Hello again, and time for another edition of the Secret Poll (in case you are wondering where that comes from, my daughter is a fan of The Secret Show – if you are a parent of an 8-year-old you know what that means, if not ahh well, nice to have the parents of grade-school kids getting to be special).
As I wrote last week, this election is winnable by either John McCain or Barack Obama, the keys coming down to turnout, the independents, and just plain not giving up. Last night, during the second debate and this morning covering the result I was seeing a lot of negative comments, some of them flat out quitters. That is just plain working for the other side and there’s no excuse for it. It’s whiny, juvenile, and downright un-American.
So, with that said, here’s the recap of where I think the true numbers have played out, and where we are now:
August 31: McCain 41.77%, Obama 41.06%
September 7: McCain 42.45%, Obama 42.04%
September 14: McCain 45.71%, Obama 39.62%
September 21: McCain 44.48%, Obama 42.06%
September 28: McCain 42.73%, Obama 41.62%
October 5: McCain 44.09%, Obama 43.96%
Both McCain and Obama lost a little support after the first presidential debate, but recovered a bit. The race is still very, very close.
The keys, again, are the following
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, McCain leads in the Independent vote by 38% to 31%. That, however, means that 31% of Independents are stil undecided. Whoever wins the most of that vote will win the election.
Undecideds – Overall, 11.95% 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.
The Secret Methodology
As a rule, I despise aggregate reports, like CNN's "Poll of Polls", which has no statistical validity whatsoever. This is because an aggregate of polls makes a number of bad assumptions, such as the idea that all published polls are equally valid, equally accurate, and that somehow mashing them all together and then parsing them into an average will reveal the true state of things. I also despise the idea that daily "tracking" polls are as accurate as polls which come out less often. Oh, I hear the claims but really, which is more likely to be correct, the term paper a student puts two weeks into, or something thrown together overnight? Same thing, folks.
So anyway, what this 'secret poll' does, is it takes the party affiliation support from those major polls which properly report that information, reverse-engineers the weighting back to the raw data (or it just takes the raw data in the rare cases where that is provided, thank you CBS News), and reweights it according to historical affiliation norms. The results show what I believe is a far more accurate image of actual support and more importantly, the development over time of a base for a candidate. It's just a tool for general information, not something you should bet money on, but I think it's worthwhile. Take it as you will. - DJ