's vote, many Democrats are as anxious as they are hopeful," says Julie Pace at The Associated Press. "Their memories from 2016, when they watched in disbelief as Donald Trump defied polls, expectations, and political norms, are still fresh. And as Trump travels the country armed with a divisive and racially charged closing campaign message, the test for Democrats now feels at once similar and more urgent than it did two years ago: They failed to stop Trump then, what if they fall short again?" Saturday Night Live captured this tension in a bitingly on-point fake midterm commercial. You can watch below. Peter Weber

November 5, 2018

Two polls released Sunday show Democrats with a modest but not comfortable lead in voter preference for which party controls Congress. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found a 7-percentage point lead for Democrats, 50 percent to 43 percent, down from a 9-point lead in the previous poll. A Washington Post/ABC News poll recorded an 8-point lead for Democrats, 52 percent to 44 percent, but that's down from a 13-point lead in October. In both cases, Republican base voters have become more engaged and some independents have shifted to backing the Republican.

In the most competitive House races, both polls showed Democrats with a narrower lead — 5 points for Washington Post/ABC News, 3 points for WSJ/NBC News. Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster for the WSJ/NBC News poll, compared the results to a kaleidoscope: "Turn it one way, and the numbers suggest a good Democratic night. Turn it again, and it suggests the GOP might squeak through." The GOP pollster, Bill McInturff, said the race is "more competitive," but "for Republicans, it feels slightly short of where you'd want to be for a national election.''

"Polls aren't always right," FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver said on Sunday's ABC This Week. "If polls are right you would have a split outcome," with Democrats winning the House and Republicans keeping control of the Senate. He then explained why the polls might be wrong.

On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Chuck Todd highlighted the truism that the groups that turn out to vote will determine who wins.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters, including 744 likely voters, Nov. 1-3, and its margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points among registered voters, ±3.53 points among likely voters. The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 in English and Spanish by Langer Research Associates. It surveyed 1,041 registered voters and had a margin of sampling error of ±3.5 points. Peter Weber

October 30, 2018

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) has opened up a 6-point lead over GOP rival Rep. Martha McSally in Arizona's hard-fought Senate race, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday. In the same poll last month, Sinema led McSally by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent. Her current 50 percent to 44 percent lead among likely voters slips to 3 points when Green Party candidate Angela Green is included, Marist found.

Sinema's lead is fueled by lopsided support from women, Latinos, and independents. It is within the poll's ±5.4 percentage points margin of error for likely voters, and the RealClearPolitics average of polls, which doesn't include this one, has McSally up 0.7 points. "Arizona may play a pivotal role in determining the makeup of the next Senate," says Marists's Lee Miringoff. "Right now, the contest is very competitive." The poll was conducted by phone Oct. 23-27 among 793 registered voters and 506 likely voters, 44 percent of whom said they have already voted.

Lauren Passalacqua, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, tells FiveThirtyEight that this is "an exciting race because this is the first election cycle where you're seeing a lot of resources pulled into the state. Democrats closed the registration advantage that Republicans had." FiveThirtyEight gives Sinema a 5 in 8 shot at beating McSally, but Republican strategist Josh Holmes argues that "Sinema has taken on an awful lot of water in the last couple of weeks, and "it's still a very tight race. Republicans, to a person, feel like we have a superior candidate with better credentials and a better fit ideologically for the state." Peter Weber

October 30, 2018

The idea of a "blue wave" Nov. 6 has become something of a hackneyed punch line, thanks to overuse and also the Democrats' receding odds of flipping the Senate. But a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Monday showed Democrats with a wavelike 17-point advantage over Republicans on which party likely voters say they'll cast their ballot for next week. The 57 percent to 40 percent result represents a 4-point shift toward Democrats from a week earlier. The RealClearPolitics average shows Democrats with a smaller 7.6-point lead on the generic congressional ballot.

The eye-catching 17-point lead "may partly reflect timing," the Los Angeles Times notes. "The final two days of the poll coincided with the arrest on Friday of a Florida man on charges of sending explosive devices to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump, and the killing on Saturday of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh." But Republicans are pouring money into once-safe House races, and the rise in support for Democrats "stemmed from small shifts among several groups of voters," not just one segment of the electorate, the Times adds. The decisive group, however, could be the "'hold your nose and vote' brigade" that backed Trump in 2016 but "overwhelmingly favored the Democrats" this election.

In 2016, these "double negative" voters — who disliked the leaders of both parties — were mostly Republicans, but this year they are more often independent-leaning women, the Times says, according to the poll. Democrats also led Republicans by a narrower 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent, in a separate measure of how likely voters were to actually cast their ballot this year.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll surveyed 3,453 registered voters, 2,350 of whom were deemed likely to vote and 577 who already voted, Oct. 21-27. The margin of error was ±2 percentage points. Peter Weber

October 22, 2018

A CNN/SSRS poll of Florida's Senate and gubernatorial races released Sunday had some good news for Democrats that CNN says "could be an outlier" or "an indicator of renewed Democratic enthusiasm." In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, opened up a 12-point lead among likely voters over former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), 54 percent to 42 percent. Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has a smaller 5-point lead over Gov. Rick Scott (R), 50 percent to 45 percent, within the poll's margin of error.

The Democrats, especially Gillum, are being buoyed by lopsided advantages among women, younger voters, and non-white voters. The Republicans have a wide lead on the issue of the economy and the Democrats dominate on the issue of health care. Gillum and Scott are seen getting a boost from their responses to Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.

As CNN political analyst Mark Preston notes in the video below, the races are likely tighter than this poll suggests — according to the RealClearPolitics average, Gillum leads DeSantis by 3.7 percentage points, thanks largely to the boost from this CNN poll, and Nelson leads Scott by 1.3 points. FiveThirtyEight rates the Gillum-DeSantis race a "likely Democratic" pickup. Several reputable polls have registered greater Democratic enthusiasm.

SRSS conducted the CNN poll Oct. 16-20 on landlines and cellphones, contacting 1,012 adults, including 872 registered voters and 759 likely voters. The margin of error for registered voters is ±3.9 percentage points and for likely voters, ±4.2 points. "The Democratic advantages in the poll were similar across multiple versions of a likely voter model, including those driven more by interest in the campaign and those which placed stronger emphasis on past voting behavior," CNN notes. Peter Weber

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