Thursday, November 6, 2014

Massachusetts gubernatorial polls were less biased than national midterm polls

A look at the polling average and a comparison of each pollster's last poll to the final result

While a comprehensive look at the polls of the 2014 midterm races show that the polls were biased by several points towards Democrats, that did not seem to be the case for the totality of the Massachusetts gubernatorial polls of the race between Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker. The final Mass. Numbers time-weighted polling average showed Baker up by two points, essentially equalling the unofficial election result of a 1.88 point Baker win, and a simple average of the last poll from each pollster shows a similar result of Baker +2.3.

While the average was very close to the election result, the final polls of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race showed a reasonably wide range from a 4 point lead for Martha Coakley, to a 7 point lead for Charlie Baker.

The following table gives details of each pollster's final poll sorted by difference from the election result. The polling methods included internet panel, live phone interviews, automated phone calls (IVR), and IVR supplemented with an internet panel to reach non-landline respondents.

MA Governor polls vs. result (chart)

The YouGov poll showing Coakley up 4 was the biggest miss of the final polls with a difference of -5.88 points from the actual result. The Globe/SocialSphere poll had Baker up 7 (a 5.12 point difference), the UMass poll missed by -4.88 points, and the Emerson College Polling Society poll missed by 4.02 points.

The closest poll to the final result was the Rasmussen IVR/Internet poll 22 days before the election which had an almost perfect 2 point Baker margin. MassINC Polling was also close to perfect with Baker +1, closely followed by Suffolk with Baker +3. UMass Lowell was just over 2 points off (Baker +4), and WNE had Baker +5 for a miss of 3.12 points.

While some of the polls of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race were remarkably accurate and others missed the mark by 5 or 6 points, the overall picture provided by the polls in the form of an average gave us a good idea of the eventual result.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Money from Massachusetts GOP shadow group fails to unseat targeted state representatives

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spending on immigrants-over-veterans mailings had little affect on race outcomes

An outside spending political action committee run by Republican State Committee member Rick Green and called the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance portrayed itself as an issues-based committee concerned with fiscal discipline. But mailings undertaken by the committee against a group of 19 Democratic State Representatives made it clear that the goal of the group was to campaign against those house members and support of GOP challengers using a debunked immigrants-over-veterans attack.

The mailings seem to have failed as 17 of the 19 representatives were re-elected, several in very GOP-leaning red districts. A loss by Rep. Rhonda Nyman to GOP challenger David DeCoste was in the 5th Plymouth District where President Obama lost by 8 points, Senator Warren lost by 26 points, and is ranked the third most GOP-leaning Rep. district in the Commonwealth. This is a hard district for any Democrat to hold.

The other loss came in the more Democratic 2nd Franklin District. Rep. Denise Andrews of Orange lost to two-time challenger Susannah Whips Lee. Lee outraised Rep. Andrews in the pre-primary and pre-election reporting periods, raising $44,698 compared to $16,960 for Andrews.

Election results for MFA targets

The success of Democratic incumbents Josh Cutler, Colleen Garry, Jim Cantwell, Ted Speliotis, and Jim Arciero in Republican-leaning districts shows that the PAC mailings were not an effective campaign tool for the GOP.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A data supplement to legislative races to watch article

District partisan lean and pre-election fundraising data for competitive legislative races

Gintautas Dumcius and Mike Deehan put together a great overview of some of the interesting Massachusetts races for Massachusetts State Senate and Representative available on WBUR Poll Vault.

While Dumcius and Deehan touched on fundraising and district partisanship in the article, I put together a table that has each candidates fundraising total for the OCPF pre-election period, and the Obama and Warren margins for each district for your analyzing pleasure.

Legislative races to watch

Here is an online spreadsheet with the same data.

Not all survey methods are equal in 2014 midterm race polling

Many midterm races have seen a similar method-based bias as the Massachusetts gubernatorial race (internet+Dem, IVR+GOP), but others show the opposite

There have been significant and consistent differences between IVR, live operator, and internet polls of the race for Massachusetts governor with internet polls showing a Coakley +4 lead, live operator polls showing Baker +2, and automated phone (IVR) polls showing Baker +5. But is this internet+Dem/IVR+GOP bias seen across other 2014 midterm polling?

In order to answer this question I downloaded all of the October polls for a large sample of reasonably competitive midterm Governor and Senate races from the Huffington Post Pollster site, computed a polling average for each race, and then compared the race-wide average to the average for each survey method, recording a difference as positive number for Democratic bias and a negative for a Republican bias.

The results are in the following table with polling methods including live phone calls, automated phone calls (IVR by itself, or with supplements live phone calls or internet panels to reach non-landline respondents), and internet-based survey panels.

2014 Midterm survey bias by method (chart)

The results show an internet+Dem/IVR+GOP bias similar to MA-Gov in the Colorado, Maryland, Maine, and Michigan gubernatorial races, and also in the Colorado and New Hampshire Senate races.

However, some races show exactly the opposite, including Alaska, Georgia, and Michigan Senate, and Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, and Kansas Governor. Michigan is particularly strange with the Governor and Senate race on opposite sides.

A look at the distribution of differences for all of the races for each survey method provides some insight into the race-by-race biases.

2014 Midterm survey bias distribution by method (graph)

The histogram for live phone polling sows a nicely shaped normal distribution centered at the average margin, with a similar probability of differences above and below the mean.

Internet polls are skewed to the Democratic side, but shifted to the left past the mean of zero, possibly a result of the sample weighting. On the other side, IVR polls are somewhat skewed to the GOP side, but shifted to the right past the mean of zero, possible due to weighting.

The IVR/Online polls look closer to a normal distribution, but the IVR/Live Phone polls have very irregular-looking distribution shape.

A possible explanation differences in bias for some of the races could be weighting overcompensation for Democratic bias in the internet polling and for GOP bias in the IVR polling.

After Tuesday's election results it will be possible to determine which survey method type was most accurate in the midterm polling and look for explanations of the affect of survey methods on poll bias.

Friday, October 31, 2014

There are significant differences between IVR, live operator, and internet polls of the race for Massachusetts governor

Which polling methodology is seeing the right set of voters won't be known until after Tuesday's election

As the polls of the race for Massachusetts Governor have steadily moved from a Martha Coakley lead in early September to a Charlie Baker lead in late October, a complicating factor has arisen: each of the three polling methodologies used to survey the race are showing different results. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or robopolling firms show a reasonably large 5 point lead for Baker. Traditional live operator telephone polling shows Baker with a 2 point lead. And internet panel surveys show Coakley with a 4 point lead in the race.

MA Gov. polls by type (graph)

MA Gov. polls by type (chart)

Which of the methodologies are seeing the appropriate set of voters? IVR-only firms like Emerson are not able to reach large swaths of the population without landlines, meaning fewer younger, urban, and non-white voters. Live operator telephone polling suffers from severe non-response effects as more and more people screen their phone calls. Internet surveys are the new kids on the block and have their own (probably smaller) set people who cannot be reached.

Pollsters of each persuasion use best-practices and weighting to compensate for these effects, but it seems that each of the methodologies is getting a different view on the Coakley/Baker race. If the IVR firms and/or the live operator pollsters are having trouble seeing all of the Democratic voters, Baker could be in for a Tuesday shocker. If the internet pollsters are getting it wrong, Martha Coakley will suffer another tough loss and Charlie Baker will be the next in a long line of Republican governors of Massachusetts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A comprehensive look at polling of all four ballot questions provides an indicator of likely results

Baker disagrees with voter consensus on gas tax and earned sick time while Coakley and the average voter disagree on bottle bill expansion

While the occupancy Massachusetts' corner office is still up for grabs—the race between Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker remains too close to call—a comprehensive look at the last two months of polling shows a strong enough voter consensus on the four ballot questions that a likely result can be predicted for each initiative.

The following summary table shows a polling average for each question, whether the measure is likely to pass or fail, and the position of the two major gubernatorial candidates. The remainder of the article gives a comprehensive look at the last two months of polling on each question.

Ballot question summary

A plurality of survey respondents and candidate Coakley are against gas tax indexing repeal (by a relatively small average margin of four points) while Baker supports indexing repeal. Voters, on average, are against bottle bill expansion as is GOP candidate Charlie Baker, while Democrat Martha Coakley sides with environmental groups in favor of bottle bill expansion. Most voters oppose repeal of the casino law, as do both gubernatorial candidates. Question 4 on earned sick time is very popular among voters (with an average margin of 25 points) and is also supported by Coakley, while Baker opposes the earned sick time initiative.

Question 1 - Eliminate gas tax indexing

Ballot Question 1 on repeal of automatic gas tax indexing is the only initiative that has shown some polling inconsistency. That being said, only one public poll in the last two months has shown a positive margin for repeal, and the most recent polls have 14 and 7 point margins against repeal. There is some evidence that survey respondents have been confused by the meaning of "Yes" or "No" in the context of this question in earlier surveys, but there is also evidence that voters are starting to figure it out, based on the fact that Republicans are more likely to be for repeal, and Democrats against. This is the only question where there is a reasonable probability of a result that goes against the polling consensus.

Ballot Q1 polling

Question 2 - Expand bottle bill

The polling of Ballot Question 2 on expanding the types of containers with a 5 cent deposit is definitive. Expansion proponents have not led in a public poll in the last two months and the margin seems to be increasing with a whopping 46 point margin in the latest poll from UML. One reason may be the difference in the money spent by environmental proponents and the large retail stores who oppose the question.

Ballot Q2 polling

Question 3 - Repeal casino law

It does not seem that voters are in favor of repealing the Massachusetts casino law that allows for the creation of several resort-style casinos in the Commonwealth. Ballot Question 3 has been behind in every public poll in the last two months, by an average margin of 15 points.

Ballot Q3 polling

Question 4 - Require earned sick time for most employees

Polling of likely voters has shown consistent support for Ballot Question 4, which would require employers to provide earned sick time for most Massachusetts employees. The initiative has led in every public poll in the last two months, with an average margin of 25 points. It would seem reasonable for Coakley to use Baker's opposition to this popular measure against him, which she started to do in debates, but there has been no large ad campaign drawing the distinction.

Ballot Q4 polling

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Polling methodology seems to be playing a roll in Massachusetts gubernatorial survey results

IVR polls are 6 points better for Baker/GOP

Polling averages of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race between Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley show Coakley with a small 2 point lead, but there seems to be a major difference between the polls conducted using IVR (Interactive Voice Response) methods, and the polls that use traditional polling methods of operator-based dialing, or newer Internet-based survey techniques.

IVR polling has the significant disadvantage of only being able to reach respondents with land-line telephones—federal law disallows robocalls to cell phone numbers. IVR pollsters like Rassmussen and Massachusetts-based Emerson College Polling Society use various sampling and weighting techniques to attempt to compensate for their limited reach.

Breaking down all of the Massachusetts gubernatorial polls conducted since the September 9 primary by polling methodology (Internet, IVR, and Traditional) shows a large gap between the non-cell-phone IVR polls, which have Republican Charlie Baker up 3 points, and the traditional and internet-based polls, which have Democrat Coakley up by 3 points. The boxplot below gives a visual representation of the poll distributions.

There is some chance that these variations are due to sampling error or other causes, but the variations could very well be due to the IVR pollsters not reaching cell-phone-only voters who tend to vote more for Democratic candidates.
MA Gov Polls by polling method (graph)

MA Gov Polls by polling method (chart)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recent polling shows a robust coalition against repeal of Massachusetts casino law

Most Republicans, Independents, and men support gaming law—Democrats are split down the middle

The casino issue has a history of splitting coalitions in Massachusetts with religious Republicans vs. big business Republicans and social justice Democrats vs. union Democrats, but recent polls show more consistency in pro-casino sentiment—likely enough to defeat an anti-gaming ballot initiative.

Opponents of the Massachusetts's gaming law, which allows for construction of up to three destination casinos in the Commonwealth, have sponsored Ballot Question 3 to repeal the law. However, casino supporters have lead in all ten of the post-primary surveys of the ballot question by an average margin of 11 points.

Polls show a strong cohort of casino supporters consisting of Republicans, Independents, and men who, on average, oppose repeal by 16 to 17 points, roughly 55 to 38 percent. Women, on average, oppose repeal by a smaller 6 point margin—48 to 42 percent. Democrats—who have strong idealogical factions both for and against expanded gaming—are split down the middle with approximately 45 percent on either side of Ballot Question 3.

Graph of MA Question 3 polls

Polls of MA Question 3 on casino law repeal

There have been ten public surveys published since the September 9 state primary that have tested the casino ballot question. All of the polls had sample sizes in the range of 400 to 504 likely voters.

The post-primary polls range from a 4 point margin against repeal in the 9/21-9/23 Boston Globe/Social Sphere survey, to a 20 point margin against repeal in the following 9/24-9/27 WBUR/MassINC poll. The time-weighted average, which gives higher weights to more recent polls, shows an 11 point margin against gaming law repeal—40 percent for repeal and 52 percent against.

There are strong majorities of Republicans, Independents, and men against repealing the casino law, with average margins of about 16 points across these voting subgroups. Over 50% of Independents opposed repeal in every single poll, and over 50% of men opposed repeal in all but one poll, the most recent Boston Globe poll, which showed 49% of men in opposition.

The polls show women opposing the repeal of the casino law by a smaller 6 point margin with 48% opposing repeal and 42% in support of repeal. More women were against, rather than for, the repeal in all but one survey, the closer-than-average Boston Globe/SocialSphere poll with 9/21-9/23 field dates, which had a 4 point margin for women who want to see the casino law repealed. There are a larger group of undecided women voters than most other categories (10%).

Democrats are almost evenly divided on the casino question with a 1 point average margin against repeal. There is a strong anti-casino coalition in the Democratic party which campaigns against the social costs of institutional gambling, while a largely union-based Democratic coalition supports casino construction as a job creation measure. These opposing coalitions seem to be canceling each other out. The comparatively large group of undecided Democratic voters (10%) may also indicate an ambivalence or divided loyalties on the casino question.

So far, the anti-casino wing of the Democratic party does not have enough support to overturn the Commonwealth's gaming statute. Pro-Question-3 groups will need to do a better job of making their anti-casino case to the public in order to achieve repeal on November 4.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Massachusetts 2014 Governor's race general election polling averages

A look at all of the public polls with topline, gender, and party averages

Last updated 10/31/2014 at 5:30pm with WBZ/UMass poll.

This page is tracking the public polls conducted on the 2014 gubernatorial election to replace Governor Deval Patrick. It includes all of the publicly-release non-partisan polls and has averages for the topline horse-race number, as well as averages for gender and party affiliation.

The topline results show Charlie Baker with a 2 point lead in the time-weighted average that gives more weight to polls closer to the election. Baker has led in all of the recent polls, except the Internet-based survey's (YouGov and UMass) which have had Coakley up by 4 points and 3 points. That might be due to some other factor, but it might be that IVR and telephone pollsters are under-representing Democrats. Given Baker's lead in the most polls and in the average, you would have to say he is the favorite, but the small average margin and the major difference in the internet polls means that there is a reasonable chance of a Coakley win.

Poll Size Type Start End Baker Coakley
Total M F Dem GOP Ind Total M F Dem GOP Ind
WBUR 504 LV 9/11 9/14 35 42 28 11 74 42 44 37 50 68 12 35
Globe 407 LV 9/14 9/16 36 43 30 8 83 43 39 32 46 76 6 24
Rasmussen 750 LV 9/16 9/17 42 42
WBUR 502 LV 9/16 9/21 36 44 28 13 75 43 46 38 53 70 10 38
UMass 440 LV 9/19 9/23 46 55 38 7 99 68 45 36 53 87 1 19
Globe 400 LV 9/21 9/23 40 50 31 10 94 45 38 28 46 75 2 23
YouGov 2389 LV 9/20 10/1 41 50 34 8 91 52 47 41 53 84 4 30
WBUR 503 LV 9/24 9/27 41 46 36 20 75 46 44 39 50 68 13 35
Herald 500 LV 9/25 9/28 43 49 38 20 79 52 44 38 49 71 9 33
Globe 401 LV 9/28 9/30 39 42 35 11 89 44 36 33 39 71 6 20
UMass 414 LV 9/26 10/2 44 56 33 9 95 56 48 37 58 87 0 33
WBUR 504 LV 10/1 10/4 39 46 32 17 78 45 41 40 42 67 9 31
Globe 400 LV 10/5 10/7 34 37 30 11 87 36 39 36 42 69 5 26
Emerson 500 LV 10/6 10/7 45 49 42 22 74 56 40 35 44 68 18 24
WBUR 500 LV 10/8 10/11 39 45 33 18 71 46 42 37 47 67 14 32
Globe 400 LV 10/12 10/14 41 48 34 13 83 49 41 36 45 80 3 23
Rasmussen 980 LV 10/13 10/14 48 46
WBUR 501 LV 10/15 10/18 43 50 36 18 76 52 42 35 49 66 13 32
YouGov 2218 LV 10/16 10/23 41 48 34 10 90 52 45 40 50 81 5 31
Globe 400 LV 10/19 10/21 46 55 39 13 93 57 37 30 43 74 3 20
UML 601 LV 10/21 10/25 45 51 38 16 86 50 41 36 46 73 5 10
UMass 591 LV 10/20 10/27 44 53 35 6 96 57 47 38 54 88 1 28
WBUR 494 LV 10/22 10/25 43 49 37 14 86 52 42 38 45 71 6 30
WNE 430 LV 10/21 10/30 46 54 40 15 94 54 41 36 46 75 0 29
Herald 500 LV 10/26 10/29 46 51 41 24 93 51 43 39 46 71 3 31
Globe 500 LV 10/26 10/29 44 50 39 14 91 53 37 32 42 71 4 22
TW Average 9/11 10/30 44 51 38 15 89 52 42 36 46 74 4 26
Difference 9/11 10/30 2 14 -9 -59 85 26 -2 -14 9 59 -85 -26

While the polls have been showing a very close race between Coakley and Baker with volatile results, the share of the vote held by the third-party candidates has remained very consistent around 5%.

MA Gov Polling graph


Attorney General Coakley large lead among women has become much smaller and she currently leads among women by 9 points. On the other hand, Charlie Baker has improved his margin with men and currently has a larger 14 point lead among men.

Poll Size Type Start End Baker Coakley
Total F M Total F M
WBUR 504 LV 9/11 9/14 35 28 42 44 50 37
Globe 407 LV 9/14 9/16 36 30 43 39 46 32
Rasmussen 750 LV 9/16 9/17 42 42
WBUR 502 LV 9/16 9/21 36 28 44 46 53 38
UMass 440 LV 9/19 9/23 46 38 55 45 53 36
Globe 400 LV 9/21 9/23 40 31 50 38 46 28
YouGov 2389 LV 9/20 10/1 41 34 50 47 53 41
WBUR 503 LV 9/24 9/27 41 36 46 44 50 39
Herald 500 LV 9/25 9/28 43 38 49 44 49 38
Globe 401 LV 9/28 9/30 39 35 42 36 39 33
UMass 414 LV 9/26 10/2 44 33 56 48 58 37
WBUR 504 LV 10/1 10/4 39 32 46 41 42 40
Globe 400 LV 10/5 10/7 34 30 37 39 42 36
Emerson 500 LV 10/6 10/7 45 42 49 40 44 35
WBUR 500 LV 10/8 10/11 39 33 45 42 47 37
Globe 400 LV 10/12 10/14 41 34 48 41 45 36
Rasmussen 980 LV 10/13 10/14 48 46
WBUR 501 LV 10/15 10/18 43 36 50 42 49 35
YouGov 2218 LV 10/16 10/23 41 34 48 45 50 40
Globe 400 LV 10/19 10/21 46 39 55 37 43 30
UML 601 LV 10/21 10/25 45 38 51 41 46 36
UMass 591 LV 10/20 10/27 44 35 53 47 54 38
WBUR 494 LV 10/22 10/25 43 37 49 42 45 38
WNE 430 LV 10/21 10/30 46 40 54 41 46 36
Herald 500 LV 10/26 10/29 46 41 51 43 46 39
Globe 500 LV 10/26 10/29 44 39 50 37 42 32
TW Average 9/11 10/30 44 38 51 42 46 36
Difference 9/11 10/30 2 -9 14 -2 9 -14

You can see the tightening of the candidates' margins with women and the expansion of Baker's edge with men in the graph.

MA Gov Polling by Gender graph


The post-primary polling predicts that the party breakdown of the voters on November 4 should be about 37% Democratic, 13% Republican, and 50% Unenrolled. In order to win, Charlie Baker will need win a large majority (probably two-thirds) of the Unenrolled voters and to make some inroads with Democrats. The polling so far is promising for Baker with an average of 15% of Democrats and just reaching 52% of independent voters. Coakley will need to expand her lead with Democrats and cut into Baker's independent lead to win on November 4.

Poll Size Type Start End Baker Coakley
Total Dem GOP Ind Total Dem GOP Ind
WBUR 504 LV 9/11 9/14 35 11 74 42 44 68 12 35
Globe 407 LV 9/14 9/16 36 8 83 43 39 76 6 24
Rasmussen 750 LV 9/16 9/17 42 42
WBUR 502 LV 9/16 9/21 36 13 75 43 46 70 10 38
UMass 440 LV 9/19 9/23 46 7 99 68 45 87 1 19
Globe 400 LV 9/21 9/23 40 10 94 45 38 75 2 23
YouGov 2389 LV 9/20 10/1 41 8 91 52 47 84 4 30
WBUR 503 LV 9/24 9/27 41 20 75 46 44 68 13 35
Herald 500 LV 9/25 9/28 43 20 79 52 44 71 9 33
Globe 401 LV 9/28 9/30 39 11 89 44 36 71 6 20
UMass 414 LV 9/26 10/2 44 9 95 56 48 87 0 33
WBUR 504 LV 10/1 10/4 39 17 78 45 41 67 9 31
Globe 400 LV 10/5 10/7 34 11 87 36 39 69 5 26
Emerson 500 LV 10/6 10/7 45 22 74 56 40 68 18 24
WBUR 500 LV 10/8 10/11 39 18 71 46 42 67 14 32
Globe 400 LV 10/12 10/14 41 13 83 49 41 80 3 23
Rasmussen 980 LV 10/13 10/14 48 46
WBUR 501 LV 10/15 10/18 43 18 76 52 42 66 13 32
YouGov 2218 LV 10/16 10/23 41 10 90 52 45 81 5 31
Globe 400 LV 10/19 10/21 46 13 93 57 37 74 3 20
UML 601 LV 10/21 10/25 45 16 86 50 41 73 5 10
UMass 591 LV 10/20 10/27 44 6 96 57 47 88 1 28
WBUR 494 LV 10/22 10/25 43 14 86 52 42 71 6 30
WNE 430 LV 10/21 10/30 46 15 94 54 41 75 0 29
Herald 500 LV 10/26 10/29 46 24 93 51 43 71 3 31
Globe 500 LV 10/26 10/29 44 14 91 53 37 71 4 22
TW Average 9/11 10/30 44 15 89 52 42 74 4 26
Difference 9/11 10/30 2 -59 85 26 -2 59 -85 -26

While there have been some differences in the poll-by-poll numbers, the stratification of the party breakdown has been remarkably consistent since the primary.

MA Gov Polling by Party graph

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Globe poll showing Baker lead has a surprisingly large leap in male support

Poll shows Coakley/Baker male gender gap greater than any statewide GOP winner in last 16 years

A new poll from the Boston Globe conducted by SocialSphere shows Charlie Baker with a two point lead over Martha Coakley among 400 likely voters in the gubernatorial race to replace Governor Deval Patrick. This is the first time Baker has led in a public poll.

While a key finding in all previous polling has been Martha Coakley's large lead over Baker among women (varying from 15 to 25 points in post-primary polling), the new Globe poll shows a striking leap in Baker's lead with men of 50% to Coakley's 28% for a gap of 22 points.

 Poll Size Type      Start        End  Baker       Coakley      Diff
                                           M    F        M    F    M    F
 WBUR  504   LV 2014-09-11 2014-09-23   42.0 28.0     37.0 50.0   +5  -22
Globe  407   LV 2014-09-14 2014-09-16   43.0 30.0     32.0 46.0  +11  -16
 WBUR  502   LV 2014-09-16 2014-09-21   44.0 28.0     38.0 53.0   +6  -25
Globe  400   LV 2014-09-21 2014-09-23   50.0 31.0     28.0 46.0  +22  -15
                     Average            44.8 29.2     33.8 48.8  +11  -20

This 22 point lead among men is twice the average lead of 11 points seen across all of the WBUR/MassINC and Globe/SocialSphere post-primary polls.

The largest margin seen by a statewide Republican winner in Massachusetts in the last 16 years was 15 points by Paul Cellucci in 1998. Romney's male margin was 13 points over Shannon O'Brien in 2002, and Scott Brown's margin among men was 14 points over Martha Coakley in the 2010 Senate special election. A 22 point margin is unprecedented in recent history.

Coakley/Baker polls by gender graph

It remains to be seen in subsequent polls whether Baker will continue to show this level of support with likely male voters. In the meantime, it is safer to look at the averages showing Martha Coakley with a small, shrinking, but likely lead.

       Poll Size Type      Start        End  Coakley  Baker  Other  Undecided
       WBUR  504   LV 2014-09-11 2014-09-23     44.0   35.0    4.0       15.0
      Globe  407   LV 2014-09-14 2014-09-16     39.0   36.0    6.0       19.0
 Rassmussen  750   LV 2014-09-16 2014-09-17     42.0   42.0    5.0       10.0
       WBUR  502   LV 2014-09-16 2014-09-21     46.0   36.0    4.0       12.0
      Globe  400   LV 2014-09-21 2014-09-23     38.0   40.0    5.0       18.0
    Average           2014-09-11 2014-09-23     41.8   37.8    4.8       14.8

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The rise of internet polling—more adults have internet access than a landline telephone

One surprising graph tells the story

There is an ongoing battle in the polling and survey community about the relative benefits of live caller polling vs. automated polling vs. internet polling. Live caller polling is considered the gold standard polling, in large part because human survey operators are allowed to call cell phone numbers, giving them a more representative sample of respondents. Pollsters who use automated systems are prohibited from calling cell phones, and therefore resort to extensive demographic-based weighting to compensate. However, live caller polling is expensive.

There has been an uptick in internet-based polling by pollsters like YouGov that have their own sampling problems, but are able to reach large panels of respondents and use weighting to achieve accurate results. There is a nice overview of internet-based polling by Nate Cohn in the Upshot.

The following graph shows why Internet polling may be the wave of the future. The percentage of US adults that use the internet passed the percentage of adults that have a landline phone in 2010 and is approaching 90%, while the number of adults with a landline has fallen to 60%.

Landline phones vs. Internet use graph

The combination of lower response rates for tradition telephone-based polling, the steady rise of internet usage by the U.S. population, and the refinement of online panel weighting techniques, makes it likely that we will see increased reliance on internet polling in the coming years.


  • Internet usage data: Pew Research - Percent of U.S. adults who use the internet
  • Landline telephone usage data: CDC - Percent of U.S. adults with landline phone
  • Raw data spreadsheet

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Charlie Baker's underperformance was three times greater than Martha Coakley's

Baker underperforms polling by 24 points, Coakley by 8

The performance of the primary candidates for Massachusetts Governor on September 9 seem to indicate a voter turnout similar to that predicted by the Boston Herald/Suffolk University poll of the primary released on August 25. The poll had a very tight screen for likely voters, requiring that the respondents be able to identify—in some fashion—when the primary was occurring.

The Herald/Suffolk poll showed a tighter race than other polls on both the Democratic and Republican sides. While all of the polls got the ordering of the results correctly, the Herald/Suffolk poll came closest to the actual margins.

After the election pundits like Scot Lehigh posited that Coakley's underperformance compared to the polls indicates weakness, while there is very little talk about how much Charlie Baker underperformed against Tea Party rival Mark Fisher when compared to the same polls.

Let's look at the numbers.

Performance on nominees compared to polls

If you take the Herald/Suffolk poll results and normalize them into election results by removing the undecideds, it predicts Coakley at 48% and Grossman at 34% for a 14 point win. The preliminary results show Coakley with 42% and Grossman with 36%, a 6 point winning margin.

On the GOP side the poll predicted Baker with 86% and Fisher with 14%, a whopping 72 point win. The preliminary results have Baker with 74% and Fisher with 26%, a 49 point margin.

If pundits are going to make an issue of Coakley's 8 point underperformance, then it also needs to apply the same standard to Charlie Baker who underperformed by three times as much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What are the regional strengths of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates?

What polling tells us about areas of strength and weakness for the primary candidates

It is primary election day in Massachusetts. While we wait for tonight's election returns I decided to look at the regional performance of the Democratic candidates for Governor to see if there were any surprises.

I used the cross-tabs from the last three Boston Globe/SocialSphere polls because they used the same regional breakdowns and gave a reasonable sample size when averaged across all the three polls. I could have gone back farther to get a larger sample, but I wanted a relatively recent snapshot.

My table shows how each candidate performed across the complete set of three polls and all regions (the All column), and for each region provides the candidate's percentage, and a ± number showing how regional performance compared to overall performance. There is a proportionately-sized blue bar for over-performance compared to the candidate's overall performance, and red bar for under-performance.

MA Gov Dem candidate regional performance

The Metro Boston region was closest to the state as a whole with Martha Coakley even, Steve Grossman -2, and Don Berwick +1, and also an almost average percentage of undecided voters.

Martha Coakley did well in the Cape and Islands, Merrimack Valley, and South of Boston regions (+5, +6, +7) and poorly in the Inside 128, Metro West, and South Shore regions (-7, -7, -10).

Steve Grossman excelled in the Merrimack Valley, Inside 128, and South Shore regions (+5, +9, +12), and had more trouble in Western Massachusetts and in the Cape and Islands (-8, -9). Grossman actually tied Coakley on the South Shore, where he was +12 and Coakley was -10.

Don Berwick did exceptionally well in the Metro West region at +9 and tied Steve Grossman who was -4 west of Boston. He did not do as well on the North Shore or South Shore (-6, -8).

The Western Massachusetts region had the highest number of undecided voters at 31% (+12), while the Merrimack Valley region had the fewest with 9% (-10).

We can keep an eye out for unexpectedly high turnouts on the South Shore—which would improve Steve Grossman's overall performance—or in Metro West—which would be great for Don Berwick. However, Martha Coakley's polling margins are big enough in enough regions that strong regional turnouts are very unlikely to change the final result.

Monday, September 8, 2014

How definitive are the Democratic Primary polls for Governor, LG, AG, and treasurer?

One race is easy—the rest have some favorites but no clear winner

I have been keeping track of the polling averages for the Democratic Primary for Massachusetts Governor, and I also put together polling averages for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer for a contest entry. But how clear are the polls of these races and what are the likely range of outcomes? The short answer is that there is very little variation in the polls for Governor and unless there is some systematic problem with the polls or samples, Martha Coakley is likely to be Democratic nominee for Governor. The down-ballot races are less conclusive because of larger variation, larger numbers of undecided errors, and small differences between some candidates when averaging the polls.

I have used probability distributions to get a visual feel for the polling data in each race, using the straight average of the most recent polls to establish the center of the probability distribution, and the standard deviation to provide the width of the distribution.

MA Gov Polling Probability Distribution Graph

MA Gov Polling Averages

The story for the gubernatorial race is clear—Martha Coakley has led in every poll and there is a big enough gap that there is very little chance that Steve Grossman or Don Berwick can win, unless there was something systematically wrong with the polling. This holds for the more permissive likely voter model used by most of the polls, and even the very tight likely voter model used by the Suffolk/Herald poll.

LG Polling Probability Distribution Graph

LG Polling Averages

The polls for Lieutenant Governor show a clear front runner in Steve Kerrigan, but openings for the other candidates in terms of a very large undecided voter poll. If forced to make a bet, Kerrigan would be the obvious choice, but you could very well lose, depending on how the undecided voters move.

AG Polling Probability Distribution Graph

AG Polling Averages

While Maura Healey was way ahead in the most recent Boston Globe/Social Sphere poll, the unweighted average and median of the recent polls show a dead heat. Given Healey's large lead in the most recent poll and her slight edge in the average, she deserves to be the slight favorite. However, that advantage rests solely on the most recent poll—it is not a robust and safe lead.

Treasurer Polling Probability Distribution Graph

Treasurer Polling Averages

The Treasurer's race is about as close to a toss-up as you can get. Deb Goldberg leads Barry Finegold by a razor's edge in the unweighted average, and Finegold is just ahead in the median (which is less responsive to outliers). There has been more variation in Finegold's numbers and there remain a large number of undecided voters. Finegold and Goldberg have the edge of Tom Conroy, but anyone could win this race to be the Democratic nominee for Treasurer.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My finely crafted model for winning the Boston Magazine primary prediction contest and why it is likely to lose

Is it possible to predict how many votes a candidate will get in a low turnout primary?

Premier Massachusetts political writer David Bernstein unveiled the following election prediction contest on September 2:
Your challenge: predict the order, from most to least votes received, of the candidates in the four competitive Democratic primaries. That is, total number of votes—regardless of what race they’re in—with 1 being the highest total and 11 being the lowest.
The Democratic primary races and candidates to be considered are Governor (Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, Don Berwick), Lieutenant Governor (Steve Kerrigan, Mike Lake, Leland Cheung), Attorney General (Maura Healey, Warren Tolman), and Treasurer (Barry Finegold, Deb Goldberg, Tom Conroy).

A simple approach would be to use an average of the polls to estimate the proportion of votes received by each candidate. The problem is that some voters only vote for Governor, leaving the rest of the ballot blank. Some voters choose two or three candidates. And there is a certain kind of voter—you know who you are—who religiously fills in an oval for every down-ballot race.

We are left with the conundrum: how can we estimate the percentage of people that will actually vote for a candidate in each of these races?

My hypothesis—born out by a limited amount of data from the 2002 and 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial elections—is that there is a relationship between the percentage of undecided voters in pre-primary polling and the percentage of blanks left by voters in the actual election.

The relationship between undecided poll numbers and blank votes

I compiled a list of polls and election results from contested Democratic primary races in the 2002 and 2006 Massachusetts primaries, putting together the following table.

Undecideds vs. Blanks - 2002, 2006 - Table

Regression analysis of these data show a strong linear relationship between the percentage of polled undecideds and the percentage of blanks on election day, although there is a fairly wide confidence interval (as large as plus or minus 5 points), one big element of uncertainty in my model.

Undecideds vs. Blanks - 2002, 2006 - Graph

The regression analysis gives this formula:

    Blank% = (0.439 * Undecided%) - 0.334

We can use this formula to convert the average of the undecided percentage for each race into an estimate of the number of blanks, and also the number of votes likely to be cast.

Putting it all together

I chose 650,000 as my arbitrary number of total voters—I didn't spend much time on that estimate as it isn't germane to the final ranking calculation with relative positions—and subtracted out the percentage of voters expected to not vote in each race, resulting in Estimated Non-Blank Votes. The next step was to take the polling average for each candidate, normalize it so that all of the candidates percentages add up to 100% as % of Non-Blank-Votes, and then multiply by the estimated non-blank votes for that race. The inputs to the model are shaded in green and the output ranking is in blue.

Vote estimation spreadsheet

The rankings are affected by the total voters in each race, but also by the number of candidates in the race and each candidate's relative strength (as estimated by the polls). The model predicts a win by Martha Coakley, who also is expected to garner the most votes. However, the other candidates for Governor are ranked in the middle and at the bottom of the vote count rankings.

Maura Healey and Warren Tolman are estimated to get the 2nd and 3rd most votes, largely because of the closeness of the race and the fact that there are only two candidates, but also because there seems to be more voter engagement—measured by a lower percentage of undecideds in the polls—when compared to LG and Treasurer races. Healey and Tolman could very well swap positions if the late-breaking Globe poll with Maura Healey up by 16 points turns out to be anomalous.

Next in rankings at 4 and 5 are the likely winners of the Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer races, Steve Kerrigan and Barry Finegold. Kerrigan ranks above Finegold because of more engagement in the LG race—based on the undecided percentage—and the fact that Kerrigan has a bigger lead. Finegold's lead over Deb Goldberg is very small—looking at the average of the polls—so the 5th and 6th places could easily end up swapped.

The remainder of the ranking slots are for candidates who are not expected to win, at least based on the most recent polling data. Treasurer candidate Tom Conroy and LG candidate Mike Lake are ranked 8 and 9, but their estimated number of votes are so close that the ordering could be considered a coin flip.

Why I expect this ranking to lose

I spent several hours working on this ranking and learned a lot from the exercise, but I still expect it to lose. There are two major sources of uncertainty that make the model likely to fail: 1) there is a great deal of uncertainty in the Undecided% to Blank% regression model due to small amount of data; and 2) there was a great deal of variability in the down-ballot poll results, especially with respect to the number of undecided voters, which are key to the calculation.

MassINC Pollster Steve Koczela makes the point that many voters who don't know much about the Lieutenant Governor race end up casting a vote anyway, with very unpredictable results. This is born out by our Undecided% to Blank% regression model which predicts that the 67% of undecideds polled in the LG race will result in 26% blanks in that race. That means that 41% of voters are unsure or undecided about Kerrigan, Lake, and Cheung, but will nevertheless cast a vote for one of them on September 9. While the top-of-the-ballot gubernatorial race has been reasonably consistent in polling, the down-ballot races make this model's prediction—or any prediction for LG, AG, or Treasurer—hard to make.

While it might not have produced better results, I could have gotten a better feel for the range of likely answers by encoding this spreadsheet in an executable model and then generating random inputs for the polling averages with probability distributions given by the average and standard deviation from the polls. Running this simulation thousands of times would likely give the same result, but also give a clearer picture of range possible—if less likely—rankings.

Polling Averages

Here are the averages I used as input to the calculation spreadsheet. In the end, I couldn't decide whether to use the time-weighted average, or the median of the latest polls (which is less affected by possible outliers, but also less responsive to possible electorate changes), so I split the difference.

MA Governor Polling Averages

MA Lieutenant Gov. Polling Averages

MA Attorney General Averages

MA Treasurer Polling Averages

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A look at the money going in and out of the MA legislative primary races

Looking at the most and least expensive primary campaigns

The deadline for Massachusetts State Primary candidates to file their campaign finance reports with the Office and Campaign and Political Finance was Tuesday, September 2. Candidates were required to report money raised and spent from January 1, 2014 to August 22, 2014. I have created a searchable and sortable spreadsheet with the data for every candidate reported to be on the ballot by the Secretary of State. This article focuses on the candidates that have opponents in the September 9 State Primary.

State Representative primary candidates with opponents

Of the 295 State Representative candidates on the ballot, 95 are in primaries with opponents. Here is the full list of candidates with primary opponents and the amounts with which they started the filing period (often $0 for first time candidates), the amounts they raised and spent from January 1 to August 22, and the ending balance on August 22. This list is sorted by District and Party, showing opponents next to each other.

The average amount raised by the opposed primary candidates is about $17,400 and the average amount spent is about $13,000. However, there is a fair amount of variability, with medians of approximately $10,600 and $8,400 for amount raised and spent.

                                                    Inc  Start  Raised  Spent    End
District       Pt Name                                                              
1st Barnstable D  Alexander R. Morash                     3671    7935   5864   5741
                  Elisa Beth Zawadzkas                       0   22306   6541  15765
                  Ian P. Ryan                                0   35710  10450  25260
2nd Bristol    R  Jeffrey R. Bailey                       8269   13676  19515   2430
                  Bert J. Buckley                         1917    8010   6637   3290
9th Bristol    D  Christopher Markey                INC  17321   19775  20568  16528
                  Alan D. Garcia                             0    6420      0   6420
1st Essex      D  Edward C. Cameron                         10   18799  14288   4521
                  Robert W. Lavoie                           0   13815  10957   2858
2nd Essex      R  Leonard Mirra                     INC  18001    6890   5713  19178
                  Edward H. Watson                           0    6350   1350   5000
5th Essex      R  Michael B. Boucher                         0   12710  12371    338
                  Robert V. Whynott                          0   10350   7359   2991
11th Essex     D  Brendan P. Crighton                     4487   40603  30359  14730
                  Charlie Gallo                              0   38730  26186  12544
                  Aikaterini Panagiotakis Koudanis           0     911    518    393
12th Essex     D  Beverley A. Griffin Dunne                NaN     NaN    NaN    NaN
                  James Moutsoulas                          10    6415   3741   2684
14th Essex     D  Diana Dizoglio                    INC  19650   33355  24242  28762
                  Oscar Camargo                              0   12605  11593   1011
                  Phil Decologero                            0   30063  23463   6601
2nd Franklin   R  Karen R. Anderson                          0   11159   9156   2003
                  Susannah M. Whipps Lee                  4415   30918  29969   5364
8th Hampden    D  Joseph F. Wagner                  INC   9074   51370  28709  31735
                  William C. Courchesne                      0      58     58      0
9th Hampden    D  Edward W. Collins, Jr.                 13100   32155  22283  22972
                  Peter Murphy                               0   19340  11390   7950
                  Jose F. Tosado                             0   16440  15493    947
10th Hampden   D  Carlos Gonzalez                           20    3825   3642    203
                  Ivette Hernandez                           0   13596   8266   5330
                  Melvin A. Edwards                       2695   13998  14721   1972
11th Hampden   D  Benjamin Swan                     INC   3158    5211   4415   3954
                  Larry Lawson                             NaN     NaN    NaN    NaN
13th Middlesex D  Carmine Lawrence Gentile                1750   16932  16367   2315
                  Brian J. Lefort                         2285    6160   3343   5102
18th Middlesex D  Brian J. Donovan                           0   12895   7856   5039
                  James Jim Leary                            0   10151   3549   6602
                  Rady Mom                                   0    8734  10474  -1740
                  David M. Ouellette                         0    6183   4486   1697
25th Middlesex D  Marjorie C. Decker                INC  19349   45096  36346  28099
                  Lesley Rebecca Phillips                  111    2475   1346   1239
28th Middlesex D  Wayne A. Matewsky                 INC    952   18380  18964    368
                  Joseph W. Mcgonagle, Jr.                  63   17380  15589   1854
31st Middlesex D  Michael Bettencourt                        0   14300   9034   5266
                  Michael Seamus Day                      3622   68450  37767  34305
33rd Middlesex D  Neil C. Kinnon                             0   44850  33553  11297
                  Steven Ultrino                           682   52535  49981   3236
34th Middlesex D  Christine P. Barber                      570   50286  42908   7948
                  Erin A. Dibenedetto                      180   20864  12192   8852
                  Sharon K. Guzik                         1224    9066   6590   3700
                  Craig E. Rourke                            0    8250   8034    216
5th Plymouth   R  David F. Decoste                         690    6959   5688   1961
                  Louis U. Valanzola                         0    9216   8134   1082
10th Plymouth  D  Paul L. Beckner                            0    8057   6908   1149
                  Peggy Curtis                               0    8160   6304   1856
                  Michelle M. Dubois                         0   14110   9454   4656
               R  John F. Cruz                              27   13088   5620   7495
                  Colleen R. Maloney                      3801    9550   7348   6003
2nd Suffolk    D  Daniel Joseph Ryan                INC   1605   25326  21905   5027
                  Roy A. Avellaneda                      -5681    3555    515  -2642
5th Suffolk    D  Evandro C. Carvalho               INC   2737    8675   4177   7235
                  Karen A. Charles-Peterson                NaN     NaN    NaN    NaN
                  Althea Garrison                            0    1808   1808      0
7th Suffolk    D  Gloria L. Fox                     INC    932    6685   1412   6205
                  Eric M. Esteves                        10369   11032  10579  10823
                  Rufus J. Faulk                           NaN     NaN    NaN    NaN
12th Suffolk   D  Dan Cullinane                     INC   1243   69656  57782  13117
                  Corey J. Allen                          1858    8278   8580   1556
                  Ruthella J. Logan-Cruz                   100       0     80     20
                  Carlotta M. Williams                       2    2751    523   2231
14th Suffolk   D  Angelo M. Scaccia                 INC  27103   10705  16955  20853
                  Anthony Joseph Solimine                    0    5687   5646     40
5th Worcester  D  Matthew Castriotta                         0    9902   9186    716
                  George Yiantsidis                          0    2000   1525    475
               R  Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr.                  0   10525   7069   3456
                  Stephen J. Comtois Ii                    324    2158   1834    648
                  Jennifer J. Gaucher                        0    5159   5159      0
9th Worcester  R  Shawn Craig                                0   24250  17999   6251
                  David K. Muradian, Jr.                     0   32800  20712  12088
10th Worcester R  Christopher T. Kivior                      0    1045    800    245
                  Mark W. Reil, Jr.                         59    7665   2527   5197
15th Worcester D  Mary S. Keefe                     INC  21376   25740  13418  33698
                  Philip P. Palmieri                     51817    9819   8159  53477
                  Ralph Perez                              NaN     NaN    NaN    NaN
16th Worcester D  Daniel M. Donahue                 INC   7627   37873  24566  20934
                  Joshua Perro                             688  122530  97709  25509
17th Worcester D  Douglas A. Belanger                      455   26470  16002  10923
                  Moses S. Dixon                             0   15550   9398   6152
                  Michael J. Germain                      4815    6285   7984   3116
18th Worcester D  David P. Cortese                        2383    8490   9906    967
                  Mark G. Dowgiewicz                         0   15208   9158   6050
                  Brenda A. Ennis                          166    2993   1747   1412
               R  Charles G. Arakelian                       0    1702   1354    347
                  Jesse P. Limanek                           0    6585   3547   3038
                  Joseph D. Mckenna                       3755   10544   7603   6696

Grouping opponents together and sorting by money spent shows the range of money spent from the most expensive race, to the least. The 16th Worcester Democratic primary between freshman State Rep. Daniel Donahue and previous primary opponent Joshua Perro is the most expensive by far. Perro raised $122,530, largely through loans and donations to his own campaign, a very large amount for a new candidate. He also spent $97,709 four times as much as incumbent Donahue.

The race to replace State Rep. Christopher Fallon is also an expensive race. Candidates Neil Kinnon and Steven Ultrino raising almost $100,00 and spending over $80,000 in the 33rd Middlesex Democratic primary race.

                   Start  Raised   Spent    End                                    Last
District       Pt                                                                      
16th Worcester D    8315  160403  122275  46443                          Donahue, Perro
33rd Middlesex D     682   97385   83534  14533                         Kinnon, Ultrino
34th Middlesex D    1974   88466   69724  20716      Barber, DiBenedetto, Guzik, Rourke
12th Suffolk   D    3203   80685   66965  16924  Cullinane, Allen, Logan-Cruz, Williams
14th Essex     D   19650   76023   59298  36374           Dizoglio, Camargo, DeCologero
11th Essex     D    4487   80244   57063  27667  Crighton, Gallo, Panagiotakis Koudanis
9th Hampden    D   13100   67935   49166  31869            Collins, Jr., Murphy, Tosado
31st Middlesex D    3622   82750   46801  39571                        Bettencourt, Day
2nd Franklin   R    4415   42077   39125   7367                           Anderson, Lee
9th Worcester  R       0   57050   38711  18339                    Craig, Muradian, Jr.
25th Middlesex D   19460   47571   37692  29338                        Decker, Phillips
28th Middlesex D    1015   35760   34553   2222                     Matewsky, McGonagle
17th Worcester D    5270   48305   33384  20191                Belanger, Dixon, Germain
8th Hampden    D    9074   51428   28767  31735                      Wagner, Courchesne
10th Hampden   D    2715   31419   26629   7505            Gonzalez, Hernandez, Edwards
18th Middlesex D       0   37963   26365  11598          Donovan, Leary, Mom, Ouellette
2nd Bristol    R   10186   21686   26152   5720                         Bailey, Buckley
1st Essex      D      10   32614   25245   7379                         Cameron, Lavoie
1st Barnstable D    3671   65951   22855  46766                 Morash, Zawadzkas, Ryan
10th Plymouth  D       0   30327   22666   7661                 Beckner, Curtis, DuBois
14th Suffolk   D   27103   16392   22601  20893                       Scaccia, Solimine
2nd Suffolk    D   -4076   28881   22420   2385                        Ryan, Avellaneda
15th Worcester D   73193   35559   21577  87175                  Keefe, Palmieri, Perez
18th Worcester D    2549   26691   20811   8429              Cortese, Dowgiewicz, Ennis
9th Bristol    D   17321   26195   20568  22948                          Markey, Garcia
5th Essex      R       0   23060   19730   3329                        Boucher, Whynott
13th Middlesex D    4035   23092   19710   7417                         Gentile, LeFort
5th Worcester  R     324   17842   14062   4104    Berthiaume, Jr., Comtois II, Gaucher
5th Plymouth   R     690   16175   13822   3043                      DeCoste, Valanzola
10th Plymouth  R    3828   22638   12968  13498                           Cruz, Maloney
18th Worcester R    3755   18831   12504  10081             Arakelian, Limanek, McKenna
7th Suffolk    D   11301   17717   11991  17028                     Fox, Esteves, Faulk
5th Worcester  D       0   11902   10711   1191                  Castriotta, Yiantsidis
2nd Essex      R   18001   13240    7063  24178                           Mirra, Watson
5th Suffolk    D    2737   10483    5985   7235    Carvalho, Charles-Peterson, Garrison
11th Hampden   D    3158    5211    4415   3954                            Swan, Lawson
12th Essex     D      10    6415    3741   2684                       Dunne, Moutsoulas
10th Worcester R      59    8710    3327   5442                       Kivior, Reil, Jr.

At the other end of the spectrum,  candidates Christopher Kivior and Mark Reil spent just over $3,000 in their bid to unseat Democratic State Representative John Fernandes of the 10th Worcester District.

The primary candidates for the 12th Essex Democratic nomination, Beverley Griffin Dunne and James Moutsoulas have also spent less than $4,000. The winner will face Republican Leah Cole in November.

State Senate primary candidates with opponents

There are 74 candidates that have qualified for the State Senate ballot, and 23 of those candidates have opponents in 9 separate primaries, with 7 Democratic primaries and 2 Republican primaries. The average amount raised and spent by the Senate candidates is about $40,000 and $34,000, with medians of about $27,000 and $21,000, reflecting the higher visibility and large districts of State Senators.

                                                           Inc   Start  Raised   Spent     End
District                     Pt Name                                                          
Cape & Islands               R  Ronald R. Beaty, Jr.                 0     591     591       0
                                Allen R. Waters                      0    6842    4124    2718
1st Essex                    D  Kathleen A. O'Connor Ives  INC    8805   56645   43515   21936
                                Jessica L. Finocchiaro               0   24150   20579    3571
1st Hampden & Hampshire      D  Timothy C. Allen                  5652   61280   66444     489
                                James Chip Harrington             2692   38234   37772    3154
                                Thomas A. Lachiusa                   0    3725    3208     517
                                Eric Philip Lesser                   0  302898  250840   52057
                                Aaron L. Saunders                  242   32220   29389    3073
1st Worcester                D  Harriette L. Chandler      INC  182870   31480   59352  154998
                                William Feegbeh                    NaN     NaN     NaN     NaN
                                Sean M. Maher                        0   11009   10305     704
Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex D  Dylan Hayre                       7956   29449   19861   17544
                                Sara Lynn Reynolds               10716   40865   35052   16529
2nd Essex & Middlesex        D  Barbara A. L'Italien               380   56919   36165   21134
                                Pavel M. Payano                   1238   21692   17820    5110
                                Doris V. Rodriguez                 NaN     NaN     NaN     NaN
2nd Hampden & Hampshire      D  Christopher J. Hopewell            159   13411   13307     263
                                Patrick T. Leahy                     0   27275   24120    3155
2nd Suffolk                  D  Sonia Rosa Chang-Diaz      INC  109263   13890     907  122246
                                Roy Owens                            0       0       0       0
Worc, Hmpdn, Hmpsh & Mdlsx   R  James P. Ehrhard                 14174   25120   23654   15640
                                Michael J. Valanzola             13782   33233   21071   25945

The most expensive State Senate race, by far, is the 1st Hampden & Hampshire race for the open seat being left by Gail Candaras, where the five candidates spent close to $400,000. The lions share of that money came from former White House aide Eric Lesser who raised over $300,000 and spent about $250,000. Lesser's donor list makes a great read with big name contributors like David Axlerod, Stephanie Cutter, and David Plouffe.

                                  Start  Raised   Spent     End                                           Last
District                     Pt                                                                               
1st Hampden & Hampshire      D     8586  438357  387653   59290  Allen, Harrington, Lachiusa, Lesser, Saunders
1st Worcester                D   182870   42489   69657  155702                       Chandler, Feegbeh, Maher
1st Essex                    D     8805   80795   64094   25507                     O'Connor Ives, Finocchiaro
Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex D    18672   70314   54913   34073                                Hayre, Reynolds
2nd Essex & Middlesex        D     1618   78611   53985   26244                   L'Italien, Payano, Rodriguez
Worc, Hmpdn, Hmpsh & Mdlsx   R    27956   58353   44725   41585                             Ehrhard, Valanzola
2nd Hampden & Hampshire      D      159   40686   37427    3418                                Hopewell, Leahy
Cape & Islands               R        0    7433    4715    2718                             Beaty, Jr., Waters
2nd Suffolk                  D   109263   13890     907  122246                              Chang-Diaz, Owens

On the other end of the spectrum there is the Democratic primary between Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and abortion opponent Roy Owens where only 907 dollars were spent by Chang-Diaz.

Make sure to check out the searchable/sortable spreadsheet of all ballot candidates to get a feel for the fundraising of candidates of candidates who only have a general election challenger, or no challenger at all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Polling Averages for 2014 Massachusetts Governor's Race

Including averages for name recognition, the Democratic primary race, and select general election match-ups

Last updated 9/4/2014

There has been regular polling of the 2014 Massachusetts Governor's Race to replace two-term Governor Deval Patrick, including the three Democrats—Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and healthcare advocate Donald Berwick, de facto Republican nominee Charlie Baker, and Independent candidates Jeff McCormick and Evan Falchuk.

Looking at a range of polls collectively and combining their results through averaging helps to reduce uncertainty and provide more robust results. The averages in this article cover name recognition of the major candidates, the Democratic primary—the slate has been set since the Democratic State Convention in June, and three iterations of the possible general election match-ups between each of the three Democrats, the Republican, and two Independents. I include all of the non-partisan, public polls since the convention which include these match-ups.

Name Recognition

The number of people that know and have an opinion of the major candidates remained virtually constant through the months of June and July, while showing signs of a small uptick for the lesser-known candidates in August. Attorney General and former U.S. Senate candidate Martha Coakley enjoys name recognition of 90 percent of likely voters. Former Weld administration official and investor Charlie Baker is known to close to 70 percent of voters. Treasurer and convention winner Steve Grossman finally broke through to 50 percent of the electorate in August, and healthcare reformer and former Obama administration official Don Berwick is struggling for name recognition and is approaching 20 percent.

MA Gov. Name Recognition Graph

MA Gov. Name Recognition Table

Democratic Primary

Attorney General Coakley has led in every poll of the Democratic primary, but her share has fallen from above 50 percent, to the mid-40s in the more recent polls. The number of undecided voters has finally started to fall in August and Grossman and Berwick have started to make inroads with those undecideds. Both Steve Grossman and Don Berwick's percentages have moved above the undecided share in the most recent Suffolk poll, which featured a very tight likely voter screen. Grossman moved within 12 points of Coakley in the Herald/Suffolk poll, but fell back to >20 point gap in recent polls. Some of the tightening was likely due to the Herald/Suffolk polls tighter voter screen leading to a sample with more knowledge of Grossman and Berwick. Berwick is doing well with voters who recognize his name, but he still has a wide name-recognition gap and has yet to break the 20 point barrier.

MA Gov. Democratic Primary Polling Graph

MA Gov. Democratic Primary Polling Table

General election match-ups: Martha Coakley vs. Charlie Baker

Martha Coakley held a lead in every poll in a head-to-head matchup with Charlie Baker until the most recent Globe poll which had Baker up by one point. The averages still give Coakley the edge, but it is clear that the hypothetical matchup is tightening. Independent candidates McCormick and Falchuk show no sign of catching fire, with low-single digit averages. The number of undecided voters has been as high as 27 percent in the WBUR poll, and as low as 16 percent, averaging out to 20 percent.

MA Gov. Coakley vs. Baker graph

MA Gov. Coakley vs. Baker table

Steve Grossman vs. Charlie Baker

There has been less consistency in the Grossman/Baker pairing, but the recent polls show Baker ahead of Grossman by a few points. The 7/29 SocialSphere poll showed almost equal percentages of respondents choosing Baker, Grossman, and Undecided (31, 30, 31). The time-weighted average shows Baker up 3 points on Grossman.

MA Gov. Grossman vs. Baker graph

MA Gov. Grossman vs. Baker table

Don Berwick vs. Charlie Baker

While Don Berwick's numbers had been rising when positioned against Charlie Baker in the general election, the trend may have reversed and Baker has consistently held a lead of over 10 points over Berwick in the hypothetical matchup.

MA Gov. Berwick vs. Baker graph

MA Gov. Berwick vs. Baker table


Monday, July 28, 2014

Revere tornado is first in Suffolk County since 1950

A look at the frequency of tornadoes in Massachusetts counties

The coastal city of Revere was hit by a rare tornado Monday morning, leaving a great deal of damage to trees, houses, and cars, but thankfully no serious injuries or deaths.

A look at tornado history data collected from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and presented by the Tornado History Project shows that, until today, not one tornado has been reported in Suffolk County, which contains Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. The only other Massachusetts County that has not reported a recent tornado is the island county of Nantucket.

MA tornadoes by county since 1950

Worcester County in Central Massachusetts has the highest number of tornadoes, followed by Franklin and Hampden counties. The other counties with the fewest tornadoes are the coastal and island counties of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket.

MA tornadoes by county chart