Recently in Polls Category

A Prop. 66 Landslide?

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The Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State U. has this poll of 622 likely California voters surveyed October 7-13.

Proposition 66 would aim to speed up the death penalty court process in California. For example, it would require the superior court to review initial petitions, increase the number of available attorneys to accept those appeals, and allow condemned inmates to be housed at any state prison.

Do you plan to vote 'YES' to change these death penalty court procedures, or 'NO' to make no changes to existing procedures?

51%      Yes (1)
20         No (2)
29         Undecided/Don't Know (8)
Justin McCarthy has this article for Gallup. 

Q:  In general, do you think the criminal justice system in this country is too tough, not tough enough or about right in its handling of crime?

A: 45% not tough enough, 35% about right, 14% too tough, 6% duh.

Gallup headlines the fact that "not tough enough" has dropped substantially over the years, but most of that drop has gone to the Goldilocks answer of "about right."  Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth we have heard from academia and the press over the last decade or so, only 1 American in 7 thinks the system is too tough.

The other half of the split sample was asked specifically about drugs, with a quite different result:

SurveyUSA Poll on Prop. 62

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SurveyUSA has released another California poll.  As with the two previous polls (noted here and here), they surveyed on Prop. 62, the death penalty repeal initiative, but not on Prop. 66, the "fix it" initiative.

Prop. 62 has slipped three points since the previous poll and now trails by 18%.  The pollsters still characterize it as "headed for defeat."

Crosstabs (the breakdown by various groups within the total) haven't changed too much, although there is an interesting indication that repeal has lost considerable support with black voters.  For the survey collected Sept. 8 - Sept. 11, black voters favored 62 by a slim majority, 51-36.  However, for the most recent survey, conducted Oct. 13 - Oct. 15, the slim majority goes the other way, 41-52.  That is a change from +15% to -11%, or a 26% swing.  Crosstabs have higher margins of error than the overall poll due to the smaller sample size of the subgroups, so this result should be treated with caution, but even so that is quite a shift.
Gallup has a poll out today showing that, when asked to choose the higher priority between (1) strengthening law and order through more police and greater enforcement, or (2) reducing bias against minorities in the criminal justice system by reforming court and police practices,  49% choose the former and 43% the latter. The 6% difference is outside the margin of error.  The poll can be found here.

So how does this translate in terms of political advantage?  Specifically, is it smarter to run a national race prioritizing law and order, or prioritizing bias reduction?

Let me ask that question a different way:  Is 49% higher than 43%?

California Proposition Poll

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SurveyUSA has this poll on California's ballot propositions, among other things.

"Proposition 62, which would end the death penalty in CA and replace it with life in prison, trails by 15 points today and is headed for defeat." If that sounds familiar, it's nearly identical to what the same poll found about two weeks ago, noted in this post.

"Proposition 63, which outlaws large-capacity magazines and requires background checks on ammo purchases, leads by more than 2:1 and will pass." 

"Proposition 64, which would legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, is supported 52% to 41%. Caution advised."

And Proposition 66, which would streamline the death penalty and allow us to restart executions?  They didn't poll on it.  Again.

The pollsters note:

Polling ballot measures and citizen initiatives is an inexact science. In general, having nothing to do with California specifically and having nothing to do with 2016 uniquely, opposition to a ballot measure increases as Election Day approaches. Rarely does support for a ballot measure increase over time. It is likely that opposition to Propositions 56, 62, 63 and 64 will increase once early voting begins on 10/10/16. This may alter the calculus on recreational marijuana Proposition 64, which today has the most fragile advantage of those measures tested.
In mid-August, Bill and I both noted a poll by the Institute for Government Studies at Berkeley on the competing death penalty propositions.  That poll found the repeal proposition losing by 45-55 and the reform proposition winning by a landslide 76-24.  See also the IGS press release.

Last week, I noted a SurveyUSA poll showing the repeal proposition "trails by 16 points today and is headed for defeat."  Also noted the same day was a USC/LA Times/SurveyMonkey poll showing Prop. 62 down by 11%.  Neither of these polls asked about the reform measure, Prop. 66.

Now we have a poll done by Field and IGS, the same organization as the first poll above, that has a dramatically different result.  This one shows repeal at 48% yes, 37% no, and 15% undecided, while the reform measure is at 35% yes, 23% no, and 42% undecided.

As Seinfeld would say, what's up with that?  Has there been a dramatic shift in public opinion since the first IGS poll?  Not likely, given the essentially consistent results on 62 in the other two recent polls.

When I see dramatic differences like this in polls, the first thing I suspect is wording of the questions.

Another Poll Note

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Jazmine Ulloa has this post on the LA Times political blog noting a "a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey."  This one shows Prop. 62 losing by 11%, 40-51. 

I have my doubts about SurveyMonkey's method, and I wouldn't put too much weight on it.  Self-selected samples are dicey, even when "corrected" for demographic factors.  Nate Silver and crew at 538 rate SurveyUSA an "A" and SurveyMonkey a "C-."  Even so, when multiple sources give you more-or-less consistent results, it does boost confidence in those results. 

There is an interesting contrast in the two polls on the age crosstab.

SurveyUSA: Prop. 62 Headed for Defeat.

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SurveyUSA has this poll, conducted for four California TV stations. Among the findings:

"Proposition 62, which would end the death penalty in CA and replace it with life in prison, trails by 16 points today and is headed for defeat." 

The overall result is 36% yes, 52% no, 12% undecided.  They did not poll on Prop. 66, the reform initiative.  The poll has some interesting crosstabs, and some quirky ones.
Bill noted earlier today the poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.  Let's look a little more at these data.

Four years ago, we defeated a death penalty repeal initiative, but the opponents got closer than they should have.  I believed at the time that the reason was not opposition to the death penalty as such but rather the success of the opponents in blocking enforcement of the death penalty and the absence of a reform alternative on the same ballot.

The topline results of the new poll tend to confirm this hypothesis.  For the repeal initiative, the poll found 45.1% in favor and 54.9% opposed.  For the reform initiative, the poll found 75.7% in favor and 24.3% opposed.  At a minimum, then, one fifth of the people of California intend to vote for both initiatives.  That is, if all of the 24.3% who intend to vote no on reform vote in favor of repeal, then 20.8% who intend to vote for reform also intend to vote for repeal.  If anyone intends to vote no on both, though I'm not sure why anyone would, then the "yes on both" vote is that much larger.  A large segment of the population of California is so fed up with the status quo that, although they would like to see the system fixed, they would rather scrap it than go on as we are.

The "crosstabs" are also interesting.  What would happen if California Democrats decided this issue by themselves?
A report out today from the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley states:

California voters oppose an effort to abolish the death penalty and strongly support a competing measure that would streamline procedures in capital cases, according to a new poll released today by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Respondents opposed the abolition measure 55.1 percent to 44.9 percent, while three out of four respondents supported the streamlining proposition, the survey found. Since the two measures conflict, if both should pass, the measure receiving more votes would take effect.

The poll used online English-language questionnaires to survey respondents from June 29 to July 18. All respondents were registered California voters, and the responses were then weighted to reflect the statewide distribution of the California population by gender, race/ethnicity, education and age. The sample size for the questions on the two death penalty initiatives was 1,506 respondents for one question and 1,512 for the other.

The chances that a UC Berkeley poll would overstate support for the death penalty are the same as the chances that I'll be giving $10,000 to Black Lives Matter.

Frank Newport reports for Gallup:

Americans' confidence in the police has edged back up this year after dropping last year to its lowest point in 22 years. Currently, 56% of Americans have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the police, four percentage points higher than in 2015. Confidence is essentially back to where it was before a series of highly publicized incidents involving white police officers and young black men in several communities across the country.
Alyssa Davis has this report for Gallup with the above title.

Story Highlights
    53% worry "a great deal" about crime, compared with 39% in 2014
    44% are concerned about drug use, also up significantly since 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry "a great deal" about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014. This figure is the highest Gallup has measured since March 2001.


Philip Bump at the WaPo's Fix political blog has this look at general election match-up polls. Not only has Donald Trump come off the worst in heads-ups matches with Hillary Clinton throughout the election season, but he is trending downward.  Ted Cruz does better, and just as importantly he is trending up.

John Kasich does the best of the three, but frankly I don't see any substantial chance of him being the nominee.

Minorities' Trust in Police Nearly Doubles

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I am not necessarily an optimist by nature, but news today from Gallup put a smile on my face.  For the same reason, it will doubtless bring frowns to those who've been insisting that, in order to gain the confidence of minorities, the police must bow their heads in shame and quit arresting crooks.  This is how today's Gallup story leads off:

After dipping to 48% in 2014 amid a national firestorm over police treatment of young black men, the rating Americans give the honesty and ethical standards of police has rebounded to 56%. This is more consistent with the 54% to 58% ratings Gallup found between 2010 and 2013....Four in 10 nonwhites now rate the ethical standards of police as very high or high -- a sharp increase from the 23% who held this view in 2014.

This is particularly encouraging because the anti-police propaganda has, if anything, accelerated in 2015 with, for example, the continuing, aggressive mendacity of the Black Lives Matter movement, as chronicled here.

I might add that trust in police is two and a half times the trust in lawyers, which, at 21%, might hopefully make attorneys more open to re-examining their "client-always-first, truth-always-second" ethos.  With that as their ethical "standard," how much trust do they think they deserve?

Finally, I am grateful that Gallup did not poll trust in law professors.

UPDATE: I wrote this before I saw Kent's post, but I'm leaving it up because it takes a slightly different slant. I also do not entirely agree with Kent's observation about trust in lawyers not being as bad as you might think.   When only one in five people thinks well of the legal profession, what you have is a profession that needs to change the way it does business. 
The recent spate of police-bashing apparently has not made a long-term impact on Americans' opinions of police officers.  Lydia Saad has this report for Gallup with the above title:

After dipping to 48% in 2014 amid a national firestorm over police treatment of young black men, the rating Americans give the honesty and ethical standards of police has rebounded to 56%. This is more consistent with the 54% to 58% ratings Gallup found between 2010 and 2013.

Four in 10 nonwhites now rate the ethical standards of police as very high or high -- a sharp increase from the 23% who held this view in 2014. A steep drop in nonwhites' ratings of the police in 2014 was the sole cause of the profession's overall ratings dip last year. While nonwhites' attitudes have not rebounded to their pre-2014 levels, the slight increase in whites' positive views of the police this year, from 59% to 64%, coupled with the rise in nonwhites' ratings, pushes the overall percentage back to the "normal" range seen in recent years.
Gallup's long-term trend graph shows that the 56% number is higher than at any time in the first 23 years they asked the question, 1977-2000.  This opinion of the police started off a dismal 37% in 1977, climbed slowly with a couple setbacks until 2000, then spiked after 9/11.

Among the professions, nurses are still tops in the public's ethics esteem.  Lawyers don't do as badly as you might think, a tad below the middle.

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