As I’ve previously mentioned in a Diary for a South Dakota presidential poll I conducted in October 2016 and elsewhere, Google Surveys allows users to create relatively cheap 1-question polls on state and national issues. State polls are usually $0.15 per respondent, or $75 for a 500-respondent poll. Multiple question polls are 10x more expensive. The main problem is that you get what you pay for – these polls aren’t that good, and the one-question methodology requires some sacrifices that probably lower reliability even more. 538 gave Google Consumer Surveys a B rating before the 2016 cycle, but their track record has likely deteriorated since then.
Nevertheless, I recently conducted a Google Survey of the upcoming Montana At-Large Special Election. I put it into the field on April 19, one day before RRH announced that it was going to try to poll the race. It completed today, April 21. The question asked was:
Montanans will go to the polls on May 25 to vote for a new U.S. Congressman. If this special election were held today, for whom would you vote?
The choices were: (randomized) Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte, Libertarian Mark Wicks and “I am not likely to vote in this election” (always last). As expected about 33% of the 533 respondents chose the “not likely to vote” option. Among the 356 respondents to answer with one of the candidates, the weighted results were as follows:
These results were weighted for sex and age to the percentage of those subgroups who reported voting in the 2014 November CPS survey. The raw results were Gianforte 49%, Quist 42%, Wicks 9%. Google weighted to the Internet Audience, it is Gianforte 48%, Quist 42%, Wicks 10%.
As I’ve seen in the other recent Google Surveys of the race (more on this below), there is a huge divide between Eastern and Western Montana: Quist leads by 2 points (weighted)/9 points (unweighted) in Western Montana (n=188); Gianforte leads by 24 points (weighted)/23 points (unweighted) in Eastern Montana (n=160). I’ve divided Eastern and Western Montana this way:
Eastern Montana is slightly overrepresented in the poll results. It makes up about 41% of the electorate in your typical election and 46% in the poll. I estimate that controlling for this would cause the poll to move about 2 points toward Quist.
There was no large gender gap in the raw results. Men were about 3 points less likely to choose Quist, but about 4 points more likely to choose Wicks. Suburbanites were much more likely to vote for Quist Q+6 (raw) than Rural residents G+30 (raw). Montana has very few urbanites, according to the poll. 87% of respondents earned $25,000-$49,999 per year, making discerning an income gap difficult.
Other recent Google Surveys have been all over the place:
|3/12 to 3/14||Quist +17||Quist +14|
|3/14 to 3/16||Tie||Tie|
|3/18 to 3/20||Quist +8||Quist +8|
|4/6 to 4/8||Gianforte +1||Quist +2|
Gravis also polled the race on April 6, finding Gianforte up by 12.
As I said above, one constant in all of the Google Surveys is that Western Montana is signficantly more Quist-leaning than Eastern Montana. The gap between the two regions has ranged from about 20 to 42 points. A 20-point gap may be believable, but a 42-point gap isn’t.
RRH is currently raising funds to do a proper poll of the election. It would be good to see a reliable poll instead of crappy Google polls.