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HUFFPOLLSTER: Polls Show Close Democratic Races In Utah And Idaho

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 22/03/2016 Natalie Jackson
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There’s not much polling in Tuesday’s primary states, but it looks like voters in Arizona and Utah will make very different decisions. Many Republicans are embarrassed about their party’s campaign this year. And a poll finds congressional approval topping 20 percent for the first time in a year. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

MIXED RESULTS EXPECTED IN TUESDAY’S CONTESTS - Arizona and Utah, as well as Democrats in Idaho and Republicans in American Samoa, vote Tuesday. Arizona is the biggest prize of the day, with 85 delegates to be awarded in the winner-take-all Republican primary and 85 delegates to be divided proportionally among Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are leading their respective parties in the limited Arizona polling. According to HuffPost Pollster's average , Trump is ahead by a 17 percentage point margin with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 20 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 16 percent. But there have only been three polls in the last month, and only one in the last week.  On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 26 points, 58 percent to 24 percent, according to the one poll conducted in the past month.

Utah appears to be Cruz territory -  Polls are scarce in Utah, but Cruz is widely expected to win the caucus. The most recent poll, conducted by Republican firm Y2 Analytics , shows Cruz leading with 53 percent. Kasich is in second place with 29 percent and Trump trails with  11 percent. Utah's 40 delegates for Republicans will be distributed proportionally among the candidates unless one reaches 50 percent, in which case all the delegates will go to the winner. 

Sanders is running a close race in Utah and Idaho - A Dan Jones/Deseret News/KSL poll released Monday shows Sanders leading Clinton with 52 to 44 percent in Utah, while a month-old survey from the same pollster shows the two candidates in a close race in Idaho. The 37 delegates up for grabs in Utah and the 27 delegates in Idaho will be distributed proportionally.

REPUBLICAN VOTERS ARE EMBARRASSED ABOUT THE GOP CAMPAIGN - Patrick Healy and Megan Thee-Brenan: "Alarmed by the harsh attacks and negative tone of their presidential contest, broad majorities of Republican primary voters view their party as divided and a source of embarrassment and think that the campaign is more negative than in the past , according to a New York Times/CBS News national poll released on Monday. The dismay has not set back their leading candidate, however. While about four in 10 Republican voters disapprove of how Donald J. Trump has handled the violence at some of his rallies, Mr. Trump has also picked up the most support recently as several rivals have left the race….….About six in 10 Republican primary voters say the overall tone of their party’s nomination fight has been more negative than in past campaigns, while only one in 10 Democratic primary voters hold the same view of their party’s campaign. And 60 percent of Republican primary voters said the campaign had made them feel mostly embarrassed about their party, while only 13 percent of Democratic primary voters expressed that opinion."  [ NYT ]

CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL IS AT ITS HIGHEST POINT IN A YEAR… 22 PERCENT - Donovan Slack: “More than two thirds of Americans – some 68% — disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday. That's not too surprising, given previous polling. But what is surprising is that a whopping 22% actually approve of the job Congress is doing. ‘ This is the first time Congress’s approval rating has crossed the 20 percent threshold in nearly a year, so I guess that’s something ,’ Monmouth poll director Patrick Murray said in a statement.” [ USA Today ]

Approval remains very low on average - The HuffPost Pollster average puts congressional approval at just 13.5 percent overall, with the most recent Monmouth number clearly bucking the trend. Monmouth polls have shown higher-than-average ratings on this question for about a year, averaging 19.2 percent approval for Congress. Still, 22 percent is a full 5 points up since they asked the question in January.

MOST AMERICANS THINK SENATE SHOULD HOLD SCOTUS HEARINGS - HuffPollster: "[I]n a new HuffPost/YouGov poll , Americans approve by a 13-point margin of Obama’s decision to nominate [Merrick] Garland, an appellate judge, to the Supreme Court. Fifty-two percent want Republicans in the Senate to hold hearings, while just 28 percent say they shouldn’t do so. While Americans are divided along partisan lines, the split is less dramatic than one might expect. Sixty percent of Democrats want the Senate to hold hearings, as do 49 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents…. Of those who don’t want the Senate to hold hearings, just 6 percent say it’s because Garland wouldn’t be a good justice. Thirty-nine percent instead say they don’t think the Senate should consider any nominee appointed by a president whose term is almost over. Another 31 percent cite even more obviously political reasoning: They don’t trust Obama to nominate someone who would do a good job." [ HuffPost ]

Historical framing can change opinions - Kevin Quealy: " Partly because Supreme Court vacancies are rare, Morning Consult gave poll respondents nine bits of history after first posing the question, asking after each fact if the additional context would change voters’ opinions. In almost each case, more information made voters somewhat more likely to prefer a Senate vote now. The question most likely to cause a change was the one that made the current Senate look bad in the light of history. When respondents were told that, in modern history, the Senate has never refused to hold hearings on a nominee, 35 percent of registered voters said it made them more likely to think the Senate should vote now (versus 15 percent saying less likely). Of the nine pieces of historical context that respondents were given, one resulted in essentially a tie, and it was one that made Democrats look hypocritical. When people were told that Democrats once changed the rules to confirm judicial nominees, 23 percent of registered voters said this fact made them more likely to think the Senate should vote (with 22 percent saying less likely)." [ NYT ]  

'BOATY MCBOATFACE,' A POLLING CAUTIONARY TALE - There's a long history of organizations trying to drum up interest with online "reader polls" or "instant polls," which allow anyone to respond, don’t attempt to get a representative sample of the population and may allow people to vote multiple times. There's an equally long history of respondents taking advantage of such polls to put their finger on the scale, often with embarrassing results . Sometimes that ends up with post-debate surveys that unerringly show Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as the winners . Sometimes it ends up with...Boaty McBoatface. Kimberly Yam: "The council that manages British polar exploration, the Natural Environment Research Council, recently invited the public to name a new 200 million British pounds (about $287 million) polar research vessel that’s currently being built, and vote for a favorite entry online. Well, the Internet delivered and currently, none other than the majestic name RRS Boaty McBoatface is leading the polls ….among many other funny entries, including RRS David Attenborough and RRS Boat. The contest has become so popular, that NERC’s website crashed from the droves of people who want to participate in the contest, BBC reported. " [ HuffPost ]

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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Noam Scheiber explains why Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton among minority voters. [ NYT ]  

-Emily Guskin finds that Trump is the most unpopular presidential candidate since the former head of the KKK, David Duke, ran in 1992. [ WashPost ]

-HuffPollster reminds Trump that he needs the majority of delegates to win, not the most. [HuffPost

-Americans strongly approve of increasing spending on Veterans Affairs medical facilities and on infrastructure. [ Gallup

-E rik Voeten looks at how trade affects the election. [ WashPost ]

-SurveyMonkey's Mark Blumenthal tells Chris Riback that polling data suggests Trump could struggle in a general election. [ Political Wire

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