« The Rightblogs Congressional Slate | Main | Pulling Out All The Stops »

State Polls and the Shadow States

Many readers have observed that the election of our next president will be decided not by a national popular vote, but by the states and the District of Columbia in the Electoral tally. The problem with the states as they relate to opinion polling, is that while the national polls have some points of concern, the state polls are relatively even less certain. The folks at Real Clear Politics show forty-nine different polling groups which have published results for states since the end of August, and few of these have publicly-released verification of their methodology, let alone access to their internal data. Caveat Emptor indeed , in these waters!

Even so, such information as has been presented can serve a purpose, to address curiosity if nothing else. I have reviewed and collated the information presented by RCP, and once again it is all here at the link if you want to do the same yourself. I would warn the reader that an average of polls is not statistically valid, but it does satisfy a certain curiosity. More, while there is a range of opinion among the pollsters, it is interesting to see how many polls were done for a given state. So, in the interest of public service, I am posting here a reference for the current polling average, along with the historical average since 1988, and the statistical trend for the state over the last 20 years. Please also note the columns for undecided, "Clear" and "Polls", which will be explained below the report:

-continued -

State (historical adv, trend adv) poll avg. (undecided) Clear? # polls
Alabama (h R+15, t R+32) 59.7-36.0 McCain (4.3 und) Clear, 3 polls
Alaska (h R+22, t R + 20) 57.7-35.0 McCain (7.3 und) Clear, 3 polls
Delaware (h D + 7, t D + 4) 43.3-56.0 Obama (0.7 und) Clear, 3 polls
Illinois (h D + 10, t D + 9) 37.7-55.0 Obama (7.3 und) Clear, 3 polls
Kentucky (h R + 8, t R + 21) 55.0-38.7 McCain (6.3 und) Clear, 3 polls


Michigan (h D + 4, t D + 2) 43.9-47.9 Obama (8.3 und) Unclear, 14 polls
Ohio (h R + 2, t R + 1) 46.4-45.4 Mccain (8.1 und) Unclear, 14 polls
Florida (h R + 5, t R + 9) 46.8-45.6 McCain (7.5 und) Unclear, 13 polls
Pennsylvania (h D + 6, t D + 2) 43.2-48.6 Obama (8.2 und) Unclear, 11 polls
Virginia (h R + 9, t R + 9) 47.0-46.7 McCain (6.3 und) Unclear, 10 polls
New Hampshire (h R + 3, t D + 2) 45.4-47.3 Obama (7.4 und) Unclear, 8 polls
New Jersey (h D + 6, t 0.0) 42.0-49.6 Obama (8.4 und) Unclear, 8 polls
Colorado (h R + 4, t R + 2) 45.1-48.9 Obama (6.0 und) Unclear, 7 poll
Indiana (h R + 14, t R + 21) 47.3-45.0 McCain (7.7 und) Unclear, 6 polls
Iowa (h D + 5, t R + 1) 41.8-51.0 Obama (7.2 und) Unclear, 6 polls
Minnesota (h D + 8, t D + 5) 44.5-48.8 Obama (6.7 und) Unclear, 6 polls
North Carolina (h R + 9, t R + 11) 49.3-45.2 McCain (5.5 und) Unclear, 6 polls
Oregon (h D + 5, t D + 7) 40.5-48.2 Obama (11.3 und) Unclear, 6 polls
Wisconsin (h D + 4, t D + 3) 44.2-47.8 Obama (8.0 und) Unclear, 6 polls
California (h D + 9, t D + 9) 39.4-51.8 Obama (8.8 und) Unclear, 5 polls
Georgia (h R + 10, t R + 17) 52.3-42.3 McCain (5.5 und) Unclear, 4 polls
Missouri (h R+ 2, t R + 9) 49.0-45.8 McCain (5.3 und) Unclear, 4 polls
Nevada (h R + 5, t R + 1) 46.3-46.3 tie (7.5 und) Unclear, 4 polls
New Mexico (h D + 2, t R + 1) 43.8-50.3 Obama (6.0 und) Unclear, 4 polls
Washington (h D + 8, t D + 9) 42.8-48.8 Obama (8.5 und) Unclear, 4 polls
Maine (h D + 8, t D + 18) 42.7-50.3 Obama (7.0 und) Unclear, 3 polls
New York (h D + 18, t D + 13) 40.3-52.7 Obama (7.0 und) Unclear, 3 polls
North Dakota (h R + 18, t R + 25) 49.3-41.3 McCain (9.3 und) Unclear, 3 polls
West Virginia (h D + 3, t R + 14) 48.0-42.3 McCain (9.7 und) Unclear, 3 polls
Connecticut (h D + 9, t D + 4) 39.5-53.5 Obama (7.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Idaho (h R + 27, t R + 35) 60.0-29.0 McCain (11.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Kansas (h R + 16, t R + 26) 55.5-39.5 McCain (5.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Montana (h R + 12, t R + 14) 53.0-41.0 McCain (6.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Oklahoma (h R + 15, t R + 35) 64.0-32.0 McCain (4.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Rhode Island (h D + 19, t D + 13) 34.5-54.5 Obama (11.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
South Carolina (h R + 12, t R + 17) 54.5-42.0 McCain (3.5 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Utah (h R + 32, t R + 46) 63.0-28.0 McCain (9.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Vermont (h D + 13, t D + 26) 36.0-57.5 Obama (6.5 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Wyoming ( h R + 25, t R + 36) 57.5-37.5 McCain (5.0 und) Unclear, 2 polls
Arizona (h R + 8, t R + 14) 59.0-38.0 McCain (3.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Hawaii (h D + 15, t D + 3) 27.0-68.0 Obama (5.0 und), Unclear, 1 poll
Louisiana (h R + 3, t R + 17) 55.0-40.0 McCain (5.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Maryland (h D + 11, t D + 10) 37.0-60.0 Obama (3.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Massachusetts (h D + 23, t D + 23) 39.0-55.0 Obama (6.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Mississippi (h R + 14, t R + 19) 55.0-37.0 McCain (8.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
South Dakota (h R + 13, t R + 20) 54.0-37.0 McCain (9.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Tennessee (h R + 5, t R+ 19) 55.0-39.0 McCain (6.0 und) Unclear, 1 poll
Arkansas (h D + 1, t R + 11) no polls, Unclear
Nebraska (h R + 24, t R + 34) no polls, Unclear
Texas (h R + 13, t R + 22) no polls, Unclear
District of Columbia (h D + 75, t D + 82) no polls, Unclear

Only five states are statistically clear at this time. The reason is what I call 'the shadow'. That is, given the number of people interviewed for each of these state polls, the statistical margin of error is about +/- 4.0 percent. That means that McCain or Obama could each be as much as 4.0 points higher or 4.0 points lower in support than the results of the poll indicate, assuming the poll is valid as defined by the NCPP. This creates an 8.0 point range of uncertainty. The 8 points for the margin of error, when added to the undecided portion of the vote, gives the range of shadow. If the leader does not have a lead greater than the range of shadow, the poll is unclear. Also, if there are fewer than three polls performed on a state, the stated results are inconclusive, which is why some states with large leads for one candidate are still statistically "unclear".

This is what I mean by the state polls not being very helpful. And to make matters worse, this aggregation does not remove outliers, and of course when there are only two or three polls for a state, it's impossible to know which numbers would be outliers for a state.


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/31981.

Comments (8)

Great work! Thank you for ... (Below threshold)
Therese:

Great work! Thank you for digging through the numbers and showing that the race is still tight. I wonder, though, why Obama's campaign, for instance, would want to always show him in the lead in the swing states? Wouldn't you want to show the race as close so that your voters will turn out?

Wouldn't you want to sho... (Below threshold)
sshiell:

Wouldn't you want to show the race as close so that your voters will turn out?

Some voters are swayed by who is in the lead - many undecideds will cast their vote with who they think will win rather than any other criteria. Also, if a lead is extensive voters from the other party are not motivated to get out and pull the handle for the underdog candidate. If you can convince the voters in the other party that their efforts will be for naught, it is difficult for that party to generate the enthusiasm necessary to generate a turnout that may upset the polls.

This is the best poll expla... (Below threshold)
Chris:

This is the best poll explanation I have seen anywhere. Why doesn't Rassmussen, zogby or gallup take these factors into account. Great job!

Great work as always, DJ. ... (Below threshold)

Great work as always, DJ. I do stats for a living (most days) and appreciate your efforts to help people understand why so much reliance on opinion polls so early in the season is a mistake.

I tell my wife every election year exactly how it will go---the race will magically "tighten" going into Election Day after hearing all along that the Democrat was well ahead.

Psychic?

Nope. It's the outcome we invariably get whenever the amateurs doing "registered voter" polling start switching over to the more reliable "likely voter" polls, and as more people decide whether they will be voting and whom for. As you've noted in the past, "registered voter" polls skew heavily Democrat which leads to lots of triumphant Left Wing Media stories in the summer and shock and disappointment in November.

Keep pounding away---even the stats-o-phobic can get this stuff the way you explain it.

"I love you man!"... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

"I love you man!"

The real issue is not how w... (Below threshold)
susan:

The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do state-by-state, but that we shouldn't have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote -- that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes-- 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

Thanks for the information,... (Below threshold)
rifle308 Author Profile Page:

Thanks for the information, nice to have an information source that can argue that the election is still up in the air and not sound like they are "Whistling pass the graveyard".
Still I believe McCain needs another "wow" moment, as choosing Palin as VP candidate was, to reenergize the GOP. His debate performance so far has been too "gentlemanly" when he has to point out that Obama is a fraud and both a legislative and administrative failure in Illinois. Either that or Rezko has dirt on Obama he is willing to spill to get less jail time.
If Obama is elected I hope for our country's sake he is more opportunist than hard Lefty. Still if he does, or tries, something extreme he could give the GOP a boost in Congressional elections in 2010.
Either way we are living in "interesting times", and will continue to do so. I cannot but fear we will see a terrorist nuclear bomb used within five years, ten years at the least.
KJB43

"I cannot but fear we will ... (Below threshold)
sherlock:

"I cannot but fear we will see a terrorist nuclear bomb used within five years, ten years at the least."

I share that fear, and the best way to deal with that risk is to make sure that states understand that we can identify the source of fissionable material even after a nuclear explosion, and that should they be identified as the source, the American people will demand swift and terrible retribution, no matter how dovish many of them sound today. I am of course assuming that for the forseeable future, terrorists will require the shelter and support of a state to prepare a nuclear weapon.




Advertisements









rightads.gif

beltwaybloggers.gif

insiderslogo.jpg

mba_blue.gif

Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile

Contact

Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links

Credits

Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login



Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy