The automated poll, headed by the Democratic party-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), was held on Monday and Tuesday and, according to it, after the Christmas holiday, the situation in GOP 2011 has changed a bit.
However, Rep. Ron Paul is still leading, having eclipsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (24 to 20 percent), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (13 percent), Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) (11 percent), Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Sen. Rick Santorum (10 percent each), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (4 percent) and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (2 percent).
PPP’s poll has shown the popularity of Newt Gingrich rising from the single digits to a high of 27 percent in early December and then decreasing to 13 percent during last week. In December, PPP counted Gingrich’s personal rating peaking at 62 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable. Now Public Polling showed 37 percent favorable, 54 percent unfavorable.
As for Ron Paul’s support, the PPP survey states as “a coalition of voters that’s pretty unusual for a Republican in the state.” Romney’s supporters are traditional caucusgoers and Republicans, while Paul’s depends on a 39-to-12 percent advantage among likely caucusgoers who claim themselves to be independents or Democrats and a 35-to-11 percent lead among voters under 45 years of age, according to The Huff Post.
“The independent/young voter combo worked for Barack Obama in securing an unexpectedly large victory on the Democratic side in 2008,” the PPP analysts says, “and it may be Paul’s winning equation in 2012.” PPP also revealed that Paul’s supporters are “more passionate” than Romney’s, while Paul’s advantage over Romney is slightly larger (28 to 21 percent) among voters who reported their minds are completely made up.
As the Raw Story noticed, PPP also revealed that if Paul manages to maintain his good name and bring in younger voters to next week’s caucuses, “he’ll win,” but they also warned: “If turnout ends up looking a little bit more traditional, Romney will probably prevail.”
However, the results of the poll have caused question: Are polls conducted between Christmas and New Year’s Day less reliable?
“I don’t think it is a solid rule of polling,” said Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy and political science at Rutgers. “But it sure was conventional wisdom. Obviously fewer people are home and they have less time and inclination to talk during the holidays.”
However, a research paper published in Public Opinion Quarterly in 1981 assured that December the most unsuitable month for telephone interviews; it had the lowest response rates. But it is not always realistic to choose a “best” month to conduct a public opinion poll, says The New York Times.
“We’ve often polled through the holiday period,” said Scott Keeter, the director at the Pew Research Center. “We do have a concern that some people may not be accessible during that time because of travel, but that may be diminishing as a concern because of the routine use of cell phone samples now.”
Mr. Zukin considered polls in Iowa and New Hampshire to be not as important as national polls. “Folks there are more likely to have firmly based opinions, what with all the attention and thus a more knowledgeable public. I suspect the more firmly based the opinions, the less one worries about the methodology adding its own voice to the mix,” he said.