Friday, June 9, 2017

Georgia's 6th District

UPDATE as of 12:14 p.m. Friday

Here's an updated version of the AJC poll story with more methodological details, including this:
Abt Associates surveys for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are conducted by telephone. It called 1,000 registered voters in the 6th District in order to get a sample of 745 likely voters. Of those, 60 percent were reached on cellphones. The questions were asked by live interviewers, not an automated system.
So that's good, a "gold standard" type survey. I'd prefer to have the questionnaire or topline, but the story itself is full of interesting factoids on where Ossoff is getting his support and where Handel is struggling. Key missing data -- did the survey ask if people had already voted and, if so, who they voted for? Given the high early voting in this district, a good question to ask. Again, I prefer a link to the raw crosstabs and such. But I'm a polling nerd.

Also there's this graf:
The poll was conducted June 5-8 by Abt Associates and involved 1,000 registered voters. Of those polled, 46 percent identified themselves as Republican or Republican-leaning and 44 percent identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning.
I tried to find the party identification splits for this district to see how the poll lined up, but I didn't have much luck. Then again, I was in a rush. Party ID is fluid, of course, and goes up and down for a particular party depending on the way the political winds are blowing, and right now they're not blowing as well as the GOP would like, a Trump Effect. Keep in mind that 1,000 above is misleading as the analysis appears to be of 745 "likely voters" as the first quoted graf above notes. The story reports a 4 percent margin of error, but my math says it should be more like 3.6 percent, but being cautious is always a good thing.

-- original post below --

In the 25 or so years I've been a journalism prof in Georgia, I've learned you'll never go broke here betting on the Republican candidate in a race. I didn't buy the Hillary hype in the 2016 prez election, and I figured Karen Handel, the GOP nominee with decent name recognition, would win the 6th Congressional District race against newcomer John Ossoff.

New polls are, finally, convincing me otherwise.

The latest AJC poll has Ossoff up by 7 percentage points, 51-44. The poll has a 4-point margin of error, so technically you'd call this a statistical tie (that 44 could be as high as 48, that 51 as low as 47), but when taken in combination with an earlier WSB-TV poll that gave the Dem the edge, this difference is starting to look real.

I doubt the recent televised debate made any significant difference or caused this bump. Yeah, Ossoff looked a little better than Handel in that debate, but not so much so as to nudge voters one way or the other. Debates rarely matter. Hell, look at Trump. He lost the debates against Clinton and still won the election. Odds are the folks bothering to watch the 6th District debate had already made up their minds. Oh, and only 5 percent in the most recent poll say they're undecided. That's bad news for Handel, but it's hard to tell just how strong or soft Ossoff's support really is. We'll know more when the AJC releases its crosstabs.

Another factor in Ossoff's favor -- so many early voters. There's good reason to see them breaking Ossoff's way.

It's a fascinating race given Ossoff hasn't gone all anti-Trump, which you might expect, and Handel seems to have an infatuation with Nancy Pelosi that is frankly wearing thin on independent voters, the ones she desperately needs to win over. Her problem is she's about as good a campaigner as Theresa May in the U.K., meaning not at all.

I also can't comment much about the poll itself, its methodology, as not much was released. Was it a robo-poll? Did it call landline and cellphones? All I can tell at first glance is it was of 1,000 respondents.

Full disclosure: I don't live in the 6th Congressional District. Then again, neither does Ossoff. But he lives a lot closer than I do and in this special election that may just close enough to win him the seat.

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