Caveat Emptor: It appears we’re in bullshit poll season…

It strongly appears both Mississippi and Louisiana have highly questionable polling make the news cycle, happening first in Louisiana:

Support for Trump in Louisiana plunges, poll says: See results, how that impacts governor’s race ~ Tyler Bridges

In an ensuing conversation about that story on Twitter the one thing we agreed upon was that there was not enough information provided about the polling methodology to determine if the poll was BS or held some validity though the results seems way off kilter based on Louisiana being almost a Ruby Red State.

Tim Morris at the Times Picayune picked up on that citing another pollster (Morning Consult) which had some drastically different numbers. Worth noting is the Advocate’s pollster, Market Research Insight is a B+ rated polling company according to Five Thirty Eight while Morning Consult rates a B- so we are at least in apples to apples territory comparing them.

Dan Fagan, an unofficial Louisiana Republican Party Spokesperson, was more direct and revealed where the Market Research Poll likely went off the tracks:

Kennedy says only half of black respondents said they would vote for Edwards in the fall. Kennedy says typically, 90% of blacks vote Democrat, so he adjusted the African American response in his poll from 50% to 90%.

Having pulled statistical samples a few times myself I recognize that particular technique but I also understand that essentially changing the answer you get from a sample increases the risk of bias in a major way. According to both Fagan and Morris Louisiana Republicans are claiming the numbers were cooked to keep Trump out of the Louisiana Governor’s Race. I personally believe the Market research Poll must have one or more fatal flaws.

Here in Mississippi Yall Politics is trumpeting a Tate Reeves poll which shows him owning every other candidate handily. In political circles it is well known that former Chief Justice Waller jumped into the Governor’s race on the GOP side because they perceive Tate Reeves would be vulnerable to Attorney General Jim Hood in the general election and that has been born out in the polling done to this point. Early this week Adam Ganucheau of Mississippi Today filed a story on Waller visiting Hattiesburg that included this quote from Willis Lott:

“I’m supporting Bill Waller because he has a vision for a better Mississippi,” Willis Lott, former president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, told a reporter as the breakfast group listened. “Tate Reeves, in his years as lieutenant governor, has not shown that he has a vision. Plus he’s arrogant, and a lot of people know it.”

Willis Lott is neither a blow hard-lightweight or known for calling people arrogant as Higher Education Presidents typically are very temperate in their choice of words. His choice of words is therefore stunning.

Lott’s analysis of Reeves should not surprise anyone that reads the comments at Jackson Jambalaya or can hold a frank discussion with GOP insiders. People think that Tate Reeves is an asshole and his major problem is too many people that feel that way are in Reeves own political party. These folks would never vote for Jim Hood but they would stay home from the polls or leave the race blank on their ballots. You see the sentiment expressed over and over in comments that have too much detail to be BS.

Years ago Tater’s uncle came to me and asked me to support his nephew, a young banker, who was going into politics. I did and I’ve watch the boy turn from a nice young man into an arrogant A**

What were the results of the Reeves poll as it regarded a hypothetical general election match up with Hood?

56% of the respondents identified themselves as Republicans while 36% identified as Democrats. Impact also asked who voters preferred in the general election. Bill Waller, Jr. beat Attorney General Jim Hood 43%-36% while 17% were undecided. Tate Reeves beat Mr. Hood 48%-36% while 12% were undecided.

We also gets lots of information on the sampling and the problem immediately comes clear:

51% of the voters were female while 49% were male. 26% were black. 40% were over the age of 65 years old. 50% identified as Republicans while 28% identified as Democrats.

Mississippi African Americans are significantly under represented in the survey. Stratified polling is a method of probability sampling which sub-populations within an overall population are identified and included in the sample selected in a balanced way. In layman’s terms when a population is polled you want your sample to look like the community in order to get the most accurate results. Worth noting is African Americans make up about 38% of Mississippi’s population. It raises the fundamental question of bias impacting the results. A poll released in May by Jim Hood’s campaign show Hood’s support at 45% to Reeves 40% while Reeves shows him up 51% to 36%. The difference in the numbers means someone is paying for and publicizing bullshit. Here is what Reeves said about his poll:

In that survey, Reeves’ strength against Hood was attributed to Mississippi voters’ being “satisfied both with the accomplishments of the (Gov. Phil) Bryant-Reeves years and with President Trump’s leadership in Washington,” the pollster wrote to the Reeves campaign. “By a 2:1 margin, Mississippi voters think the state is on the right track.”

Meantime Millsaps and Chism Strategies have been conducting quarterly nonpartisan polling in Mississippi for quite some time and their April survey does not match what Reeves is saying about the mood of the State’s voters:

Our April survey finds that 37% say that the state is heading in the right direction while 35% believe we are on the wrong track. 28% are unsure. As with the six previous State of the State Surveys, we can see sharp divisions within the electorate as they consider the state’s direction. First, young voters are less optimistic than older voters when it comes to the state’s trajectory: 18 to 34 (-16%) and 35 to 44 (-20%) think the state is heading in the wrong direction while voters 55 to 64 (+10%) and 65 and older (+24%) see it heading in the right direction. Second, men (+24%) and women (+4%) in the electorate have differing views on the state’s direction. Similarly, partisan affiliation presents sharp contrasts in perceptions about the state’s direction with Strong Republicans (+50%) and Republican Leaners (+30%) expressing greater optimism and Strong Democrats (-37%), Democratic Leaners (-38%), and Independents (-10%) appearing to be considerably more pessimistic. Lastly, stark contrasts are apparent among voters based upon race, with white voters (+31%) thinking the state is on the right track while black voters (-34%) believe the state is heading in the wrong direction.

While is is true the populace as a whole likes Phil Bryant their view of the job the legislature did is considerably darker:

Voter evaluations of the state legislature as a whole have improved slightly since our January 2019 poll, although the legislature still posts a net -17% disapproval rate this quarter, which is a drop from the seven-quarter average of -13% dating back to September 2017 in our first measurement of legislative approval.

I do not think those numbers have moved much since April and it points out what seem to be major contradictions between how Reeves is spinning his numbers and the results obtained by public opinion pollsters without a horse in the game.

None of this means Tate Reeves will lose the primary in August as he has a ton of special interest cash to spend and a major advantage in name recognition over Waller. It also remains true that Reeves has made a ton of enemies in his own party and Jim Hood has to be salivating at the specter of a general election match-up with him.

9 thoughts on “Caveat Emptor: It appears we’re in bullshit poll season…”

  1. Great discussion Doug. The polling involved with Yall Politics polling will always be slanted as they have kissed Reeves ass for a decade.
    I will disclose that I am a registered Republican.
    Having said that, Reeves has the big money political machine of the state backing him while Waller doesn’t. (Kind of reminiscent of a question you asked a while back regarding the difference between a candidate that receives big money from less donors vs. one that receives less money from more donors)
    Waller suffers from lack of name recognition on the coast and if this election is similar to the Lt. Governor’s race 8 years ago we are screwed. That is when Reeves handily beat Hewes in the lower 3 counties though Hewes had represented the Gulfport area for years.
    I have a issues with Hood and they are not because he’ a Democrat. He decided to move the A. G.’s office to his hometown of Houston and ended up leasing office space from a building his father owned, with the main issue being that his leadership of the office was affected by his chosen office location. That showed an arrogance to me that I can’t ignore.
    The best news that will come out of this election is the fact that Tate can no longer contract the Senate. The governor in this state can only request legislation and veto bills that he doesn’t like. The grip that Barbour had over the legislature will never be repeated in this state.
    If Reeves wins the Republican primary we might be in for a treat as he goes head to head with Hood. The one thing that I know for sure is that I could not vote for Reeves regardless of his opponent.

    I apologize as I jumped around a lot in my post, but I’m in a bit of a rush.

  2. Great post Handshoe. Whenever I see the commercial re: Reeves & how he never will forget the Coast I am sickened to my core. Following the money to Reeves makes me even sicker. CF has many good points & like him, I will not vote for Tate Reeves. Come August I will vote for Waller & if that means Jim Hood in November so be it. His Arrogance Meter is registering less.

    1. I think Waller would run very competitively with Jim Hood. Tate Reeves not so much. As an undecided I want to see the best possible match-up in November and that would be Waller v Hood.

      1. Doug-Do you have a theory as to why when your topic of discussion leaves the confines of Hancock or Jackson County it’s crickets 🦗?

        Just wondering.

        1. We still have a bunch of lurkers from greater NOLA that comment on Jeff Parish doings.

          People comment on their interests as a general rule. Of late I’ve been writing on what interests me. Commenters are nice but more important are who is reading. This post is a classic example. Crickets from the local peanut gallery and a lot of interest out of Jackson metro.

          I got a nice email today telling me to have someone at today’s Supervisor meeting. People still think newsgathering is free. Without my day job there would be no Slabbed.

          Speaking of free, I have an OpEd from Haley Barbour in my inbox. Maybe I’ll run it for the folks up in Jackson.

          1. Please publish the OpEd or share the origin of it.
            I guess I wish some people would look more into the true foolishness that goes on in Jackson. The 5 years I spent in that hell hole was truly eye opening.
            They all speak of how time consuming the “people’s” work is yet do nothing but eat and drink for the majority of the session and try to cram the few bills that are still alive through at the deadlines.
            They do spend a lot of time trying to add pet projects to legislation that is far from germane to the original piece.
            The majority of the work done on appropriations is handled by 20 something year olds that have little to no understanding of the agencies of which they are dropping bills for.
            I guess the fact that it is 3 hours away does impact the amount of understanding that people on the coast have and I would probably be the same if I wouldn’t have done my tour of duty up there.
            I do ask that everyone try and educate themselves on the next governor’s race because big roadside signs and a bombardment of political ads tell a truly different story than what Mississippi might be in store for.

        2. CF, In Hancock County we get little to no media coverage on our local politics. We have a lot of good stuff happening but there is a lot more that goes on that is unreported. If it doesn’t involve down town WLOX is nonexistent. The SunHerald just quit covering us and the Sea Coast Echo does the best it can, actually they do a pretty good job with a limited staff.

  3. Mississippi is the political ladder climb. The fat asses in Jackson seem to feel it’s a birth right to go from one job to the next. Waller is my guy!!!

  4. Tate’s first commercial called us the liberal coast. Now he saved our BP monies lol 😝 he one big politician pile of …

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