Oct 31 2008

Polling Trick Or Treat

Published by at 5:03 pm under 2008 Elections,All General Discussions

Sorry for the dearth of posts, but have to earn the rent. Some wild data out today. Many polls are drifting back to Obama slightly (more on this later in the Nightly Bi-Poller). But here are some interesting nuggets until we get there. Governor Rendell admits Obama is possibly in a statistical tie with McCain in PA:

Gov. Ed Rendell Friday said the presidential race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain is “closer than the polls indicate.” Urging people to get out and vote in Tuesday’s general election, Rendell said Obama does not have a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania …

… “I’ve seen polls that have the race as close as four points.”

Rendell also said the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket has “enthused” the campaign.
“She has drawn thousands of people to every event she has appeared at,” Rendell said.

So have we. And a 4 point margin in even the best of polls is a tie. We have also seen tightening polls in VA. The problem is the pollsters use so many divergent turnout models nationally and at the state level it is impossible to figure out where the race is right now.

Another interesting data point is the AP/Yahoo poll and the stubborn undecideds:

One in seven, or 14 percent, can’t decide, or back a candidate but might switch, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters released Friday.

Who are they? They look a lot like the voters who’ve already locked onto a candidate, though they’re more likely to be white and less likely to be liberal. And they disproportionately backed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failed run for the Democratic nomination.

The survey found Obama leading McCain among all likely voters, 51 percent to 43 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Let’s do some math. The likely voter totals add up to 94%, yet there are 14% who could move or are undecided. If we pull the 6% of undecideds out and distribute the remaining 8% of ‘restive’ voters equally that leaves the firm numbers for Obama and McCain at 47-39. But the description of those undecides really seem to tilt towards McCain, so if we allocate them back on a 66-33 basis favoring McCain then 14% of potential swing voters would Obama 51-McCain 48 – or a 3 point race. It could be even worse depending on the polls turnout models. Which is born out by another description of this pool:

Half are independents, more than double their proportion among decided voters. But, as with decided voters, more persuadables are Democrats than Republicans. Four in 10 supported Clinton’s candidacy this spring.

Finally, a word from the McCain campaign on polls:

“Now, as you all look at multiple polls, we had a strange day yesterday as CBS, big Obama lead, FOX race closing. Well yeah, CBS has got minus eight on party ID. FOX has got two points. Or my friend Andy Kohut at Pew has got a fifteen point party identification spread. Well yeah that was 1976 after Watergate, so as you look at polls the most important thing to look at is party, and the most important thing to look at is twenty to thirty years of history in this country about the composition of the electorate.

Team McCain is thinking even if there is an edge in Democrats, he will have taken enough conservative Blue Dog and PUMA votes it will be a net plus. I agree. From what I have seen is a lot of democrats voting is not turning into huge Obama leads.

I think this is still very winnable as long as the anti-Obama voters get out and vote. It is all turnout now.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Polling Trick Or Treat”

  1. MarkN says:

    The polls are all over the map. Without any rhyme or reason. I think that the pollsters have been adjusting their models over time that it is hard to analyze properly.

    One rule of thumb is that Democrats usually do better down ticket. That is because the Republican candidate is rated higher on security and foreign policy. However two quirks I have noted this year.

    Murtha is polling worse than Obama. If Murtha is doing poorly, you can bet that Obama will do worse in his district. If Obama gets swamped in Murtha’s district PA is closer that 2.5%. Rendell is not just whistling dixie. Also the Colorado Senate race is closer than the presidential race. Strange.

  2. Jacqui says:

    There are a lot of pundits that feel the undecideds will break towards McCain. The theory is that if they were for Obama with the momentum being drummed up every day by the media they would say so. There are a lot of people, some Dems, that are fearful of being called racists if they say they are not voting for Obama.