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The Maryland Poll: 2006 General Election Benchmark

Objectives

Potomac Survey Research was commissioned by The (Baltimore) Sun to conduct a final survey for the 2006 General Election among likely voters in Maryland.

The survey instrument was designed to measure:

  • Mood of the electorate
  • Favorable ratings for key politicians
  • 2006 General Election match-ups for Comptroller and Attorney General
  • 2006 General Election match-ups for Governor and U.S. Senator
  • Comparisons between Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley
  • Comparisons between Michael Steele and Ben Cardin

Overview and Sampling Error

Potomac completed a total of 800 telephone interviews statewide, October 28 – 30, 2006, among a random sampling of likely-voting Maryland registered voters. 

According to customary statistical standards, the statewide sample produces a margin of error of no more than ± 3.5% at a 95% confidence level.  This means that, 95 percent of the time, the “true” figure would fall within this range if every likely voter in the state had been interviewed. 

For smaller subgroups of the overall sample, the potential sampling error is larger.  For example, the sub-sample of 308 self-identified conservative voters has a potential margin of sampling error of ± 5.8%. The following chart outlines the maximum sampling error associated with sub-samples of varying sizes:

     Sample Size     

Sampling Error *

800

± 3.5%

600

± 4.1%

400

± 5.0%

300

± 5.8%

200

± 7.1%

150

± 8.2%

100

± 9.8%

* At the 95% confidence limit.


Margin of sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion survey.  The practical difficulties of conducting any survey of public opinion introduce other sources of error into the study.  Variations in question wording or the order of the questions, for instance, can lead to somewhat different results.

Sampling

The survey sample was drawn from an electronic database of Maryland registered voters and matched with telephone numbers by a commercial vendor.  The use of a voter file is preferred because it ensures the exclusion from the survey sample of residents who are not registered to vote.  Voter history codes on the file allow a pre-election sample to be targeted to voters who have a proven track-record of voting in past elections.

Strict geographic, partisan, and gender and ethnic sampling quotas were adhered to throughout the interviewing process to reflect the proper distribution of registered voters statewide.  These quotas are outlined later in this section of the report.

Telephone Interviewing

Our field staff of professionally-trained and supervised callers completed the telephone interviews on the evenings of October 28 – 30.  Calls were made between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday, 1:00 and 9:00 p.m. Sunday, and 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. on Monday Eastern time.  The survey length averaged approximately 6 minutes.

Suggested Language for Statement of Methodology

This Maryland Poll, sponsored by The (Baltimore) Sun, was conducted by telephone among a random cross-section of 800 likely Maryland voters, October 28 – 30, 2006.  A statewide list of registered voters was used and matched with telephone numbers to ensure that non-registrants were excluded from the sample.  Throughout the interviewing process, strict geographic, political party, and gender and ethnic sampling quotas were maintained, and the sample was weighted so that it accurately reflected the likely demographic make-up of the statewide electorate.  The maximum margin of error for the statewide sample is plus or minus 3.5% at a 95% confidence level.  For smaller subgroups, the potential sampling error is larger.  The survey was conducted by Potomac Incorporated of Bethesda, Maryland.

2006 Maryland Poll Methodology Information
301-656-7900


Click to access PDF file of Potomac’s Summary Charts

Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Governor Race a Tossup"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Perceptions Narrow the Gap"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Black Vote is Expected to be Deciding Factor"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Democrats Maintain Big Lead in Comptroller, Attorney General Races"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "O'Malley Upbeat as Bus Tour Begins"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Steele Cuts Cardin Lead Nearly in Half"
Click to access PDF file of Examiner article: "Ehrlich Pulls Neck-and-Neck with O'Malley"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Fight for Assembly Tightens"
Click to access PDF file of Sun article: "Parties in Final Push for Voters"

 


 

 

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