Boyle County preferences on repurposing the Tennessee Gas Pipeline

The 2016 Boyle County Exit Poll asked voters the following question:

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?

Based on response patterns, I estimate that 38.2% of Boyle County voters approve and 43.7% disapprove with 18.1% having no opinion.

Similar to previous analyses, I used a “multivariate regression” analysis to see what political or demographic characteristics best predict whether a voter approves or disapproves (among those who have an opinion one way or the other). Here are the results:

Republican political partisanship 32%
Age 18.6%
Male gender 12.1%

(For statistics nerds, these are the minimum to max predicted probabilities of each factor in predicting an “approve” preference 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 whether someone approves of repurposing the gas pipeline. Republicans were 32% more likely than Democrats to say “approve.” Also, age seems to make a difference. Older voters were less likely to approve of repurposing the gas pipeline. Those over 75 were 18.6% less likely to approve than those under 35. Finally, men were 12.1% more likely than women to approve of repurposing the gas pipeline.

Factors that did not matter in predicting preferences on this issue include political ideology, income, religiosity, education, or race/ethnicity. Also, a person’s perspective on whether Boyle County is on the right or wrong track or how the Boyle economy is doing are not associated with preferences on this issue.

UPDATE 11/16/2016: it was recently brought to my attention that the question wording was not 100% accurate in describing this issue. The survey said “liquid gas” when in fact the proposal is to repurpose the pipeline for “natural gas liquids.” I appreciate the clarification being brought to my attention and regret the error.


Boyle County voting patterns for Kentucky’s 54th state house seat

The 2016 Boyle County Exit Poll asked voters who they voted for in the Kentucky 54th state legislative race (Boyle and Casey counties) between incumbent Republican Daniel Elliot and challenger Democrat Bill Noelker. The survey also asked a variety of other questions about the voter’s political opinions and demographic characteristics. I used a “multivariate regression” analysis to see what difference these various factors made in predicting a vote for Daniel Elliot in Boyle County, controlling for the effect of every other factor. Here are the results:

Republican political partisanship 46.6%
Governor Bevin approval 39.5%
President Obama disapproval 32.9%
Kentucky rural resource distribution 31.2%
White race/ethnicity 25%
Frequent church attendance 23.8%

(For statistics nerds, these are the minimum to max predicted probabilities of each factor in predicting a vote for Elliot 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 Daniel Elliot in Boyle County: Republicans were 46.6% more likely than Democrats to do so. Approval of Governor Matt Bevin was the second-highest factor: those who approve of Governor Bevin were 39.5% more likely to vote for Elliot than those who disapprove. Similarly, those who disapprove of President Obama were 32.9% less likely to vote for Elliot than those who approve.

Interestingly, those who say that the Kentucky state government does not do a good job at distributing resources equally between Louisville/Lexington and rural parts of the state were 31.2% more likely to vote for Elliot than those who think the Kentucky state government does a very good job.

Two demographic factors also made a differences: white voters were 25% more likely to vote for Elliot than non-white voters and those who attend religious services once a week or more were 23.8% more likely to vote for Elliot than those who never attend religious services.

There are also several things that did not matter in predicting a vote for Elliot over Bevin once these other factors were controlled for. These included a voter’s gender, income, age, or level of education. It also included whether or not the voter thought Boyle County was on the right or wrong track as well as whether they thought that Boyle County’s economy had gotten better or worse over this past year.

In sum, voting patterns in the 54th state legislative race (for Boyle County voters, at least) was mostly a function of political partisanship with some degree of concern about how Kentucky distributes resources between rural and urban parts of the state. Race and religion also played a smaller role.

2016 Boyle County Exit Poll: results by partisanship

Below are various Exit Poll responses by respondent partisanship. The first line can be interpreted: “13.5% of Democrats voted for Trump compared to 86.6% of Republicans.” All other results shown here can be interpreted similarly.

  Democrats and leaners Pure Independents Republicans and leaners
Donald Trump 13.5% 43.7% 86.6%
Hillary Clinton 83.1% 32.1% 5.6%
Gary Johnson 1.6% 12.1% 3.5%
Jill Stein 1.0% 5.6% 0.1%
Kentucky U.S. Senate      
Rand Paul 10.5% 52.6% 85.5%
Jim Gray 89.4% 47.4% 14.5%
Kentucky 54th District      
Daniel Elliot 11.3% 42.2% 83.8%
Bill Noelker 88.4% 56.8% 15.7%
Kentucky Supreme Court    
Glenn Acree 36.5% 22.1% 32.4%
Larry VanMeter 63.1% 77.9% 67.6%
Approve Barack Obama 85.3% 46.2% 9.5%
Approve Senator Paul 17.7% 57.6% 77.3%
Approve Senator McConnell 11.0% 22.5% 45.8%
Approve Brett Guthrie 42.0% 59.8% 75.2%
Approve Matt Bevin 16.5% 45.6% 79.0%
Approve Harold McKinney 84.2% 80.1% 75.9%
Approve Mike Perros 80.9% 74.4% 76.4%
Approve Danville City Commission 88.2% 78.5% 75.4%
Approve Ron Scott 81.7% 74.0% 72.4%
Approve EDP 75.8% 66.0% 68.7%
Single most important problem local area  needs to solve
Crime 9.0% 10.8% 14.3%
Education 17.1% 5.2% 5.2%
Jobs 18.7% 17.0% 27.4%
Racial/ethnic tension 3.6% 4.2% 1.6%
Prescription drug abuse 31.3% 29.7% 27.7%
Economid development 9.1% 13.2% 9.6%
Roads and sidewalks 2.2% 4.2% 2.3%
High taxes 2.3% 9.0% 5.7%
Corruption 1.5% 2.4% 3.9%
Health care availability 4.9% 4.2% 2.3%
Danville/Boyle right track 87.9% 79.8% 79.5%
Danville/Boyle wrong track 12.1% 20.2% 20.5%
Pipeline repurposing approve 27.4% 50.0% 57.6%
EDP/Danville partnership is effective 85.1% 88.6% 83.9%

2016 Boyle County Exit Poll: comparison of survey vs. actual results

Actual results Survey results Difference
Trump 62.1% 48.8% 13.3%
Clinton 33.1% 44.0% 10.9%
Paul 54.0% 47.1% 6.9%
Gray 46.0% 52.9% 6.9%
Elliott 57.8% 46.7% 11.1%
Noelker 42.3% 52.8% 10.5%
Acree 29.6% 33.5% 3.9%
VanMeter 70.4% 66.3% 4.1%
Tamme 52.4% 58.7% 6.3%
Ellis 47.6% 41.3% 6.3%
McCowan 26.2% 26.8% 0.6%
Finke 27.0% 29.1% 2.1%
Merryman 25.9% 25.4% 0.5%
Miller 21.0% 18.8% 2.2%
Serres 19.4% 21.6% 2.2%
Caudill 21.7% 22.4% 0.7%
Terry 20.4% 20.2% 0.2%
Atkins 23.0% 24.8% 1.8%
Monroe 15.6% 11.8% 3.8%

Survey results are weighted by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. See the previous post for more context and explanation of the difference based on partisan and non-partisan offices, especially the partisan imbalance in the federal and state level offices.

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.



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



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



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.


Update on 2016 Boyle County Exit Poll results

For interested parties: the data from this year’s exit polling project has been collected and compiled. I hope to be able finish the analysis and post the preliminary results sometime tomorrow (Wednesday). Thank you all for your patience!

My soapbox thought for Election Day

For most of human history people have been ruled by kings, caesars, popes, and emperors. These authorities often claimed divine sanction as the source of their political legitimacy. Some used their power to try to ensure peace and stability for their people, but very few willingly shared power with those over whom they claimed authority. Even more used their authority to exploit and oppress in order to further their personal interests and maintain or increase their power.

Democracy is a relatively recent experiment in the long view of world history. It’s incredibly messy and often frustrating. Oftentimes our preferred candidates don’t win. Fear is often a strong motivator, unfortunately.

On balance, however, I am sure grateful to live in a time and place in world history where I have the opportunity and freedom to be able to participate in choosing my leaders rather than having them imposed on me by unaccountable authorities. I am glad that the arc of history over the last few centuries has been toward more, rather than less, democratic participation and governance throughout the world not only in our political communities, but other social and voluntary organizations as well.

As messy as democracy is, it sure beats the alternative that we’ve had through most of human history. I try not to take it for granted, regardless of the outcome of our elections.