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Why McCain Is Still Able To Win

Thanks to everyone who has written in, I appreciate being able to make a difference. But I still hear a lot of worry and doubt from republicans about whether McCain can really win the election. This article is one reminder about why this race is still a very close race, and why you not only must not give up, but why you can make a big difference in this home stretch.

I wrote Friday about the fact that in seven of the last eighteen presidential elections - 38.9% - the polls were wrong by a big margin on the race, and so even a big lead for one candidate does not guarantee diddly. I have discussed the principles of statistics to show why the present polls have a critical flaw somewhere in their methodology, since the results are not in line with the confidence criteria. But there's another way to take apart a poll to see whether it is useful as a barometer for opinion.

The widest lead enjoyed by Obama in the major polls Friday, was the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll. Gallup has been in the business longer than anyone else still doing polls, so it appears reasonable to consider Gallup's reports to have solid credibility. The problem, of course, begins with the fact that so many other polls show the race being closer. But let's look at that Gallup poll to see if we can learn from it.

Friday's tracking poll had Obama up by ten points. But that lead is actually the result of two separate tracks, one for Obama and one for McCain. 51 to 41, so they say.

OK, that's their starting number, the one they put in the headline. What drives those numbers, I wonder? I always want to see the internals, but Gallup has been getting sneaky, they release that data later, generally a week afterwards. The most recent detailed support by party I have is from the week ending October 5, when Gallup had Obama leading 50-42. I also note for reference that Gallup showed Obama leading 50-42 on September 28, 48-44 on September 21, and McCain leading 47-45 on September 14. The party affiliation for those dates should help us see where the changes came from.

Let's start with Gallup's base support for the race, conservative republicans for McCain and liberal democrats for Obama. Here's how that looked:

Sep 14: McCain 95%, Obama 94%
Sep 21: McCain 93%, Obama 95%
Sep 28: McCain 93%, Obama 95%
Oct 05: McCain 94%, Obama 95%

Pretty comparable, noting to show a reason for changes. Next up, cross-party support, conservative democrats for McCain, liberal/moderate republicans for Obama:

Sep 14: McCain 17%, Obama 16%
Sep 21: McCain 19%, Obama 15%
Sep 28: McCain 19%, Obama 15%
Oct 05: McCain 16%, Obama 19%

Well, Obama got a boost going into October, but this is a pretty small group, hard to see it swinging the overall vote by the way we've seen. That leaves the independents:

Sep 14: McCain 38%, Obama 24%
Sep 21: McCain 31%, Obama 22%
Sep 28: McCain 31%, Obama 22%
Oct 05: McCain 32%, Obama 23%

McCain has a good advantage here, so that cannot explain the deficit. As I explained before, the only way this can be happening, is that Gallup has weighted the democrats more heavily, assuming that they will be a greater portion of the voter population this year than in past elections.

- continued -

I have read from a lot of people who say this means that the polls are trying to lie to us, but that's not valid, at least not in the case of professional polling groups who need to protect a reputation for accuracy and integrity. To understand how Gallup would honestly believe more democrats would be likely to vote, we have to infer that from evidence we are not shown.

Polls always release results from a respondent pool, but they do not tell you - although the NCPP says they always should - what proportion of people agreed to answer the poll. If a lot of folks refuse to take part in the poll, that's an important piece of information. If Gallup is getting pushback from people they are trying to contact, they may be interpreting that in a way that may skew their political weighting.

Now one thing I do not buy, is the idea that Obama has 51% support. Not that he could not get that much in the vote, but if that is true it would mean that his support has risen six points in three weeks. What would cause that to happen? It's not going to come from the democrats, he already had their support. It's not that republicans would swing over and support Obama, the numbers tell us that and in any case, the parties are very partisan this year. And the independents have not changed in Obama's favor, in fact he's a point weaker with them than he was September 14. So what's driving the bigger numbers? The only explanation is that more democrats in the poll are being counted, which means that Obama's growth is artificial. In real terms, it means that republicans have become more passive, and the balance reflects a loss of McCain support on both tracks, his own support and Obama's.

Why would McCain's support drop? He's come out weak in most conservative's minds, letting Obama slide on outrageous lies. Republicans will still vote for him, but they will be less happy about it, and some may not vote at all. Also, while I think all three debates have been effective for McCain and Palin, it will take time for them to show any result, and republicans have to reinforce the messages of competence, intelligence, and sound judgment.

Why is this good news? I mean, this helps explain why Obama is ahead, but how does this help McCain win? Basically, it comes down to three key facts. First, if republicans get back into the fight, we can bring things back in line. It really is that simple, that is republicans match democrats at the poll, John McCain wins and Barack Obama goes back to being a first-term Senator. Second, it's something we can control. Convincing republicans to get more active in supporting McCain is not all that easy this year, but it's easier than convincing independents who are varied and stubborn, and it's very good news that Obama has still not sealed the deal with a lot of democrats. Third, it must be said that in the present financial crisis, John McCain not only missed an opportunity, but fumbled at least twice in his answers. But Obama failed to capitalize on it, his answers have been no better and for many people only emphasized his inexperience and naïve understanding of the economy. If John McCain gets out and presses a clear, sound economic policy, he can turn this into a great advantage.

We are in the final weeks of a long, long battle. We are tired, bitter at the cost and some of our losses, but we can come out with a clear victory. It will be rough, these last 24 days, with all the dirty tricks from ACORN and the ACLU, all the lies in the media and hard-left interviews. But for all his advantages and biased allies, Obama has failed to close the deal. That door is open, and we can get there if we stick it out.


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Comments (41)

The antics of ACORN -- espe... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

The antics of ACORN -- especially in swing states -- are a great concern that this election will be stolen ala Kennedy/Daley/Illinois.

Anyone who thinks that McCa... (Below threshold)

Anyone who thinks that McCain is going to win needs to put down the crack pipe and step away from the computer.

The real question is whether the Republican Party and conservative politics will still be relevant after the 2008 election.

AFter eight years of incompetence and stupidity from the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans, the Republicans have reinforced the image that they are stupid with the absolute incompetence, stupidity, and failure of the McCain Campaign.

Changing demographics in the U.S. was going to maintain a relevant conservative party very difficult. Bush, Hastert, Frist, and McCain are making it impossible.

It's a concerted effort by ... (Below threshold)

It's a concerted effort by the left-leaning media and pollsters to depress Republican turnout. They figure that if they can show McCain slipping in the polls, and create the impression that all is lost for him, then Republicans will be less likely to turn out. Who wants to bother if they know it's a losing effort, is their modus-operandi. I agree, however, that the polls are skewed, and have historically been so. It is up to us to ensure as many Republicans do get out and vote

I think that this election ... (Below threshold)

I think that this election compares most favorably to 2000, when a temporarily strong economy, the illusion of peace, and no really compelling reason to vote for George W. Bush should have meant a Gore victory by at least a 5% to 7% margin. Instead, we got a squeaker.

The big difference, of course, between now and 2000 is that ACORN wasn't working frantically to clog the election system with fraudulent voter registrations in 2000. The only reason to clog the system with tens or hundreds of thousands of additional fraudulent registrations is to pad the voter rolls enough to make tens or hundreds of thousands of multiple votes or votes by ineligible people look legit. And guess which political party, 99% of the time, is complicit in overvote-related fraud?

So really, the bottom line is, if Dems are so confident of an Obama blowout, why is ACORN working so hard to steal this election?

Peggy Noonan:

I don't believe any of the polls this year, or rather the situation is too fluid to believe them for more than a day. But Democrats should remain concerned about this: We have two wars, an economic collapse, a two-term Republican president at historic lows in popularity, overwhelmingly negative poll answers on whether America is on the right track--and the Democratic presidential nominee isn't 20 points ahead? Thirty? This should be a landslide.
This election has the feel ... (Below threshold)

This election has the feel of Bob Dole except Dole was a better candidate. McCain ought to be beating BHO like a rented mule. McCain on The View beaten to a pulp, how Presidental was that? Voters who come to hear him speak have shown more fire. Palin will have to carry him acrosss the finish line. The GOP party bulls have foisted this man on us when there were so many better candidates. Has McCain even mentioned ACORN? It is theft in plain sight.

The real question ... (Below threshold)
The real question is whether the Republican Party and conservative politics will still be relevant after the 2008 election.

That is certainly the ASSUMPTION most of the polls make.

I'd love to see the argument for it --- this is by far the most significant claim that today's pollsters are making, and they bury it in their assumptions rather than presenting data and making an argument for it.

I certainly hear some conservatives (or perhaps astroturfers) whining that they'll stay home this year. But all of the stories about ACORN and Ayers, and another week or so of polls forcing them to imagine President Obama... I don't think the Republican base is going to be sitting this one out, however much they dislike McCain.

But, then, I'll admit that I'm guessing.

So, apparently, are the pollsters.

Note the new troll, everyon... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Note the new troll, everyone. Recognize the tactics?

Mark and Mike are right, the democrats know this race is a lot tighter than the polls suggest, so they are trying hard to get republicans to give up and turn on themselves. It's our job to make sure they fail again at that trick.

And super-d, you must have missed the article where I reminded readers that for all their popularity, the record shows that neither Reagan nor Clinton caused voter affiliation to change much at all, and each of them had eight years to do it. Pretending that voters have wildly changed their party support every week or two is just absurd.

mikeThe b... (Below threshold)


The big difference, of course, between now and 2000 is that ACORN wasn't working frantically to clog the election system with fraudulent voter registrations in 2000.

That isn't true mike. They were working just as hard, if not quite as effectively, in 2000, 2004 and now.

And do keep in mind that the only way you can get a scientifically reproducable 'Hanging chad," is by punching through a STACK of ballots. I, for one, have always believed that a poll worker(s) tried to steal the election for Gore by that method.

The more people I talk to, ... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

The more people I talk to, the more I hear people questioning Barry. Notably, I am hearing this from lifelong Dem voting working class. Lots of them and they say they know of no one buying Obamas crap.
And I live in Illinois.

hey John austin, TX, home o... (Below threshold)

hey John austin, TX, home of the left wing in Texas.

The GOP party bulls have foisted this man on us when there were so many better candidates.

That is a debatable comment. Which of the other candidates would have given us Palin? And Palin is capable of delivering the silent woman vote.

In a classic contest between the middle right and the far left, the far left wins this one; it is the economy, got it? In a contest between the far left and the center right, which describes McCain, the center right has a chance.

This election isn't about McCain, it is about Obama. So tell me, from your perspective in Austin, Texas, who amongst the middle right to far right of the Republican Party, could have kept the election as close as it is?

Who has the best appeal to the undecided voters in a dozen states WITHOUT alienating more than they attract? THAT is the battleground and nowhere else.

My take is that Obama has a... (Below threshold)

My take is that Obama has a real 2-3% lead in folks who intend to vote, but probably closer to 2% of those who will actually vote. Young people tend to be vocal and campaign well, but when it comes to standing in line with a bunch of old people to punch buttons, well that's pretty dull. Two percent may not do it for Obama depending on how the states go down. It may come back to Florida and Ohio again, hence the rabid ACORNing in Ohio.
The electoral college is weird, but in a land of united staes, then states must be won.

superdestroyer<blockq... (Below threshold)


After eight years of incompetence and stupidity from the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans, the Republicans have reinforced the image that they are stupid with the absolute incompetence, stupidity, and failure of the McCain Campaign.

In part, I agree with you. Congressional Republicans have been out to lunch starting with Tom DeLay and have never recovered from the focus they had when Newt was Speaker before he imploded on his own ego.

And as far as Bush incompetence, how many more 9/11 have we had? Irrespective of the simple fact that voters blame who is in the Presidency during an economic contraction, the President has less than 20% of effect on the economy. Congress, the Federal Reserve, the world macro economy, and the uncontrollable excess of financial institutions as well as the public at large and what they do, are the real factors.

Given the circumstance, McCain has run a great campaign, otherwise, he would be 20 points behind right now, and he isn't. That conservatives want him to go after Obama in ways that please them, ignores the simple fact that the election will be decided by people who don't think like they do.

They don't think like Obama either. The battleground for this election is in the hearts and minds of those people who have yet to decide in a few battleground states. And those folks are NOT either rabid conservatives or rabid "Progressives."

I've got long time friends ... (Below threshold)

I've got long time friends who have always
voted straight democrat, and they're not
voting for Obama. He scares them badly.

Exit polls for the last thr... (Below threshold)

Exit polls for the last three elections showed that a high percentage of voters made their mind up in the voting booth. It is hard for me to imagine because politics has been my hobby since high school but, these people are out there in numbers. This is what concerns the Obama people. With all of the major issues in the U.S. and the world at this time those independent voters are more likely to vote for the "old" guy rather than turning things over to the "new" guy. And then there is the "Bradley effect". If it is true that Democrats are telling pollsters that they support Obama and then pull the lever for McCain, even a slight percentage, it could make a difference in the swing states. The Obama people aren't talking about but, they have to be thinking about it. Bradley lost in a blue state where he was ahead by a large margin in the polls right up to the election day.

Another interesting develop... (Below threshold)

Another interesting development this week was Obama buying 30 minutes on CBS. Someone confident of a win doesn't do this. The campaigns' internal polls obviously show a close race.

Many polls do indeed seem t... (Below threshold)

Many polls do indeed seem to play a strong role in trying to dishearten and even influence rather than simply reflect public opinion. I've wondered often why it's even important to show us what prevailing opinion is or appears to be. The purpose should be none other than simple curiosity. It just seems to go so far beyond that when they ask too many questions as part of a poll inquiring as to who one supports. Why not simply ask, "Do you intend to vote?" and "Who do you intend to vote for?" Call me simple, but that's all we should even wonder about. Not when the question begins with, "When considering..." or, "In light of the recent...." or, "Candidate A said..."

Larry, the whole "hanging/dimpled/pregnant chad" thing was the biggest joke. Ever used a punch-card ballot? I've lived in Florida almost my entire life and used them many times in elections. Those little things pop right out with the slightest pressure. I've never seen a "hanging chad" and as a matter of fact, every time I've voted with one I've heard the volunteers say over and over to everyone, as they turned in their ballot, to make sure the punch-out was completely removed from the ballot. That whole debacle was the biggest load of horse dung I'd ever heard.

Then there was the butterfly ballot. Holy cow, if someone couldn't understand that ballot they were stupid enough to need watering once a week.

I work for a gentleman who ... (Below threshold)

I work for a gentleman who had been the Republican party co-chairman in SW Ohio (Warren County) for many years. He and the party's other leader stepped down after the last election due to the "extreme right" taking over the party.

In general, our party has been de-energized because of Bush and McCain. Support this year had been lackluster at best...until Palin came on board and illustrated to us why we are what we are.

I really believe the more MSM pushes us to disconnect from our party, the more energized we become. No doubt, there are times I become depressed and swear off this insane surfing for hourly information. If this happens to you, just stroll over to some of the Hillary/NoBama camps (PUMA and HillBuzz) and see what they are doing that will help get McCain/Palin elected. It's all about the fear of our country becoming a Socialist/Marxist state.

With or without fraud, no way Obama will win Ohio.

My mother is a lifelong Dem... (Below threshold)

My mother is a lifelong Democrat who has never voted for a Republican. She's voting for McCain. So is my uncle. And a number of our friends. The thing they all have in common (besides being Democrats) is that they truly fear an Obama Presidency.

They talk about it with me 'cause they know I would never consider voting for Obama. Many of their other friends and family have no idea. I have to wonder how common this is.

Superdestroyer, I think you... (Below threshold)

Superdestroyer, I think your brain got destroyed long time ago that is why your mind is so cloud!!!! This country is so important for a thug from chicago with no experience and related to radical terrorists to take over!!!! America is not that stupid you know......Christians in this country are going to fight for what is right all the time even those some of them are a little confused. It is basically between right and wrong. And you are in the wrong side!!!! I advise you to look at a bible and get some wisdom from it, because you really, really need that...

The Gallup internals show O... (Below threshold)

The Gallup internals show Obama leading over McCain in over 65 age group. That should tell you right there that something is wrong with their polling.


D.J., Love your poll analys... (Below threshold)
Johnny Author Profile Page:

D.J., Love your poll analysis, as always.

I would like for you to comment on an article on Hillbuzz.com regarding the polls and the way Obama stole the nomination from Hillary.


How would these democrates respond to any poll?

Watch the video that is linked in the article. It will make the hair on you neck stand up!

Hey oyster, yea I kn... (Below threshold)

Hey oyster, yea I know. That is why I commented as I did. The "Hanging Chad" theory was a simple coverup for attempted vote stealing.

It was what it was. And the rage from the left wing drones will be noted in history as stupid.

Note the new troll... (Below threshold)
Note the new troll, everyone. Recognize the tactics?

You mean the pseudo right wing plugging a fitness site in his screen name. Yes, the cologne of democrat is strong and clear. Why not advertise your business while impersonating a political party? Follow the money!

DJ,I've read on ot... (Below threshold)


I've read on other blogs that Obama underperformed in the actual vote count in state after state; New Hampshire being one example. The polls had him winning the state by approx. 6 or 7 percent and he lost by 2 percent. It would be helpful if you could write about this in some detail for us. Also, here in Pa. I'm seeing a lot of McCain signs and few Obama ones. In 2004, Kerry signs were far more numerous and still he only won by about 140,000 votes. I'm also hearing anectodal evidence that a lot of Dems are voting for McCain, which I'm reading a lot about from others on the blogs. One coworker told me that his wife (a Kennedy Democrat) will be voting for McCain.

Thank you for restoring con... (Below threshold)
Typical White Person:

Thank you for restoring confidence. I read an article you wrote a while back, and I was able to use that to calm others; however,lately everyone has been upset. The MSM has a way of doing that. I'm making it my personal mission to bring in as many independents as I can, but I can't find anyone who isn't voting for McCain with the exception of the hard core liberal trolls on the blogs. And, as you know, they are a complete waste of time. Thanks again. You do great work.

The "hanging chad" situatio... (Below threshold)

The "hanging chad" situation was to me so farcical it may as well have been a circus act. My mother was proud. She said those people finally got their votes counted. The way I look at it the panel that reviewed the ballots voted several hundred times.
Any time the vote gets into the millions, then the one man one vote idea goes out the window. The problem is not in the voting, but in the counting. There is a small margin of error for all methods of counting and each method also has its own bias. Changing the method of counting changes the bias. It seems to me if a method is chosen to count, be it electronic scanner hand count or other, then that method should be employed for all recounts.

And do keep in mind that... (Below threshold)

And do keep in mind that the only way you can get a scientifically reproducable 'Hanging chad," is by punching through a STACK of ballots.

Larry, the whole "hanging/dimpled/pregnant chad" thing was the biggest joke. Ever used a punch-card ballot? I've lived in Florida almost my entire life and used them many times in elections. Those little things pop right out with the slightest pressure. I've never seen a "hanging chad"
Hey oyster, yea I know. That is why I commented as I did. The "Hanging Chad" theory was a simple coverup for attempted vote stealing.

Wow, the top Republican lawyers, top Democratic lawyers, FL state government, and the media of the entire nation were focused on that situation for months, but none of them noticed it was all fake.

You two must have a wire connecting your tinfoil hats.

The question isn't what the... (Below threshold)
Mary Beth:

The question isn't what the spread is nationally...but how will things turn out in the Electoral College. If Obama's supposed lead in the national polls only goes to make blue states bluer, then it wouldn't matter if he were up by 20%.

It will always come down to the numbers in individual states.

DJ,Why the polls a... (Below threshold)
Roy Lofquist Author Profile Page:


Why the polls are wrong.

A major weighting factor is party registration. Add up 1.) IND who registered DEM to vote Obama/Hillary 2.) REP who registered DEM as part of Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" 3.) Fraudulent registrations by ACORN.

The DEM registration may be inflated by as musc as 10%


but I can't find a... (Below threshold)
but I can't find anyone who isn't voting for McCain with the exception of the hard core liberal trolls on the blogs.

Another impersonator. Only "this one" is trying to be a broken record. Or maybe a friend of a sock puppet libbie who uses the same wording.

Correction: Number 25 comm... (Below threshold)

Correction: Number 25 comment is exactly right. I am seeing less in favor of Obama, except for the extreme left wing, still chanting his praise.

It's not going to come f... (Below threshold)

It's not going to come from the democrats, he already had their support.

Compare with

it's very good news that Obama has still not sealed the deal with a lot of democrats.

These statements seem at odds with each other.

Hey, what's the deal with t... (Below threshold)

Hey, what's the deal with the state polls? I mean, I wouldn't be so "taken in" by the national polls if the state polls didn't show pretty much the same thing.

I'm just asking. Do they do them the same way as the national polls?

"Why McCain is still able t... (Below threshold)

"Why McCain is still able to win" -- DJ Drummond

That conservatives are happily willing to delude themselves is sad. DJ, you need to accept the fact that your wicked and disastrous reign is coming to an end.

DJ, you need to a... (Below threshold)
DJ, you need to accept the fact that your wicked and disastrous reign is coming to an end.

Herman: Is that a threat?

Herman is apparently confus... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Herman is apparently confusing me with the Wicked Witch of the West. Again.

Dude, this is real-world politics, not Herman's chartreuse-brick-world. And wearing the dress does not make you Glenda.

Now go back to your hole, before someone drops a house on you.

Herman~"DJ, you ne... (Below threshold)


"DJ, you need to accept the fact that your wicked and disastrous reign is coming to an end."


You're such a dork. Go back to your video games.

McCain could win if he full... (Below threshold)
Michelle Thurgood:

McCain could win if he fully understood that his biggest problem is that he has entirely missed the boat with a coherent plan on how to spend the $800 billion to bail out the economy. My sister has a brilliant idea on how to save the economy by having the government spend much of the $800 billion on discounted realestate and then resell the homes the government bought for a profit much like Car Max buys and sells cars. Please take the time to read the details in her latest blog at: www.designwithchristine.com Yes, she's a designer but her genius is not just limited to interior design. I love her idea and feel passionate that it would work.

Michelle Thurgood
Meridian, ID

I am taking issue with the ... (Below threshold)

I am taking issue with the guy with the crack pipe analogy. He sounds like just another Obama supporter whistling past the graveyard. Its ironic that good government (electing McCain/Palin) will benefit him just as much as the rest of us. I guess that's just the price of Democracy. Even the undeserving get equal treatment.

This man is right. For Gods sake get out there and vote for McCain. I predict that if Obama wins the election, there will be a terrorist attack on our soil within two years because Barrack the closet Muslim will remove the safeguards Bush as worked so hard to put in place.

Of course, McCain can win. ... (Below threshold)
Mark Jones:

Of course, McCain can win. I am not too thrilled about certain things that McCain has done. But a landslide of people may change their minds, on reflection. McCain may be the lesser evil.

Obama promises the middle class that he will give them a break and help them. But how is he going to do this? The wealthy are taxed at a high rate, already. Will taxing them more really generate all the money Obama promises for such expensive plans as a socialized medical system? Where are these breaks going to come from, now that the system is in crisis and in huge debt? Obama can't tax the poor, since they have nothing.

As well, look at Obama's history. He worked as a community activist, which he calls "organizer", seeking to help poor people. He has ideological fervor and is a dedicated person. But let's look at where his interests lie. He was helping the poor, not the middle class.

Should Obama get into power, will he suddenly support the middle class and find more money to help them? Or will he redistribute money from the only possible source --the middle class to the poor? How far left-leaning is Obama?

Maybe Obama is not deliberately misleading the American people. Maybe he somehow believes that he will be able to get money from somewhere to give to the middle class. However, McCain needs to start asking questions about the economy.

Remember, no matter how unhappy people are about Bush's policies and their outcomes, choosing someone totally different does not automatically ensure that there will be better policies. Things could be much worse!

McCain needs to stop launching personal attacks, which make him look weak and desperate and instead act reasonable and sensible. He needs to speak in a quiet and pleasing way and ask the important questions.

It was just found the presi... (Below threshold)

It was just found the presidential campaigns have turned digital, from the last political campaigning it was found that references to the voting records of senators McCain and Obama put an effect to build a revolutionary and democracy change in the country, I have a bit of Goggling regards these contents and found the congressional voting records which has been influenced the current situation of both the contenders.






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