Today's Guest Pollster contribution comes from Mark DiCamillo, director of The Field Poll in California.
Having put to rest the so-called Bradley effect in this year's presidential election, we are now seeing numerous references to a so-called "Bradley effect" regarding the California vote on Proposition 8, the same sex marriage ban. The Bradley effect in the California gubernatorial election, even back in 1982 was minimal (at most 2 pts out of the 8 point error in the pre-election polls). It was a convenient theory for people to use when describing the fallibility of the pre-election polls conducted in California in that year, but a closer examination would find most of the polling errors were not due to factors relating to racial bias.
While the notion that social desirability effects could have played a role on a controversial social issue like same-sex marriage, tit s theory without any real evidence, whereas an alternate explanation of the deviation between the pre-election polls and the election outcome is far more compelling and is supported by the data.
First, a quick review of the pre-election polling done by the two leading public opinion polls in California, The Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute of California. They show the following trend:
July Field: No = +9
August PPIC: No = +14
Early Sept Field: No = +14 or +17 (depending on wording)
Mid-Sept PPIC: No = +14
Mid October PPIC: NO = +8
Late October Field: No= +5
Election outcome: Yes = +4
These data show the No side ahead by double- digit margins throughout most of the pre-television campaign stages. However, as the TV advertising hit in mid to late September, the Yes campaign ads proved to be more effective, and the polls showing the No side advantage slipping.
The movement continued into and through the final weekend of the election when the churches and various religious groups made a concerted effort to win over the support of their congregations. The evidence shows that they were successful.
When comparing the findings from The Field Poll's final pre-election survey of likely voters (n-966) to the Edison Media Research exit poll in California, the biggest differences relate to the turnout and preferences of frequent church-goers and Catholics. The Field Poll, completed one week before the election, had Catholics voting at about their registered voter population size (24% of the electorate) with voting preferences similar to those of the overall electorate, with 44% on the Yes side. However the network exit poll shows that they accounted for 30% of the CA electorate and had 64% of them voting Yes. Regular churchgoers showed a similar movement toward the Yes side. The pre-election Field Poll showed 72% of these voters voting Yes, while the exit poll showed that 84% of them voted Yes.
The same kind of phenomenon occurred when the first same-sex marriage ban was voted in California in the March 2000 election (Prop. 22), although because of the size of its victory( 61% Yes vs. 39% No) it didn't matter much back then. In that year The Field Poll's final pre-election poll, also completed about one week prior to the election, had 50% of Catholics on the Yes side, and accounting for 24% of the vote. Yet, the network exit poll conducted that year by Voter News Service showed them to account for 26% of the electorate with 62% voting Yes.
My take is that polling on issues like same-sex marriage that have a direct bearing on religious doctrine can be affected in a big way in the final weekend by last minute appeals by the clergy and religious organizations.
The 2008 exit polls suggest that most the major media pollsters missed an important part of the presidential campaign, as they either failed to measure or mostly ignored the large undecided group of voters just after the major party conventions officially nominated their candidates, and its diminishing size over the next two months.
Unlike in 2004, the 2008 election polls obtained somewhat more detail about how undecided the voters were, and the results support my argument made on pollster.com several times previously, that many voters mull over their decisions until late in the campaign period.
In the 2008 election, the exit polls show that 4 percent of voters said they made up their minds on Election Day, another 3 percent in the previous three days, and an additional 3 percent within the past week - for a total of 10 percent. That's virtually the same as the 11 percent who said they had made their decision in the past week in 2004 - with 5 percent saying the day of the election, 4 percent the previous three days, and 3 percent the past week.
More interesting, the 2008 exit polls suggest that only 60 percent of voters had decided whom to support before September, with about four in ten making up their minds after the major party conventions in August.
While it is certainly difficult for a voter to pinpoint exactly when he or she made a final decision, some pre-election polling data from this year suggests the exit poll results may be pretty good approximations. Of course, most pollsters don't measure the undecided voter directly (which they could do, by asking whom voters intend to choose on Election Day and then asking, "or haven't you made up your mind yet?"), but instead pollsters will often do so indirectly. After the hypothetical, forced choice vote question, for example, the CBS/New York Times poll sometimes asks, "Is your mind made up, or is it still too early to say for sure?" CBS reports that in mid-August 2008, about a third of all registered voters were "uncommitted" - they had either not chosen a candidate initially, or they had mentioned a candidate but then said it was still to early to say for sure if their minds were made up.
A somewhat larger undecided voter group was measured in a 1996 Gallup poll, conducted Sept. 3-5, 1996, which asked voters up front if they had made up their minds - rather than the standard "who would you vote for if the election were held today" question. In that format, 60 percent said they had made up their minds, while 39 percent said they had not, and 1 percent were unsure. Those 1996 figures are similar to what the 2008 exit poll responses suggest as well.
Below are two graphs of voter preferences. The first is based on a reconstruction from the exit poll crosstabs, which show voter preferences including the undecided vote. Of course, such a reconstruction needs to be viewed cautiously. It's difficult for people to remember exactly when they made up their minds, so at best this graph is an approximation of what voter preferences might have looked like for each month.
As you can see, this first graph shows more voters undecided than choosing either of the two major candidates before September, and it shows the decline in the undecided group over time. (Obviously, each time period on the X-axis is not proportional to the number of days in the time period, but the general pattern is obvious.)
The second graph is a reconstruction (averaging) of Gallup's daily tracking poll, using the likely voter results when available, and the registered voter results otherwise. The "last week" results are based on just four days of the week before the election, while the "last 3 days" are based on just those days from the tracking poll. I used this method to approximate the exit poll categories and provide a comparable base of analysis.
In contrast with the first graph, the second graph of the Gallup tracking poll shows no significant change in the undecided voter group from August through Election Day. In fact, Gallup's daily tracking poll, which goes back to March 2008, shows a steady 5 - 6 percent undecided group for the whole seven months - something that not even Gallup researchers can argue (with a straight face) is accurate.
If we believe that the exit polls have any validity in measuring opinion, it's hard to deny the superiority of the first graph in giving poll consumers an accurate picture of the changing electorate during the campaign. The declining size of the undecided vote over the course of the campaign is clearly an important dynamic in the campaign, regardless of whether pollsters will acknowledge it.
Now that most of the national vote has been tabulated, we can get a pretty good sense of which pollsters came closest to pegging the final popular vote. As Mark mentioned in an earlier post, several others have donethisalready, but I thought I'd create these plots for Pollster.com readers.
The final national poll results from individual pollsters are plotted below (these are the last 19 national polls listed on Pollster.com's national trend page). The pollsters represented with red dots are those that included cell phone only (CPO) respondents in their sample. The Obama vote is represented by the y-axis and the McCain vote is the x-axis (UPDATE: I've updated the plots to reflect the updated vote share of 52.5% for Obama and 46.2% for McCain). The horizontal red line is the actual vote that Obama garnered while the vertical line indicates McCain's share of the vote. The closer a poll is located to where the two red lines meet, the more accurate that poll was in predicting the final outcome.
Note that every pre-election poll plotted here underestimated McCain's support. However, the big winners wereRasmussen and Pew, both of whom estimated a 52-46% advantage for Obama. The Pew poll included CPO respondents while the Rasmussen survey did not. CNN and Ipsos/McClatchy also came quite close by estimating a 53-46% advantage for Obama (UPDATE: These polls now come just as close as the Pew/Rasmussen polls). Neither survey reached the CPO population. Indeed, the plot reveals no clear pattern with regard to the CPO issue. Polls including CPO respondents did not appear to be any more accurate than those only reaching landlines.
Before the election, I separated out the Pollster.com national trend into surveys including the CPO population and those who were only calling landlines. The plot below looks at how each of these trends performed.
The trend based on surveys including the CPO population did slightly better at estimating Obama's vote but worse at gauging McCain's support. Overall, the CPO trend was slightly further off the mark than the landline trend.
Of course, there are any number of other factors at play with these different surveys (such as different likely voter screens, weighting, etc), so we can't draw any definitive conclusions from this analysis. But there is no obvious pattern from these initial results that indicate that including CPO respondents helped improve polling accuracy.
Update: Updated to reflect changes in popular vote.
The Wall Street Journal's Numbers Guy Carl Bialik has a must-read post-election review on how the polls did and on the future of polling. Here is his bottom line:
[A]s Americans watched the news networks call states one by one for Mr. Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday night, pollsters could breathe a sigh of relief. There wasn't a single big miss in the presidential race. Most polls showed virtual ties in Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina, and none of those states was decided by more than a point. "Pollsters generally did very well," says Mark Blumenthal, a former Democratic pollster and co-founder of Pollster.com.
Zogby International polled in eight states in the last week, including six of the closest races, and missed the final margin by an average of less than two points -- as accurate as the poll aggregators such as Pollster.com.
The lopsided nature of the race helped pollsters. Just seven states were decided by fewer than five percentage points, and just 15 by fewer than 10. That contrasts with 10 and 21, respectively, in 2004, and 12 and 22 in 2000. With that many close races in the past, it was more than likely you'd have at least one polling gaffe simply because of the error introduced by random sampling. Pollsters generally underestimated Mr. Obama's support in Nevada this year, and overestimated it in Iowa. But those misfires won't be judged harshly because he won both states by comfortable margins.
Bialik also considered the performance of polling aggregation sites like ours:
The biggest winners may have been poll aggregators, who were combining disparate polls as far back as 2002, but gained new members and reached a new level of national prominence this time around. Their advantage is twofold: Their composite results may dilute the effect of any error in one poll, and their results are more expansive, including regions that no one pollster can typically afford to cover. A dozen or so Web sites combined polls to forecast the election, and just about all of them put Mr. Obama's electoral-vote total at between 338 and 393; he likely will finish with 364 or 375. (Those that also forecast congressional races generally foresaw Democratic gains.)
At least two sites -- Pollster.com and fivethirtyeight.com -- also estimated the winning margin for each state, using poll data and their own formulas. They typically missed the margin by just 2.4 and 2.3 percentage points, respectively. Each site beat each of the 10 pollsters active in at least eight states, head to head, except for Zogby.
Bialik's companion blog item also has some useful links to ongoing discussions of voter turnout:
Perhaps the most interesting variable in the contest was among the hardest to predict: Voter turnout. While the popular-vote total so far has barely cleared the 2004 turnout of 122 million, severalforecastersestimatethat, once all ballots are counted, turnout will be between 125 million and 136.6 million. [Franklin & Marshall College statistician Brian] Adams and Sam Wang, a Princeton University neuroscientist and poll watcher, forecast turnout of 133 million and 135 million, respectively. Allan Keiter, of the forecasting site 270 to Win, may also have come close.
The day after an election for a site like ours is a little like the last day of summer camp. We know many of you are checking in one last time to see how those polls did before you turn your attention elsewhere until the next big election comes around. And while all of us would love a chance to kick back, sleep in and mull the results over for a few days before pontificating about how the polls did and what lessons were learned, the reality is that some of you will have moved on by then. So I'd like to share a few quick reactions and also try to give you a sense of what we are planning for Pollster.com once the dust of the elections settles.
First, a quick reaction to how the polls did yesterday. Earlier today, Charles Franklin reviewed the performance of our trend estimates with his usual graphic flair, but I thought some would appreciate seeing my final morning status table updated with the current vote returns. Although there are a few examples of the estimates missing the mark -- mostly in states where polling was relatively sparse -- most produced margins that came very close to the final result.
In fact, by a fluke of luck, the bottom line count in the column labeled "Cum. EV" may end up being a perfect prediction of the final electoral vote count. In all but two states, the nominal leader on our final trend estimate also led in the actual vote (and that includes the 569 lead that John McCain currently holds in Nebraska's Second Congressional District). The fluke of luck is that the two exceptions, Missouri and Indiana, each have 11 electoral votes each (Charles Franklin also posted a chart today that makes a similar point about how the trend estimates predicted the electoral college vote).
Again, votes are still being counted in some states, so the numbers in the table may still change, but one thing seems unambiguous: There was no "Bradley effect" yesterday -- no hidden McCain vote lurking among the undecided. In the states that were polled most heavily, the trend estimates came remarkably close to the actual result. The undecided vote did not appear to "break" decisively toward either candidate. If anything, the undecided may have gone in Obama's direction in Pennsylvania, a state that the McCain campaign suggested was "functionally tied" on the supposition that Obama would get "what he gets" in the polls with the rest going to McCain. Our final Pennsylvania trend estimate showed Obama leading by 7.1 point (with 50.8% of the vote). Obama won Pennsylvania by a 10.3% margin, getting 54.6% of the vote.
The bottom line is that cumulatively, despite all the challenges from cell-phone only households, declining response rates and worries about likely voter models, the polls of late October provided a remarkably accurate picture of voter preferences and the outcome of the election. So our continuing obsession with public opinion polling was not misplaced.
For the next few days, we will continue to look at how the polls, pollsters and our own estimates performed yesterday. And Pollster.com is not going away after that. We have plans to use our Flash charts to display a wider variety of poll data, including Barack Obama's favorable rating and, of course, his job rating as President once he takes office. We are also looking forward to tracking what both the "basic trends" that Charles Franklin charted earlier this week and the reactions that Pollsters will gather to the initiatives of the new Obama administration. Look for new charts and new data coming soon.
Meanwhile: Let me offer a blanket "thank you" to everyone who has emailed with kind words, suggestions for improvements to the site, and especially for those who have made contributions to our "tip jar." I do intend to answer your emails personally, but it may take me a few weeks.
The New York Times has a great tool for comparing vote patterns among a few basic demographic groups going back to 1980. Here are a few patterns that stand out:
Women: Obama won women by 13% over McCain. That is the second largest gender gap since 1980 (only Clinton's 16% advantage in 1996 was larger).
Men: The national exit poll currently shows Obama with a 1% edge over McCain among men. The only other Democrat to win men since 1980 was Bill Clinton in 1992. But that was in a three-candidate race, so Obama's share of the male vote (49%) was the highest for any Democratic candidate during the last eight presidential elections.
African Americans: African Americans made up a larger share (13%) of the electorate than they had in any of the past eight presidential elections. In addition, Obama won 96% of the black vote whereas previous Democratic nominees failed to do better than 90%.
Hispanics: Hispanic voters continued a pattern that began in 2006 by renewing their strong support for Democratic candidates. Obama captured two-thirds of Hispanic voters, who made up 8% of the electorate.
Young Voters: Obama won two-thirds of the 18-29 age group. This is the fifth straight presidential election that Democrats have won the youth vote. However, Obama's margin with this group is substantially greater than any previous Democratic nominee. In fact, no candidate has won any of the standard exit poll age groups by as big a margin as Obama won the 18-29 vote in this election.
The plot shows the relationship between our pre-election trend estimate and the vote margin. These are not quite complete data but as of 8:20 AM Wednesday. But I don't expect large changes. DC is omitted because there was virtually no polling there.
Which states are which you ask? Behold:
How about quantifying the errors? Here is the distribution with descriptive statistics in the plot.
So on average we missed the margin by less than half percentage point. Most states we got within five points. And a few we missed b more than five points on the margin (or two and a half points or more on each candidate.)
We'll be doing lots more looking at poll performance and how our estimators succeeded and where they failed. But probably not before a nice restorative nap.
Here is a first look at the Electoral Vote chart for final trend estimates and actual vote. Note that the state votes are NOT final and a few are very close while others have significant count left to go. Still, we gotta look, right? States are ordered by margin. Colors for actual vote are those of the states based on final pre-election trend.
At DTW. Will try one more post before next flight!
This Guest Pollster contribution comes fromSamuel Popkin, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, and Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and Douglas Rivers, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and CEO of YouGov/Polimetrix.
John McCain was dealt a bad hand of cards and then played it poorly. His party has been in power eight years, and even in good times, third terms are never easy. On one hand, there is governing fatigue from a combination of satisfied, complacent partisans, and, on the other, sniping from embittered disappointed former supporters. If we add to the typical eighth year blues an unpopular war, soaring gas prices and the worst financial crisis in a generation, the odds would be against any candidate from the incumbent party.
It is nonetheless surprising just how Senator McCain managed to lose this election. Running against an unknown, inexperienced candidate with a foreign name and dark skin, the McCain strategy was obvious from day one: contrast the security and confidence Americans could have in a known, heroic and inspirational leader with the gamble of an inexperienced, risky choice. With a nation at war, as FDR said, you shouldn't change horses in the middle of the stream. Or as Gerald Ford said every day when making up nearly all of a thirty point deficit against Jimmy Carter in 1976, "Trust means saying what you mean and meaning what you say."
The odds were against the McCain campaign , but this is not how it should have played out. The campaign's primary strategy was to overcome the Bush-Cheney stigma by emphasizing McCain's leadership, heroic sacrifice for his country and willingness to take on both right and left to do what is right for America.
The big surprise of 2008 is that John McCain made voters nervous about himself and not about Barack Obama. Reporters and scholars will be studying the brilliance of Barack Obama and the genius of his campaign staff for many years. We focus on the declines in public regard for Senator McCain as an essential part of the Obama victory, not to denigrate Obama or his campaign. A better Republican campaign would not - in all probability - have succeeded in winning this year. A better campaign with a credible economic plan might well have saved many Republican Senators and Congressmen from defeat.
In the end, we show that voters became more comfortable with Obama and less comfortable with McCain. Suburban, middle class voters and older voters who should have belonged to McCain are voting in substantial numbers for Obama. Obama persuaded voters that his policies would be favorable to the middle class, and that he understands them. Senator McCain did far worse at selling middle class policies or generating strong excitement about his leadership. Maverick did not become synonymous with bold or strong. By the end, more people considered Obama inspiring, and bold, as well as intelligent.
This election was a rejection of McCain as well as his party. When he could talk about security and danger he held his own despite sagging support for his party and no support for the president. When he could argue that offshore drilling would hold down gas prices, he also stayed close. Once he chose Governor Palin and started to talk about the economy his ratings on traits related both to empathy and competence declined. He failed to demonstrate that he would be different from President Bush or that he understood ordinary people or that his policies would be good for the middle class.
For the past year, we have been conducting weekly surveys for The Economist using the YouGov/Polimetrix Internet panel. For this article, we have collected a time series of items that show how and where the McCain campaign failed to achieve its strategic objectives. The analyses presented here are preliminary, but, from the perspective of election day, we can start to understand how the campaign unfolded.
Download the complete report, with detailed charts and a description of the methodology.
Picking up from the previous entry. We'll try to keep the updates in reverse chronological order. All times are Eastern.
2:16 am - 11/5 [Mark] We are going to take a break for a few hours and get some sleep, so the map will not reflect any further network calls until we are awake later this morning.
11:73 [Mark] NBC Projects Obama the winner of Nevada. And with that, both Brian and I are ready to wrap up the live-blogging -- at least for this thread. Eric, Justin, Mark Lindeman and I will continue to update the map into the wee hours, and of course, we hope you will continue to leave comments.
11:33 [Brian] Young voters did not appear to make up a significantly larger share of the national electorate this year, but Obama did significantly better among 18-29 year olds compared to Kerry in 2004. Kerry won just 54% of the 18-29 year old vote while Obama won 66%.
11:17 [Mark] NBC projects Obama the winner of Florida.
11:11 [Mark] As I'm sure you all know by now, with the 11:00 projections in, all of the networks have projected Barack Obama as the president elect.
10:55 [Mark] PPP's Tom Jansen has the historic numbers for the six counties still out in North Carolina.
10:51 [Mark] Our commenters see it first: Fox calls Virginia for Obama.
10:49 [Brian] More on the changing western electorate. In Nevada, 10% of the electorate was Hispanic in 2004. This year's exit poll is showing a 50% increase with Hispanics now making up 15% of Nevada's electorate. And Nevada Hispanics are even more supportive of Obama than those in most other states as he is getting 75% of the Hispanic vote there. Are Democrats reaping the benefits of having moved Nevada up in the primary calendar, thereby leading Obama and Clinton to spend significant resources mobilizing voters there?
10:45 [Mark] I'm not sure I got this verbatim, but Republican consultant and NBC analyst Mike Murphy had the line of the night. He expressed an opinion that Florida, Virginia and possibly even North Carolina will got to Obama in the next hour based on "back of the envelope calculations done with the help of my colleague, Dr. Smirnoff."
10:27 [Mark] And speaking of our friend Chuck Todd. My Atlantic colleague Marc Ambinder also heard Todd say that "the key group was college educated whites...shifting from Bush in 2004 to ... a tie.. in 2008." Brian notices that if you use the massive exit poll compilation that Ron Brownstein put together for National Journal, you can see that the Democratic percentage of the vote "hasn't budged above 44% in any of the past 5 presidential elections and Obama has it up at 49%."
10:25 [Mark] I got distracted, but PHGrl blogged it for me: "Chuckie T. on msnbc just said they probably will not call indiana, NC & virgina without having all the votes in... no projections."
10:19 [Brian] In 2004, the electorate was 37% Democrat, 37% Republican, and 26% independent. This year, national exit polls showing 40% Democrat, 32% Republican, and 28% independent.
10:14 [Mark] Same grain of salt as below about early exit poll estimates, but note that the current estimate weighting the Montana estimates show a dead heat, with Obama +1.
10:07 [Mark] With the continuing warning that the initial estimates have been a bit optimistic for Obama in some states, note that the vote estimate used to weight the Arizona exit poll tabulations currently shows a 49-49% tie.
9:54 [Brian] In addition to the New Mexico figures I mentioned earlier, another good case in point in how the changing demographics of the West are affecting the political balance is evident in Colorado. Hispanics made up 8% of the electorate there in 2004, but the early Colorado exit polls are showing that Hispanics are 13% of the state's electorate this year.
9:47 [Mark] Listening to Chuck Todd on MSNBC who just made this point about the challenge that early voting in Florida poses for the decision desk analysts: "All of this early vote that came in early makes it difficult to model the precinct data."
9:43 [Brian] One group that Obama did not make major inroads with was white born-again Christians. In 2004, Kerry won 21% of this demographic. According to the national exit polls, Obama did just a little better, winning 25% of that vote this year.
9:37 [Mark] Our old friend Mark Lindeman, who is hard at work right now gathering the result that we are using to update the map, advises that the most recent update of the Indiana exit poll tabulation changes the underlying vote estimate from a six point Obama lead to dead even.
9:33 [Brian] How did Obama win in Ohio? First, he won 98% of the African American vote? Second, he lost whites by narrower margins than Kerry. McCain won white men by just 6%. In 2004, Bush won them by 13%. McCain won white women by just 3% while Bush won them by 10%.
9:26 [Mark] And now NBC calls Ohio for Obama. Let's say the obvious: With losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania there is no realistic path to victory for McCain.
9:21 [Mark] As PHGirl's points out, Fox just called Ohio for Obama.
9:15 [Brian] According to the early New Mexico exit polls, Hispanics make up 40% of the electorate in that state. The figure was just 32% in 2004
9:06 [Mark] Ok, I'm back now from the Washington Postchat. Need to take a minute or two to catch up.
Mark is back and will be starting a new thread now.
8:32 - [Brian] Early national exit polls indicate that Obama has won 68% of the Hispanic vote. In 2004, the exit polls showed Kerry winning just 54%.
8:36 - [Brian] The national exit polls are also suggesting an uptick in African American turnout. In 2004, African Americans comprised 11% of the electorate. That figure is up to 13% in the current national exit polls. Another point: Kerry won 88% of the black vote; Obama is winning 96% of that vote.
8:44 - [Brian] Note the exit poll margin in Mississippi: showing just a 1% edge for McCain. African Americans make up 36% of the electorate according to early exit polls (not much different from the 35% in 2004), but the exit polls are showing 99% of African Americans voting for Obama in that state. Just 17% of whites voting for Obama, but that is up slightly from 14% for Kerry in 2004.
8:53 - [Brian] Obama appears to be out-performing Kerry among every age group except those 65 and over. Kerry lost that group by 5%, the early national exit polls show Obama losing them by 10%.
9:00 - [Brian] Bush won the suburbs narrowly in 2004; the early national exit polls are suggesting Obama will win the suburbs in 2008. But more significant may be that in 2004, Bush won the voters in rural areas by 15%; this year, Obama is only losing rural voters by 6%.
Mark is back and will be starting a new thread now.
ok riddle me this again. CNN has Pennsylvania as a 15% spread and CBS has less than a 2 point spread 49-50. The CBS poll was for 1929 people. Can't find the CNN numbers but that's a big difference.
CNN's tabulation appears to be more recent than CBS-- based on 2,567 respondents (that number appears just below the "Pennsylvania" heading near the top
8:25 [Brian] It looks like late deciders broke evenly. According to the national exit poll data, 10% made up their mind at some point during the last week. Obama won this group by a margin of 51-46%.
8:22 [Mark] Major points (and thanks) to Thatcher:
To everyone - save bandwidth - if you want to see the updates on the Election Map ... don't refresh the whole page .... just go to the drop down menu and selection "Election Night 2008" again ... that way the only thing that gets refreshed is the flash application - save the bandwidth of Pollster - we don't want a crash tonight.
8:19 [Brian] The early Pennsylvania exit polls are showing that Obama is matching Kerry's support in Pittsburgh and exceeding his support in every other region of the state. No wonder the networks felt safe calling the state right away.
8:18 [Mark] The exit poll tabulations for Pennsylvania are weighted to a 15 point Obama lead and at two networks (NBC and ABC) called Obama the winner as the polls closed. That is the sort of margin the decision desk analysts require before they will make a projection on an exit poll alone, though on the other hand, the other networks have not called it yet.
8:07 [Brian] Early exit polls indicate that Hispanic voters in Florida are going for Obama 55-45%. In 2004, they went for Bush 56-44%.
8:03 [Mark] I really, really need a nap or a long vacation or both. Post live chat starts (for me) at 8:30. We'll do the switcheroo in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, networks call PA based on the exit polls. That requires a very, very large margin and overall confidence by the NEP analysts in their exit polls tonight.
7:57 [Mark] I'm going to be participating in a live online discussion at WashingtonPost.com for the next 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Brian is going to start up another entry and continue our live blog here. I'll be back at 8:30.
7:50 [Mark] Thatcher asks: "Will the Election Map auto update or will we need to refresh to see updates." You do need to hit refresh.
7:48 [Brian] The initial exit polls out of North Carolina are showing African Americans making up 22% of the electorate. That would actually be down from 26% in 2004. A decline in African American turnout would certainly run counter to the trend we've seen in some other states like Georgia. I wonder if the early vote may be causing some issues here?
7:35 [Brian] In Georgia, the exit polls are showing that African Americans make up 30% of the electorate, up from 25% in 2004. Obama is only pulling 25% of the white vote though. If that holds up, he would probably come up just short of winning the state.
7:31 [Mark] The map is now coloring correctly. Thanks for your patience and sorry about the confusing.
7:27 [Mark] Reader s.b. writes:
Ok riddle me this. CBS and CNN have very different exit poll results for Indiana. CNN shows obama winning and CBS shows McCAin winning??? Please explain.
As I write this, the CBS tabulation shows 1937 interviews in Indiana, while the CNN tabulation shows 2,336. The CNN numbers represent a more recent update. Keep in mind that these numbers constantly update and refresh, particularly in the 30 minutes or so after the polls closes, as exit poll interviewers call in their final batch of results.
7:23 [Brian] Here are some striking party id figures from Virginia. 41% are Democrats, 32% Republicans, and 21% independents. In 2004, 35% were Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 26% independents. If those numbers hold up, that is an amazing party id shift in just four years.
7:20 [Brian] Youth vote also looks significant in Virginia, at least in the initial exit polls. 18-29 years olds are 21% of the electorate and they are breaking 62-37% for Obama. In 2004, 17% were 18-29 year olds and they went 54-46% for Kerry.
7:15 [Mark] - Yes, we know Kentucky is not lighting up red as it should. Minor bug -- we're working on it.
7:13 [Brian] Youth vote in Indiana. In 2004, 14% of Indiana voters were 18-29 years old and they broke 52-47% for Bush. In the initial Indiana exit polls, 19% of the electorate are 18-29 years old and they are breaking 65-33% for Obama.
7:08 [Mark] Numbers Guy Carl Bialik has a blog item out (quoting me among others) on what pollsters do on Election Day. It includes news that SurveyUSA is conducting telephone polls tonight in 30 states for a voter-fraud watchdog group
7:04 - [Brian] The initial national exit poll Mark just posted shows Obama winning women by 16%. This would match the size of Clinton's advantage among women in 1996--the largest gender gap a Democrat has enjoyed in a recent presidential contest.
6:52 - [Mark] MSNBC (and presumably the other networks) has posted initial tabulations from the national exit poll sample. This one deserves extra cautions: It is based on very preliminary results in the western half of the U.S. and may not include any early vote telephone interviews. And keep in mind that the national exit poll tabulations at about this time four years ago showed President Kerry with a three point lead. Having said that, the estimate that weighted those results indicates a roughly ten point Obama lead (54-44).
6:43 - [Brian] Based on early results, the electorate appears be more favorably disposed towards an activist government this year than in 2004. In 2004, respondents were 3% more likely to think the government was doing too much. So far this year, exit poll respondents are 8% more likely to think that the government should do more.
6:38 - A couple of notes on the map. Unfortunately, it appears on the front page only - we didn't have time or budget to get it to work on the little map (and the tool tip is way too big). Also, the map does not automatically refresh. You may need to occasionally reload the front page. Just keep an eye on the update time in the lower right corner. And thanks to those who emailed or commented about that odd glitch that mde the analysis column disappear. We're working on it.
6:31 - Time's Sean Gregory has a helpful piece up on how the networks use exit polls and vote returns to make their projections. Here are two especially relevant paragraphs:
At that time, the network decision makers start running the Edison/Mitofsky data through their models. Besides exit polls, these numbers also include telephone surveys of absentee and early voters from 18 key states. As the polls start closing at 7 p.m., Edison/Mitofsky also start providing the networks actual results from precincts in every state. The stations also toss the Associated Press's proprietary counts of the actual vote into the mix. Each network employs a team of statisticians and experts to analyze the numbers. Of the 14 staffers on the CBS desk, five have political science Ph.D.'s. NBC has a Google employee and physics Ph.D. on staff.
The math geeks crunch the numbers and present their recommendations to a senior staffer, who makes the final call. That decision, of course, is based on some key guidelines. NBC, for example, won't declare a winner until its models show less than 1 in 200 chance of error. And the networks won't declare a state's winner until polls in that state close. Since 2000, the networks have revamped their projection process, beefing up the qualifications of its decision-day staffers, adding more sophisticated statistical tools and instituting more dry runs. Gawiser, who was NBC's projection chief in 2000 (and still lives with the shame of that night), says the network had just three or four models in place for Bush-Gore. Now, NBC has "several hundred."
6:15 - By the way, if you are just tuning in, make sure to see my post on exit polls earlier today and why you would do best to ignore whatever leaks in the next hour. Here's another reason: Right now Drudge says "EXIT POLLS SHOW OBAMA BIG" while Gawker is showing results that say, not so much. Moral: We have no idea what we are looking at, where it comes from or what it means.
6:02 - Republican pollster Chris Wilson is blogging a post election telephone survey they are conducting and reporting as interviews come in. I do not vouch for the methodology nor claim I have even read it closely, but Wilson's writes that his initial data "looks grim for McCain/Palin."
5:49 - And while I am pointing to web sites worth checking out, Swing State Project has a terrific, color coded map up that displays the closing times. A great guide to what we'll see when.
5:40 - The Page has posted some initial preliminary exit poll results broadcast by the networks that do not include any estimates of candidates. Surprisingly enough, the economy is the issues voters care about most. Marc Ambinder also has a nice summary of same.
5:20 p.m. -- Welcome to live blogging here at Pollster.com. If you haven't noticed yet, be sure to open up our front page in a separate browser tab or window. And if you have noticed, no the map isn't broken. We have added a revised Flash map to track the results and network calls. All the details are in this post. The old maps are still there (and the small version in the right column will remain in its standard format for the rest of the night).
As you may have noticed, we have inserted a new map at the top of our main page. The classic maps for President, Senate, Governor and House races are still there, just use the "map chooser" pull-down menu to see them. We will be live blogging tonight, starting a little after 5:00 Eastern Time.
Here is a quick description of the numbers in the map and where we get them.
First, we will be monitoring the five major television networks and the Associated Press and tracking the calls that each makes in the race for President. Once one network projects a state for a candidate, we will color the state light red or light blue for McCain or Obama. When all six organizations have made their projections, we will change the map to a darker shade of red or blue. States where the polls have closed, but where it is still too early or too close to call, will be colored yellow (also the color we will use in the extraordinarily unlikely event that any of the networks make a conflicting call).
To see which networks have made their projections, just point your cursor at the state to see an expanded "tool-tip" displaying that information. The tool-tip for each state will also display two important columns of data:
Pollster Trend -- The far right column will display our most recent trend estimate based on the pre-election polls. And just like our standard map, you can click on the state to display our chart for that state. See our map FAQ for more information on how we compute our trend estimates.
Est Result -- Shortly after the polls close, we hope to display the "estimated result" of the vote shares in each state culled from the network exit poll tabulations posted online (by CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC). These tabulations show the exit poll results by demographic and other subgroups (age, race, party, etc.). We will extrapolate the underlying vote estimates used to weight each table and display these in the Estimated Result column on the tool-tip.
During the course of election day and evening, the people who run the exit poll and projection operation have various estimates of the outcome in each state, estimates that gradually improve as they obtain first exit poll interviews, later the actual vote cast in random samples of precincts, and ultimately the actual vote count. When the polls close, and at two or more additional times during the night, the analysts will re-weight the tabulations based on more current and accurate estimates.
Important disclaimer: These estimates are most likely not undiluted "exit poll" results. At poll closing, the exit poll tabulations that appear online are most likely weighted to a "composite estimate" that averages the results of exit poll interviews with the averages of pre-election polls (not at all unlike the trend estimates we post here at Pollster.com). Also, as we learned during the primaries, the weighting of the cross-tabulations frequently falls far behind the up-to-the-minute estimates that network "decision desk" analysts use to call the race.
Note that we have added separate labels for the individual congressional districts of Nebraska and Maine, since these states allocate Electoral Votes partially by district and may split their electoral votes. Unfortunately, we were only able to obtain public polls for Nebraska-02, so that label is the only one of the districts that will click-thru to a chart.
National trends are fun, but states matter. Here are the trends by category of status in our stae ratings. The national mashup of state trends (gray line) is showing a last minute downturn, but that is driven almost entirely by the selection of state polls we are getting here at the end of the campaign. If we focus just on tossup and lean states (yellow line) we see recent gyrations with a small move up at the end. If we look at pure tossups (purple line) there are similar gyrations and a smaller late upturn.
Bottom line: it all comes down to the tossups in IN, FL, OH, NC, MO. And McCain must pull in Obama leading VA and PA to get to 270.
I wanted to upload some plots of these key states, but the load on our servers is making posting problematic at the moment. So check the maps for these key states.
Looking for leaked exit poll results from the Obama-McCain presidential race? Sorry to break the news, but until at least 5:00 p.m. today you are out of luck.
Following the 2004 election, when partial and misleading results leaked out at mid day, the network consortium that conducts the exit polls decided to restrict access to a small number of analysts in a "quarantine room" for most of the day. During the primaries this year, and presumably tonight as well, they release their results and vote estimates to producers and reporters at the television networks and other subscriber organizations about about 5:00 p.m. eastern time. While some of that information will no doubt leak after 5:00 p.m, anything you see before that time claiming to be an "exit poll" is probably bogus and certainly not part of the official network exit poll apparatus (Tom Webster, an employee of Edison Research, blogged some details about life inside the quarantine room just before the Super Tuesday primaries).
And while I have your attention, let me offer some advice: Ignore leaked exit polls tonight. I know, I know. How can you ignore them? Everyone wants to know as much as possible about the outcome of this election as soon as possible. But you will do youself a favor if you ignore what leaks out before the polls close, or at least try not to jump to any conclusions about the likely outcome based on what you see. Why? First, the McCain campaign is right: Historically, the leaked exit poll results have "tended to overstate the Democratic vote," and as I reported in March, and the early leaked results during the primaries tended to overstate the Obama vote as well.
Does that information help? Can we apply our own informal adjustment (Obama minus some percentage) and get an precise result? Maybe, but I would not advise it. First, you would still need to consider sampling error, which as always, will be a factor. A margin of a few percentages points means nothing on early leaked results, even if the estimate is unbiased. There is also decent possibility that no such overstatement will occur this time, that it will be smaller than in 2004 or earlier this year (or that what leaks is an already adjusted estimate -- see point #3 below). As Politicoreports this morning, new "precautions have been taken to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the exit poll data," including a concerted effort to hire older exit poll interviewers." T
Also, many readers have asked about how exit polls will handle early voting. The short answer is that they have done telephone surveys in 18 states with heavy early voting that will be combined tonight with results from interviews conducted outside polling places. The longer answer is here and here.
And finally, here are a few tips for making sense of the exit poll data you will see tonight (a slightly edited version of tips I posted on the morning of the New Hampshire primary, with a few edits):
1) An exit poll is just a survey. Like other surveys, it is subject to random sampling error and, as those who follow exit polls now understand, occasional problems with non-response bias. In New Hampshire (in 1992) and Arizona (in 1996)* primary election exit polls overstated support for Patrick Buchanan, probably because his more enthusiastic supporters were more willing to be interviewed (and for those tempted to hit he comment button, yes, I know that some believe those past errors suggest massive vote fraud -- I have written about that subject at great length).
2) The networks rarely "call" an election on exit poll results alone. The decision desk analysts require a very high degree of statistical confidence (at least 99.5%) before they will consider calling a winner (the ordinary "margin of error" on pre-election polls typically uses a 95% confidence level). They will also wait for actual results if the exit poll is very different from pre-election poll trends. So a single-digit margin on an exit poll is almost never sufficient to say that a particular candidate will win.
3) Watch out for "The Composite." As they have for the earlier primaries, we expect the web sites of CNN, MSNBC and CBS to post exit poll tabulations shortly after the polls close that will update as the election night wears on (we will post links and commentary here, so we hope you'll plan to check back in later tonight). Those data are weighted to whatever estimate of the outcome the analysts have greatest confidence in at any moment. By the end of the night, the tabulations will be weighted to the official count. Typically, the first waves of exit poll tabulations (including most that leak before the polls close) are weighted to something called the "Composite Estimate," a combination of the exit poll data alone and a "Prior Estimate" that is based largely on pre-election poll results. So if you look to extrapolate from the initial tabulations posted on MSNBC or CNN (as we have done here at Pollster each primary night this year), just keep in mind that in the estimate of each candidate's standing in the initial reports will likely mix exit poll and the pre-election poll estimates (not unlike the kind we report here).
Now, if you want to know what to make of the exit poll results that the networks will post live on their own sites tonight, you are in the right place. We will be live blogging tonight, and as we did in the primaries, will be reporting on the candidate estimates we can derived from the public tabulations. We also have a special Election Night map that will allow you to do side-by-side comparisons the results with our pre-election poll estimates. So please tune in again later tonight.
Update: Nate Silver has similar advice, based largely on our own Exit Poll FAQ.
I think we'll have a pretty good sense of where the night is headed after the early polls close. Of course, as Mark has warned use repeatedly, we want to be careful about reading too much into early exit polls before the weighting is adjusted to account for actual turnout and results. But here are some things to look for in a few states with early poll closings.
Indiana is a state where Obama should presumably have benefited from the protracted nomination campaign and the massive organization he has build in that state. Thus, if turnout among young adults is going to increase markedly, it should be obvious here first. According to exit polls, in 2004, 14% of the Indiana electorate was between the ages of 18-29. We have to be careful with early exit poll figures since young voters may be more enthusiastic (and, thus, more likely to show up in early exit poll results), but if that figure goes up significantly in this election, then that is probably the first evidence we will have that young voters are turning out at higher rates in this election.
Virginia may tell us more about this election than any other state. Not only does the map look very difficult for McCain if he loses Virginia (particularly if the networks can call it relatively quickly), but the demographics in Virginia can provide us with some useful insight into what may happen in other states. In 2004, exit polls indicated that African Americans made up 21% of the Virginia electorate. Will that figure improve in 2008 and, if so, by how much? What will the party id figures look like? In 2004, 39% of voters said they were Republicans compared to 35% who were Democrats. Democrats would like (and probably expect) to see those numbers flip in Virginia just as they are looking for party id gains in other high growth states like North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada.
Finally, returning to African American turnout, here is a remarkable statistic. In 2004, 834,331 African Americans voted in Georgia's presidential election. Already this year, 705,203 African Americans have voted early in that state. African Americans make up about 30% of registered voters in Georgia but in 2004 they comprised just 25% of the electorate. It appears as if we are well on our way to seeing a huge surge in African American turnout in Georgia, and when the polls close there at 7pm, we should have a pretty good sense of whether African Americans will make up 30% or more of the electorate in the state. If so, there is a reasonable chance that Obama can win Georgia and that a landslide may be in the offing. To do this, he needs to perform slightly better among whites than Kerry did. According to exit polls, Kerry won just 23% of the white vote in 2004; Obama would need 27-30% of the white vote to capitalize on the high turnout among blacks (or he would need Bob Barr to peel away a significant share of McCain's support). This is still a bit of a long shot, but Georgia has one of the first poll closings, so it will give us something to look for during the 7pm-8pm hour.
This update is going to be a little bit abbreviated, as I'm off to C-SPAN for an interview that will air between 8:45 and 9:30 eastern time. While a few more final polls will probably straggle in later this morning, we have seen what should be 99% of the final round of polls and our statewide estimates are not likely to change appreciably.
In the last 24 hours 23 logged a record 90 new statewide surveys, including the 50 statewide internet panel surveys released last night from (interests disclosed) our sponsor and parent company, YouGovPolimetrix. For the sake of a reasonably sized table, if nothing else, I have omitted the YouGov/Polimetrix state surveys from the table below, but they are now included in all of our charts and statewide estimates.
Thirty-one (31) of the new statewide surveys were tracking polls that updated results released previously by the same pollster since October 15. These recent trackers demonstrated no consistent trend: 11 showed nominal improvement for Obama, 14 showed nominal improvement for McCain and 6 showed no change in the margin separating the candidates.
Not suprisingly, the last round of new surveys were heavily concentrated in battleground states, including six new polls each in Florida and Ohio, four each in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Missouri and North Carolina and three new surveys in Virginia.
As is usually the case, the new polls had relatively little impact on individual trend estimates, although the nominal changes favored McCain in 15 states compared to Obama in 7.
The new surveys helped change our map classifications in two states. The six new surveys in Ohio had quite a spread -- from 7 point Obama lead on the Quinnipiac survey to 2 point McCain lead by Republican affiliated Strategic Vision -- but the four of the six showed margins of less than 2 points. Thus, the new surveys narrowed Obama's lead on our Ohio trend estimate to just over three points (49.4% to 46.3%), enough to shift the state from "lean" Obama to our toss-up classification.
The "narrowing" in Ohio looks a lot like the pattern discussed yesterday in Pennsylvania. Virtually all of the change on our trend estimate has been an increase in McCain's percentage, but Obama's numbers have remained flat and just shy of 50%.
Regular readers know that dividing line between "lean" and "toss-up" on are map is relatively arbitrary and based on a statistical formula that takes into account both the the margin and the average sample size in each state. It is worth considering that of the 13 final Ohio polls by each organization released in the last week, 10 showed Obama leading (by 2 to 9 points), 2 showed McCain leading (by 2 points on each) and 1 had a tied margin. So "toss-up" is probably too weak a characterization. Were I making a subjective assessment, I would consider Ohio leaning Obama.
Colorado also changed colors on our map this morning, from light blue "lean" to dark blue "strong" Obama. Even though the new Rasmussen poll shows Obama leading by just four points (51% to 47%), the new poll extends a trend that had been favoring Obama, and nudges Obama's Colorado margin up to to 7.6 points (51.9% to 44.3%) -- enough to shift to the strong category.
As for the national polls, most showed no evidence of a "narrowing" in McCain's favor. As compared to their most recent sample with non-overlapping field dates, 7 showed slight, nominal movement to Obama, three to McCain and two had unchanged margins. Our trend estimate ticks up to a 7.7 point advantage for Obama (51.9% to 44.2% as of this writing).
That's all for now. I'm hoping to have a more in-depth look at the state trend estimates later this morning. For now I'm off to C-SPAN -- look for me between 8:45 and 9:30. And please stay tuned to Pollster all day. We will be live blogging the results and have prepared a special election night map to display network projections and results.
First, a very personal thank you. I was surprised and deeply gratified by the response to my post a week ago about the death of my father-in-law, both in the comments and by email. I apologize for not responding to every note personally -- I am hoping to do so after the election. My wife's family has, for most of the last week, been practicing the Jewish ritual of Shiv'ah, and I have frankly struggled to balance my obligations to family and those to this site during the final, incredibly busy week for which we have prepared for the better part of two years. So your kind words have been a great comfort.
More important, those who left comments should know that without realizing it, paid your own virtual visit to the home of the Burstin family and thus did what Jews consider a great "mitzvah" (a good deed commanded by God). On Tuesday night, following the funeral, I shared my post with my wife and my brother-in-law who had been, up until then, understandably preoccupied with other matters. The immediately scrolled down to read the comments and were visibly moved by the outpouring of kindness shown by so many strangers who never knew their father. So please accept my thanks on their behalf as well (the most appropriate place to make contributions in Frank Burstin's would be the United States Holocaust Museum).
Second and more generally. We quietly achieved the milestone of a million page views about a week ago and have served over 1.2 million pages for five of the last six days. During October, we had over 23 million pages views and 1.9 million absolute unique visitors. I find that level of traffic truly mind boggling, and it is a big reason why I have been so committed to working and posting over the last week. Thank you for your confidence.
We realize that most of you are experiencing a unique, one-every-four-year obsession with polls and polling data, so we have no illusions about where the traffic will head after Wednesday, but we will still be around and have plans for aggregating, charting and analyzing public opinion more broadly as we move into a new presidential administration next year. We hope you come back and check in on us from time to time.
Meanwhile, a few "housekeeping notes." We apologize for the slow down many of you experienced this morning that seemed to peak about noon eastern time. In reaction to an unusually heavy load of traffic on our servers, our IT support staff made some changes to the way our computers are configured which appears to have eliminated most of the slow down.
Some of you also emailed to report a minor glitch affecting the charts that made the trend line appear to turn back on itself slightly in a few instances that was visible only when you focused on just the last month or two on the trend line. Our Flash developer quickly smashed the bug and we uploaded a new version of the chart program that should solve the problem (though you may need to clear your browser cache and reload the page). If you are still seeing the problem or any other glitch, please drop us an email.
Also, we quietly added a feature last week that some of you will find helpful over these last 24 hours. The main "Poll" pages for Polls on the races for President, Senate, Governor and U.S. House now feature tables showing the current trend estimates and classifications for all races, including all 107 House races for which we have data (some of which have been added too late to be included on our House map). An undocumented tip: You can easily copy and paste those tables into a spreadsheet for sorting or further manipulation.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow: We will be live blogging about the results tomorrow night and will have a special, expanded election night map with results and network calls.
And finally, a request I hope offends no one. I'm going to add the "donate" button to our front page and side bar so, if you have enjoyed this site and would be willing, you can make a contribution and help us both build a better site for the future and help me give an end of cycle bonus to Eric and others who have worked very hard over the last two years to bring you the charts and data every day. (And no, donations are not tax deductible).
Tomorrow, Barack Obama will become the first Democratic Presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to win an outright majority of the votes cast on Election Day -- and with it a sizeable majority of electoral votes -- making him the next President of the United States.
We make this projection knowing that the gap is closing both nationally and in key states; it is our sense, however, that this trend would have to continue for another 10 days for the election to swing back to McCain.
The following is our rationale for going with Obama:
The economic recession/financial meltdown dominated the headlines from mid-September to mid-October. The war in Iraq remains enormously unpopular. Bush's approval ratings are near an all-time low for modern Presidents. And the GOP brand is weak and fractured. As a result of these factors, a majority of this hugely dissatisfied electorate will be voting Democratic to change the direction of the last eight years.
October was the worst month for the stock market in 21 years. Yes, last week was an improvement, but the month of October was unkind to John McCain and the GOP. Last Thursday, the government reported that the economy contracted from July through September - the first time consumer spending had decreased in 17 years.
With this environment as a backdrop, Obama will pick the GOP lock on the electoral college by winning six states George W. Bush won in 2004--Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia--en route to an electoral vote rout.
This election was always about Obama and McCain was never able to paint him as either "unfit" or "unprepared." Nor was McCain able to give people a clear reason to vote for him.
In an ironic twist, it was Obama who defined McCain in a negative light rather than the other way around. They started by claiming that he was "confused" four months ago and then painting him as "erratic" in the last 60 days. Of course, team McCain and the candidate himself contributed to this. It will be interesting to count the gross rating points that went behind contrast ads on both sides. My guess is that the Obama campaign might win that count as well.
Terrorism and national security virtually disappeared as election issues. These two issues dominated a large part of the national dialogue in 2004 and helped give Bush his re-election victory.
New registrants, young voters and black voters are going to break with historical pattern and vote in disproportionately high numbers, giving Obama huge margins in certain states and propelling him to victory over an exhausted and disengaged GOP base.
The Democratic ground game will prove to be vastly superior to the Republican operation (money can do that).
The turnout will be between 58%-60%, which would be its highest level since 1960. If the total number of voters exceeds 130 million (meaning more than 61% of eligible voters will have voted) then the Obama win could be an electoral landslide because the Democrats have a built-in six-eight point advantage in terms of party identification.
The LCG regression vote model projects that Obama will win by six percentage points tomorrow. We project the following popular vote distribution:
Below is our regression projection line. Today's analysis produced the usual curve, which shows McCain losing by 8.6 points. However, if you look at only the last 40 days--which roughly corresponds to the first week that voters digested the impact of the financial crisis (the week of September 25th)--you begin to see more clearly the McCain descent and recent uptick. When we built a separate model for that period, it produced the green line, showing McCain losing by just 6.5 points. McCain pollster Bill McInturff is correct: there has been some movement in the last 10 days. However, it is too little and way too late.
We project that Obama will decisively win the electoral vote:
Obama 311 EVs
McCain 227 EVs
He will accomplish the above by winning the previously-mentioned Bush 2004 states as well as Pennsylvania. The following is our last updated EV projection map and some commentary on specific states:
Obama will carry three western Bush states - Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. However, it is important to note that all three were very close in 2004. Bush only won Nevada by two points and he won New Mexico by just a single point (6,000 votes). The Latino population in Nevada will tilt toward Obama and that will deliver the state. New Mexico nearly went Democrat in 2004 and it will do so this time around due to huge Obama margins in Santa Fe. The demographic shifts in Colorado made it vulnerable for the GOP even without the ideological symmetry with Obama. Colorado has been in the Obama column for a month.
McCain lost Iowa the moment he secured the GOP nomination because of his past opposition to ethanol subsidies. Bush only won the state by 10,000 votes in 2004 so it was a toss-up to begin with.
Obama will win Pennsylvania by a sizable margin. Yes, the rural vote will go to McCain, but it will not be nearly enough to compensate for the margins Obama will rack up in the Philadelphia suburbs. In 2004 Kerry won PA 51%-48%, carrying 53% of the Philadelphia suburbs. Obama will perform even better than that tomorrow.
Obama will win Virginia by four points by swamping McCain in northern VA, particularly Loudon County. He will be the first Democrat to win the state since Lyndon Johnson.
McCain is going to win Indiana. Bush won by 21 points but its proximity to Illinois and the economy have made it a toss-up. However, the GOP base has come home in the final days.
The two candidates will split the mega-battleground states of Ohio and Florida, with Obama taking the former and McCain the latter. Ohio has been hard hit by the economy and Bush only carried the state by two points in 2004. It will be close but should end up in the Obama column. Florida could really go either way but our sense is that McCain - with the help of Governor Crist and votes in the I-4 corridor - will pull out a very narrow victory.
Missouri and North Carolina will be the closest states to call but both should end up in McCain's column. Both are tough calls with several polls showing it dead even, but our sense is to go with history. In North Carolina Dole will lose but McCain should win. Missouri will give McCain a narrow win and some redemption.
Finally, here is how we see the Senate and House races:
Democrats will increase their majority status in the Senate by 8 seats to 59. We are projecting that incumbent GOP incumbent senators Smith, Stevens, Coleman, Dole and Sununu will all lose. In the House we project a 31 seat gain for Democrats.
The campaigns do the best they can under the circumstances fate has dealt them. Their campaigns may do better or worse than expected, but the basic trends provide the context of the election contest.
Congress is the favorite whipping boy, even for members of Congress. So low approval isn't shocking. But approval at 15% is. Now as low as ever since 1992.
An opportunity to throw all the bums out. But the implications for the parties have not equally matched the views on the institution as a whole. Despite being out of power for two years, Republicans in Congress remain more negatively viewed than do Democrats, despite the latter's difficulties in passing a legislative program.
That gap between the parties, despite the overall approbation of congress, explains why the Dems look to gain despite the institutional ratings.
The campaigns do the best they can under the circumstances fate has dealt them. Their campaigns may do better or worse than expected, but the basic trends provide the context of the election contest.
At the time of the 2006 election the war in Iraq was the most important problem facing the country, topping 30% and by far the dominant issue. The economy, by contrast, was under 10%. Let me repeat that: the economy was under 10%.
Improving conditions in Iraq (see previous post) started a decline in the MIP for Iraq, before views of the economy started to change. But then at the end of 2007 and start of 2008 the economy exploded as the most important problem by far. It rapidly reached the 30%+ level the war had previously held, and has now nearly doubled that to over 50%. That dominance changed the gound on which the campaign has been fought.
The war? Now under 10%.
What about perceptions of economic conditions? The Michigan Consumer Sentiment measure is the longest running estimate of how the public views the economy, and is included in the Fed's index of leading economic indicators:
The campaigns do the best they can under the circumstances fate has dealt them. Their campaigns may do better or worse than expected, but the basic trends provide the context of the election contest.
The public has been amazingly negative about the direction of the country for four years, but more amazing is how the trend has moved to ever more negative views without periods of increased optimism. No wonder "Change" is a winning theme this year, and one both candidates have tried to adopt.
Every morning for the last month, I have posted updates looking at poll trends. When poll methodology is standardized, polls should be good at helping discern trends, whether we are making "apples-to-apples" across among polls by a single pollster or using the regression trend lines we plot on charts. But today, more than any day of the last two years, we are focused intently on the level of support that each poll estimates for each candidate.
With that focus in mind, I have been using my NaitonalJournal.com column this month to focus on those things that might throw off polls as a "point estimate" of the outcome of the election. I have been asking, in effect, what could go wrong. This week's column attempts to wrap it all up, and consider more potential issue -- the nightmare scenario for pollsters -- that non-response bias might throw off the estimates.
Given the intense interest, I want to blog my own first few paragraphs:
• Will the growing number of voters reachable only by cell phone make polls less accurate? If they do, it will be in Obama's favor in polls that are not interviewing by cell phone. National pollsters, such as the Pew Research Center and Gallup, have reported a slight 1-2 point increase in Obama's margin when they include interviews conducted by cell phone.
The inclusion of cell phone interviews may not be the only explanation, but our trend estimates on Pollster.com show Obama leading by a wider margin on national surveys that interview "cell phone only" voters via cell phone (+9.2 as of this writing) than those that do not (+5.4).
• Are likely voter models missing a surge of new voters? Probably not, since most surveys use screens or models that will capture new registrants or newly energized voters if they express strong interest and enthusiasm in voting. Even then, Obama is leading by wide margins even on the more traditionally restrictive likely voter models (such as those used by Gallup, Newsweek and the Pew Research Center) that include measures of past voting in their models.
• What about the so-called "Bradley Effect?" Will the undecided vote break decisively to McCain, as it did for many white Republicans running against African-American Democrats in the 1980s and early 1990s? Charles Franklin and I looked hard for current evidence of either a race-of-interviewer effect (which was present in some of those races 20 years ago) or a hidden McCain vote among currently undecided voters and found none. The final survey by the Pew Research Center did a similar sort of analysis and found a slight "break" of the remaining undecided vote to McCain, but not enough to make much dent in Obama's lead: It allocated 4 of the 7 undecided percentage points to McCain, 3 to Obama.
We do see some hints of a possible break of undecided voters to McCain in a few battlegrounds. In Pennsylvania, most of the recent movement has represented a shift from undecided to McCain. In Ohio, we notice consistently closer margins on automated telephone surveys than on surveys conducted with a live interviewer, and again the difference looks like a shift to McCain from undecided. Still, Obama is at or above 50 percent in both states and could still carry both even with a decisive "break" of undecideds to McCain
The column goes on to consider the theoretical possibility of non-response bias that would occur if those that pollsters cannot interview -- because they hang up or are unavailable when called -- have different political views than those who are interviewed. The Pew Researcher's Andrew Kohut has often speculated that non-response bias may have been at least partly responsible for some of the Bradley Effect seen in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He shares his thoughts about the potential for such an effect this week. I hope you'll read it all.
Bottom line: We may see small effects from any of these, but so far at least the potential problems are likely to be offsetting or to increase Obama's lead, not reduce it.
One more thing: In the column, I say that the most rigorous national surveys struggle to achieve response rates over 30 percent. We know this mostly from a now five year old study [PDF] by three academic survey methodologists, Jon Krosnick, Allyson Holbrook and Alison Pfent. In a paper presented at the 2003 AAPOR Conference, they analyzed response rates from 20 national surveys contributed by major news media pollsters. They found response rates (based using AAPOR's Response Rate 3 formula) that ranged from 5% to 39% with an average of 22% (see slides 8-9).
What do response rates look like for the surveys we are looking at now? Good luck finding an answer. The only pollster I have seen include an AAPOR response rate is the Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire Survey Center partnership. They reported an AAPOR #4 response rate of 32% on a recent New Hampshire polls. Would it be so hard for other pollsters to do the same?
On "All Things Considered" Sunday night, Andrew Kohut, director of the PewResearchCenter, reported the latest results of his organization's poll, showing Obama with only half the lead he had the previous week. In explaining the decline, Kohut misstated what his poll results actually showed.
According to Kohut, Obama was up by just 7 points among likely voters in the latest Pew poll, 49 percent to 42 percent, down from the 15-point lead he enjoyed the previous week. The NPR anchor asked Kohut to explain the dramatic decline in Obama's lead. "There are two things going on," he said. "First of all, John McCain has made some gains among whites and he's made some gains among independent voters. The other thing - McCain is enjoying the typical boost we get when we narrow the sample from registered voters to likely voters."
Actually, Pew has been reporting the results among likely voters since early September, and the decline in Obama's lead occurred among Pew's likely voters - which favored Obama by 53 percent to 38 percent in the Oct. 23-26 poll. The 4-point drop in Obama's support and 4-point gain in McCain's support found by the Oct. 29-Nov. 1 poll could not be attributed to narrowing the sample from registered to likely voters, given that both sets of results were based on likely voters. (See Pew's chart here.)
This misinterpretation of the data comes in the wake of Pew's previous two October polls, which were clearly outliers compared with other national polls conducted in the same time periods. Other polling organizations in mid and late October showed Obama with only half the lead that Pew did, so when Pew's last pre-election poll found only a 7-point lead, that finally brought Pew back into line with other polls.
It may be, as Kohut suggests, that McCain picked up support among whites and independent voters - though it is worth further research to explain why none of the other polls report the same dramatic change. In any case, whatever the mysterious causes of Pew's outlier results, followed by the sudden bounce back into line with other polls, this unusual fluctuation cannot be easily explained away as a change from registered to likely voters.
The campaigns do the best they can under the circumstances fate has dealt them. Their campaigns may do better or worse than expected, but the basic trends provide the context of the election contest.
In 2006 the war in Iraq was the dominant issue. Public opinion had moved from support of the war in 2003-2004 to a substantial opposition in 2006. More than 60% judged the war not worth the cost, while only 35% thought it was worth it. Those facts have not changed over the past two years. They provide the basis for Obama's initial run, and the challenge for McCain as a supporter of the war and the surge.
But in a crucial sense opinion of the war has fundamentally changed. The public no longer thinks the war is going badly. In fact the contrary is now true.
This shift says a lot about why we are talking so little about a war 60% still think not worth it, but that the surge, or at least the results, now mean the war is not a burning issue.
The campaigns do the best they can under the circumstances fate has dealt them. Their campaigns may do better or worse than expected, but the basic trends provide the context of the election contest.
The current administration is one part of those basic trends. And in this case the familiar trend for approval of President Bush dramatically demonstrates the burden faced by McCain and the opportunity provided to Obama.
Adding to the long term impact is the recent drop in approval from already poor low 30s to the current 24.2. The financial crisis (and campaign rhetoric criticizing him) has driven his approval to new lows.
During a quick respite from entering data for statewide and federal races, we've created a chart that tests California's Proposition 8 (Same-Sex Marriage Ammendment). And though California's electoral votes may not be in play this year, this ballot initiative could go either way.
If we've missed any survey testing Proposition 8 please let us know.
A next-to-last day of polling update on national forces. After a bit of a dip in the state-polls based trend, the net is flat or a little up over the last week. The black state-trend is based on all state polls, and reflect the tendency of state polls to move in the same direction as national polls (the gray line). There are complications because the state polls are far from a random sample of states, but the qualitative agreement between the two trends is striking.
States respond to national forces as well as to local conditions and local campaigns.
A little over a week ago, I posted two different national trend estimates: one for pollsters who were reaching cell-phone-only (CPO) respondents by calling cell phones in addition to landlines and one for those who were only calling landlines. At the time, Obama's lead in the trend of pollsters accounting for CPOs was about 3% wider than among those who were only calling landlines.
Here are the two different trend estimates as they stand on the even on eve of the election.
National Trend Estimate for Pollsters Reaching Cell Phone Only Respondents
National Trend Estimate for Pollsters not Reaching Cell phone Only Respondents
If anything, the difference between the two trends is greater now than it was a week and a half ago. As of Monday morning, Obama's lead was 4.2% larger in the national trend accounting for the CPO population than it was among the landline-only polls. In addition, while the landline-only polls are showing some late tightening in the national trend, the surveys reaching CPO respondents do not show any such tightening.
While many of the major national polling firms have made a great effort to include CPOs in their polling this fall, it is important to keep in mind that most of the state-level surveys fail to reach CPOs. Thus, there is a possibility that the state trend estimates may be under-estimating Obama's support. What happens if we try to account for the CPO effect in the statewide trends?
The three charts below show Obama's margin in the states currently classified as leaning or toss up on the Pollster.com map. The first chart shows the Obama margins according to the Pollster.com trend estimates as of Monday morning. The second chart makes a conservative CPO adjustment by adding 2% to Obama's margin in each state. And the third chart makes a 4% adjustment to the CPO to mimic the current difference we see between the two national trends.
If you make no CPO adjustment and give each state to the candidate currently leading, Obama wins 367 electoral votes, narrowly losing Indiana, Montana, and Georgia and narrowly winning North Carolina and Missouri. Making a conservative CPO adjustment by adding 2% to Obama's margin in each state pushes Indiana and Montana into Obama's column, giving him 381 electoral votes. Finally, if you make a 4% CPO adjustment to Obama's margins in each state (based on the differences in the national trends), Georgia suddenly shifts into Obama's column, giving him 396 electoral votes. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that the cell phone only population is not evenly distributed across the 50 states so not all states will be affected in the same way. But if you believe that there is a cell phone only effect that the state trends are not capturing, then states like Virginia, Nevada, and Ohio are not even that close right now and Obama has a good chance of winning in Indiana, Montana, Georgia, and possibly even Arizona.
Tomorrow night, we will have a better sense of how much a difference the CPO population has made in polling this race. Which of the national trends presented here comes closer to pegging the final popular vote tally? Does Obama win some of the states where the polls show him behind by a few percentage points? The bigger the Obama margin in the national vote and electoral college, the more likely that some pollsters missed some of his support by failing to reach the CPO population.
If you hoping for (or dreading) indications of a clear shift in voter preferences on the surveys released in the last 24 hours, you will not find them here this morning. As of this writing, Barack Obama's margin has clicked up very slightly on our national trend estimate, while yesterday's statewide surveys show a very slight narrowing of that margin in a few key battleground states. However, our current classification of the states remains unchanged over the weekend: We still show 311 electoral votes for Obama, 142 for McCain with seven states representing 85 electoral votes still in our toss-up category.
One big caveat: We will no doubt see a heavy pace of new statewide and national survey releases later this morning. Some will be released by the time you read this. I am planning to do another update at the end of the day to summarize the final round of polls.
At the state level, we logged in 25 new surveys yesterday, of which 15 tracked previous polls by the same pollster released since October 15. Of these 15 tracking polls, 11 showed small nominal shifts toward McCain, 2 showed nominal shifts to Obama and 2 showed no change in margin.
The impact of these new surveys on our trend estimates is very slight. We do show slight shifts on the margins of our trend estimates to McCain in more states (8) than to Obama (4) but these changes mostly represent a few tenths of a percentage point. The average shift across all of the battleground states since Sunday is just 0.1% to McCain.
Four new survey releases in Pennsylvania confirm that Obama's lead there has narrowed significantly over the last week, although four polls still show Obama leading by margins of 6 to 8 percentage points, with Obama receiving more than 50 percent of the vote. Even if the McCain campaign is counting on the typical "Bradley Effect" (in which most or all undecided voters "break" to the white candidate), Obama's 51.8% of the vote on our trend estimate indicates that McCain would still fall short.
In Virginia, two new automated surveys from SurveyUSA and PPP both show Obama leading (by margins of 4 and 6 percentage points respectively), although by slightly narrower margins for Obama since last week. Our trend estimate shows Obama leading by 6.3 points (50.6% to 44.3%), still a big enough margin to qualify as "leaning" Obama.
Three new surveys in Ohio show a similar pattern. The new automated telephone survey from PPP and the mail survey from the Columbus Dispatch shows Obama leading by 2 and 6 points respectively, while a new live interviewer survey from Mason-Dixon shows Obama trailing by two percentage points. The new surveys narrow to 5.6 points (49.9% to 44.3%), just enough to remain in the "lean" Obama category.
Ohio is one state where Obama's margin has been consistently narrower on automated IVR surveys (+1.5 percentage points as of this writing) than on live interviewer telephone surveys (+5.8 points). Here too, the difference is mostly in McCain's percentage of the vote. As of this writing, Obama receives 48.7% of the vote on our trend estimate if based only on automated surveys and 49.3% if based only on live interviewer surveys.
I will have more to say about the final round of national polls later, but for now let me underscore yesterday's warning about the danger's of cherry-picking. The pace of releases and the not entirely comparable field dates make apple-to-apple trend comparisons difficult, but the table above obviously shows shifts in McCain's direction on some surveys (as compared to their most recent sample with non-overlapping field dates), and shifts to Obama on others. With the exception of the outlying IBD/TIPP survey, Obama's leads by comfortable margins on all of these final or nearly final polls. Four years ago, George Bush held a average 1.5 percentage point lead on the final round of national polls. Obama's lead on these 12 surveys averages 7.3 points -- virtually the same margin (7.2) that he receives on our overall national trend estimate as of this writing.
Charles Franklin's graphic posted last night is probably the best way to look for late trends in the national tracking polls. As of last night, eight trackers were showing Obama's margin increasing and two decreasing, but as Franklin points out "three or four of the rises are quite small."
Another look at how undecided voters have ultimately voted. There is much speculation about this, and I've offered a bit of empirical evidence. Here is a historical look.
The National Election Study (NES) is the leading academic study of electoral behavior, originally developed at the University of Michigan but now managed by a broad board from many universities.
The NES got it's start in 1948 when, by a lucky break, the Michigan scholars conducted a foreign policy survey in the fall during the campaign. The survey was not directed to the election, but did include a vote choice item. And then Truman won, and the Michigan survey got it right. So they went back and reinterviewed everyone from the pre-election survey to try to throw light on how the vote came to and what it could help explain about the other polls that got it wrong.
In 1952, the Michigan group developed a new, specifically election oriented, survey. Once more they interviewed before the election and then reinterviewed the same respondents after the election.
Landmark books followed, most prominently The American Voter (1960) by Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller and Donald E. Stokes. (May I add that it was my honor and pleasure to serve as a research assistant to each of Campbell, Converse and Miller during my graduate career, though a good while after The American Voter!) And for our purposes, a series of National Election Studies was born, which in every presidential election since 1948 has conducted a pre-post survey, allowing us to glimpse how votes shift from Sept-Oct intentions to November action. The NES is now supported by the National Science Foundation as a public resource for the study of elections. (Google for NES for details.)
So, thanks to these pioneers in electoral research, we can see how undecided voters have divided over the years. The one caveat is that in most years the sample size of the undecided is modest, so the sampling error is large. But the data at least offer some useful lessons.
The break has ranged from 50-50 to a maximum of 23-66 (the rest going to third parties in 2000). For incumbent parties the median is 42 and for challengers 53. (Means are less different-- 43 for incumbents to 50 for challengers.)
What is not accounted for here is dropping out. I've not calculated the percent who don't vote, which is sometimes substantial. Here I wanted to focus on those who actually voted and how that split. Voters count more than non-voters in this case.
I think the most important result for this Tuesday is that the last 60 years give little support for a massively lopsided vote among undecided. At most, a 2-1 split is as good as it gets.
A look at the trends for the different trackers. Interesting difference in those that are recently rising vs those flat. There is a notable difference between some rising and others nearly flat. Eight are rising at least a little with two falling (DKos and Rasmussen) but three or four are of the rises are quite small.
10/31-11/2/08; 2,472 Likely Voters, Margin of Error +/- 2%
Mode: Live Telephone Interviews Gallup release; USA Todaystory, OnPolitics blog item
Obama 53, McCain 42
Obama 53, McCain 42
USA Todayreports: "Gallup says that when it allocates the 4% of likely voters who either had no opinion or would not choose between Obama and McCain, it estimates the candidates' current support levels would most likely be 55% for Obama, 44% for McCain."
Gallup's Jeff Jones confirms via email that this release also represents "the final Gallup Daily poll and final Gallup estimate. No more from us."
The most important thing to keep in mind about pre-election polls is that they come with random variability built-in. That mostly predictable variation -- known to most of us as "the margin of error' -- comes from interviewing what we hope amounts to a random sample of likely voters rather than everyone that casts a ballot. So, if you look at a batch of new polls every day, the law of random chance guarantees that some polls will show your favorite candidate doing a little better and some will show that candidate doing a little worse. Moreover, one poll in twenty should produce, by chance alone, an odd result that falls outside of the reported margin of error (since that statistic is typically based on a 95% level of statistical confidence).
Given the number of new polls we are now seeing every day, it is all too easy to cherry pick one poll -- or easier still, one subgroup in one poll -- that seems to indicate a sudden, seemingly dramatic change and blow it up with a misleading scare headline.
The best advice I can offer right now, especially to journalists, is to emphasize what most of the surveys are telling us consistently and ignore the odd, contrary result, especially if hyped beyond all recognition by the pollsters themselves. More often than not, that odd "finding" turns out to be meaningless noise. The pollsters that shamelessly hype their results one day, take it back the next, while issuing warnings that important blocks of voters remain "volatile." Hardly. At this point, any such volatility tells us more about shortcomings in the polls than about volatility in the voters.
Taking a broad view of all the new data before us, it is hard to see much change of any significance in the race for president except a steady increase in the percentage that report having cast an early ballot, a steady dwindling in the percentage that are still undecided or persuadable and perhaps some uptick in McCain's support in a state or two (like Pennsylvania) where his campaign is expending resources disproportionately. None of our state classifications has changed in the last 24 hours.
On to the surveys we logged on Saturday. This weekend represents a relative lull before one final polling storm to come over the next 48 hours or so. Yesterday brought 17 new statewide surveys and 10 new national polls. Nine of the state level polls represent updates of tracking polls conducted by the same pollster within the last two weeks. Of these, 5 show nominal gains for McCain, 2 for Obama and two with no change in margin. On the other hand, 6 of the 10 new national releases show nominal shifts to Obama and three show no change in margin since their last non-overlapping sample -- none show any improvement for McCain.
When we examine how the new polls affect our trend estimates in key states, the results are typically small -- less than two tenths of a percent in 4 of the 7 affected battleground states. The overall pattern is similar to that of the individual polls: 5 states show nominal ticks in McCain's direction, 3 in Obama's direction.
The one place where polls show unambiguous evidence of narrowing margin is Pennsylvania, where the McCain campaign has placed great emphasis (both in candidate visits and television advertising) over the last week. Three new releases yesterday -- including the daily tracking from Muhlenberg University -- show Obama leading by margins varying 4 to 7 points. Obama still leads on our trend estimate by almost 8 points (51.6% to 43.7%) but the margin has narrowed nearly 5 points in the last week.
What is less obvious from the table above is that most of the change in Pennsylvania involves an increase in McCain's support -- from 40.3% to 43.8% -- while Obama has lost just a single point on our estimate (from 52.8% to 51.6%).
Notice also that our trend estimate mostly ignores the surprising 16-point Obama lead on an Ohio University Poll released yesterday. Our trend line tends to ignore outliers, especially one that finished interviewing more than a week ago.
Back to the national trend. There is simply no evidence as of yesterday's releases of a late narrowing of Obama's margin. The margin on our national trend has ticked up about a point in Obama's favor over the last two days. As usual, none of the national tracking surveys showed anything approaching a statistically significant change. Five of those results showed small, nominal shifts in Obama's direction, two showed unchanged margins and only one showed a small shift in McCain's direction.
And yes, the table does include one new "tracker." Yesterday's new results from CBS News include the last two nights of interviewing from the last CBS/New York Times poll and CBS plans to release new results today and tomorrow. Of course we should see new national poll results in the next 48 hours from most of the organizations that conduct national surveys. So the tracker/non-tracker distinction is about to become largely irrelevant.