–the percentage of voters who think Mitt Romney “would be fun to meet in person,” according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Sept. 28, compared to 48% for Obama.
Out just a few minutes ago.
Sept. 29: As Iowa Goes, So Go Romney’s Chances?
By NATE SILVER
Saturday, not Sunday, is the news media’s traditional day of rest — and so it is the slowest day of the week for polling.But the national tracking polls were published on Saturday, and continued to show President Obama in a fairly strong position. He held at a six-point lead in the Gallup national tracking poll, although his approval rating dipped. He also maintained a rough seven-point advantage in the RAND Corporation’s online tracking poll. Mr. Obama also pulled ahead to take a two-point lead in the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll, which had differed from other polling firms by previously showing a tie. (Another national tracking poll, from Ipsos, is not regularly published on the weekends.)
We’re getting to the point in the campaign where a day on which the polls are in line with expectations is a winning one for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney trails in the race and now has just five full weeks to make the deficit up. Mr. Obama’s forecast rose slightly, to an 83.8 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, from 82.7 percent on Friday.The Des Moines Register also published its highly regarded Iowa Poll on Saturday, which showed Mr. Obama with a four-point lead, 49 to 45. This result is quite consistent with other polls of Iowa published since the conventions, which also have shown Mr. Obama ahead by four points on average.The only prior Des Moines Register poll this year, which was conducted in February, showed Mitt Romney up by two points instead. So this represents a favorable trend for Mr. Obama.On the other hand, the same polling firm, Selzer amp; Co., conducted a national poll for Bloomberg recently, which gave Mr. Obama a six-point advantage. So they have Mr. Obama polling slightly worse in Iowa than he is nationally.The FiveThirtyEight forecast concurs: we have Mr. Obama projected to win Iowa by 3.6 percentage points on Nov. 6, smaller than his 4.1-point advantage in the national race.These are marginal differences, obviously, but they matter some in terms of the electoral math since any hope that Mr. Romney has of winning the Electoral College without Ohio probably requires him to win Iowa.
In the simulations that we ran on Saturday, Mr. Romney won the election only 2 percent of the time that he lost Iowa.This isn’t a good poll for Mr. Romney, but it does suggest that Iowa hasn’t gotten out of hand, and that it could trend back toward him if the national race does.Iowa ranks seventh on our list of tipping-point states, but it packs a lot of bang for the buck because its television markets are fairly small and cheap to advertise in. We estimate that a dollar spent there will do twice as much to sway the Electoral College outcome as one spent in Florida.
Speaking of polling, this helps to explain why RWingers get so confused on the subject:
That's a bit of a surprise. There are now more people that identify themselves as independents rather than either democrats or republicans. It does explain one thing that I've found curious. So many of the extremists are saying they're independents now instead of republicans. I still have a hard time accepting that this may signal an eventual split in the republican party.
The Case For Romney as President.
Clinton To Campaign With Obama
RCP has Obama with 265 electoral votes and Romney with 191 when you add in the leaning states. The toss-ups? If you eliminate toss-ups and just go by who is ahead, RCP gives every single toss-up to Obama. Obama 347-191. Sorry Mitt.
By the way, sacredh (or anyone else out there who likes multiple sources for poll aggregation)- I stumbled upon another another election projection website the other day. The methodology is not nearly as theoretically sound as Nate's (and no estimate for uncertainty), but it uses many of the same inputs as 538's "now cast" in a slightly different mix, and has been pretty accurate in past elections. And it's run by a conservative christian fellow, just in case any of you worried that you're being led astray by the "liberal" media sites like NYT:
(Bottom line- almost exactly the same projection as Nate's "now cast")
anon76returns, there's a very good reason why there has been movement in the democratic senate races and almost none in the house races. The 2010 Census allowed the states to re-draw the house districts and the republicans had majority control in over 30 states. They re-drew the house districts to make republican seats even safer and re-drew the democratic districts to combine some and make it easier for a republican to win others. The senate races are statewide and there was nothing they could do about that.
You may have said that as a joke, but the Browns are THE reason I quit watching football. After one particularly heartbreaking loss to the team I actually HATE (the Steelers), I told my wife "That's IT! I'm not watching another football game!" She didn't believe me for about a month and a half, then she realized that I was serious. The last game we even thought about watching was the SuperBowl in 2009. She sent me down to the store to get pop and potato chips. I had $ 2 left over and bought a $ 2 scratch-off. I hit for 15,000 dollars. We forgot all about the game.
ps- the reason I found that site and it is currently of interest is that it has a forecast for the house races (useful since Nate has not yet published his and since RCP's seems to be mostly based on prior performance rather than polling at this point). However, since there just aren't that many House-level polls out there, electionprojection is showing the same thing as RCP, which I don't necessarily believe since the Senate races have moved rather decidedly Dem-wards over the last month while the House projections have stayed stationary.
"I'm into politics like some guys are into football."
lol- I could make a smart-ass comment about this being the result of living in Bengals/Browns country, but that would come off as a little insensitive on the holy sabbath*.
*where "holy sabbath" = game day- just one hour to kick-off!
The good news for Romney is that Arizona is trending from "leans Republican" towards toss-up. So, soon Romney will be able to claim that some of the toss-up states are breaking his way. Progress!
Nate's latest article.
September 29, 2012, 10:22 pm22 Comments
Poll Averages Have No History of Consistent Partisan Bias
By NATE SILVER
Presidential elections are high-stakes affairs. So perhaps it is no surprise that when supporters of one candidate do not like the message they are hearing from the polls they tend to blame the messenger.In 2004, Democratic Web sites were convinced that the polls were biased toward George W. Bush, asserting that they showed an implausible gain in the number of voters identifying as Republicans. But in fact, the polls were very near the actual result. Mr. Bush defeated John Kerry by 2.5 percentage points, close to (in fact just slightly better than) the 1- or 2-point lead that he had on average in the final polls. Exit polls that year found an equal number of voters describing themselves as Democrats and Republicans, also close to what the polls had predicted.Since President Obama gained ground in the polls after the Democrats’ convention, it has been the Republicans’ turn to make the same accusations. Some have said that the polls are “oversampling” Democrats and producing results that are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. One Web site, unskewedpolls.com, contends that even Fox News is part of the racket in what it says is a “trend of skewed polls that oversample Democratic voters to produce results favorable for the president.”The criticisms are largely unsound, especially when couched in terms like “oversampling,” which implies that pollsters are deliberately rigging their samples.But pollsters, at least if they are following the industry’s standard guidelines, do not choose how many Democrats, Republicans or independent voters to put into their samples — any more than they choose the number of voters for Mr. Obama or Mitt Romney. Instead, this is determined by the responses of the voters that they reach after calling random numbers from telephone directories or registered voter lists.Pollsters will re-weight their numbers if the demographics of their sample diverge from Census Bureau data. For instance, it is typically more challenging to get younger voters on the phone, so most pollsters weight their samples by age to remedy this problem.But party identification is not a hard-and-fast demographic characteristic like race, age or gender. Instead, it can change in reaction to news and political events from the party conventions to the Sept. 11 attacks. Since changes in public opinion are precisely what polls are trying to measure, it would defeat the purpose of conducting a survey if pollsters insisted that they knew what it was ahead of time.If the focus on “oversampling” and party identification is misplaced, however, FiveThirtyEight does encourage a healthy skepticism toward polling. Polling is difficult, after all, in an era in which even the best pollsters struggle to get 10 percent of households to return their calls — and then have to hope that the people who do answer the surveys are representative of those who do not.So perhaps we should ask a more fundamental question: Do the polls have a history of being biased toward one party or the other?The polls have no such history of partisan bias, at least not on a consistent basis. There have been years, like 1980 and 1994, when the polls did underestimate the standing of Republicans. But there have been others, like 2000 and 2006, when they underestimated the standing of Democrats.We have an extensive database of thousands of polls of presidential and United States Senate elections. For the presidency, I will be using all polls since 1972, which is the point at which state-by-state surveys became more common and our database coverage becomes more comprehensive. For the Senate, I will be using all polls since 1990.The analysis that follows is quite simple. I’ll be taking a simple average of polls conducted each year in the final 21 days of the campaign and comparing it against the actual results. There are just two restrictions.First, I will be looking only at polls of likely voters. Polls of registered voters, or of all adults, typically will overstate the standing of Democratic candidates, since demographic groups like Hispanics that lean Democratic also tend to be less likely to turn out in most elections. (The FiveThirtyEight forecast model shifts polls of registered voters by 2.5 percentage points toward Mr. Romney for this reason.)Second, the averages are based on a maximum of one poll per polling firm in each election. Specifically, I use the last poll that each conducted before the election. (Essentially, this replicates the methodology of the Real Clear Politics polling average.)Let’s begin by looking at the results of national polls for the presidential race. In the 10 presidential elections since 1972, there have been five years (1976, 1980, 1992, 1996 and 2004) in which the national presidential polls overestimated the standing of the Democratic candidate. However, there were also four years (1972, 1984, 1988 and 2000) in which they overestimated the standing of the Republican. Finally, there was 2008, when the average of likely voter polls showed Mr. Obama winning by 7.3 percentage points, his exact margin of victory over John McCain, to the decimal place.In all but three years, the partisan bias in the polls was small, with the polling average coming within 1.5 percentage points of the actual result. (I use the term “bias” in a statistical sense, meaning simply that the results tended to miss toward one direction.)The first major exception was 1980, when late polls showed Ronald Reagan leading Jimmy Carter by only two or three percentage points on average — but Mr. Reagan won by almost 10 points. There were some complicating factors that year: the first and only debate between Mr. Carter and Mr. Reagan was held very late in the election cycle, perhaps too late to be captured by the polls. In addition, that race had a third-party candidate, John Anderson, and independent, and third-party candidates contribute significantly to polling volatility. And some private polls of the campaign showed Mr. Reagan with a much wider advantage.Still, it is hard to make too many excuses for the polls: 1980 was probably the worst year for them since 1948, when the Gallup poll favored the Republican candidate, Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York, but the Democratic incumbent, Harry S. Truman, won instead.In 1980, the miss was in Mr. Reagan’s favor, meaning that the polls had a Democratic bias. But you do not have to go back to 1948 to find a year when they had a Republican bias instead. In 2000, national polls showed George W. Bush winning the popular vote by about three percentage points — but Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote.The other year in which the polls were reasonably poor was 1996, when most of the national polls projected Bill Clinton to win re-election by double digits, but he defeated Bob Dole by 8.5 percentage points. The results received little attention since Mr. Clinton’s victory was not in any real doubt before or after the election. But the polls had a Democratic bias that year, as they had in 1980.Over the long term, however, the polls have been about as likely to miss in either direction. Since 1980, they have overestimated the Democratic candidate’s margin by an average of 0.9 percentage points, and by a median of 0.3 percentage points. These errors are so modest that they cannot really be distinguished from statistical noise.We can also look for signs of bias in the state-by-state presidential polls. Since 1948, there have been 146 states that have had at least one poll conducted in the final three weeks of the campaign.I took the average of late polls in each state, using the same rules as for the national polls (one poll per firm, and only likely voter polls). Then I took the average of these state polling averages, comparing them against the actual results in states where there was at least some late polling. The state polls do not eliminate the problem for 1980. In the six states where there were late polls, Mr. Reagan led by an average of 3 percentage points — but he won by a much wider margin, 12 percentage points, on average in these states.In 1996, however, the state polls did not show any bias toward Mr. Clinton, even though the national polls did. This is one reason why we say that state polls can be informative about the national campaign. Sometimes, a “bottom-up” strategy of adding the results from individual states will produce a better estimate of the national popular vote than national polls do themselves.Similarly, in 2000, the state polls were less biased than the national polls. They underestimated Mr. Gore’s standing by about one percentage point on average, better than the three-point Republican bias in the national surveys. (Ironically, the speculation before the 2000 election was that Mr. Gore might win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote — exactly the opposite of what happened.)Over all, the state polls have had little bias. Since 1972, they have overestimated the standing of the Democratic candidate by an average of half of a percentage point.We can also evaluate whether there was bias in the polls of Senate races. In some ways, this is a much richer data set, since there are different candidates and different conditions in each of the 33 or 34 states that hold Senate contests every two years. If there is a persistent Democratic or Republican bias in the polls that transcends fluke circumstances, we might expect it to show up in the Senate data. As in the case of presidential polls, there have been years in which most of the Senate polls missed in the same direction. Senate polls had a Democratic bias in 1992 and 1994 but a Republican bias in 1998, 2000 and 2006.(A Republican bias, although it was very modest, shows up in 2010. The two Senate races that the FiveThirtyEight forecasts “called” wrong in 2010 were Colorado and Nevada, where the polls had Republicans as favored but where Democrats won instead.)But as in the case of the presidential polls, the years in which the Senate polls missed in either direction have tended to cancel one another out. On average across 240 Senate races since 1990, the polls have had a Republican bias of just 0.4 percentage points, a trivial number that is of little meaning statistically.On the whole, it is reasonably impressive how unbiased the polls have been. In both presidential and Senate races, the bias has been less than a full percentage point over the long run, and it has run in opposite directions.That does not mean the pollsters will necessarily get this particular election right. Years like 1980 suggest that there are sometimes errors in the polls that are much larger than can be explained through sampling error alone. The probability estimates you see attached to the FiveThirtyEight forecasts are based on how the polls have performed historically in practice, and not how well they claim to do in theory.But if there is such an error, the historical evidence suggests that it is about equally likely to run in either direction.Nor is there any suggestion that polls have become more biased toward Democratic candidates over time. Out of the past seven election cycles, the polls had a very slight Republican bias in 2010, and a more noticeable Republican bias in 1998, 2000 and 2006.They had a Democratic bias only in 2004, and it was very modest.Still, 2004 went to show that accusations of skewed polling are often rooted in wishful thinking.
Interesting piece, thanks for posting sacred.
P.S.-Nate, a paragraph break or 12 would sure make reading your stuff easier.
Pnnto, the fault is mine. I know how to copy and paste but I don't know how to link. Nate's thread does have paragraph breaks but copy and paste eliminates those and leaves out the graphs as well.
Glad I could help, sacred. Now maybe you can counter some of pauley's spam. ;)
As for the technical stuff … My sister is an accountant with Dell, and her department was just merged into IT. Which is high-larious, because my sister is the most un-technologically inclined person I know (other than my husband). We have many "cracker, please" moments at their expense.
anon76returns, it would be my pleasure to post Nate's articles. A couple of other posters had similar problems and corrected it by deleting cookies and history. I've never had a problem going to 538 and I go there at least a couple of times a day and don't pay. I go in through Google, but i also delete my history and cookies several times a day.
D'oh! Of course you learn the linking trick after I've used up all of my NYT freebies for the month (and just one day before October, too). sacredh- if you post Nate's latest relating Mitt's chances in Iowa to his national chances, then I'll promise to show you the super fancy-schmancy way to post a link.
Thanks Sue. I know it's hard to believe, but I have a degree is Systems Analysis and Computer Programming.lol. I got my degree in the mid 70's and then decided that I wouldn't be happy sitting behind a desk and went with a labor job instead. I didn't even buy a computer until 11-12 years ago.
sacred, the simplest way to link is just to copy the url of whatever you're linking to (from the address bar in your browser) and then paste it in your reply.
A glance at those numbers shows that the art of polling is getting better - with less bias over the years either way.
For the last two days, Nate Silver's 538 has had Mitt making modest gains in his calculations. They swung back to Obama today. Nate has Obama back to an 83.8% chance of winning the presidency. He also has moved the "Now Cast" calculation up to a 98% chance of Obama winning the election if the vote were held today. That's the highest in this election cycle.
As entertaining as this thread was, I want to leave this link before I go away in case the wireless in my hotel doesn't work. I found it worth thinking about.
I haven't gotten all the way through this yet (and, btw, thanks for the link), but it's a fascinating read.
And, sadly, it's not much of a surprise. This is what happens when a political party stakes its future on fear, anger and excluding "the other" rather than on a cohesive political philosophy. It's also to be expected when a party "dumbs down" its message to appeal to the under-educated and resentful.
The truly sad thing is that, even in its death throes, the GOP can do a lot of damage.
The article could have been written yesterday when the polls had been heavily in Obama's favor as they have been for months. It wasn't. This article was written on February 26,2012. It's been a little over 7 months since it was published, but the immediacy and conclusions could have been a stump speech last night.
If anything, the present reality is even worse for the republican party. Many officials in both parties are now openly talking about Romney not only losing, but hurting the down ticket races too. You look at the crucial swing state polls and they almost all uniformly favor Obama. You look at the percentages and Obama has 50% or above in most of them.
The sleeping white giant may have awoken, but he promptly fell out of bed and knocked himself out.
2012 or Never. Obama told Michael Lewis that he thought the other side would pay a bigger price for inflicting damage on the country for the sake of defeating a president. Between deliberately damaging the economy to trying to suppress voters going to the polls to their continuous repeat of Bush's war rhetoric, I think they will pay a big price. As the article says, voters today are more educated and more diverse - neither category fits into the current Republican party.
They re-posted these to try to change the narative... or I am just talking to myself on a board late at night. Maybe.
Ivy, I think that most people forget the drubbing he gave to the republicans at their retreat, early in his presidency.
Curious how mn22 can "anonymize" his post the second time it's posted. Perhaps Disqus is in fact our late night friend.
I think that that handicap might be minor. Maybe I have too much faith in his skills. He is a great orator. He does need to shorten it down and pick it up. His criticism of Romney on taxes and the 47% was maybe a sign he's getting wise to that.
Article about the debates in today's NYT, makes me worry.
At least I'm leaving for a conference on Sunday, so I'll have less time to pay attention and fret. Of course Tuesday the judges decision about PA Voter ID comes down and Wednesday when I get home is the first debate. Yikes!!
I'm looking forward to the debates. Romney's left hand is tied by his base and Romney's right hand is tied by his need to appeal to the rest of America.
Hell with it. Here's my prediction:
Obama will let Romney do most of the work destroying himself, but he won't be above giving Romney a helpful and well timed shove down the stairwell.
Once the debates start I think we're going to see a bunch of 1000 comment threads. I didn't join the swamp until just before the inaguration in 2009, but I remember the huge numbers when I was lurking. It's going to be far worse this time. I've been seriously considering taking an extended break when it really gets bad.
A new survey found that only 31 percent of Americans would want
to sit next to Mitt Romney on a flight. Romney was so upset, he was like,
"I don't understand. How would they get on my private jet?"