Pollster Peter Feld, who has expressed skepticism about polls results in this space before, predicts that today’s results from Quinnipiac will be hyped as a major shift in the race. They shouldn’t be, he says.
Here’s how Feld explained the poll in an email to me this morning:
I always caution people to look at each candidate’s raw numbers rather than margins. Meaning: In this poll Bloomberg is down seven points, compared with last month (54 then and 47 now). Yes, that’s significant (or would be, if they’d asked the question the same way both times, but they didn’t), but it’s not the double-digit swing it will be portrayed as. This will be reported as ‘OMG Bloomberg was up 22 and now he is only up 10!!!,’ creating the illusion of a very volatile race (and helping Bloomberg’s consultants justify even more spending).
But really, he’s just dropped seven points (below the magic 50% mark), and since Q-poll changed the ballot question, we don’t know how real that is. Quinnipiac will argue the wording change is justified, since we know he’s on the Republican line (as if we didn’t before).
But now, we can’t tell if he’s really lost ground — I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop a bit, because he’s had a choppy month or two. But if it’s only because they identified him as a Republican, it’s probably a misleading finding that won’t hold up: making the mayor’s race partisan has never worked in recent times, and it was a total dead end for Freddy Ferrer in 2005. Voters just don’t care.
According to this, Thompson gains five points, and is now at 37; well, for certain he’s rising in recognition and he’ll continue to consolidate the anti-Bloomberg vote once voters fill in the blanks. He’ll continue to gain (topping out in the low- or mid-40s, unless he can make a race of it).
I’d say, just keep an eye on the Bloomberg share of the vote in these polls, and wait for one that keeps it apples-to-apples to see if there’s been any actual change in the Mayor’s standing. If he’s below 50 in several others, he may need to scramble, regardless of how fast Thompson rises.