Thursday, 18 October 2012 15:34

Pinsonat: Louisiana polls, Jindal, Blanco and likely voters

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louisiana capitol 2This is part II of a discussion with Bernie Pinsonat, President of Southern Media and Opinion Research, Inc, (SMOR) to discuss the differences between his and another poll that resulted in significant variances in outcomes. 



A few weeks ago, Pinsonat released a poll that focused upon Louisiana voters and that revealed a single-digit gap between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a slightly-over 50 percent favorable for Governor Bobby Jindal, little support for major changes in the charity hospital system, strong popularities for Mary Landrieu, a lead by David Vitter over all other possible candidates for governor and other issues. 

A week later, another poll showed different results. 

Questions were raised why the differences since some of the polling items were similar.  The SMOR poll was paid for by Baton Rouge republican businessman Lane Grigsby. 

One of the major differences between the two polls was the SMOR poll focused upon voters whereas the poll measured “likely voters”. 

Due to the confusion over the two poll results, Bayoubuzz requested further information from Pinsonat to further educate the public about polling processes: 

 If there were a statewide election between local candidates this year, would you still be using registered voters rather than likely voters?

Conduction surveys aimed at predicting a winner in an election is very different than conducting a survey to measure voter’s opinions on political issues. Accuracy in predicting the outcome in an election relies heavily on surveying voters who will actually vote. Pollster use different types of voter list in order to speak to someone who is likely to vote. Hence the term likely voter is used to describe the list of phone numbers used to call these voters. 

When a very low turnout of voters is expected to vote in a particular election, we use a list called chronic voters.  Most election in Louisiana are dominated by likely voters - which is a turnout of fifty plus percent. Seventy percent of these voters are fifty years old and over. They also tend to be middle class and conservative. Most governors’ election in Louisiana produces likely voter turnouts. Likely turnout voter list do not produce a true picture of public opinion on sensitive political issues like cuts to health care and cuts to state services. It would be irresponsible for me to run a survey measuring public opinion on budget cuts and closure of charity hospitals using only likely voters. I am not attempting to predict a winner in an election; I am surveying the feelings of all voters on an issue that impacts their daily lives. The conservative leaning white democrats shift away from republicans when asked if they favor more cuts to state budget and additional cuts to the charity hospital system.   

One needs to look no further than the 2003 runoff election between Kathleen Blanco and Bobby Jindal for the ultimate example! Kathleen Blanco launched a series of television ads claiming Bobby Jindal did not care about poor people and a killer ad claimed Jindal intended to close charity hospitals. Jindal’s double digit lead over Blanco disappeared in seventy two hours.  Kathleen Blanco destroyed Jindal in north Louisiana. Blanco won going away fifty two to forty eight. White democrats deserted Bobby Jindal leaving him republicans and a few white democrats, which is not enough to win statewide! Fifty percent of all voters actually voted in that runoff election in 2003. In this likely voter turnout (which always favors republicans) election, white democrats did not vote for the republican and Jindal lost. When republicans’ reform areas of the budget that sheds lower middle class government jobs plus shuts down health care facilities-the advantage republicans enjoy in likely voter turnout elections suddenly evaporates. 

Polling which predicts winners and losers outcomes is an important tool in elections, but the navigating of the political issues remains the ultimate barometer in winning elections. 

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