Saturday, July 19, 2008

The problem with polling for Libertarian candidates

Civitas has recently released its latest poll on the North Carolina governor's race, which shows Libertarian candidate Michael Munger at only 2%, not the 4-6% he's been garnering in the polls at Public Policy Polling.

The problem is one of high variability when you're polling below 8-10%.

The Civitas poll included 598 likely voters, of which only twelve expressed a preference for Munger. A total of 86 voters expressed no opinion. Sampling becomes problematic--hence the perennial qualifier of margin for error--at the 5% and below range. Had three more voters expressed a preference for Munger, he would have been rounded up to 3%. You have to wonder about the reliability and validity of such polls for third-party candidates.

However, there are two particularly interesting items in the Civitas poll: (1) the poll confirms that Munger enjoys stronger support among African-American men than might generally be expected from a Libertarian candidate; and (2) the poll shows Munger pulling 2% of Democrats and 6% of unaffiliated voters--but no Republicans.

Clearly the idea that the Libertarians in North Carolina are going to act as some sort of GOP spoiler needs to be examined more closely.

This is also the case in the new Survey USA 30 June Poll that gives Munger 4% statewide. This poll suggests that Munger voters are three times more likely to favor Barack Obama than John McCain for the Presidency. [Granted, this answer could also have been biased by the lack of an option to pick LP candidate Bob Barr.]

Survey USA also reports that Munger draws equally from Dem and GOPer voters (but twice as many independents). What's new here is that Munger voters are twice as likely to be pro-abortion rights as not, and spread themselves evenly over the spectrum of liberal-moderate-conservative.

Curiouser and curiouser....

1 comment:

Waldo said...

It's based on nothing other than having lived there a long time, but I doubt there are many Republicans in North Carolina who would give serious thought to voting Libertarian. They tend to be business conservatives and ex-Democrats who crossed the aisle over race in the '70s.