Friday, September 28, 2012

Election 2012 – Obama vs. Romney – focus on swing states? Why are “Safe Democrat” States Polled Less than 2 Weeks Apart? Opinion Essay



Mitt Romney, former Governor of the Bay State, Candidate for President 2012

It was surprising to more than a few households in this conservative enclave in Western Massachusetts that their phones rang yesterday and they found themselves answering an automated poll! The polling, conducted by Public Policy Polling (a pre-recorded announcement) – is a bit surprising for two reasons. One, the Bay State is rarely polled, and several pointed out that they had never been polled before (and we’re quite thrilled to put in their two cents), the second reason, Public Policy Polling just polled Massachusetts on September 18th, a poll in which it shows President Obama with a substantial lead and a 52% approval rating. The question, why are they polling a second time? Perhaps it was to focus on the Warren Brown Race, (but that was only one of several questions, the majority focused on voter trend and the Presidency: who did you vote for in 2008, if the election were held today, who would you vote for, and then the demographic questions. (Age, Gender).

Perhaps they are shoring up their data, counting their electoral votes before they are hatched, or perhaps to emphasis that Obama is doing just fine – in Massachusetts?

What one has to consider in these polls, is the geographic data. When one looks at the state of Massachusetts and voting patterns, one find that, yes, there are Republican’ and Republican leaning independents in this state, but, the big but, they are spread and most of this is geographic: Therefore, if one were to call Worcester (Central MA) one would find a majority of Conservative, or for that matter several areas on the north and south shore. However, Western Massachusetts is similar to say, Cambridge, a much smaller population that the balance of the state, and home to the left of center and reliable Democrats, the actual Republican is rare, and Conservatives (part of the Unenrolled who are the majority of voters in MA), might be few and far between, and generally found in certain cities and towns and pockets. One neighbor remarked after the Brown election in 2009, that the neighborhood was crawling with Republicans! (A polite and avid Progressive, who expresses frustration over this fact fairly consistently.) That said, from the Connecticut River West and North along the eastern edge, the political ideology is more 1960’s than 1980’s, replete with tie-dye, long white hair and beards, and bongo’s – it’s referred to as quaint! There’s the urban center, such as Northampton, birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, the last Republican from Massachusetts to attain the Presidency. Northampton, home to Smith College, (Think Rachael Maddow), has the lovely town of Amherst to its left – home of UMASS, or locally referred to as the “People’s Republic of Amherst.

Now, understanding the lay of the land, one would anticipate that there would be no need to poll, considering one poll affirming the huge Obama lead was just produced by the same pollster and polls cost money. But, and here is the big but, Massachusetts has recently been redistricted, due to population loss. The entire state, when viewed on a redistricting map, has all of Western Massachusetts in one district (formally two) the 1st District cover’s half of the state – the most reliably Democrat part of the state. There was one district that was gerrymandered to include a the conservative enclaves of central Massachusetts, taking some of hoe more reliability Republican cities and towns, and pushing them away from the former 3rd district into the 4th, the fourth also lost the large urban centers of New Bedford and Fall River. This is the main reason Barney Frank retired, he had a close call in the 2010 elections, managing a 10 point lead over his challenger Sean Bielat (and that is with the dead voting). Most reasonable people would think a 10 point lead is huge, however, in Massachusetts, most Congressional Candidates enjoy a project 75% win, and that year, according to the New York Times, Barney Frank was going to sail through the election process, so was Richard Neal, the Democrat from the former 2nd District. They both had first time Republican Challengers, and the expectations we’re low. However, those that had, in the past, run minimal ads, or perhaps sent a direct mail piece – were actually campaigning and were forced to spend huge sums, call in big name party favorites – such as Bill Clinton, to help them win. The lay of the land, therefore, had changed.

Yet they still won, even if the margins were considering higher than anticipated.

Looking at this scenario, one would then wonder why, if election data from 2010 is so readily available on the Secretary of States Website, (from return of votes by city and town, drilled down by party,) why not use the most accurate data. However, if one were able to direct a poll, especially via robocalls, (which can be programmed to avoid or include specific area codes, and cities and towns) – it would make sense for a pollster, in support of a particular party, or commissioned to poll by a particular organization, to call into an area believed to be 100% Democrat.

There have been a few polls lately on the state, what with the race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, which makes sense, but, looking at those polls, one of which supplied geographic data, it was surprising to see a large percentage of those polled came from Western Mass, two to one, over those polled in Central Mass. Therefore the odds of polling a Democrat were greater.

One has to ask, why aren’t pollsters and that goes toward any pollster, but especially the professional firms, employing the state data, to evenly proportion a state based on geography combined with voter trends from the last federal election. This would produce a more accurate poll, the rest of the polls. Therefore, as polls are being conducted without regard to voting patterns in a state, or worse, intentionally targeting a particular section of the state that favored, say one party over another, they are –in a word-useless.

Perhaps they believe that by producing poll after poll which is fed to the media, and those pundits that sit upon their Beltway thrones, that somehow, should it appear one candidate is winning, then that candidate will eventually win, a combination of psychology that most of the “masses” will vote for the most popular candidate (the one ahead in the polls), and the fact that those supporting the underdog, will become concerned, and being to blather on about how that individuals campaign is sinking.

Will it work again? It worked swimmingly well in 2008, but there were other factors at play in 2008. John McCain was the weakest of three candidates standing as August reared, the strongest was Hillary Clinton, who, for all intents and purposes had the popular vote in the primary, and a choice between Clinton and McCain was a no-brainier. But, in the face of a Super-delegated candidate Obama, at the DNC convention, one had no choice but to vote for McCain, if one leaned Conservative at all. McCain, although a nice guy was just not in the least exciting, and also to be fair to McCain, the Republican brand had been so damaged, the ghost Ronald Reagan could not have been elected.

This election is a bit different however.

There are sides drawn and candidates are focused on swing states, the news tells us that these are the y keys to Obama’s victory. The polls tell us so. The pundits are assailing Romney for not being hard enough, or aggressive enough, or what-have-you, while the left (the press and the Obama Campaign) blast Romney for the most incredulously ridiculously inflated non-starters. They recycle old news, as if its breathtaking revelations as to how “bad” a candidate Romney is.

To someone who is, admittedly supporting Romney, but, that was not always the case - watching these polls and pundits repeating the negative mantra vis a vis Romney, it makes one believe that those who swear by these polls, are blindfolded.

Which is why one questions all of the polls, but, especially polls coming from individual States from swing to those that should be “in the bag” for Obama or any Democrat. PPP should poll the north shore of the Bay State – a recent poll commissioned by the partisan RNCC, gave the Congressional Challenger a fairly large lead over the incumbent Democrat, but more shocking and no less of import, the poll indicated that Romney and Obama were tied, and Brown was running away with the race in that district. The marginals showed the percentage of households in the state, with the results, and they were indeed skewed to favor the Republican. But, after looking at the city by city statistics and voter by party affiliation, one found the poll to be – perfect. It was based on the right percentage of voters Democrat, Republican and Unenrolled in that district.

A district Obama had won in 2008 by 20 plus points over McCain, a District that was redrawn to protect the seat of the Democrat.

If PPP has knowledge of that poll, and how it was conducted, then calling all of Western Mass makes sense, given the fact that it was withdrawn to be heavily Democrat. If PPP were a Democrat Polling firm Supporting the President. It could very well be the expense.

But it still begs the question why would they poll a State that is considered Safe Democrat, where a Republican can rarely win? The last Republican Governor was Mitt Romney, the 1st Republican Senator in decades is Scott Brown, and the last Republican to attain the White House from the Bay State was Calvin Coolidge. One would think there would be no need to poll. Maybe once, or twice, but repeatedly? Polls taken twice in the space of two weeks by the same pollster?

Unless that poll commissioned by a partisan group – somehow ended up being the most perfect poll as far as data is concerned – in recent memory, caught the eye of a campaign or pollster, instead of a “citizen” who writes opinion in a small enclave in Western Massachusetts.

In this opinion: Romney is doing everything right, and call it crazy, but his even tone, his measured response, and even his “alleged” gaffes, are ringing with those in the center, in the middle, the moderates, those unenrolled. He’s not a politician in the usual sense of the word, not the most charismatic (being charitable here), and not the most polished when it comes to off the cuff performances – but is the perfect looking, most popular guy in the class, really what the nation is looking for in a President this time?

We won’t know, we can’t know, because the polls are simply guessing games unless they are drilled down to the city by city, district by district level and that would cost too much. Therefore, what we, the consumer, are left with is anyone’s best guess, and if one feels their candidate is down in the polls, then one is most likely heading to a phone bank, plant a yard sign, or silently wait to go to the polls and show support by voting.

Those pundits who never set foot out of the heartland, or the broadcast booth, might want to trip into one of those swing states, or even the state next door to get an idea of how people are thinking, they might be surprised, that the gaffe the media considers shameless is being cheered on by the “masses”.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What’s Not Being Talked About: Reuters 2008 to 2012 - Voter Registration – Democrats Down, Republican’s up by wide margin

With all the talk about the polls and the media’s intent focus on Mitt Romney’s Ronald Reagan like Gaffes, and his campaign falling apart (similar to Reagan’s against Carter in same time period), one might think that the Massachusetts Govenor might as well pack it in –of course, a gaffe is in the eye of the beholder. Take that Romney fundraiser where he was discussing his campaign strategy and which voters he world or old not focuses on to bring them over to his side: he decided not to go after (target, fundraise from, and send camping literature to) 47% who were most likely Obama Supporters. Although 47 percent may not agree with Romney, there’s that 53% that do – If the election were held on that one gaffe, then Romney wins.

Apparently SoundBits and hidden camera moments do not make or break a campaign.

What does make a difference is voter turnout and enthusiasm and who shows up and why the day the votes are cast.

The polls, as has been discussed, are inaccurate at best and misleading at worst, but yet, they (media) continue to pound away on the amazingly tight race.

It defies logic that a poll (an educated guess – granted scientific) would sway an election, but the Obama Campaign is hoping it will.

They are also counting on early voting leads in swing states, however, Reuters suggested that may not be the best plan, as explained in their article: “Groups race against time to get Florida voters registered” In this article the suggestion is that Democrats are far less enthusiastic about early voting or registration for that matter; and Reuter’s cites the city of Jacksonville, FL as an example, and the numbers would suggest trouble for one particular campaign if they had to count on early voting or an uptick in voter registration to win reelection.

The Florida Times Union has said 11,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.

Meanwhile, 128,039 Republicans have registered in the state over the past 13 months, up from an average of 103,555 in the same period in 2004 and 2008, the newspaper said.


One might suggest that given the enthusiasm is with the Republican’s given that snapshot. There are other factors at work as well, one has to consider the ground game, and who is most likely to turn out millions of voters on Election Day, and who is going to have to fill buses and get them to the polls.

Here’s a thought on that theory that Mitt Romney, the candidate, is down in the polls so, the race is over mantra from the Media will help re-elect the President, what if, for example, when those who are more concerned with the Presidents policy, as well as the economy, the crisis in the Middle East and holding onto one’s job, hears that Romney might not win? They may just be more inclined to vote for Romney, and get a few neighbors to join them. On the other hand, those Democrats who are feeling the same pinch, and yet, trying to cast blame on George Bush, are somewhat of an anomaly – they are the traditional Democrat vote – and they rarely stray from the “flock”. The rest of the moderate Democrats may or may not vote given they care for neither candidate.

The Debates: Yes the media is already harping on the “do or die” for Romney in the debates. Of course, no matter if the GOP Candidate out debates the President, the media, will give the win to Obama, regardless of the outcome, and report the same, noting that Romney can’t win. See AP Report: Gov. Carter Won First Debate with Reagan.

It’s to be expected.

Yet, after all the polls, and portents of a victory for one or the other, and the tight polls right up to the election – (or conversely, even a lead) – No one will know until the day after the November election – although there are some that believe History is in one of those maddening cycles, whereby more than 15 to 20 events over 4 years that are similar in scope to the past, so much so, it’s almost identical, might make one harbor the bet that not all is lost for Govenor Mitt Romney. It is not that Romney is comparable to Reagan, he is not, and it is the circumstances that gave Reagan the edge that are similar. Both men suffered similar treatment by the media –and the results, well, one is certain, as it has passed, the other, is more certain, given the circumstances and mounting physical evidence.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Poll Shocker: MA 6th District, Tisei Leads in Race by Double Digits, Romney-Obama Tied, Brown Up by 14 – Poll is Perfect: Analysis



Image: Massachusetts 6th District Map

From The Hill Blog: a new poll commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee sees GOP Candidate Richard Tisei besting, deeply entrenched, Democrat Congressman John Tierney in the general. The poll also shows that President Obama is 1 Point ahead of Mitt Romney in his home state, while Scott Brown, the Mass. Republican Senator, lead, Democrat Party darling, Elizabeth Warren by 16 points. The poll was characterized:

But the polling memo includes the party breakdown of those polled, which is similar to the makeup of Massachusetts. Thirty percent of those polled are identified as Democrats, 13 percent of those polled are identified as Republicans and 57 percent of those polled are identified as independent. In Massachusetts, the 2010 breakdown of registered voters was 37 percent Democratic, 11 percent Republican and 52 percent unaffiliated.

The poll was conducted by Stinson Strategies with 561 respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.


(Press Release RNCC included in Hill blog Paragraph)

That poll is shocking politically on three levels: the first to unseat any deeply entrenched Democrat Congressional Representative in MA is nothing short of a daydream in most instances, second, that Obama and Romney are in a statistical tie defies logic and finally, 3: Scott Brown – makes sense, except for the polls, considering Essex County and the Boston area put Brown up by 5 points.

Registered Voters by Party by Town MA Secretary of State The polling marginal’s are shown to be slightly skewed in the above scenario, in favor of the Republican, however: An analysis comparing the newly redrawn 6th district with voter returns from 2010 shows this to be the most accurate polling model in any election to date – period.

Refer to photo’s district map as well as the return of votes Voter registration in Tierney’s Current district almost mirrors the polls sample: Out of 100% of voters in the new 6th: 31% are Democrats, 13% Republican, less than 2% Libertarian, and 54% (rounded to nearest percentile) Unenrolled The poll sample: 30% Democrat, 13 Republican, 57% Unenrolled

The polling data was automated, therefore, regardless of the fact that this was a Republican commissioned poll; the data supports the findings, perhaps for the first time in this election. To suggest that Romney and Obama are tied in Massachusetts would belie the balance of the polls – those that have been published. The Commonwealth continues to be polled on President Obama’s Job Approval, as well as voting patterns; this includes the relatively blue 1st District.

The races to watch in Massachusetts – especially with redistricting, would be – the 6th, and the 4th (Barney Frank retired when the new maps were drawn, making the 4th the most Conservative District in the Commonwealth – so much so it resembles Wyoming! It’s doubtful that even bringing a Kennedy in will make a difference, Sean Bielat is the Republican who came close to sealing Barney Frank’s fate in 2010 – He’s got a great ground-game to go up against the usual ballot stuffing and dead voting tactics used by the oppositions.

Suffice it to say – Massachusetts is in play – and those who are watching this state and our former Governor may be tempted to party like its 1980!

Resources: MA Secretary of State 2010 Voter Registration by District and Town

MA Legislature, New District Maps Note: Due to Population Loss, Massachusetts lost one of 10 remaining districts. All current Congressional Representatives are Democrat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Polling and the 2012 General Election – Is there a Reliable Poll – most probably not – Fact: Polls Based on Four year old trends Cannot be Accurate



What happens when one adjusts the polling data based on 2008 trends with current voter identification? - 1980. image: screenshot of www.unskewedpolls.com

There’s a feeling of Déjà-Vu about this general election cycle, if one were awake or living in the year 1980 – the economy was in deep trouble, the President a proponent of “Big Government”, entitlements were up, interest rates were through the roof, the price of gas was astronomical, as was food, and to top it all off there was a crisis in the Middle East. The polls throughout the 1980 Presidential election were either tied or had the President in the lead – right up to the night before the election – the prediction: too close to call.

Of course, the news articles, and nightly newscasts referred to the GOP candidate, Ronald Reagan, as a “clown”, and negative articles and broadcasts appeared “stacked” against the Republican challenger to President Carter. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 5, 1980 – via the Washington Post: “Reagan Campaign Battles Slip-ups” - the article goes on to cite growing concerns within the campaign, the gaffes the candidate was making - the perception – the campaign was in disarray.

Sound familiar?

After the dust settled, Gallup explained the Carter loss as a “Dramatic Vote Changes Given Carter in 76, 80”(Youngstown Vindicator, December 21, 1980). Simply put, Carter won the youth vote and the ethnic vote, but lost his edge on the balance – his support among traditional Democrat voters fell from 82% to 69%, and he lost in a landslide.

Therefore, one had, an extremely re-electable President, by all polls, a challenger whose campaign was in trouble in late October, the GOP candidate made gaffes so often by the media standards, he was not electable - and yet – he prevailed.

Fast-forward to 2012 – and one finds Romney’s news coverage, with very limited exception – negative. He’s made a lot of gaffes and the polls are tied up or worse, the President is leading in three key swing states! – Romney’s Campaign is in disarray!

Trust in media has slipped to unknown territory – with these same pollsters offering a tied scenario – which allows broadcast to manufacture an image that the Romney campaign is somehow deficient due to the polls. These polls that are using samples (those surveyed) that are based off election statistics from 2008. Therefore in simple terms, this tests the limits of simple math.

In 2008, the Democrats had a large share of registered or identified voters, there were fewer registered Republicans, and Independents leaned Democrat, they made up a fraction of the vote. These statistics have changed over the course of the past four years, the Democrats have lost their huge lead over voter registration and the Republican’s have increased their share of the electorate, as have the Independents to a greater extent.

Therefore for a polling firm to base 2012 projections on the 2008 model may be a tad misleading.

Which is the reasoning behind the new website www.unskewedpolls.com - a site that is similar in scope to the model used by Real Clear Politics, which blends all polls and uses the average as a result. With the exception, the polls are re-calculated using voter registration/party identification from 2012. When one changes the percentage of the sample, one finds that candidate Romney is leading President Obama by an average of 7 to 13 points, as suggested by the unskewedpolls.com.

Although, one must question the accuracy of changing the original polling data, even basing that data on accurate samples, to project an outcome by using bad statistical data in the first place!

That said, the models used, even though the accuracy might be questions, give candidate Mitt Romney a lead that is identical to the results of the 1980 election. (Refer to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Gallup article in paragraph 2)

Therefore, it would be wise to take any polls, at this point, with a grain of salt, unless, of course, the pollster shares their methodology, showing an accurate sample of the electorate based on the most recent voter patterns and identity. Therefore, the results will be known on the morning after the November election.

If the statistics hold for the electorate as it now stands, and those numbers go to the polls and vote, regardless of whether or not a candidate is “likable”, regardless of how “smart” a candidate is, or “how rich” – then one would suggest that history might just repeat itself. One final thought:

The logic in 1980 was that although Reagan might be “likeable” – Carter would win on intellect (The Modesto Bee, September 28, 1980). The reasoning, people would not vote their wallet. This was a reverse on the angle that President Obama is more “likable” than Romney, and yet, the Obama Campaign is counting on the – economy not counting. Same election, different decade.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Obama Campaign: What Polls? – Dems on Hillary Clinton’s Road to 2016 – Back Romney Best Option, Romney Should Switch Running Mate to Clinton – PUMA or Pragmatic?



Pictured Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney image Daily Beast – ArticleHillary Clinton and Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama

As the 2012 campaign turns – On the weekend Buzzfeed’s, Zeke Miller reported on the Obama Campaign in Wisconsin – Apparently the strategy is not to pay attention to the national polls, rather to focus on a few swing states:

Messina, who drove from Chicago to Wisconsin to be with Obama on his first trip to a state that appears to have come into play when Paul Ryan was selected to be Romney's running mate, predicted that the national polling will get even closer, but that the president's lead will hold in key swing states.

"I think you will see a tightening in the national polls going forward," he said. "What I care way more about it Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, etc. In those states, I feel our pathways to victory are there. There are two different campaigns, one in the battlegrounds and one everywhere else. That's why the national polls aren't relevant to this campaign."

In Wisconsin, Messina said the GOP is stronger than they are nationally, but maintained that the Obama campaign still has an edge


Perhaps the national polls are all tied, but the internals may have something else to say – which is why some Democrats are looking for a path for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and coming up with some options that appear to be somewhat far-fetched, but then again, the Clinton’s, both President William Jefferson and now Secretary of State Hillary, are the most popular Democrats in the country.

This weekend, Bill Clinton weighed in about a 2016 run for Hillary – which has the media salivating – ABC News discussing the Obama-Romney Debate (You Tube Video Here) speaks about Romney’s recent debate experience as a plus, and notes that he has the most to gain in the upcoming debates, although he would be considered an underdog – that back and forth morphs to Bill Clinton’s response to a Hillary Clinton 2016 run, which said anchors note there is speculation on the Democrat ticket for 2016 – and Clinton’s smiles is an affirmation of a Hillary run.(ABC News)

The speculation and what might be considered planning, began after the Democrat Convention – when the Daily Mail broke the news that a top Bill Clinton Aide planned to vote for Romney to help Hillary Clinton take the White House back in 2016. That’s just one example, of course, so not much there, one would think, but then again, there were others. Perhaps the best case found was made on Tumblr by the blogger, Prairie Pride who suggested voting for Romney (secretly supporting) would be the best road for Hillary Clinton, from an historical perspective. He refers to overall party fatigue as the means to the ends, citing elections back to George Washington – his end note: Romney 2012 – Hillary 2016.

The most ridiculous scenario was found on Salon, and one has the immediate reaction – satire! Then again, this is Salon. Alex Pareene takes a different tactic – suggesting in August that Romney “dump” Paul Ryan as his running mate and nominate Hillary – (This is a writer who refers to the “Right-wing press). He writes in glowing terms about Hillary’s accomplishments, and not so nicely about Paul Ryan – he suggests this is a serious option because “Bob Woodward” told him.

Although, with Romney, a place in the administration or cabinet for Clinton might not be out of the question – considering, as Governor, his cabinet included both women and, yes, Democrats. Romney is all business, and if someone brings ideas to the table that are reasonable –his decisions are not based on political party, rather on what would work best for the people (of the Commonwealth) at the time. It remains to be seen if this will be part and parcel of a Romney administration’s tactic, but one might project he would operate on the same success model.

Of course, this Moderate Conservative Feminist’s dream ticket was Palin/Clinton – but….a Romney –Clinton – makes one think – it would in the very least unite the majority of the nation and is extremely utopian. In reality it would cause political mayhem in both parties, and that is not the road to the White House for either Romney or Clinton - given there are those power brokers in the party and the base of each party. Plan B appears the best bet.

Happy Monday – one final note: worth listening to:

Howard Stern on Obama voters –

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