About that poll showing a Hillary/Bernie tie in Nevada…

Yesterday, a poll was released showing Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a 45-45 tie in Nevada, with the Nevada Democratic caucuses one week from today.

However, here’s a few caveats about the poll:

  • The poll was conducted for The Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing website.
  • The poll was conducted by TargetPoint Consulting, a consulting/polling firm that I’ve never heard of before.
  • Nevada holds caucuses for major-party presidential nominations, which are extremely difficult to poll accurately.

Those points, in and of themselves, makes the poll immediately suspect in my eyes (remember, I’m a Bernie supporter). However, there’s been extremely little polling of Nevada on the Democratic side, so this is one of the few polls that we can go by to get a general idea as to the state of the Democratic race in Nevada.

I’m not all that familiar with the Nevada Democratic caucus electorate, but, looking at the crosstabs of the poll, a few of them stood out to me:

  • The percentage of respondents aged 45-64 (32%) was the same as the percentage of respondents aged 65 or older (32%). In most parts of the country, the 45-64 age demographic is the largest voting bloc by a statistically significant margin.
  • A majority of poll respondents (55%) had never participated in a prior Democratic caucus in Nevada. This is extremely high for any part of the country, although there were a lot more new voters who registered in Nevada in 2015 than in 2007, the year before the last seriously-contested Democratic presidential nomination race.
  • For the questions about which candidate cares about the poll respondent more and which candidate is more progressive, the exact same result was reached: 36% Hillary, 49% Bernie, and 15% “both equal”.
  • Three questions (Clinton Foundation donations, 2008 bank bailout vote, and FBI investigation) were asked that were negative of Hillary, and two questions (tax increases and government spending increases) were asked that were negative of Bernie. Of those questions, neither of the two Bernie questions made a majority of poll respondents less likely to support him, whereas two of the three Hillary questions (Clinton Foundation donations and 2008 bank bailout vote) made a majority of poll respondents less likely to support her (the other question, regarding the FBI investigation, had a majority of respondents say that they were “not at all concerned” about it)
  • Only 4% of the poll respondents said that they were members of the Culinary Workers Union (simply known as “the Culinary” in Nevada parlance), the largest group of organized workers in Nevada. If I were to guess, the Culinary compromises a much larger percentage of the Nevada Democratic caucus electorate.
  • 66% of the poll respondents live in Clark County (Las Vegas area), compared to 18% who live in Washoe County (Reno/Sparks area), with 16% living in the rest of the state (listed as “Rural” in the poll). Nevada has one of the most uneven population distributions of any state. Clark County has, per the 2010 Census, nearly 69% of Nevada’s population, and Clark County is more Democratic than Nevada as a whole is, so Clark County appears to have actually been undersampled in the poll.

I’m a staunch Bernie supporter, but I don’t think that these poll numbers are accurate, and I would guess that Hillary is actually ahead in Nevada by 4 to 7 percentage points.

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