The Topline

CNN Democratic Debate Reaction: Don’t believe anything you read… yet

It’s the day after the first Democratic debate, and some news outlets are out with “polls” declaring the winner. Don’t believe them. Not the Drudge website poll which has Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in first followed by Jim Webb. Nor the Boston Herald’s web poll, which has Sanders first and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton second. Nor CNN. Nor Time.

These “polls” are pretty much clickbait, which is why we are not linking to any of them. They amount to little more than a test of which candidate has the most internet-savvy followers committed to stuffing the ballot box. The Drudge poll already had tens of thousands of votesduring the debate, generating the unlikely result that Lincoln Chafee had narrowly outperformed Hillary Clinton.

In the state’s 10 poorest communities, the data show sports participation is 43 percent below the statewide average. By contrast, sports participation in the 10 wealthiest communities is 32 percent above the average. The rich-poor divide is troubling because many educators and analysts believe that participation in extracurricular activities such as sports plays a key role in academic success.

Harvard political science professor Robert Putnam, in his book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, says extracurricular activities teach students valuable soft skills such as strong work habits, self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, and a sense of civic engagement. Students engaged in sports tend to have higher grade-point averages, better work habits, and lower dropout rates, he says.

Millennials in Greater Boston: Take ULI’s Housing and Transportation Survey

ULI_BostonNE_mark_logotype_RGB72-300x131MPG has teamed up with the Urban Land Institute of Boston/New England to survey millennials in Greater Boston about their preferences on housing and transportation. If you are between the ages of 20 and 37 and live in Greater Boston, please take a few minutes to complete the survey. Thanks!


The Iowa/New Hampshire Odd Couple

Writing for New Hampshire Public Radio, Steve Koczela looks into the demographics behind the quadrennial debate over dumping Iowa and New Hampshire as the first states in the presidential nominating process. Based on what he found, there’s no real demographic argument for the GOP to switch.

You can take the Gallup out of the horserace AND the horserace out of Gallup

The big news in the polling world last week was that the venerable Gallup organization will not be conducting horserace polling during the 2016 presidential cycle. MPG’s Steve Koczela asked Gallup’s Frank Newport why in a piece for CommonWealth Magazine.

District 4 Data Essay: Yancey’s Uphill Battle Back

Also in CommonWealth, MPG Research Associate Maya Jonas-Silver digs deep into returns in the Boston City Council District 4 preliminary election, where challenger Andrea Campbell upset longtime Councillor Charles Yancey. From what she found, it will be very difficult for Yancey to mount a comeback. On a desktop? be sure to click on the first image to experience the interactive version of the story.


More Dem Debate

The Beltway consensus seems to be that Hillary Clinton won the debate last night. Not so fast, says Vox.

Time magazine rounds up the social media metrics on the evening: Clinton had the best Instagram, Sanders gained the most Facebook Likes, and Donald Trump apparently won Facebook and Twitter with his running commentary.

And Sanders raised $1.4 million in small contributions during and after the debate, his campaign bragged.

Nate Silver skewers the media narrative around Hillary Clinton for both underestimating her position going into the debate and overestimating her performance at it.

Contrary to the talking heads, HuffPost found most voters went into last night’s debate expecting it would change very little about the race.

On the eve of their party’s first debate, Pew offered five facts about Democrats.

More 2016

The latest Fox News poll is chock full of headlines. Not only are Donald Trump and Ben Carson pretty much tied in the GOP primary, but Vice President Joe Biden is out-performing Hillary Clinton in head-to-head matchups with Republican candidates.

CBS’s latest poll has Clinton continuing to lead among Democrats nationally. Clinton leads Sanders by 19 points when Joe Biden’s name is included in the horserace, and by 24 points without the Vice President.

On the GOP side, CBS found Donald Trump still ahead, at 27 percent. Ben Carson is the only other candidate to clear 20 percent.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sits at 6 percent in the poll, behind fellow Floridian Senator Marco Rubio. This prompted CBS to ask what’s behind Jeb’s slide in the polls.

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The more the MBTA’s new control board digs into the issue of T absenteeism, the less consequential the problem looks to the agency’s bottom line. The latest MBTA report shows overtime costs due to absenteeism at $7 million a year, down from a previous estimate of $10 million. Of course, nobody likes employees missing work, and nobody likes losing $7 million. The T should address the problem so as to keep service running as smoothly as possible. But anyone thinking that solving absenteeism will be a financial godsend simply doesn’t understand the numbers.

The T is also considering allowing advertising for alcohol, a proposal which it estimates could bring in up to $1.3 million in additional revenue. The proposal has generated animateddiscussion, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has come out against the idea.

But neither amount is remotely consequential to the size of the challenges facing MBTA. The media and elected officials spending time debating these relative pittances has the effect of distracting attention from the scope of the real problem: the T’s $7.3 billion state of good repair backlog.

To illustrate the point, we created this chart, which shows a to-scale comparison of the backlog to the money to be saved on absenteeism.


Keeping the chart to-scale while adding an alcohol ad revenue column a single pixel high would have made the chart seven times this tall. But you get the point.

Meet The Authors

Rich Parr

Senior Research Director, The MassINC Polling Group

Steve Koczela

President, The MassINC Polling Group

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