A new poll out today from Marquette University Law School appears to leave more questions than answers regarding the upcoming Republican presidential primary, scheduled for next Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The poll was conducted from March 24-28, 2016 among 471 likely Republican voters, and has a margin of error of 5.8%.
In the raw data, among likely voters in Wisconsin’s Republican presidential primary, Texas Senator Ted Cruz comes out on top with 39.6%, followed by businessman Donald Trump at 30.4%, and Ohio Governor John Kasich rounds at the field in third place with 21.4%. The total number of respondents who expressed an opinion on the Republican primary election happening next Tuesday was 431, not 471.
While the poll was a state-wide poll, and did have a wide demographic base of respondents, 31% of the respondents to the poll live within the city limits of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the surrounding suburbs. A lot of confusion accompanied the release of the polling data, and the presidential portion of the poll was leaked (somehow) to media outlets prior to the official release of the data. Sources within Marquette’s law school claimed that computer systems were accessed remotely without the approval of the school by “various parties”, and the school said it is reviewing its policies to determine how to prevent such a leak in the future.
Politics do not begin or end inside the borders of Milwaukee, or Madison, for that matter; in Wisconsin. We were surprised to find such a high concentration of respondents from Milwaukee and surrounding couinties in what was supposed to be a statewide poll of Badger State voters.
A leak of sensitive polling information before it has been reviewed for release has only one motive; to affect personal opinions of voters just one week before one of the most important elections to take place in Wisconsin in many years. By accepting the leaked information, Real Clear Politics became an unwitting co-conspirator in the early release of the results, and not the polling data itself.
One has to dig very deep in this poll to be able to tell just how small the sample of Republican voters is. With so many liberals in Milwaukee and the surrounding localities being chosen for this survey, the end results are slanted towards a candidate in a way that might not happen, say, if the sample size was larger.
The survey shows a 13 point difference between the survey results gathered by Optimus, a Republican polling firm, and those gathered through Marquette University’s Law School; raising Cruz’s overall numbers by a number greater than the margin of error for the survey. It’s expected that many news outlets will try to spin the results to say that Cruz is going to win, and that Trump and Kasich don’t have a prayer to win. The truth lies somewhere in the middle of all these polls. A sampling of 431 likely voters is just not a big sample. Before we can know if a big shift has occurred as a result of Governor Scott Walker’s endorsement of Cruz, we need a poll with many more respondents, and which represents a more diverse populace than the results of this Marquette University Law School poll.