Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Poll of the week
New Quinnipiac University polls of the gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida found that both are neck and neck, with voters almost evenly split between the Democratic and Republican candidates. That’s not all that surprising in a perpetual swing state like Florida. But here’s what did catch our eye: The vast majority of Florida voters are already committed to a candidate with about two months still left until Election Day. Only 3 percent of voters in the gubernatorial poll and 2 percent of voters in the Senate poll said they were undecided.
The percentage of voters who say they are unsure or undecided tends to depend a lot on the pollster — different polling firms “push” respondents to various extents to declare a preference.1 But even comparing the results of the Florida polls, which were conducted from Aug. 30 through Sept. 3, to other Quinnipiac polls taken in August, the Sunshine State races stand out. A Quinnipiac survey of Connecticut voters found that 14 percent were undecided in their vote for governor and 8 percent in their vote for senator. When Quinnipiac surveyed New Jersey voters, they found that 16 percent of voters were unsure who they would cast their Senate vote for. And even in the highly competitive Texas Senate race, which Quinnipiac polled in late July, 6 percent of voters said they were undecided.
Other pollsters haven’t found quite so few still-deciding voters in Florida, but Quinnipiac isn’t much of an outlier. Every recent poll of the governor’s race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis shows a close race with few voters still up for grabs:
|Start date||End date||Pollster||Gillum||DeSantis||Unsure|
|8/29||8/30||Public Policy Polling||48||43||9|
And the most recent polls of the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott show the undecided share in the single digits:
|Start date||End date||Pollster||Nelson||Scott||Unsure|
|8/29||8/30||St. Pete Polls||47||47||5|
|8/29||8/30||Public Policy Polling||46||45||8|
|8/16||8/20||Florida Atlantic University||39||45||16|
|8/10||8/16||Saint Leo University||36||40||15|
Couldn’t the Floridians who say they’re behind a candidate still change their minds? Of course. Interestingly, Quinnipiac tested this. Among those who stated a preference in the races (almost everyone), Quinnipiac asked a follow-up question about whether their minds were made up or if they thought they might change their minds before the election. In the race for governor, 94 percent of respondents said their mind was made up. In the race for the Senate, 92 percent did. That’s a hair higher than the share of Floridians who told Quinnipiac their minds were made up about the presidential election in a July-August 2016 poll. (That’s surprising because gubernatorial races tend to be less reflexively driven by partisanship than presidential ones.) It’s also a tad more than the share of Americans nationally who said they were decided about the White House in a September 2016 poll.
Considering that so many voters seem to have made up their mind this early in the campaign, there may be little opportunity for the candidates to persuade voters. This means we might see the campaigns focus on turnout and play to their respective bases. And both races seem likely to come down to who does a better job.
Other polling nuggets
- NBC News/Marist polls out this week found Senate Democratic candidates with an edge over Republican candidates in Indiana and Tennessee. In Missouri, an NBC News/Marist poll found Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley, in a dead heat.
- An internal poll released by the Democrat challenging indicted U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter found the race tied at 46 percent. (As of Thursday, Hunter’s odds of winning re-election had fallen in FiveThirtyEight’s House forecast. Last week, Pollapalooza noted his chances were 9 in 10.
- Women were 18 points less likely than men to say that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to an ABC News/Washington Post survey. Similarly, Fox News found a 15-point gender gap in a recent survey testing support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
- HuffPost rounded up polls conducted in August that measure Kavanaugh’s support; on average, 38 percent favor his confirmation.
- A YouGov poll found that Americans ages 18-34 are far less likely than Americans who are 55 or older to believe that the U.S. is a “special country.”
- An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that opinions about kneeling during the national anthem are driven by political and racial divides.
FiveThirtyEight House forecast update for Sept 7, 2018
Polls this week showed an overall decline in Trump’s approval rating. His net approval rating currently sits at -13.7 points, according to our tracker. (That’s a 40 percent approval rating and a 53.7 percent disapproval rating.) That’s a drop from one week ago when his net approval was -12 points; 41.5 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s job performance and 53.5 percent disapproved. At this time last month, that net approval was -11.2 points — 41.5 percent approval, 52.7 percent disapproval.
We’ve tweaked our generic congressional ballot tracker! See here for a full explanation of what changed, but in short: The average now takes more convincing before it’ll move toward one party or the other. According to our revised tracker, Americans currently opt for a hypothetical Democratic House candidate over a hypothetical Republican by a 8.4-point margin (48.3 percent to 39.9 percent). One week ago, their lead was the same 8.4 points (48.2 percent to 39.8 percent). One month ago, the Democrats had 7.4-point advantage, 47.4 percent to 40 percent.