Free Markets, Free People

Polling


Gallup does some myth busting

What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.

One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.

I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.

Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.

Gallup weighs in today with this:

Hmmm.  That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it?  In fact, it’s not even close.   The report says 15% of registered voters have voted.  And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46.  If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort.  Not so hot in either category, huh?

Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.

However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?

And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.

Heh …

~McQ


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.

~McQ


Michael Barone: Slow-motion 1980?

Michael Barone is one of the few poll watchers I respect. I’ve watched him in any number of elections and he’s objectively called it the way he saw it, usually spot on, for whomever the facts indicated was in the lead. No spin, just good analysis.

Well, in this season of polling chaos, Barone is out with his look at some of the key indicators that help him analyze election trends and he seems to think we are seeing a preference cascade begin ala 1980 … just slower:

My other alternative scenario was based on the 1980 election, when vast numbers of voters switched from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan after their single debate one week before the election. In that debate, the challenger showed he had presidential stature and the incumbent president seemed petulant and small-minded.

We saw an even more vivid contrast between challenger and incumbent in the Oct. 3 debate. In the next two debates, Obama was definitely more focused and aggressive. But Romney held his own, and post-Oct. 16 polling showed him improving his standing even though many debate watchers thought Obama won on points.

What we may be seeing, as we drink from the firehose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow-motion 1980.

That reinforces my point about the first debate and something we’ve been saying since Oct. 3. That is the debate that mattered. And note also that in debates 2 and 3, Obama pulled a Carter. His stature was diminished by his actions. He, as Barone and many others have observed, came across as “petulant and small-minded”. Add arrogant and condescending, and you’ve captured it.  Oh, and by the way, his record, like Carter’s, is dismal.

Romney, on the other hand, came across exactly as he had to come across – competent, presidential, confident and, believe it or not, likable. He did what Ronald Reagan did – unfiltered by the media, he was able to convince Americans who tuned in that he was Presidential material. That he was a more than acceptable alternative to Obama.

All of that said, Barone isn’t claiming that this is a done deal by any stretch (“don’t get cocky kid”):

The usual caveats are in order. Exogenous events could affect opinion (Libya seems to have hurt Obama). The Obama ground game is formidable. Voters who switched to Romney could switch back again.

And if there is a larger reservoir of potentially changeable voters than in 2004, there was an even larger reservoir back in 1980, when Carter attracted white Southerners who now are firmly in Romney’s column.

Mechanical analogies can be misleading. Just because Romney has gained ground since Oct. 3 does not guarantee that he will gain more.

But also keep in mind that Romney gained not just from style but from fundamentals. Most voters dislike Obama’s domestic policies and are dissatisfied with the sluggish economy. And now they seem to believe have an alternative with presidential stature.

So, while we apparently have a preference cascade beginning, is it enough?  And will it peak at the right time.  Will it be a slow steady climb to election day?  Will it plateau?  Will it stop short of the majority Romney needs?  Obviously we won’t know that until election night (or, perhaps, the next day).  But suffice it to say, the upward trend is obvious.

How it will play out, however, remains to be seen.

~McQ


Polling, preference cascades, etc.

I wanted to make a quick point here. First this:

Mitt Romney has taken a narrow national lead, tightened the gender gap and expanded his edge over President Barack Obama on who would best grow the economy.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — taken from Sunday through Thursday of last week — shows Romney ahead of Obama by 2 percentage points, 49 percentage to 47 percent. That represents a 3-point swing in the GOP nominee’s direction from a week ago but is still within the margin of error. Obama led 49 percent to 48 percent the week before.

A lot of discussion on polls this time around. We talked about them extensively in the podcast. The thing to realize is regardless of how the polling concerns have set up their split among self-identified Republicans and Democrats, the one thing that has been fairly consistent in each of them is Romney trending up. So while they may all show different percentages and even an Obama lead, the fact remains that the challenger has continued to gain even while the incumbent was declared the winner of the last debate.

That, my friends, signifies, at least as far as I can tell, a preference cascade beginning to swell.

As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the most important debate this year was the first debate. In that debate, the challenger had to appear to be an acceptable alternative/replacement for the incumbent. Romney was able to exceed expectations in that department. That’s when the tide began to turn. The second debate, while somewhat important, but only if the challenger really goofed it up, just didn’t carry the weight of the first. And as hard as the left has tried to make the debates about Big Bird, binders of women and an alleged “Libya gaffe” (as I see it, there was no gaffe at all, we saw an incumbent President pretend/allege he said something he didn’t say). They’re not selling except among the partisan base.

We’ll see if this debate this evening adds momentum to the challengers upward trend or whether the incumbent is somehow able to slow or stop it. I’m not sure what the President could say or do that would accomplish that given his dismal foreign policy record (and his previous declaration that his lack of foreign policy experience just wasn’t a show stopper).

Like Dale says, I think, as far as Romney is concerned, we’re in “dead girl or live boy” territory.

~McQ


The 2nd debate: Who “won”?

Good question really.  I know who most media outlets have declared the winner, but frankly, my guess is that was written before the debate.  After all, given his last performance it’s hard to conceive how President Obama could have done worse.  And given the low expectations, exceeding them was going to look like a “win” or at least be portrayed like one.  The media loves “comeback kid” story lines.

Of course there was the usual grousing about the moderator, in this case, Candy Crowley.  Some is to be expected.  Some, in this case, was warranted.  What is the job of a moderator?  Well, what it isn’t is to provide “instant fact-checking”, especially when the fact check is incorrect.  Moderators should be like referees or umpires – all but invisible while they keep the debate to the rules.  However, when you pick people with large egos and biases to “moderate”, well, don’t be surprised when they make every attempt to insert themselves in things of which they have no business being a part.

However, to the main point.  Who ‘won’?

Well a CBS instapoll says Obama won.  Of course CBS was the only poll that said Joe Biden won so, yeah, not such a great endorsement.  And the “win” was marginal at best, even with CBS.

In a CBS News poll, 37 percent of 525 uncommitted voters who watched the debate declared Obama the winner, compared to 30 percent who said the same of Romney; 33 percent said it was a tie.

CNN’s instant poll also gave the “win” to Obama (46/39 – registered voters).

So, woohoo for Obama! Right?

Well, I guess,  unless you look at some of the other numbers in the polls.  And then, well, not so much:

Despite Obama’s slight edge overall, Romney was seen as better able to handle most issues.

The trend was most notable in the CNN poll: he had an 18-point edge among registered voters on the economy (58 percent to Obama’s  40 percent ); a 3-point edge on health care (49 percent to 46 percent); a 7-point edge on taxes (51 percent to 44 percent); and, largest of all, a 23-point edge on the deficit (59 percent to 36 percent).

Obama’s only lead in the CNN poll was a slim one on foreign policy: 2 percent more of the registered voters who watched the debate said he would handle the issue better (49 percent to 47 percent for Romney).

In the CBS poll, 65 percent of respondents also said Romney would handle the economy better after the debate (though that decreased from 71 percent before the debate). Only 34 percent said Obama would handle the economy better, but that was a jump of 7 percentage points.

Personal metrics were split a bit more evenly. Forty-nine percent of those in the CNN poll said Romney was the stronger leader, compared to 46 percent for Obama. The president still had a lead on likeability by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent. He was also perceived as caring more about the audience by a margin of 4 points, but also as spending more time on the attack by a 14-points one.

Among uncommitted voters surveyed in the CBS poll, 56 percent said the president would do a better job of helping the middle class, compared to only 43 percent who said the same of Romney.

So wait … are we voting on who did better in a debate, or who would do a better job as President?

Oh, that’s right, this is about the job, isn’t it?

And finally:

The final word from the CNN respondents? Twenty-five percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney, and 25 percent said the same for Obama.

So who “won”?

Hmm … yes, if I was the Obama campaign brain-trust, I’d be worried too.

Oh, and in the third debate, Obama won’t have the benefit of low expectations working for him and, hopefully, we’ll see a debate where “moderation” means “referee”, not “instant but wrong fact checker“.

~McQ


New Pew Poll puts Romney in the lead. WaPo questions poll’s validity

Funny stuff.  All of us out here who have been questioning the accuracy of various presidential polls and being called “poll truthers” (lord help you if you question the establishment or authority) now see a poll that favors the GOP candidate being called into question by none other than the Washington Post.

The Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press released a poll that puts Mitt Romney in the lead for the first time in their polling (Rasmussen also released a poll with Romney in the lead).

The Pew poll keys off the first debate, Romney’s big win and says:

In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September. Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters (1,112 likely voters), finds that 67% of Romney’s backers support him strongly, up from 56% last month. For the first time in the campaign, Romney draws as much strong support as does Obama.

“Likely voters”, as we’ve mentioned in the past, is the key demographic.  Forget registered voters.  Among likely voters, Pew is recording a 12 point swing.  That’s pretty significant.  You can hit the Pew link to go through all the particulars.

So what’s WaPo’s disagreement with the poll? Well they don’t really “disagree” so much as imply there might be a problem with the poll’s makeup (you know, the same thing we “poll truthers” have been talking about for months):

That pesky party ID question: The Pew sample for this poll was 36 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent.  That’s a major shift from the organization’s September poll which was 29 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent.  In the 2010 election, the electorate was 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent, according to exit polling. In 2008, 39 percent of the electorate identified as Democrats while 32 percent said they were Republicans and 29 percent said they were independents.

So in this poll, Pew was R+5.  That’s different than the D+8 they ran in September.  There’s you 12 point shift.  Of course in 2010, they were completely wrong calling the D/R split even.  Republicans ran a historic blow out during that election taking 60 seats in the House.  In 2008, they were probably slightly undercounting self-identified Democrats.  But not this time as Pew points out in their survey.  Enthusiasm among GOP voters is up.  It isn’t up among Democrats.  And that, one supposes, is the Pew justification for plussing the GOP on this poll.

September polls are notoriously inaccurate.  Polling companies, at least those who want to continue to be taken seriously, refine their models as they approach an election.  This poll appears to be an example of that.  As should be obvious to anyone who pays attention, the excitement, support and enthusiasm Obama enjoyed in 2008 doesn’t exist in this election, at least not anywhere to the degree it did then.  That means the ratios have changed.  Whether or not R+5 is the correct weight polls should give the GOP vote remains to be seen, but it certainly makes a lot more sense than D+8, the number we “poll truthers” were questioning all along.

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Libertarians break for Romney

CATO has the news:

The Reason-Rupe September 2012 poll includes our favorite ideological questions to differentiate libertarians from liberals and conservatives. Using three questions, we can define libertarians as respondents who believe “the less government the better,” who prefer the “free market” to handle problems, and who want government to “favor no particular set of values.” These fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters represent 20% of the public in the Reason-Rupe poll, in line with previous estimates.

Among these likely libertarian voters, the presidential horserace currently stands:

Romney 77%
Obama 20%
Other 3%

Romney’s share of the libertarian vote represents a high water mark for Republican presidential candidates in recent elections.

I find it difficult to believe 20% of the “libertarian” vote would go to Obama, but whatever.

Bush pulled 70% of the libertarian vote in 2000. But that percentage dropped to 59 in 2004.

So what if Gary Johnson is included?

Romney 70%
Obama 13%
Johnson 14%
Other 3%

A pretty even split between libertarians voting for Romney and Obama (7% each).

This is all interesting for a number of reasons.  One is that many libertarians like to argue that “true” libertarians would never vote for any Republican or Democrat.  Yet when you look at the numbers, and unless you’re willing to exclude about 97% of self-identified libertarians, that’s just not at all the case.  In fact, in the last two presidential elections (2004 and 2008), third party candidates have pulled a whopping 3% of the libertarian vote.  Yeah big “L” libertarian party types, it’s not selling.    A lot of that has to do with “principles” which simply aren’t realistic (you know, like isolationism and open borders?  Both have been overcome by events in case you haven’t noticed.).  Once the Libertarian party begins dealing with the problems and realities of the here and now, and not how they’d like it to be, you may see those numbers change.

Until then, the lesser of two evils prevails.  The reason for the record break this year?  Probably because most libertarians understand that Obama and the Democrats pose the biggest internal danger to freedom and liberty this country has faced in quite some time.   Is Romney/Ryan the panacea?  Are you kidding?  But first you have to remove the danger.  Then you can work on repairing the damage.

And it won’t be quickly done as all of us know.  I look for many “ones step forward, two steps back” days even after Obama is sent into retirement.

But one thing is for sure – this nation cannot afford another 4 years of Barack Obama.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Media distrust at an all time high

Gee, I wonder if they’ve figured out they’re being a little too obvious about it?

Yeah, probably not. They have “3 layers of editors” after all.

Gallup has the goods:

Now there are those out there that say, much like voter fraud, there’s really no bias in the media, they’re professionals.

Well, we may call them that, but that doesn’t make them professionals.

More importantly, much like voter fraud and a myriad other things, it ignores human nature.

What there’s been in the past, for the most part, is plausible deniability.  It just wasn’t obvious or if it was, it was arguable.  Now?

Well now it is really hardly arguable anymore.  Treatment of recent events brings that into startling focus.  Yesterday on QandO Facebook, we linked to an article that listed 6 plausible headlines if Obama was a Republican president.

And yes, they’re quite plausible.  In fact, I think that it is almost inarguable.

As interesting as the first graph above is, the second it telling in another way:

How is it telling?  Well, who is the most satisfied demographic?  18 points higher than the average in the above of those who are a great deal or fairly satisfied with the media.  And, as expected, at least if you follow the news media at all, the GOP is horribly dissatisfied.  In fact 74% have little or no trust in the media.

But that’s not the important story in that graph.  It’s the slide of the independent voter from a postion of trust to one of distrust.  A 21% drop from 2001 to now.

It is that demographic’s distrust that best tells the story.  They really have no dog in the hunt in terms of strong ideology.  Their claim is they vote the candidate that best represents them at the time.  So if anyone’s view is less tainted by ideology or concern, it would be independents.  And they’ve shown a marked downward trend in trust for the media.

The point?  Well the point may be that the media’s best biased efforts may not pay off quite as well as they hope or they’ve enjoyed in the past.

One of the reasons is there are a multitude of other sources out there that are readily available and help point out the half-truths and spin that is seen quite often in media reports these days.  It also says, at least to me, that such sources are being both sought out and believed (if the independent number has any validity at all).

Gallup concludes:

On a broad level, Americans’ high level of distrust in the media poses a challenge to democracy and to creating a fully engaged citizenry. Media sources must clearly do more to earn the trust of Americans, the majority of whom see the media as biased one way or the other. At the same time, there is an opportunity for others outside the “mass media” to serve as information sources that Americans do trust.

That’s precisely what is happening.  The media monopoly has gone the way of feudalism.  The digital printing press has seen to that.  The problem is, the media, for all their self-lauding and claims of being “professionals” haven’t yet caught on to the fact that they’re fast becoming the equivalent of the buggy whip in an automotive society.

And it’s their fault.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Polling 101

As you weigh the results of various polls in the coming couple of months, this might be a handy tool to use when considering their credibility (via Vox Populi). The following list of polls, from a Fordham University study, is in order based on their accuracy last election (2008). Rasmussen and Pew were the only one’s that were spot on. The rest, to varying degree, missed it, either by an inch or a mile (at least in terms of polling):

1T. Rasmussen (11/1-3)**

1T. Pew (10/29-11/1)**

3. YouGov/Polimetrix (10/18-11/1)

4. Harris Interactive (10/20-27)

5. GWU (Lake/Tarrance) (11/2-3)*

6T. Diageo/Hotline (10/31-11/2)*

6T. ARG (10/25-27)*

8T. CNN (10/30-11/1)

8T. Ipsos/McClatchy (10/30-11/1)

10. DailyKos.com (D)/Research 2000 (11/1-3)

11. AP/Yahoo/KN (10/17-27)

12. Democracy Corps (D) (10/30-11/2)

13. FOX (11/1-2)

14. Economist/YouGov (10/25-27)

15. IBD/TIPP (11/1-3)

16. NBC/WSJ (11/1-2)

17. ABC/Post (10/30-11/2)

18. Marist College (11/3)

19. CBS (10/31-11/2)

20. Gallup (10/31-11/2)

21. Reuters/ C-SPAN/ Zogby (10/31-11/3)

22. CBS/Times (10/25-29)

23. Newsweek (10/22-23)

Frankly, if they’re not in the top 5, I’d take them with a grain of salt. Why? Because of things like this:

The latest CNN/ORC poll released today shows a wider lead for President Obama than the previous CNN/ORC poll but it is doubly skewed. It massively under-samples independents while it also over-samples Democratic voters. The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll official reports Obama at 52 to percent and Mitt Romney at 46 percent. Unskewed, the data reveals a 53 percent to 45 percent lead for Romney.

This new CNN/ORC survey, unlike many other analyzed, not only over-samples Democratic voters, but also massively under-samples independent voters, to produce a result more favorable to Barack Obama. This survey’s sample includes 397 registered Republicans and 441 registered Democrats. But the survey included a total of 822 registered voters, leaving only 37 independent voters at most. The survey clearly under-sampled independent and Republican voters.

Note that CNN’s history has it tied for 8th place for accuracy last time around. So, what should those numbers likely be? Well let’s hear from the polling group that came in tied for first (and this is probably the reason why):

Rasmussen Reports recent reporting of partisan trends among voters, based on tens of thousands of voters surveyed, showed the voting electorate made up of 35.4 percent Republicans, 34.0 percent Democrats and 30.5 percent “Unaffiliated” or independent voters. Clearly 6.5 percent of a sample as independents is a large under-sampling of those voters compared to 30.5 percent.

However, what CNN used was this:

The sample for the CNN/ORC poll includes 50.4 percent Democrats and 45.4 percent Republicans and appears to have only 4.2 percent independents. This means independents are under-sampled 25 percent while Democrats are over-sampled 12.1 percent. Both of those are larger variations in sampling than seen in most polls that are likewise skewed by such sampling variations.

And as it stands now, independents lean toward Romney. So unskewed, or perhaps “properly skewed”, the results would be quite different. In fact they would give Romney a 53 to 45 percent lead over Obama.

That sort of sloppiness is an indicator of why CNN was in 8th place before in a race in which there were actually a large population of self-identified Democrat voters, a population that likely doesn’t exist in this election, or at least not to the extent it did in 2008. And if they’re in 8th, you can imagine how sloppy those below them on the list are.

Look at Gallup for heaven sake. 20th? Of course, the right should also note Fox and IBD/TIPP in 13th and 15th positions when they get excited about results there.

This is not just a phenomenon in national polling. It is also happening in swing state polls as well. For example PPP’s recent Ohio poll.

Finally, remember this when considering the RCP poll average. Many of the polls making up the RCP average are found way down on this list.

Just a word to the wise as you watch everything unfold. There are polls and then there are, well, “polls”.

Make sure you know which one’s to watch.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Indicators: And then there’s this poll – Are you better off now than 4 years ago?

The Hill says:

A majority of voters believe the country is worse off today than it was four years ago and that President Obama does not deserve reelection, according to a new poll for The Hill.

Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in “worse condition” now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance.

Only 31 percent of voters believe the nation is in “better condition,” while 15 percent say it is “about the same,” the poll found. Just 40 percent of voters said Obama deserves reelection.

Key word above? “Likely” voters.

The poll sort of echoes Eastwood’s words about what you do with someone not performing, doesn’t it? And, finally, the president is faced with actually earning something … or not. Apparently it’s “or not”.

Prepare for spin city this week as Democrats meet to try to salvage this presidency and frame the GOP as the equivalent of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Pol Pot’s Cambodia all rolled into one. And don’t be surprised if Idi Amin gets a mention as well.

But they’ll be civil about it.

Sure they will.

Oh, and before I forget … one other indicator. Reports have it that the Romney campaign raised $100 million in August. That ought to help set the right tone for the DNC.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO

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