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July 30, 2018

Poll suggests huge public support for FIRST STEP Act with lots of other interesting findings

Over the weekend I noticed this Hill piece reporting in its headline "Poll finds broad support for House-passed prison reform bill." Here are the details via :

The poll, conducted for Freedom Partners by the Charles Koch-backed group In Pursuit Of and provided exclusively to The Hill, found that 70 percent of likely voters approve of the First Step Act, which cleared the House by a 360-59 margin earlier this year. Only 14 percent said the Senate should not pass it, according to the poll that sampled Republicans, Democrats and voters who did not affiliate with either party.

Freedom Partners has put six-figures behind an ad campaign urging senators from both parties to support the legislation. They hope the poll results will prod Senate Republicans to take the bill up.

Passing prison reform is a top priority for the Kochs. There is frustration among the network of conservative donors and activists that the Senate has not moved to take up the bill, which aims to incentivize inmates to complete prison programs that might reduce their likelihood to commit crimes again when they are released.

“Voters broadly support the FIRST STEP Act and will hold senators accountable for failing to pass the bill,” said Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden. “It’s time for the Senate to do its job and send this bipartisan legislation to President Trump’s desk.”

The bill has 60 percent support among registered Republicans, according to the poll. Nearly half of likely voters – 47 percent – said they would have a more negative view of Senate Republicans if they don’t move to pass the bill....

The Freedom Partners survey of 1,759 likely voters was conducted online between July 18 and July 20 and has a 2.3 percent margin of error.

This press release provides a few more details about this poll as well as this link to a summary of key findings from the poll. These findings, in particular, should be encouraging to those hoping criminal justice reform will be a salient political issue this fall:

How important is it to reduce the number of people who are in prison in America today?


28% Very important    44% Somewhat important

19% Not very important    9% Not at all important...


Thinking ahead to the midterm elections this November – how important to you is the issue of criminal justice reform as you decide who you’ll be voting for?


25% Very important    50% Somewhat important

20% Not very important    5% Not at all important...


Would you be more or less likely to vote for a political candidate if you knew he or she supported criminal justice reform?

60% More likely to support candidate    32% No difference in support    8% Less likely to support candidate

July 30, 2018 at 10:45 AM | Permalink


Were these pollsters among those who gave Hillary Clinton a 90% chance of winning the 2016 election?

Right now, polls are all defective. Cell phone numbers are not published. Their sampling is therefore not representative. While their statistical methods are sound, their sampling methods need to be fixed, due to modern communications.

There should have also been a control set of questions. Would you support the loosing of vicious super-predators onto the streets of politically hapless jurisdictions? or, would you support the dumping of highly toxic drug dealers and gangbangers into this black neighborhood?

The other pre-law course I have proposed is, Research Methodology for the Non-Researcher, to immunize future lawyers against garbage science.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 30, 2018 12:57:03 PM

Steve Bannon to the Koch Brothers: STFU.

I agree. The Koch Brothers came to realize what all the other billionaires know. They do better under Democratic Party administrations. They did very well under Obama, even as the nation was sinking into a swamp. Bernie Sanders decries income inequality. Now, the economy is so hot, there is tremendous demand for labor. These Billionaires will no longer be able to get anyone to work for them, paying slave wages. Income inequality will be decreasing under Trump.


Posted by: David Behar | Jul 30, 2018 1:02:37 PM

I did not see any cross-tabs showing the demographics of the poll (a key feature of any poll). I also do not recognize the polling company that did this, but it looks like an "in-house" poll. Historically, "in-house" polls for political campaigns are significant less reliable than polls conducted by outsiders.

It is unclear that cellphone vs. land-line is a significant demographic factor separate from other key demographic factors (age, religion, race, gender, union membership, education, marital status). While there are some problems with polling cell phone users (including for those polling local campaigns that individuals keep their cell phone number even when they move to a different part of the country), the better polling companies do include cell phones in their national polls. There may still be some randomization issues which is why multiple polls by different companies are better than one poll by one company. Additionally, while not a complete cure for the randomness problem, weighting respondents to better reflect national demographics does reduce some of the problem. (In other words, even a purely random poll could get eccentric members of a group but weighting at least assures that a group is not over-represented in the poll.) Without cross-tabs, however, we have no idea about the weighting in this poll.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 30, 2018 2:25:04 PM

TMM. Here is an older review of problems, and repeated failures of polling.


Posted by: David Behar | Jul 30, 2018 7:06:57 PM

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