A new poll from Daily Kos, conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, finds Sen. Pat Roberts holding a 53-39 lead on challenger Milton Wolf in Tuesday's Republican primary in Kansas. The poll of 1,002 likely voters was conducted entirely online on Aug. 4. If you click through the link, you can experiment with Google's excellent interactive system that can instantly show you any demographic crosstab you care to explore—sex, age, income and more.
And even cooler, true junkies can hit the "Export" button in the top-right corner and download a spreadsheet containing all of the poll's individual responses. That is, you can see exactly how each respondent answered each question and what his or her individual demographic characteristics are. This is a level of transparency few outfits offer, but it reflects Daily Kos' continuing commitment to sharing as much data as we possibly can.
An intense debate still rages over the merits of online polling, recently fueled by the New York Times' decision to commission a large nationwide poll from another Internet pollster, YouGov. But while some hidebound institutions refuse to accept that the polling industry must change, innovators continue to forge ahead. Traditional phone polling is dying—getting people to answer phone calls from strangers is just getting harder and harder.
Online polling has its own challenges, but as this astute piece from Andrew Gelman and David Rothschild observes, phone pollsters have to address many of the same issues. As they say, it is time to embrace the future—and at Daily Kos, we'll always do so rigorously, and constantly analyze what works and what doesn't.
That's why we're working with Google. We've commissioned polling from them in the past, and you can expect to see more polls emerge from this collaboration this cycle. And it's worth noting that Pew Research, one of the most rigorous and trusted polling outfits in the nation, used Google Consumer Surveys to validate one another's data. It checked out.
And we'll know very soon how well this particular poll checks out, too. Head below the fold for more background on this race that explains how we've arrived at this point.
Roberts' 14-point advantage is actually one of the closest results any pollster has found of the race, but with Election Day upon us, it looks like time has run out for Wolf.
As we've seen in countless GOP primaries, the incumbent sports a very conservative voting record, but restless tea partiers are always deft at piling on new objections. In Roberts' case, those revolve around claims that he's abandoned his home state and gone Washington—claims that Roberts himself repeatedly helped stoke. Back in February, Roberts admitted that his only Kansas residence was a timeshare in a La-Z-Boy, then refused to say how many days he'd actually showed up in the Sunflower State before finally admitting he'd spent less than a third of his free time there.
More recently, Roberts slipped up in a radio interview and tellingly said he comes home "every time I get an opponent." But indeed he has this year, and he hasn't taken Wolf lightly. Roberts has lacerated Wolf with attack ads, focusing on a particularly ghoulish pattern of behavior where Wolf, a physician, posted patients' X-rays on Facebook and made offensive comments about them. That led to the Kansas medical ethics board opening an investigation into Wolf, just weeks before the primary.
And in the end, that's how these kinds of challenges often go: An unproven, first-time candidate (Wolf's greatest claim to fame was that he's a distant cousin of Barack Obama) demonstrates that he's his own worst enemy and fails to gain traction. Indeed, the tea party establishment groups that love to punish crusty old incumbents like Roberts all but spurned Wolf, and as this new poll shows, he'll likely go down to defeat. But he has inflicted a few wounds, and if nothing else, he forced Roberts to show up in the one place he never seems to go: Kansas.