Politico: FDR’s Nate Silver
Anxiety about this populist brushfire led Democratic Party chairman James A. Farley to commission a secret poll gauging Long’s prospects. After a dinner with Roosevelt and several top aides, Farley and the pollster reviewed the survey results alongside a “greatly interested” president. The numbers were surprising: In a three-way presidential race, FDR still won, but Long took 11 percent of the vote, faring especially well among the economically distressed. The poll showed that Long’s popularity was far-reaching, confined neither to the South nor to rural areas. He polled strongly in western states (32 percent in Washington) and respectably in midwestern industrial cities (16 percent in Cleveland). Long, Farley concluded, could “have the balance of power in the 1936 election”: A strong showing could peel off enough FDR voters to elect a Republican. Worse still, the poll showed the president to be weaker than at any time since his inauguration.