Margin Of Error: Breaking down the polls

Margin Of Error: Breaking down the polls

Ted who? Is Alexander best GOP shot to defeat Hagan?

Posted April 3, 2014

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— Ted Alexander, the former mayor of Shelby, is running in the crowded Republican field for the right to face U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan come November. Thus far, he has gotten little media attention, but could he be the best poised to win? 

According to Alexander, the answer is "yes."

In his recent television ad, Alexander starts by citing a poll from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, from March 11. He interprets the survey results as demonstrating that he is the most electable of all the GOP hopefuls. Mark Blumenthal of Huffington Pollster asked PPP polling director Tom Jenson if that was true.

Jensen answered, "no."

Jensen's reply was based on the fact that all GOP candidates polled about the same versus Hagan. While Alexander was +2 versus Hagan, none of the potential GOP candidates trailed Hagan by more than 2 percentage points either. The better-known candidates are House Speaker Thom Tillis, Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte and Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary. 

In short, anyone polling even four points better versus Hagan does not have a statistically distinguishable advantage since the margin of sampling error in the PPP poll – plus or minus 3.3 percentage points – was larger than the lead.

We also have new data since the PPP poll.

Time Warner Cable News 14 released a poll this week in which Harris, not Alexander, has the largest advantage over Hagan. Again, though, this does not mean Harris is the best candidate to face Hagan. All GOP hopefuls polled between 1 and 4 percentage points better than Hagan, and the margin of sampling error was +/-2.2 points, meaning no GOP candidate has a statistically significant advantage over another.

More importantly, perhaps, Alexander is unknown by most likely GOP voters.

About three-quarters of likely GOP voters said they had no opinion of Alexander or were "neutral" towards him. Just 6 or 7 percent say they would vote for him in the primary, according to Time Warner Cable News 14 and WRAL News polls, respectively.

Also, he has the smallest net favorability rating, which is the percentage who view him favorably minus the percentage who view him unfavorably. Brannon, Harris and Tillis, for example, have between 13 and 16 percent net favorability rating in the last WRAL News poll, while Alexander clocks in at a mere 8 percent.

Similarly, fewer respondents rated Alexander as favorable at all, with just 17 percent saying they had a favorable impression of him. By comparison, 34 percent say they have a favorable impression of Tillis, while 27 percent said the same about Brannon.

While the data don’t support Alexander’s assertion, it did get him more media attention, which, I suspect, was his primary goal in the first place.

1 Comment

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  • Grand Union Apr 3, 2014

    The GOP has already chosen Tillis and will make sure he way out spends his competition. In the bad old days politicians used to at least pay you personally for your they just give the money to the TV stations and wait for the sheep to starting bleating in tune.