Polling Problems: The Pew Research Center released the results of an exhaustive study of response rates, and the news is grim. The response rate (the percentage of people who are successfully interviewed) has dropped from 36 percent in 1997 to 9 percent today. The decline is evident across all kinds of surveys. One area where there were differences from large government surveys with much higher response rates was in the area of civic participation. Pew is still optimistic about the polls: “[D]espite declining response rates, telephone surveys that include landlines and cell phones and are weighted to match the demographic composition of the population continue to provide accurate data on most political, social, and economic measures.”
Who’s Rich?: In a new poll, 68 percent told Gallup that Barack Obama was rich; 82 percent felt that way about Mitt Romney.
Debt Ceiling Fight Replay?: This week, House Speaker John Boehner vowed to hold up another increase in the debt ceiling unless it is offset by larger spending cuts. Are we in for a replay of the showdown last summer? Who was hurt most by it?
It is hard to isolate what moves poll numbers, but the Republicans in Congress have lost more ground than the Democrats since spring 2011. Neither party is especially popular. In the ABC/Washington Post poll of adults, Republicans lost 11 points since April 2011, while Democrats lost 2 points. Thirty-four percent in their March 2012 poll approve of the Democrats in Congress and 23 percent the Republicans. In Quinnipiac surveys of registered voters, Republicans lost 12 points since March 2011 and Democrats 5 points. Republicans have a 22 percent approval rating and Democrats a 26 percent rating in their February 2012 poll. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation shows a bigger drop since last March for Republicans than Democrats (12 and 4 points). In February, 22 percent approved of the job the Republicans in Congress were doing compared to 31 percent for the Democrats.
On Wisconsin: With three weeks to go in the recall fight, two new Wisconsin polls give Governor Scott Walker a modest lead. In the May 9-12 Marquette Law School poll of likely voters, Walker led Tom Barrett by 50 to 44 percent, up from 48 to 47 percent in April. Republicans appear to be more enthusiastic about the contest. Ninety-one percent of them said they are absolutely certain they will vote compared to 83 percent of Democrats. Walker had a 50 to 45 percent lead over Barrett in the new PPP poll taken May 11-13. In the poll, 39 percent of union households supported Walker.
Christie’s Chances: Last week we wrote about an Ohio poll showing that adding Senator Rob Portman to the ticket did little to improve Romney’s position in the key state. Now comes a Quinnipiac poll showing that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie doesn’t add much either in a state that is expected to go Democratic. In the presidential matchup in New Jersey, Obama led Romney by 49 to 39 percent. With Chris Christie on the ticket, the Obama/Biden ticket polled at 50 percent, Romney/Christie at 42 percent.