Interview: Ann Selzer stands by sampling method for primary polls

J. Ann Selzer has earned a reputation as “the best pollster in politics” through “old-school rigor” and not adjusting her data to fit guesses about the structure of the electorate. Des Moines-based Selzer & Co. is one of only five polling firms in the country currently rated A+ by FiveThirtyEight. Like many media pollsters, the firm uses a random digit dial method to find respondents for surveys about a primary or Iowa caucus. Most internal polls commissioned by campaigns draw the sample from a registered voter list, with an emphasis on past participants in either a Democratic or Republican nominating contest.

I sought comment from Selzer on her methodology because of Fred Hubbell’s and Cindy Axne’s unexpectedly large margins of victory in this year’s Iowa Democratic primary. In a telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland last week, Selzer explained why she will stick with her sampling method for future primary elections.

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The state of play in Iowa's most competitive Congressional race

It’s been too long since Bleeding Heartland checked in on the campaign in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Two-term Representative Rod Blum is not only our state’s most endangered U.S. House member, he is among the country’s most vulnerable GOP incumbents, according to leading election forecasters.

Recent revelations about Blum’s shady, undisclosed internet company may further undermine his election prospects. Tin Moon used Blum’s chief of staff in a fake testimonial, touted phony client “success stories” on its website, and solicited business by promising to make FDA warning letters harder to find in online searches.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidates should go back to the future

Jeff Cox sees one gubernatorial contender best positioned to help Democrats become the majority party again. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There is only one word to use when surveying the damage the Republicans are doing to Iowa and America: depressing. We need to keep our eye on the ball, though, and avoid being diverted into competitive name-calling with Republicans. We need to elect Democrats until we regain a majority at every level of government. In the present crisis, any Democratic victory is a win, no matter how awful the Democrat.

In addition to issuing an “all hands on deck” call to elect Democrats, we should also have a discussion about how we got into this mess of being a minority party at every level of government. We could do worse than look back to a period of history when Democrats were the natural party of government, the half century beginning in 1932.

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Can anything make Trump popular?

Guest author Dan Guild has closely followed American presidential polling and elections for decades. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Consider three quotes: “It’s the economy, stupid”–James Carville, 1992

“Events dear boy, events”–Attributed to British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan

“That the prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptibleIt makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain.”–Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513

I cannot prove Machiavelli had Donald Trump in mind when he wrote those words 500 years ago. But the polling is consistent (we will explore it in a later post) – after his first year Trump is one of the most hated politicians in American history.

This was true on election day in 2016, when only 38 percent had a favorable impression of him, the lowest rating any major presidential candidate has received since exit polling began. He did not get the typical boost most presidents get after being elected. His numbers have not improved despite what by some indications is a good economy. In fact, about 75 percent of polls taken since May 2017 find his approval rating within 3 points of his favorable rating in the election day exit.

So the question must be asked: can anything change the public’s impression of Donald Trump?

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