Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo has done Florida political aficionados a huge service by “unscrewing” the recent polling in Florida’s governor’s race.
“Taken individually, each poll shows a close race, with either Gov. Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist leading by an insider-the-error-margin amount. Taken together and aggregated, however, the polls indicate an even tighter contest.
“Scott has the slightest of leads: about 43.3 percent to Crist’s 41.3 percent.”
“… we averaged the partisan crosstabs, then indexed the results to a turnout model based on the average of the 2010 and 2006 governors’ races. That produced the topline horse-race number. But unlike last time, this polling aggregate separately analyzed five self-ID polls and two actual-registration polls. The self-ID polls were indexed to the averaged partisan turnout in exit polls (where respondents self-ID). The actual, hard-registration polls were indexed to the average actual partisan turnout as reflected in the Florida voter file. After generating the topline support for each candidate, the two separate types of polls were then averaged together.”
What’s interesting — as if crunching crosstabs and unskewing polls isn’t exciting enough — is not what polls Caputo relied on to reach his conclusions, but which poll he did not include.
Caputo writes that he included numbers from Rasmussen Reports (Sept. 12), Associated Industries of Florida/Clearview Research (Sept. 11), YouGov/NYT/CBS (Sept. 10), SurveyUSA-WFLA TV (Sept. 9), Public Policy Polling (Sept. 9), Optimus, and Telemundo/Leadership Florida/Mason-Dixon (Sept. 6). What he did not include were numbers from a poll commissioned by the Tampa Bay Times, the news partner of Caputo’s newspaper, showing Scott at 41 percent and Crist at 36 percent. (Crist supporters should be pleased Caputo did not include the Times‘ poll numbers as it would have slightly expanded Scott’s lead over Crist.)
Caputo does not explain why he didn’t include the Times poll, but we can assume it’s probably because the Times has not officially released the crosstabs for its survey. The Times‘ polling partner, The Bob Graham Center for Public Service, released a mess of an Excel sheet with data from the poll, but it’s all but indecipherable. Regardless, the Times
did not have the balls chose not to publish the data behind its poll.
Not including the Times poll for that reason is the best case scenario. Caputo could not and will never say it, but the Times poll was, like so much of its recent polling, a clunker. Again, it’s difficult to piece together the partisan breakdown, but it would appear the Times poll has Democratic support for Crist at somewhere around 65 to 70 percent. That’s just not reality.
What I believe is also not reality is that Crist is running poorly in Tampa Bay. St. Pete Polls (which, by the way, nailed the numbers on the Democratic primary in the governor’s race after earlier this year nailing the numbers on the special election in Congressional District 13) just wrapped up a series of polls in several legislative races in Tampa Bay. Almost all of them found the same thing: Crist is running double-digits ahead of the Republican candidates who are, invariably, leading the Democrats. Specifically, Crist is winning in HD 63 where Republican Shawn Harrison is leading Democratic incumbent Mark Danish IN A RACE WITH A GOP SAMPLE. Crist is winning in HD 69 where Republican Kathleen Peters is leading her Democratic opponent by double-digits. With these numbers in mind — numbers I trust — I just don’t believe that Crist is underperforming in Tampa Bay.
Charlie Crist may indeed be losing to Scott, but he’s not at 65 percent with Democrats and he’s not trailing in Tampa Bay. Just. Not. Happening.
But put Crist vs. Scott aside. The number one issue to be had with that Times poll was its handling of Amendment 2, specifically the option of selecting “haven’t thought much about this” in response to how one will vote on the initiative.
Maybe this is a new trick this old dog has yet to learn, but I haven’t seen before “haven’t thought much about this” as an option in a survey. I would expect most normal Floridians to choose “haven’t thought much about this” in response to EVERY question. I mean, other than Marc Caputo, this blogger, and a few of our readers, who is thinking much about Crist vs. Scott or a ballot initiative?
No wonder Caputo didn’t use his news partner’s poll!
Then again, they are numbers from the good folks who had Mitt Romney winning Florida by six points.