June 1, 2008 - June 7, 2008


POLL: CNN National

CNN/Opinion Research

(921 RV)
Obama 49, McCain 46
Obama 47, McCain 43, Nader 6, Barr 2
Obama/Clinton 52, McCain/Romney 46

Obama 59, Clinton 35 (447 RV)
Clinton 49, McCain 48

Moore: The Frontrunner Myths

Topics: 2008 , ABC , David Moore , Gary Langer , Hillary Clinton , Rudy Giuliani , UNH Survey Center

Today's Guest Pollster article comes from David W. Moore, a senior fellow with the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. He is a former vice president and senior editor with the Gallup Poll, where he worked for 13 years, and is the founder and former director of the UNH Survey Center. He manages the blogsite, Skeptical Pollster.com.

Eons ago, it seems, the press was touting Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton as the dominant frontrunners in their respective party presidential contests. The press was wrong in doing this, of course, but the pollsters told them that was true, and journalists believed. Now ABC's Gary Langer has taken a "Look Back" at the 2008 primary season, and once again endorsed the myth of the two frontrunners:

"It was going to be short and simple: Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani. Those were the long-ago and far-away days of initial preferences, when the two best-known candidates held commanding leads for their parties' presidential nominations. That it didn't end that way underscores an eternal truth of American politics: Campaigns matter."

I agree with Langer that campaigns matter, but disagree with his starting point. Indeed, that Giuliani was ever proclaimed the frontrunner is perhaps the most amazing myth of this whole campaign season.

The contest for delegates, as everyone knows, begins with voting in Iowa and continues from state to state, with election results in the early states inevitably affecting the results in later states. During the time that Giuliani enjoyed his so-called "commanding" frontrunner status (in the summer and fall of 2007), he was not the frontrunner in any of those early state contests - not in Iowa, not in New Hampshire, not in Michigan, not in Nevada, and not in South Carolina. He was the frontrunner in Florida, but if he didn't win any of the previous contests, it wasn't likely he would even be viable, much less the national frontrunner, by the time that primary was held.

This isn't just 20-20 hindsight.1 Right from the beginning, critics challenged the media pollsters' use of "national Republicans" and "national Democrats" as indicative of what the voters were thinking. In fact, Langer acknowledged the problem back in July 2007, and it's worth citing his response:

"A colleague here sent me a nice pointed challenge to our latest election poll yesterday: National surveys by themselves are 'close to meaningless,' he said, because they measure national preferences in what'll really be a series of state caucuses and primaries.

"It's a fair complaint, and a serious one - because it cuts to the heart of just what our new survey, and its multifarious brethren, are all about. It's true, of course, that a poll of current preferences nationally does not tell us about current preferences in Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else. Without knowing who's thriving in Iowa and New Hampshire, it's hard to predict who survives to South Carolina, much less who wins where on Mega Tuesday and wakes up with the crown on Feb. 6....

"We ask the horse race question in our national polls for context - not to predict the winner of a made-up national primary."

Langer is absolutely right - national polls of the party faithful don't predict state winners, and without an idea of who they might be, there's no way to tell who the nominee might be. By this reasoning, no matter how well Giuliani might have been faring in the national polls, that said nothing about how he might do in the state contests and in his effort to win the presidential nomination. So, on what grounds was he the frontrunner?

It turns out, apparently, that all along ABC was using the national numbers of what Langer calls the "made-up primary" not just "for context," but in fact to predict the winner of the actual nomination process. That's the only way in which Giuliani could be called a frontrunner.

Of course, ABC was not alone. Every major media polling organization reported results, at one time or another, based on that "made-up national primary." And in the summer and fall of 2007, they all reported that Giuliani was the dominant frontrunner - while ignoring that he trailed in all of the early state contests.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton was hardly the "solid" favorite as virtually every major news organization claimed. It's true the polls showed her leading in the several primary states after Iowa, but in this latter state she was never dominant. She trailed John Edwards for the first seven months of 2007, until she moved into a modest lead in the late summer and fall. But there were many undecided voters, and if she lost in Iowa, who could predict how she might fare elsewhere? Howard Dean's experience four years earlier, when his leading status in New Hampshire evaporated in the two-day period following his loss in the Iowa Caucuses, should have been a cautionary note for pollsters.

The reality was that in the summer and fall of 2007, there was no Republican frontrunner, and the Democratic frontrunner had only a tenuous lead. That so many pundits and politicians and members of the general public still think otherwise, because that's what the pollsters told us, should be the biggest embarrassment of the polling industry since Dewey beat Truman in 1948.

1 For my take on this matter last October 2007, see this post.

Exit Polls: A Look Back

Topics: 2008 , ABC/Washington Post , Barack Obama , Exit Polls , NY Times , Washington Post

Any of us that like to look at political survey data -- and that's just about anyone reading these words -- have something of a trove in the now completed exit polls conducted during the 2008 primaries. As the exit pollsters point out in their valedictory blog post, we have just concluded "the busiest primary season in the history of exit poll research." There have been some difficulties along the way, to be sure, but the resulting data set is "gargantuan, as ABC's Gary Langer puts it. In addition to the election night tabulations that we have pointed to regularly (available via these links from MSNBC, CNN, CBS and Fox) there are two new collections worth checking out:

First, Gary Langer and the ABC Polling Unit put together summary spreadsheets (in PDF format) for both the Democratic and Republican contests that allow for easy comparisons using comparable subgroups across every state. The tables include some subgroups not available on the standard network tables (such as breaking down education and income among white voters only). They cover, according to Langer, "79,281 interviews in all, conducted in 68 contests in 39 states, encompassing all the Democratic state primaries, the contested Republican primaries and the Iowa and Nevada caucuses."

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen points out the "biggest contribution" of these tables is the "NET" column on the far left of each page, which shows the results based on a compilation of results across all states.

Second, the New York Times has put together an amazing interactive graphic based on a the exit poll data in the same 39 states. The graphic displays the Obama Clinton vote preference for all states with exit poll broken out by sixteen different subgroups. You really need to interact with the graphic (by pointing and clicking) to understand it, but trust me when I say that the early reviews from the academic number crunchers -- "awesome," "damn this is cool" -- are well deserved. And if you'd rather let someone else show you what it can do, the comedian/activist Baratunde Thurston provides a guided video tour (h/t: TechPresident).


Rasmussen: Research 2000 Kansas

Research 2000/DailyKos.com (D)

McCain 51, Obama 40
Sen: Roberts 50, Slattery 38

POLL: Research 2000 Kansas

Research 2000/DailyKos.com (D)

McCain 51, Obama 40
Sen: Roberts 50, Slattery 38

POLL: Rasmussen West Virginia, Missouri

Rasmussen Reports

West Virginia
McCain 45, Obama 37

Obama 43, McCain 42
Gubernatorial Numbers

POLL: Daily Tracking

Gallup Poll

National (5/31 to 6/4)
McCain 46, Obama 45

National (6/4 only)
Obama 45, McCain 45
Obama/Clinton 50, McCain 45

"An Early Gallup Road Map to the McCain-Obama Matchup"

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 47, McCain 45

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain 55 / 42
Obama 54 / 43

"51% of Democrats Back Obama-Clinton Ticket"

POLL: Cook/RT National

Cook Political Report/
RT Strategies
(results, cross tabs)

Obama 44, McCain 43

(Obama voters) Do you think there is a chance you (ROTATE:) will consider voting for McCain, or have you definitely decided to vote for Obama?

    12% Will consider voting for McCain
    74% Definitely decided to vote for Obama

(McCain voters) Do you think there is a chance you (ROTATE:) will consider voting for Obama, or have you definitely decided to vote for McCain?

    10% Will consider voting for Obama
    77% Definitely decided to vote for McCain

The Limits of Primary Polling

Topics: 2008

My NationalJournal.com column, which this week discusses some lessons about the limitations of polling in primary elections, is now online.

POLL: CBS National

CBS News
(Story, General Election, Race, Economy)

Obama 45, Clinton 41
Obama 48, McCain 42... Clinton 50, McCain 41

If Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination, would you like to see him pick Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate, or not? (Democratic primary voters)
Yes 59, No 35

POLL: Daily Tracking

Gallup Poll

Obama 52, Clinton 43
McCain 46, Obama 45... Clinton 48, McCain 45

"As Primary Campaign Ends, Clinton's Image Mostly Intact"
"General Election Shaping Up as Change vs. Experience"

Rasmussen Reports

Obama 47, McCain 45

Favorable / Unfavorable
McCain: 53 / 44
Obama: 55 / 43

Trust on Issues
Economy: McCain 44, Obama 40
Iraq: McCain 51, Obama 37

Re: ARG's South Dakota Poll

Topics: 2008 , Associated Press , Barack Obama , Dick Bennett , Divergent Polls , Hillary Clinton , SurveyUSA

A quick follow-up to my discussion yesterday of the poll from the American Research Group (ARG) in South Dakota.

ARG had the winners right in South Dakota and Montana, but that was about it. If we compare the margin between the top two finishers on the poll to the margin in the vote count (with 100% of the precincts reporting according to AP this morning), ARG had errors of 11 points on the margin in Montana and 14 points in South Dakota. Those were not ARG's worst misses of the primary season -- their final polls were off by more in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois and South Carolina -- but these last two polls were a bit worse than their average (9) for the Democratic primaries.

Looking at all the polls in both Democratic and Republican primary contests, a SurveyUSA report card compiled in early May showed ARG with a median error of 7.0, ranking them 26 on the list of all 41 pollsters, and dead last among the nine organizations that polled in 10 or more contests this year (remember due to "regression to the mean," average errors can be much larger or smaller when a pollster does only a handful of surveys -- as the number of polls averaged goes up, the error should go down).

The most striking aspect of ARG's difficulties during this primary season was the way their surveys tended to err in Hillary Clinton's favor. We first noticed this pattern in their surveys of Iowa last summer. While not totally consistent, the ARG polls tended to show Clinton doing a few points better in Iowa than other pollsters, although at the time the pattern looked like a consistent difference, but not necessarily an error. After the final ARG poll showed Clinton leading Obama by nine percentage points (she finished third), ARG pollster Dick Bennett lashed out at critics and the "deeply flawed" Des Moines Register poll (that had correctly forecast an Obama win).

Bennett might have done better to examine his own methods, because in the primaries that followed, ARG's final poll erred in Clinton's favor in 19 of 27 contests, averaging 6.8 percentage of error on the margin in Clinton's favor. The odds of that happening by chance alone are extremely remote.

Only Bennett is in a position to explain why his surveys were further off the actual result than those of other pollsters, and why his surveys tended to err in Clinton's favor. To be clear: I am not suggesting that Bennett had a pro-Clinton agenda. Rather, I think the answer has something to do with some aspect of ARG's methodology. Unfortunately, since ARG, like all too many public pollsters, tells us so little about their methods, we can only guess.

South Dakota and Montana Exit Polls and Results

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , CNN , Exit Polls , Hillary Clinton , MSNBC

OK..one last time (at least until November). Polls will close in South Dakota at 9:00 p.m. ET and in Montana at 10 p.m. ET. Official exit poll tabulations will appear shortly after the polls close at the following links:

All other comments will be in reverse chronological order. All times Eastern.

10:50 - Signing off for tonight. Back tomorrow morning, gods of Pepco allowing. I hope anyone still checking in will join me in thanking Mark Lindeman for crunching the numbers for us every primary night. Thanks Mark!

10:15 - South Dakota tabulations update: Now showing a slightly narrower Clinton lead, roughly 54% to 46%.

10:10 - The Montana tabulations update: Now showing an estimate of 56% Obama, 39% Clinton.

10:01 - MSNBC and CNN project Obama the winner of Montana. The vote estimate used to weight the exit poll cross-tabs now posted online is 54% Obama, 40% Clinton with the rest to undecided.

9:37 - While I was out in search of electricity, the networks apparently declared Obama the "presumptive nominee" based on his share of delegates in South Dakota. But I'm sure you know that already.

9:21 - Apologies. The wonderful DC weather knocked out our power, adding an extra margin of misery to this last primary night. Mark Lindeman tells us that the initial exit poll tabulations indicate a 55% to 45% estimate in Clinton's favor. And as I type this, MSNBC projects South Dakota for Clinton, (and CNN follows moments later).

8:07 - The AP story teases the honesty ratings of the two candidates in both states the the rough shares who say the would be satisfied with the nomination of both. Nate (Poblano) does some quick modeling of the relationship between these questions and the vote in past primaries. His analysis suggests an comfortable margin for Obama in Montana and a closer result (perhaps) in South Dakota.

About seven in 10 in both states called Obama honest and trustworthy. Nearly as many said that about Clinton in South Dakota but barely half in Montana called her honest and trustworthy.

7:54 - Here are some preliminary vote-result-free teasers from the mid-afternoon wave of exit poll interviews from AP, CNN, MSNBC and Fox (via The Page).

ARG's South Dakota Poll?

Topics: 2008 , ARG , Barack Obama , Dick Bennett , Divergent Polls , Hillary Clinton , Pollsters , Wall Street Journal

"Do you trust the ARG poll in South Dakota?"

I have been asked that question more than once over the last 24 hours. The South Dakota poll released by the American Research Group yesterday and conducted this past weekend shows Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by a 26 point margin (60% to 34%). It is one of only two public polls released on the South Dakota primary. The only other poll, conducted in late March by Dakota Wesleyan University, showed Obama leading by 12 points (46% to 34%).

If the question is about their record during this primary season, we can look at the "Pollster Report Card" for 2008 compiled by SurveyUSA that calculated pollster "error" by comparing the percentage point margin separating the two-two candidates on the final pre-election poll for each pollster in each race to the margin between those two candidates in the actual result. On that basis, ARG shows a median error of 7.0, ranking them 26 on the list of 41 pollsters, and dead last among the nine organizations that polled in 10 or more contests this year.

Back in April, The Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik took a closer look at ARG after it reported two polls in Pennsylvania that appeared to show the race closing from a 20 point Clinton lead to a 45-45% tie in just one week:

Dick Bennett, president of ARG, acknowledged his firm struggled in early primaries, but told me that its polls in later, big-state primaries have done well, citing California (the final poll showed a Clinton lead of four percentage points; she won by eight), Ohio (ARG had Sen. Clinton up by 14; she won by 10) and Texas (the poll had Sen. Clinton up by three; she won the primary by 3.5 points but appears to have lost the caucuses). According to Mr. Bennett, ARG’s stumbles in states such as Connecticut and South Carolina — where the firm understated Sen. Obama’s support — were due to underestimating the likelihood that first-time voters would go to the polls.

"In the tough ones, we’ve been close,” Mr. Bennett said. “As time has gone on, we’ve gotten much better.”

The most intriguing difference between South Dakota and other recent primaries is that ARG is out all alone with its results. In previous contests -- particularly Iowa, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina -- we had ten or more surveys released over the final weekend. Many pollsters speculate cynically about the potential in such an environment for what one friend of mine calls the "watching the rearview mirror" problem, the idea that some pollsters are watching the results of the competitors and adjusting their own numbers (or weighting targets) so they are not too far off.

The potential irony here is that the big polling story at the beginning of this primary season was the courage of Ann Selzer, pollster for the Des Moines Register, whose final pre-caucus survey showed Barack Obama surging on the basis of a surge in participation by younger and more independent voters. Other pollsters were skeptical and questioned the result. ARG's final poll showed Clinton leading by nine points. Obama ultimately won 38% of the delegates elected that night, while Clinton finished third (with 29%) just behind John Edwards (at 30%). The Iowa entrance poll, arguably a better measure of the initial vote preference, also showed Obama as the first choice of 34% of attendees, followed by 27% ready to support Clinton..

In this case, ARG's John Bennett seems to be comfortable putting out numbers that contradict the conventional wisdom. Give him credit for that, at least. Slate's Christopher Beam contacted Bennett, and Bennett defended his work:

"It’s what the voters told us," he said. "It’s the same process we’ve used in other states." The survey interviewed 600 people who represented the state’s demographics, without the need for weighting or other fancy modeling.

Bennett dismissed the notion that South Dakota will vote like the surrounding states. "Look at New Hampshire compared to Vermont and Massachusetts and New York," he said. "You can’t pick out states like that."

He also pointed out that South Dakota is the oldest of the recent states except for Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and Clinton has performed well among older voters. According to the U.S. Census, 14.2 percent of South Dakota’s population is 65 years or older. In Pennsylvania, the number was 15.2 percent; in West Virginia, 15.3 percent. The Mount Rushmore State also has a closed primary, which tends to favor Clinton—no "independent bonus voters for Obama," Bennett said—and a large proportion of likely Democratic voters are women.

Will the ARG numbers prove accurate tonight? We will soon see.

In other related news:

  • The statistical models of FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver project a 5-point win for Obama in South Dakota and an 18-point Obama margin in Montana. Silver, who was the subject of a nice profile by Carl Bialik this week, also weighs in on the ARG poll -- he's skeptical.
  • Brian Schaffner projects the delegate totals with and without the ARG polls. He's also live blogging the evolving delegate count all afternoon and evening.
  • I am told that the networks will have exit polls tonight for both South Dakota and Montana, and both will feature supplemental telephone interviews of early voters. So we will see you here later tonight.

About That Michigan Exit Poll

Topics: 2008 , ABC , Barack Obama , CNN , Exit Polls , Hillary Clinton , John Edwards

The exit poll conducted for Michigan's Democratic primary, and more specifically, the way it was used to help allocate Michigan's delegates this past weekend, has been the source of controversy over the last 48 hours. I will let others debate whether it is every appropriate to use any survey -- much less an exit poll -- to award delegates. However, amidst all the spin, some pertinent facts about exit polls and their performance this primary season have been confused.

The best example comes from two brief clips from CNN's coverage of the Puerto Rico results yesterday, the first from an interview of Clinton campaign chairman Terry McCauliffe and the second a response by CNN's Bill Schneider that followed soon thereafter:

Here is the gist of McCauliffe's complaint (my transcription):

The one thing I find amazing is, Wolf, is they say, actually, we are going to base some of this on exit poll data. There has not been an exit poll in this campaign -- I can remember standing in New Hampshire on election night saying, "hey Terry, you're going to lose by fifteen points." None of the exit polls have been right, and you're going to use that to take votes away from Hillary Clinton?

And Schneider's response and discussion a few minutes later with CNN's Wolf Blitzer:

Schneider: I can tell you that the exit polls have been pretty accurate in all the primaries so far, including New Hampshire. The exit polls have been very close to the actual result.

Everyone remembers the Waterloo of the polls in New Hampshire. That wasn't the exit poll. That was pre-election polls. The pre-election polls in New Hampshire, those taken before primary day back in January, many of them indicated that Barack Obama would win New Hampshire. In the event, on primary day, he actually lost New Hampshire. The exit poll got that right.

It was the pre-election polls that did not capture the final last minute swing of a lot of women, particularly older women, who had been undecided, they swung at the last minute to Hillary Clinton and that's what put her over the top.

Blitzer: And when we do these exit polls, we have three waves of exit polls, and sometimes the media gets told of only the first wave which may be distorted, may not be precise. It takes three waves to get an accurate assessment of what is actually going on. As a result, some confusion about the accuracy of these exit polls.

So either "none of the exit polls have been right" or the exit polls have been "pretty accurate in all the primaries." Not surprisingly, the whole truth lies somewhere in between.

Let's start with the comment from Wolf Blitzer at the end of the clip. He is right to point out that exit poll results get phoned in by interviewer/reporters in three waves, and that the biggest "errors" have involved early data based on the second wave or on the third wave called in just before the polls close (the networks now keep data "quarantined" and do not release it to network producers and decision desks until after 5:00 p.m.. Eastern time).

The second wave (late afternoon) estimates have often leaked this year, and those results have, more often than not, erred in Barack Obama's favor during the primaries (especially on 2/5 and 3/4 and in Pennsylvania). As I wrote back in March, "the early leaked results overestimated Obama's strength in 18 of 20 states, for an average error of 7 percentage points on the margin."

Assessing the accuracy of the third-wave, "at poll closing" estimates based only on the exit poll interviews is harder, because those numbers rarely leak. What we see more often, at least indirectly, are the estimates used to weight the official exit poll tabulations that appear on network web sites as the polls close. The estimates are usually a blend of the exit poll interview results and an average of pre-election polls (more details on this process here). These results, as extrapolated by our friend Mark Lindeman each primary night, have been far closer to the final results than the early leaked numbers. When I looked at the numbers from 2/5 and 3/4, I found that while big errors in Obama's favor persisted in six states, the errors in the remaining 11 states were small and canceled out (averaging to zero).

With respect to New Hampshire, I have heard rumors that mid-afternoon numbers showed Obama leading Clinton (Chris Matthews appears to say as much in this clip), but nothing as large as the "15 point lead" that McCauliffe claims. As the polls closed, our friend Mark Lindeman extrapolated a 38.3% to 36.9% margin in Obama's favor from the official exit poll tabulations appearing on network web sites. So if anyone told Terry McCaullife on "election night" that Clinton would lose by 15 points, it was not on the basis of an exit poll.

What is misleading about this entire discussion, however, is that the Michigan results relied up by the DNC on Saturday (and analyzed in more detail by Brian Schaffner) were not the second-wave or "at poll closing" estimates of the official count, but rather the results of this question after the tabulations had been weighted to match the official count:

If these had been the candidates on the ballot today, for whom would you have voted in the Democratic presidential primary?

46% - Hillary Clinton
12% - John Edwards
2% - Dennis Kucinich
35% - Barack Obama
1% - Bill Richardson

To be more specific about the weighting: Once the Associated Press reported a final count for Michigan on the evening of January 15, the exit poll analysts reweighted their tabulations so that the size of each poll region (labeled as "Geo Stratum Code") and the candidate vote shares within each of those regions matched the actual result. Thus, the "vote estimate" at the top of this final tabulation produced by Edison/Mitofsky (and posted online by ABC News) shows 56% for Clinton, 4% for Kucinich, less than 1% each for Dodd and Gravel and 39% supporting uncommitted.

Can we rely on the final exit poll data when weighted data "forced" to match actual results? That is the difficult-to-answer question many of us have been been pondering this year. Does weighting the result by the vote preference and turn out eliminate all possible bias with respect to demographics or other attitudes? Perhaps. In this case, however, the correction for statistical bias is right on point. We know that the results are weighted so that the percentage who chose Clinton matches the actual count.

Actually, if anything, the final weights may favor Clinton slightly, for two reasons. First, the truly final count (available after these tabulations were done on the evening of January 15), gives Clinton 55% (not 56%) and undeclared 40% (not 39%).

Second, as reported on Saturday, the official count did not include approximately 30,000 write-in votes that were never counted or included in the official totals because no candidates filed the necessary papers to request the counting of write-in votes. Most assume these write-in votes were cast for either Barack Obama or John Edwards. The voters who cast write-in votes presumably had no idea their write-in votes would not count as they left their polling place and, we can assume, would have been just as likely to participate in the exit poll as other voters.

The exit poll questionnaire had a response option for other ("Other: Who? _______") that, presumably, would have been chosen by write-in voters (though I am not sure how the exit pollsters handled any such responses in the final tabulations). Since no write-in votes were reported, however, the weighting of the final tabulations did not reflect votes that could have increased the total vote by as much as 5%. So the weighting of the exit poll -- like the official count -- may have overstated Clinton's vote by a few percentages points over what it would have shown had all write-in votes been counted.

Another potential source of error would be those voters who cast absentee or early. Michigan allowed for early voting, but in this case, the exit pollsters did not conduct a telephone survey to specifically capture the attitudes of absentee voters. I have not been able to find any report on the percentage that voted early or by absentee ballot. However, the final tallies used to weight the final tabulations included absentees.

Again, reasonable people may question whether it is ever appropriate to use any survey -- no matter how accurate -- to allocate delegates from a primary election. However, the case for labeling this particular application of this survey as inaccurate is weak. The final Michigan exit poll tabulations are best evidence we have on which candidate voters would have favored had the names of all candidates appeared on the Michigan ballot. The weighting procedure provides reassurance that, in this case at least, the percentage of Clinton voters was either right or erred slightly in her favor.

POLL: ARG Montana, South Dakota

American Research Group

Obama 48, Clinton 44

South Dakota
Clinton 60, Obama 34

POLL: LCG National Survey

Lombardo Consulting Group (R)
(formerly a senior research and communications advisor to the Romney for President campaign)

Obama 44, McCain 40

POLL: PPP North Carolina

Public Policy Polling (D)

North Carolina
McCain 43, Obama 40, Barr 6... McCain 39, Clinton 34, Barr 6
Sen: Dole 47, Hagan 39
Gov: Perdue 43, McCrory 39

POLL: Rasmussen Louisiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut

Rasmussen Reports

McCain 50, Obama 41... McCain 47, Clinton 40
Sen: Landrieu 47, Kennedy 44

Obama 51, McCain 38... Clinton 60, McCain 30
Sen: Kerry > 50, Reps < 30

Obama 47, McCain 44... Clinton 48, McCain 42

CNN's Puerto Rico Exit poll

Topics: 2008 , Associated Press , Barack Obama , CNN , Exit Polls , Hillary Clinton , MSNBC

The Page has posted a few numbers from the first wave of interviews from what he describes as "CNN's unilateral" Puerto Rico exit poll. I checked, and I'm told that Edison-Mitofsky -- the firm that usually does all of the exit polling for the consortium of the five major television networks and the Associated Press -- is conducting a Puerto Rico exit poll today exclusively for CNN.

The polls close at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. A link to CNN's exit poll tabulations should appear here at that time. Further updates (and don't expect many) will be in reverse chronological order.

10:00 p.m - One last update for tonight: The final count in Puerto Rico, with 100% of precincts reporting, shows Hillary Clinton defeating Barack Obama by 68% to 32% margin, or by 141,662 of 384,578 votes cast.

Some of our readers have been debating the meaning of the turnout that was lower than some expected, but the biggest consequence of the turnout is that Barack Obama remains ahead in most counts of the "popular vote" even with Puerto Rico included. As ABC polling director Gary Langer explains tonight, Clinton only leads "by counting all her Michigan votes, and zero there for Obama." Adding Michigan's undeclared votes to Obama ahead would erase even that advantage.

The big problem with counting "the popular vote," is that so many different permutations exist for counting it, an issue I've written about twice previously. If you liked the Jay Cost spreadsheet that I linked to earlier -- the one with 15 different ways of counting the popular vote -- you will love the updgrade from FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver. He has posted a "Popular Vote Scenario Tester" tonight that provides 96 different ways of computing the Democratic "popular vote."

4:15 - The CNN exit poll tabulations have revised, presumably reflecting the gradual replacement in the estimate model of exit poll interviews with actual votes in the sampled precincts. The current estimate looks to be roughly 69% for Clinton and 31% for Obama.

3:24 - Thatcher and Uri ask in the comments about the likely margin and its impact on "the popular vote." When it comes to the Puerto Rico turnout and margins, I have no idea. The cable news networks will have the most current information.

As for the impact on the many potential "popular vote" totals, the best "what-if" tool I know of is the Jay Cost spreadsheet. You need to fill in the margins for West Virginia (147,410 for Clinton), Kentucky (249,436 for Clinton) and Oregon (148,458 for Obama -- all totals from the New York Times tallies).

3:04 - For those wondering (I was), MSNBC's call w(as apparently based (at least in part) on a telephone poll conducted over the last few days. They will have results from that shortly.

3:00 Both CNN and MSNBC call Puerto Rico for Clinton, CNN "by a wide margin" based on their exclusive exit poll, MSNBC by a "significant" margin. The initial CNN exit poll shows a 70% to 30% margin among both men and women, the easiest extrapolation of the primary season.

2:56 - MSNBC reports they expect a "low voter turnout," perhaps as low as 400,000.

2:45 p.m. Bill Schneider on CNN just announced that those who made up their minds in the last week went for Hillary Clinton 67% to 33%. That presumably means a comfortable Clinton win today, given her lead in the two pre-election polls. But we'll see.

Nate (the blogger formerly known as Poblano) had some similar speculation based on an earlier Schneider report earlier this afternoon.