Free Markets, Free People

Why I don’t believe the polls

It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:

In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.

That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)

It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.

When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.

It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong.  If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election.  The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP.  My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.


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68 Responses to Why I don’t believe the polls

  • Yep.
    AND Obama is acting more like a spoiled loooooooser every day.
    While Romney appears more presidential every day.

  • Your analysis does not seem to make any sense. You reference polls that show “independents” breaking big-time for Romney, and contrast that with polls showing the race tied. But those are the same polls. You can’t tout only the tabs that you like. If you see this “contradiction” as damning of the whole poll, then you really have nothing to go on but the “atmospherics” that you perceive.
    Its a big country, y’know. Do  you really think that you can sit there, in your little rightwing bubble, and really have a better sense of the country as a whole than all of the polling outfits combined?
    Here is a hint. Party ID is extremely fluid. People do not join political parties. They do not have to pay dues, or get a membership card. They can wake up feeling Republican, move toward independence in the afternoon, and go to sleep a Democrat. It is not a factor like race, or sex, or income level that is unchanging – at least through an election cycle.  To have any real sense of how people are feeling in terms of party, you need to conduct polls. Party affiliation is as much a variable as candidate preference. That is why no reputable polling outfit weighs for predetermined party affiliation numbers.
    People sometimes see this advantage that Romney has with “independents’ as some sort of an indication that he is winning the people “in the middle”.  Here is a hypothesis for you – there may be many slightly right of center people who are thoroughly disgusted with the modern hard-right Republican party and who don’t wish to be associated with it – so they claim to be independent but they actually are Romney-type moderates. While on the other side, almost all Democrats are proud of their party and are willing to say so. That would lead to higher relative numbers for Democrats vs Republicans, as well as a lead for Romney amongst “independents” and an overall rough tie. I.e. – just what the polls show.
    Or, of course, it could all be some big conspiracy…I guess the added advantage to running with that is that you get to play the victim role….

    • “Modern hard-right Republican Party…”

      I had to stop there due to belly laugh.  

      • Funny to us, but dead serious to them. Since they have owned the media and academia for a few decades, they feel they have the right to dictate the terminology of politics. And it’s to their advantage for every respectable flavor of politics to be some variety of collectivism. Thus, anything that is not collectivism, they want to define as extreme.

        I talked about that a few weeks back.

      • No no, “victim” was the funniest part.  Pure projection.   There just aren’t many victims hereabouts but being as Democrats are so good at trying to foster a victim mentality in everyone I guess it’s just SOP to think we’d feel like victims.

      • “I had to stop there due to belly laugh.”
        You are denying that the Republican coalition has very conservative and moderate factions? Or that the former is in the drivers seat?

        • Considering Romney is the nominee, it’s obvious the leftmost 20% or so of the GOP won.  I don’t expect much from Romney except that we won’t quadruple the stupid WRT to borrowing money.

          • How is it possible that the 20% at one end of a spectrum can win a long, extended democratic process? Do “real” conservatives not have any viable candidates who can win even in their own party?

          • Conservatives are not the GOP, and vise versa.  Conservatives have common cause with the GOP, and virtually none with your Collective.

          • Give the man a cigar.

        • Is there a point to this question?  Are the Democrats a monolith of support for Obama and/or the national policy platform of the Democratic party?   How often is everyone on board for everything on either side, and what does that have to do with McQ’s opinion about why he doesn’t trust the polls?
          Is there some secret power to be gained by getting us to admit we do or don’t think the Republican coalition is between moderate and conservative factions?  Are you trying to get us to say we think Romney is probably going to act like Democrat-lite?  He is, we expect he will, we’re looking for someone to slow the train to Hell.  If he actually stops it, awesome, but it’s not bloody likely.
          The goal is to replace Congress with people who are fiscally sane instead of Republicans that spend just a little less than Democrats on equally stupid projects.

          • If you want people who are fiscally sane, then why on earth do you look to Republicans? Y’all make such a lot of noise about how, if OBama has a second term, he will end up doubling the national debt in his eight years. Then you hold up as your great god on a pedastal – Ronald Reagan, who TRIPLED the national debt in his eight years.
            Papa Bush was sufficiently cowed by the right wing of his party such that he promised in explicit terms to never raise taxes. Then, when he turned out to be fiscally sane and under responsibility to do the right thing for the country, y’all cut his legs our from under him.
            Then Clinton comes along with a plan that would raise taxes on the top 2%, and all you rightwingers promised us that it would be the end of civilization as we know it – another great depression, and so Clinton got zero GOP votes. But of course, it led to the first balanced budgets in 40 years, and a booming economy to boot.
            Then comes GW Bush, and instead of using that inherited surplus to pay down the burden on our children, he decides to give out huge tax cuts. I.e. to put government spending back on the credit card. Then a necessary war against al-Q, but no new revenues to pay for it. Then a useless war in Iraq and no new revenues to pay for it. Then Medicare Part D, and no money to pay for it. And a VP who solemnly declares that “deficits don’t matter”.
            And now a party that is on record – with all of its candidates agreeing, that there should be no new revenues, no matter what.
            And you claim that this is the party of fiscal responsibility????

          • Same old BULLSHIT, different bullshitter.
            Take you old, stinking talking points elsewhere, Junior.

          • Clinton got zero GOP votes, but got a balanced budget?   What miracle did he use on that?  Congress creates the actual budget, you know that, right?  That’s why we haven’t HAD a budget in the last 3 years, that’s why we didn’t HAVE a budget for the last year that the Democrats controlled both the House, and the Senate, AND the White House.   Because the ball-less wonders didn’t have the cajones to man up on what they were proposing to do with spending and just sort of side lined it.
            Inherited surplus – oh please, pull the other one, it has bells on it.
            No new revenues – by this, you mean the refusal to tax the rich at a higher rate.  Is that all you have, this continued monetary penis envy of the rich?
            Here’s a trick, try cutting spending!  Try the concept that we shouldn’t be spending over 2 billion dollars to hand out ‘free’ cell phones on the government nickle, try the idea that an electric car that costs $45,000, $7500 of which the government will sponsor is NOT a vehicle for the common American, and is in fact a play toy for the rich and a subsidy to keep UAW dues coming in.   $27 million to teach Moroccans IN Morocco how to ‘make pottery’.   The list goes on, and on, and on, and certainly the Democrats aren’t behind ALL of it.  That’s the point, live within the budget, stop creating more and more ways to spend the wealth of American citizens, stop finding more and more ways to redistribute their wealth through government.
            We’re getting tired of having someone wave a pistol in our faces and demand we ‘help’ their good causes through government taxation.

          • Why on earth do we look to Republicans…..
            Now, that’s just a stupid question that steers into fantasy – Alas, the Republicans are the ONLY viable other party, that’s it, pick a Republican, or pick a Democrat and note the use of the word ‘Alas’ at the start of the sentence before responding.
            While Republicans spend recklessly, Democrats are happy to spend even MORE recklessly, and expect to be held unaccountable for having done so.
            There is yet no third wisely spending party available in significant numbers to nationally defeat Democratic control, Republican control, or the normal crony back scratching spending extravaganza that is Washington DC run by Democrats and Republicans.
            So your question is a hypothetical nonsense question and ignores bitter reality as if the correct partisan choice for us to make would be a sensible vote for Barry Big Ears, the multi Trillion Dollar Deficit Kid who gave us Obamacare, dead coal, restricted fossil fuel, and untold billions wasted on pipe dream ‘natural power for the future’ invested in crony companies now gone or going bankrupt.  The same guy who thinks I should be paying for Sandra Fluke to have whatever pregnancy safe sex she can manage to score after a pub crawl through the Foggy Bottom Bar scene.

    • They can wake up feeling Republican, move toward independence in the afternoon, and go to sleep a Democrat.

      Bi-polar disorder is a sad thing, innit?

      While on the other side, almost all Democrats are proud of their party and are willing to say so.

      Funny.  Here in Texas, you only see GOP candidates even put their party affiliation on their literature, the Deemocrats are so “proud”.  Huh.

    • “almost all Democrats are proud of their party and are willing to say so.”
      Always proud to be a modern day card carrying Slave-o-crat eh?   Good on ya.   plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

    • Can you read a trend, Citizen Josef…???
      Fewer and fewer of those “proud” Deemocrats.  Heh!
      Matter of fact, I believe you’ll find that TWICE the number of Americans identify as CONSERVATIVE as compared to LIBERAL.

      • Yes, that is true – for a very long time conservatives have outnumbered liberals roughly 2:1. What does that have to do with what we are discussing here? The parties do not track with ideology very well, although the trend is toward doing so. There are lots of conservative Democrats, and though y’all have pretty much purged all the liberal Republicans, there are quite a few moderates left. Of course, as we see in the Senate races especially, the moderate Republicans are a dying breed. Those are the very ones I was referring to in my initial comment. Hard-line conservatives despise people like Lugar and even Bennett. That is why they get primaried from the right and often lose. The feeling tends to be mutual – those moderates are increasinly ill-at-ease with the hard right, though they remain Republicans, and probably like Mitt Romney (based on their belief that he has been totally bs-ing the party by pretending to be more conservative than he really is).

        • When you say Moderate Republicans, you mean, Republicans who vote and act like Democrats, right?

          • Yeah, some of the time. That is kinda what moderate means. Y’know, like the moderate, or even conservative Democrats who voted for the Bush tax cuts, or the Iraq war, or NCLB.

          • No, voting and acting like Democrats doesn’t mean ‘moderate’.  Moderate doesn’t mean calling yourself Republican and BEING a Democrat when it comes to voting and policy.
            ‘Moderates’ – dictionary definition being “Republicans who are really Democrats” who ‘compromise’  dictionary definition being “agree to do what the Democrats want” for empty promises in return.
            NCLB – classic example of Republicans acting like Democrats.

          • Good!  We have you flushed as another Collectivist liar.
            1. the use of force in Iraq was nearly unanimous.
            2. we are currently enjoying the OBAMA tax cuts (the exact same ones he adopted from Mr. Bush).
            3. NCLB was hardly a “conservative” idea

        • There are lots of conservative Democrats

          Name a few in Congress.

          Hard-line conservatives despise people like Lugar and even Bennett. That is why they get primaried from the right and often lose.

          You mean, like in a democratic process where the MAJORITY picks their candidate?  And were old, arrogant dinosaurs like Lugar are turned out?
          I see your naked assumptive assertion.  I don’t see any support for your “proud Deemocrat” BS.

          • There is no reply button on the previous comment, so I will put it here.
            You calling ME a liar???
            1. The Iraq War resolution passed the House with a vote of 297-133. Amongst Democrats it was 82-126. In the Senate as a whole 77-23. Senate Dems 29-21. How do you propose that this represents near unanimity?
            2. What is the relevance of the “Obama” tax cuts to this discussion? My point was that moderate Democrats went along with Bush when he passed his tax cuts in 2001. As a way of agreeing with looker’s charge that “moderate” basically means voting for the other parties proposals.

          • Well, yeah.  You ARE a liar.
            But you are correct; I conflated Bill Clinton’s Iraq regime change resolution with the use of force vote.
            Economically literate Deemocrats supported the Bush tax cuts…just like they did AGAIN when they were co-opted by Obama, stupid.

    • It is more likely there is a problem in the polling process.
      This has happened before. See “Dewey Wins.”
      Its unlikely that more people want to vote Democrat than did in 2008, but the polls keep coming up D+8.
      Unless Obama has put so many people on food stamps that they vote Democrat simply to keep the gravy flowing.

      • I also suspect some Democrats tell pollsters they will vote Obama, but when they enter that booth they will vote Romney or they will just stay home.
        Another thing is the response rate is very low. I suspect people who are mad as hell just don’t want to sit on the phone for a poll.

        • Yes. Many polls are sponsored by media outlets. We have seen the decline in media respect and trust. The people who are most likely to detest the media are, I think, simultaneously more likely to hang up on pollsters and more likely to vote Republican. That could result in a significant skew as a right-leaning cohort self-selects their way out of the sample.

          Hard to say how much that would change results, but I think it changes them enough to be noticeable. Guess we’ll find out November 6.

          Of course, the media only have themselves to blame for their problems getting people to talk to them. In fact, most of their problems are of their own making, though technological change is a convenient scapegoat when they look at their dismal balance sheets.

    • Oh no – not a conspiracy dude. Just the hive mind at work…..

      • Rod-jor THAT.  You can see it every week in the Mushroom Media.  The very same word being keyed off of in a dozen or more items.
        Sort of like birds in a flock…with the same level of “proud independence”.

      • Yes and no.  Its the interwebs.  They basically can get their story straight at lightspeed so they are all on the same page with the same message.  That gives its a false sense of authority by numbers. 

        One such hub of group thought was brought to light a few years ago.  The name escapes me at the moment.  And if you listened to some of the quotes, you can tell they knew full well about the power of distributing a similar message rapidly has.

        Anyway, its a form of truth by rapid consensus.  The Public assumes if all the outlets say the same thing relatively quickly, it much be objective reporting.  There was no time to color it with a common voice, is the assumption.  And with the internet that’s a bad assumption now. 

        The public is getting smarter about it now but very slowly.  Probably because of their personal experiences with social media. 

    • Erb, is that you?!?!

    • Your analysis does not seem to make any sense. You reference polls that show “independents” breaking big-time for Romney, and contrast that with polls showing the race tied. But those are the same polls. You can’t tout only the tabs that you like. If you see this “contradiction” as damning of the whole poll, then you really have nothing to go on but the “atmospherics” that you perceive.

      The same poll, sure, but it points towards a serious issue in the poll itself. If Obama is losing independents, he’s in bad shape. The way these polls come to the conclusion that the race is tied or Obama is leading is with an insane oversampling of Ds. D turnout won’t beat 2008, and may not be better then 2010.

      • Don,
        If you disagree with my analysis, then tell me why – don’t just repeat the very argument that I dismantled.
        My point is that these polls find more Democrats than Republicans, and Romney winning independents, and an overall tie, because (to simplify somewhat) all the Democrats declare themselves to be Democrats, while some significant number of Republicans call themselves independent.
        In other words, Romney is not necessarily winning big with TRUE independents, its just that some significant number of his Republican supporters are calling themselves independent, because they don’t much feel like identifying with the GOP.
        I dont know why so many of you seem intent on denying this. I watched all the GOP primaries and listened to the arguments on the right. Huge numbers of “true” conservatives had absolute disdain for Romney. You don’t think the moderate Republicans felt the same about the hard right? Y’all come together now because defeating Obama is so important to y’all, but don’t pretend its all one happy family.

        • “If Obama is losing independents, he’s in bad shape. The way these polls come to the conclusion that the race is tied or Obama is leading is with an insane oversampling of Ds. D turnout won’t beat 2008, and may not be better then 2010.”
          That looks like a tell me why sentence.
          “Y’all come together now because defeating Obama is so important to y’all, but don’t pretend its all one happy family.”
          Precisely.   It ain’t.  I’m voting for the box of stale saltines because the alternative is Obama.

          • Well, take a look at the Pew Poll that came out today. They had 570 Republicans, 560 Democrats, and 491 Independents. And the top line result was a 47-47 tie.
            So no, you don’t need to oversample Democrats in order to make this race a tie, or winnable for Obama.

            Among the nine key swing states, Rasmussen Reports now shows Romney leading in Florida (by 2 percentage points), Ohio (by 2 points), Virginia (by 2 points), Colorado (by 4 points), and New Hampshire (by 2 points).  It shows Obama leading in Pennsylvania (by 5 points) and Nevada (by 2 points).  It shows Wisconsin (49 percent to 49 percent) and Iowa (48 percent to 48 percent) tied.
            Huh.  Guess we will see.

    • Here is a clue, you are a stupid lefty.  The modern Republican party is about as far right as was Nelson Rockefeller. And yes he was right to question polls which are directly contradicted by other polls. Did I mention you are stupid?

  • And so it begins: Rasmussen today has what I’ve been predicting and waiting for: the first OH poll showing Romney ahead (50-48). Now I didn’t see the internals but I assume it’s certainly not the D+9 sample polling firms have been trotting out lately.
    Barring dem theft (a real threat) this election is OVER as long as we show up.

  • So, Citizen Josef, let’s get down to it…
    who do you predict will win the election?

    • I don’t know.
      I especially don’t know who will win the popular vote – it seems to me to be pretty much a dead tie right now, and slight perturbations in the force field can tip it either way.
      I am somewhat more confident that Obama will win what counts – the electoral college. Romney has not managed to pull even in Ohio, and without that his path to victory is nearly impossible.

      • Romney will win in a landslide, restore a little sanity, and your lord and savior Baracky will remain an anti-american pain in the ass for a long long time just like Jimmy Carter.

  • ROMNEY SWEEPING MINNESOTA? With two dozen newspaper endorsements to Obama’s one, he’s certainly winning the press wars there.

    Move along.  Nothing to see here…

    • It’s the proud democrats, they’re all going to declare at once, because they’re one big happy family, you know, like….
      the African Americans and the way they back Gay Marriage for example,
      or the way the Jews appreciate Obama’s support for Israel.

    • Bbbbbut. Rasmussen has Obama +5.
      You mean the “librul” media is to the right of the people of MN?

      • Bu..bu…but…other polls (more recent, too) have Romney within 3 and moving up.
        And at least one of those Minnesota papers flipped from endorsing Obama in ’08.
        So, maybe Minnesota is more purple than that blood vessel throbbing in your forehead, moonbat.

    This is what desperation looks like…!!!
    Slightly more than a week before the election, Obama releases a “new” plan with five points.  One of which is “build on our manufacturing boom(!?!?)”  I spit you not.

    • Reduce the Deficit responsibly…..
      So, that means, continuing to finance Big Bird and contraceptives AND raising taxes on the rich?
      the manufacturing boom, would that be paying China to build and run the factories to build Jeeps, windmills, batteries and solar panels?
      At the risk of sounding like an Obama crony, could he be more specific?
      Why not just run on Hope and Change again, God knows many of us Hope for Change at this point.  Can I say God in context with talking about Democrats?

  • I have been saying for 4 months that Obama will be lucky to get 200 EV.   Hope I am right.

  • For all who are wondering who this Joe Citizen is, I can tell you right now it is Erb!! I have been visiting his site for some time now and the arguments “Joe Citizen” is posting are almost verbatim what Eb has on his web site. Erb has a specific blog entry where he has been tracking the polls on a daily basis. And much of the arguments he has posted here today are verbatim the reponses he has given me when I have brought up the very same points.
    Come on, Erb. The “Joe Citizen” is BS! Reveal yourself!

    • Sorry SS, but I have come to this site to post comments perhaps a half dozen times in my life, if I remember correctly, and not for many months, if not longer. I don’t know who this person you refer to is. Feel free to ask the blog owner here to check IP addresses if you wish…
      I make no claim to great originality in my own assessment of the polls – I am sure that other people who understand basic electoral math and who follow these things closely would come to similar conclusions. I don’t really see that I have said anything here that is even very controversial, at least when it comes to the state of the race…

      • 1) You know I have played this kind of game myself. I have children and their e-mails are of differing ISPs – it isn’t a hard thing to do.
        2) One thing that is harder to do is to mask your writing style – and you are either Erb or his identical twin. Erb consistently deflected – as you have done with your comment to me regarding “saying anything here that is even very controversial” – it is funny that you should state that because I never attested to in the first place, a classic Erb debating gimmick.
        3) And anyone who has visited this site at all over the last few years knows of Erb – if you have been to this site as you state, then you know who I mean.
        It’s You!

        • Or maybe that psychotic break finally happened, and we are now faced with the existence of two Erbs. Or maybe more if the stress and shock of a Romney victory are too much. Oh, the horror! Talk about mixed blessings. The idea of multiple Erps makes me think the Mayans may have been right.

  • If Obama wins, he will have a very, very bumpy 4 years.
    1. He will do no deal so he can get sequestration of defense funds and higher taxes or he will demand some insane stuff from the GOP congress…but guess what? This throws us into recession. Obama will be blamed. He will be cursed. His partisans will keep pointing at the Congress, but no one believes that anymore.
    2. Benghazi will hang over his head and make it worse.
    3. By 2014 it will be like Bush but worse. Obamacare will be angering people.

    • But he may win. More people are unemployed are on food stamps, or social security “disability” i.e. I am too depressed to look for work.
      Those guys may have decided they can never re-enter the workforce, so now they have to be Democrats.

  • Logical error:  One can imagine an instance where “Obama trails former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points”, and “the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind”, can both be right. Therefore, there’s no contraction.  That’s logic.  Think about it.  The error arises where the first premise makes a statement about ‘independent voters’, and then generalizes that to ‘all voters’.  Either that, or certain steps were left out of the deduction.  Like math class instructors say: You have to show your work.

    • I can “imagine an instance” in which Barack Obama wears a pink tutu to Mitt Romney’s inarguration. Just because something isn’t outright impossible doesn’t make it likely.

      If Obama trails among independents compared to the last election, but leads overall, then he has to be getting votes from *somewhere* that he didn’t get last time. Either his own Democrat supporters are more numerous or more enthusiastic, or he has converted Republicans to vote for him in greater numbers, or Republican turn out will be depressed. All of these are imaginable, but none of them look plausible.

    • You’ll know our work when you see it.  It will be Big Ears giving all of us his best Punahou Death Gaze during his concession speech.

      • Oh, NoOOOOOOoooo…
        Why, Pres. Not Optimum will be the very soul of graciousness in defeat…!!!!  (I made myself chortle…)
        But seriously, who do you think will out Stink Eye Moooochelle?