Of poll of what might have been and what might be coming

by | Nov 2, 2018 | Editor's Blog, Poll Analysis

Yesterday, Meredith College released a poll with some shocking numbers. Democrats hold a 10 point advantage in the generic ballots for both legislature and Congress. Unfortunately for Democrats, the poll tested registered voters, not likely voters. In other words, the poll does not reflect the 2018 electorate.

Another poll of likely voters done by SurveyUSA for Spectrum News shows Democrats with a three-point lead in the generic ballot for legislature and four-point lead in generic ballot for Congress. That’s pretty consistent with their poll from a month ago that gave Democrats a five-point advantage for both the Congressional and legislative ballots. I suspect those numbers are fairly accurate. I also suspect the undecided voters will choose the party out of power so that makes those numbers even better for Democrats.

The Meredith poll might not reflect the electorate in 2018, but it does tell us what the election might look like if everyone who registered voted. In particular, it tells us how much Democrats need the millennial vote. In the Meredith poll, people from 18-35 make up more than a third of the sample. In the SurveyUSA poll, they only make up 19%. In the early vote so far, that population only makes up about 14% of the voters.

In the SurveyUSA/Spectrum poll, millennials favor Democrats by 20 points. In the Meredith poll, it’s about the same. So, if millennials actually made up a third of the voters in the 2018 election, Democrats would have a field day.

Alas, the Meredith poll reflects what might have been instead of what will likely be. In the early vote, baby boomers make up 48% of the voters but only 18% of the Meredith sample. In other words, the actual voters are much older than the Meredith sample. That probably won’t change much when the final votes are cast.

The Meredith poll, though, has use. It tells us what the electorate would do if everybody voted. It also gives us an idea of what will likely come. The baby boomers and silent generations will start to die off and the millennials will probably start voting over the next decade or so. In addition, 2020 will include far more millennials than this midterm, keeping North Carolina a battleground state for the foreseeable future. For now, though, Democrats should be happy with a slight advantage heading into the midterms.


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