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AL-02: Roll Call Displeased With SurveyUSA Poll

by: James L.

Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 6:28 PM EDT


Earlier in the week, we wrote about a recent SurveyUSA poll of Alabama's 2nd Congressional District that showed Republican Jay Love leading Democrat Bobby Bright by an unexpectedly wide margin: 56%-39%.

We wrote at the time that the poll, commissioned by Roll Call, didn't really pass the sniff test. Despite the 2nd District having an African-American population that makes up between 29 and 30% of the district, SurveyUSA pegged the black vote at only 16% of their voter screen. Other pollsters, including the reputable Democratic firm Anzalone-Liszt, peg the African-American vote at 10 points higher -- and consider that a conservative estimate given the historic nature of this year.

It now turns out that Roll Call itself was dissatisfied with SUSA's work:

The poll, according to SurveyUSA CEO Jay Leve, calculated black turnout at 16 percent. According to exit polling from the 2004 general election, black turnout in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District was 24 percent. Leve said black turnout was calculated at 16 percent because "that's what we got when we conducted the survey."

After the poll results were released by Roll Call on Tuesday, Roll Call asked SurveyUSA pollster Jay Leve to "re-weight" the results based on greater black turnout.

According to Leve, Love's lead shrinks to 50-44 if black turnout equals 2004 levels. It shrinks even more to 49-46 - within the 4 percent margin of error - if black turnout increases to 27 percent.

"I do not consider the Democrat concerns anything other than fairly voiced," Leve said. "It's important to understand that there is no way to know which number is closest to the truth, because the truth is hard to know. It is safe to say that depending on what the black turnout is, the Republican will either win by quite a bit, or the race may be very close."

"Democrat concerns". Heh, nice one.

As I said on Tuesday, it's very telling that even Jay Love's internal polling has shown this race to be neck-and-neck. Alabama pollsters with a long track record in statewide politics like Anzalone and the Capital Survey Research Center have both shown Bright leading by ten. Perhaps the race isn't quite as favorable for Bright as it was in early August (though there's no real reason for it not to be), but it's pretty clear that SurveyUSA popped out a dud -- plain and simple.

SSP currently rates this race as a Tossup.

(Hat-tip: Left in Alabama)

James L. :: AL-02: Roll Call Displeased With SurveyUSA Poll
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I Guess...
Jay Love can wipe that smirk off his face now.

Love v. Bright
This, in a nutshell, explains why so many polls have #'s that just don't pass the test...time and time again I have look at the tabs and they just don't fit..SUSA is just not reliable and they, like most of the pollsters, have a clear agenda to keep the pres. race and as many others as "close" as possible...Obama will get 313+ EV, Dems pick up 6-8 Sen. seats and 20+ house seats

[ Parent ]
Jay Leve is telling the truth
Here he is talking about the Texas Primary polling he did:

SurveyUSA makes no "forced" assumptions about the size or composition of any likely voter demographic group. We weight the overall universe of Texas adults to U.S. census, and let the sub-groups fall where they may.

What that means is: if, using the identical methodology from one tracking poll to another, the composition of Hispanics drops from 32% to 28%, it did so occurring naturally. In the same way, if the composition of seniors drops, it did so occurring naturally. If the number of likely voters increases 31% of adults on 2/19/08 to 35% of adults on 2/25/08, it did so occurring naturally. (same exact instrument used for both surveys).

Any one of these changes may indeed have happened by chance alone - because of random sampling - but when a couple of groups that could be aligned with support for one candidate appear to shrink simultaneously, it is possible to infer some diminished enthusiasm for that candidate. (Composition of Hispanics declined from 32% to 28%, and composition of voters age 50+ declined from 46% to 42%, from 2/18/08 SurveyUSA TX poll to 2/25/08 SurveyUSA TX poll).

In the same way, though on a separate point: SurveyUSA found in 2/25/08 survey that of 2,000 adults in Texas, 704 were likely to vote in the Democratic Primary, 484 were likely to vote in the Republican Primary. If you do ballpark math, you might (incorrectly) infer that Democrats are 45% more plentiful in TX than Republicans. They are not. But Democrats are more likely to tell SurveyUSA they have already voted, or are likely to vote, in the Texas Primary. That enthusiasm, or lack of enthusiasm, among certain groups, filters through to the final primary poll composition numbers.

The same exact survey instrument that produced 704 likely Democratic Primary voters and 484 likely Republican Primary voters, was also used to produce the following general election results (released today 2/26/08), which are based on registered TX voters, not likely primary voters. The number of registered Republicans and number of Registered democrats is approximately equal. (39% Republican, 38% Democrat).

In summary: in almost every case, by design, the water in a SurveyUSA poll seeks its own level, and as enthusiasm for a particular cause or candidate manifests itself, it flows through to our results (comment continues below image).


SUSA can get it wrong, and has in the past, but their refusal to make forced assumptions makes their polling much more credible IMO.

I agree
I generally like their methods.  In the end they tend to be the best polling outfit around.  But just as this poll shows, sometimes one or two falls way off the mark.

[ Parent ]
SurveyUSA is one of the best pollsters around
but they messed up big time on this one.

It's not that their numbers are wrong, it's that their crosstabs are.

This race is a tossup. This poll makes that clear when it's crosstabs are adjusted to fit reality.


Thought I misread...
The pollster's name is Jay Leve and the candidate's name is Jay Love?  Crazy freakin' coincidence.

Male, 23, DC-At Large

Yeah, same observation here.


party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Plus he refers to us as
The Democrat Party.  Straight out of the republican talking points.

[ Parent ]
Straight out of
the Republic talking points.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Wha...........................oh, I get it. That is kinda clever. n/t


[ Parent ]

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