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The Maryland Poll: 2006 Election Benchmark

Objectives

Potomac Survey Research was commissioned by The (Baltimore) Sun to conduct a telephone survey on issues and politics among likely voters in Maryland.

The survey instrument was designed to measure:

  • Job performance of President Bush and Governor Ehrlich
  • What to do in Iraq
  • Most important issue facing the state
  • Pace of growth and development
  • What to do with the state surplus
  • Support for state-funded embryonic stem cell research
  • 2006 Democratic primary match-ups for Governor and U.S. Senator
  • 2006 general election match-ups for Governor and U.S. Senator
  • Themes undergirding the 2006 elections
  • Demographics

Overview and Sampling Error

Potomac completed a total of 1,000 telephone interviews statewide, October 27 – November 1, 2005, 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 ± 3.2% 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 474 likely Democratic primary voters has a potential margin of sampling error of ± 4.6%. 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 and partisan 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 subcontractor’s staff of professionally-trained and supervised callers completed the telephone interviews on the evenings of October 27 – November 1.  Calls were made between 5:00 and 9:30 p.m. weekdays, 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday, and 1:00 and 9:00 p.m. Sunday Eastern time.  The survey length averaged approximately six minutes.

Data Weighting

After field interviewing was complete, the data were weighted to bring them into strict balance with projected voting patterns of the state’s electorate in 2006.  Those weights are an attachment to this section of the report.

Suggested Language for Statement of Methodology

This Maryland Poll, sponsored by The (Baltimore) Sun, was conducted by telephone among a random cross-section of 1,000 likely Maryland voters, October 27 – November 1, 2005.  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 and political party 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 3.2% at a 95% confidence level.  For smaller subgroups the potential sampling error is larger.  The survey was conducted by Potomac Incorporated of Bethesda, Maryland.


2005 Maryland Poll Methodology Information
301-656-7900

Click to access a PDF file of Potomac's Summary Charts
Click to visit The Baltimore Sun online coverage

Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article:
Slow the growth, say voters
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Bush popularity reaches new low
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Mfume-Cardin contest open
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Polls show points - points show trends
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Methodology for conducting Sun Poll
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Voters back stem cell funding
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Women line up behind O'Malley
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Political jabs stick with voters
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Early edge for Ehrlich rivals
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: Steele faces challenges attracting black voters
Click to access a PDF file of The Sun article: How Sun Poll is conducted

 

 

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