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Campaign '08 Trends vs '04 and '00 Update


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The 2008 campaign had not seen a really big move in preferences until the financial crisis hit three weeks ago today. Since that time, the Obama-McCain margin has shifted almost 9 points in Obama's favor, converting a small McCain lead into a substantial Obama advantage. 

This swing reversed the gains McCain made with the Republican convention and the week after during which he picked up about 4 points and took the lead for the first time since March. 

I wrote earlier that we had not seen a move in 2008 as large as ones we saw in both 2000 and 2004. That is no longer true of 2004, though the current run is not yet as large as the one Gore mounted in 2000. 

The Bush counter-assault in 2000, after Gore's surge, was almost eight points, and began at almost the same point in the campaign, about 57 days out. 

Voters are making up their minds at about the same rate as they did in 2000. If this year follows that pattern, look for some serious decision making over the next two weeks.
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Comments
tieguy:

It'd be terrific to see where the conventions and debates were on those graphs. It seems like those are the most likely (or at least most predictable) possible inflection points, and it'd be interesting to see what impact they've had in these past two races.

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tieguy,

For 2004 and 2008 you can see plots like these, except in units of electoral votes, over at the Princeton Election Consortium. Like the very nice plots by Charles Franklin, the EV plots show (perhaps even more clearly) when the decision points were.

In 2004, candidate game-shifting events were
7/26: Democratic convention
8/5-31: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad campaign
8/30: Republican convention
9/30: Debate #1
The other debates (10/8, 10/13) had no measurable effect.

In 2008, the game-shifting events have been
6/7: Hillary Clinton concedes
8/1: McCain's "Celebrity" ad campaign
8/25-9/5: Both conventions and McCain announcement of Palin
9/11-12: Palin on ABC News w/Charlie Gibson, McCain on "The View"
9/26: Obama-McCain debate #1

All of these events were shortly followed by swings.

Sam Wang
Princeton Election Consortium

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tieguy:

Thanks, Sam- much appreciated. Great work you're doing over there.

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nataraj:

Sam - thanks for the nice graphs.

Definitely you need to add the Wall street melt down as a game shifting event.

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Lechuguilla:

Very nice graph at top Charles. But shouldn't the gray line (Gore in 2000) end above the zero mark at actual vote? Or, did the polls in 2000 miss the prediction of a Gore win?

Lech

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Lech, that's correct. See this discussion by Andrew Tanenbaum at electoral-vote.com. He reports that in the three weeks of pre-election polling in 2000, only Zogby found a popular win for Gore. CBS found mixed results, two organizations found ties, and 11 found Bush ahead.

Sam Wang
Princeton Election Consortium

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emcee:

The most interesting thing here is that, during Obama's recent move up, the undecideds haven't moved at all. (This appears to follow a couple of weeks of many undecideds -deciding- for McCain.)

I'd expect that this means undecideds moved to Obama and McCain voters moved to undecided.

But that's purely conjecture. Any actual information on this?

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