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About those State polls ... preface

The Left is getting very happy with itself. Seems that some of the battleground state polls are going Obama's way, and they figure to win big on November 4.

Maybe. But maybe not.

I will admit that I got a little depressed when I saw some of the recent polls, but then I remembered that state polls are, statistically and historically, far less accurate than the national polls, which is one reason the major poll groups generally do not try to do both. An exception is Rasmussen, which is chasing money, and media groups like CNN/Time, which are so biased as to make me question their raw data. More to the point, if you look at all the polls done in a state for a range of time, you see sharp differences in how some of them report things. And as I have always said, an aggregate of polls is actually less statistically valid than any one poll performed under consistent application of NCPP rules. Also, any poll predicting a result which is strongly at odds with the historical results from past elections, is questionable unless a rational explanation is made to explain the sudden change. To be sure, I am not rejecting the polls out of hand, but neither am I so naive, that I forget how many of the 2000 and 2004 state polls were wrong.

So, I have been chewing on the numbers. The thing is, there are 49 different polling groups doing state polls, and so it will take a while to work out the bias in the polls. Once I have something which confirms or dispels the claims being made, I will post it. But for now, keep in mind that most of these polling groups are people you have never heard before, who have a financial interest in the way their polls are reported, and many of whom have hidden their internal data. Treat 'em like used car salesmen until you have better reason to trust them.

On a personal note, though. I would love to hear from someone as to just why McCain would pull out of Michigan, when that state is so winnable and he has gotten a lot without much effort so far. I have made it clear that we cannot lose if we do not give up, but that depends on our candidate staying in the fight himself. Someone needs to remind John what an Obama Administration would do to this country, and why he cannot slack off now or concede anything to that Chicago crook.


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Comments (22)

DJ - I'll look forward to y... (Below threshold)

DJ - I'll look forward to your analysis, as always. What always confuses me is how on the one hand you have something like the Palin debate and then you have the Obama campaign basically continuing to do what they've been doing AND it's gone from the perception of a a close race to a blowout for the "O". I don't believe that there is much movement in the core constituents on the vote. Can all this movement be Independents? Can all this movement be manipulation by the pollsters? If it is the Independents its sad that our political fates are tied to the least informed, least certain, and most gullible group.

McCain has pulled out of Mi... (Below threshold)

McCain has pulled out of Michigan, but MIGOP is still there. I admit I do not know their funding or plans. It may be that he is concentrating on states with more votes that are a better chance of flipping.

BTW - nice to see someone cite NCPP and their polling procedural rules.

You guys are exhibit... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

You guys are exhibiting the same denial as you did in the fall of 2006. This isn't surprising when you consider the fact that the Wizbang analysis is coming from people that voted most likely twice for George W Bush and for all I can tell fully support him even today.

I am not sure what has happened to the brains of "conservatives". You guys have always been wrong but you never used to exhibit signs of dementia. Sarah Palin and her "folksy" charm have scared the hell out of a lot of people that remember the last time they voted for "a guy you could have a beer with" and where putting an obviously retarded man in the White House has nearly destroyed our country.

Rassmussen has released tod... (Below threshold)

Rassmussen has released today that 45% of the folks they polled thought Biden won the debate, but Frank Luntz's group in MO thought Sarah Palin won by a large margin. Go figure. However, what I gleaned from this is that the polls indeed depend on the geography of where these people are polling. I have seen the blue section of VA that could dominate the polling results of VA if more data was obtained from that area than say the outer regions of VA. An example of what I am trying to say is that if you called 20 people in Philadelphia, and only 5 to 10 from other areas you might get the impression PA was trending Obama.

I do believe there is something to people not answering truthfully. Not because Obama is black, but perhaps they just do not want the pollster to know where they stand. Some people in America do not want their real views known, and especially to a stranger or a computer. I cannot help but think some folks in flyover land, or in these swing states will say they are for Obama because of the "Big Brother" element. In might be a joke, or a subconscious type of an alert to some of us, who believe if we have posted a negative comment about Obama on our computers or over the phones that we will be the first to go if he becomes POTUS. Not everyone pooh-poohs that line of thinking. Some people really are afraid of voicing dissent against THE ONE, and until that private time in the booth are NOT going to speak their minds on THE MESSIAH. I say this because of what I have heard from PUMAS, and those involved in the Hillary campaign that have suggested tactics used by the Obama campaign were most chilling to free speech and radical actions against the Clinton campaigners were much like those from Ron Paul's followers. Rather intimidating for some.

History has show in the past two elections that polling data is influenced exactly as you mentioned. Rush has said the polls usually shift dramatically around the last two weeks of the elections because they then must show credibility. He has told us not to pay much attention to these current polls because they are wanting to depress us, and he said this prior to the polls depressing us. LOL! So, I am trying NOT to look at anything other than the internals, but that does take quite a bit of time. Thank you for taking on the endeavor!

Ultimately the challenge of this election is going to be voter turn out is large numbers for McCain. ALL of us who love this country and believe we MUST FIGHT back the long arm of socialism; we must vote and vote in droves because the dead, illegal, criminal and not registered are going to be an overwhelming force to contend with and very difficult to outnumber. ACORN is out in force, and we are already reading and hearing about voter fraud in huge numbers. It is no chance occurrence these polls are deflating our wishes for McCain to win and to FIGHT the MANCHILD. I think they know the result from the internals, and know the only way they can win is illegally, and by depressing us from voting. Rove has said Obama has not really lessened the 48% of those that believe he is not ready to lead. I think the lowest that number has gone was 46%. If that 46% vote McCain, Obama is in trouble.

I look forward to see what you find in the internals. May it be some good news!

I am looking forward to you... (Below threshold)

I am looking forward to your analysis, too. For those of you that are interested, here is another article about the election that shows that the current polling is wrong and predicts a McCain/Palin victory.


On the Michigan situation, ... (Below threshold)

On the Michigan situation, there is a rumor circulating on the internet that McCain's pullout in Michigan is a set up. The rumor says that the McCain campaign wants to make it look like Palin convinced McCain to invest back in the state and then send her as a "savior" to Michigan. I don't know if this is true. It's just a rumor.

But if it is true, it would be a brillant strategy. It makes Palin looks good and it plays psychological games with the Obama campaign and keeps them wondering.

D.J.Have you taken... (Below threshold)


Have you taken a look at the work of John Krosnick and "Satisficing" as it relates to polling? I was looking for more information to flesh out a pet theory of mine about political infatuation when I stumbled across Krosnick's work in both the areas of polling and political infatuation.

I dunno about polling, but I do know about infatuation - and his work is spot on in that area.

Theresa; I can see it now, Palin rides to the rescue in Michigan and pulls 50K plus to a stadium. Now THAT would make the kind of headlines even MSM couldn't discount AND change the dynamics in that State.

Those of an age below 25 are very susceptable to changing their infatuation from one candidate to another. I would not be surprised to see this as a trend over the next few weeks.

DJ what about the movement ... (Below threshold)

DJ what about the movement in Gallop; I expected to see some shift toward McCain, even just a litle and he lost two points? Look at the internals and let us know. Look, I don't want to bury my head in the sand. As Patrick Henry said, "For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." I want to know so that I can't paint a dire scenero. We have to vote. Turn out! Turn out! Turn out! Also, the media does want to depress our turn out. For those of you angry at McCain, then vote for Palin. Do you really want her to be part of a ticket that loses big? Don't you think the media will try and marginalize her, blame her, as they are now.

dr lavaI ... (Below threshold)

dr lava

I am not sure what has happened to the brains of "conservatives". You guys have always been wrong but you never used to exhibit signs of dementia. Sarah Palin and her "folksy" charm have scared the hell out of a lot of people that remember the last time they voted for "a guy you could have a beer with" and where putting an obviously retarded man in the White House has nearly destroyed our country.

Take a look at elections going back as far as you want to go. People almost always vote for someone they are comfortable with. The second most common trend is that they vote for someone they hardly know. The latter phenomenum is responsible for Obama's appeal and he knows it.

HRC was hamstrung by the politically correct constraints imposed on Democratic intraparty battles. The Republicans have no such restraints at least in the last three or four weeks of the campaign. You are going to see more and more effort to define Obama and some of it isn't going to be pretty. IF, and that is a big IF, the Repubs ARE successful in defining Obama on their terms, they win.

If Obama is successful defining himself, he can still lose unless he gets it exactly right with almost no margin for error. And a far left definition isn't going to do the job as the electorate is still center/right, leaning to pure center. So Obama is trending center. This cuts into his political infatuation base, some of whom might stay home on election day or even switch because they are whack jobs; infatuated with what they thought he said instead of who he really is.

If McCain really understands the difference between strategy and tactics, he is going to really give Obama fits in the near term leading up to the election. I really don't know if he does or doesn't. Right now, Obama has peaked.

He may or may not be able to hold that level.

He is in danger for three reasons; the young vote is moving Palin, the Bradley effect and finally, his own hubris. I haven't a clue which way the election is going to go. All I know is that from what I can see, the election is McCain's to win or lose. Obama cannot win, he can only lose. Simply put, he has peaked too early. He might still win, but only if McCain plays his cards wrong.

Hope springs eternal DJ!</p... (Below threshold)

Hope springs eternal DJ!

Isn't Gallup at +10Dems and... (Below threshold)

Isn't Gallup at +10Dems and also RV and not LV. This seems to me to be a double whammy of an error.

That's why I wan't DJ to ta... (Below threshold)

That's why I wan't DJ to take a look at it. I also know Republicans do not poll well on Weekends because we have a life; well most of us, the rest are here on the computer looking for any signs of life in the McCain camp!

One thought on the debate, ... (Below threshold)

One thought on the debate, the internals on that showed the dems thought Biden won by 82 percent - and the poll was weighted 39%dem. However, independents went 44-38 Palin - and that's the demographic she was aiming at.

Biden's lies don't bother the left - but maybe as more and more independents get a look at the load of crap Biden unloaded in the context of his 'personal strength' - foreign policy - they'll rethink that ticket. Biden doesn't know the difference between Hamas and Fatah and thinks Hezbollah was driven out of Lebanon by the French. If I was Jewish I could never support that ticket.

Mikey NTH - "McCain has... (Below threshold)

Mikey NTH - "McCain has pulled out of Michigan, but MIGOP is still there. I admit I do not know their funding or plans."

You admit to not knowing, and the rest of us don't know... but Michigan McCain campaign chairman Chuck Yob does and explains via an email to Gov. Palin.

Dum spiro spero; amirite? ... (Below threshold)

Dum spiro spero; amirite? McCain abandoned Michigan because last weeks movement in the polls necessitate defense in other states, like VA, IN, NC, FL, and MO. He needs to hold those.

Poll weighting is clearly p... (Below threshold)

Poll weighting is clearly painting the most optimistic Dem turnout. That's not to say that there is nothing to worry about for McCain. Watch for the gap to close in the coming weeks. Independents are key as is the MSM attempt to disspirit conservative turnout. It won't work but also won't stop them from trying.

State polls are subject to all sorts of manipulation and willful blind spots. Usually conducted by liberal leaning papers and org's. See the circulation "data" for the major papers and adjust liberal support accordingly.

Polls never seem to take in... (Below threshold)

Polls never seem to take into account people like me -- private voters. We do not participate in polls (secret ballot and all that). Can pollsters detect if private voters will go overwhelmingly to one candidate or another?

Hi DJ,Could you plea... (Below threshold)

Hi DJ,
Could you please explain what you meant by Rasmussen is chasing money?
I don't understand.
Thank you. :)

DJYou asked why Mc... (Below threshold)


You asked why McCain would pull out of Michigan. Here are my thoughts. First he is running behind, but probably not to the extent the polls show.

Probably influencing his decision is the persistent voter fraud in the city of Detroit. I used to live nearby. In the 2000 presidential elction I remember a Democrat operative bragging on radio that at one precinct, they had a 98% turnout. That is statistical impossibility with honest voter rolls. Two years later the Detroit Free Press did a major story where they analyyzed every name on the City of Detroit voter rolls and found well over 30 percent were either dead, had moved or weren't living at the address listed. Unpurged voter lists are an open invitation to voter fraud, especially in close elections. These folks will vote, whether hey are around or or not.

In Kwame Kilpatrik's second run in 2005, his campaign used "ambassadors" to go into nursing homes where they filled out absentee ballots for Alzheimer patients in violation of the law. Thousands of them.

This is just scratching the surface. But there simply no reason to spend good money in this cess pool of corruption when it's rigged aganst you.

I could go on, but it would be just more of the same. It's not an even playing field.

The only goodthing is Michigan will probably lose 2 or 3 in the next Presidentioa election.

LarryIf McCain "ca... (Below threshold)


If McCain "can win or lose" per your comment and Obama "cannot win, he can only lose" per your comment who wins if they both "lose"? What the hell are you trying to say?

DJ - I profess to know nothing about the technicalities of polling. I certainly think Obama is going to win because he's the best candidate. But how do McCain supporters ignore that almost all, if not all, polls have shown a significant shift to Obama? If there were only a few showing the trend and a few favoring McCain I could understand the point. But that just isn't the case.

As I understand it McCain is giving up Michigan. Why? They must have evidence in the form of polling numbers that convince them they can't win there? How do you explain that?

JFOIt is called th... (Below threshold)


It is called the illusion of momentum.

Obama has taken his best shot exactly as he did in the primaries. He could not then close the deal but his early momentum carried him to the end game and the nomination.

The general election is working the same way.
Based on what he has done to date, he has either won or lost. He has nothing more he can do to change the dynamics of the race. He will either coast to the win or lose.

About the only positive he can generate is either an outstanding home run in one of the remaining debates, or a major mistake by McCain.

JFO - read again the rest of the original post.

The undecideds will determine who wins or loses. If Obama hasn't convinced them by now, he is unlikely to so do in the last few days.

The reasons are obvious. Given the economy, he should be out front by 15 points. He should be wiping up the mat with McCain. He isn't for the reasons I gave in my original post because a significant portion of the electorate hasn't bought what he is selling.

Obama has done a lot of amateur things. His efforts to stifle debate has been both a failure and a caution, yet he had to do it to keep his base happy. Unfortunately his base believes that free speech means that they get to talk and everyone else has to listen. In spite of the best efforts of the traditional news media, the Internet has provided a back door education process that is a mile wide and an inch deep. In other words, there is lots of it and it is death by a thousand cuts.

Because the partisans for McCain have been more restrained, and Obama's less so, the credibility game has to go to McCain. Some of the really stupid attacks on Palin really turned off a bunch of what I call the "Silent women" voter, most of whom are impossible to poll.

Again, go back to the original post. I know you are a partisan. And that is ok. JFO, I was a non-partisan as I could be in this analysis. Obama can still coast to a win if McCain doesn't press his case. But it is, I believe, McCain's race to win or lose.

State polls are inaccurate?... (Below threshold)
Crusty Dem:

State polls are inaccurate? Do you have any analysis for that?


Most polls were within 2-4%. 6/10 pre-election Ohio polls were within 1% (one of many reasons why the Ohio conspiracy theorists are idiots). The worst state for polls (FL) still saw 6/11 polls within 5% and the aggregate was a whopping 4% off (which is surprisingly high).

Still, if state polls are showing 10 pt spreads, you're going to lose. If national polls are averaging a 6% spread, you're going to lose.






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