2016 Boyle County Exit Poll: Preliminary Results

The 2016 Boyle County Exit Poll was administered by Dr. Benjamin Knoll of Centre College to Boyle County, Kentucky voters on November 8, 2016. Respondents were randomly selected by interviewers to participate in the survey.

Centre College students enrolled in POL 210 (Introduction to American Politics) and POL 330 (Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections) participated in administering the exit poll surveys. Mr. Ryan New of Boyle County High School provided generous assistance in the planning and execution of the project and his AP U.S. Government students at Boyle County High School also participated in administering the exit poll surveys. We also gratefully acknowledge Candace Wentz of Centre College and Julie Taylor of Boyle County High School for their technological assistance.

Students were on-site from 6:00 AM through 6:00 PM surveying voters as they left the polling locations on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016. Due to interviewer availability, all voting locations in Boyle County were included except for the Mitchellsburg location (which does not bias the results of the survey in a substantial way given that only about 3% of all Boyle County voters typically vote at this location).

In all, 1,724 Boyle County voters (including 1,191 self-reported from Danville) participated in the exit poll. The Kentucky Secretary of State’s website reports that 13,133 individuals voted in Boyle County on Election Day. Surveys were administered in both electronic and traditional paper format. In all, 88.8% of respondents participated with the electronic devices and 11.2% opted for paper surveys.

This year’s survey had a response rate of 48.4%. (We asked a total of 3,560 people to take the survey and 1,724 of them agreed.) This is similar to response rates in previous years of 47.5% in 2015, 47.4% in 2014, and 50.5% in 2012. This is similar to other national exit poll response rates

It should be noted that this is an exit poll of voters only, which are 60.8% of registered voters in Boyle County. Therefore, these figures should not be interpreted as fully representative of all adults in Boyle County, but rather 2016 Election Day voters in Boyle County, Kentucky.

Figures presented here are statistically weighted by gender, race/ethnicity, and age. This is a standard method to increase the representativeness of public opinion polling samples.

It is important to note that in recent years there has developed a bias toward over-representing Democratic respondents in the Boyle County Exit Poll survey, very likely due to Republican voters being increasingly less likely to agree to take the survey than Democrats. This pattern continued in this year’s survey. We can tell this by comparing survey answers to the official results. For example, according to the Secretary of State’s office, Donald Trump won Boyle County with 62.1% of the vote compared to Hillary Clinton’s 33.1% of the vote. After applying the standard demographic weighting, the survey showed Trump winning Boyle County with 48.8% compared to 44% for Clinton. There was a similar effect for results in the 54th Kentucky legislature race, and a smaller effect for Kentucky Senate voting patterns. However, differences between actual results and survey results for the non-partisan elections to Danville city commission and school board were much smaller, with an average difference of 1.5%. This strongly suggests that the Exit Poll is getting a representative sample of voters in terms of demographic characteristics, but under-sampling Republicans by a rate of about 12% this year. The accuracy of exit polling results relies heavily on the willingness of all groups of voters to participate in roughly equal degrees so that everyone has an equal chance of being included. To maximize the likelihood that this happens, we instruct our students to ask every third person to take the survey, thereby seeking to ensure randomization in sampling. It appears, however, that Boyle County Republicans are simply more likely to say “no” than are Democrats when approached by our students and asked to participate. Given the results of yesterday’s presidential election, it seems that this is a systematic problem throughout the entire country and is not isolated merely to Boyle County voters, as there is strong evidence that Trump voters were systematically less willing to participate in pre-election polling than Clinton voters.

Given this reality, I performed an additional calculation to attempt to estimate the likely survey result assuming that Republicans had been as likely to participate as Democrats. In other words, I took my “best guess” as to what the results would have been if Republicans were more evenly represented in the survey. Full details of this process are explained below.[FN1] In the interest of transparency, I present both the actual results and adjusted estimate of the results for these questions if the difference is more than 3%. I’ll leave it readers to determine which is a more accurate representation of opinions of Boyle County voters. Personally, I am inclined to accept the adjusted figures (presented in parentheses) as more accurate given the factors described above, but they should be interpreted as an estimation only. 

With that said, I present the “first pass” results of the survey. Throughout the week I anticipate posting more in-depth analyses of the survey results. Check back in the next few days for more.

 

ALL BOYLE COUNTY VOTERS

Generally speaking, do you believe Danville/Boyle County is heading in the right direction or heading off on the wrong track?

  • 78.9% heading in the right direction, 15.8% off on the wrong track, 5.3% don’t know/no opinion

What is the single most important problem that our local area (Boyle County/Danville) needs to solve?

  • 28.1% Prescription drug abuse
  • 21.4% Jobs
  • 11.0% Crime
  • 10.4% Education
  • 9.3% Economic development
  • 4.1% DK/no opinion

Over the past year do you believe that Danville/Boyle County’s economy has generally…?

  • 32.5% gotten better, 42.9% stayed the same, 12.1% gotten worse, 12.5% DK/no opinion

Do you approve or disapprove of the proposal to repurpose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (which runs through Boyle County) from natural to liquid gas and reversing the direction of flow to north-to-south?

  • 34.8% approve, 47.1% disapprove, 18.1% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 38.2% approve, 43.7% disapprove)

How effective is the partnership between the City of Danville and the EDP organization at promoting jobs and economic growth in the area?

  • 9% very effective, 50.8% somewhat effective, 13.3% somewhat not effective, 7.5% not effective, 19.4% DK/no opinion

How enthusiastic are you about the candidate you voted for President?

  • AMONG TRUMP VOTERS: 47.6% very enthusiastic, 27.3% somewhat enthusiastic, 16.9% not very enthusiastic, 8.2% not at all enthusiastic
  • AMONG CLINTON VOTERS: 48.4% very enthusiastic, 34.4% somewhat enthusiastic, 10.8% not very enthusiastic, 6.5% not at all enthusiastic

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the following political leaders or community groups are handling their job?

  • President Obama: 46.7% approve, 50.6% disapprove, 2.7% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 35.4% approve, 61.2% disapprove)
  • Senator Rand Paul: 43.4% approve, 47.8% disapprove, 8.8% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 52.1% approve, 39.1% disapprove)
  • Senator McConnell: 24.3% approve, 67.2% disapprove, 8.5% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 29.5% approve, 62% disapprove)
  • Congressman Brett Guthrie: 39.3% approve, 28% disapprove, 32.7% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 43.3% approve, 24% disapprove)
  • Governor Matt Bevin: 41.1% approve, 46.5% disapprove, 12.4% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 50.4% approve, 37.2% disapprove)
  • Judge Harold McKinney: 61.1% approve, 15.5% disapprove, 23.5% DK/no opinion
  • Danville/Boyle EDP organization: 45.2% approve, 18% disapprove, 36.8% DK/no opinion

 

DANVILLE VOTERS ONLY

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the following political leaders or community groups are handling their job?

  • Danville Mayor Mike Perros: 61.2% approve, 17.4% disapprove, 21.5% DK/no opinion
  • Danville City Commission: 63% approve, 12.6% disapprove, 24.4% DK/no opinion
  • Danville City Manager Ron Scott: 54.2% approve, 16.3% disapprove, 29.4% DK/no opinion

Do you approve or disapprove of Danville City Commission’s handling of the following issues:

  • Fostering economic growth: 63.6% approve, 21.6% disapprove, 14.8% DK/no opinion
  • Fostering a good quality of life for residents: 70.6% approve, 14.9% disapprove, 14.5% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the city budget: 55.5% approve, 25.1% disapprove, 19.4% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the water plant project: 61.7% approve, 20% disapprove, 18.2% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the Weisiger Park renovations: 53.6% approve, 27.6% disapprove, 18.9% DK/no opinion

 

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION OF ALL SURVEY RESPONDENTS:

Do you consider yourself: 25.5% liberal, 35.8% moderate, 35.6% conservative, 3.2% DK/no opinion

Do you think of yourself as a (an): 35.6% Democrat, 10.8% Independent lean Democrat, 6.5% Independent, 12.6% Independent lean Republican, 31% Republican, 3.5% DK/no opinion (Adjusted estimate: 34.3% Democrat or Independent-lean-Democrat, 55.7% Republican or Independent-lean-Republican)

Additionally, 53.6% of survey respondents were female, 46.4% male; 67.3% report an income over $50K/year while 13.7% report an income under $20K/year; 8.8% report never attending church and 29.5% report attending once a week or more; 88.1% report white ethnicity with 9.5% reporting African-American ethnicity; 35.5% report a high school education or less, 35.7% report college level of education, and 27.9% report a post-graduate level of education. 22% reported being under 35 years old, 35.2% reported being between 35-55 years old, 35.8% reported being between 55-75 years old, with 7% report being older than 75. Evangelical Protestants make up 44.4% of the sample, with 16.8% Mainline Protestants, 9.5% Catholic, 7% “nothing in particular,” 7.1% atheist/agnostic, 5.7% “other” religion.

 

[FN1] This is how I calculated the adjustment estimate based on partisan sampling differences: I took the two races with the most and least degree of partisan voting patterns: U.S. president and Danville School Board. The partisan correlation was 0.662 and the school board correlation was 0.09 (at most). This represents an upper and lower range to estimate partisan bias in other questions. I then calculated the correlation between partisanship and each other question. I subtracted 0.09 (the lower boundary correlation) from the correlation and then divided this by the upper boundary (0.662) and then multiplied that by the degree of partisan bias in the upper-boundary turnout figures (12.1% for U.S. presidency). I then either added or subtracted that amount based on the direction of the partisan correlation in the response question. For those questions in which the difference is greater than 3%, the new figure is presented as the “adjusted estimate” figure in parenthesis.

 

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