Jim Geraghty doesn’t know much about the firm Poll Position, and neither do I. Their new “scientific” poll, as opposed to their online poll, has such a surprising result that one might be tempted to instantly dismiss it. But it also has a surprising pollster:
In a hypothetical head-to-head presidential race, Republican Herman Cain edges Democrat Barack Obama, according to our latest national scientific opinion poll.
The poll found Cain topping Obama by a narrow 43%-41% margin, with 15% saying they had no opinion. The 2% difference falls within the poll’s 3% margin of error.
Poll Position’s scientific telephone survey of 1,135 registered voters nationwide was conducted October 9, 2011 and has a margin of error of ±3%.
The name of the pollster? Eason Jordan. Yes, it’s the same Eason Jordan who left CNN after making unsubstantiated claims about American soldiers targeting journalists in Iraq. Something tells me that Jordan isn’t your average conservative activist. Their polling methodology looks sound enough, even if they are going after adults, but this poll was taken on one evening — a Sunday at that — and that’s not necessarily the best way to conduct a survey with national implications.
Let’s take a look at the crosstabs. First, the sample looks solid in terms of political affiliation, with a D/R/I of 33.4/32.2/34.3, but the age demos look pretty iffy. The poll only surveyed 28 voters in the youngest age bracket (18-29YO) for a percentage of 2.5%, a group that would normally break towards Obama. In 2008, for instance, they comprised 18% of the vote. They may not be as motivated in 2012, but I doubt that their participation will drop that low or anything close to it. In the Poll Position sample, seniors comprise 41.5% of the respondents; in 2008, they comprised 16% of the vote, and Cain’s 7-point lead among seniors is a heavy contributor to his overall edge. Cain loses by 20 points among Hispanic voters, but that’s not a problem in this poll, because they only make up 3.2% of the sample. In 2008, they made up 9% of the vote.
That doesn’t mean that some of the other results aren’t interesting, though. Cain picks up 24.5% of the African-American vote, a portion that Republicans haven’t carried in decades. Eighteen percent of Democrats would vote for Cain, while only 12.5% of Republicans would vote for Obama. Cain wins independents narrowly at 40.3/38.7, with more than one in five undecided, a figure that does not bode well for the incumbent.
I’d put this poll in the “wait and see” category, with heavy caveats about its survey composition. At the least, it demonstrates that Cain could be competitive against Obama in a general election at this stage of his campaign, but we need more data points on that question before drawing a conclusion.
Update: Yikes — I pulled a picture of the wrong Cain. I originally had a shot of Will Cain of The Blaze and CNN. My apologies to Will, and I’ve replaced the picture.