ECPS tracking polls conclude for Super Tuesday

by Laura King / Beacon Staff • March 3, 2016

Emerson College Polling Society correctly predicted that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would take Massachusetts’ Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively, on Super Tuesday.

ECPS did a tracking poll of Massachusetts, meaning they repeated one already conducted in the state. Initial survey data on Feb. 22 had Clinton and competitor Bernie Sanders tied at 46 percent. The second half of the poll, released on Monday, showed Clinton leading with 54 percent of the democratic vote, compared to Sanders’ 43. In the primary, Clinton won over Sanders with a much narrower lead—50 percent to 49 percent, according to the Associated Press.

Christine Kane, co-president of the polling society, said it was likely they underestimated Sanders’ support in Massachusetts because of how challenging it is to contact young people. ECPS conducts their polls over automated phone calls to landline numbers. “Robocalls” to cellphones are not allowed under Federal Communications Commission.

Many young people don’t own a landline, Kane said, and therefore it’s difficult to collect a sample with the correct proportion of young voters.

“It’s a widely-known problem in polling,” the senior political communication major said.

For the Republican party, ECPS predicted last week Trump would take 50 percent of the vote, followed by Rubio with 16, Kasich with 13, and Cruz with 10. In the second half of the tracking poll, Trump remained on top with a predicted 51 percent, followed by Rubio with 20, Kasich with 14, and Cruz with 10.

According to the AP, Trump ended up taking Massachusetts with 49 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich and Rubio both with 18, and Cruz with 10 percent.

Kane said that ECPS has probably been accurate at predicting Trump’s support because his voters are more accessible by landline phone.

ECPS ran another tracking poll in Texas, where Ted Cruz continued to lead over Trump in the Republican primary. Compared to last week’s 29 to 28 percent, the Monday results predicted that Cruz would take 35 percent of the vote, and Trump 32.

Rubio also saw a decrease in support, falling from 25 to 16 percent. John Kasich and Ben Carson held steady at nine percent and four percent, respectively. According to the AP, Cruz won in Texas with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Trump with 27, Rubio with 17, and Kasich and Carson each with four percent.

Kane said that Cruz’s large lead is likely due to heavy campaigning in the hours leading up to the election in his home state.

Clinton extended her lead over Sanders in Texas from last week’s prediction of 56 to 40 percent, to 68 to 26 percent, according to Monday’s results. Clinton won the state, according to the AP, with 65 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 33.  

The society also did a poll of South Carolina democrats, published on the eve of their Saturday primary. They predicted Clinton would lead over Sanders 60 to 37 percent. According to the AP, Clinton received 74 percent of the vote in South Carolina, and Sanders got 26 percent.

Kane said the polling society is currently looking to cover one more swing state primary this semester. The organization is turning their focus to next fall’s general election. She said its schedule has not yet been set, but they will focus on swing states.

“It’s always more interesting and relative to poll states with a little more pull," Kane said.