August 05, 2008
OMG, it's an Elway poll!

I see from some of the comments in this thread that a discussion of Stuart Elway's latest poll, showing a big lead for Christine Gregoire, is in order.

Candidly, I don't know why people continue to put credence in his results; it's a bit like trusting Zogby's work at the national level: a move fraught with peril. Indeed, you're more likely to find ideological balance on the P-I's editorial page than you are to find a reliably trustworthy survey from Elway.

Back in 2006 I said the same thing. Now, we have a case study in why Elway's polls are problematic. Note this from Joel Connelly's coverage, as linked above:

[The Elway Poll's] findings vary sharply from the findings of Portland pollster Bob Moore, widely used by Republican candidates, who found the race tied at 45-45 in a poll taken earlier in July. A private poll, taken at the same time for a major Democratic consulting firm, showed Gregoire with a tiny 46-45 lead. A national poll, released last week, put Gregoire ahead, 49 percent to 46 percent.

That national poll was SurveyUSA, who surveyed 666 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

In addition, we have another poll from a Republican pollster independent of the race, Strategic Vision. It showed Gregoire narrowly leading Dino Rossi 47% - 45%. They surveyed 800 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of polling methodology knows both SurveyUSA and Strategic Vision have a superior approach to Elway's survey of only 405 registered voters, with a disturbingly high +/- 5% margin of error. That last statistic is a major danger zone; when MOE's get much over 4% then the poll in question becomes increasingly unreliable.

In sum, we have recent polls out in the race from a variety of partisan and independent pollsters. They show results of a tie (Moore Information), a 1% Gregoire lead (the Democratic poll cited by Connelly), a 2% Gregoire lead (Strategic Vision), a 3% Gregoire lead (SurveyUSA), and a 16% Gregoire lead (Elway). Does one by chance look like an outlier?

Still don't believe me? Note this also from Connelly's coverage:

The Elway Poll showed Gregoire ahead nearly every place in the state, trailing only in Pierce and Kitsap counties.

In 2004, Gregoire won only eight of Washington's thirty-nine counties - including none in Eastern Washington. Now, according to Elway, she's leading in thirty-seven and running the table east of the Cascades.


I could go on, but one of my favorite people in GOP operative land said it so much more succinctly after seeing the results:

"Gregoire Up in Elway Poll" - Elway an asshat. Stuart Elway could not accurately poll himself.

I'm having trouble arguing with that.

UPDATE: Commenter #1 reminds me of the ridiculous assertion from "Jan" in the aforementioned previous thread (see comment #1 there also), that Stuart Elway is a Republican.

A man who makes his living doing polls in the Seattle area is a Republican. Moreover, he's a Republican pollster even though Republicans don't trust him and don't use him. Sure, all that makes sense!

More importantly, trying proving that.

Posted by Eric Earling at August 05, 2008 07:36 PM | Email This
1. But, but... we have it from a credible source... Elway is a Republican. - Posted by Jan at August 4, 2008 08:21 PM


Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on August 5, 2008 07:29 PM
2. For what it is worth, Rossi bumperstickers and yard signs out number Gregoire versions by at least 10 to one, in the Tri-Cities. It is hard to imagine Rossi not winning in this area.

Posted by: Red on August 5, 2008 09:07 PM
3. When Connelly noted:

''''The Elway Poll showed Gregoire ahead nearly every place in the state, trailing only in Pierce and Kitsap counties.''

That's about the most patently (and hillariously) absurb thing I've heard in a long time. If Gregorie was to win even ONE county in eastern WA this time around it would be a major surprise (it isn't just the Tri-Cities area that is bummed out on the current Gov).

And, yeah: I saw the prior posting by ''Jan'', who also made an appearance on Postman. When I read her ''prediction'' that Gregoire would do better in EVERY COUNTY this time around, I couldn't help but think:
''If you're gonna shill for the Gov, you really shouldn't be so blatently obvious (and ridiculous).

Posted by: Methow on August 5, 2008 09:40 PM
4. I remember seeing Elway on TV the night of the Republican great victory in 1994. He looked like his pet dog had died.

He is a Democrat pollster. He was on their team. Still is?

Posted by: Ron Hebron on August 5, 2008 09:49 PM
5. I used the Google, and it does appear that Stuart Elway is a Republican (or at least used to be a Republican, in the event that is no longer the case). This is from the Mainstream Republicans of Washington website:

In 1968, Chris Bayley with the Ripon Society, CHECC, and the Young Republicans of King County, and Sam Reed with the College League - Washington Young Republican Federation, joined forces to create Action for Washington (AFW). A nineteen-year-old Whitman College YR, Jim Waldo; a UW lettuce boycotter, Don MacKinnon; a Spokane Community College YR; and a few Harvard whiz kids, including Dale Foreman (former state representative and state party chairman), worked as fulltime staff for AFW in the 1968 campaigns. Others who came into positions of AFW leadership included Stuart Elway, John Giese, Steve Excell, Glenn Pascall, Gary Smith, Rene Remund, Tim Clancy, Dick Rolfs, Glen Hudson, Cindi Phelps and Anne Ward. After amazingly mobilizing approximately 2,500 young people for the Action Team, AFW was credited with making the difference in Slade Gorton's narrow victory for Attorney General, almost electing Art Fletcher Lt. Governor (which would have been the political upset of the century), helping Lud Kramer win reelection, and making a significant difference in Dan Evans' victory.

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 09:59 PM
6. And from the same webpage as above, Stuart Elway was Co-Chair of the 1982 Cascade Conference, which is the annual meeting of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington:

Cascade Conference history


1982 Fort Warden, Conference Co-Chairs Sam Reed & Stuart Elway

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 10:03 PM
7. And here are relevant excerpts from the schedule for the 25th Cascade Conference of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, which was held at the SeaTac DoubleTree Inn, May 19-21, 2006. Stuart Elway was a featured speaker at the conference, along with such other prominent Republicans as Michael Young, Fred Jarrett (ROFL), Mitt Romney, Rob McKenna, and Dino Rossi (or is that RINO Dossi for the extreme wingers?):

Cascade Conference XXV Program
Program is subject to change

Friday, May 19

12:00 PM Registration Begins
6:00 - 7:00 PM Welcome Reception
7:00 - 8:30 PM - So Many Crises?... So Little Hope? -
Welcome: King County Republican Chair Michael Young
Emcee: Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman
Featuring a fun and enlightening interactive session presented by Stuart Elway & Glenn Pascall

Saturday, May 20


1:45 - 2:45 PM Washington's Business Climate: Just how tough is it to grow a successful business in the Evergreen State?
Moderator: Representative Fred Jarrett
Panelists: AWB President Don Brunell, NFIB State Executive Director Carolyn Logue, and Trilogy Partners President and CEO *John Stanton


6:30 - 8:30 PM Dinner and Auction - Featuring Keynote Address by Governor Mitt Romney
Emcee: Attorney General Rob McKenna
Introducer: Former State Senator Dino Rossi

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 10:20 PM
8. The agenda for the 2004 Cascade Conference of the Mainstream Republicans, held at Leavenworth from May 14-16, 2004. Stu Elway spoke at 9:30 a.m. on May 15, and gave the "Polling Report". Evidently, his fellow Republicans trust Elway's polling!

Friday, May 14
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. � Social at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat.
Hors d'oeuvres will be served and a no-host bar will be available. This is a great
opportunity to meet elected officials and candidates.

Saturday, May 15
� 8:45-9:30 a.m......... Rob McKenna, Candidate for Attorney General
� 9:30-10:15 a.m....... STU ELWAY, Polling Report
� 10:15-10:30 a.m..... Break
� 10:30-11:15 a.m..... Media Panel
� 11:30 a.m. .............. Lunch, Speaker: RINO DOSSI, Candidate for Governor
� 12:45-1:45 p.m. ..... Education Panel � �What will it Take?�
� 1:50-2:20 p.m. ....... Mike Vaska, Candidate for Attorney General
� 2:30-3:30 p.m. ....... Medical Panel � Health Care Issues
� 3:45-4:45 p.m. ....... Legislative Panel
� 5:30/6:30 p.m. ........ Reception, Dinner, Speaker: Congressman George Nethercutt, Candidate for U.S. Senate
� Auction (follows dinner) Item donations needed, please contact Tim Krivanek, form on page 3.

Sunday, May 16
� 8:45 a.m. ................ Annual Meeting
� 10:00 a.m.-noon .... Campaign School

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 10:29 PM
9. Richard -

Joel Connelly and an assortment of reporters also regularly make appearances at that annual conference. Does that make them Republicans too?

Being a visiting speaker does not make you a member of the group.

Posted by: Eric Earling on August 5, 2008 10:29 PM
10. Eric @ 9

Funny. I can't seem to find Joel Connelly on the Mainstream Republicans of Washington website anywhere! Exactly when did Connelly speak at the Cascade Conference?

Your search - connelly - did not match any documents.

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 10:33 PM
11. Wow, that was hard. I had to work about 20 seconds to find Joel at a Mainstream meeting. As usual, quality work by Richard.

Posted by: IMFletch on August 5, 2008 10:45 PM
12. "Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of polling methodology knows both SurveyUSA and Strategic Vision have a superior approach to Elway's survey of only 405 registered voters, with a disturbingly high +/- 5% margin of error."

Eric, the poll gives Gregoire a 6% lead even if you subtract 5 from her total and add 5 to Rossi's. Face it, even in the most statistically favorable situation, this poll has Rossi way behind.

Posted by: Daniel K on August 5, 2008 10:53 PM
13. IMFletch @ 11

The Cascade Conference does feature a "Media Forum" or "Media Panel" as part of their annual presentation. The media pool tends to be fairly diverse, representing a number of views.

However, Stuart Elway regularly gives the polling report at the beginning of the conference -- although this was evidently omitted from the most recent conference in 2008.

Even if Elway isn't a Republican anymore, why would the Mainstream Republicans keep inviting him back, year after year, to give the polling report, if they didn't trust his work? Why not invite a better pollster for this purpose? They either consider Elway to be a good Republican, a good pollster, or quite likely both.

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 5, 2008 10:55 PM
14. Hopefully, people will demonstrate common sense, for once, and not let the incumbent governor remain.

Posted by: Harry on August 6, 2008 04:12 AM
15. Daniel @ 12 -

Because his sample is so bad it screws things up even before you get to the high MOE. Gregoire leading across all of Eastern WA? That's not a believable sample.

Richard @ 13 -

Because Elway is just about the only non-partisan pollster around and an easy ask to come to the conference. Plus, while some people in the Mainstream crowd are very bright, others buy into the same sort of Seattle/Olympia Establishment thinking that never questions Elway because they presume "professional pollster" means that he's good at his job.

Posted by: Eric Earling on August 6, 2008 06:17 AM
16. The only accurate "Elway polling" has been the Football legend born in Port Angeles,WA. Who would no doubt vote for and most likely endorse Dino Rossi to get re-elected Governor in 2008 if given the opportunity.

He endorsed GHW Bush, GW Bush and has also endorsed John McCain this go around. We'll see which "Elway polling" is more reliable in November.

Posted by: Rick D. on August 6, 2008 06:38 AM
17. Thanks for the update, Eric. I read Jan's take on the poll and just rolled my eyes. I assume just about everyone else did, too. Now, I know why that poll is so skewed.

Posted by: swatter on August 6, 2008 07:18 AM
18. This is great. The "Republicon" brand has been so trashed by scandals, arrests, incompetence, anti science policies, and tax policies that only help the super rich that Rossi won't even call himself a Republicon. GOP? Prefers GOP? What a pathetic joke.

How many people that live in Eastern Washington are so not interested in politics that they don't even know that GOP means Republicon? 25%? More? How many are just plain ignorant?

The ignorant = Republicon base

Is there anything about Disgusting Dino that is not fraudulent? Is there anything about the "GOP" that is not fraudulent also?

One thing all Republiconvicts have in common. They can't smell a rat. Fake conservatives. Fake Christians. Fake Americans.

Posted by: All Facts Support My Positions on August 6, 2008 07:22 AM
19. If Eric keeps insisting that Stuart Elway is (1) NOT a Republican, and (2) a crappy pollster, then why has the REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR'S ASSOCIATION used Elway as a pollster concerning the Washington Governor's race?

Poll: Voters Strongly Oppose Democrats' Legal Maneuvers to Change Recount Rules

12/6/2004 8:00:00 PM

To: State Desk

Contact: Stuart Elway, 206-264-1500, ext. 14; Harvey Valentine, 202-662-4143, both of the Republican Governors Association; Web:

SEATTLE, Dec. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a poll conducted yesterday by Elway Research of Seattle for the Republican Governors Association, Washington voters adamantly reject the centerpiece of the Democrat party's legal tactics before the state Supreme Court.

By a margin of 68-25 percent, voters said the Supreme Court should leave state law "as it is and only ballots determined to be valid in the original count and the first re-count should be included in the second re-count."

Pollster Stuart Elway, whose firm conducted the statewide survey of 400 registered voters, said "By almost a three-to-one margin, voters are very clear that the Supreme Court should not change the rules to put disqualified ballots back in the recount. This means more than half the Democrats in the survey disagree with their party leaders on this issue."

Voters are also resolved that Republican Dino Rossi is the legitimate winner. "Voters said that Rossi is the legitimate winner and Gregoire should concede, by a margin of 51-45 percent. Again, this indicates the public is comfortable with the results already certified and wants to move on," Elway said.

It appears that Christine Gregoire's legal maneuvers to manipulate the recounts are wearing thin with voters. The measurement of favorable and unfavorable opinions of Gregoire (51-42 percent) and Rossi (63-29 percent) indicates that her moves to prolong or change the process are damaging her image.

Elway said the survey results have been weighted to reflect the proportion of Gregoire and Rossi voters as of the November 2 general election. Telephone interviews were completed with 405 registered voters on Dec 5, 2004. The overall margin of sampling error is plus-5 percent.

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 6, 2008 08:11 AM
20. So Richard your position is then that the republicans would only listen to opinions they agree with?

I know that's how the democrats work - although the not only don't listen to dissent, they actually try to push those that are doing it - but I think there is some evidence that the GOP doesn't work that way.

Check out the top of the GOP ticket and Google "McCain." You'll see his name prominently featured on a lot of bills/laws that were true bipartisan works.

Posted by: johnny on August 6, 2008 08:37 AM
21. I have it on good authority that Stuart Elway has missed the last two Cascade Conference because of schedule conflicts, not because he's been overlooked.

Posted by: MercifulMollyMcGuire on August 6, 2008 10:22 AM
22. I am not an expert in polling by any means but I do follow politics and in every election Elways polls are nothing short of a joke. I do not care if he is a "mainstream Republican" or not, the dudes work sucks. No rational human being would conclude that his poll is anywhere near accurate. He does this to draw attention to himself and get people talking about him hoping it will lead to more business.

Maybe now we know where Richard Pope gets his polling advice in the hundreds of campaigns he has lost.

Posted by: jk on August 6, 2008 10:25 AM
23. Wait a minute here.

Rossi is winning in Pierce, which he took by only four points in 2004, and he is losing in Benton, which he won by nearly FORTY points in 2004?!

Posted by: pudge on August 6, 2008 11:00 AM
24. Pudge @ 23

That's what Rossi gets for using a Republican pollster :)

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 6, 2008 11:37 AM
25. You can count on Richard Pope, the eternal flake!
He has lost every election he's ever run by HUGE margins but Pope now has the brainstorm that if he become's a Progressive and pander to the fringe lunatic left, he might win.

Google Richard Pope in 2004 and see a totally different Pope.

BTW..Pope sued Gregoire.
Pope also ran against Gregoire for AG in 2000 and here is what Pope said about Gregoire in the Voter Guide:

It's time for a change!

"Richard Pope will restore professionalism, integrity and competence to the Attorney General's Office.

Richard Pope will investigate and prosecute corruption and mismanagement in state government, rather than whitewashing and covering up. Scandals such as Linda David, OK Boys Ranch, Wenatchee and DSHS abuses are absolutely intolerable!

Preventable lawsuits have cost Washington taxpayers tens of millions because of bad legal advice and botched representation. Gregoire couldn't even timely appeal the record $17.8 million judgment against the State!

Gregoire hired expensive private lawyers for over $93 million - since her office couldn't do the job. Most disgracefully, Gregoire accepted tens of thousands in campaign contributions from these same hired lawyers!

Richard Pope will redirect funding to improve hiring, training and retention of qualified attorneys. Richard believes the State should employ competent lawyers, rather than having to rely upon expensive outside help.

Richard Pope graduated from the University of Washington Law School with Highest Honors and has devoted his entire career to representing ordinary citizens. Richard is concerned, diligent and hardworking - qualities we need in our next Attorney General.

We need an Attorney General who will restore confidence and effectively represent the people. Please vote for Richard Pope."

Do you remember saying these things Richard??
Why do you now support Gregoire Richard?
Seems kind of....FLAKEY!

Posted by: Popeisakook on August 6, 2008 01:13 PM
26. Also, here is a huge Seattle Times article from 2007 about Pope--

Taking your meds Pope?

Posted by: PopeisaKook on August 6, 2008 01:18 PM
27. Can anyone answer this one for me?

What did Elway have the Governor's race at immediately before the Nov.'04 Election?

If memory serves didn't he have Gregoire by 8 to 12 points? And we have a controlled sample (the actual election results) to compare that with.

Without seeing the actual internals of the poll, my guess would be that his methodology over samples King Co. (especially Seattle) and also polls "Registered" instead of "Likely" voters.

Posted by: T.J. on August 6, 2008 03:03 PM
28. Here is the Elway Poll a week before Election Day-

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Rossi slashes Gregoire's lead


Christine Gregoire is maintaining a slight lead over Dino Rossi in the race for governor, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer/KOMO TV and radio poll shows, but the Democrat's double-digit advantage over the Republican in polls a month ago has evaporated.


View an in-depth chart breaking down the poll results in a number of ways (PDF, 89K).

The survey of 800 registered voters taken Monday and Tuesday showed Gregoire ahead 48 percent to 43 percent with 7 percent undecided. The poll has a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on August 6, 2008 03:34 PM
29. tj-
Elway had Gregoire leading by 11 points around 10/1/04...and 5 point lead 1 week before Election Day 2004.

I think this recent Rossi press release will really resonate.

Dino Rossi released the following statement today regarding the memo Governor Christine Gregoire sent to State Agency Directors, Boards and Commissions asking them to take steps to reduce state spending.
"I'm glad that Governor Gregoire has started to recognize the budget crisis she's created. She had to know that by increasing spending 33 percent in her first term she was heading the state toward a budget deficit. Unfortunately, her announcement today does not go far enough.

"Dealing with the incumbent's $2.7 billion budget deficit will require a lot of effort and belt tightening across state government. In the last four years the expansion of government has started at the top. As Governor, I will see to it that cutting waste starts at the top. I will reduce the size of the governor's office budget, which has nearly doubled over the last four years.

"In addition to a hiring freeze, we should also freeze salary increases for politically appointed state employees. Further, Governor Gregoire should suspend salary negotiations with state employee groups over pay increases until we know the full extent of our deficit next year.

"Other governors around the country began tightening their state budgets months ago. In January, I called on the incumbent to use her supplemental budget to reduce rather than increase the total spending for the biennium. But instead, she passed a supplemental budget that increased spending by an additional $291 million."

Rossi MUST make one additional step to convince voters Gregoire will raise taxes...again.
People will vote with their pocketbooks...and not for an irrespnsible Governor like Gregoire who overspends in the face of an obvious economic downturn.

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on August 6, 2008 03:54 PM
30. Please do not use OMG.

Posted by: jm on August 7, 2008 12:06 AM
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