Some of the members of Emerson Polling analyze data before the midterms. File photo/Claire Richards ’22
By Molly Loughman
In a night full of surprises and upsets, the Emerson College poll managed to catch almost all of them. Perhaps the biggest shocker of the night was Ted Cruz (R) holding off Beto O’Rourke (D) in Texas by 3 points. While most polls had written off the race as a Cruz blowout, the Emerson poll nailed the race at 3 and that was a sign of things to come throughout the night.
“We hit nearly all of our elections throughout the country, and besides being accurate, we were the largest producer of polls. We aced the Midterms,” said Emerson Professor and acclaimed pollster, Spencer Kimball, head of Emerson College Polling.
Overall, Emerson conducted 55 pre-election polls in 20 states during the final 10 days of the elections, which resulted in the polls projecting the correct winner in 23 out of 23 US Congressional races, 14/17 Governor races and 14/15 US Senate races.
Battleground Senate races in Nevada, Arizona, and Missouri were all accurately predicted by the Emerson poll. In Nevada’s Senate race, the Emerson poll projected an upset with Jacky Rosen (D) ousting incumbent Dean Heller (R) 49% to 45%. Rosen ended up receiving 50% of the vote to Heller’s 45%. In Arizona, the Emerson poll projected the upset win of Kyrsten Sinema (D) in the US Senate race, predicting Sinema would defeat Martha McSally (R) 49% to 48%. The final result had Sinema winning the race, 50% to 48%. In Missouri the Emerson poll projected the upset win of Josh Hawley (R) over US Senator Claire McCaskill (D). Hawley received 52% to McCaskill’s 48%, and Emerson predicted Hawley winning 49% to 46%.
In some of the biggest Governor races of the night, the Emerson poll projected the upset wins including Tony Evers (D) upset of Scott Walker (R) in Wisconsin. In the Gubernatorial race in Nevada, Emerson projected Steve Sisolak (D) winning against Adam Laxalt (R) 48% to 47%. Sisolak defeated Laxalt, 49% to 45%. In the state of Iowa, Kim Reynolds (R) held onto her seat with 50% to Fred Hubbell’s (D) 47%, where the Emerson poll had her winning 51% to Hubbell’s 47%. In another battleground gubernatorial race, the Emerson poll in Georgia had Brian Kemp (R) at 49% and Stacey Abrams (D) at 47%, just one point away from the actual results. Kemp ended up receiving 50% and Abrams got 49%.
“The vast majority of these polls were students produced, so their portfolios will be very impressive. As we work with other outside clients, they’re now hiring us because the accuracy we’re able to achieve in elections can be applied to real world,” Kimball said.
In the elections for US Congress, the Emerson Poll projected some of the biggest upset wins of the night including Jared Golden (D) from Maine’s second district, Xochitl Torres Small (D) from New Mexico’s second district, Sharice Davids (D) in Kansas’s third district, Steve Watkins (R) in Kansas’s second district, Susie Lee (D) in Nevada’s third district, Cindy Axne (D) in Iowa’s third district, and Abby Finkenauer (D) in Iowa’s first district.
Other highlights include projecting the result within 1 point in the Gubernatorial Elections in Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine and within 2 points in South Dakota. Similarly, in US Senate races, the Emerson poll in Ohio projected the exact margin of victory for US Senator Sherrod Brown (D) at 6 points and was within 1.5 points of Joe Manchin’s (D) win in West Virginia.
In Michigan’s Senate race, Emerson projected Debbie Stabenow (D) at 52% of the vote to challenger John James (R) 43%, final results have her winning with 52% of the vote to 46%. In Michigan’s gubernatorial race, Gretchen Whitmer (D) received 53% of the vote to Bill Schuette’s (R) 44%, the Emerson poll projected her victory 52% to 41%.
Emerson’s poll in the New Mexico Senate race had Senator Martin Heinrich (D) with 48% of the vote to Mick Rich’s (R) 32% and Gary Johnson’s (L) 16% with 6% undecided. Heinrich secured a victory with 54% to Rich’s 31% and Johnson’s 15%.
Moving forward, the Emerson poll will begin a monthly national tracking poll, starting in December, that looks at the 2020 Presidential Election including issues and candidates.
“I am really excited to see our exposure for 2020 since we have now established ourselves as dependable pollsters,” said Rattoball, political communications junior, Elizabeth Rattoball, who joined Emerson Polling freshmen year.
This year, Rattoball became co-president of Emerson Polling alongside political communications senior, Isabel Holloway.
“I feel not only that I’ve learned the basics of conducting public opinion research, but also that I’ve gained a better understanding of our political landscape,” Holloway said.