Pollster.com

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First (Still Sleepy) Thoughts

Topics: 2008 , Trend lines

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.

081105 trends-vote

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.

 

Comments
Obama008:

Hey mark great site.

On a side note, I have a idea for your site in the in the mean time between major election years.

Sports, chances of sports teams winning, stats, and such.

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danixnyc:

Thank you. Great work and fabulous clear eyed analysis.
Maybe... You guys can do economic trends next!?

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katocat:

Thanks for all your hard work and this website.

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falcon79:

It was a great election guys.
See you all around sometime in the far future...

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LesterOR:

Mark,
Great site! It's been my morning addiction since 2006 midterms.
The predictive accuracy of your final week is terrific. My question: any theories about what caused the significant spike up for Obama in NM and NV in the actual voting? They had lots of polling (unlike ND which none of us believed was close anyway).

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Vicente Duque:

Wild Futurology :

The Republican Party is more sleepy than Mark Blumenthal

Imagine this nightmare of a Republican :

That Texas and Arizona become Democrat in Future Presidential Elections.

Sounds Foolish ???

Look how Hispanics tipped the scales in Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Just wait a few years until millions of Latino schoolchildren reach voting age in AZ and TX.

More Hispanic and Millennial Futurology here :

Milenials.com

Vicente Duque

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Gary Kilbride:

No, don't mess with sports. My basic formulas work well enough to provide a small edge. I don't need oddsmakers to move into this century.

Actually, if you want to tinker with baseball and keep the sportsbooks occupied and jumping, be my guest. That sport doesn't exist to me. When numbers are more important than the sport, that says more about the sport than the numbers.

Great effort again this year from Mark, Eric, Charles, Mark L. and everyone involved at Pollster.com. I think I need to steal some of everyone's ideas because my Excel model fluctuated between Obama +4.7 to +5.9, with a final late Monday night estimate of +5.7. I guess that wasn't too far off, and better than some pollsters who insisted 8+, but annoyingly not good enough. I never would have played McCain to win North Carolina if I knew my final number would be as high as +5.7, but I still can't believe that margin was enough to drag Indiana along.

Obama winning by 6+ with white women preferring McCain by 53-46 is truly remarkable, demonstrative of how the electorate has changed since 2000, or partially how Obama apparently changed voting tendencies of certain demographics and states by himself, wind aided by this climate.

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Steamer:

Thanks for digesting all this info for us all. It kept me sane.

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Mike:

Mark, Eric, Professor:

I wouldn't worry about some of us disappearing. This place is more addictive than nicotine (and a lot healthier).

I'm already looking forward to the analyses of the data and what what nuggets there exist yet to be found.....

I really do want to thank you for making sense. You are an asset to your profession (and the Professor's charts belong in the Louvre -- I tend towards the visual).

Okay.... I'll stop fawning.....

But "Thank you" and, whatever you do, don't stop doing it just because the election is over. I can't handle going cold turkey.... :)

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DTM:

Once again thanks to everyone at Pollster for all their work and insight.

Incidentally, my impression is that some of the final margins haven't completely stabilized, particularly nationally, so we might want to be cautious about drawing too many conclusions that depend on particularly precise numbers. But the overall conclusion that the polls taken together were reasonably accurate is already quite obvious.

And so yes, I am darned glad we won't have to hear about the Bradley Effect in 2012.

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tabel0801:

Im a 22 year old College educated male. I voted for obama and am thankful we have pretty much shifted our entire government in a different direction. But, as proud as i am to see a black man as president. I cant stand the fact this is all they are talking about. We've always said it's not a black and white thing it's just the fact no black man has had suck qualifications as Obama. Im more happy that we proved that rascism is nothing like it used to be and that it's time to move on. Black , White, doesnt matter. This has proven that there is no more excuses for anyone. Hard-work, and determination creates success. GO OBAMA GO AMERICA!!!

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George Not Bush:

NM and NV show shifts beyond the usual 3% MOE, but if you look at the poll history on the charts you see a steep shift to Obama in the last week or so.

That's pretty hard for any methodology to catch.

So yep, it's bye-bye Bradley.

And kudos to the various LV screens; no surprises except NV and NM.

Maybe the I'll retire my moniker Jan 20.

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Basil:

Mark et al,

Fantastic site and an interesting set of folks posting. Gary K, thank you too.

The summer camp analogy is apt. I don't want to go home!

Waaaah!

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RS:

@Gary Kilbride:
Obama winning by almost 6% despite losing White women by 7% can be understood by comparing Gore v Bush and Obama v McCain.
In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by ~0.5%, and barely lost White women 48-49, and lost White men by 24%. Also, Whites were 81% of voters.
In 2008, Whites were just 74% of voters - and Obama won most of the ethnicities making up the 7% difference. He also lost White men by just 16%.

That's the math, of course... Many factors, as you point out - increased turnout among African-Americans, a much bigger lead among young voters... The man, the message, and the moment.

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cinnamonape:

Breaking News: Looks like North Carolina will almost certainly go for Obama, too! Provisional ballots are breaking his way.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/55372.html

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jdunn:

Mr. Blumenthal (& Associates, posters, & fellow fanatics):
Before the party ends, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and your associates for all the hard work, that you guys have put in. The insights provided by your data, as well as the sense of community from the postings, has really added alot to my understanding of this election cycle. I had not posted prior to election day, but I was definitely here in spirit.
During times of doubt & anxiousness(& there where many)the numbers often provide hope, particularly when different media outlets attempted, in my humble opinion, to define the narrative in a less than straightfoward manner. Seeing so many people enduring the same anxieties as I, was very helpful. I live in rural Georgia, and it is all to easy to imagine myself a blue island in a vast red sea (Thank ya'll for a bridge to somewhere-by the way)
I've become way to addicted to this sight,(pun intended) but I have no inclination to go cold turkey quite yet. I'll enjoy looking at the coming analysis, and even looking back on my own on some of the trends.

Thank you again. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!!

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robkowa:

I would like to second the sentiments of jdunn. Not being a pollster and not having any professional interest other than that of being a citizen of a Western democracy, I have never posted on this site until now - although I have read it several times per day for months now, in the same addictive manner as many others, from my location in Germany.

The posts and comments provided precious insight and background political information that allowed me to filter and interpret the information provided by the mainstream media. But most importantly, this site demonstrated the power of the internet and its importance for the enduring strength of democracy - civil-minded discourse, a sense of a community of values.

Being an Obama supporter, it was also heartening to encounter so many like-minded spirits. The person who, on Friday after the last Gallup numbers came in and an Obama victory came to seem incontrovertible, posted a YouTube link to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration", made tears flow from my eyes, several days before they flowed again on Election Day.

Obama's election is of such significance not only for Americans, it's a sign of hope for the values of liberal democracy, and thus for all of mankind - it will indeed change the world in so many ways, perceptible and imperceptible, just as the man always said in his stump speeches.

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Mike Farrace:

I'd just like to add my thanks for your work. The site, commentary and links have been enormously useful and interesting. I probably won't be checking it 20 times a day, but I will definitely be looking in several times a week. Keep up the great work.

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Just to add my thanks from a British viewpoint. Perhaps you would like to apply your skills to the eastern side of the Atlantic.

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thoughtful:

Well, you have to say after all the thousands of Polls that Rasmussen was the star of the national trackers.

You have to say of the regional Pollsters Ann Selzer starred having produced Obama +3% in front of the pack in September in Indiana. She reported +1% a week before the election. Her work in the Iowa Caucuses was brilliant. Her other state polls were first class.

PPP final State polls are something that they should take great pride in.

Johncoz of the sites many contributors produced a pocket daily graph and latterly a solid forecast.

The guys, who kept on referring to the polls averages with some measure of weighting got it right - obviously Nate Silver has added to his reputation and made the gamblers amongst us a lot of money.

I think many of us, have had our lives enriched by the whole team at Pollster and the very many commentators red,blue and others for these past months.

It was regrettable that some of usdid go over the line in our passion for our point of view and it was really good to see on the return after suspension so many posters taking responsibility for language and courtesy.

To the outside world, I thought that John McCain's concession speech was hugely eloquent.

President-elect Obama has hit the ground running and I have to tell everyone that the good will from the rest of the world is beyond measurement.

There are domestic challenges for the American people and there are challenges that can only be met in concert with the rest of humankind. I believe that we have elected a President who understands that.

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RS:

@thoughtful:
I'd agree with much of what you said, but just to nitpick a little and harp on some pet peeves:
I understand this is Ras' business model, but I'd like to see internals - was he right but for the wrong reasons?
Similarly, the Selzer poll out of IN - she had Obama at 82% of African-Americans, but exit polls show 90% (another 0.6% to the margin)...

So please, pretty please - match internals rather than just top-lines.

And of course, mad props to Mark, Charles and the rest of Pollster.com for a fantastic job.

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thoughtful:

@RS

Granted the Internals but I always think there is a much larger margin error. Then there is turnout.

Rasmussen had O between 50 and 52 for 5 weeks and McCain at between 44-46 (one day at 47)and nailed it. No matter how much I do not like his lean, - class pollster. I am afraid that is where Gallup went wrong.

Its like Pollster's model above. Swap Indiana for Missouri and they nailed the EVs.

You know I had GA in my forecast and feel agrieved that more than a little untowards may have happened in the count in Georgia.

My surprise Missouri didn't go to the winner!

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RS:

@thoughtful:
I am not saying Ras is a bad pollster. Just that we need to know more about how and why they got it right.
Mark Blumenthal freely admits that their EV count was a stroke of luck. You won't find Ras or Zogby saying that.
Just sayin'...
By the way, I did go by the Pollster.com splits (a month back!), except... I picked IN over MO! I put this as Obama's upper limit and unlikely, but hey... ;-)
http://randomsubu.blogspot.com/2008/10/obamas-upper-limit.html

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GraceOerther:

After taking some time to sleep on the election, I found investigating poll results sheds interesting light on what exacting is happening, and how exciting and historical November of 2008 may be. The numbers reflect a turn towards subgroups and agendas that have been traditionally underrepresented, voting in large numbers, numbers big enough to start having greater political influence.

The people who voted for President-Elect Obama represent generally more liberal and modern agendas. African American voters (99%), voters with a post graduate education (64%), and young adults (61%) are now the base of the new American President. Likewise, women (56%), voters ages 30-49 (53%) and 50-64 (54%), and nonchurch goers(61%) also voted for President Elect Obama.*

McCain won support in the majority only from groups with a traditionally conservative agenda. Gun owners (64%), Non-Hispanic white voters (56%), voters who attend church weekly (56%), Protestants (53), voters 65 and older (54%), and men 51%). *Gallup Poll results.

These numbers show a huge significance to politics as we know it, and no, it OBVIOUSLY isn’t ALL race…
While I agree with what was commented earlier, that race should not be the only aspect discussed; I think it is still an important factor that should be examined. Americans need to recognize the election of the first African American and multi racial President as a highly significant event. I disagree with the analysis that there was “…no Bradley effect,” Obama’s numbers were less then predicted. It would be dangerous to claim this ends the American struggle for racial equality. The issues surrounding race have not gone away: education, disproportionate incarceration, poverty, drug sentencing, and other issues still exist and demand our attention. So does racism, as This American Life discussed last week. While of course, not everyone who voted for McCain is a racist, or even the majority of people, I believe we cannot claim a United States without racism yet.
Along side race, I believe this election represents a swing of the center towards the left. Barack Obama could not have won if it wasn’t for the support of the middle class, and middle-aged Americans voting Democrat alongside traditionally more progressive groups.
While interning for Obama’s campaign, I worked with a large variety of people of different races, ages, lifestyles, and even political ideology. The Obama campaign managed to bring together a diverse group of people to register people to vote, as well as find a common bond.

Along with a nearly flawless campaign execution, Obama was also helped by variety of different factors. However, what interests me the most is how this election could potentially change the current and traditional era.
Over twenty five thousand more votes were cast this year then 2004, which is largely due to Obama’s registration efforts. While young people, African Americans, and other more progressive and less represented subgroups traditionally vote Democrat, they had record numbers and power in 2008. Hopefully, this will begin to diversify and change the American power system, giving new perspectives influence and voice. As Reagan brought in the Conservative era in American politics, I believe Obama’s presidency may just define the next period.
President-Elect Barack Hussien Obama represents an important and monumental step towards many different kinds of progress. Congratulations America, we have an African American President). McCain’s concession speech advocated 2008’s significance, and called for unifying; asking the United States to quit bickering and look towards the future—although I admit I had a hard time swallowing that advice in 2004.
Clearly, I am excited and interested to see what happens, and more optimistic about politics then I’ve been in a long time, but then, I suppose I represent the idealistic, far left, college student vote.

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DTM:

Two counterpoints about Rasmussen:

(1) A lot of the stability appears to come from using the trailing party-ID weightings. Although that is arguably a good feature when viewing this poll in isolation, I'm not sure it is necessary in a world where we are aggregating polls using regression techniques in the way that Pollster or 538 operate. Another way of putting this point is that if our end product is the aggregation, then I just want the pollsters providing us with relatively clean samples to input into the aggregation.

(2) I'm hoping we eventually get some sort of wrapup with respect to the cell phone effect, and if it proves significant this is something Rasmussen may need to address next time. By the way, we are still counting, but it is looking to me like Rasmussen's final number of 52-46 is going to slightly understate the margin, albeit not by much (maybe around a point).

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Vicente Duque:

Message to Grace Oerther :

Wonderful Note that you wrote in this page. It is better and more interesting than what many newspapers or magazines have published on this election.

I was so moved that I extracted some excerpts from your note and published them, acknowledging your authorship.

See them here :

Raciality.com

Raciality.com is a blog with many videos of people celebrating or weeping because of the Obama Victory. Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, The Black Lady of 107 years, the Obama Girls, People Crazy at Grant Park in Chicago, Obama speaking in Spanish, etc...

And also excerpts of great articles about "Raciality" in the last days.

Thanks again for your great note.

Vicente Duque

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Vicente Duque:


.........

I forgot to say that I placed a link to this Pollster.com page in my post about the opinions of Grace Oerther.

Vicente Duque

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