Thursday, November 01, 2012

Time Asks: “Remembering 1980, are the polls missing something?” – Unequivocally – Yes! The Final Analysis 2012.

Dr.George Gallup – Pioneer in Public Polling –image: (with article)

From Time Magazine the question of the polling taking place and the constant “too close to call” scenarios from a myriad group of pollsters in 2012, compared to what happened in 1980 speaks to the historical aspect of polling and the mistakes that occur from time to time. The article makes one claim, however, that states that since pollsters “got it wrong” so badly in 1980 – a race that saw a “too close to call” from pollsters turn overnight into an historical Reagan route”, they had made a correction to fix the system to eliminate errors. Of course, that’s not necessarily true.

In the aftermath of the 1980 general election, the pollsters were being called upon to explain themselves by the media! How could a race that was too close to call, end up a dramatic victory for the Republican, Ronald Regan, a clown by media standards? The Gallup organization, in an interview, post 1980 general election suggested that the problem with the polling was that the methodology to predict the race was based on the 1976 general election turnout, and that, somehow, between 1976 and 1980 the general electorate swung towards the Republicans (George Gallup – The Youngstown Vindicator, December 21st, 1980

That may sound eerily familiar, given the fact that there is a load of 8 points per pollster based on the 2008 election. This one fact, that should be front and center (and has been argued by some blogs (including this one), and right of center news organizations) has been ignored, by the media, and by the pollsters). Therefore, to anticipate that the Democrats will maintain an 8 point advantage (or Republicans for that matter) over a 4 year period, with the economy in a shamble and foreign policy iffy at best, to load for a previous election, defies historical fact. Although one might point out that times change and history may not be totally accurate, they would not be considering that 8 point advantage which would have applied to the 2010 general election, turned into a Republican win of historical proportions. Therefore, logically, if there is an automatic 8 point load on all polls, to beat a dead horse once again, the poll is flawed, and that 8 points could go anywhere. If the Presidential Race is tied, in every national poll, and Romney is confident, his campaign is spending on ad buys in States where the Democrats allegedly are “safe”, then one might suggest that his internal polls do are not hampered by an artificial load, but based on whose voting for whom now. On the flip side, one might suggest that the President would benefit greatly from Hurricane Sandy – and how well he is handling the situation – 5 days before the general election. They would be remise in understanding that there are no minds left to be “made up” and few people would change their vote. The biggest problem faced is that the early voting efforts by both campaigns differed and there were a good percentage of the votes cast to date – nationwide. The Republican’s focused on their hard to reach or least likely voters, while the Obama Campaign focused on getting out its most reliable voters early. Gallup reported that in early voting surveys; Romney was well ahead of the Incumbent President Obama. Since the Republicans are “enthusiastic” about the election (to say the least) the polls going into Tuesday suggest, yet again, a round of questions pointed at those same pollsters. It would therefore suggest that no polls are at present, correct; there may be a few that show Romney with an advantage, but that advantage is within the statistical margin of error. One might be tempted to think that the race is so tight that the race may come down to one state. Again, no one knows, given that the models used, are – somewhat flawed.

There are a few things to ponder – when one cannot with a certainty – know who is going to win in advance and that is as it should be. One might have an idea, or a clue, or a projection, as one does when one heads to Vegas, however, one is playing odds. Therefore, on this one, based on historical evidence that the type of polling done in 1980 clearly is in use in 2012, that the economic indicators alone are a factor in individuals decisions, that the enrollment by party is up for Republicans and down for Democrats nationally, and that there is a large enthusiasm gap between Republican’s and Democrat identifies, this race, as they say, is over, but for the voting. Of course, one might be wrong, but there is less of a feeling of maybe with this particular prediction, and more of a feeling of being “right” rather than “spinning in the hopes of a favored candidate winning “ (guilty – see 2008 election).

A Side note: in 2008 this blogger was less than enthusiastic about the GOP candidate John McCain, preferring Hillary Clinton overall. Once Clinton was out of the race, the choice was McCain, it was a choice made when one has to “hold their nose”. It was the less than enthusiastic blogger and voter that wrote then went to the polls, not with a certainty but with resign.

Fast-forward 2012. Again, Mitt Romney was not the first choice, the second or the third, he was the last choice. Then Romney, who had been through a grueling primary – stood up and acted – Presidential. Then there were the personal and business decisions that when looked at objectively made Romney look like a stand-up guy who would do his utmost and had the experience to get the job done. Not easily convinced, this was a personal swing of gigantic proportions. This blogger is not alone. As the days approach where the polls are the first place to go, and early, on election day, this Tuesday, Nov. 6th, it will be with certainly and hope and excitement that this blogger goes to the polls and casts a vote for Mitt Romney for President. One thinks the night will be long, but perhaps not, given the speed with the 1980 election was called (again should history repeat) and one strongly believes that there will be a rather large party in Boston that very night.

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