Category Archives: Exit Poll

2015 Boyle County Exit Poll: comparison of gubernatorial voting responses

Our exit poll showed that of those who answered the question on the survey, 48.8% reported voting for Bevin, 47.1% reported voting for Conway, and 4.2% reported voting for Curtis. According to the Secretary of State’s website, 54.7% of Boyle County voters voted for Bevin, 40.1% for Conway, and 4.6% for Curtis. That’s a difference of 5.9%, 7%, and 0.4%, respectively, and in a direction that over-states support for Conway and understates support for Bevin.

There are a few possible (and not mutually exclusive) explanations for this:

  1. It is possible that the 1.9% of voters who did not complete the question on the survey were mostly Bevin voters.
  2. It is possible that some Bevin voters indicated on the survey that they voted for Conway, despite voting for Bevin in actuality.
  3. It is possible that Bevin voters were less likely to agree to take the survey than Conway voters.

My strong hunch is that #3 is the most likely explanation, especially given that the 2014 Exit Poll had a 3-6% bias in favor of Democratic candidates (but not non-partisan candidates), although it is not possible to definitely prove this.

We attempt to correct for these types of effects by using a sample weighting procedure, which is a standard procedure used to correct for differences in how different demographic groups respond to the initial invitation to take the survey.

It should also be noted that a 6-7% difference is still not terribly far off from the standard accepted margin of error in the polling industry of 3% for most national surveys and professional polling firms. And I’ll also note that our survey was ultimately more accurate than the plethora of professional and partisan telephone surveys taken statewide in the lead up to the election.

This is an interesting puzzle to consider going forward: why are Democrats slightly more willing to take the Exit Poll survey than Republicans in Boyle County, Kentucky elections? I welcome ideas from interested parties.

Boyle County, KY voting patterns in the 2015 gubernatorial race

The 2015 Boyle County Exit Poll asked voters about their opinions on six issues that were discussed in the Kentucky gubernatorial campaign. Here are voting patterns for the major two-party candidates among those with each policy preference:

  Bevin Conway
Agree with Kim Davis’s decision to refuse marriage licenses (32.6% of total) 84.2% 13.2%
Agree on raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour (64.3% of total) 32.5% 63.9%
Agree on random drug tests for recipients of public benefits (72.3% of total) 62.0% 33.5%
Agree on EPA regulation of the coal industry (56.2% of total) 25.9% 70.2%
Agree on Gov. Beshear’s Medicaid expansion decision (61.9% of total) 31.3% 65.4%
Agree on Gov. Beshear’s implementation of KYNECT insurance exchange (55.2% of total) 23.1% 73.5%

For example, among those who agree with Governor Beshear’s expansion of Medicaid, 31.3% of them voted for Matt Bevin and 65.4% of them voted for Jack Conway. It is interesting that on several of these issues, a sizable number of people who prefer Conway’s position on the issue voted for Matt Bevin (and logically vice versa).

Of course, issue preferences are not the only basis for voting decisions. Factors like partisanship and demographics also make a difference. Thus, I used a “multivariate regression” analysis to see what difference each factor made in predicting a vote for Matt Bevin, controlling for the effect of every other factor. Here are the results:

Republican partisanship 59.5%
Obama disapproval 47.9%
Kentucky’s economy is getting worse 32.7%
Disapproval of KYNECT health exchange 32.1%
Conservative ideology 31.7%
Agree with Kim Davis on marriage licenses 25.0%
Agree with random drug tests for welfare recipients 23.1%
Disagree on minimum wage increase 21.6%
Female 16.2%

(For statistics nerds, these are the minimum to max predicted probabilities of each factor in predicting a vote for Bevin in a logistic regression model. Presented coefficients are statistically significant at p<0.05.)

This is telling us that, controlling for all other factors, being a Republican was the strongest factor in predicting a vote for Matt Bevin in Boyle County: Republicans were 59.5% more likely than Democrats to do so. Disapproval of President Obama was the second-highest factor: those who disapprove were 47.9% more likely than those who approve to vote for Bevin.

It seems that the campaign issues of the KYNECT health exchange, same-sex marriage licenses, random drug tests for welfare recipients, and minimum wage increases all made a difference as well, although to a lesser extent than partisanship and opinions toward Obama.

It is also interesting to note that opinions on the EPA/coal and Medicaid did not matter when controlling for these other factors, nor did demographics like age, income, church attendance, or education. Also, Tea Party supporters were no more or less likely to vote for Bevin once other factors like partisanship and ideology were controlled for.

In sum, it seems that basic political factors like partisanship and attitudes toward President Obama were the key factors in explaining gubernatorial voting patterns in Boyle County. This suggests that state-level elections in Kentucky are following wider trends in becoming more nationalized. Assuming these results are generalizeable to the state as a whole, it seems that Kentucky voters are linking their voting preferences at the state and national level to a stronger degree than once was the case.

The Drew Curtis effect in Boyle County voting patterns

According to the 2015 Boyle County Exit Poll, 48.6% of those who voted for Drew Curtis for governor in Boyle County would have picked Matt Bevin as a second choice, and 51.4% would have picked Jack Conway as a second choice.

Also, Curtis voters were a more moderate group when it came to specific issue preferences:

  • 78.7% of Curtis voters disagreed with Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses, compared to 90.7% of Conway voters and 41.4% of Bevin voters.
  • 56.3% of Curtis voters agree that Kentucky’s minimum wage should be increased to $10.10/hour, compared to 90% of Conway voters and 44.2% of Bevin voters.
  • 55.4% of Curtis voters tend to agree with the “EPA’s regulation of the coal industry” compared to 86.8% of Conway voters and 31.8% of Bevin voters.
  • 52.2% of Curtis voters agreed with Governor Beshear’s expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, compared to 90.7% of Conway voters and 42.4% of Bevin voters.
  • 48.9% of Curtis voters agreed with Governor Beshear’s implementation of the KYNECT insurance exchange, compared to 93.8% of Conway voters and 28.9% of Bevin voters.

Drew Curtis voters were also slightly less likely to have incomes over $50K/year (52.6% compared to 66.2% of Bevin voters and 69.3% of Conway voters).

Otherwise there were few discernible political or demographic correlates of voting for Drew Curtis instead of one of the major two-party candidates.

This suggests that (in Boyle County, at least) Drew Curtis voters were not predominantly Republicans or Democrats, further suggesting that his candidacy did not ultimately help or hurt either Conway or Bevin’s chances of winning. The lack of any clear demographic or political patterns for his supporters also suggests that he pulled in a diverse group of supporters – a true “independent” coalition.

Boyle County approval ratings by partisanship

The following are the % approval for each of the local and federal political leaders and other community organizations featured on the 2015 Boyle County Exit Poll, among Democrats and Independent-lean-Democrats, pure Independents, and Republicans and Independent-lean-Republicans:

Democrats and leaners (46% of sample) Pure Independents (6% of sample) Republicans and leaners (44% of sample)
President Barack Obama 80.1% 20.9% 4.1%
Senator Rand Paul 14.1% 46.8% 70.5%
Senator Mitch McConnell 14.7% 32.3% 51.0%
Congressman Brett Guthrie 39.7% 53.6% 64.6%
Governor Steve Beshear 88.0% 54.5% 30.7%
County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney 88.0% 56.6% 70.4%
Danville Mayor Mike Perros 79.0% 56.1% 72.9%
Danville City Commission 84.0% 56.9% 64.2%
City Manager Ron Scott 79.5% 52.8% 64.6%
Danville/Boyle EDP organization 72.5% 50.9% 55.5%

Boyle County Exit Poll 2015: Survey response rate

We had a total of 1,155 individuals who agreed to take our exit poll survey. There were also 1,276 who were asked to take the survey but who declined to do so. Thus, we asked a total of 2,431 people to take the survey and 1,155 of them agreed, giving us a response rate of 47.5%.

This is nearly identical to the response rate of 47.4% from 2014 and close to the response rate of 50.4% in 2012.

We can also note that 7,293 people voted in Election Day in Boyle County. Thus our 2015 BCEP exit poll includes 15.8% of all voters on Election Day.

2015 Boyle County Exit Poll: Preliminary Results

The 2015 Boyle County Exit Poll was administered by Dr. Benjamin Knoll of Centre College to Boyle County, Kentucky voters on November 3, 2015. Respondents were randomly selected by interviewers to participate in the survey. Centre College students enrolled in POL 120 (Introduction to Political Ideologies), POL 205 (Introduction to Political Analysis), POL 210 (Introduction to American Politics), and POL 404 (Advanced Special Research Topics) courses participated in designing and administering the exit poll surveys.

Students were on-site from 6:00 AM through 6:00 PM surveying voters as they left the polling locations on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015. Due to interviewer availability, all voting locations in Boyle County were included except for the Mitchellsburg and Parksville voting locations. (Excluding these two voting locations does not bias the results of the survey in a substantial way, however, given that only about 8% of all Boyle County voters typically vote at these two locations. An analysis of voting patterns for gubernatorial candidates Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway in those precincts compared to the entire county suggests that excluding Mitchellsburg and Parksville likely biases the results in a slightly Democratic direction, no more than approximately 1% total for the county-wide results.)

In all, 1,155 Boyle County voters (including 841 self-reported from Danville) participated in the exit poll. The Kentucky Secretary of State’s website reports that 7,293 individuals voted in Boyle County on Election Day. The following statistics therefore have a margin of error of ±2.7% for questions given to all Boyle County voters (again, except for those who voted at the Mitchellsburg and Parksville locations) and approximately ±3.1% for questions presented among the Danville subsample.

It should be noted that this is an exit poll of voters only, and in this election only about 35% of registered voters in Boyle County voted. Therefore, these figures should not be interpreted as fully representative of all adults in Boyle County, but rather less than half of all adults, specifically those who showed up to vote in a low-turnout state election (and therefore likely also “regular” and consistent voters). Given the sample size, however, these figures should be considered representative of Boyle County adults who voted on Election Day in 2015.

Figures presented here are also statistically weighted by gender, race, and age.

Also, this information represents the “first pass” at presenting the aggregated data results. More in-depth analysis will be posted on this website in coming days and weeks.


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

  • 75.6% heading in the right direction, 17.4% off on the wrong track, 7% don’t know/no opinion

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

  • 17.8% Jobs
  • 16.8% Prescription drug abuse
  • 12.8% Economic development
  • 12.8% Education
  • 12.7% Crime
  • 16.5% Other issues
  • 10.6% DK/no opinion

What do you consider to be our community’s most important economic development priorities? Please indicate your top three priorities: (Results indicate % of respondents who indicated the issue as one of their top three priorities; because respondents could choose more than 1 option results do not add up to 100%.)

  • 36.6% Industrial recruitment/expansion
  • 35.2% “Smart growth” (land use planning to avoid urban sprawl and promote walkable urban areas)
  • 34.2% Small independent businesses/entrepreneurs
  • 29% New retail/restaurant options
  • 24.7% Wage/income growth
  • 22.4% Downtown business recruitment/growth
  • 22.1% Workforce training/education
  • 18.1% Parks/recreation/trails
  • 12.9% Historic preservation
  • 12.9% Health care services
  • 8.9% Tourism
  • 4.8% Retiree attraction/relocation

Over the past year do you believe that Kentucky’s economy has generally…?

  • 26.6% gotten better, 44.5% stayed the same, 25.6% gotten worse, 3.3% DK/no opinion

Generally speaking, do you agree or disagree with the following:

  • Rowan County clerk Kim Davis’s recent refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: 32.6% agree, 64.1% disagree, 3.2% DK/no opinion
  • Raising Kentucky’s minimum wage to $10.10/hour: 64.3% agree, 33.1% disagree, 2.6% DK/no opinion
  • Random drug tests for those receiving public assistance in Kentucky: 72.3% agree, 25.3% disagree, 2.4% DK/no opinion
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of the coal industry: 56.2% agree, 39.2% disagree, 4.6% DK/no opinion
  • Governor Beshear’s decision to expand Medicaid for low-income Kentuckians: 61.9% agree, 32.9% disagree, 5.2% DK/no opinion
  • Governor Beshear’s decision to sponsor the KYNECT health insurance exchange: 55.2% agree, 36.7% disagree, 8.1% DK/no opinion

Would you support or oppose allowing teachers and local school officials who volunteer to carry guns while in school?

  • 44.9% support, 50.3% oppose, 4.6% DK/no opinion

Do you approve of the way that the following political leaders are handling their job?

  • President Obama: 40.2% approve, 57.2% disapprove, 2.6% DK/no opinion
  • Senator McConnell: 30.2% approve, 63.8% disapprove, 6% DK/no opinion
  • Senator Rand Paul: 39.9% approve, 52.5% disapprove, 7.6% DK/no opinion
  • Congressman Brett Guthrie: 36.5% approve, 33.3% disapprove, 30.1% DK/no opinion
  • Governor Steve Beshear: 53.7% approve, 36.1% disapprove, 10.2% DK/no opinion
  • County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney: 64% approve, 18.8% disapprove, 17.2% DK/no opinion
  • Danville/Boyle EDP organization: 43.8% approve, 26.4% disapprove, 29.8% DK/no opinion
    • Note that the Boyle/Danville EDP is a 501(c)(3) organization and is not an elected partisan or governmental organization.


Do you approve of the way that the following political leaders are handling their job?

  • Danville Mayor Mike Perros: 62.3% approve, 21.1% disapprove, 16.6% DK/no opinion
  • Danville City Commission: 60.9% approve, 22.1% disapprove, 17.1% DK/no opinion
  • Danville City Manager Ron Scott: 55.5% approve, 21.4% disapprove, 23.1% DK/no opinion
    • Note that the Danville City Manager is a non-partisan position appointed by the City Commission and is not an elected position.

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

  • Fostering economic growth: 59.8% approve, 25.2% disapprove, 15% DK/no opinion
  • Fostering a good quality of life for residents: 74.3% approve, 12.2% disapprove, 13.5% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the city budget: 52.1% approve, 29% disapprove, 18.9% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the water plant project: 66.1% approve, 16.6% disapprove, 17.3% DK/no opinion
  • Management of the Weisiger Park renovations: 45.9% approve, 34.2% disapprove, 19.9% DK/no opinion

Earlier this year, Danville increased payroll, property, and motor vehicle taxes in order to offset the effects of the recent recession and inflation on the city’s budget. On this budget decision, do you:

  • 15.8% strongly approve, 41.2% somewhat approve, 18.4% somewhat disapprove, 20% strongly disapprove, 4.6% DK/no opinion (57% strongly/somewhat approve, 38.4% strongly/somewhat disapprove)


Do you consider yourself: 23.1% liberal, 35.8% moderate, 37.4% conservative, 3.7% DK/no opinion

Do you think of yourself as a (an): 36.1% Democrat, 9.6% Independent lean Democrat, 5.7% Independent, 12.1% Independent lean Republican, 32.1% Republican, 2% DK/no opinion

Have you lived in Boyle County: 13.7% 5 years or less, 20.9% 5-15 years, 18.4% 15-25 years, 44.2% more than 25 years, 2.8% DK/no opinion

Additionally, 51.6% of survey respondents were female, 48.4% male; 66.9% report an income over $50K/year while 11.1% report an income under $20K/year; 10.2% report never attending church and 40.7% report attending once a week or more; 10.2% report being a “Tea Party supporter”; 92.6% report white ethnicity with 5.8% reporting African-American ethnicity; 28.5% report a high school education or less, 36.4% report college level of education, and 33.4% report a post-graduate level of education. 14% reported being under 35 years old, 34.8% reported being between 35-55 years old, 38.8% reported being between 55-75 years old, with 12.4% report being older than 75. Evangelical Protestants make up 43.3% of the sample, with 26.3% Mainline Protestants, 10.5% Catholic, 6.5% “nothing in particular,” 6.3% atheist/agnostic, 5.2% “other” religion.

2014 Boyle County Exit Poll: How accurate are the results?

Here is a comparison of the 2014 BCEP results for various races and the actual results from the Kentucky Secretary of State‘s website:

Race Actual results Survey results Difference Survey results with sample weighting Difference
McConnell 56.5% 50.2% 6.3% 51.8% 4.7%
Grimes 40.5% 47.3% 6.8% 46.1% 5.6%
Patterson 3.0% 2.4% 0.6% 2.1% 0.9%
Guthrie 62.5% 58.4% 4.1% 59.2% 3.3%
Leach 37.5% 41.4% 3.9% 40.6% 3.1%
McKinney 55.0% 59.9% 4.9% 61.4% 6.4%
Harmon 45.0% 40.1% 4.9% 38.6% 6.4%
Mike Perros 51.0% 43.8% 7.2% 45.4% 5.6%
Paige Stevens 49.0% 56.2% 7.2% 54.6% 5.6%
Steve Becker 20.3% 18.8% 1.5% 19.6% 0.7%
Lowery Anderson 15.9% 17.7% 1.8% 18.4% 2.5%
Susan Matherly 25.7% 24.4% 1.3% 23.8% 1.9%
Paige Matthews 23.6% 24.7% 1.1% 23.9% 0.3%
Elaine Wilson-Reddy 14.6% 14.4% 0.2% 14.3% 0.3%
Rick Serres 17.0% 17.7% 0.7% 17.7% 0.7%
Denise Terry 17.1% 15.9% 1.2% 15.5% 1.6%
Kevin Caudill 20.1% 20.4% 0.3% 20.7% 0.6%
Kent Mann 13.2% 12.3% 1.0% 12.3% 1.0%
J. H. Atkins 19.8% 20.4% 0.6% 19.7% 0.1%
Buck Graham 12.3% 13.4% 1.1% 14.2% 1.9%

A reminder that a sample weighting was applied to figures reported on this blog, which is a standard procedure used to correct for differences in how different demographic groups respond to the initial invitation to take the survey.

In general, it seems that the exit poll sample tended to overstate support for Democratic candidates in the partisan races as well as the implicitly liberal-leaning candidate in the non-partisan Danville mayoral election by anywhere from 3%-6%.[1] When it comes to the Danville city commission and school board, however, the exit poll sample was only about 1% off from the actual final results. The average difference between the exit poll sample and the actual sample for all races is 2.8% which is reduced slightly to 2.7% once a sample weighting procedure is applied.

Given that the results vary by about an average of 2.5%-3%, we can confidently assume that the other responses from the survey questions are likely somewhere in the same ballpark. This range is well within the standard accepted margin of error of 3% for most national surveys and professional polling firms.

[FN1] There are a number of explanations that can account for this, including the possibility that people were slightly less likely to accurately report their voting patterns for these higher-profile offices on the survey form. However, it is ultimately impossible to definitely verify this one way or the other.