Thursday, April 9, 2015

WARNING: These Quinnipiac Polls Will Give You Whiplash

Here's a handy guide for the next 19 months: Polls showing Hillary Clinton doing awesome are not newsworthy, but polls showing Hillary Clinton doing less than awesome are ominous signs of her imminent collapse. To keep your sanity during our upcoming year-and-a-half journey into the political abyss, you'll have to completely disregard the headlines and never take one poll in isolation.

But even that advice doesn't always hold, because sometimes a respected polling outfit will release several swing-state polls in short order that give you whiplash and make you question the nature of reality. This is exactly what has been happening with Quinnipiac recently, who just showed strong and growing support for Clinton in one key state and an inexplicably massive surge for Rand Paul in another...almost simultaneously.

Today, Quinnipiac released polls for three states along with the provocatively-headlined press release "Paul Blooms As Clinton Wilts In Colorado, Iowa, Virginia" wherein they make clear in the first sentence that "Hillary Clinton's lead is wilting against leading Republican presidential candidates in three critical swing states, Colorado, Iowa and Virginia" and later posit that "it is difficult to see Secretary Clinton's slippage as anything other than a further toll on her image from the furor over her e-mail."

While this might sound pretty bad, there's a pretty big problem here that quite frankly calls their practices into question: This headline is demonstrably untruthful and it only takes a quick glance at their results to see why. Hopefully this is simply a careless oversight on their part and not an indication of bias. Either way, it should be corrected soon if they'd like to keep their reputation intact.

The bottom line isn't really all that complicated. Compared to their previous results two months ago, Hillary Clinton is doing a little worse in their polls of Iowa and Colorado while doing a little better in Virginia. Sometimes it's actually more than a little better, as she went from a 42-42% tie into a strong 47-40% lead against Jeb Bush since their last poll. This is significant because Virginia is the biggest state in this batch and has close to as many electoral votes as Iowa and Colorado combined. If she remains strong in Virginia until election day, it would reduce the GOP's odds of winning the White House to almost zero.

So...does this mean that eGhazi actually helped Hillary in Virginia while hurting her in the other two states? That would be pretty weird, so here's hoping that Quinnipiac clarifies this soon... because the world must know!

Another thing you might notice from these press releases is that Quinnipiac is generally pretty gaga about Rand Paul, and there's no better example of this than their utterly bizarre results from Pennsylvania last week.

Clinton crushed Paul in their poll from two months ago by a whopping 19 points (53-34%), but since Pennsylvania is expected to be a pretty solid state for her next year, this didn't seem too surprising. But last week, in a turnaround of epic proportions, Rand gained 20 points and now leads Hillary by 1 point (45-44%)! But it wasn't just Paul who improved in their latest poll, it was the entire GOP field. This is especially weird because their own simultaneous results from Ohio and Florida showed only minimal movement towards Paul and the rest of the GOP...certainly nothing near that magnitude.

This begs the question: Is Pennsylvania suddenly "Rand crazy" or is it just the guys at Quinnipiac? The answer is more likely the latter, because if we look at their party weightings from poll to poll...things look fishy.

Here is the breakdown for their Pennsylvania poll from February 3rd:

And here is the breakdown from their poll from March 31st:

Notice the difference? From one Pennsylvania poll to the next, the Democrats went from an 8-point advantage into a 31-31 tie with Republicans in party ID! No shift of that scale occurs in their other five recent state polls. Obviously, this makes no sense, but according to the press release:
"A red flag in blue state Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton, seemingly invincible before the e-mail scandal, ends up tied with Rand Paul," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Just how bad was the eGhazi thing for Hillary? So bad that it turned hundreds of thousands of registered Pennsylvania Democrats into Republicans and made Rand Paul a serious contender for the White House...all while somehow leaving their next-door neighbor Ohio essentially unaffected!


No matter the reputation Quinnipiac may have, it doesn't shield them from the obvious conclusion that these are wacky polling results propagated with biased and misleading press releases.

They're going to have to do better in the future, because even Gravis Marketing is looking pretty good in comparison right now.


  1. Scan, get your ass out of bed and write an article about Hillary declaring on Sunday! There's two diaries on Kos to that effect. (Sorry, I'm a little giddy with excitement.)

    1. I'm on it on FB and Twitter for now! Exciting times!!