First, a word from Sam Wang from the Princeton Election Consortium. What constitutes a good poll?:

Holidays are over. I see that journalists, including poll aggregators, are still focused on the Presidential horserace. As Zenger at has pointed out, sites such as FiveThirtyEight are under economic pressure to attract traffic. And there is nothing to attract eyeballs like a crazy Presidential race. Still, from a substantive standpoint, it might be more appropriate to spend efforts on, I dunno…issues? See this excellent critique of media coverage by Jeff Jarvis, which includes a good hard whack at the media obsession with “balance” and polls – basically, tricks to let reporters escape engaging head-on with substantive issues. If journalists insist on horserace coverage, at least focus on downticket races in Senate, House, and even state legislatures – and maybe write about some issues along the way. These races will determine the power dynamic in 2017 under the new President, whoever she may be.


clinton-trumpJust to remind everyone, variations in this year’s race are quite narrow, consistent with the last 20 years of partisan polarization. Polarization has made both the GOP and Democratic nominees unacceptable to nearly all supporters of the other party. In addition, Donald Trump is radioactive to about one-fifth of his own party. As a result, this year’s race is full of melodrama, but numerically stable. In 2016, the Princeton Election Consortium’s state poll-based aggregate has only varied between a median outcome of 310 and 350 EV for Hillary Clinton.

The Meta-Margin, which is defined as the front-runner’s effective lead using Electoral College mechanisms, is a very low-noise and stable measure – as opposed to single polls, which can be all over the place. You should generally ignore single polls, especially ones that surprise you. The Meta-Margin has varied between Clinton +2.5% and Clinton +6.5%, and is now at Clinton +4.0%, close to the season average of 3.8%. If it left the 2.5-6.5% range, that would be interesting. That has not occurred yet.

Oh, who are we kidding? The lazy media only does horse race coverage. Just as a thought experiment, I would love to see one election cycle where no polls are allowed, and the media is forced to actually report on something other than polls and the horse race.  It’s never going to happen.

Today the Arizona Republic published a Morrison Institute/Cronkite News poll, “the first major independent statewide political poll in Arizona this election cycle. ” The poll was conducted mostly before Donald Trump’s immigration speech in Phoenix last week. This is a “baseline” pre-Labor Day poll. It will be the follow-up polls to this poll over the next two months to which you want to pay attention. Poll: Arizona a toss-up between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump:

Arizona is a too-close-to-call presidential battleground between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, according to a new statewide Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll.

likelyvotersThe live telephone survey found Clinton, the former secretary of State, leading Trump, the celebrity billionaire, 35.1 percent to 33.5 percent among likely voters in the traditional red state, well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Third-party candidates captured another 8 percent or so: Libertarian Gary Johnson was supported by 6.9 percent; Green Party nominee Jill Stein by 1.5 percent.

Another 22.9 percent haven’t decided yet.

planningtovoteBecause people were asked concretely about what they plan to do, the poll got to the heart of how many Arizonans are undecided about the presidential race, said Eric Hedberg, senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy. “I think that’s the big finding: There’s still the 20 percent out there who haven’t made up their minds.”

Even when undecided likely voters were asked who they were leaning toward supporting, the results remained similarly tight, with Clinton at 39.9 percent and Trump at 36.8 percent.

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The poll was conducted Aug. 17-31. The sample size was 704 likely voters.

The poll concluded the same day Trump delivered a hard-line immigration-policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center and before Clinton’s campaign targeted Arizona with an ad buy. It also was done before Trump reignited his feud with U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on Sunday by attacking the state’s junior senator on Twitter.

Other races polled by the Morrison Institute/Cronkite News poll included issues — the propositions on the ballot.

Prop. 205, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act initiative is ahead in the polls, but this comes with a caveat based on experience. I have seen many initiatives over the years with a slim poll lead this time of the year go down to defeat in November. This is not an impressive number, in my opinion. Prop. 205 is in a weak position. Poll: Half want to see marijuana legalized in Arizona:

Half of Arizona voters surveyed in a new poll favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while a sizable share remain undecided on the November ballot measure.

The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll found 50 percent of registered voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure and 10 percent are undecided. The poll surveyed 784 registered voters between Aug. 17 and Aug. 31. The margin of error is 3.4 percent.

* * *

prop-205On the question of marijuana legalization, voters broke along party lines with majorities of Democratic and independent voters supporting the proposal. Sixty-four percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independent voters.favored legalization of marijuana.

Republicans overwhelmingly said they would reject the measure, with nearly 56 percent opposed.

Young voters overwhelmingly supported marijuana legalization, the poll found, with support declining among older voters.

* * *

Men favored Prop. 205 more than women by about nine points. Political experts said the gender gap suggests the warnings about the potential perils of legalization could be more effective messaging with women than men.

Prop. 206, the Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families initiative, is in a much stronger starting position. Poll: Most Arizona voters buy a $12 minimum wage:

Arizona voters favor a hike in the state’s minimum wage by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, according to an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll.

Proposition 206 would gradually raise the starting pay to $12 an hour by 2020, beginning with a jump to $10 in January. The current wage is $8.05 an hour.

prop-206The poll, conducted while a court fight was still ongoing over whether the measure qualified for the ballot, found 61 percent of registered voters would support the wage hike; 31 percent were opposed. The remaining 8 percent were undecided.

* * *

The measure drew its strongest support from predictable quarters: 87 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of voters ages 18 to 35, and 65 percent of people with a high-school diploma or less.

But the idea was popular across nearly every demographic category, with majorities of both men and women, college-educated voters and voters of all ages backing the measure.

And in the Maricopa County race that the rest of Arizona can only watch, Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio is not particularly popular after costing county taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits, and recently being held in contempt of court by the U.S. District Court and a referral to the DOJ for criminal contempt prosecution. Poll suggests majority of Maricopa County voters view Sheriff Joe Arpaio unfavorably:

As Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs for re-election, a new poll finds that 57 percent of Maricopa County respondents had an unfavorable opinion of “America’s Most Corrupt Sheriff.”

A majority of Maricopa County registered voters surveyed in The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll view Sheriff Joe Arpaio unfavorably, potentially spelling trouble for his re-election bid.

Arpaio’s unpopularity appears stronger in Maricopa County, where voters will decide his fate, than in the rest of Arizona.


The poll found 57 percent of Maricopa County respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Arpaio, compared to 54 percent statewide. The poll, conducted Aug. 17-31, is the first released publicly that has surveyed registered voters since a federal judge referred Arpaio and top aides to the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges in a racial-profiling case.

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The latest poll also shows Arpaio is less popular among women and college-educated voters, and extremely unpopular with Democrats, Hispanics and young people.

For Penzone to prevail, he must win over independents, more than half of whom said in the latest poll that they view Arpaio negatively, and at least some Republicans. A small group of Republicans polled — about 8.5 percent — said they were undecided.

* * *

The poll interviewed 468 respondents in Maricopa County and 784 respondents statewide. The county-only portion of the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. The statewide portion has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

I want to believe that residents of the state of Maricopa will finally pull their heads out of their rear-ends and vote “America’s Most Corrupt Sheriff” out of office, but I have little reason to believe this. You have always disappointed in the past.