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Are Pollsters Sufficiently Factoring the Enthusiasm Gap for 2010 Mid-Terms?

The most challenging aspect of political polling is determining how likely a respondent is to actually cast their vote. Mid-term elections are particularly problematic as motivation is generally much lower than presidential election years. But as we know, the 2010 mid-terms are like no other and the rapid growth of the TEA Party has completely altered these dynamics.

Credible pollsters have employed various methods of weighting particular respondents' opinions with regard to their stated interest in particular races. Rasmussen has explained their strategies in figuring out precisely who is sufficiently motivated to take the time from their busy lives to actually cast their vote. This is why these superior polling companies consistently yield remarkable results.

However, one consideration that pollsters may be neglecting is the impact of extraordinarily motivated voters. While each citizen can only cast a single vote, there is so much more an individual can do to affect the outcomes of elections. I, for example, am volunteering to make phone calls for Christine O'Donnell's campaign. I have never set foot in the state of Delaware, but have been compelled to action in this race. I would have never fathomed doing anything like that several months ago, but as uncomfortable as I may feel making phone calls to strangers, my compulsion to do something more for the causes in this election override my anxieties. I know a number of people that are volunteering for political causes for the first time in their lives. They are all supporting conservative candidates.

Democrats have traditionally established stronger ground games to physically get voters to the polls on election day. This has clearly changed and in a mid-term election, where turnout is usually lower, the ground advantage for conservative candidates should significantly impact the final results. It is reasonable to consider that the volunteer efforts of extraordinarily motivated voters could easily tip close elections, particularly those where candidates hold starkly oppositional positions. If this comes to fruition, the Republicans will achieve a truly historic victory, sweeping all the toss-up Senatorial elections and sending Angle, Buck, Miller, Rossi, Paul and maybe even O'Donnell to Washington.


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Comments (8)

It's difficult to calculate... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It's difficult to calculate the effect of voter enthusiasm just as it is difficult to estimate the effect of the dems Get-Out-the-Vote-Fraud machine.

Just wondering, why did you... (Below threshold)

Just wondering, why did you capitalize TEA Party that way? I've heard it's a reference to the Boston Tea Party; have you heard differently?

Taxed Enough Already... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Taxed Enough Already

The Democratic "enthusiasm ... (Below threshold)

The Democratic "enthusiasm gap" is pretty self-evident. Just look at what they're NOT running on. Yet they want people to return them to office in order to continue to do WHAT THEY'RE NOT RUNNING ON.

Makes a lot of sense.

"If this comes to fruition,... (Below threshold)

"If this comes to fruition, the Republicans will achieve a truly historic victory, sweeping all the toss-up Senatorial elections and sending Angle, Buck, Miller, Rossi, Paul and maybe even O'Donnell to Washington."

Would be nice to nullify some real wicked witches like Boxer and Pelosi with some decent people like Chistine and Sharon.

There is an interesting cas... (Below threshold)

There is an interesting case that the pollsters (even Rasmussen) are underestimating the electorate this year. If you look at Gallup's demographics of the likely voters, you notice the number of indies leaning to the GOP and self identified condervatives are way up. The number of GOP is up from 2006, but less than 2002. But the combination of GOP leaning indies and GOP puts the total GOP 4 points higher than 2002.

At the same time, the number identifying themselves as dems is lowest for any of the last 4 mid terms (2 points down from 1994)and the indies leaning dem is down for a total of 4 points down on total dems from the lowest recent mid-terms (again 1994).

There is a hard core self identified liberal which is only one point down from 2006. But self identified conservatives has never been higher and self identified moderates never lower.

At the same time, demographically the race, gender, ages, etc of the voters is looking the same or following known trends (e.g. agging boomers).

The upshot of this is to look at the crosstabs in the polls. Now national polls don't necessarily cross over to state polls. Red states being at R+8 and blue states being at D+4 can be seen nationally as an R+4. But when you see pollsters who are consitantly showing more dems than recent elections, then you have to question those polls.

But, you are right. Enthusiastic voters tend to give more, both financially and their time. For the pollsters though, enhtusiastic voters tend to be more likely to vote.

Heading out to vote early m... (Below threshold)

Heading out to vote early myself - first time ever. Seems kind of strange to do so...

No they have underestimated... (Below threshold)

No they have underestimated the effect.

Look to see the conservative definition of 'unexpectedly' Tuesday evening.






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