Either SurveyUSA’s sampling is way off, or Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are having a big impact on the runoff. We’ll get to the sampling issues — and there are some — in a moment, but the toplines of their poll with Atlanta’s 11Alive show both Democrats out in front of the Republican incumbents in Georgia’s two Senate runoffs. One of the two Democrats has a lead outside the margin of error (arguably), and it’s not the one you’d think:
With the Jan. 5 runoff races just a little more than a month away, a SurveyUSA Poll commissioned exclusively by 11Alive shows that the candidates are in tight, competitive races.
The poll indicates that in the runoff between Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, the candidates run effectively even. The poll shows Ossoff at 50 percent, nominally 2 points ahead of Perdue, at 48 percent.
The slight lead, however, shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than validation that every vote will be critical when Georgia starts counting ballots. Ossoff also led some polls in the run-up to the Nov. 3 general election, before Perdue secured about 86,000 more votes.
There are some issues with SurveyUSA’s sampling, as I mentioned. We can see that from the published margin of error, which comes in at a rather high 5.2%. That essentially renders the Purdue/Ossoff result a dead heat, and arguably does the same with the Warnock/Loeffler race too, depending on how one applies MoE. We haven’t seen many polls for the runoff, but the others had MoEs of less than 4%.
The sample assumes that Democrats will outperform Republicans in turnout, too. The sample is comprised of 44% Democrats, 41% Republicans, and 11% independents. Not only does that contradict turnout in the just-completed election (34% Dems, 38% GOP, 28% indies), it also flies in the face of Georgia history for runoff elections. That problem should have been obvious in the control questions of the poll, where both Biden and Ossoff overperform against their actual results:
Henry Olsen pointed out the problem to Kyle Kondik this morning:
not impossible that the runoff electorate is bluer than the general election electorate — of course the history in Georgia (including the 2018 sec/state runoff) argues the opposite
— Kyle Kondik (@kkondik) December 3, 2020
So perhaps this poll isn’t giving us a very clear predictive model for the eventual turnout on January 5. On the other hand, perhaps it might. In this poll, 24% of the people who say they won’t vote say that decision is based on the system being rigged or because they’re boycotting. The 5% who are boycotting are spread evenly in the party demos, but those saying “rigged” are not: they are 20% of the Republican refuseniks, while only 7% of Democrats and 10% of independents who won’t vote. Similarly, 80% of Democrats have either full or some confidence their votes will count, while only 54% of Republicans feel that way. On full confidence, the difference is starker — 52% of Democrats but only 16% of Republicans.
That’s pretty amazing for a state in which Republicans control the voting process, and GOP policies for voter-ID have been in place for a while. It looks like Republicans are talking themselves out of a win in Georgia.
And that might be in more ways than one. Another poll from Political IQ shows that Georgians prefer Republican control of the Senate — but only barely, at 46/42, basically itself a dead heat. One has to wonder whether the meltdown over the 2020 election might be doing a lot more damage to the GOP brand in this red state than people are willing to admit. This poll shows a slight turnout advantage for Republicans in the runoffs, at least for now:
The results suggest that GOP Senate candidates have a slight edge in turnout, at least now. Voters who said they’ll definitely vote split toward the GOP: Forty-nine percent said they want the GOP to control the Senate, while 41 said they want the Democratic Party to take over. Meanwhile, 84 percent of Republicans say they’d definitely vote, compared with 80 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents.
SUSA has it at 88% of Republicans but 92% among Democrats. Republicans had better hope Political IQ has the predictive edge, but they might want to shut down Sidney Powell and Lin Wood ASAP to make sure that they can keep whatever advantage they do have now.