Oh Marist, You Scamp: Obama Wins 36 of 37 Battleground Polls

Rosencrantz and Gildenstern may have stopped flipping coins but the Marist organization’s ability to run 37 Battleground State polls and have Obama winning 36 of them in a race he’s probably losing may be the greatest in-kind contribution to any one campaign in history. It’s a Bachelorette rose ceremony between Prince Charming and Sloth from the Goonies. It’s a Chippendales competition between Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley. The judges may go through all the machinations of fairness but the outcome is all but certain. When you think of the expense of polling (national polls run ~$50k, state polls a bit less) NBC and WSJ should have to file the cost of these polls with the Federal Elections Commission. I’m genuinely flummoxed. I can’t decide whether to mock these polls or bury them.  I’m feeling generous since I have a home today but really if Romney wins on Tuesday Marist should no longer remain a polling organization. These aren’t independent snap-shots of states, they are press releases on behalf of a preferred candidate.

It bears repeating what I wrote on early voting in my last Marist undressing:

Early voting is creating a unique problem for polling organizations this year  in that the results will skew in favor of the party with the higher early turnout, in this case the Democrats. This built in early voting bias to polls greatly diminishing the polls actual value since you know up front one party’s partisans are over-sampled. Since Democrats tend to vote early, you see the Democrat candidate typically leading by wide margins in early voting according to many polls. When it comes to polling results, all voters who said they already voted make it through the likely voter screen and end up in the final results. This means a sizable pro-Democrat segment of those polled are guaranteed to make it through the likely voter screen. This inherently over-samples Democrats which practically guarantees a favorable result for Democrats. This is how a poll consistently shows Democrat turnout levels at or greater than the best in a generation turnout Democrats enjoyed in 2008 despite mountains of evidence saying otherwise. Of course, Marist has magnificently achieved these outrageous party IDs well before early voting which just goes to prove the old axiom: foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of feeble minds.


Obama leads by 6.  The party ID a D+9 (snicker). This compares to D +8 in 2008 (Dem 39, Rep 31, Ind 30) and R +5 in 2004 (Dem 35, Rep 40, Ind 25).  There is no chance the Democrat turnout advantage will exceed Obama’s 2008 best in a generation turnout which we write as D +8 based on the CNN party ID generally used.  This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 making this D +9 that much more ludicrous.  Here is the key graph on early voters: “In Ohio, 35 percent say they have already voted or plan to do so, and Obama is leading them, 62 percent to 36 percent. Yet Romney is up among Election Day voters in the Buckeye State, 52 percent to 42 percent.”  If your survey disproportionately samples a voting bloc who favors one candidate by 26-points that candidate is likely going to win that poll.  MSDNC claims they re-ran the poll with the party ID split between 2008 and 2004 elections and that resulted in an Obama 3-point lead.  Well, by all means release the details for how Democrats, Republicans and Independents voted.  I’ll re-run the poll myself and post my model on the blog so you can see what I did  and I GUARANTEE Obama will not have a 3-point lead. If anyone found how the parties voted let me know because I didn’t see it.

Addendum: Meant to include this. Reason # 10,000 to love Jake Tapper. His critics (and he has them) are way off-base with this guy:


Obama leads by 2.  The party ID is D +2. In 2008 it was D +3 (Dem 37, Rep 34, Ind 29). In 2004 it was R+4 (Dem 37, Rep 41, Ind 23).  Here is the key graph on early voting: “In the Sunshine State, 63 percent say they have already voted or plan to do so before Election Day, and Obama is winning them, 53 percent to 46 percent. But Romney is ahead among Election Day voters in Florida, 52 percent to 40 percent.”  The closer early vote preference ends up with a closer party ID difference.  It’s still skewed towards Obama’s 2008 turnout which IS NOT HAPPENING but it at least looks close at D +2.  Republicans had a net-gain in voter registration of a quarter-million, Obama’s coalition (youth and Hispanics) is both unenthusiastic and no longer as supportive, and the early voting advantage has been severely mitigated. Romney will win this state by at least 5-points.  The only question is whether he can drag Connie Mack across the finish line with him.


  1. Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink | Reply

    Do we know what demographic (race, gender, age) weighting Marist is assuming?

    • Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink | Reply

      Race was fine in both states. I don’t recall gender being an issue. Age was also fine. Interestingly both polls accurately reflect the decreased enthusiasm among the youth vote and increased enthusiasm among seniors. VERY bad news for Obama. I have a feeling the Ohio poll especially shows Obama getting way too many Republican cross-over votes which is why they aren’t giving us the figures.

  2. John
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sampling of Saturday morning headlines below. There will be no “spiking the ball” about the Government’s response to Sandy…

    Drivers Waiting 6 Hours For Gas in NYC
    Tempers Rise in Wake of Storm
    ‘Finding bodies left and right’
    Restaurant, hotel prices skyrocket
    CRAIGSLIST: $15 a gallon
    Utility workers pelted with eggs
    ‘We have nothing’
    Residents Furious RED CROSS Offering Cookies & Hot Chocolate, Not Blankets Or Clothes
    Jet Fuel Supply Fast Becoming Concern At Airports
    Staten Islanders Plead for Help: ‘We Need Food’
    ‘Please don’t leave us’
    VIDEO: Stranded New Yorkers Defecating in Apartment Buildings
    NJ counties enact 70s style gas rationing

  3. JGS
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m with you but that’s all from The Drudge Report which doesn’t define everyone’s universe. Turned on CNN and MSNBC this morning to check on “the enemy”, they were still showing pictures of Obama with Christie and fawning over his bipartisanship. Not a word about defecation in hallways or starvation or lack of fuel. (Local news coverage in NY and NJ and, helpfully, Philadelphia does have lots of that, however.)

    • Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink | Reply

      Pa. got slammed
      too but all the coverage nationally concerns NY and NJ. You think the voters in Pa. haven’t noticed that the President didn’t stop by for a photo op?

  4. Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    Marist is one thing, Keith, but can you directly comment on Rasmussen please? He has Romney and Obama tied again today at 48% with Obama getting a 51% job approval rating. It is easy to dismiss the other polls which are clearly not very reliable, but Rasmussen is one of the “gold standard” pollsters. How do we bridge the gap between the seeming weakness of Romney in Rasmussen’s polling and a solid win for him on Tuesday?

    • David
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink | Reply

      Keith mentioned a few times that it’s in the interest of polling organizations and the media to keep the race tight, and even to suggest Obama has enjoyed a boost from the post-storm coverage. They may be willing to take a hit in reputation for the sake of the headline. And, they’re willing to take a hit if the election turns into a blowout either way.

      • bks
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        It is in the interest of the media to talk up the horse race, but it is not in the interest of the polling organizations to be wrong.


      • JGS
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Then why are they not showing Romney coming back towards Obama in some of these races with ridiculous oversampling (i.e., all of these D+9 and even D+11 polls)? You’d expect, if they wanted a “horse race”, that the polling you’d be seeing in OH would be showing ties, or 1-point leads, not ridiculous 6-point Obama leads based upon D+9 oversampling. No, there is bias and manipulation here, I wasn’t sure of it a month ago, but now I am.

      • John
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        bks – showing a tie right up to election will not make a pollster wrong and actually provides them a minimum risk path. They can say it all broke at the last second for the winner. Not saying Rasmussen is cooking the books to play this angle (some clearly are cooking the books) but it is possible. Why have his undecideds gone up (3% now vs 1% last weekend) as we approach election day? Doesn’t make sense unless some selective data massaging to reduce risk is being applied.

  5. AJ
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    As someone who like to wager, these polls are helping move the vegas line toward obama. i have some good money on Romney in some states where he is obv winning, Colorado, but vegas has him behind.

    • Dogfish
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      AJ, do you have any recommended Vegas sites that will take a bet on the election.

      At my normal site I am already maxed out on Romney…. I would like to get some more down on him.

      Any recommendations would be appreciated.

      • AJ
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        I use 5dimes. i also use them for baseball and football. always pay out.

  6. Interested Party
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Just looked at the Ras internals for today. 47-42 R with indies. O approval rating 51%, which is highly unlikely to be reality. So at 48-48 I think he’s over sampling Dems. Just a thought. If the electorate is +1 D or even it should be about 51-48 R, where it looks like its going to be.

    • Jim S.
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink | Reply

      If O is only pulling 42% of indies at this point in the race I imagine that has to be pretty ominous.

  7. David
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve given up on anything from Marist being a reliable, fair outfit. It must be their plan to exit the polling business.

    If the fallout in Sandy’s aftermath gets to be any worst, I wonder if it would undermine Obama’s support in places like NY, NJ, and other supposedly safe blue states?

    • Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink | Reply

      Not enough to make a difference but as I noted above Pa. isn’t getting any love and they got hit hard as well. Could undermine some already tenous O support in the Philly burbs.

      • Dogfish
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Jersey, do you believe that there is any chance that Mendendez would lose…. considering the storm and the recent news about his Dominican fling?

        I would be interested in your thoughts.

  8. Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    Marist Polls are not even worth commenting on. Its sad that RCP & others even include them in their data sets when the purpose of these polls is to manipulate RCP data and others data.

  9. Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    Last night I actually saw an anti-Romney ad run by a PAC in the Buffalo, NY, region! Does that mean NY is in play? I am not that naive, but it was amazing to actually see an anti-Obama ad in New York.

  10. Jon
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Florida: What a freaking shame!!!! Here is the early vote so far based on returned ballots to SoS. You tell me that mitt is leading with Independents in there poll but Obama has +7 lead in the EV with only a D+2 percent. Freaking lies!

    Florida Miami-Herald 3,463,527 people

    Party Reg
    Dem 42.5%
    Rep 40.3%
    None/Oth 17.2%
    In-person 48.3%
    Mail 51.7%

    Source: http://elections.gmu.edu/early_vote_2012.html

    • Evan3457
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Romney’s winning Florida.

      • Jon
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Oh I know, but when an average layman can look at the EV and see the lies. Its just absolute partisan hackery

    • Jim S.
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink | Reply

      Mason-Dixon has R+6, Suffolk pulled out of the state calling it for Romney, look at these internals from the Mason-Dixon FL poll.

      On likeability and approval, Obama has sunk underwater, while Romney has begun to soar. Romney’s favorability has ascended to a +19, 53/34, while Obama’s has sunk to a -7, 42/49. Obama’s job approval is -11 at 43/54, with independents rating it 43/55. Even women put his job approval under water, 47/50.

      • Posted November 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        In what universe?

  11. stuckinmass
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    How can all these blue states like PA, WI, MI, and MN be close and yet the swing states showing an Obama lead or tie, or tie in the national vote?

    It doesn’t add up. Polls are all over the place. I’m not focusing on them, I’m focusing on other things. There’s clearly lots of republican enthusiasm over democrats this time around. Large crowds for RR, mediocre for Obama. Romney is campaigning like Reagan in 1980, Obama is campaigning like Bush in 1992. Washington Post says 13% of 2008 Obama voters will vote for Romney.

    • Neil in NC
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink | Reply

      Do you have a link to this WP story?

      Cross-over voters is a phenom I haven’t seen hardly any mention of this cycle. I’d be interested in any polling that’s been done.

    • Tom
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Obama won with 69,456,000(rounded) votes. 84% say they will support him again this year which equals 58,343,040 left for 2012. McCain had 59,934,000(rounded) votes in 2008. I didn’t see any data on McCain votes going to obama so anything else would be assumptions. There of course is probably a small percetage of McCain voters changing to obama, and the new 18-21 year olds are not factored in either. However adding in the 13% of obama voters saying they have switched to Romney brings Romneys unadjusted votes to 68,963,280. This of course is based on 2008 turnout of just about 130,000,000. Yes it doesn’t take everything into account, but that makes the totals Romney 69m – obama 60m. Make the rest of assumptions on your own to estimate the final vote total.

  12. No Tribe
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    Keith, how about a tally of PPP polls done in the battleground states? I bet they come in close to Marist standards as well. That would be an interesting graph– one that showed the skew of polls in the battlegrounds going to each candidate.

  13. M. White
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    Isn’t it ironic the difference in the media coverage of this storm compared to Katrina. The media is deliberately not covering the horror stories and the lack of response to make Obama, FEMA and mostly Democrats look good. You have the people saying one thing and politicans and government officials saying another. Politicians want to pat themselves on the back while people are suffering. The media is doing a horrific job in order to their “One” re-elected. It really does make me sick. They are still running footage of OBama and Christie which was 4 days ago, things are much, much worse now but the media want to keep the image of this romance on the radar for their selfish reasons. The only media covering the horror is Fox and local news channels in the immediate area. Neil Cavuto is right now going over a montage of all the politicians patting each others backs. People are screaming for helpn no home, no shelter, no food, no water, no gas, no heat, using the bathroom anywhere they can find a place. This is quickly becoming a disaster! It will quickly become a health crisis of mass proportion. But where is the media, loving up on the politicians.
    Also, on the polls, don’t sweat them…Tuesday will tell the truth. I really thought the polling agencies would start coming out with better, more reliable polls by the weekend to keep themselves from looking like idiots but I was wrong. I have stated before this is a form of voter suppression on the media’s part to try to keep the Republicans from voting thinking all is over, Obama is winning, no need to vote on Tuesday. It has worked before I sure hope it doesn’t this time.
    One more thing…Obama has been getting very low crowds at his rallies but this weekend he has an all-star cast with him, Springstein, JZ, Katy Perry, and many more so his crowds may a bit bigger this weekend due to people coming for the concert. Notice the rallies will be in large, heavily Democratic areas, so don’t read too much into it.
    Romney will win Tuesday! Don’t fear or worry, pray and have faith!

    • JGS
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink | Reply

      +1 +1 +1 +1

    • Ken in Bama
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

      I know those in need in the disaster areas don’t think about it…they have other things to worry about. But I imagine they would be pretty upset to realize that maybe they aren’t getting more help because the MSM is portraying this thing as “Nothing to see here…move along” to the rest of the nation.

  14. brandon
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink | Reply

    WOAH WOAH WOAH, there is something wrong with the MARIST OHIO poll. I just ran the numbers based on this statement “In Ohio, 35 percent say they have already voted or plan to do so, and Obama is leading them, 62 percent to 36 percent. Yet Romney is up among Election Day voters in the Buckeye State, 52 percent to 42 percent.”

    O= (.35*.62)+((1-.35).42)= 49%
    R= (.35*.36)+(1-.35).52)= 46.4%

    This leaves 95.4% of the vote undecided with the remaining vote to go to 3rd party or undecided. The only way Obama comes close to getting 51-45 is if you toss these undecideds/third parties into his column (by adding the remaining undecided/3rd party voters in each early voting and election day weighting).

    Further, if you re-weight according to George Mason’s early voting records of 2012 vs 2008 total 21.8%

    O= (.218*.62)+((1-.218).42)= 46.36%
    R= (.218*.36)+((1-.218).52)= 48.51%

    This leaves 5%+ undecided/third party. Obviously this is a rule of thumb, but I must be missing something because Marist’s numbers don’t add up.

    • brandon
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

      In looking at the internals of the Marist poll, 35% plan to vote early, 59% on election day, and 6% have not decided (isn’t it too late to vote early now?)

      Anyways, throwing out the 6% undecided:

      O= (.35*.62)+((1-.35-.06).42)= 46.48%
      R= (.35*.36)+(1-.35-.06).52)= 43.28%

      Which accumulates for 89.76% of the vote, 6% undecided and the rest going to other candidates. If I throw in the 6% at the .62/.36 split Obama leads 50.2% to 45.44%, that gives a poll weighting of 41% to early voters, which is far greater that the likely % of early voters to the 2012 total votes.

      • M. White
        Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        In Ohio people can vote early through Monday, then Tuesday is the actual election day. I hate all this early voting. It would be ok to allow 5 or 10 days of early voting but this month long early voting is really stupid. It also allows way too many unknowns to happen, ballot box stuffing, voter fraud, so on. In the past Ohio has been known for lots of voting schemes. People taking machines home with them, taking memory cards home and much more. Hopefully, they have that fixed, they say they do, but some of the electronic machines having been switching votes for Romney to Obama.

  15. JN
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink | Reply

    florida last time close to 9 million i wouldn’t worry about EV today is the last day to EV and last time OB had a lead of over 300k he has like 70k as of last night line to EV are long here due to 11 pages of amendments. There are only like 10 EV site in Miami Dade. My Aunt and Uncle with there neighbor were in line at 9:45pm to vote when it was supposed to close at 7pm. FYI They are registered Democrats but have never voted for a democrat. They thought it meant Democray when they registered they came from Cuba in the 1960’s running away from Castro.

  16. DAB
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    Look at United States Election Project and early FL voting. Florida is Romney’s.

  17. Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fl reporting 3 hr lines for early voting

  18. Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fox is reporting 4 hour waits..In what appears to be Republican territory.

  19. Posted November 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The only interesting nugget I took away from the Ohio Marist poll is this. Mandel was down five and Romney down six. That implies that Mandel is running slightly stronger than Romney. I had not seen evidence of this before. Since it seems likely that Romney is even with Obama or slightly ahead, it would mean that Mandel has a good shot of winning. That would be great news.

    Regarding Florida, it is looking like Mack is not going to pull it out.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […]  More here: […]

  2. […] the internal data and test whether the poll data match up with the poll results.  We found that time after time after time the results unequivocally do not match up with the internal data.  Thanks to […]

  3. […] make the long-distance call to Marist in Narnia to come up a “representative” sample of Ohio. The party ID was D +9 (Dem 38, […]

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