Analyzing the latest Q-poll showing Charlie Crist leading by three points – A single grain

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The latest offering from Quinnipiac Polling Institute, showing Crist pulling slightly ahead of Scott, seems to be well done and well balanced.

The poll, which ran from October 22nd through the 27th may be a few days old, but with over 800 likely voters, a seemingly well-balanced partisan sample (+2 GOP), an aggressive use of cell phones and a decent racial makeup it meets most of our criteria.

But — and I can’t understand why a respectable outlet like Q-Poll does this — the partisan breakdown is not really the partisan breakdown.

And I know we have tread this ground before, but here I go again. The good folks at Quinnipiac ask party affiliation as follows: “Generally speaking, do you consider yourself a Republican, A Democrat, and Independent, or what?” Yes, the sample is +2 GOP and that’s good, but instead of Q-Pac linking actual voter registration to the poll from the voter file (which is insanely easy to do) or simply asking the more reliable, “And how are you registered to vote?” – or doing both! – they insist on asking the question that way. (As an aside, that is a necessity in other states that may not require voter identification like Florida does, but this isn’t other states.)  Asking, “do you consider yourself” leaves too much room for error and with any poll that refuses to track by actual party registration, we are obligated to take this poll with: A. Grain. Of. Salt.

But that is just a grain because this poll does have some interesting things about it that are worthy of discussion. For example, it tracks the potential impact of Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie. This poll shows that he takes equally from Crist and Scott and this is important because, as we have repeatedly suggested here, the use of the term “Libertarian” likely inflates his poll numbers slightly (because that term will not be on the ballot, “LPF” will be.) So if we remove his name from the test ballot, we can see where voters break and correlate that to see what happens as Wyllie’s numbers will fade on the real ballot. According to Q-Poll, Crist’s lead remains unchanged – he has a 3-point lead under both scenarios.

Also of interest is the fact that Wyllie supporters (in the poll) say that they are four times more likely to change their minds and, according to the poll, they are likely to break evenly between Crist and Scott. So maybe there is more room for growth for either candidate.

Finally, Q-Poll’s recent polls show a clear trend: a slow and steady rise for Crist with a similar downward slide for the governor. And that is both noteworthy and usable as, to Q-Poll’s credit; they have stuck to their same methodology all along.

Verdict: To quote Captain Marko Ramius, “One. Ping. Only.”

What is the SPB Salt Shaker Scale? It’s our new measurement guide to reading polls. These are the ratings:

  • A full shaker: There are enough problems with the methodology to warrant serious concerns.
  • A few grains: There are some concerns with how this poll was conducted and/or with the Demographic make-up to raise some issues.
  • A single grain: There are only a few concerns with how the poll was conducted.
  • No salt needed: Solid pollster, solid methodology and the numbers look balanced.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.