Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not Over By A Long Shot

One of the commenters at StolenThunder was a troll playing his wicked-witch routine. You know, “surrender now the polls all say its over give up give up boooooooo …”. All he needed were the flying monkeys.

Well, I beg to differ. Loudly. As usual. So, while it amounts to repeating myself, here are the reasons why this election remains very much undecided, with a great deal left to be hammered down:

First, in a nutshell. a mathematical certainty of any event involving human behavior cannot possibly exist prior to that event.

Next is the idea that opinion polls are predictive. By definition, they are not, in the same way that charting a stock's past performance and present price is in no way predictive of its future value;

Next, it needs saying again the the history of polls shows instability and unreliability. The elections of 1936, 1948, 1968, 1976, 1988, and 2000 in particular were very different from what the polls predicted just a couple weeks before the election, sometimes even closer than that;

Also, a lot of media is pointing to sites which post aggregates for projections. The problem there is that this causes collinearity, which invalidates the conclusions. It's a common error but a significant one;

Further, it has to be noted that neither Obama nor McCain's campaigns are behaving in a manner consistent with the published conditions, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania;

Next, it needs saying that the political affiliation weights being used in major polls in no way match the historical participation at either the national or state levels. Those polls which take reponse levels without weighting to demographic norms create a circular logic which is inconsistent with NCPP guidelines and documented election results;

And finally, conditions this year are so unstable that Gallup, who has longer experience than anyone in opinion polling, has tacitly admitted it has no idea where the race stands, as it has developed no less than three weight models to try to capture a sense of what's going on. However, the fact that each is at variance with the other two to a degree byond their stated margin of error, demonstrates error beyond the boundaries established for the published level of significance (5%), which is to say, the math fails a 2-tailed validity test, and ergo all results are invalid by definition.

Turnout – if one party clearly does a better job getting its base to vote, that party will clearly win. More than ever, your vote matters.

Independents – Right now, the Independent vote is essentially tied, with about 28% of Independents still undecided. Whoever wins the most of that vote will win the election.

Undecideds – Overall, 12.01% of voters are still undecided. It’s slowly resolving itself, but there will still be a large pool of voters waiting to be convinced just before election day. Finishing strong could make all the difference.


jaywhite said...

SurveyUSA gives party affiliation of the likely voters sampled. As you suggest, the samples seem unjustifiably weighted to include more democrats and less Republicans. For example, Ohio which President Bush won the past 2 presidential elections has their latest sample weighted in favor of democrats by 13 points. Gallup has McCain within 2 points of Obama in likely voters. Then, as if, they are afraid to deviate from the "Election is over" mantra, they added a strange category which was a second analysis of likely voters which fit the others polls, and Obama unpaid campaign workers aka the MSM. Gallup until recently only reported registered voters which skews the polls in favor of the demorats . It is bizarre that the poll which has McCain within 2 points is called the "traditional" poll and they felt they had to add a second analysis.

jaywhite said...

This addresses the point made on October 15th about how almost all the pollsters and those who hire them are concentrated in blue country especially in Manhattan, NYC.
The "superstars" of the MSM have parties at which the "conservative" media such as Fox ,the soon to be defunct New York Sun reporters and editors, and the house conservatives of the NYT attend. Given the well-known illiberal attitude of the liberals towards anyone who doesn't follow the party line, IMHO there is definite pressure to adhere to strongly held views of liberals such as Obama is already President. How do I know the media socialize together? When Peter Jennings who was extremely liberal died, the NY Sun a very conservative NYC daily wrote an editorial which shocked me. They described Jennings as having thrown a party for the Sun editors when they started their daily. The Sun's politics were the polar opposite of Jennings.When lived in Manhattan my wife loved to go to a breakfast cafe on the westside. Every time we went there were either well-known actors and/or network media stars in the same relatively small restaurant. One morning, I sat one table away from Joan London and Charles Gibson of Sarah Palin interview infamy. So even in Manhattan,for the stars be it media or TV ,movies etc. it's still a relatively small world. I believe the same holds true for the DC media and pollsters who probably attend many of the same Georgetown parties. There must be a conscious or even subconscious bias against conservative views even by well meaning media people and pollsters.

JimMuy said...

Regarding the undecided independents: Isn't the usual pattern that the late breaking voters vote against the incumbent.

So: What of the notion that Obama is the "incumbent" as shown by his under performance in the primaries and being the frontrunner the entire year? Since there is no incumbent, does O become the one by default? Perhaps that is why he is trying so hard to tie McCain to Bush because his polls show him to be in the incumbent position.

OBloodyHell said...

> All he needed were the flying monkeys

... out his butt.