Friday, July 24, 2020

Recent NC Polls show discrepancies: what explains it?

By David McLennan, Guest Contributor

Two recent polls about the US Senate race in North Carolina raised the eyebrows of many political observers in the state and around the nation. The June East Carolina University Poll had Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham tied with Republican incumbent Thom Tillis (41-41). Public Policy Polling (PPP) released their June poll results that had Cunningham up eight points over Tillis (47-39).

This race, expected to be very competitive by national forecasting organizations such as the Cook Political Report, appears to be a toss-up, according to the ECU Poll, but less so in the PPP Poll.

The discrepancy in these results is not unique to these two polling organizations. Results about North Carolinians preference for president in April showed equally dissimilar results from the Civitas Poll and my own Meredith Poll.

These differing results do not mean there is anything wrong with the methodologies used by the polling organizations. It reflects a more fundamental fact about public opinion that early polls—those conducted months before Election Day—are going to have results that differ, often wildly. The reality is that the surveys administered closer to Election Day are going to be more consistent with each other and show more stability in public opinion.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Party Switchers in the North Carolina Electorate

By Chris Cooper

The makeup of a state’s electorate can change in a few ways. The first is what is euphemistically known as “generational replacement”—people enter the electorate when they come of age and they exit the electorate when they shuffle off their mortal coil. People can also register at any point after they reach 18—large-scale registration can spur small pockets of registration and affect the shape of the electorate. Voters can also from one state to another—influencing the electorate in the state they leave and that they move to. A small, but important number of registered voters also have their voting rights temporarily suspended after committing a felony.

While all of these patterns are important, the partisan makeup of the electorate can also change when registered voters switch parties. Examining these patterns in party switching can give us signals about how the opinions, attitudes and behaviors of the electorate may be changing.