Margin Of Error: Breaking down the polls

Margin Of Error: Breaking down the polls

Trump(ed): Reading the fine print

Posted September 9, 2015

Billionaire businessman, developer and reality show host Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would join the growing field of candidates for president.

— Sometimes you need to read the fine print. The product looks reasonable, but you're going to dislike the ingredients.

Such is the case for a recent Survey USA poll indicating Republican front-runner Donald Trump is slightly preferable compared to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical November 2016 matchup. One way to gain or lose confidence in a poll result is to examine "the internals," or how sub-groups are behaving.

According to the Survey USA poll, Trump leads Clinton 45 percent to 40 percent among registered voters, with 16 percent undecided. While that result is certainly possible, the results broken down by respondents' race raise questions.

Survey USA found that 25 percent of African-Americans say they would vote for Trump rather than Clinton. Let's put that percentage into perspective. All Democratic nominees for president, white or President Obama, have won about 90 percent or more of the African-American vote in the last 50 years. There are no reasons to think that will change next year.

Curiously, that same poll found 31 percent of Hispanics would vote for Trump over Clinton. I'm not sure it is reasonable to expect about one-third of Hispanics to vote for the Trump, especially since Republican Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012. Why would Trump equal or exceed that figure?

Gallup Tracking Poll: Hispanics' Views of GOP Presidential Contenter

Trump has been heavily criticized in Hispanic media for his claims about immigration. He is openly mocking GOP rival Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish at election events. And he is the same candidate, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, that is disliked by a whopping 75 percent of Hispanics – just 16 percent of Hispanics reported having a favorable opinion of Trump in that poll. According to Gallup, Trump's has a massive negative 51 percentage point net favorability rating among Hispanics, which is more than 40 points worse the next most disliked Republican candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz.

So, is Trump really ahead of Clinton? The overall Survey USA results are not radically different from all other recent polls. But the election isn't held today, nor tomorrow or any day soon. You shouldn't give too much credence to a general election poll this far away from November 2016.

Remember President Giuliani?

No, I don't either, but he was the "presumed front-runner" for the GOP nomination around this time in 2007. Sen. John McCain went on to win the nomination in 2008. And don't forget, Clinton was supposed to be the Democratic Party's nominee in 2008 – thanks Obama. Most Americans are not yet engaged with the political process, and they barely know most of the potential candidates, so their answers aren't stable, and they aren't the same people who will actually vote.

I don't know why this poll has overall findings similar to other ones when their results by race are, at best, highly questionable. One possibility is that Survey USA has polled non-whites who are less likely to be Democrats than in reality. Republicans tend to vote for Republicans, after all, and vice versa. Another possibility is that non-whites are "punking" the poll, deliberately reporting attitudes they don't honestly hold. I have no evidence that is happening. The real mystery, though, is why Trump isn't leading by more on that poll, if those results for non-whites are accurate.

9 Comments

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  • Lowrance Infom Sep 9, 2015
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    Do not inject logic into the argument. It causes 'libsizzle", a condition caused by reading comments such as yours thus causing tremors and drooling as their brain desperately searches for a response and finds none.

  • Lowrance Infom Sep 9, 2015
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    Spoken like a true liberal yankee. I rather like the turmoil he is creating. And I can tell you from talking with a lot of people daily that the 25 % black people liking him number is probably accurate. The democrat party takes the black vote for granted and they are the party that screws them the most. Most black people I know are pretty smart and work as hard as the rest of us, and I think they like the straight up, edgy style Trump presents.
    So get ready for your move to France.

  • John Tavolacci Sep 9, 2015
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    Donald Trump President OMG.... I would take my chances with Socialism any day then have Donald Trump as our President... God Help Us..

  • Johnny Byrd Sep 9, 2015
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    It becomes more evident everyday with articles like this one where the Liberals (WRAL and comany) grow more and more fearful of "The Don"
    Face it libs, the general public, including all races, are waking up to the true dangers of Socialistic progressive liberalism that has been and still being pushed by the Democratic party. Heck, a self proclaimed Socialist is about to pass Hillary in the polls and socialism and Marxism all but destroyed Europe in the past and is currently wreaking havoc again over there.

  • Brenda Bender Sep 9, 2015
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    I believe it was the GOP that removed the straight ticket ballot because they knew their voters were informed enough to mark more than one box.

  • Sam Nada Sep 9, 2015
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    To the contrary, they can think for themselves, and therefore, vote for there own best interests. Unlike those on the right who are told what to think and how to vote by Fox and Limbaugh.

  • Rob Creekmore Sep 9, 2015
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    Trump and Clinton are equally terrible.

  • Charles Phillips Sep 9, 2015
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    isn't it funny that they just magically assume that all african americans will vote democrat....as if they can't think for themselves

  • Dean Logan Sep 9, 2015
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    Since after Johnson.
    Maybe they have finally realized that they are being had by the Democrat party, which is now moving on to get the illegal alien vote.