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Thread: Barack Obama's big lead in the polls is real

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Barack Obama's big lead in the polls is real

    Obama's big lead in the polls is real

    Democrats are afraid to believe he's really winning. But a pollster explains why those polls that show a tight race should be treated with skepticism.

    By Paul Maslin

    Oct. 25, 2008 | At the time of this writing, just past midnight in the opening minutes of Oct. 24 -- meaning a mere 11 days before the first votes in the 2008 presidential election will be cast in Dixville Notch, N.H. -- I am looking at the results of no fewer than 11 national polls. Barack Obama leads in every one.

    Obama leads by a double-digit margin in five of the 11. With over 50 percent support in seven of the 11. At the same time state polls show his lead outside the margin of error in supposedly critical battleground states like Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico, and he has growing double-digit leads in such formerly competitive states as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    But because one of the 11 polls, the one performed by a survey company that touts itself as "America's most accurate pollster," shows only a 1-point Obama edge and another, from venerable Gallup, shows a slim 4-point margin among so-called likely voters, many Democrats are still nervous. Afraid that the polls with the wide margins are misleading; scared that the "Bradley Effect" will cause many more white votes for McCain and against Obama than the polls are registering. Worried that despite Obama's financial advantage, enthusiasm gap and vaunted field organization, the breakthrough young and minority vote will not materialize as promised.

    Well, this Democratic pollster has three simple things to say:

    1) The current Obama margin is real, has been present and generally growing for more than a month, and is predicated on three very firm foundations unlikely to change in the final 10 days of this campaign. First, a general negative mood about the country and the current administration. Second, the specific profound impact of the financial collapse and deepening recession, which has dominated this election since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in mid-September. And third the difference in candidate performance and persona, particularly in the three televised debates, that has led to the Democrat growing in stature and steadiness while his more experienced opponent has seemed increasingly risky and uncertain. While the margin could still fluctuate -- and perhaps there will be a snap-back from an "anti-coronation" effect -- i.e, undecided voters who realize Obama is about to be elected but don't want to add to his or the Democrats' margin of victory -- the dynamic of the overall situation is clear.

    2) The likely voter model offered by Gallup is flawed. The Gallup organization itself seems to recognize this, since it is also reporting an "expanded" turnout model that has shown Obama running anywhere from 2 to 4 net points better than its "traditional" model. The flaw is simple: Gallup identifies "likely" voters by asking their previous voting history, meaning that if you are a first-time voter or you skipped voting in either 2000 or 2004, your preference is either not counted at all or weighted down. Needless to say this discounts the substantial numbers of new voters who have already participated in the 2008 primaries, have just registered to vote as part of record registration drives across America, or are planning to cast a vote on Nov. 4, spurred by a massive Democratic field organization. Many other pollsters are eschewing this rear-view mirror approach in favor of questions that ascertain respondents' current intentions to vote and their overall interest in the election. Obama performs better in their models.

    3) There will always be outliers. The IBD-TIPP poll, the one that shows a 1-point margin, is published by Investor's Business Daily and is the product of a firm called the Technometrica Institute of Polling and Politics. The company's tag line, "America's most accurate pollster," derives in part from its claim to have had the most accurate record of all pollsters in 2004. But one indication of potential bias is the fact that among TIPP's current "hot topics" is the question "Are we ready for socialism?" You could argue that the liberal Web site Daily Kos is biased too, and discount its sponsored poll that shows a 10-point Obama lead -- except the Kos poll numbers resemble those in surveys conducted by traditional network powers ABC, NBC, CBS as well as C-SPAN/Reuters. Those all report double-digit Obama margins. Even a Fox News poll shows Obama leading by 9 points. That's got to hurt, though I suspect they (and Rush Limbaugh) are consoling themselves with thoughts of the ratings increases that will undoubtedly accompany their enhanced profile, post-Nov. 4, as the official megaphone of the opposition.

    We can pick at many of these polls. They offer differing methodologies, differing interviewing techniques, differing sample sizes and composition. Yet there is actually great comfort in their diversity -- or disparity. A dozen national polls, and four or five times that many in key states, are near-unanimous as to the standing of this campaign. Given that they have arrived at those results by different means, and are not cookie-cutter products that are all missing the same truth, the American people should be confident about the emerging consensus they have reached.

    Leave it to the Republicans to doubt the polls, to pin their hopes on the possibility that all these different survey firms have got it wrong. (Where is our modern-day Republican Cassius to opine that "The fault [my friends] is not in our polls/ But in ourselves"?) From my perspective, barring some unforeseen circumstance in the next 11 days, all that remains to be seen is the margin of victory, and whether, as these polls seem to be hinting, we're headed for a landslide.

    Paul Maslin is a Democratic pollster based in Madison, Wis., and Oakland, Calif. He was Howard Dean's pollster in the 2004 presidential campaign and played a similar role on behalf of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson this cycle. He began his political career working on the 1976 Carter campaign.

    Obama's big lead in the polls is real | Salon

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    Elite Member NicoleWasHere's Avatar
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    All this poll stuff is about to send me into convulsions. PLEASE, NOVEMBER 4TH..... HURRY UP!!!!!!

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    Take nothing for granted-VOTE!
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    that's right, get out and vote, take nothing for granted! keep on Barackin'!

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    It ain't over til it's over: Democrats, VOTE!!!!!!!
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Nothing is set in stone, no matter what the polls say. It ain't over until the ignorant Hockey Mom is singing her way back to Alaska on Nov. 5th.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    dont forget, voting-machine fraud is increasing in reports daily

    funny enough, none of it is republican to democrat machine screwups.. its always democrat to republican.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    BA-RACK THE VOTE! By any means necessary!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    dont forget, voting-machine fraud is increasing in reports daily

    funny enough, none of it is republican to democrat machine screwups.. its always democrat to republican.

    I'm not forgetting. And what about the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of ACORN registrations that might get thrown out? Partisan Republican poll watchers challenging likely Dem voters? Intimidation tactics? Corrupt election officials who might declare a "terrorist threat" and go into a locked room to count the vote? (and get indicted for it, way too late?) There are literally hundreds of ways for Repukes to cheat and you can bet they will utilize them all.

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    dont forget, voting-machine fraud is increasing in reports daily

    funny enough, none of it is republican to democrat machine screwups.. its always democrat to republican.
    Actually, there are some Republican to Democratic screw-ups.
    ES&S Voting Machines in Tennessee Flip Votes

    By Kim Zetter October 23, 2008 | 1:10:55 PMCategories: E-Voting, Election '08

    Touch-screen voting machines used in Decatur County, Tennessee, have been giving early voters problems this week by registering their votes for Republican presidential candidate John McCain as votes for Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

    At least three voters complained of the problem while casting their ballot in early voting last Saturday.


    It's the same problem early voters in several West Virginia counties reported having this week when they tried to vote, except their votes for Obama and other Democratic candidates were switched to McCain and other Republican candidates.
    Just another reason why we should always use paper; it leaves a trail.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    I'm not forgetting. And what about the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of ACORN registrations that might get thrown out?
    All those suspect ACORN registrations were flagged by ACORN. Something that hasn't received much press.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    Partisan Republican poll watchers challenging likely Dem voters?
    The Democrats have poll watchers too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    Intimidation tactics? Corrupt election officials who might declare a "terrorist threat" and go into a locked room to count the vote? (and get indicted for it, way too late?) There are literally hundreds of ways for Repukes to cheat and you can bet they will utilize them all.
    A "terrorist threat" is pushing it. No one is that stupid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    Actually, there are some Republican to Democratic screw-ups.
    Just another reason why we should always use paper; it leaves a trail.
    All those suspect ACORN registrations were flagged by ACORN. Something that hasn't received much press.
    The Democrats have poll watchers too.
    A "terrorist threat" is pushing it. No one is that stupid.
    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity:

    LEBANON - Warren County officials, facing scrutiny of their decision to lock down the administration building on election night, say they were responding to a terrorist threat that ranked a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10.
    The information, which Commissioner Pat South said was previously deemed confidential, is coming out a week after the public was barred from viewing the Warren County vote count. The Ohio Secretary of State's office doesn't know of any other county in the state to impose such a restriction.
    County officials initially said they feared that having reporters and photographers present could interfere with the ballot counting. They subsequently cited homeland security concerns.
    Now, they say an FBI agent told them that Warren County ranked a "10" on a terrorism scale. However, state and federal homeland security officials said Tuesday they were unaware of any specific threat against the county.
    Cincinnati.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Nothing is set in stone, no matter what the polls say. It ain't over until the ignorant Hockey Mom is singing her way back to Alaska on Nov. 5th.
    Good Lord - the woman SINGS too??


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    This is interesting Survey Say:s Polls Have Problems | LiveScience
    Culture

    Survey Says: Polls Have Problems

    By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer
    posted: 29 September 2008 09:51 am ET
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    Election polls showing John McCain ahead one day, Barack Obama the next, then some neck-and-neck results the next day, are seriously flawed, according to one pollster. Another pollster begs to differ, saying polls provide valuable information about public opinion on candidates and about which issues are pushing the electorate.
    "Right now polls don't tell the truth about the electorate and they don’t tell the truth about the American public," said David Moore, founder of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and former managing editor of the Gallup Poll.
    Moore's main issue involves the wording of a standard poll question, which asks who a person would vote for if elections were held today. Rather than giving voters a chance to report mixed feelings or just not knowing, polls tend to "force" a definitive answer, said Moore, author of "The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls" (Beacon Press, 2008).
    Other shortcomings include the lack of cell-phone users polled as well as the natural variability that occurs in voter opinions months before the election.
    To some, however, rejecting all polls seems a little extreme. "I think that's vastly overblown if it's an attempt to discredit virtually all polling because of this issue," said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "It rests on a fundamentally correct fact. Absolutely the way you word questions affects the answers that you get. But for anyone to claim there's one right way to ask the question and every other way is flawed, I think is a vast overreach."
    In the end, polls can be analyzed after the fact. The truth: Polls done months before an election don't turn out to have been very predictive of real outcomes.
    Track record
    Though polls have occasionally failed to predict who will win an election, most notably in the 2008 Democratic primary in New Hampshire in which Hillary Clinton won, the polling track record is "very good," according to the Pew Research Center.
    This is particularly true for polls taken close to an election. For example, in 2004 the average of several major national polls from the days leading up to the presidential election showed President Bush with a 1.6 percentage point advantage over Sen. John Kerry. Bush ended up winning the election by 2.4 percentage points.
    Election polls taken early in a race, during the first quarter of the year prior to the presidential election, have shown a poor track record in predicting the winner, according to a review of polls between 1959 and 2003 by the Pew Research Center.
    "Polls conducted early in an election season should be taken as snapshots in time, and obviously cannot capture the impact of the campaign and its events to come," according to Pew analysts.
    For instance, a Pew analysis of polling done early in campaigns found that in February 1995, several early readings showed Sen. Bob Dole leading President Clinton by as many as 6 percentage points. Then, 21 months later, Clinton won by 8 percentage points.
    "If you take all previous presidential elections, the polls vary a lot over time and they all end up basically where the election results are," said Gary King, a political scientist at Harvard University.
    So as the election gets closer the polls all tend to narrow down and point to the right candidate.
    "By the time you get to the night before the election that's pretty much what the election results are going to be," he said, adding that political scientists are pretty accurate at forecasting the election outcome at the time of the conventions.
    As for why the polls are so variable and possibly inaccurate months and months before the elections, King said, it's "natural variability" in part. "People don't really know who the candidates are yet. There's no reason for them to decide who they're really going to vote for months before the election. They only really have to know by November," King said during a telephone interview.
    Missing cell-phone users
    Natural variability is just part of the problem. Many Americans are ditching their landlines for cell phones, a trend that can wreak havoc on election polls.
    While some polls are starting to include cell-phone users, others aren't.
    Surveys conducted by Pew in June, July and September showed that including cell-phone interviews led to results showing more support for Obama and slightly less for McCain.
    For instance, the September poll involved more than 2,500 registered voters including nearly 550 individuals reached by cell phone. The combined phone-type results showed 46 percent backed Obama and 44 percent backed McCain. Among just the landline respondents, candidates were tied each with 45 percent support.
    The difference between cell-only and landline individuals is age, with the cell-only sample being younger than 30, Pew analysts suggest. Young people as a group, according to Pew, have consistently backed Obama this year.
    King sees the cell-phone issue as a big problem.
    "There's real reason to worry about that because of the rise in cell phones and non-response," King said, referring to the ability of the polls to predict the public sentiment on the day of polling.
    In addition to cell-only individuals, the pollsters don't grab a real random sample of the American public, King said.
    "Nine out of ten people that pollsters call don't answer the phone or they can't reach the person," King said. The people who are home and do decide to answer the polling call, he said, are probably not representative of the people who will vote on Election Day.
    Who would you vote for today?
    Moore calls for polling reforms, including measuring and reporting the percentage of undecided voters, and recognizing bias in question wording and other question features.
    Other political scientists disagree about the forced-question issue.
    Franklin said research has shown this "forced" type question doesn't skew the results.
    "If you predict the answer to that question by your political ideology, your partisanship, how you feel abut the environment, your age, education, the usual suspects, you get the same structure for people who were pushed to give an answer as for people who were not," Franklin told LiveScience.
    "If there was a serious flaw to asking the question with this push for how do you lean, then we ought to see polls consistently missing the right answer of the outcome," Franklin said. "We don't see that."
    He added that individual polls can be off the mark, but on average, they get it right.
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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cupcake View Post
    This is interesting Survey Say:s Polls Have Problems | LiveScience
    Culture

    Survey Says: Polls Have Problems

    Election polls showing John McCain ahead one day, Barack Obama the next, then some neck-and-neck results the next day, are seriously flawed, according to one pollster. Another pollster begs to differ, saying polls provide valuable information about public opinion on candidates and about which issues are pushing the electorate.
    "Right now polls don't tell the truth about the electorate and they donít tell the truth about the American public," said David Moore, founder of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and former managing editor of the Gallup Poll.
    Depends on if you only look at one poll or several. The polls have been fairly consistent in Obama's direction for several weeks now. 538 has done a great job of dissecting daily poll information and each pollster's internal bias.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    god, i am so TIRED of facts fluffy!
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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