Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hillary Clinton Slumps in L.A. Times Daybreak Tracking Poll

The interesting thing is that the Clinton campaign is supposedly bombarding Donald Trump with millions and millions in attack ads, and her numbers are still falling. I'll update with some of the numbers on Hillary's ad campaign, but folks have been pointing it out on Twitter.

Here's LAT, "As Clinton stumbles, Trump takes an apparent slim lead in new tracking poll":
In the new tracking poll, through Thursday night, Trump led Clinton 43% to 40%. That’s within the poll’s margin of error of 3 points in either direction, meaning the apparent lead could be the result of chance.

By Friday morning, the poll, which will be updated every day through the election, was showing a decline in Trump’s lead.

The poll shows big gaps along the lines of race, gender, age and education that have surfaced consistently during the campaign. Through Thursday’s results, Trump led among men, 47%  to 36%, while Clinton had a smaller, 41%-34% edge among women. Trump led among voters 45 and older, Clinton among those younger.

Some of Trump’s strongest support comes from white voters who have not graduated from college, among whom he led 53% to 24%. Clinton, by contrast, dominates among minorities, leading 77% to 3% among blacks and 51% to 30% among Latinos.

Clinton also held a narrow edge among white college graduates, 42% to 40%. If she wins that group, Clinton would be the first Democrat to carry white college graduates since polls began asking such demographic questions in the early 1950s.

The poll also offers some support for a prediction that Trump’s backers have made – that he would appeal to disaffected voters who did not cast ballots in 2012.  Those who did not vote that year or voted for a minor-party candidate were more likely to favor Trump than Clinton, the poll indicated.

Although respondents to the poll narrowly favor Trump, they don’t necessarily expect him to win. In a separate question asking people who they think will prevail, Clinton led 53% to 41%.

Research has shown that that question often – although not always – forecasts election results more accurately than asking people their voting intention, particularly months before the vote is counted.

The Daybreak tracking poll differs from traditional polls in two major respects. Rather than questioning a different group of respondents for each poll, the survey relies on a panel, currently consisting of about 3,000 people recruited at random to represent U.S. households.

The panel is part of a larger Understanding America Study conducted by USC’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research. The election survey is being done in partnership with The Times and USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

Because of the panel design, “we have the same people every time, so changes in the poll are really people changing their minds,” rather than the result of variations in who answers a particular survey, said Arie Kapteyn, the director of the USC Dornsife center, who pioneered the approach for the 2012 election while at Rand Corp.

The panel design typically shows less volatility than traditional polls. Four years ago, it proved more accurate than most other surveys in forecasting the election result, although “maybe that was beginner’s luck,” Kapteyn said.

The other major difference is that the poll, using a 1-to-100 scale, asks respondents to say what the chance is that they will vote as well as the chance that they will cast a ballot for Clinton, for Trump or for another candidate. The results are weighted based on those probabilities, so that a voter who is 100% sure of his or her choice has more impact on the forecast than one who is 60% sure.

That approach is one way to resolve “one of the biggest problems that polls have – deciding who is going to vote,” Kapteyn said.

Most polls use several questions to try to determine who is a likely voter and make a forecast based on that, but efforts to predict likely voting are often wrong, particularly far in advance of the election. Employing probabilities means “you get to use all the data,”  Kapteyn said. In theory, that should lead to more reliable results...
Well, we'll see how accurate this is in less than three months.

I'm less skeptical of this poll than some of the others out currently showing Hillary with a "double-digit" lead over Trump. That sounds particularly far-fetched considering events of the last week and a half. There's too much violence, at home and abroad, and people have already been long upset by the gridlock and perceived economic stagnation. Voter anger is the most descriptive term for the times, and now we're adding fear -- real fear -- of more terrorism and political violence in the short term.

I'll have more on these trends later.

But see earlier, "Eight Years After Hope and Change, Voters are Angry, Anxious."