Archive for 2016

LA Times/USC “Daybreak Poll” Dishonors the Paper

Friday, October 21st, 2016

badpollingDespite Nate Silver’s argument that we should leave the LA Times/USC Dornsife “Daybreak Poll” alone, this poor excuse for a survey has been so wrong so persistently – and has been so constantly cited by Donald Trump as evidence of his campaign success – that it’s time for the Calbuzz Green Eye Shade Division to call them to task.

We’d be tempted to accept Silver’s admonition that all you have to do is add 6 percentage points to Hillary Clinton’s standing in the survey to accommodate for its “house effect,” except for the fact that the survey continues to arrogantly insist that “This chart tracks our best estimate, over time, of how America plans to vote in November.”

frustrated_man2World class flapdoodle So we’re sorry to say that our old friends David Lauter of the LA Times and Dan Schnur of USC will forever have to take responsibility* for the single most reckless name-brand survey of the 2016 election season. Even if they succumb to pressure from the polling world and re-weight their flawed sample in the coming weeks so that they end up in the ballpark (like Survey USA usually does), they will have overseen an entire season of faulty, misleading polling that has misinformed the public and given Trump false bragging rights and his allies false hope.

As of Wednesday, when most national polls by reputable organizations were showing Clinton leading Trump by 4 to 11 percentage points, the screwball LA Times/ USC Dornsife “daybreak” survey showed Clinton and Trump tied at 44% — after weeks of showing Trump leading Clinton by significant margins.

garbageinoutGarbage in... Why? Because they started with a faulty, pro-Trump panel of internet respondents, weighted their reported 2012 vote for president and then stuck with that panel as part of their methodology. Garbage at the start; garbage all throughout.

“What’s the source of the LA Times poll’s Trump lean?” Silver wrote. “There are good ‘explainers’ from The New York Times’s Nate Cohn and Huffington Post Pollster’s David Rothschild. Long story short: The poll’s results are weighted based on how people said they voted in 2012. That’s probably a mistake, because people often misstate or misremember their vote from previous elections.

Here’s their graph:uscdornsife

Interestingly, the LA Times so did not believe its survey that coverage, by most of its fine political writers, have paid it no mind.

On Wednesday, Lauter himself tried to hide his paper’s miserable poll’s findings – a tied race — with a front-page story that focused on survey respondents’ expectations of who will win the race instead of their stated voter preference.

“More and more, his own supporters no longer think he can win, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll has found,” Lauter wrote.

lauterHide the turkey. Except that this was not a new finding at all. The survey’s respondents had consistently said they thought Clinton would win the race – with even larger proportions predicting her victory back in August. The story gave the Times an opportunity to use its miserable survey as a way to convey to readers the paper’s conviction that Clinton is actually leading Trump.

“The Daybreak poll asks people whom they plan to vote for and which candidate they expect will win,” Lauter wrote. “The question of voter expectations has often, although not always, proved to be a more reliable forecaster of election outcomes than asking voters their candidate preference.”

This is, on its face, an absurd argument. First of all, how would the Times know that asking voter expectations is “a more reliable forecaster of election outcomes” until they know what the outcome is? By comparing this question in their survey to other national polls? Second, why are they asking voter preference if they think it’s an inferior measure of election outcomes – which their own statement on the survey about their “best estimate” flatly contradicts?

This is a sneaky way to mask the findings of their flawed survey.

bullshitPiling it on. Then, on Thursday, Lauter wrote about how the poll stands up if it is re-weighted to discount USC’s original weighting for who candidates said they had voted for in 2012 — which was a dumb idea from the get-go. This is exactly the kind of legerdemain that Survey USA and other sleazy operations use to make their final polls look legit.

The re-weighting, by Ernie Tedeschi, an economist formerly with the Treasury Department “provides reassurance that although the poll differs from other surveys, its data about the trends in the election — the ups and downs in support for the two candidates — are consistent with what others have found,” Lauter wrote.

Oy. It was a bad poll design. USC and the LA Times are stuck with it.

* Lauter and Schnur get responsibility, but here’s how Lauter (LA Times Washington Bureau Chief) explained the origin of the survey in an email to us:

“The researchers at USC’s Center for Economic and Social Research https://cesr.usc.edu/, led by Prof. Arie Kapteyn, developed the poll. They based it on a very similar survey they did four years ago when they were at the RAND Corp. (That 2012 poll was one of the most accurate of the election year and the only major survey not to underestimate Obama’s margin). Dan introduced Arie’s team to those of us at The Times, and we were (and are) very happy to partner with them to publish the results.”

When we asked Schnur (director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, USC Dornsife College) if he is responsible for his organization’s survey, he replied: “Jill Darling is the Survey Director for the Center for Economic and Social Research. I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer your questions. She can be reached at: jilldarl@usc.edu

Clinton Speaks to Voters; Trump Rejects Democracy

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

hillaryandtrumpTwo things that matter happened in the third and final presidential debate: 1) Hillary Clinton spoke directly to the concerns of suburban women on choice and guns and to Latinos on immigration and 2) Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the election, proving that he is fundamentally not an American.

Clinton’s arguments, in favor of choice on abortion rights, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and common-sense gun control, all should help her among the voters in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states where her positions are in sync with mainstream views and she is expanding her lead among women and Latinos.

trump3rddebateBut the jaw-dropping moment of the debate was Dirty Donald’s response to moderator Chris Wallace’s question whether he would accept the result of the election.

“I will look at it at the time,” he first said.

“But sir,” Wallace came back. “there is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the prides of this country, is the peaceful transition of power, and that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner… and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying that you are not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

“What I’m saying now is I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, okay?” said the New York Narcissist.

This was such an extraordinary comment, so outside of the bounds of American civic theology, that the audience gasped and Trump seemed not to recognize that he had assaulted the most fundamental tenet of Western democracy.

steveschmidtRepublican Recoil. “It’s a disqualifying moment,” Republican Steve Schmidt said on MSNBC. “It’s a moment of clear and present danger to our constitutional order, to the republic, it’s unprecedented in the history of the country.”

Moreover, Schmidt deadpanned, Trump was so incoherent discussing Mosul, he sounded “like an old man in the park feeding squirrels.”

There were plenty of other memorable moments, not the least of which was Trump’s unraveling to the point where he snapped “such a nasty woman” Clinton is (for suggesting he’d find a way to avoid paying higher payroll taxes to save Social Security). Within moments, nastywomengetshitdone.com was slapped up on the web with a link to Clinton fundraising. Trump’s reference to “bad hombres” he’d deport set off a firestorm of Latino outrage on Twitter. And twice Clinton tweaked Trump for using Chinese steel to built his Las Vegas Hotel. His defense? You should have stopped me!

Considering the bar was so low, Trump wasn’t as terrible as he has been previously, although he was a long way from changing the direction of the race by attracting any voters outside his right-wing base. Whatever good Trump might have done for himself among his Neanderthal and white evangelical backers, with his stands on abortion, immigration and gun control), he blew himself to smithereens with his expressed disloyalty to American constitutional government.

Given the status of the presidential race, the only question was whether Putin’s Puppet drove his own numbers down even further than were evident in the Fox News survey released before the debate. In that survey, only 35% of voters said Trump has the temperament to be president (compared to 61% for Clinton); just 37% of voters said Trump has the judgment to be president (compared to 53% for Clinton), and by a margin of 57-to-32%, voters said they trust Clinton’s prudence in handling nuclear weapons.

Our best guess: after Wednesday’s debate, the percentage of voters who say Trump is qualified to be president will drop to about 30%.

Such a nasty man.

Why Trump Can’t Win: Educated Women Hate Him

Monday, October 17th, 2016

angrytrumpDonald Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder has been so thoroughly documented that we need not repeat the discussion again except to note that it means that he takes every slight, every critique, every abandonment as a personal, existential threat that demands he strike back in the most unhinged venomous terms. Which is what he has done every time in what psychoanalysts call “narcissistic rage.”

But in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” tapes in which he boasts of forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by the “pussy,” and the clutch of women who have since come forward with personal tales of sexually predatory behavior by Dirty Donald, it now is clear that Trump has a dual diagnosis:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Paraphilic Disorder.

The latter applies where people “have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent.”

hackenflackmugOr as Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, Calbuzz’s esteemed psychiatric consultant, put it: “Donald Trump not only displays all the behaviors of an extreme narcissist, but he is also a sexual predator who has imposed himself on unwilling women. Hence, we must conclude a dual diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Paraphilic Disorder.”

What woman don’t want. All of which explains why women throughout America and even many men have turned even further against Trump, especially in key battleground states. (See Nate Silver.)

disgusted-woman-rejecting-a-dateFirst, however, let’s understand one, paradoxical, dynamic which further benefits Clinton, but which Hands On Donald has been banking on: the widespread sentiment that the country is headed in the wrong direction, traditionally a marker for an electoral cry for change.

President Barack Obama’s average approval in the past month according to the Polling Report is 53.7% and his disapproval is 43%. His high mark is 56% and his low mark is 38%. These are terrific numbers for Clinton, Obama’s endorsed successor and former Secretary of State,  whose top campaign surrogates are not only Barack his own self, but also the brilliant and popular Michelle Obama for whom a Clinton victory will extend their legacy.

What creates confusion, however, is that the Right Track/Wrong Track average in that same period it is 25.6% right track compared to 72.6% wrong track. A clear measure of dissatisfaction with where the country is headed.

A couple of points to clarify the apparent contradiction.

1. Political and statistical analysts believe whom voters blame for the direction of the country is baked into the presidential approval rating – average 54-43% favorable for Obama.

2. While right track-wrong track can be useful, it has built into it those who approve of the direction the president and his party are heading and those who disapprove of the role of the opposition party that is obstructing the president and his party. In other words, a Democrat who approves of Obama but is unhappy with how Congress has obstructed him, might be just as likely to say the country is on the wrong track as a Republican who believes the president and his party are pushing the country in the wrong direction.

What the record shows. Still, a wrong track number like we’re seeing  would generally spell trouble – as it has historically – for a candidate from the same party seeking the presidency after eight years of that party’s incumbency.

Here’s the record:


So the historical odds are stacked against Clinton. After two terms of one party or the other in power, American voters have generally sought a change. That she is ahead nationally — at all — is remarkable.

Moreover, the average percentage of the vote of the winning candidate since 1824 – when we started electing presidents by a vote of the people – is 51.36%. We have always been an evenly divided nation, even though in various elections one candidate or another has won the presidency with a landslide in the electoral college.

Why is Clinton leading Trump at all? That’s the real question. Especially when she has been the object of 25 years of negative propaganda – literally accused of everything from murder to treason – designed to undermine public confidence in her character.

What is new are recent survey results demonstrating the full scope of how Trump’s candid pornographic pronouncements have altered the race, just over three weeks before the November 8 election, largely because he has alienated women voters:

• Popular vote: The first major national poll taken after the hot-mic revelations, published by the Wall Street Journal, showed Clinton cracking open what had been a close race, taking an 11-point lead (46-35%) in a four-way race including the Libertarian and Green Party candidates; in a head-to-head match-up with Trump, she leads 52-38%.

“Looking inside the numbers of the two-way horse race, Clinton holds a 20-point lead among female voters (55 percent to 35 percent), while Trump is ahead among men by just three points (48 percent to 45 percent),” wrote NBC’s Mark Murray.

• Electoral College: A Marist survey in Pennsylvania, which is crucial to any Trump hope of winning the Electoral College, shows Clinton ahead by 12 points, fueled by a massive 53-33% lead among likely women voters; in Florida, which Trump must win to capture the presidency, she has regained a narrow lead, because women voters now support her by 13 points, 51 to 38 percent.

• Key demographics: An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll immediately after the debate showed that the pivotal group of white, college-educated women, by a 66-13% ratio, said that Clinton beat Trump; more ominously for Republicans, 80 percent of women registered as nonpartisan independents said Trump does not have the personality and temperament to be president.


Trump tearing apart his teleprompter — why not?

Fun with numbers. Because Clin­ton stomps Trump among minority voters, he needs to win a huge margin — some estimates put it as high as 70 percent — among whites. Although he still leads among white men, his dwindling support among white women is, to use one of his favorite phrases, a disaster.

In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney by four points, 51-47%, in the popular vote (resulting in a 332 to 206 Electoral College landslide), because he won women by 11 points, according to exit polls that year.

Romney, however, won among married women, and came close to the White House because he carried white women with a college degree by six points (52-46%), according to research by the Monmouth University Polling Institute. According to Monmouth, however, Trump already was losing that group to Clinton last summer by 30 points (27-57%).

That, of course, not only was before the sex-talk tape, his mansplaining performances in two debates and his bizarre and much-publicized tweet war against beauty queen Alicia Machado over her weight, but also the almost daily revelations of Trump’s crotch-grabbing record.

“These are fatal numbers,” NBC polling analyst Steve Kornacki said about Trump’s low standing among women.

“It seems fair to say that, if Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him,” Nate Silver wrote recently. “ I took a look at how men and women split their votes four years ago, according to polls conducted in November 2012. On average, Mitt Romney led President Obama by 7 percentage points among men, about the same as Trump’s 5-point lead among men now. But Romney held his own among women, losing them by 8 points, whereas they’re going against Trump by 15 points.”

Bottom Line: Donald Trump’s narcissism and predatory behavior have so disgusted women voters that a landslide Electoral College win for Hillary Clinton now appears a distinct possibility — even if she only wins the popular vote by a few points.

grabLate breaking counterfactual. That said, a national survey by Gary Langer, one of the best and brightest in the polling business, for ABC and the Washington Post, on Sunday showed Clinton with a nationwide lead over Trump still at 4 percentage points, 47-43%, with some undecideds and votes for the two other minor candidates.

“The findings are somewhat better for Trump than other polls taken since the video, but if Clinton were to maintain such an advantage until Election Day, that could translate into a sizable electoral college majority,” the Post wrote.

“Nearly 7 in 10 respondents believe Trump probably made unwanted sexual advances, and a majority say his apology for boasts about forcing himself on women on a hot-mic videotape was insincere. Nonetheless, the controversy appeared to have had only a minimal impact on his overall support,” wrote Dan Balz and Scott Clement.

It’s education, stupid. In his own analysis, pollster Langer said this survey suggests that education is a more powerful influence on voter preferences than gender itself when analyzing Trump voters.

Clinton leads by 8 points among women, while she and Trump run evenly among men — an unexpected change from late September, when Clinton led by 19 points among women, Trump by 19 among men. This reflects greater support for Trump among white women who lack a college degree, partly countered by gains for Clinton among white men.

The survey results may reflect something of a rally for Trump among those who reject the controversy over his sexual behavior as a legitimate issue, and for Clinton among those who are concerned about it. And the dividing line on this judgment seems to be not gender, but education.

stupidtrumpsupportersAmong likely voters, just 43 percent of non-college white women see Trump’s treatment of women as a legitimate issue, essentially the same as it is among non-college white men, 45 percent. By contrast, about two-thirds of college-educated whites, men and women alike, say the issue is a legitimate one.

Get that: if Langer is right, about six in 10 white women (and about as many men) who have no college education, don’t see Trump’s treatment of women as a legitimate issue while more than six in 10 white women (and men) with a college education say Trump’s odious treatment of women is indeed a legitimate issue.

What continues to separate Clinton and Trump, and which Trump’s disgusting remarks and actions with women only further exacerbate, is the most fundamental measure in any presidential contest: whether voters see him as fit to be president.

“The poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, also finds that Clinton holds a continued lead on perhaps the most basic gauge, being qualified for office. Fifty-nine percent of registered voters see her as qualified vs. 39 percent who say the same about Trump.” Emphasis most decidedly ours.

Grab that, Donald.