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Not Over By A Long Shot

One of the commenters at StolenThunder was a troll playing his wicked-witch routine. You know, "surrender now the polls all say its over give up give up boooooooo ...". All he needed were the flying monkeys.

Well, I beg to differ. Loudly. As usual. So, while it amounts to repeating myself, here are the reasons why this election remains very much undecided, with a great deal left to be hammered down:

First, in a nutshell. a mathematical certainty of any event involving human behavior cannot possibly exist prior to that event.

Next is the idea that opinion polls are predictive. By definition, they are not, in the same way that charting a stock's past performance and present price is in no way predictive of its future value;

Next, it needs saying again the the history of polls shows instability and unreliability. The elections of 1936, 1948, 1968, 1976, 1988, and 2000 in particular were very different from what the polls predicted just a couple weeks before the election, sometimes even closer than that;

Also, a lot of media is pointing to sites which post aggregates for projections. The problem there is that this causes collinearity, which invalidates the conclusions. It's a common error but a significant one;

Further, it has to be noted that neither Obama nor McCain's campaigns are behaving in a manner consistent with the published conditions, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania;

Next, it needs saying that the political affiliation weights being used in major polls in no way match the historical participation at either the national or state levels. Those polls which take reponse levels without weighting to demographic norms create a circular logic which is inconsistent with NCPP guidelines and documented election results;

And finally, conditions this year are so unstable that Gallup, who has longer experience than anyone in opinion polling, has tacitly admitted it has no idea where the race stands, as it has developed no less than three weight models to try to capture a sense of what's going on. However, the fact that each is at variance with the other two to a degree byond their stated margin of error, demonstrates error beyond the boundaries established for the published level of significance (5%), which is to say, the math fails a 2-tailed validity test, and ergo all results are invalid by definition.

Turnout - if one party clearly does a better job getting its base to vote, that party will clearly win. More than ever, your vote matters.

Independents - Right now, the Independent vote is essentially tied, with about 28% of Independents still undecided. Whoever wins the most of that vote will win the election.

Undecideds - Overall, 12.01% of voters are still undecided. It's slowly resolving itself, but there will still be a large pool of voters waiting to be convinced just before election day. Finishing strong could make all the difference.


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Comments (23)

DJ, and everyone else: you ... (Below threshold)
mcg Author Profile Page:

DJ, and everyone else: you must read this RedState diary. Do not lose hope, anyone.

This is a great article on ... (Below threshold)

This is a great article on polling and past presidential elections.



Sorry, odd linkage there. <... (Below threshold)
mcg Author Profile Page:

Sorry, odd linkage there. Here's the diary.

Yep.It ain't over ... (Below threshold)


It ain't over 'till it's over.

And this one is far, far from over.

I disagree. It's over. Ob... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

I disagree. It's over. Obama and the Dems will win by a landslide. No reason for libs to interrupt their latte and go vote. They are going to win with plenty of votes to spare.

Keep repeating. Dems are going to win by a landslide. No need for them to even bother voting.

Gallup Daily has Barry by 2... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

Gallup Daily has Barry by 2!

Here's hoping that "landsli... (Below threshold)

Here's hoping that "landslide' covers up them pack-e-derm ears on old 1/2 breed whosane.

"Was it over when the Ge... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?..."

I was never even close to thinking this was "over" by any means.

No, that's a little fib... I actually thought it was over quite a few times... for the Dems. I just couldn't understand that they now have control of so many Kool-Aid factories to keep up with the demand.

McCain/Palin will win this election.

"Not over by a long shot." ... (Below threshold)

"Not over by a long shot." -- DJ Drummond

You were saying the same thing in 2006, weren't you, DJ????

Conservatives, in November you're going down. You're going down, BIG-TIME.

I think Herman is correct.<... (Below threshold)

I think Herman is correct.

So i'm going to go and vote and so is my wife, to try and get as close to possible away from "Big Time" losses as possible.

Herman, you don't even need to bother voting. You guys have so many votes right now, it's like keeping the first string in when your really far ahead. The Left is supposed to be the kinder, gentler folks, not the hateful Rethuglicans.

So be kinder and gentler, don't go and vote and make it a complete and utter wipe out. Stay home so at least McCain will be close.

I encourage ALL my Democrat... (Below threshold)

I encourage ALL my Democrat friends to vote! And I remind them that this year Republicans vote on Tuesday, and Democrats on Wednesday...to simplify vote counting!! :)

DJToday's Gallup p... (Below threshold)
Al Bucci:


Today's Gallup poll shows McCain within 2 points of Obama in the traditional likely voter model. Their new and untried "expanded likely voter" model shows Obama by 6 points. When I do the math on that, it shows that there were an additional 169 "likely" voters in the expanded model and of those 80%(!) went to Obama. That high of percentage vote makes no sense. I question if those "expanded" voters are truly legitimate likely voters or even registered voters in the first place. You are right: there's a lot of funky things going on with polls!

Herman is partly right.... (Below threshold)

Herman is partly right.

We're going to get killed in the Congressional races.

Pelosi will have a stronger majority in the House and Reid's going to get close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

All the more reason it's so important to have McCain and his "you-will-know-their-names" Veto Pen in the Oval Office.

And wouldn't it be fun if Sarah Palin decided to actually do the Constitutional jobs of the Vice President and preside over the Senate in person?

But Barone is saying that t... (Below threshold)

But Barone is saying that the Democratic affiliation this year may be 5-7 percent more. But again, just his opinion. One of many, many, many.

DJ,I took a look at ... (Below threshold)

I took a look at the polls used in RCP's "average" and recomputed them, weighting them by # of respondents. The RCP straight arithmetic average is no good, because it gives Obama's widest lead - the +14 he has in the CBSNYT poll - the same weight as the recent +4 in the Rasmussen poll, even though the CBSNYT uses only 699 respondents vs. 3000 for Rasmussen.

RCP's "average" is Obama + 6.8. When you compute the average (of the 13 most recent polls listed on their site) weighted by number of respondents, that drops by a full point, to + 5.8.

Now, if you take only those polls that concluded yesterday (and, again,weight them by # of respondents), the advantage drops again, to just +4.6. Not that, by using only those polls that concluded 10/15, it not only drops Obama's strongest number, that +14, but also McCain's strongest number, Obama +3 in the IDB poll. So, it's not like I cherry picked data.

There has been a noticable movement in McCain's numbers. Obama consistently received 49 to 51 percent in the whole batch of 13 polls, with outlying low of 45 and high of 53. But McCain had been getting dismal numbers in the earliest 7 of the polls - 39 to 42 per cent with high outliers of 45 and 46. In the 6 polls that posted yesterday, he is at 44 to 47 percent in 5 of 6, with a single low outlier of 41.

In summary, there are 3 key points: First, when weighting first for # of respondents, the average is a full point lower than the commonly reported (and inaccurate) arithmetic average.

Second, When weighting for only those polls that closed on 10/15 (along with weighting for # of respondents), the average drops another full point.

Third, there is a clear distinction between those polls from over the weekend/early in the week and those that were entirely this week, and that distinction looks like a mini-surge for McCain.

Fourth, and this is the troubling news for McCain, the increased performance in McCain's numbers do not come from a softening in Obama's numbers. Obama is tantalizing close to the 50% threshold,and it is consistent along all the measures. His support seems to be rock solid. In order to make up the difference, McCain will have to decisively win the undecideds - if Obama can take just 1 out of every 3, it will be enough to put him over the top.

oops - should have said "4 ... (Below threshold)

oops - should have said "4 key points."

The long awaited politic... (Below threshold)

The long awaited political commercial that will UTTERLY DESTROY McCAIN!!!:


Bush himself annihilating McCain's chances -- that's got to sting, right, conservatives? Stings real bad. Too bad.

It's time to leave Wonderland behind, conservatives, and join the rest of humanity in our reality-based world, first by dealing with this:


Who are you trying to convi... (Below threshold)
Joe the Plumber:

Who are you trying to convince their, Herman?

You sound scared to me.

Heh, Herman is that all ya ... (Below threshold)

Heh, Herman is that all ya got? The left has you hosed.

Herman: "You were saying... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Herman: "You were saying the same thing in 2006"

Not exactly, Herman. You are right that into October of 2006, I still thought the GOP would be all right if the republicans showed up, and if they had hung in and voted like they did in 2004 I would have been right.

But as to timing, right about this time in 2006 I passed a kidney stone, burst my appendix, had emrgency surgery which discovered tumors diagnosed as pseudomyxoma peritonei, a treatable but incurable form of cancer which kills 80% of the victims in which it metastasizes. So in the last couple weeks before the election of 2006, I had other things on my mind, and may be forgiven for losing track of the final trends in the polls just then.

What's your excuse?

What's his excuse? He is a ... (Below threshold)

What's his excuse? He is a dumbass liberal.

I can hear the wailing of t... (Below threshold)
Thomas Jackson:

I can hear the wailing of the Left after Obama bombs. I'll never forget being told that Carter was going to cruish Reagan, that McGovern would beat Nixon, that Mondale would beat Reagan, and all the rest.

Most of all I remember 1994 and being told the day after by Peter Jennings that "the American public had a tantrum." Looks like after the way they're abusing Joe the plumber they're going to get their heads handed to them. I still think we'll see a major upset.

If anyone is upset with the economy today who do they think created it? Think Dodd, Rangel, Frank, Reid, Pelosi.

Herman is so rabid, it's ac... (Below threshold)

Herman is so rabid, it's actually comical.






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