Trump outperforming Romney by 16-points– Washington Post/ABC News poll


Democrat-heavy sample nets better news for Trump

  • Among the same Democrat-heavy sample: 26% say they voted for Romney in 2012. 42% say they are leaning toward Trump in 2016.
The following is a media news analysis

Another poll; another way to spin.

Earlier this week, I showed how the reporting on a Bloomberg poll could be skewed to make results look more or less positive for a given candidate.

Today, we look at a Washington Post/ABC News poll that also purports to show a widening Clinton lead over Trump – by 8 points: 50% to 42%. This may well be the case. However, looking at the poll sample numbers, there’s some relevant context not reported in news stories.

Read the Washington Post/ABC News poll

The poll interviewed 10% more people who identify as Democrats (33%) than Republicans (23%), with the largest group (36%) calling themselves independent. So with 10% more Democrats than Republicans questioned, Clinton leads Trump by 8-points.

Even more interesting, the same Democrat-heavy sample favored Obama by a larger 10-point margin over Romney in 2012: 36% Obama to 26% Romney (with 32% saying they didn’t vote). We know this because the poll asked respondents how they voted in 2012. So today, Trump is outperforming Romney with the exact same Democrat-heavy sample of voters.

In other words, the same Democrat-heavy sample of Americans that gave Obama a 10-point edge in 2012, gives Clinton a slightly smaller lead, 8-points, in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll.

Further, this particular sample has not proven to be representative in the past. Of those who said they voted in 2012, they gave Obama a hefty 15-point edge over Romney: 54% to 39%. But the actual general election was a much tighter 4-point race: 51% Obama, 47% Romney. So Romney ended up performing 8-points better and Obama 3-points worse than this Democrat-heavy sample group reflected.

Among the same Democrat-heavy sample: 26% say they voted for Romney in 2012, 42% say they are leaning toward Trump in 2016.

Hillary Clinton

One polling expert told me there’s typically no disclosure or adjustment made when random sampling turns up significantly more respondents identifying with one party over another. There’s no way to know how that will match up with the population that actually turns out to vote. “It’s a judgement call,” says the expert. Finding substantially more respondents identifying with one party over another could be an indication that the makeup of the electorate is changing, she adds.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll does what the Bloomberg poll did in pressing respondents to pick a candidate even if they initially stated they didn’t know if they were going to vote or who they would vote for. [Bloomberg added in the “leaners” when reporting the totals in an article, even though the respondents were answering a different question than “for whom would you vote.” This gave Clinton the appearance of a slightly larger lead than she actually had in the Bloomberg poll.] The Washington Post/ABC News poll seems to take this a step further: they represent the two questions “for whom would you vote” and for whom would you “lean” as if they were a single question, though they were undoubtedly asked as two separate questions. See question #2. For some reason, they chose not to separately publish both answers, and only provided the combined total. Does that favor Clinton, as in the Bloomberg poll, whereas without the ” leaners,” Trump is closer? A query to the Washington Post polling department was not answered by publication time.

There’s another point worth noting. The pollsters asked a series of four questions raising negatives about Trump: “goes too far in criticizing,” “a problem with respect for for people with whom he disagrees,” “criticism of Muslim-American family whose son was killed while a U.S. Army captain in Iraq,” “biased against women and minorities.” But they asked just one question raising a negative about Clinton: “too willing to break the rules.” One could envision other questions more comparable to the Trump questions such as: “considers herself above the law in light of the FBI findings about her email servers,” “committed perjury giving incorrect testimony to Congress,” “demonstrates hypocrisy on women’s rights considering her husband’s background and her response to it,” and “jeopardized national security with conduct the FBI called extremely careless.” But these questions weren’t asked. This means there are a number of potential negative Trump points to highlight when reporting on the poll, but fewer potential negative Clinton points available.

None of this is to suggest the headline of this poll won’t prove to be entirely accurate in the general election. Poll trends over time are typically fairly accurate predictors. But this poll is most likely to be an accurate predictor, it seems, in a race where 10% more Democrats vote than Republicans… and that remains to be seen.



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12 Responses to “Trump outperforming Romney by 16-points– Washington Post/ABC News poll”

  1. dennis wooldridge
    August 18, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    Miss Attkisson, Thank you for your report. Thank you for your many contributions to reporting news over the years. I know you were spied on and disrespected by our government and CBS.
    At this point many like me want change like Mr. Trump can bring. We are tried of the same old double talk and double down on lies when politicians and their media heads are caught and confronted.
    All of the polls are discouraging to those that want change from a government it’s political class that rule over us as stupid pawns they play with. I hope you are saying in your report that we still have hope and that not all is lost . Maybe Mr. Trump still has chance . Old folk like me are worried . We have never lived under tyranny before until Obama . Hillary will be more dangerous and will destroy what we have left forever. Please keep reporting and explaining the meaning of polls . Please continue to enlighten us and explain what is really behind the scenes with all of the smoke and mirrors. The political elite and servant media must be exposed and by doing so perhaps enough folk will realize where we are headed and make wise choices for the present and future before it is too late. Thank you.

  2. Don
    August 19, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    Good reporting ,just a idea take a look at the usc la times poll you might find it interesting.thks for all you do.

  3. Phil Clapper
    August 19, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Thank you so much for our analysis, Sharyl.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  4. S.T.
    August 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    I have seen polls where women make up 55% of the sample (in 2012 53% of voters were women), and where minority voters were 20% over-represented than their actual numbers based on 2015 projections derived from earlier census numbers in addition to the oddity you have described here.

    This is doing two things to all the polls results.

    First, it is dramatically improving Obama’s approval ratings since White Americans, especially men and Republicans overwhelmingly disapprove of the president.

    Second, it is making Trump’s electability seem much worse.

    In a year when Republican primary turnout has broken all records, to assume that Republican turnout or White male participation will be as low as is being assumed by all the major polls appears dubious, to say the least.

    I would also point out that at least in some states, young voters actually turned out to vote in the primaries at lower rates than might have been expected by the Sanders polling.

    This again suggests that turnout of younger voters might not match the 2012 numbers.

    I would suggest that the high turnout of younger voters in 2012 was at least in part due to their enthusiastic support for gay marriage. With Trump standing strong with gay Americans in the context of Orlando, there is no socially compelling reason for young voters to turn out for Clinton.

    I might also note that Demexit was a factor at the Clinton convention. Estimates as to Supporters quitting the Democrats various from a high of 50% to a low of 20%.

    I am not sure that any major polling agency has honestly tried to identify what that number might be.

    Given that at least some Sanders supporters quit the Democratic Party in a rage – post convention polling would then falsely show Democrats more solidified around Clinton since those who dislike Clinton the most are no longer identifying as Democrats even though they may have registered Democrat so as to vote for Sanders in the Primaries.

    Given all this, I think there is simply no basis for trusting any of the major polls today.

    Personally, I would not be surprised if after taking all this into account, if even states like Oregon and Ct. turn out to be competitive. There is enormous enthusiasm for Trump among White voters and I just don’t see that reflected in the polls as their samples are simple not giving that any weight at all.

  5. S.T.
    August 19, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    “Estimates as to Supporters quitting the Democrats various from a high of 50% to a low of 20%.”

    Sorry – I meant to say Sanders supporters. I got these numbers based on video interviews I saw with Sanders Convention attendees who left the convention en mass during Hillary’s speech.

  6. csmats
    August 20, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    Excellent reporting on both this poll and the earlier Bloomberg poll. Sharyl Attkisson is a must-read for anyone who wants to be better informed than the next guy.

  7. Jim
    August 21, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    I learned in my statistics class, my senior year in college, how to make a poll say exactly what I want it to say. Your analysis here is a stark example of how the data is being manipulated. One of the key pieces of any polling puzzle is “who” you are polling and their ability to use logic in examining the validity of a question being asked. I have basically stopped believing any of the polls being shoved at us right now because the Lame Stream Media is so in the tank that they made themselves irrelevant with many of the intelligent people of this nation. What is supposed to be news is nothing more than spin anymore and I can spin things myself in my own life so I don’t need their help in telling me how to think and what to think.

  8. jeffery tartt
    August 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Trump will win, Hillary will fall, and OUR country will be a better place for all!


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