Pollster.com

October 26, 2008 - November 1, 2008

 

OH: Obama 57, McCain 41 (OhioU-10/12-23)

Topics: PHome

Ohio University
10/12-23/08; 611 Adults, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Ohio
Obama 57, McCain 41


PA: Obama 52, McCain 45 (Muhlenberg-10/28-11/1)

Topics: PHome

Muhlenberg College
10/28 - 11/1/08; 599 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 52, McCain 45


UT: McCain 57, Obama 32 (Deseret-10/24-30)

Topics: PHome

Deseret News / Dan Jones
10/24-30/08; 1,205 RV, 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Utah
McCain 57, Obama 32


NJ: Obama 55, McCain 34 (Monmouth-10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Monmouth University/Gannett
10/29-31/08; 801 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 55, McCain 34


WA: Obama 51, McCain 39 (UWashington-10/27-31)

Topics: PHome

University of Washington
10/27-31/08; 387 RV, 5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Washington
Obama 51, McCain 39
Gov: Gregoire (D-i) 50, Rossi (R) 48


US: Obama 54, McCain 41 (CBSNYT-10/30-31)

Topics: PHome

CBS News
10/28-31/08 - 747 "Effective" Likely Voters (weighted value from a sample of 989 Registered Voters)
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(CBS story, results; )

National
Obama 54, McCain 41
(10/25-29: Obama 52, McCain 41)


US: Obama 53, McCain 44 (ABC-Post-10/28-31)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/28-31/08; 1,900 LV, 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC, Post)

National
Obama 53, McCain 44


FL: McCain 47, Obama 47 (Datamar-10/29-30)

Topics: PHome

Datamar
10/29-30/08; 995 RV, 3.1%
Mode: IVR

Florida
McCain 47, Obama 47


ARG: AR, FL, IN, PA (10/28-31)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
10/28-31/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Arkansas
McCain 51, Obama 44

Florida
Obama 50, McCain 46

Indiana
Obama 48, McCain 48

Pennsylvania
Obama 51, McCain 45


US: Obama 48, McCain 43 (IBD-10/27-31)

Topics: PHome

Investor's Business Daily / TIPP
10/27-31/08; 910 LV, 3.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 48, McCain 43


CA: Obama 60, McCain 36 (SurveyUSA-10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
10/29-31/08; 637 LV, 4%
Mode: IVR

California
Obama 60, McCain 36

Also:

Proposition 4 amends the California constitution so that a minor who wishes to have an abortion must wait at least 48 hours after a physician has notified the girl's parent. On Proposition 4, are you ... Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain?

    40% Yes
    46% No

Proposition 8 would eliminate the right of Same-Sex Couples to marry. It changes the California Constitution so that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California. On Proposition 8, are you ... Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain?

    47% Yes
    50% No


WI: Obama 52, McCain 42 (UW-10/21-28)

Topics: PHome

UW Badger Poll
10/21-28/08; 359 LV, 5.2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Wisconsin
Obama 52, McCain 42


US: Obama 52, McCain 42 (Gallup 10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/29-31/08; 2,480 LV-Expanded, 2%
Mode: Live Telephon Interviews

Registered Voters:
Obama 52, McCain 41

Likely Voters-Expanded:
Obama 52, McCain 42

Likely Voters-Traditional
Obama 52, McCain 42


US: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Hotline 10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/29-31,08; 876 LV 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 51, McCain 44


US: Obama 51, McCain 46 (Rasmussen 10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/29-31, 08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 51, McCain 46


US: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Daily Kos 10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/29-31,08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 51, McCain 44


US: Obama 49, McCain 44 (Zogby 10/29-31)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/29-31,08; 1,200 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 44


Morning Status Update for Saturday 11/1

Topics: Status Update

Not surprisingly, yesterday was another heavy day of new poll releases: 37 new statewide surveys and 10 national releases, yet these surveys indicate no clear trends and leave our bottom line electoral vote count unchanged. McCain does a little better on some polls and on some of our statewide trend estimates, Obama does a little better on others. The net result -- for today at least -- looks mostly like random noise.

If we do "apples-to-apples" comparisons, looking only at how the most recent surveys compare to previous tracks by the same pollster, the pattern is mostly random. Of the 37 new statewide surveys, 16 represent track updates from previous polls conducted released since October 15; McCain gains at least nominally on 7, Obama on 4 with unchanged margins on 5. If we look back a bit farther, and examine the 25 new polls that track previous polls released since October 1, the pattern is almost perfectly random: 10 show nominal gains for McCain, 9 show nominal gains for Obama and 6 show zero change in the margin.

081101 new polls

The pattern is similar in terms of how these new surveys affect our trend estimates in battleground states. Since yesterday, 9 states show slight increases for Obama, 6 for McCain. Compared to last Saturday, 14 states show slight gains for Obama, 9 for McCain.

081101 trends

Yesterday's polls did help shift two states from the lean to strong categories. In New Mexico, a new PPP survey shows Obama leading by 17 percentage points (58% to 41%). That margin is significantly better than any other New Mexico poll to date, although the Obama margin on our trend estimate had been increasing as a result of two recent Rasmussen surveys that put Obama ahead by smaller double-digit margins. Obama now leads by nine points (52.6% to 43.6%) on our trend estimate, enough to qualify for dark blue "strong" Obama status.

In Mississippi, polls have been relatively rare (just four in October), a condition that makes our trend line more sensitive to recent results. The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 survey, showing McCain leading by 13 points (53% to 40%), helps boost McCain's lead on our trend estimate back to nearly ten (50.9% to 41.3%) enough to shift back to "strong" McCain. It had been "lean" McCain for a single day, due to a closer Rasmussen result released on Thursday.

For some reason, yesterday probably marked a new general election record for new releases in a single day in New Hampshire, where six new surveys show Barack Obama leading comfortably, by margins varying between 7 and 15 percentage points. The new results increased Obama's margin on our trend estimate only slightly. He now leads by 11.4 points (52.5% to 41.1%) in a state that John Kerry carried by a single percentage point in 2004 (of course, those with a healthy sense of irony and caution will recall another big day for polls in New Hampshire earlier this year).

The trend estimates indicate continuing progress for McCain in Pennsylvania, a state that has been the focus of increased Republican candidate time and television advertising. A new poll from Republican affiliated Strategic Vision and a new tracking release by Muhlenberg College both show Obama leading by single digit margins with McCain at 44%. Our trend estimate shows Obama leading by 9.6 points (51.8% to 42.5%) enough to remain in the "strong" Obama column.

Yesterday's new national poll releases, however, yesterday provided no good news to those looking for a late shift to McCain. Obama's margin on our national trend estimate clicked up slightly yesterday (to +6.0) for the first time in a week. The table below shows how yesterday's new polls compare to the previous non-overlapping samples from the same pollsters. The pattern of change in this table looks mostly random -- 5 nominal shifts to Obama, 3 to McCain and one unchanged.

081101 national

I did a separate update last night comparing the Friday daily tracking releases to those from Thursday. Again, if anything, the pattern suggested a slight improvement for Obama.


PA: Obama 53, McCain 40 (Muhlenberg 10/22-26)


Muhlenberg College
10/27-31/08; 604 LV, MoE +/- 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 52, McCain 44
(10/26-31: Obama 53, McCain 43)


DailyKos: WY, MN, KY, OR (10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/27-29/08; 600 LV, 4.%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Wyoming
McCain 61, Obama 36
Sen-A: Enzi (R-i) 62, Rothfuss (D) 35
Sen-B: Barasso (R-i) 60, Carter (D) 35
At-Large: Lummis (R) 49, Trauner (D) 45

Minnesota
Obama 53, McCain 38
Sen: Coleman (R-i) 43, Franken (D) 40, Barkley (I) 15

Kentucky
McCain 56, Obama 39
Sen: McConnell (R-i) 47, Lunsford (D) 44

Oregon
Obama 55, McCain 39
Sen: Merkley (D) 48, Smith (R-i) 42


Electoral Vote Bar Chart Update


EvoteBarChart.png
This chart shows where McCain must gain, and where Obama must hold in order to get to 270.

States appear in order of Obama minus McCain margin. Width is proportional to Electoral Vote. It takes 269 to tie, 270 to win. The yellow states are very close and jumping around a bit with each new poll. Finally, the classification is based on my PoliticalArithmetik model, which directly estimates the margin, rather than Pollster's which estimates each candidate separately. So this should be very close to Pollster, but on close calls we may differ by a couple of tenths of a point, and that can sometimes shift a state from lean to tossup, or lean to strong if the state is right on the edge of a classification.


Campaign '08 vs '04 and '00 update


Pres08vs04aand000verlay.png
Back by popular demand.


House Effects for All National Polls

Topics: House Effects

AllHouseFX.png

(Click once or twice on chart for full size image, which may be the only way to read this!)

There has been some demand for an estimate of house effects beyond those for just the tracking polls, so here you go.

These are ALL national polls in our database for McCain v Obama.  The house effect is estimated relative to the Pollster.com Trend estimate at the time of the survey. That means the results are comparable over time despite movement in the polls overall.

Two notes. The "zero point" is the mean of all pollster effects. That is the best estimate, in my view, but it should be recognized that this may not be the "most accurate". For that, wait until Wednesday. Still, there is a strong reason to take the middle of the pollsters as the natural "neutral" point, as I do here.

Second, The tracking polls are included here, but are mixed with other polls by the organization. I don't have a convenient way to distinguish ABC/WP tracker from ABC/WP "regular" surveys. So they get mixed together here. If you want to compare the trackers, go to yesterday's post on trackers only. Also, the trackers here are the "independent polls", meaning non-overlapping tracker results, while the previous tracker post included ALL the tracker results. Finally, since the zero-point here is the mean of ALL these polls, while the zero-point in the tracker post was the mean of just the trackers, you'll find that these results differ from the previous post.

The good news here from my perspective is that the vast majority of polls are within a -5 to +5 range. Those outside that are almost all single polls, with wide confidence intervals. So there ARE significant house effects, but the magnitude is not as large as some seem to think. 

Confidence intervals are wider for pollsters with either few polls OR pollsters who vary widely in their OWN results (i.e. they jump around a lot relative to other polls) or a combination of both these. 

Also, the population sampled plays an important role in these house effects, so I've distinguished organizations by the type of sample used in their polls. Hence ABC/WP-RV and ABC/WP-LV.

Enjoy finding your favorite pollster.


DailyKos: NC, MS (10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Carolina
Obama 47, McCain 45
Sen: Hagan (D) 50, Dole (R-i) 45
Gov: Perdue (D) 49, McCrory (R) 44

Mississippi
McCain 53, Obama 40
Sen: Wicker (R-i) 51, Musgrove (D) 44


Rasmussen: GA, NH, OR (10/30)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
Mode: IVR

Georgia 10/30; 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 52, Obama 47
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 48, Martin (D) 43, Buckley (L) 7

New Hampshire 10/30; 700 LV, 4%
Obama 51, McCain 44
Sen: Shaheen (D) 52, Sununu (R-i) 44

Oregon 10/30; 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 52, McCain 42
Sen: Merkley (D) 49, Smith (R-i) 46


Daily Tracker Update


It is probably premature to start talking about a "widening" of Barack Obama's lead over John McCain, although today's national tracking results certainly produce no evidence of any continuing "narrowing." Of the eight national tracking polls out today, five show slight movement in Obama's direction today, only one in McCain's direction and two show no change in the margin.


081031 trackersa.png

While there have been ups and downs, the average Obama lead on the eight daily tracking surveys today (6.3%) is almost exactly what it was (6.4%) on October 20, the day of the first ABC/Washington Post release. The Washington Post's Ben Pershing used a modified version of national trend chart today -- filtered to show just the national trackers -- to make a similar point: "Today's margin [on the trackers] is almost exactly where it was a month ago."

I'm not sure which filter Pershing applied, but the following chart displays the trend line based only on the eight national tracking surveys included in the table above


US: Obama 53, McCain 44 (ABCPost-10/27-30)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/27-30/08; 1,580 LV, 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC, Post)

National
Obama 53, McCain 44


How Do Polls and Exit Polls Handle Early Voting?

Topics: Early Voting , Exit Polls , Likely Voters

The most common questions I have been getting via email the last two weeks are about early voting. Specifically, how are pollsters dealing with early voting on the pre-election polls we report and how will exit pollsters deal with the early and absentee voters that do not show up at polling places on Election Day?

The answer to the first question is that just about every pollster is either modifying their screen questions or asking additional questions to allow and attempt to identify early voters. Here is a sampling of how some of the national pollsters ask about early voting.

  • CBS News/New York Times: How likely is it that you will vote in the 2008 election for President this November - would you say you will definitely vote, probably vote, probably not vote, or definitely not vote in the election for President, or have you already voted?
  • Fox News/Opinion Dynamics: When do you plan to vote in the presidential election -- did you already vote, do you plan to vote early -- meaning sometime before Election Day, or will  you vote on Election Day?
  • Gallup/USA Today: Which of the following applies to you - you have already voted in this year's election, either by absentee ballot or early voting opportunities in your state, you plan to vote before Election Day, either by absentee ballot or early voting opportunities in your state, or you plan to vote on Election Day itself?
  • GWU/Battleground: What is the likelihood of your voting in the elections to be held in November -- are you extremely likely, very likely, somewhat likely, or not very likely at all to vote? (Accepts "already voted" as a volunteered response).
  • Pew Research Center: Do you plan to vote in the presidential election, have you ALREADY voted, or don't you plan to vote?

While verbatim questionnaires are harder to come by for state level polling, the questions are presumably similar. It is worth keeping in mind that, as with self-reported measure of voting, these questions may overstate the degree of early voting as some respondents will claim to have voted when they have not.

But key point that some seem to miss: None of the pre-election polls (or at least none that I know of) are excluding early voters from their samples. The totals reported include both early voters and those still considered "likely" to vote next week, so no, we do not have to try to somehow account for early voting in interpreting the poll numbers posted and estimated on Pollster.com or other poll aggregation sites.

What about the exit polls? The exit pollsters have, for several elections conducted telephone surveys the week before the election among those who have already voted in states with a rate of early voting they consider significant enough to affect the results. On election night, they combine the early voting telephone survey results with interviews conducted at polling places (except for Oregon, where all voters cast ballots by mail). In 2004 , they did telephone surveys of early voters in 12 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and nationally (for their national exit poll).

A few days ago, Kate Phillips of the New York Times reported these helpful details on this year's plans, which will apparently include six more states:

Joe Lenski, the executive vice president of Edison Media Research, which along with Mitofsky International, conducts the exit polls for a consortium of news organizations, said the group has already expanded its plans for telephone surveys of early voters to 18 this year from a dozen states in 2004. The states are selected based on their competitiveness in the election and on their high rates of voters who cast ballots before Election Day.

[...]

Beginning this week through the weekend, Edison/Mitofsky will conduct random phone surveys in those 18 states, asking detailed questions of people who actually say they voted early. Mr. Lenski wouldn't release the list of all 18 states, but it's pretty apparent that California, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and New Mexico will be among the targets.

We're told that Pennsylvania and Virginia - still considered battleground states - won't be among those surveyed before Election Day because those states' rates of early voting/absentee voting are traditionally lower than others.

One caveat: This survey is conducted among landline telephone users only, despite pollsters' growing practice of capturing cellphone users as well. Mr. Lenski and others asserted that shouldn't make much of a difference, because recent research indicates that there aren't huge differences on issues between landline and cellphone respondents. But the Pew Research Center has detected a slight difference when it comes to horse-race figures, suggesting that cellphone surveys capture more younger voters who heavily favor Senator Barack Obama. On Election Day, exit poll interviews will include questions about cells.

It is probably worth adding that exit poll interviews are just one component of the data that the networks use to estimate the election result and (ultimately) weight the exit poll tabulations we will see on Election Night. They will be looking at samples of actual returns very shortly after the polls close. Some states will make separate tabulations of early voting available immediately. Needless to say, the "decision desk" analysts will consider the potential impact of early voting in their projections.

Phillips' article has much more on the early voting phenomenon. It's worth reading in full.

[An earlier version of this post mangled the Fox News early vote questions -- apologies for the error].


ND: McCain 47, Obama 46 (DailyKos-10/28-29)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/28-29/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

North Dakota
McCain 47, Obama 46


MT: McCain 48, Obama 44 (DailyKos-10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephon Interviews

Montana
McCain 48, Obama 44


DailyKos: AK, GA (10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Alaska
McCain 58, Obama 39
Sen: Begich (D) 58, Stevens (R-i) 36
At-Large: Berkowitz (D) 53, Young (R-i) 44

Georgia
McCain 47, Obama 44
Sen: Chambliss (R-i) 47, Martin (D) 46, Buckley (L) 5


ARG: AZ, CO, MO, MT, NH (10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4% (for each state)
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Arizona
McCain 50, Obama 46

Colorado
Obama 52, McCain 45

Missouri
Obama 48, McCain 48

Montana
McCain 49, Obama 46

New Hampshire
Obama 56, McCain 41
Sen: Shaheen (D) 53, Sununu (R-i) 41
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 68, Kenney (R) 28


US: Obama 50, McCain 43 (Marist-10/29)

Topics: PHome

Marist Poll
10/29/08; 535 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 43


US: Obama 52, McCain 43 (Gallup-10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/27-29/08; 2,459 LV-Expanded, 2%
Mode: Live Telephon Interviews

Registered Voters:
Obama 52, McCain 41

Likely Voters-Expanded:
Obama 52, McCain 43

Likely Voters-Traditional:
Obama 51, McCain 43


AZ: McCain 48, Obama 47 (DailyKos-10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

DailyKos.com (D) / Research 2000
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Arizona
McCain 48, Obama 47


Undersized Undecideds


Two days ago, Nick Panagakis reopened our debate about the "true" size of the undecided voters in his post on pollster.com, entitled Supersized Undecideds. Oddly, his post tends to support my argument, rather that contradict it.

 

First I should note that Nick has misstated my position somewhat, which was explained here and here. In brief, my argument is that pollsters should measure the undecided vote, by including in their vote choice question a tag line, "or haven't you made up your mind yet?" I also argue that pollsters should not insist on asking who voters would choose "if the election were held today," but who would they support on Election Day. I contend that this way of asking voters their candidate preferences produces a more realistic and accurate picture of the electorate than the way pollster currently report the results of their hypothetical, forced-choice vote question.

 

Nick disagrees, because he thinks that this approach would exaggerate the number of undecided voters. He makes the novel argument that any indecision measured as I suggest would be "calendar-induced" indecision but not "candidate induced" indecision. I don't know of any evidence for the validity of this distinction, but it's crucial to his argument.

 

To illustrate this point, he presents recent data from the ABC/Washington Post tracking polls, which suggest that currently only 9 percent of voters say they could change their mind before election day, including 3 percent who say it's a "good" chance they could do so, and 6 percent who say it's "pretty unlikely" they would do so. The latter term Nick interprets in his own mental framework as "no chance in h*ll."

 

Then, as though it's an obvious problem, Nick says, "Imagine if polls up until last week were showing undecideds 10 to 20 points higher - or still showing 9 points greater this week." Yes, let's imagine the 9 percentage point increase in the undecided voter group over what is reported these days.

 

It's important to note that most polls have been showing just a couple of percentage points of undecided voters, including ABC and the Post. These news organizations did not highlight the 9 percent undecided in their news stories, but instead focused on Obama's lead over McCain by 52 percent to 45 percent - leaving 3 percent unaccounted for (1 percent "other" and 2 percent "undecided"). If you want to know how many voters might "change their minds," you have to look hard for the data. Of course, ABC and the Post are no different from most other polling organizations that regularly suppress the undecided vote.

 

So, if the polls were to show "9 points greater undecided this week," as Nick feared, that would still be only 10 to 11 percent. That hardly seems excessive, given that the 2004 exit poll found 9 percent of voters saying they had made up their minds in the three days just prior to the election. And just today, the AP reported that about 14 percent of voters were "persuadable," a news story that emphasized the size of the undecided voter unlike most poll stories, which suppress that information.

 

Just before the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, the UNH Survey Center found 21 percent of voters who said they had not made up their minds (when asked directly, without the hypothetical, forced-choice version that is standard), and the exit poll showed that 17 percent of voters said they had made up their minds on election day.

 

These numbers suggest that measuring and reporting the size of the undecided voters is an important part of describing the state of the electorate. Not to do so is one of the continuing failures of most media polls.


SurveyUSA: NH, NJ (10/29-30)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
Mode: IVR

New Hampshire 10/29-30; 682 LV, 3.6%
Obama 53, McCain 42
Sen: Shaheen (D-i) 53, Sununu (R) 40, Blevens (L) 6
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 65, Kenney (R) 28, Newell (L) 5

New Jersey 10/29-30; 632 LV, 4%
Obama 52, McCain 42
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 52, Zimmer (R) 37


MI: Obama 50, McCain 38 (EPICMRA-10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

EPIC-MRA
10/26-28/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Michigan
Obama 50, McCain 38
Sen: Levin (D-i) 54, Hoogendyk (R) 38


US: Obama 48, McCain 41 (Hotline 10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/28-30,08; 870 LV 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 48, McCain 41


IN: McCain 47, Obama 47 (Downs-10/27-30)

Topics: PHome

Mike Downs Center / SurveyUSA
10/27-30/08, 900 LV, 3.5%
Mode: IVR

Indiana
McCain 47, Obama 47, Barr 2
Gov: Daniels (R-i) 55, Long Thompson (D) 38, Horning (L) 4


NH: Obama 51, McCain 44 (R2K-10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Concord Monitor / Research 2000
10/28-30/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Hampshire
Obama 51, McCain 44
Sen: Shaheen (D) 52, Sununu (R-i) 42, Blevens (L) 2
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 64, Kenney (R) 32, Newell (L) 2


Trackers and House Effects

Topics: House Effects

TrackerHFX.png
An update on the house effects of the daily trackers. Here I'm also showing the effects of RV, LV or LV1 or LV2 for Gallup. For Hotline, the shift from RV to LV made little difference. But here you can see considerable difference for Gallup's LV1 (attitude only) and LV2 (traditional method) of identifying likely voters.

All data here are through 10/29.

The daily trackers combined into a single estimate follows quite closely with out trend estimate that also includes stand alone polls, as seen below. Note that the standard trend estimate DOES include the independent samples of trackers, while the trackers only estimate is for every release of the trackers, including overlapping samples.
dailytrackers.png


StrategicVision: MI, NH, PA (10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
10/27-29/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Michigan 1,200 LV, 3%
Obama 54, McCain 41
Sen: Levin (D-i) 56, Hoogendyk (R) 33

New Hampshire 800 LV, 3.5%
Obama 50, McCain 41
Sen: Shaheen (D) 48, Sununu (R-i) 41
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 67, Kenney (R) 24

Pennsylvania 1,200 LV, 3%
Obama 49, McCain 44


NJ: Obama 53, McCain 35 (FDickinson-10/23-29)

Topics: PHome

Fairleigh Dickinson University
10/23-29/08; 852 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 53, McCain 35
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 52, Zimmer (R) 32


US: Obama 49, McCain 45 (GWU 10/27-30)

Topics: PHome

GWU/Battleground
Tarrance Group (R)/Lake Research (D)
10/27-30,08; 1,000 LV 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 45


US: Obama 51, McCain 47 (Rasmussen 10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/28-30, 08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 51, McCain 47


PPP: CO, MI, MN, NM, OR, WV (10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling
10/28-10/30
Mode: IVR

Colorado 2023 LV, 2.2%
Obama 54, McCain 44
Udall (D) 56, Schaffer (R) 41

Michigan 1532 LV, 2.5%
Obama 55, McCain 42
Sen: Levin (D-i) 58, Hoogendyk (R) 36

Minnesota 1050 LV, 3%
Obama 57, McCain 41
Franken (D) 45, Coleman (R-i) 40, Barkley (I) 14

New Mexico 1537 LV, 2.5%
Obama 58, McCain 41
Sen: Udall (D) 58, Pearce (R) 39

Oregon 1424 LV, 2.6%
Obama 57, McCain 42
Merkley (D) 51, Smith (R-i) 43 Brownlow (C) 4

West Virginia 2128 LV, 2.1%
McCain 55, Obama 42
Gov: Manchin (D-i) 69, Weeks (R) 27
Sen: Rockefeller (D-i) 58, Wolfe (R) 40


Why the "Joe the Plumber" Tax Debate Hasn't Helped McCain


The McCain campaign thought they were on to something when "Joe the Plumber" confronted Obama about redistributing the wealth. Yet, there is little evidence that this argument has actually helped them make any real inroads into Obama's support. For example, the ABC News/Washington Post poll asks likely voters which candidate they trust more to handle the issue of taxes. The McCain campaign began making the "Joe the Plumber"/"spreading the wealth" argument during the third presidential debate on October 15th. Since then, there has been no significant movement on the question of which candidate the electorate trusts more on taxes. Obama maintains about a 10% edge on this issue, just as he did before the rise of "Joe the Plumber."

taxes1.PNG

Why has the argument failed to gain traction? To take a stab at this question, I went back to some polling data I happen to have on my hard drive from a February 2003 NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/Kennedy School of Government Taxes Survey. The survey is useful for addressing this question because it delved deep into philosophical issues about the U.S. tax system.

First off, let's start with what Americans know about the tax system. The survey revealed that only one of three registered voters said that they had heard the term "progressive taxes" and knew what it meant (that figure has probably increased during this campaign). However, while a majority of Americans didn't know the terminology, most (70%) did understand that people who make more are taxed at a higher rate than those with lower incomes.*

But how do voters feel about a tax system that redistributes wealth? Respondents were asked whether it was "the responsibility of government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and people with low incomes." 37% of registered voters strongly disagreed that this was the government's responsibility while 28% strongly agreed (the rest were fairly evenly divided between somewhat agreeing and somewhat disagreeing). Thus, on first glance, it seems like McCain's critique of income redistribution should be a successful one. But let's drill a little deeper by breaking down responses by party identification.

taxes2.PNG

While a majority of Republicans strongly disagree with the idea that the government should work to reduce income disparities, independents are far more divided on the issue. In fact, nearly as many independents strongly agree that the government should be doing this as strongly disagree. Thus, once you move beyond the Republican base, the criticizing the government's role in wealth redistribution appears to be more of a wash. And at this stage of the campaign, McCain needs to win over those independent voters to gain ground on Obama.

In fact, when the McCain campaign criticizes Obama for raising taxes (or letting tax cuts lapse, as the Obama campaign prefers to frame it) for high income Americans, they may be treading on dangerous ground. When respondents to this survey were asked whether high income Americans pay their fair share in taxes, 58% of registered voters said that they paid less than their fair share. Just 18% of registered voters said that high income Americans paid more than their fair share. As the chart below indicates, this sentiment was particularly prominent among Democrats and independents. From this perspective, it is not surprising that McCain hasn't gotten much traction by criticizing the fact that Obama wants to increase taxes for high income Americans. Most Americans, particularly those beyond the Republican base, appear to think that high income people should be shouldering more of the tax burden than they are.

taxes3.PNG

Another problem with using "Joe the Plumber" to criticize the redistribution of wealth is that this argument doesn't seem to have any particular appeal for the demographic "Joe the Plumber" is supposed to represent--working class whites. The chart below shows strong agreement/disagreement for the government's role in reducing income disparities among whites making less than $75,000 per year and those making more than $150,000 per year.

taxes4.PNG

It is clear from this figure that McCain's argument should be a big hit among white voters making more than $150,000 per year. Nearly 70% of this group strongly disagrees that the government should be reducing income disparities. However, among whites making less than $75,000 per year, the argument has much less resonance. In fact, these voters are just as likely to strongly support a tax system that reduces income disparities as they are to strongly oppose it. Likewise, 64% of these voters said that high income people do not pay their fair share in taxes. The problem for McCain becomes even more pronounced since there are about three times as many whites making less than $75,000 per year as making more than $150,000.

Thus, these data indicate that McCain hasn't gained much ground with the tax argument for two reasons. First, critiques of income redistribution and higher taxes for those in the top income brackets appear to mostly resonate with Republicans (who are already supporting McCain) and they have far less appeal for independents. Second, the argument also fails because the symbol doesn't fit the argument very well. Working class whites are just as likely to strongly favor the government's role in income redistribution as they are to oppose it and most among this group feel as though high income Americans aren't paying their fair share in taxes. Thus, "Joe the Plumber's" views on taxes are not really representative of the views of the demographic he is supposed to symbolize. Ultimately, the tax arguments made by the McCain campaign may resonate with his base, but they are doing little to help him make inroads into Obama's support among independents.

NOTE: As I was putting this post together last night, I discovered that Gallup had presented some similar findings from a recent survey. Take a look at their report, it seems entirely consistent with the findings I present here.

-------------------------------------------------

* As an interesting aside, nearly half of the 70% of respondents who knew that higher income Americans were taxed at a higher rate also said that middle income Americans pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes. Only 35% of those who understood that the tax system was progressive later said that high income Americans pay the highest percentage. This discrepancy is curious and may suggest that while the public understands that higher income Americans are supposed to pay a higher rate in theory, they may also believe that the upper class uses loopholes to avoid paying their fair share in practice. This would explain why "closing loopholes" is a point that Obama frequently returns to during tax debates.


Daily Status Update for Friday 10/31

Topics: Status Update

Is the race for president "narrowing" enough for John McCain to catch Barack Obama by Tuesday? While our national trend has closed slightly over the last two weeks and today's new polls show a whisper of a narrowing in the battleground states where the McCain campaign has increased ad spending, time is short and Obama's lead still looks daunting.

We entered 37 new polls into our database yesterday. A little less than half (16) represent updates to previous polls conducted by the same pollster in October, 11 are updates from September or earlier and 10 are first impressions. Ten of the recent tracker updates represent slight nominal improvements for Obama, 5 represent slight upticks for McCain and one showed no change in margin.

081031 new polls

The impact on our trend estimates in battleground states is also mostly random, with a slight edge to Obama: The margin on our trend estimates shifts slightly in Obama's direction in 9 states and slightly in McCain's direction in 5.

081031 trends

The trend estimates provide a small glimmer of hope for Republicans: Even though the changes in the trend estimates are generally small and possibly random in direction, they have moved slightly in McCain's direction today in four of the six states where the McCain campaign increased its media buy this week. Nielsen reports increased ad spending by the McCain campaign this week in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Of these, all but Ohio and Georgia shifted slightly red yesterday (and we had no new polls in Georgia). Still, the shift across the five states was very small: the margins narrowed by an average of just 0.3 percentage points leaving Obama still leading in these states by an average of 5.1%. At this rate of change, McCain will need more than the four remaining days to close those gaps.

Two new polls in Virginia by AllState/National Journal and Marist College both show Obama leading by 4 points, a narrower margin than the roughly eight point lead Obama has held on our trend estimate for most of this week. The new polls narrows Obama's lead on the Virginia trend estimate to 7.2 percentage points (50.9% to 43.7%), tipping the state back to the light blue "lean" Obama category. In the rank of states, Virginia is the one that looks most likely to put Obama over the total of 270 needed to win. So if McCain can somehow catch Obama nationally, Virginia remains as critical a battleground state as any in the country.

On the national trend, there has been much continuing speculation about whether the results show a "narrowing" and if so by how much. If you look at our national trend chart, we definitely show a narrower Obama margin now (5.4% as of this writing) than about a week ago. Obama's current national trend estimate now stands at 49.5%, about a point lower than his smoothed high of 50.9% a week ago, but still higher than at any point this year before October 10. McCain's current 44.1% represents a slightly less than two percentage point increase since a smoothed low of 42.2 on October 12. Also, of 7 of the 11 new national surveys yesterday show slightly narrowed margins since the previous non-overlapping sample from each pollster; only two show slight gains for Obama.


081031 new national

The obvious question is whether McCain can continue to narrow that gap enough over the next four days to catch Obama. The rate of change (roughly two points on the margin over the last two weeks) seems inadequate. Still, Obama continues to lead on every national poll and yesterdays tracking updates show no decisive shift in either direction -- 3 polls tick slightly to Obama, 2 to McCain and two show no change in margin at all.


081030b trackers


US: Obama 51, McCain 45 (Daily Kos 10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/28-30,08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 51, McCain 45


US: Obama 50, McCain 43 (Zogby 10/28-30)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/28-30,08; 1,201 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 43


US: Obama 52, McCain 41 (CBSNYT-10/25-29)

Topics: PHome

CBS News / New York Times
10/25-29/08 LV (from a sample of 1,308 RV)**
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

(CBS story, results; Times story, results)

National
Obama 52, McCain 41

** corrected


Comments are Back On


I have restored the comments function I temporarily disabled earlier this afternoon. Those who continue to post abusive or profane commentary will be banned without warning, as our time allows. If you are in doubt, please read my post from earlier today.

If the tone reverts to the out-of-control ugliness I have seen in recent weeks, we may shut the comments off altogether for the remaining days before the election.


NH: Obama 53, McCain 40 (Suffolk-10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Suffolk University
10/27-29/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Hampshire
Obama 53, McCain 40, Barr 1, Nader 1
Sen: Shaheen (D) 48, Sununu (R-i) 39, Blevens (L) 3
Gov: Lynch (D-i) 67, Kenney (R) 15, Newell (L) 2


US: Obama 52, McCain 44 (ABCPost-10/26-29)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/26-29/08; 1,327 LV, 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 52, McCain 44


Rasmussen: IN, KY, MT, NC (10/28-29)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
Mode: IVR

Indiana 10/28-29; 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 49, Obama 46

Kentucky 10/29; 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 55, Obama 43
Sen: McConnell (R-i) 51, Lunsford (D) 44

Montana 10/29; 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 50, Obama 46

North Carolina 10/29; 700 LV, 4%
Obama 50, McCain 48
Sen: Hagan (D) 52, Dole (R-i) 46, Cole (L) 1


US: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Gallup-10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/27-29/08; 2,437 LV-Expanded, 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 51, McCain 44


US: Obama 47, McCain 44 (FOX-10/28-29)

Topics: PHome

FOX News / Opinion Dynamics
10/28-29/08; 924 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(story, results)

National
Obama 47, McCain 44


Why Are The Comments Disabled?


Continue reading "Why Are The Comments Disabled? "


Why Are The Comments Disabled?

Topics: Pollster.com

So why aren't the comments working this afternoon? I temporarily disabled them. Why?

Let me explain. We have always considered it important to maintain a largely unmoderated comments section that allows for dissenting views and debate over the topics raised by each post. Under the right circumstances a community of commenters forms that will help maintain a mostly civil forum for the expression of dissent and add great value to what we post here.

In recent days, I have seen some very impressive examples of our comments section functioning exactly as it should. Last Friday, I posted a lengthy entry that discussed likely voter models. It generated many comments. Some dissented from my argument or questioned some aspect of it, some added thoughts or theories of their own. And while some disagreed with each other, the comments that I read were generally civil, respectful and connected to the topic at hand.

Monday I posted a very personal note on the passing of my father-in-law. The many comments that followed were moving and beautiful. The outpouring restored my faith in the idea of an open, mostly unmoderated comments section (and thank you, thank you to all who posted so many kind words -- it meant a great deal to my family).

And then there are the comments left on our "poll update" posts that have degenerated into something altogether different. And that is partly my fault.

We do have a basic comments policy that requires, simply, that commenters "keep the dialogue civil." It also warns that "comments that we consider abusive, profane, hateful or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable" are subject to deletion, and the reader that post such comments are subject, at our discretion, to being banned from commenting on this site.

Until this past summer, I forwarded every comment left on this site to my email inbox, and made it a policy to read (or at least skim) every comment. Occasionally, someone would post an abusive or overtly profane comment, and would delete it. A small handful of commenters were so brazen about ignoring the rules that we banned them.

Unfortunately, when the volume of comments started to exceed a hundred or more every day, I could no longer keep up with it and to be honest, at that point, things started to get out of control. We are now getting more than a thousand comments a day -- in the last week, we received more than 10,000. At that pace, given our modest resources, it is simply impossible to read every comment, much less try to monitor or police them.

And unfortunately, the level of abusive, insults and profanity has grown to an embarrassing level. Two days ago, I received a email from a father of a 2nd grader. He wanted to know if we offered a "kid friendly" version of Pollster:

[My child's] school wants to share the site with the rest of the students. The only problem is that some of your visitors can be quite cantankerous with one another in the comments sections. Is there any way to disable those on our end? Any ideas or suggestions on how the school can use your site in a way that is appropriate for young kids?

No, we do not have a way to offer child friendly version of pollster, but I do not understand why the adults who use this site and comment on it cannot find a way to act like adults. This is not a locker room and not a night club. We have a simple policy, and the adults that comment here ought to find a way to follow it or leave. The alternative is that we disable comments altogether, just as we have this afternoon.

Yesterday, a very frequent commenter posted a comment that certainly offended me, and several other readers who emailed in protest. It said, in reference to Barack Obama, "the American Public doesn't want a Jew-hating Socialist running the economy." Now while I find that comment extremely uncivil and offensive, some might see it as a contrary opinion. So I posted a comment of my own asking the commenter to explain how that remark qualifies as remotely civil and intelligent and why I should not consider it a violation of our comment policy.

He ignored my question and instead posted a series of comments this morning including this charming response to another reader on another subject: "You STUPID liberal f*ck."

I asked a second time for some explanation. I heard none. He refused to answer my question and told another reader that he has nothing to explain. As such, he is free to take his comments elsewhere. As of today, he is banned and no longer welcome to comment on Pollster.

Now I understand that a lot of obnoxious, offensive, petty name calling has been going on in our comments section for months, and that this particular commenters behavior is just par for the course. I recognize that I bear some responsibility for letting it get out of control, but while I want to clean it up, I have no interest in who said what first or why. Since it seems to be hard to get the attention of some of you, I have shut off our comments for the afternoon. I will turn comments back on in a few hours, but before I do I want to make a few things clear:

1) If you can't say it on broadcast television, please don't post it here. Is that so hard? If you can't act like an adult when you comment, please take it somewhere else. I have only banned one commenter today, but there are obviously many others who have gotten into the habit of ugly, profane rants directed at other readers. These need to stop. Today. Those who ignore this plea when the comments come back on may find themselves locked out.

2) Don't pick an a screenname that is, itself, profane or abusive of other commenters. Doing so is grounds for being banned.

3) Banned users are banned permanently. They are not permitted to return under a new screen-name. Where possible, we will take action against those who violate this rule, including contacting webmasters or postmasters at the ISPs or businesses where the comments originate.

Now I would like to promise that Eric or I could spend every moment of the next five days carefully monitoring the comments and enforcing these rules, but will obviously be impossible. So I want to make a plea to the readers that care about our comments section and want to keep it open Be a community: Help us convince the others to clean up their act. If someone says something offensive when the comments come back on, please try to convince them to apologize and stop. If some continue to flout these rules when the comments come back, then please email us to nominate those who who deserve to be banned. However --and note this well -- please follow guidelines (borrowed from the DailyKos policies for their "Hide Ratings"):

  • Do not request that we ban someone for expressing contrary opinions, so long as they do so in a civilized fashion.
  • Do not request that we ban someone you are actively having a fight with.
  • Please understand that we won't have time to respond personally to email received this week or to resolve disputes, we decide what we consider offensive and all decisions are final.

We have precious little time over the next 5 days and I have no sense of humor about the continuing abuse of this site and its readers. Shutting off comments altogether remains a real option, so please help us out.


ID: McCain 55, Obama 32 (Harstad-10/19-22)

Topics: PHome

Harstad Research (D)
10/19-22/08; 503 LV, 4.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Idaho
McCain 55, Obama 32
Sen: Risch (R) 45, LaRocco (D) 33


NatJournal: CO, FL, NC, OH, VA (10/23-27)

Topics: PHome

AllState / National Journal
10/23-27/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Colorado 409 RV, 4.9%
Obama 48, McCain 44

Florida 408 RV, 4.9%
Obama 45, McCain 44

North Carolina 402 RV, 4.9%
Obama 47, McCain 43

Ohio 404 RV, 4.9%
Obama 48, McCain 41

Virginia 404 RV, 4.9%
Obama 48, McCain 44


Marist: CO, VA (10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Marist Poll
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Colorado 10/27-28; 682 LV, 4%
Obama 51, McCain 45

Virginia 10/26-27; 671 LV, 4%
Obama 51, McCain 47


SC: McCain 53, Obama 42 (NBC-10/25-28)

Topics: PHome

NBC / PSRA
10/25-28/08; ~400 LV, 5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

South Carolina
McCain 53, Obama 42 **

** Numbers reversed, now fixed.


US: Obama 49, McCain 42 (Economist-10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

Economist /
YouGov-Polimetrix
10/25-27/08; 1,000 Adults, 4%
Mode: Internet

National
Obama 49, McCain 42


TX: McCain 51, Obama 40 (UT-10/15-22)

Topics: PHome

University of Texas-Austin
10/15-22/08; 550 RV, 4.2%
Mode: Internet **

Texas
McCain 51, Obama 40, Barr 1
Sen: Cornyn (R-i) 45, Noriega (D) 36, Yvonne Adams-Schick (L) 5

** correct


NJ: Obama 54, McCain 38 (R2K-10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Bergen Record / Research 2000
10/26-28/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey
Obama 54, McCain 38
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 56, Zimmer (R) 39


IN: Obama 46, McCain 45 (Selzer-10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Indianapolis Star / Selzer & Co
10/26-28/08; 606 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Indiana
Obama 46, McCain 45


MN: Obama 56, McCain 37 (MPR-10/24-28)

Topics: PHome

Minnesota Public Radio /
University of Minnesota-Humphrey Institute
10/24-28/08; 451 LV, 5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Minnesota
Obama 56, McCain 37


US: Obama 48, McCain 42 (Hotline 10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/27-29,08; 869 LV 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 48, McCain 42


US: Obama 51, McCain 46 (Rasmussen 10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/27-29, 08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 51, McCain 46


NBC-MasonDixon: AZ, PA, MN (10/27-28)

Topics: PHome

NBC / Mason-Dixon
10/27-28/08
Mode Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania 625 LV, 4%
Obama 47, McCain 43

Arizona 625 LV, 4%
McCain 48, Obama 44

Minnesota 625 LV, 4%
Obama 48, McCain 40


CNN/TIME: AZ, NV, NC, OH, PA (10/23-28)

Topics: PHome

CNN / TIME / ORC
10/23-28/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Arizona 807 LV, 3.5%
McCain 53, Obama 46

Nevada 684 LV, 4%
Obama 52, McCain 45

North Carolina 667 LV, 4%
Obama 52, McCain 46

Ohio 779 LV, 3.5%
Obama 51, McCain 47

Pennsylvania 768 LV, 3.5%
Obama 55, McCain 43


US: Obama 49, McCain 46 (GWU 10/23-29)

Topics: PHome

GWU/Battleground
Tarrance Group (R)/Lake Research (D)
10/23-29,08; 1,000 LV 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 46


Hidden McCain Vote?

Topics: Bradley/Wilder , National Journal

My NationalJournal.com column, which looks at specualtion over the Bradley Effect and whether the undecided vote will "break" to McCain from a different perspective. Rather than looking back and past elections and speculating on what might happen next week, I consider the empirical evidence gathered this year. The bottom line: There is little or no evidence of a hidden McCain vote.

Read the full column for details, as well as last night's entry from Charles Franklin which has more details on some statistical modeling he did with recent data from the Diageo-Hotline poll.


Morning Status Update for Thursday 10/30

Topics: Status Update

We logged 38 new surveys yesterday. Of these, 20 were updates from surveys conducted earlier in October by the same pollster, and 15 of the 20 showed nominal movement in McCain's direction, while only 4 showed nominal movement in Obama's direction. So if we focus only on the tracking updates, we some evidence of a slight narrowing at the state level.

081030 new polls

However, the most recent tracking updates do not tell the whole story. The new surveys that were not recent updates -- including eight new statewide polls from AP/Gfk -- had a net positive impact on Obama's margins on our current trend estimates in 15 of 17 battleground states.

081030 trends

The bottom line is that with only five days left until Election Day, we have Barack Obama leading by margins big enough to qualify for "lean" status in states adding up to 311 Electoral votes. Obama's support is at or very near 50 percent in all of these states (the "very near" is Ohio at 49.5%). Moreover, Obama's lead is large enough to qualify for dark blue "strong" status in states adding up to 272 Electoral Votes -- two more than needed to win.

The McCain campaign has signaled that it considers Pennsylvania crucial to a winning scenario. Without it, McCain would need to sweep all of the states we currently rate as toss-ups and all of the states currently leaning to Obama and still pick off either Virginia, Minnesota or Wisconsin. Five new surveys released there yesterday show what a difficult task that will be. The five show Obama leading by margins of 11 to 14 percentage points, with Obama's share of the vote ranging between 52% and 55%.

At the national level, the tracking surveys for the last few days do show a slight narrowing that amounts mostly to an uptick of a point or two (on average) in John McCain's support on those surveys (see last night's tracker update for more details). The table below (which shows the most recent track we have logged as compared to the previous non-overlapping sample from that pollster) reflects the same trends. Even if real, the slight trend implied by these national trackers is not steep enough to overtake Obama by Tuesday.

081030 tracker nonoverlap.png


US: Obama 50, McCain 45 (Daily Kos 10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/27-29,08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 45


US: Obama 50, McCain 43 (Zogby 10/27-29)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/27-29,08; 1,202 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 43


National Trackers: Narrowing? Not Much

Topics: Daily Trackers

Here are the daily tracking results from today. All changes are 1-2 percentage points on the margin, which is well within the usual range of sampling noise. If we use the "expanded" likely voter model for Gallup (our usual practice), we have four tracking moving slightly in McCain's direction, two in Obama's direction and two with unchanged margins. If you prefer to watch the "traditional" Gallup likely voter model, the count is 4 to 3. Once again, this looks mostly like random variation.

081029-b trackers


You see a hint of a "narrowing" when comparing today's results to those reported a week ago, and even then the difference is slight.  Consider what our national trend looks like when filtered to include just the eight national tracking surveys.  This more apples-to-apples trend shows the slight narrowing that amounts mostly to a slight rise in the McCain percentage.
 

The Eight Daily Trackers:


The trend does look a little more abrupt with the other national polls included, but that may be an artifact of the "nose" of the trend line being influenced more on some days than others by the daily trackers (which include Zogby, IBD/TIPP, Battleground and Rasmussen, the organizations showing consistently closer than average national margins).


All National Polls:


US: Obama 52, McCain 44 (ABCPost-10/25-28)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/25-28/08; 1,316 LV, 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 52, McCain 44


Rasmussen: AK, MI, MN, NM (10/28)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
Mode: IVR

Alaska 10/28; 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 57, Obama 41
Sen: Begich (D) 52, Stevens (R-i) 44, Bird (I) 3

Michigan 10/28; 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 53, McCain 43

Minnesota 10/28; 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 55, McCain 43
Sen: Coleman (R-i) 43, Franken (D) 39, Barkley (I) 14

New Mexico 10/28, 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 54, McCain 44


CNN/TIME: CO, FL, GA, MO, VA (10/23-28)

Topics: PHome

CNN / TIME / ORC
10/23-28/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Colorado 774 LV, 3.5%
Obama 53, McCain 45

Florida 747 LV, 3.5%
Obama 51, McCain 47

Georgia 690 LV, 3.5%
McCain 52, Obama 47

Missouri 825 LV, 3.5%
McCain 50, Obama 48

Virginia 721 LV, 3.5%
Obama 53, McCain 44


Undecided Voters and Racial Attitudes


PredictedVote.png

How will undecided voters break, and will racial attitudes color their votes?

We've seen an enormous amount of speculation but little evidence based on data, so let's try to tip the balance back to empirical evidence.

Thanks to the Diageo/Hotline tracking poll data, we can model individual vote choice and see what we would expect of undecided voters.

During October 3-11 our colleagues at the Diageo/Hotline poll included a racial attitude question we had previously used in the Big Ten Battleground survey in September and which NBC/Wall Street Journal used in January. That question was shown in both the earlier polls to have a statistically significant effect on vote choice, even after controlling for other political attitudes and demographics.

The question text is: "I'd like you to tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement. ... African Americans often use race as an excuse to justify wrongdoing"

58% of the total sample, and 61% of whites agree either strongly or somewhat. (For comparison, 56% of hispanics and 40% of African Americans agree strongly or somewhat.)

I model the vote choice for those who expressed a preference with a model using a variety of attitudes and demographics, including favorability to Obama and McCain, party id, marital status, kids at home, education, race, age, sex, church attendance, region and urban, suburban or rural residence. Then I added the racial attitude responses from the "black excuse" question. To check against people hiding their feelings by refusing to answer the "black excuse" question I also included a variable to capture the effect of refusal to answer.

This model produces a predicted probability of voting for McCain or Obama, including predicted probabilities for those who had said they were undecided or who refused to respond to the vote question. From this we can estimate the likely vote of undecided, and compare the estimates to the responses of those who gave a vote preference in the survey.

Bottom line: Undecided and refuse to say voters are estimated to break 50% for McCain and 50% for Obama. As even as it gets. There is no evidence here of a large bias towards McCain that is hidden within the undecided respondents.

Nor is there evidence of a pronounced racial bias among these undecided voters as compared to the public at large. Among the undecided 27% strongly agree and 32% somewhat agree on the "black excuse" item. For the public as a whole 26% and 32% give the corresponding responses.

The model does a good job predicting survey response as well. 97% of both Democratic and Republican voters are predicted by the model to vote that way. For those who say they only "lean" towards one party or the other, 77% of Democratic leaners and 80% of Republican leaners are predicted to vote as they lean. The symmetry of results here suggests that there is not a visible bias in the model estimates for either party or for intensity of preference.

Finally, what happens if we ignore racial attitude and predict vote among the undecided without it? The split is 52% Obama to 48% McCain. So at most the impact of incorporating racial attitude in the model is a rise of 2% for McCain among undecided. Given the sample sizes involved, that is well within the margin of error. And if we take out candidate favorability from the model we get estimates of 52-48 without racial attitude and 53-47 with racial attitude.

So what can we conclude? There is no evidence of a hidden support for McCain among undecided voters. They split more evenly than does the "decided" pool of respondents, who split 54-46 in this sample (Oct 3-11) but that's well within normal expectations and is a modest difference in any case.

Second, the role of racial attitude is important at the individual level, but the aggregate consequence is extremely modest. Some are moved away from Obama yet others are moved towards him. And among the undecided, the distribution of opinion on this measure of racial attitude is virtually identical to that in the population.

In a year of endless discussion about racial effects there has been far more speculation and far less data analysis than is good for us. Let's put our data on the table before continuing to opine about this subject.


Panagakis: Supersized Undecideds


Nick Panagakis is president of Market Shares Corporation, a marketing and public opinion research firm headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill.

A few weeks ago you may have seen a debate regarding voter indecision on these pages. David Moore argued that in a poll, decided voters who said there was a chance they could still change their minds before election day should be counted as undecided voters

This post is an update based on new poll data. I argued then that this wasn't indecision. I said response to the hypothetical, point-in-time "if the election were held today" question will yield some voters willing to decide on a candidate who won't rule out the possibility that some incident or disclosure, however remote, could lead them to vote otherwise which is not indecision. In other words, this is not candidate induced indecision but calendar induced because the election is still weeks away.

ABC is the only poll that follows up its ""could change mind" question with another that asks chances of doing so. See current ABC Poll numbers here. Click PDF report:

The columns show: 1. likely or registered voters would definitely vote for a candidate, 2. any chance "could change mind", which breaks down to, 3. "good chance" could change, and 4. chances "pretty unlikely" which is thisclose to no chance in h*ll.

081029np01.png

The table shows that over seven weeks, chance of mind-changing drops from 20% to 9%. Moreover, good chance of doing so drops even faster, from 8% to only 3% overall (2%-3% of Obama voters, 3%-4% of McCain voters, last three reports.). In 2004, ABC polls showed the same "good chance" trend up to a few weeks before the election.

This effect appears predictable, regardless of election, regardless of candidate or campaigns. Imagine if polls up until last week were showing undecideds 10 to 20 points higher - or still showing 9 points greater this week. Again, this not indecision between the candidates as I understand it but the understandable effect of asking how voters would vote today, the only way to characterize election contests over time. ABC tracking poll results in the days to come will continue to confirm this.


Panagakis: Comparing Job Approval Measures


Nick Panagakis is president of Market Shares Corporation, a marketing and public opinion research firm headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill.

This week our poll for the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had a job approval rating of 13% versus 71% disapproving of his performance - astonishingly low job approval. Some 16% had no opinion, which includes ambivalence. Our poll of 500 likely voters was fielded October 16-18.

But another Illinois poll found even lower numbers - an October 13th Rasmussen poll of 500 voters as reported by the Huffington Post.

Their question used a four-point scale asking respondents to "rate the way that Rod Blagojevich is performing his role as Governor". Results were: Excellent 0%; good 4%; fair 29%; poor 65%. Huffington reported individual ratings. But approval is often reported by combining the top two and bottom two scores. In this case, approval would be 4% and disapproval 94%, quite a difference from our 13%/71%. (Don't know response could be lower because of the 4-option scale or because this was an automated poll.)

Some background. In my earlier years, I conducted phone and exit polls for WBBM-TV, the owned and operated CBS station in Chicago. About a year after Jane Byrne was elected Mayor, we obtained her job approval using the four-point scale, combining the excellent to poor ratings to approve/disapprove. Byrne's late husband Jay McMullen, a former Sun-Times reporter, wrote to the station's general manager objecting to the use of that scale. So we did another poll asking both the excellent to poor rating and approve/disapprove questions.

McMullen was right. Not only was her approval score higher than excellent-good combined, but some of the "fair" raters also said "approve" when asked. Moreover, when asked reasons for rating Byrne the way they did, we got answers like "doing a pretty fair job" from those rating her both "fair" and "approve".

Turning to more current examples, two national pollsters use the four-point scale, Zogby and Harris. Harris asks "only fair" not fair. All others use the dichotomous approve/disapprove. George Bush approval ratings dating back to January 2001 appear on the Pollkatz site.

zzzmainGRAPHICS_14808_image001.gif

In the chart, Zogby polls are light gray diamonds and Harris polls dark gray diamonds. Note how often these symbols appear at the bottom of clusters of other scores, Zogby more often than Harris. The chart confirms my findings nearly three decades ago.

The four-point job rating has its supporters in the polling community. But it can be not compared with dichotomous approve/disapprove questions.


US: Obama 50, McCain 44 (Harris-10/20-27)

Topics: PHome

Harris Interactive
10/20-27/08, 1,695 LV
Mode: Internet

National
Obama 50, McCain 44, Nader 2, Barr 1


US: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Gallup-10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/26-28/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National

2,789 Registered Voters:
Obama 51, McCain 42

2,409 Likely Voters-Expanded:
Obama 51, McCain 44

2,435 Likely Voters-Traditional:
Obama 49, McCain 46


US: Obama 48, McCain 43 (Ipsos-10/23-27)

Topics: PHome

Ipsos-McClatchy
10/23-27/08; 831 LV, 3.4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 48, McCain 43


Marist: OH, PA (10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Marist Poll
10/24-26/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Ohio 661 LV, 4%
Obama 48, McCain 45

Pennsylvania 713 LV, 4%
Obama 55, McCain 41


US: Obama 49, McCain 42 (Hotline 10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/26-28,08; 870 LV 3.3.%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 42


PA: Obama 53, McCain 40 (F&M-10/21-26)

Topics: PHome

Franklin & Marshall College
10/21-26/08; Likely Voters, 4.2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 53, McCain 40


AP-Gfk: CO, FL, NV, NH, NC, OH, PA, VA (10/22-26)

Topics: PHome

AP-Gfk
10/22-26/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Colorado 626 LV, 3.9%
Obama 50, McCain 41

Florida 600 LV, 4%
Obama 45, McCain 43

Nevada 628 LV, 3.9%
Obama 52, McCain 40

New Hampshire 600 LV, 4%
Obama 55, McCain 37

North Carolina 601 LV, 4%
Obama 48, McCain 46

Ohio 607 LV, 4%
Obama 48, McCain 41

Pennsylvania 607 LV, 4%
Obama 52, McCain 40

Virginia 601 LV, 4%
Obama 49, McCain 42


Quinnipiac: FL, OH, PA (10/22-26)

Topics: PHome

Quinnipiac University
10/22-26/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida 1,435 LV, 2.6%
Obama 47, McCain 45

Ohio 1,425 LV, 2.6%
Obama 51, McCain 42

Pennsylvania 1,364 LV, 2.7%
Obama 53, McCain 41


US: Obama 50, McCain 47 (Rasmussen 10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/26-28,08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 50, McCain 47


US: Obama 49, McCain 46 (GWU 10/22-23, 26-28)

Topics: PHome

GWU/Battleground
Tarrance Group (R)/Lake Research (D)
10/22-23, 23-28,08 1000 LV 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 46


US: Obama 50, McCain 44 (Daily Kos 10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/26-28, 08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 44


Morning Status Update for Wednesday 10/29

Topics: Outliers Feature

The 24 new statewide and 10 new national surveys we logged yesterday show stability and some consolidation of Barack Obama's standing at the state level and perhaps a whisper of a narrowing in the national tracking polls.

Of the 24 new statewide polls, 8 were tracking surveys following up on earlier releases by the same pollsters earlier in the month. The pattern of change is random: 4 show slight increases for Obama, 4 show slight increases for McCain.

081029 new polls

Two new surveys show Obama leading in Nevada. Rasmussen Reports has Obama ahead by 4 (50% to 46%) and Suffolk University by 10 (50% to 40%). Both margins are bigger than our previous trend estimate for Nevada (+3.6), and they collectively increase Obama's lead on it to 4.7 points (49.7% to 45.0%), enough to nudge Nevada and its 5 electoral votes into the light blue "lean" Obama category.

In Pennsylvania, where the McCain-Palin ticket has been expending more time this week, two new automated surveys by Rasmussen and Insider Advantage both show Obama leading but by less than ten points. These two new results narrow Obama's lead on our trend estimate to 10.7%, with Obama still over 50 (52.0% to McCain's 41.3%), still enough to merit a "strong" Obama rating. Nonetheless, the 4.6 point narrowing there over the last week there represents the one significant narrowing for McCain over the last week. (Yesterday's rolling average tracking results for Pennsylvania from Muhlenberg University, added to our database too late for this update, shows Obama's support unchanged at 53% and McCain clicking up a point to 42% -- the 11 point margin on that survey is unchanged from a week ago).

In Ohio, two new polls from SurveyUSA and L.A. Times/Bloomberg show Obama leading by 4 and 9 percentage points respectively. Of ten surveys released in Ohio over the last week, 9 have given Obama leads ranging from 3 to 12 percentage points. Over the last week, Obama has gained nearly 5 points on our trend estimate there and now leads by 5.6 percentage points (49.7% to 44.1%).

Overall, yesterday's new surveys increase Obama's margins in 10 competitive states and McCain's in only 3.

081029 trends

Obama's lead on our national trend estimate has narrowed slightly over the last three days days (it now stands at 6.7 point -- 50.6% to 43.9%). However, the pattern is similar to what we saw last week, as releases by the stand-alone national surveys slowed and our daily number tends to be dominated by the tracking polls, including the four national pollsters that tend to show the closest margins (Rasmussen, IBD-TIPP, Zogby and GWU/Battleground).

Nonetheless, the individual daily trackers do suggest a hint of a narrowing in recent days. Three showed slight movement to McCain yesterday while four showed unchanged margins. Over the last week, five pollsters show slight improvement for McCain and three show slight shifts to Obama.

081029 trackers

***

A personal note: I have been offline altogether for the last 24 hours, and as such have not yet attempted to sort through the deluge of email I received yesterday. However, my family saw and was gratified by the many comments left on yesterday's post about the passing of my father-in-law, Frank Burstin. The beautiful tributes from from so many who never knew him were of great comfort. We offer our profound thanks for your kindness.


US: Obama 49, McCain 44 (Zogby 10/26-28)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/26-28, 08; 1,203 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 44


IN: McCain 47, Obama 45 (HoweyGauge-10/23-24)

Topics: PHoe

Howey/Gauge
10/23-24/08; 600 LV, 4.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Indiana
McCain 47, Obama 45
Gov: Daniels (R-i) 61, Long Thompson (D) 30


AZ: McCain 46, Obama 44 (Cronkite/Eight-10/23-26)

Topics: PHome

Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism /
Eight/KAET
10/23-26/08; 1,019 RV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Arizona
McCain 46, Obama 44


WA: Obama 56, McCain 39 (SurveyUSA-10/26-27)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
10/26-27/08; 630 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Washington
Obama 56, McCain 39
Gov: Gregoire (D-i) 50, Rossi (R) 48


Times/Bloomberg: FL, OH (10/24-27)

Topics: PHome

Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg
10/24-27/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

Florida 639 LV, 4%
Obama 50, McCain 43

Ohio 644 LV, 4%
Obama 49, McCain 40


Rasmussen: AR, NV, PA (10/27)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
10/27/08
Mode: IVR

Arkansas 500 LV, 4.5%
McCain 54, Obama 44

Nevada 700 LV, 4%
Obama 50, McCain 46

Pennsylvania 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 53, McCain 46


MS: McCain 53, Obama 45 (Rasmussen-10/27)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
10/27/08; 500 LV, 4.5%
Mode: IVR

Mississippi
McCain 53, Obama 45
Sen: Wicker (R-i) 54, Musgrove (D) 43


NBC/MasonDixon: MT, NH, NC (10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

NBC / Mason-Dixon
10/23-25/08; 625 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(source)

New Hampshire
Obama 50, McCain 39

North Carolina
Obama 47, McCain 47

Montana
McCain 48, Obama 44


US: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Gallup-10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/25-27/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
2,781 Registered Voters:
Obama 50, McCain 43

2,396 Likely Voters-Expanded:
Obama 51, McCain 44

2,439 Likely Voters-Traditional:
Obama 49, McCain 47


StrategicVision: NJ, WI (10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Strategic Vision (R)
10/24-26/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

New Jersey 800 LV, 3%
Obama 53, McCain 38
Sen: Lautenberg (D-i) 49, Zimmer (R) 41

Wisconsin 800 LV, 3%
Obama 50, McCain 41


US: Obama 50, McCain 45 (ARG-10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

American Research Group
10/25-27/08; 1,200 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50. McCain 45


US: Obama 52, McCain 38 (Pew-10/23-26)

Topics: PHome

Pew Research Center
10/23-26/08; 1,198 LV, 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 53, McCain 38


US: Obama 51, McCain 46 (Rasmussen 10/25-26)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/25-27,08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 51, McCain 46


US: Obama 49, McCain 46 (10/21-27)

Topics: PHome

GWU/Battleground
Tarrance Group (R)/Lake Research (D)
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 46


US: Obama 50, McCain 42 (Hotline 10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/25-27,08; 878 LV 3.3.%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 42


US: Obama 50, McCain 43 (Daily Kos 10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/25-27, 08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 43


US: Obama 49, McCain 45 (Zogby 10/25-27)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/25-27, 08; 1,202 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 45


Efraim


I need to go off-topic for a few moments and share a personal story:

Frank Burstin was a hero of mine. He was born Efraim Bursztynowicz in Poland in 1925. In 1941, at the age of 16, the Nazi's took him from his parents in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland and sent him to a forced labor camp. Two years later, he was transfered to the Auschwitz/Birkenau death camps and was one of only a handful "selected" for more slave labor rather than immediate death in the gas chambers. He managed to defy all odds for another two years, surviving even an infamous "death march" from Auschwitz to Mauthuasen, before being liberated by American troops on May 8, 1945. After the war, having lost his entire family, he spent time in a displaced person's camp in Italy, joined the Irgun and met his future wife before ultimately settling in New York City. He was a kind and optimistic soul who wrote poetry, loved literature, the New York Mets, a good round of golf, his family and especially his seven grandchildren.

He was also my father-in-law. Last night, he passed away at the age of 83 after a brief but brutal bout with bladder cancer. He will be sorely missed.

Why should I think about yesterday
and lose this beautiful today?
Why should I worry about a tomorrow
that may never be?
So live for today
Because yesterday will never return,
And who knows what tomorrow will be.
--Frank Burstin

*****

For some reason, the final week of the last two presidential elections has coincided with with momentous events in my family. Last time it was a joyous occasion. This time, not so much. Needless to say, my father-in-law's passing comes at a particularly challenging time. I will be offline the rest of the day, and hope to be back as time allows in a day or two.


Morning Status Update for Tuesday (10/28)

Topics: Status Update

Today's update is posting a little earlier and is slightly abbreviated (for reasons that will be clear in the next post).

We had what I believe is a new one-day record for new statewide poll releases (37), but if you are looking for evidence of "tightening" you won't find it here. Fifteen of today's polls represented updates from the same pollster from previous tracks conducted earlier in October: Eight (8) of the 15 showed a nominal shift in Obama's direction, 7 in McCain's direction and 1 showed no change in margin.

081028 new polls

The best evidence of stability in the race comes from four new surveys in Florida, four in Missouri, two in Ohio and five in Virginia that collectively leave the margins in each state within a few decimal points of where it was yesterday. Needless to say, the McCain campaign has little hope without a significant narrowing this week in states like Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Ohio.

Once again, the pattern of change is mostly random: Of 13 competitive states showing any change in margin today, seven showed slight shits to McCain and six showed slight shifts to Obama.


081028 trends

The eight daily trackers again showed mostly random movement. Of those that reported yesterday (which excluded the Battleground survey which does not interview on Friday or Saturday), three polls showed nominal shifts to McCain, two to Obama and three showed unchanged margins.

081028 trackers


Late Deciders in Recent Presidential Elections


On October 1st I noted that we weren't likely to see much movement in the polls in October. This was based on survey data from the past two campaigns that indicated that few voters tend to change their minds once they have settled on a candidate. Of course, if an October comeback was fairly unlikely, then a final week comeback is undoubtedly a longer shot.

According to this site's national trend estimate, Obama's margin is almost twice as large as the percentage of undecided voters left. Thus, at this point, McCain's only path to victory involves attracting support from voters who are currently planning to vote for Obama. This certainly isn't impossible. After all, pre-election polls ask voters which candidate they would vote for if the election were held today. Just because a respondent says they would vote for a particular candidate if the election were held today does not necessarily mean they have made a final decision on that candidate. For example, the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll indicates that 9% of respondents who have chosen a candidate say that there is a chance they could change their minds. Should this give the McCain campaign any hope?

To answer this question, I looked at exit polls from the last four presidential contests. In each year, the exit polls included a question asking respondents: "When did you finally decide who to vote for in the presidential election?" This question provides a way of capturing which voters had not completely settled on their vote choice until the last week of the campaign. The chart below plots the percentage of late deciders across the past four presidential elections.

lastweek1.PNG

Interestingly, voters appear to be settling on their vote choices earlier in recent campaigns. In 1992, one-quarter of the electorate said that they did not come to a final decision until the final week of the campaign and the figure was about 30% in 1996. However, by 2004, nearly nine in ten voters reported that they had settled on their presidential vote choice before the final week of the campaign. Whether it is because of increasingly longer campaigns or heightened polarization, the fact that voters are making their final decisions earlier in recent contests does not bode well for the McCain campaign. In short, there are fewer late deciders to win over than there were in previous years.

Nevertheless, according to the ABC News/Washington Post survey, 8% of Obama supporters say that they could still change their minds (11% of McCain supporters say the same). Is there a chance that McCain can win over those Obama supporters that still have doubts while holding on to his own soft support? Recent history suggests that such an outcome is unlikely. The chart below breaks down the vote choices made by those who said that they came to a final decision during the last week of the campaign.

lastweek2.PNG

According to the evidence from the exit polls, in every election since 1992 Democrats have fared better than Republicans among late deciders. Of course, it may be the case that in these elections Democratic support was softer than Republican support going into the final week. But in none of the last four elections did late deciders break more for the Republican candidate than for the Democrat. Once again, this pattern does not give the McCain campaign much hope.

Overall, current polling and recent history suggests that there is little hope for a final week comeback. There are fewer late deciders in recent elections than there have been in the past, a pattern that seems to be holding in this contest. Furthermore, late deciders have tended to break more for the Democratic candidate in previous elections, not the Republican. Thus, the prospect of a McCain comeback seemed quite unlikely at the beginning of October and it appears to be truly improbable now.


Monday's "Outliers"

Topics: Outliers Feature

UNC PoliSci Prof Jim Stimson has "never seen such stability" in his daily estimates of the national popular vote (via Nyhan).

Lydia Saad recalls two late comebacks and

Frank Newport finds persistently high support for McCain among highly religious white voters.

Gary Langer reports a significant drop in feelings of racial prejudice during the campaign.

Kathy Frankovic analyzes the Bradley Effect on video.

Carl Bialik has a Numbers Guy Election Reading List.

AP's Alan Fram answers questions on why polls vary.

Shankar Vendantam summarizes the Gerber-Green-Larimer research on get-out-the-vote techniques.

Greg Sargent reports on Indiana call center workers quitting in protest over calls attacking Obama.


FL: Obama 49, McCain 44 (Suffolk-10/23-26)

Topics: PHome

Suffolk University
10/23-26/08; 600 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Florida
Obama 49, McCain 44


AZ: McCain 49, Obama 41 (NAU-10/18-27)

Topics: PHome

Northern Arizona University /
University of Washington
10/18-27/08 - 600 RV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Arizona
McCain 49, Obama 41


Rasmussen: CO, FL, MO, NC, OH, VA (10/26)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen Reports
10/26/08; 1,000 LV, 3.5%
Mode: IVR
(source)

Colorado
Obama 50, McCain 46

Florida
Obama 51, McCain 47

Missouri
Obama 48, McCain 47

North Carolina
McCain 49, Obama 48

Ohio
Obama 49, McCain 45

Virginia
Obama 51, McCain 47


US: Obama 52, McCain 45 (ABCPost-10/23-26)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/23-36/08; 1,314 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC, Post)

National
Obama 52, McCain 45


OR: Obama 57, McCain 38 (SurveyUSA-10/25-26)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
10/25-26/08; 672 LV, 3.8%
Mode: IVR

Oregon
Obama 57, McCain 38
Sen: Merkley (D) 49, Smith (R-i) 42, Brownlow (C) 5


WA: Obama 55, McCain 34 (WashPoll-10/18-26)

Topics: PHome

Washington Poll
10/18-26/08; 600 RV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Washington
Obama 55, McCain 34
Gov: Gregoire (D-i) 51, Rossi (R) 45


PA: Obama 50, McCain 41 (Temple-10/20-26)

Topics: PHome

Temple University
10/20-26/08; 761 LV, 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 50, McCain 41


Eight Days to Go and McCain Can't Seem to Break Through


Obama "won" the week again (that makes six in a row) for three reasons:

  1. This remains a single-issue election, and the economy (and perceptions of the economy) has worsened in the last seven days. McCain lost his voice on the economy (and voter perceptions of his ability to handle the economy deteriorated) and has never recovered.
  2. Even in a week in which Obama took two days off to visit his ailing grandmother, McCain was a virtual afterthought, garnering very little media attention when he needs it most. And when the media spotlight shifted to the GOP it was about the cost of Sarah Palin's wardrobe.
  3. As the comfort level with Obama improves so has the perception that he will win. Stories about discord and finger-pointing within the GOP and the McCain campaign are magnifying this perception.

The Economic Eclipse

Sometimes it is difficult to truly comprehend the impact of events while you are still experiencing them. That is likely what is happening today. We are in the middle of a global financial and economic crisis, the impact of which we probably will not know for several months. But one thing is clear today: the economic crisis has almost completely eclipsed this election as a national news story. Who would have thought that in a year in which we are eight days away from potentially electing the first black President of the United States of America that it would be only the second-most important news event?

With a week and a day to go before the election, as the economic crisis deepens Obama's electoral outlook improves:

  • Global stocks are plummeting because of renewed recession fears. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index was down 13% today. South Korea announced a record interest rate cut in an effort to stem the tide. Japan's Nikkei Index is down 6.5%. European shares are now at a 5 ½ year low.
  • The S&P 500 is down 25% this month, which makes October (so far) its worst month since 1938. The financial crisis is having a trickle-down effect. News reports say that General Motors and Chrysler may not make it through the end of the year.
  • Unemployment rates rose in 47 out of 50 states in the month of September (compared with last year's rates). According to the Labor Department the average jobless rate in the U.S. is 6.1%. States above six percent include the following battleground states: Nevada, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida.
  • A new Washington Post poll shows Obama up eight points in Virginia. President Bush won Virginia by nine points in 2004 and eight points in 2000. Sure, the demographics of the state have changed...but not by that much. While Virginia has not voted for a Democrat for President since 1964, we are now moving Virginia into the Obama column.
  • A new Boston Globe poll has Obama ahead 54% to 39% in New Hampshire. NH has been in Obama's column for a long time, but the apparent size of his lead is staggering and the poll's internals suggest that McCain's unfavorable rating has skyrocketed since the onset of the financial crisis. More importantly, Obama is viewed as better able to handle the financial system and the economy by more than 20 points.
Presidential Election Analysis

Here is our up-to-the-minute assessment of the state of the Presidential campaign:


  1. While McCain has stopped most of his downward slide, he still lags Obama nationally and in key states. The LCG regression analysis shows McCain behind by 7.6 points. If the current trend holds, McCain will lose the election by 8.7 points. To give you an idea of the hole McCain finds himself in, we have not seen a single reputable national poll showing McCain at or above 50% in more than a month.

    regression oct 27.png


  2. However, the gap will close because late-deciders will largely move toward McCain in the final days before the election. It is our sense that Team McCain has finally settled on a single message strategy (taxes and socialism) that will appeal to a large segment of undecided voters. An analysis of our own surveys--as well as three recent national polls--suggests that current undecided voters lean a little more male, and tend to be older and less-educated white voters from the rural Midwest. They tend to have voted for Bush in 2004. It is important to note that we do not believe that these late-deciders are going to go with McCain because of some kind of "Bradley Effect." Many of them will vote for McCain because they are ideologically aligned with him, not because of race. Finally, even if McCain wins late deciders by a 2 to 1 margin he still falls short by several points. He would have to win 80-90% of the late deciders to even have a chance at victory, and that is (obviously) extraordinarily unlikely.

  3. Obama has solidified his position on the electoral map. We now have 286 electoral votes that are either solid or lean Obama. At this point McCain not only needs to win all of the toss-up states but he also has to win some lean-Obama states like Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania or New Mexico. This too is extraordinarily unlikely.

    map oct 27.png


  4. While clearly Obama's "ground game" was a factor this year in his primary victory, we feel the importance of grassroots and organizing activities in Presidential general elections is often overstated. Furthermore, because they can't be quantified in a poll, such effects are unknowable until after the election. Having said that, it appears that Obama is absolutely killing McCain on the ground. His advantage in terms of money, staff, volunteers and outreach all points to between a 3-1 and 4-1 advantage in the battleground states.

  5. McCain's increasing unfavorable rating is a problem for him and correlates with the drop in his share of the vote. Our average of several recent national polls shows McCain with an unfavorable rating of 44%. This is nearly ten points higher than both Obama's current rating and his own average of 35% in August.

  6. Team Obama has their foot on the pedal and isn't letting up. Obama is running contrast radio and television spots in many states--including Virginia--with eight days to go. It will be interesting to tally up the number of contrast spots and rating points (negative ads) for each side when all is said and done, but it is our sense is that Obama will have painted a starker contrast with McCain (i.e. he has been more negative) and it will be part of the reason he will win.

  7. Virginia is turning out to be the paradigm battleground for both sides. In a sense, it is a microcosm of this campaign.

    Here is what McCain has going for him in VA:

    • He is using thousands of microtargeted daily robocalls and direct mail pieces that attack Obama
    • Palin has attracted huge crowds at rallies here
    • VA has been a red state for 44 years (since LBJ in 1964)

    Obama, on the other hand, has the following:

    • 49 offices--plus 23 party offices coordinating with the campaign--and 40 GOTV offices also supporting him
    • A 3-1 advantage on total spending in the state
    • 438,000 new voters registered this cycle
    • Tim Kaine and Jim Webb are very popular; additionally, the latest polling shows Mark Warner is leading his Republican opponent Jim Gilmore by approximately 30 points

      virginia oct 27.png



  8. Missouri and Ohio are close and will go down to the wire. While Obama holds slight leads in both states, McCain is within striking distance. We should expect to see both candidates in these two states in the final weekSome thoughts on these two key states:

    Ohio

    • Like MO, it's a bellwether--OH has picked the winner every year since 1960
    • Obama has a volunteer dedicated to each of 1,231 designated "neighborhoods" in the state (conversely, John Kerry completely ignored the rural parts of the state)
    • If this ends up being close, the key could be the 200,000 newly registered voters facing a legal challenge from the GOP

      ohio oct 27.png



    Missouri

    • Obama recently had 100,000 show up at rally in St. Louis
    • This was followed with 80,000 in Kansas City
    • McCain has been using micro-targeted mailings here (as in VA)
    • In perhaps most controversial mailing, the RNC sent a flier to voters in Virginia and Missouri that depicts the nose of an airplane inched next to the glass exterior of a building, warning: "Terrorists don't care who they hurt," but "Barack Obama think terrorists just need a good talking to" (when a reporter asked McCain about the ad last week, he said he "absolutely" supports it and thinks it revealed one of his opponent's shortcomings)
    • Obama has 40 offices open, at least 150 paid staffers and 2,500 neighborhood volunteers
    • Senator Claire McCaskill is popular, and also shows how Obama can obtain victory--run up the score in Kansas City and St. Louis and hold down losses in rural areas
    • The McCain campaign is virtually invisible on the ground

    missouri oct 27.png



NC: Obama 49, McCain 48 (PPP-10/15-16)

Topics: PHome

Public Policy Polling (D)
10/25-26/08; 1,038 LV, 2.8%
Mode: IVR

North Carolina
Obama 49, McCain 48, Barr 1
Sen: Hagan (D) 48, Dole (R-i) 45, Cole (L) 4


Marist: IA, NH (10/22-23)

Topics: PHome

Marist College
10/22-23/08
Mode: IVR

Iowa 645 LV, 4%
Obama 52, McCain 42

New Hampshire 655 LV, 4%
Obama 50, McCain 45


US: Obama 53, McCain 43 (Gallup-10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/24-26/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National

2,797 Registered Voters:
Obama 52, McCain 42

2,343 Likely Voters-Expanded:
Obama 53, McCain 43

2,446 Likely Voters-Traditional:
Obama 50, McCain 45


VA: Obama 52, McCain 43 (SurveyUSA-10/25-26)

Topics: PHome

SurveyUSA
10/25-26/08; 671 LV, 3.9%
Mode: IVR

Virginia
Obama 52, McCain 43
Sen: Warner (D) 63, Gilmore (R) 32, Parker (G) 1, Redpath (L) 1


VA: Obama 52, McCain 44 (WPost-10/22-25)

Topics: PHome

Washington Post
10/22-25/08; 784 LV, 3.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Virginia
Obama 52, McCain 44
Sen: Warner (D) 61, Gilmore (R) 31, Parker (G) 2, Redpath (L) 1


US: Obama 50, McCain 42 (Hotline 10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/24-26, 08; 879 LV 3.6%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 42


US: Obama 51, McCain 46 (Rasmussen 10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/24-26, 08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 51, McCain 46


US: Obama 49, McCain 46 (GWU 10/20-23, 26)

Topics: PHome

GWU/Battleground
Tarrance Group (R)/Lake Research (D)
10/20-10/23, 26,08; 1,000 LV 3.1%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 46


Morning Status Update for Monday 10/27

Topics: Status Update

All of the speculation about polls this week will center around two: Are we seeing any meaningful trends in the margins by which Barack Obama leads John McCain and which poll is coming closest to measuring the level of Obama's lead?The question of accuracy of the size of Obama's margin is difficult for us resolve with certainty, but since pollsters generally keep their methodology consistent from poll to poll, our ability to check for trends is very strong. Trends are what I concentrate on in these morning summaries, and for the last two weeks we have seen little evidence of an erosion in Barack Obama's lead. If anything Obama's position today -- in both the national and state level surveys -- is slightly better today than it was in early October.

While the polls we logged yesterday and over the weekend are relatively few in number (as compared to the coming flood for the rest of this week), today's summary is no exception. The changes indicate mostly random fluctuation in the battleground states, although we do see changes in status in two states -- Georgia and Arizona -- that few would have considered "battlegrounds" in any sense until very recently.

Here is a list of new polls logged yesterday (see yesterday's update for the Saturday releases):

081027 new polls.png

The highlights:

Two new surveys showing a deadlocked race in Missouri by Mason-Dixon and Research2000 confirm that state's status as a toss-up of toss-ups.

A new Mason-Dixon survey in Georgia, showing McCain leading by just six percentage points (49% to 43%), helped nudge Georgia into our toss-up category, at least for the moment. Two recent surveys (Insider Advantage and Democracy Corps) have shown a margin of less than two points; four more last week including the latest from Mason-Dixon show McCain leading by 5 or 6 percentage points. The combination helps narrow McCain's lead on our trend estimate to 3.8 percentage points (49.1% to 45.3%), just enough (given the smaller than average sample sizes in Georgia) to shift the state to toss-up status, at least for the moment.

In Arizona, we saw two new surveys over the weekend, one sponsored by a Democratic aligned interest group and a second conducted by non-partisan research and public relations firms. Both included Ralph Nader and Bob Barr as choices and both yielded a combined 4-5% for these third party candidates. Perhaps as a result, John McCain's margins on these two polls were surprisingly narrow (2 and 4 points).

Since these are the only two new polls in Arizona in October, and since the "nose" of our trendlines tend to be more sensitive when recent polls are sparse, they help shift Arizona from "strong" to "lean" Republican.

081027 trends

Once again, the net impact on the battleground states with new polls shows the sort of random pattern consistent with no trend in either direction. With yesterday's new polls, the trend estimates shift slightly in Obama's direction in four states and in McCain's direction in three. And as noted in last night's update on the daily national trackers, their changes yesterday were also small and mostly random.


US: Obama 50, McCain 42 (Daily Kos 10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/24-26, 08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 42


US: Obama 50, McCain 45 (Zogby 10/24-26)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/24-26, 08; 1,203 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 45


A Full Weekends Worth of "Outliers"

Topics: Outliers Feature

Concluding the TPMCafe polling discussion, George Bishop considers the business as usual of polling, Mike Traugott reacts to Bishop and Moore, and David Moore presents explains his argument that media polls "manufacture" public opinion.

Eugene Robinson worries that we're a bit too obsessed (but there's a college professor in Indiana I need to thank).

The Wall Street Journal's Ellen Gamerman has much more on our poll-watching pastime (and points to the first reader to guess which of the avid poll watchers knew me in Junior High).

Gallup reports on early voting, and the surprisingly high candidate favorable ratings.

Gary Langer blogs the ABC/Post numbers on views of divided government and ground game contacts.

Nate Silver plots a "path to a McCain victory that doesn't include Pennsylvania" (as Ben Smith puts it), but includes New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado and Virginia.

PPP compiles their numbers on first time voters.

Tom Holbrook follows up on John Sides' analysis of the Jewish vote.

Brenden Nyhan uses some spiffy charts to debunk Steve Schmidt.

Jay Cost tosses in his two cents about the different results polls are producing.

Chris Bowers sees signs of a tightening race (sorta).

Josh Marshall notices that Palin ranks third among Republicans as a choice for 2012.

Strategic Vision gets death threats.

Nielsen reports on ad buys.

Shaun Dakin's database logs all campaign robo-calls (via Ambinder).

.


Sunday's Daily Tracker Update

Topics: Daily Trackers

Another day, another collection of national daily trackers displaying mostly random change. If there has been any real shift in voter preferences over the last few days, it is not large enough to be measured consistently by these surveys.

Of the seven trackers that release results over the weekend (and using the "extended" likely voter model for Gallup that we plot on our charts), we see nominal shifts to McCain on three polls, nominal shifts to Obama on two and two with unchanged margins. If you prefer to count the Gallup traditional LV model, shift one from the Obama to the McCain column.


081026 daily-2.png

The important point is that none of these changes is big enough to be considered statistically significant on any one poll. A consistent pattern of change might be suggestive of a real trend, but none is evident here either over the last 24 hours or the last week.

In the six days week since ABC News and the Washington Post started releasing results for their daily tracking poll, Obama's average lead on these seven has varied between a low of 6.7 (on 10/20) and a high of 8.1 (yesterday). Today's average is 7.4.


PA: Obama 53, McCain 40 (Muhlenberg 10/22-26)

Topics: PHome

Muhlenberg College
10/22-26/08; 589 LV, MoE +/- 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

Pennsylvania
Obama 53, McCain 40
(10/21-25: Obama 53, McCain 41)

Survey director Chris Borick emails: "Today's release is earlier than usual due to the Phillies World Series game this evening."


US: Obama 52, McCain 45 (ABCPost-10/22-25)

Topics: PHome

ABC News / Washington Post
10/22-25/08; 1,308 likely voters, margin of error 2.5%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(ABC, Post)

National
Obama 52, McCain 45
(10/21-24: Obama 53, McCain 44)


US: Obama 47, McCain 43 (IBD/TIPP-10/21-25)

Topics: PHome

Investor's Business Daily(IBD)/TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP)
10/21-25/08, n=886 likely voters, margin of error +/- 3
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 47, McCain 43
(10/20-24: Obama 46, McCain 42)


WV: McCain 49, Obama 43 (R2K 10/22-24)

Topics: PHome

Research 2000/Daily Kos (D)
10/22-24
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

West Virginia 600 LV, 4%
McCain 49, Obama 43


AZ: McCain 44, Obama 42 (Zimmerman & Associates)

Topics: PHome

Zimmeran & Associates and Marketing Intelligence
10/16-19/08, 408 likely voters, MoE +/- 4.9

Arizona
McCain 44, Obama 42

Note: The original version of this post was based on a report by the Arizona Daily.  The press release from Marketing Intelligence and Zimmerman follows after the jump.


Continue reading "AZ: McCain 44, Obama 42 (Zimmerman & Associates)"


WI: Obama 51, McCain 44 (Rasmussen 10/23)


Rasmussen Reports
10/23
Mode: IVR

Wisconsin 500 LV, 4.5%
Obama 51, McCain 44


US: Obama 52, McCain 43 (Gallup 10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

Gallup Poll
10/23-25/08
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National

2,794 Registered Voters
Obama 51, McCain 42
(10/22-24 Obama 51, McCain 42)

2,346 Likely Voters-Expanded
Obama 52, McCain 43
(10/22-24 Obama 51, McCain 43)

2,448 Likely Voters-Traditional
Obama 50, McCain 45
(10/22-24 Obama 51, McCain 44)


Miller: What Pollsters Can Learn From Climate Modelers

Topics: Climate Modelers , Disclosure , Likely Voters , Nate Silver

Guest Pollster Clark A. Miller is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University. His post expands on a comment left on Pollster.com on Friday.

As Mark Blumenthal and Nate Silver have both noted in detail of late, the design of likely voter models can significantly impact how pollsters interpret and transform the raw data of voter samples into the topline results we see at pollster.com, fivethirtyeight.com, and other sites covering election polling. In turn, Mark and Nate observe, likely voter model design depends significantly on judgments that pollsters make about how to model the likelihood that any voter sampled will actually turn out and vote in the election. As we have all seen in the last few days, differences in how such judgments get made by different pollsters, combined with differences in the samples of voters collected by each poll, can mean the difference between a 1-point and a 14-point spread between the respective candidates for President.

A key challenge for consumers of polls - whether citizens, journalists, or politicians - is sorting out to what extent the likely voter model or the underlying raw data sample is responsible for variations in poll outcome. In fact, this sorting out of how judgments made by modelers impact model design and outputs is a general challenge in the use of science to inform policy choices, which I have studied for much of the past two decades. Judgments like this are inevitable in any scientific work, which is why policy officials turn to experts to make judgments on the basis of the best available knowledge, evidence, and theories.

One case that I have looked at in detail is the use of computer models of the Earth's climate to make predictions about whether the planet is experiencing global warming. As I'm sure most of you know, models of climate change have been viewed skeptically by many people. I believe the trials and tribulations of climate modelers - and also their approaches to addressing skepticism about their judgments - offer three useful insights for pollsters working with likely voter models.

  1. Transparency - climate models are far more complex than most polls, but climate modelers have made significant efforts to make their models transparent, in a way that many pollsters haven't. (In much the same way, computer scientists have called for the code used in voting machines to be open source.) By making their models transparent, i.e., by telling everyone the judgments they use to design their model, pollsters would enhance the capacity of other pollsters and knowledgeable consumers of polls to analyze how the models used shape the final reported polling outcome. They would also do well to publish the internal cross-tabs for their data.
  2. Sensitivity - climate modelers have also put a lot of effort into publishing the results of sensitivity analyses that test their models to see how they are impacted by embedded judgments (or assumptions). This is precisely what Gallup has done in the past week or so, in a limited fashion, with its "traditional" and "extended" LV models and its RV reporting. By conducting and publishing sensitivity analyses, Gallup has helped enhance all of our capacity to properly understand how their model responds to different assumptions regarding who can be expected to vote.
  3. Comparison - climate modelers have also taken a third step of deliberate comparisons of their models using identical input data. The purpose of such comparison is to identify where scientific judgments were responsible for variations among models, and where those variations resulted from divergent input data. Since the purpose of polling is to figure out what the data are saying, it is essential to know how different models are interpreting that data, which can only be done if we know how different models respond to the same raw samples.

The reason climate modelers have carried out this activity is to help make sure that the use of climate model outputs in policy choices was as informed as possible. This can't prevent politicians, the media, or anyone else from inappropriately interpreting the outputs of their models, but it can enable a more informed debate about what models are actually saying and, therefore, how to make sense of the underlying data. As the importance of polling grows, to elections and therefore to how we implement democracy, pollsters should want their polls to be as informative as possible to journalists, politicians, and the public. Adopting model transparency, sensitivity analyses, and systematic model comparisons could go a long way toward creating such informed conversations.


US: Obama 50, McCain 42 (Hotline 10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

Diageo/Hotline
10/23-25, 08; 878 LV 3.3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 50, McCain 42


NH: Obama 54, McCain 39 (Boston Globe/UNH-10/18-22)

Topics: PHome

The Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire Survey Center
10/18-22/2008, 725 likely voters, MoE +/-3.5%
Mode: Live survey interviewers
UNH results; Boston Globe presidential story, other races

New Hampshire
Obama 54, McCain 39

Senate: Shaheen (D) 49, Sununu (R) 36

Governor: Lynch (D) 67, Kenney (D) 17


Mason-Dixon/NBC: GA, IA, MO (10/22-23)

Topics: PHome

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research / NBC News
10/22-23/08; Likely voters, MoE +/- 4%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews
(As broadcast on Meet the Press)

Iowa
Obama 51, McCain 40

Georgia
McCain 49, Obama 43

Missouri
McCain 46, Obama 45


US: Obama 52, McCain 44 (Rasmussen 10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

Rasmussen
10/23-25, 08; 3,000 LV 2%
Mode: IVR

National
Obama 52, McCain 44


US: Obama 51, McCain 40 (Daily Kos 10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

Daily Kos (D)/Research 2000
10/23-25, 08; 1,100 LV 3%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 51, McCain 40


US: Obama 49, McCain 44 (Zogby 10/23-25)

Topics: PHome

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby
10/23-25, 08; 1,203 LV 2.9%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews

National
Obama 49, McCain 44


Morning Status Update for Sunday (10/26)


Saturday remains a relatively slow day, even with just 10 days to go until the Election. We logged 16 new surveys yesterday, 9 statewide surveys and the 7 national daily tracking polls that report results over the weekend. Although two states changed color on our map, these few polls collectively provide little evidence of a significant shift nationally.

081026 new polls.png

A new PPP poll in Virginia shows Obama leading by 9 points (52% to 43%). It marks the 15th consecutive survey this month to show Obama with a mathematical lead in Virginia and helps, helps nudge the state back to dark blue "strong" Obama status (where it had been Friday morning).. If John McCain needs Virginia to win, and virtually every analysis says he does, his 8-point deficit to Obama on our trend estimate makes that task look very daunting.

The new Ohio Newspaper Poll from the University of Cincinnatti shows Obama leading by four points (49% to 46%), only slightly lower than on our current trend estimate for Ohio (49.6% to 45.2%). The results in Ohio have been more mixed than Virginia, but of 7 of 11 polls released in the last week show Obama with a nominal lead.

081026 trends

A new Research 2000/DailyKos (D) poll in South Dakota, showing McCain leading by nine points (50% to 41%), confirms a slightly narrower McCain margin (48% to 41%) reported earlier in the week by Mason-Dixon. Convinced by the new result. our trend estimate shifts enough to Obama to move South Dakota from strong to lean McCain.

Yesterday's national daily tracker results once again look like the perfect picture of random, trendless noise: None of the likely voter releases varied by more than a single percentage point from the previous day's results. Three surveys showed nominal movement to Obama, one to McCain and four showed unchanged margins.

trackers.xlsx.png

The latest release just in this morning from Zogby might lead you to believe otherwise. "McCain gains as race continues to tighten," the headline reads. The release tells us:

The race now stands at 49.4% to 44.1% in favor of Obama. Obama led McCain by 9.5 points in yesterday's report.

"There is no question that this race continues to tighten and that McCain is finding his message again," said Pollster John Zogby. "It is after all about the economy and that is how McCain tightened it up the last time. I have said over and over again, when he focuses on extraneous issues, he screws up. In today's single day of polling, it was 49% to 46% in favor of Obama. McCain has moved his own numbers each of the three days and Obama has gone down from 54% to 50% to 49%

As regular Pollster commenter Thatcher points out via email, single day results of 54%, 50% and 49% for Obama cannot possibly average to 49.4%. What is more likely is that Obama received 54% on Wednesday's calling, 50% on Thursday and 49% on both Friday and Saturday. Those numbers would be consistent with today's numbers and would tend to explain the gradual rise and fall in Obama's margin on Zogby's poll over the last week. More important: The story here is less likely a "tightening" race than a regression to Zogby's mean after an outlier result in Obama's favor Wednesday night.

Update: Zogby's communications director Fritz Wenzel emails with a clarification.  The one-night 54% result for Obama did occur on Wednesday night:  "The 54% on Wednesday dropped off and was replaced with a 49%. that explains the drop. The rolling three-day average of a 49, 50, 49 is 49.4."


 

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