Sunday, September 27, 2015

Post #9:
The week of September 19 through 25.

GOP: The elephant in the room for poll watchers is "Have we seen Peak Trump?" I get my polls from two sources, the left leaning Pollster, run by Huffington Post, and the right-leaning Real Clear Politics website. If you click on either of their links, their view is that Peak Trump has happened in the past week or so, but my calculations using all the polls from both sites is that Peak Trump happened early this month. Our differing viewpoints have to do with three things.

1) Different sets of polls
2) Different weighting of polls
3) Once a week averages vs. running averages

No matter how you slice it, all three of us agree that The Trump Slump has begun, though it should be noticed he is still in first place by a comfortable margin, for now. We will discuss Trump's Deflategate as a separate topic with its own graphic soon. Here are a few other points worth mentioning first.

1. The GOP base is still hating politicians. Trump is waning and Carson's just about flat this week, but Carly Fiorina continues her surge and gets slightly above both JeB Bush and None of the Above. The totals right now are:

Non-politicians: 52.4%
Politicians: 36.7%
None of the Above: 9.9%

2. Walker is gone and nobody cares. Or do they? Scott Walker left before his campaign went into debt, just like Rick Perry. I wonder if the big ticket donors are now asking for itemized receipts? With Walker gone, the Koch Brothers are left without their first choice, and they have a lot of money to throw around. Who will get the lion's share and what positions will they have to "modify" to get the cash?

3. The None of the Above mini-surge: There are two best explanations for a rise in the average of None of the Above. The first is lazy polling and the second is that voters who have become disenchanted with the choice from early September haven't quite made up their minds as to who choice number two is.

4. JeB Bush is still much worse than Mitt ever was: JeB Bush has been just barely below None of eh Above for two straight weeks and even worse, he is the fourth most popular candidate right now. Mitt Romney never have more than one candidate above him in the national polls. There's a mini-trend that might make things even worse next week. JeB Bush is in jeopardy of becoming just a dotted line or even disappearing.
The slope graph of the Trump Slump: Again, let me note that Donald Trump is still in first place in the poll averages by more than ten percentage points. More than that, in 2012 there were plenty of candidates who had a few bad weeks then climbed back. But if we look at who has gained significantly from his peak early this month, here are the numbers. (Note: the positive moves add up to a lot more than Trump's shrinkage, but we aren't including other candidate's lost votes, notably the dropouts Rick Perry and Scott Walker.)

Trump: Down from 33.5% to 26.5%, 7 points lost
Fiorina: Up from 3.3% to 9.9%, 6.6 points gained
Carson: Up from 13.3% to 16.0%, 2.7 points gained

Rubio: Up from 5.3% to 7.9%, 2.6 points gained
None of the Above: 8.0% to 9.9%, 1.9 points gained

I've discussed None of the Above and the non-politicians already, but Marco Rubio is the guy below the radar that might just make Jeb Bush's live even more miserable soon. He's now saying there would be no path to citizenship ever in a Rubio administration, but I don't don't know how the red meat xenophobes are going to feel about this. Nate Silver believes Rubio is the eventual nominee, but I think the months of vitriol are going to give Ted Cruz the edge in the long run. While we disagree on many topics, Silver and I are both serious poll watchers and we've both given up on JeBush Bush. I never truly gave up on Romney for the nomination in 2012.   

Dems: Yes, it's a Hillary slump. She's still in first place and it's a slow leak, unlike the plummet of Donald Trump right now.  The only predictable things that can change things in a big way are the five way debate on October 13 or a definitive statement by Joe Biden, and I fully expect him to do what he has been saying, though not completely officially.

I don't think Biden will run.

Back next week with new numbers.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Post #8:
September 12 through 18

 The GOP: The pundits said Fiorina won the debate this week. Even John Hodgman in his live tweets said she had "flow" in her narrative. Of course, she lies completely about Planned Parenthood and wants to start wars with Russia and Iran, but being a lying warmonger doesn't set her apart from the crowd.

Having "flow" does.

So now the top three candidates in the GOP race are non-politicians, pulling in 53.9% of this week's average. With None of the Above currently at 7%, this means all politicians in the race add up to just less than 40%, and the top two in that crowd, the two Hispanic darlings Marco Rubio and JeBush Bush, are tied for fourth and fifth with 7.5%.

The chart's a little over-busy with seven colors, but Rubio hasn't been over None of the Above ever before, merely tied way back in late July. He has stayed consistently in the middle of the pack, jostling with Ted Cruz for best of the rest status. On the other hand, Scott Walker had several weeks well above None of the Above and his numbers have tanked completely and folks are talking about him as the next to drop out.

And then there's JeBush Bush. Some pundits compare his troubles to Hillary's but that is a bad comparison. She's wobbling around just under 50%, while Bush is tied for fourth and fifth. When I covered these numbers back in 2011, Romney never spent a week lower than the second choice. Now, he has a war chest - not as big as Ted Cruz's, only slightly bigger than Ben Carson's - and he's barely spent a quarter of it, but a lot of money isn't going to help if the primary voters get a bad case of We're Just Not That Into You.

And the word I haven't typed yet: Trump. He's clearly Not Dead Yet, but have we seen Peak Trump? This can only be the case if some other candidate has a clear surge, and right now that means Carly or Rubio or someone breaking out from below None of the Above. I am firmly in the I Don't Know camp, but I could see people getting tired of Trump's pompous bullshit in the long run. For me, the long run for getting tired of looking at Trump is between ten to twelve seconds, but I have a low bullshit tolerance.

The Dems: Every poll this week asked the sample about Biden and he's polling between 10% to 20%. The thing is, he hasn't announced and I don't think he will. He made a statement at an Hispanic heritage gathering where he compared Trump to the Know-Nothings of the late 19th Century. Nice to see someone get up on the stump and get the history right, but for the point I'm making here, the crowd got excited and started chanting "Bi-den! Bi-den!" and he repeated the word "no" several times. I don't think he's running and it will be interesting to see what happens when pollsters stop asking about him. (Sorry I can't provide a link. All the news outlets that broadcast the slamming of Trump edited out Biden refusing to be drafted by the crowd.)

I have a few Hillary supporter friends who I keep in touch with on Facebook, but all my progressive friends I talk to face to face are lukewarm on her at best. The general election is a long way away, but the big question is if Hillary can get people to be passionately for her instead of just passionately against the GOP nominee. That said, the news is pretty much unchanged, Hillary leading almost 2-1 and Sanders not going anywhere.

I'll be back next week to chart the GOP drama and the Democratic lack of same.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Post #7:
September 5 through 11

The GOP: In terms of the leaders, the news is the Ben Carson surge. Ted Cruz is flirting with getting above the None of the Above numbers, but his support is not rising as much as None of the Above is falling.

But the real news is that someone finally admitted the reality of a hopeless situation and dropped out of the race. Rick Perry and his Wonder Glasses are no longer to be mocked. I found a website that lists campaign contributions and spending, and Perry's numbers were about a million raised and less than half of that spent. (Where does the rest of that go? A weekend in Vegas?) Compare that to Jim Gilmore, who has spent $5,000 and hasn't raised as much money as I spend on a trip to the grocery store. I am completely mystified by his campaign. George Pataki is getting the same level of support in polls - averaging a steady 0.0% - but at least he's raised a quarter of a million and has most of it still on hand.
The Dems: Some of the press is latching on to the "Oooh, Hillary's in trouble!" theme, and I'll admit her numbers look like a slow leak. The numbers I'm not showing are Biden's, and I won't show him until he declares. Other than that, nothing really looks like a trend.

Back with more next week.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Post #6:
August 29 to September 4

 The GOP: This week is just more of the same. The top three candidates - the runaway leader Trump, the surging insurgent Ben Carson and the establishment favorite JeBush Bush, all saw gains, as did None of the Above. As you might guess, with all those percentage points being added to the leaders, there wasn't much chance for the people below None of the Above to show improvement. The only candidate down in the bottom tier to show any increase at all is Bobby Jindal going for 0.7% to 0.8%, and that's more like a hiccup than a trend.

It would be interesting to see how the Democrats would treat a celebrity candidate, but that will have to remain a thought experiment for the time being. As it stands this week, the numbers in the GOP are:

Non-politicians 50.1%
Politicians 41.9%
None of the above 8%

The conventional wisdom is still that Trump will fall, but so far every death knell has been nothing of the sort. I'm stunned that people don't just get tired of him, but I am pleased and proud to say I am clearly not his target market. Many other candidates are also throwing red meat to their angry constituency, but if we accept that there's a talent to being an asshole, the strong evidence is that Trump is a natural and the rest of these sphincters just don't have his skill level.

The Democrats: The news hasn't changed that much here, with Hillary still leading Bernie Sanders about two to one. The information I am "hiding" accord to my above None of the Above criterion is that Joe Biden is now well above that line at 15%. Back in August a lot of pollsters didn't include Biden as an option, but the last six polls have, and that is one of the reasons his numbers are improving. He hasn't caught Sanders once and on average trails Bernie by about 8 points. If I see a real improvement in his numbers, I'll show them, but I'd really rather look at the declared candidates.

I'll be back next week with more.