The last Marquette University poll (May 30 poll toplines) from Charles Franklin before the recall election, when analyzed, will send Scott Walker and the GOP into full spin and attack mode. Even after spending tens of millions of dollars, outspending Tom Barrett 12-1, and plastering the airwaves with the basest propaganda – the race is a virtual tie.
The GOP and conservative pundits will say Walker has a commanding lead. Among likely voters, Walker leads Barrett in this poll 52 – 45%, with a 4.1% margin of error (MoE), larger than the 3.7% MoE in the rest of the poll due to smaller sample size. Based on the MoE, the results are virtually unchanged from the last poll. A look deeper into the poll will explain why this is good news for Barrett supporters.
As Badger Democracy has always maintained, the polling done by Charles Franklin is sound – the only errors arise from media outlets and propagandists misrepresenting what the poll says. Franklin does a much better job than many polls at disclosing all the information, methodology, and crosstabs. Here are the facts – suitable for offsetting right-wing radio talking points. The bottom line…due to the random sample and geographic population distribution, this is a poll which leans significantly conservative – by as much as 5-8%. Here’s how:
First, post-stratification, or “weighting” of the samples to reflect the overall population. The only weighting done in this poll was for age and sex. The rest of the poll results were “sufficiently close to the population values that only age and sex were used for estimation of the weights.” As samples are derived from random phone dialing, here are significant statistical differences from the samples based on the May 30 poll Methodology pdf:
1. “PID3 w/lean” – This is the party people identify with, when pushed into choosing. Unlike the last poll, the sample actually breaks a little more toward Democratic, 48-42.5%. So why the higher percentage for Walker? The poll is under-representative of Independents (by 7% under), a demographic Barrett is doing very well with, according to previous polls. The other issue, is this is simply an overly conservative sample. According to the crosstabs, Walker gets nearly 18% of the “Democratic” vote in this poll, and 45% of Independents – these reflect what is often considered “outlier” samples…leaning considerably further than expectations based on previous samples. In past polls, Walker has gotten no more than 10% of Democratic voters, and under 40% of Independents. The reason this poll leans so conservative can be found in the population distribution.
2. Franklin is sampling his polls to be reflective of population distribution, based on the most recently available Claritas estimate. Here is the population distribution from this poll, very close to the actual population:
City of Milwaukee 12.66%
Rest of Milwaukee DMA 32.68% Madison DMA 16.83% Green Bay‐Appleton DMA 18.50% Rest of Wisconsin 19.33% Total 100%
While this reflects the POPULATION distribution, the VOTING distribution is very different. Here is the vote distribution by corresponding region from the 2010 General Election, and the corresponding difference in sample (source, GAB election data by county 2010):
City of Milwaukee 16% (-4)
Rest of Milwaukee DMA 19% (+13)
Madison DMA 15% (+1)
Green Bay‐Appleton DMA 10% (+8)
Rest of Wisconsin 40% (-21)
Significant that the “collar counties” of Milwaukee are over-represented by 13% because of the emphasis on population distribution, while Milwaukee is under-represented by 4%. Meanwhile, in 2010, Dane County only had statewide average turnout of about 43%, instead of its usual 55-60% – thus only accounting for 15% of the vote. A much higher turnout in Dane County will mean a higher impact than the 15% reflected by the voting distribution, potentially as high as the 16% range seen in the population distribution. For purposes of analysis, let’s consider Dane County even, somewhere in the 15-20% range.
Also of significance is the over-representation of the Fox Valley (traditionally more conservative) by 8%, and the outstate vote – accounting for 40%, is under-represented by over 20%. This is the most significant number for Tom Barrett and his supporters. Based on the differences in population and voting distribution; along with the virtual even distribution in party (though slightly under-representative of independents) it is fair to say this poll could be conservative leaning by as much as 8% (based on the MoE), bringing the race to dead even.
Despite the 12-1 financial advantage for Scott Walker; Tom Barrett and his supporters have brought the race to even, and there is a noticeable shift in momentum. Mobilizing the Democratic and progressive voters in the upstate areas of Wisconsin, Dane and Milwaukee Counties will make the difference in this election. Every poll has been consistent in that fact.
The Marquette – Franklin poll, by being factually accurate about who is sampled, and the composition of the sample, has given us a clear path to victory – mobilizing voters in these key areas of the state will lead to victory on June 5th.
As Mahlon Mitchell and the fire fighters say… “All hands working” for the next 6 days. Solidarity.