June 5th, 2013 · Blog, Company News, Issues, News
Beyond these recent electoral successes, we are continuing to work closely with our current clients in providing them accurate polling data, messaging and strategic advice as they pursue their objectives. Let us know how we can help you deal with your public opinion research needs.
- Electing State Senator Curren Price to the Los Angeles City Council in District 9 – We worked closely with Curren and his team in providing polling, messaging and targeting strategy in this come-from-behind victory. The State Senator began the race a distant 4th and surged to finish 1st in the primary and then carried that momentum to win a hard-fought general election. Tulchin had also worked closely with Curren when he came from behind to win his State Senate seat in a special election in 2009.
- Helping guide Assemblywoman Norma Torres to capturing a State Senate special election in California – We provided multiple rounds of polling in both the primary and run-off for an effective IE as Norma won this Inland Empire-based district and defeated a well-known local Republican mayor to ensure Democrats maintain their 2/3 super-majority in the State Legislature. Despite an unpredictably low turnout in this special election that risked tilting against Democrats, our polling was spot-on and accurately predicted her margin of victory in both the primary and general. Tulchin also polled for Torres when she first won her seat for Assembly.
- Working with Dallas City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi – We are polling for and providing ongoing strategic counsel to Bobby Abtahi’s campaign for Dallas City Council in District 14. A political newcomer, Bobby entered a crowded field with limited name ID. Drawing upon our research findings, we worked with the campaign to develop a strategic blueprint and build a winning coalition that enabled Bobby to leapfrog several better known opponents and finish a strong second place, shocking the political establishment and heading into the run-off with momentum.
- Accurately predicting the outcomes of a medical marijuana ballot measure and the Mayor's race in Los Angeles - With polling data all over the place in the competitive LA mayor's race and the multiple medical marijuana measures on the ballot, our polling accurately predicted Eric Garcetti would win the mayor's race by a narrow margin and that Proposition D, which limits the number of marijuana dispensaries and raises taxes by a small amount on medicinal pot, would win by a comfortable margin.
- Defending California's Senate Democratic Supermajority – We are polling on behalf of an IE in the California State Senate District 16 special election to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Michael Rubio. In an open primary field with three Democrats and only one Republican, our research helped guide a successful effort to significantly boost Democrat Leticia Perez's support among Latinos to force a run-off and deny victory to a Tea Party Republican.
October 29th, 2012 · News
In a New Capitol Weekly Article, Pollster Ben Tulchin Breaks Down What You Need to Know as a Consumer of Polling DataTo paraphrase a line from the movie “Hustle & Flow” and its soundtrack, it is hard out here for a pollster these days. Between declining landline participation rates, the steady rise of cell phone use, the prevalence of cheap “robo polls”, the emergence of on-line polling, the “top-two” primary system in California that has resulted in candidates from the same party facing off in November, and a lot of noise due to the ever-increasing amount of polling data available (some good, some not so good), the pressure on a pollster to figure out what is really going on has never been greater at any time since polling established itself as a required and necessary component of modern-day campaigns. So what are pollsters and the campaigns and political junkies that rely on them to do this election? Now let me address some of the main challenges facing pollsters and consumers of polling data. Landline vs. cell phones – This is a legitimate challenge as many as 1/3 of households have cell phones and no landline and this number is rising every year. Furthermore, those who have cell phones are disproportionately younger and urban (and include many voters of color) and tend to vote more Democratic. It’s more difficult and expensive to call cell phones as pollsters have to manually dial these numbers unlike with landlines where we can auto-dial them. Based on my own polling as well as studying polls from around the country, especially on the presidential race, undersampling cell phones can undercount support for Democratic candidates, especially in districts with large urban and minority populations. The good news is that pollsters can call cell phones. In fact, cell phone numbers are on the voter file, so when doing voter surveys drawn from lists of voters, it is feasible to call both landlines and cell phones with surveys done using live callers. Most legitimate pollsters call cell phones, though some may not or may call fewer than they should to save costs and this could have an impact on the results. California’s new “Top 2” system – If anyone tells you they know how these top 2 races will play out when two candidates from the same party face each other in November, do not believe them. We are in total unchartered waters on this. In races where two Republicans are facing off against one another, it is impossible to predict how Democrats or no party preference voters are going to behave. The same goes for two Democrats running against each other and how Republican and no party preference voters will vote. These voters appear to be up for grabs, but many may not cast a ballot in the race. So the key to look for on election night is just how many votes are cast in these “top 2” races to see if voters from the odd-party-out choose a candidate or take a pass on the race. Robo-polls (also known as “IVR” (Instant Voice Recognition) – Some are good; some are bad. The two biggest problems with this methodology is robo-polls can’t call cell phones (see above) and, since they are automated, there is no way to confirm the person on the other end is who they say they are (e.g. male or female). To be fair, some robo-polls have been fairly accurate over the years – their track record is better closer to the election when voters have heard more about the candidates or ballot measure. But there are some really bad ones. Rasmussen Reports, for example is evil, pure evil. They are not real pollsters. They do not try to make their surveys representative. Instead, they are pushing an agenda by putting out polls that tilt heavily conservative and Republican in an effort to shape the broader political narrative. If there is one thing you take away from this column, it is to PLEASE disavow polls done by Rasmussen Reports and to tell everyone you know that they are bogus. Online surveys – Surveys conducted online are an emerging trend in the polling business. While some traditional pollsters look at online polls skeptically, I believe there is a place for them in our profession and they could very well be the dominant methodology in the future. At present, they are still a developing field and their results now sometimes diverge from telephone surveys. Therefore, this election will be an important test for them to see how online results compare to traditional telephone surveys in predicting the outcome of elections. Most interesting to watch will be how they perform in assessing ballot measures, since they offer a potentially more realistic way of having voters “read” a ballot measure and then “voting” on it online as opposed to having to listen to what is often complicated language over the phone and trying to decide on the spot whether to support or oppose a measure. So stay tuned for the results on this. Presidential polling – The Super Bowl of campaigns, and much of the political world and polling are focused on the presidential race. This year, there is a preponderance of polls and it’s a close election, making polling all that more relevant and interesting. At least that’s what all the polls tell us! So what’s to make of all the polls on the presidential race (national polls, swing state polls, etc.)? Well, since all polls have a margin of error, it is impossible to say which poll is right. Nevertheless, I recommend using the lessons above as your guide – rely on quality pollsters that call both landline and cell phones and which use live callers; reference multiple polls to compare results; and don’t watch them every day but rather every few days, since polls can bounce around day to day due to statistical variance.
The bottom line is polling still works when done right. But remember, polls are a snap shot in time and they have a margin of error, so factor that in when interpreting the results. Above all, like with most things, polling is perfectly healthy as long as it is consumed in moderation.
The original article can be read on the Capitol Weekly Website.
California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and Tulchin Research Release Results of New Statewide Poll on California Latino Voters’ Environmental Values
October 4th, 2012 · News
Poll Finds Conservation is a Core Latino ValueLOS ANGELES & OAKLAND, Calif. (October 4, 2012) – Today the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund released the results of a new poll of California Latino voters on their environmental values, which found that two-thirds of Latino voters identify as conservationists and overwhelmingly believe we can “protect the environment and create jobs at the same time.” The statewide survey found Latino voters support “conservation” on a range of issues, believe we can simultaneously protect the environment and create jobs, and personally identify with conservation as a value. “This new data leaves no doubt that Latino voters are a core constituency for the conservation and environmental movement here in California,” said Sarah Rose, CEO of CLCV Education Fund. “The results will help advocates for the environment and Latino communities more effectively communicate with voters and encourage better environmental leadership from elected leaders who represent this important and growing segment of the electorate.” CLCV Education Fund will hold a series of public forums in Oakland (October 4), Fresno (October 10), Los Angeles (October 17) and San Diego (October 24) with regional leaders to discuss the results of the poll and next steps; more information is available at www.clcvedfund.org/. Key Findings Overall, the statewide survey found Latino voters support “conservation” on a range of issues, believe we can both protect the environment and create jobs and do not view any conflict between those two objectives, and indicate a personal identification with conservation as a value. Notably:
- Latino voters overwhelmingly agree (90 percent) that we can “protect the environment and create jobs at the same time”, with 69 percent in strong agreement with that statement while only eight percent disagree and the remaining two percent are undecided;
- Two-thirds of Latino voters (66 percent) consider themselves “conservationists”, with nearly three out of 10 (28 percent) strongly self-identifying as conservationists;
- Toxic pollution (85 percent serious problem, 54 percent very serious problem), water pollution (80 percent serious problem, 43 percent very serious problem), and “pollution threatening your family’s health and well being” rate as the top environmental concerns among Latinos;
- Nearly two-thirds of Latino voters (65 percent) believe conserving our fish and wildlife habitats is a serious concern—noticeably higher than other groups of voters in California;
- A quarter of Latinos (25 percent) have at least one household member suffering from asthma, and these voters are even more concerned about toxic pollution affecting their family’s health as well as other conservation issues;
- In continuing the strong support for conservation theme, nearly all Latinos support energy conservation (96 percent support, 65 percent strongly support);
- Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are also very popular (91 percent support, 68 percent strongly);
- Conversely, Latinos show far lower support for polluting energy sources, with a majority of Latinos opposing drilling off the California coast (51 percent oppose).
September 28th, 2012 · Blog, Issues, News, Poll release
New California Statewide Poll Finds Strong Support for Alternatives to Jail for Non-Violent Offenders, Strong Opposition to Building More JailsTulchin Research recently conducted a statewide survey among likely California voters to assess public opinion toward budget priorities and criminal justice issues one year into the state’s “realignment” plan to shift certain public safety responsibilities and resources to the counties. In general, voters believe our elected officials should invest much more into alternatives to incarceration than they are doing now and they do not want taxpayer dollars used to build more prisons and jails.Specifically, voters in California strongly support reforming pre-trial release policies to require supervised monitoring in the community instead of jail while awaiting trial and they are willing to hold elected officials accountable for not supporting this reform. The key points from the survey are as follows.
- Voters fundamentally believe that “our prisons and jails are overcrowded and we should find other ways to hold people accountable for non-violent offenses” as nearly four out of five voters (78 percent) agree with this statement to only 15 percent who disagree. The remaining seven percent are undecided.
- In deciding how to spend law enforcement budgets, California voters demand that the state and counties should “invest in more prevention and alternatives to jail for non-violent offenders” as three quarters (75 percent) share this view to only one out of six (12 percent) who feel the state and counties should “build more prisons and jails”.
- In looking at specific policy options for alternatives to incarceration, a solid majority of voters (70 percent) favors allowing courts to require supervised monitoring in the community for people charged with non-violent offenses instead of jail while awaiting trial. In fact, twice as many voters strongly support this reform than oppose it in total (39 percent strongly support this proposal compared to 19 percent who either strongly or somewhat oppose it), with the remaining 11 percent undecided. The table below shows the specific percentages in support as well as the exact question language that we used.
- The survey presented to voters a hypothetical match-up between two potential candidates for the State Legislature – one candidate who voted in favor of allowing more monitoring in the community instead of jail for people awaiting trial for non-violent offenses running against a candidate who voted against this proposal. The reform candidate won by a nearly 3-to-1 margin with 63 percent to only 23 percent for the candidate opposing the reform. The reform candidate drew bipartisan support and led among Democrats (74 percent to 14 percent), independents (64 percent to 22 percent) and even Republicans (46 percent to 36 percent).
August 23rd, 2012 · Blog, Issues, News, Poll release