Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Secret Poll, October 8 2008

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


vnjagvet said...
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vnjagvet said...


You gave me confidence in 2004 by cogently taking apart the various polls based on your knowledge of scientific polling principles, and taking apart the shifting internals that kept the results so favorable to the Kedwards ticket the MSM desperately wanted to elect.

That confidence kept me in the game and, frankly, kept me from repeating the cardiac arrest I survived in early September the day after returning from a VN vets against Kerry rally in DC.

You are doing the same now. Keep up the good work.


Jim Rhoads

Eric said...

DJ, I hate to be negative or defeatist, but McCain had a very narrow path to victory before this campaign started. His debate performance yesterday, complete with a $300 billion bailout for bad mortgages, turned off a lot of indies and undecideds (as well as a few fiscal Republicans.)

As I wrote, it pains me to say it but I'm also not going to be one of these "last men standing" in denial at what's coming.

Paul_In_Houston said...

"As I wrote, it pains me to say it but I'm also not going to be one of these "last men standing" in denial at what's coming."


I don't give a damn about what appears to be coming, but totally giving up and not even bothering to vote is absolutely the best way to guaranteeing that it comes.

If the damned polls say 90-10 for Obama on election day, I am STILL going to vote anyway.

(And don't forget; some of those kids Obama's counting on have just about the lousiest record of actually showing up at the polls and voting.)

kal said...

"His debate performance yesterday, complete with a $300 billion bailout for bad mortgages, turned off a lot of indies and undecideds (as well as a few fiscal Republicans.)"

I think as many were fine with it as you believe were turned off by it.

McCain will win, if you vote for him. Go vote, and get other (real) people to vote for him, too.

tari said...

I think, despite not really enthusiastically supporting John McCain, I'm more motivated than ever to vote this year.

My conscience would kill me if I sat this one out, and I live in a pretty futile state (MI).

Thanks for the hard work deciphering these polls, DJ.

PaddyJ said...


Finally some believable and rational analysis, based on logic.
Keep up the good work!

Pam said...

Thanks, D.J!

I wondered when you might do this. Things have gotten closer since your last poll; will you do another next week.

From what you've seen, do you think that McCain will win 51% or so as predictied on Oct 1st. That said, I know we need to buck up; I will vote regardless. Turn out, Turn out, Turn out! I guess I just need a little boost.

Eric said...

Yes, I'm going to vote for McCain.

Also, I found out from George Will's column today that conservatives watching the debate "dialed down" approval when McCain talked about the $300 billion mortgage bailout. So it's not just me.

Anonymous said...

how much do you think the ACORN voter Fraud is part of the problem with the Voter ID numbers the polls are using?