Under the Dome

Civitas Institute: Senate race polling reflected 'streak of accuracy'

The conservative Civitas Institute says its opinion polls in this year’s election “continues a streak of accuracy,” despite polling numbers that showed Sen. Kay Hagan ahead of Republican Thom Tillis for much of the campaign.

In a news release issued Wednesday, Civitas President Francis De Luca said the percentages listed for each candidate in poll results didn’t tell the whole story. “To simply read the top lines and draw conclusions based on that misses the point entirely,” he said.

“For example, survey results contain undecided voters. But these voters are either going to decide on one candidate or they are simply going to stay home. The value of a good poll, and a good pollster, is to help figure out how those undecided voters are going to break, if they decide to vote at all.”

Civitas’ final poll, conducted Oct. 29-30, found the two candidates tied with 40 percent of support each among likely voters. De Luca released the results a day before the election saying that Hagan was “very slightly ahead” with Tillis “within striking distance.”

But in Wednesday’s announcement, De Luca pointed to this analysis from the Civitas pollster on Oct. 22:

“If turnout is high, it will be because Hagan and her allies turned out less-frequent voters. If turnout is low, it will resemble a typical midterm turnout and will benefit Tillis. Right now, evidence points to an election that more typically resembles a midterm, though this can change over the next two weeks. But if the race were held today, Tillis would eke out a win against Hagan, 49%-47%, with the balance going to Haugh.”

Pollsters from national and local firms faced criticism this election after few of them had shown a Tillis lead.