By now you have probably heard that MoveOn.org conducted a poll that shows that the Democrats are going to take back the House because of the latest shutdown of the Federal Government. No need to panic, says Scott Lay, the Publisher of the Nooner, a California political newsletter.
Here is Lay’s breakdown of the MoveOn.org poll:
POLL POSITION: If you were near the Interwebs this weekend, you undoubtedly saw that left-leaning Public Policy Polling firm conducted a survey for MoveOn.org that found 17 vulnerable Republicans–enough for Democrats to take back the House in 2014–and four more that might be vulnerable if the voters were deciding next November on the basis of the shutdown. In each of 24 races (600-700 “voters per district”), the incumbent Republican was tested against a generic ballot Democrat. The poll was telephonic.
In California, the firm tested three candidates before and after a series of questions pinning the government shutdown blame on the Republican:
- •CD10: Jeff Denham 44% v. Generic Democrat 44% | after questions: Jeff Denham 44% v. Generic Democrat 48% [results]
•CD21: David Valadao 50% v. Generic Democrat 39% | after questions: David Valadao 50% v. Generic Democrat 40% [results]
•CD31: Gary Miller 39% v. Generic Democrat 51% | after questions: Gary Miller 39% v. Generic Democrat 48% [results]
Overall, the polling methodology looks okay, to the extent you buy-in to automated telephonic polling. Obviously, we just have to get used to the fact that the era of finding adequate samples of live callers is quickly passing. Most important is finding a sufficient sample and then weighting it for a fair projection of likely voter turnout in the subject election. For at least the three California races above, PPP’s turnout projections seem in the ballpark, projecting an older, whiter electorate than we saw in 2012. That said, it doesn’t mean that Nancy Pelosi can assume a net +2 in California. You still have the vulnerable Democrats (particularly CD36 and CD52), and Jeff Denham will be hard to beat.
The one number that looks significant is CD31, which I already have as Leans Democrat. Gary Miller’s voting past is much more Orange County than this part of Inland Empire, and he wouldn’t have won in 2012 had Dems had someone on the ballot. If Democrats can escape the primary without too much damage and show some unification behind the successful Dem, the district becomes Likely Democrat.
Valadao is holding strong at 50% both before and after arguments, while Denham’s number justified keeping the race a “Toss-up.”
Democrats are very likely to pick up seats in 2014, but to think that they can run the table on all offensive seats while keeping every defensive one is about as likely as the Kings to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Nevertheless, thank you to MoveOn.org for investing in the polling and releasing it.
[Side note on polling methodology: I am working on a review of California ballot measure polling results in 2012, and it seems that the strictly online "ballot format” poll conducted for the California Business Roundtable by Pepperdine and M4 Strategies may have been the most accurate, even with wild swings that were mocked by many. Of course, it was all about weighting the likely electorate, the most difficult part of polling.]