So I think we can all acknowledge that someone in my position would rather not have to write a post like this to begin with, but here it goes. Survey USA got a lot of buzz yesterday releasing a poll that showed Deal up 11 points. Is it really that bad for Democrats? Well only if you believe a couple of things in this poll that I think are unlikely:
- Men will make up 54% of the electorate this year. Women have historically made up about 54% of the electorate. Women are split, men favor Deal in the poll by 20%
- Under 35’s will make up 22% of the electorate. Um, not likely. In 2006 they made up about 15% of the electorate. This is Deal’s best age bracket (which also seems fishy) as he leads by 20% here in this poll
- 57% of the electorate makes more than $50k. Maybe they will. The median household income for Georgia in 2008 was $51k in 2008 according to the census department. That means that the median individual income is a lot lower as there are a lot of dual earner households, plus most younger and retired people definitely aren’t pulling in that much. So, Survey USA sees a much wealthier electorate than the state as a whole. Again, it’s not hard to imagine that voters who vote this year are probably more well off than the state as a whole – but 57% making more than the median household makes? Deal has a 27 point advantage among these voters.
So that’s my basic case to fellow Democrats to take this poll with a grain of salt. Three groups that heavily favor Deal that seem to be overrepresented in this survey. Maybe it’s because they called on Friday and Saturday and a bunch of men who were pissed and angry that Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State were losing answered the phone. The other potential problem with this poll is that they’ve got the African American share of the electorate at only 23%. It was 30% in 2008, now nobody I know thinks it will be that high this year, but in 2004 and 2006 it was greater than 24% each year and since then African American new registers outnumbers whites by about a 5:2 ratio.
I don’t generally traffic in conspiracy theories about cell phone only voters. Research has shown that they don’t deviate too much from their peers who have landlines, and Survey USA has done some of that research and shown that when you include them they haven’t moved the poll results very much. But, and here’s the big but for this state – African Americans are disproportionately likely to be in cell phone only households. According to research they use nearly twice as many cell minutes as their white counterparts. Barnes is doing about 60 points better with African Americans than whites, and I believe even though non-cell phone polls have only minor discrepancies in heavily white states with polls that include cell phones, in this special case where the demo that is cell phone only is so different from that that isn’t, you could be accounting for a couple of points change on each candidate here.
I think when you add it (and subtract it) all up, this poll really comes out to about 46 for Deal and 42 for Barnes. In other words, it’s anyone’s ball game and no one at this point is assured of winning without a runoff. Of course, on November 2nd we’ll get the only poll results that matter. Until then I’d work my butt off no matter what side I was on.