Tag Archives: turnout

The Post-Motems Continue to Roll In

The exit polling data around election day has a notoriously wide margin of error, so as the “final” data comes rolling in, most notably through the Current Population Survey, more accurate inferences can be drawn from an election it is still hard to fathom that Barack Obama won.  This AP news write-up draws more of the same conclusions many of us already know: white people stayed home, african-americans voted in droves, wash, rinse, repeat:

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

The Battlegrounds:

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.

How to Get an Unpopular President Re-elected

The Heritage Foundation takes a look at a story that has been percolating around ever since President Obama achieved surprising success in his voter turnout efforts:

More than 4 million people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 did not vote this year. But by applying new voter science, Obama nudged enough replacements in key states — many who were rare or first-time voters — to give him his margin of victory (leveraged even larger by the Electoral College). Years of stealthy multimillion-dollar efforts paid off for America’s left in the 2008 and 2012 victories by President Barack Obama. Using new voter science to get rare and first-time voters to go to the polls, the races have changed America’s electorate — those who make the country’s decisions by showing up and voting. Aided by $5 million minimum from George Soros, plus millions more from others, at least two secretive institutions were created to enable this effort by focused research on behavioral science. Their results are made available only to liberals and their causes.

Read the whole thing.

Why So Many Failed to Predict the Reelection

Colorado GOTV: Reconciling Election Results & Exit Poll Data by David Ramos

This is a look at the aftermath of the Colorado GOP ground game by reader David Ramos:

The pundits have had their two cents commenting what the election results and exit polling data says and does not say. In this case, a summary of how Colorado voted in the election using exit polling data available at Fox News and election vote numbers available at the Denver Post. Please note exit polling data and actual vote data may have changed over the past few days.

The D/R/I split –

In the 2008 election, the party split on election day was Democrat 30%, Republican 31% and Independents 39%. If the election were based strictly on these numbers, Romney would have carried the state. Both sides did very well in keeping their core voter bases. If there was any crossover voting, it was pretty much a wash. Neither gained much from these type of voters. The unaffiliated (independent) voters, according to exit polling, went for Romney by a 50-45 margin. This would indicate unaffiliated voters in Colorado essentially returned to their conservative-leaning roots. Following the party ID D/R/I split, it appears Romney was the preferred choice.

This poses the question on how Romney, then, could not carry Colorado by leading with unaffiliated voters by a 5-point margin. Brit Hume on election night alluded to “moderate” voters. Hume surmised many who call themselves “moderate” are actually reliably liberal Democrat voters. They don’t view themselves holding extreme positions, or consider themselves to ever vote for a Republican. When the exit poll asked “how you view your political alignment, liberal-moderate-conservative”, moderates in Colorado broke for Obama by 8-10 points. That alone, Obama was able to negate whatever vote advantage Romney may have had with the D/R/I split.

Down Ballot Influence –

With no statewide offices or contentious initiatives on the ballot, there was very little or no influence that could sway the presidential race in one direction or another. The congressional races were pretty much tame, with the incumbents expected to hold their seats. In the Republican held congressional districts, it appears some voters may have split their ballot – keeping their Republican congressmen and voting for Obama.

The most serious challenge the Democrats made was in CD 6, a district that has reliably voted Republican since the lines were first drawn. Reapportionment had shifted more Democrat voters into the district. As such, the Democrats thought they may have a chance of beating popular Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. Coffman held his seat by a 50-45 margin, even narrowly carrying Arapahoe County, a swing county that was carried by Obama. In CD 5, the Republicans had no Democrat challenger, allowing incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn to handily win re-election. Yet, one county in CD 5 was carried by Obama and two counties were narrowly won by Romney. Lamborn won those same counties by comfortable margins. In Republican stronghold El Paso County, the centerpiece of CD 5, apparently there were unaffiliated voters who chose Obama over Romney. Romney won El Paso County by a 57-43 margin, slightly improving on McCain’s 55-45 win in 2008. For a Republican to strongly compete for Colorado and help offset the Democrat margins in the Denver Metro area, El Paso County needs to be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. In 2000, Bush 43 carried the county by a 68-32 margin. In 2004, Bush 43 won by a 75-25 margin (best-ever).

Reconciling the numbers –

With reports of widespread failures in the Project Orca GOTV, it might be quite fair to say Colorado slipped away from the Romney column in the same way. Heading into election night, Team Romney believed it would be able to flip Colorado into their column. There was good optimism and high enthusiasm based on the huge Red Rocks rally and the Fiddler’s Green rally (Nov 3). But, then again, large rallies are not good indicators of election results. George McGovern, for example, was drawing large rally crowds at the end of his campaign. And, John Kerry drew a crowd of 80,000+ in Madison, only to win Wisconsin in 2004 by a narrow margin.

Shortly before the polls closed in Colorado, Team Romney believed their numbers pointed to a win. With 1.9 million early votes cast, a possible 800,000 votes could be cast on election day. As noted previously, no one knew how anyone voted in the early voting period. PPP suggested Obama held a 6-point lead among unaffiliated voters, giving him a slight lead going into election day. From exit polling, unaffiliated voters were breaking for Romney 50-45. It appears unaffiliated voters actually broke for Obama instead, and not Romney.

It appears, though, the difference between the Romney and Obama campaigns is the turnout model. The Obama campaign thought they would be able to recreate a portion of their 2008 turnout by getting the turnout they needed from the groups they needed. The Romney campaign turnout model was based on turnout levels would return to historical norms. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, and others on the conservative side believed turnout levels would return to historical norms. While Obama lost half of his victory margin in Colorado compared to 2008, a reduction in victory margin was likely calculated into their turnout model.

— David Ramos

0.3% is the Difference Between President Romey and President Obama

A strategic shift in 0.3% of the vote changes the President of the United States. Of course it matters greatly where those 0.3% are located as Team Obama knew from Day 1 while Team Romney keeps smacking their forehead saying “Now they tell us!” Jim Geraghty keeps up with the turnout math:

[H]ere is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Timesresults map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide.

Senator Sharon Angle Agrees With Nate Silver: Barack Obama has an 84% Chance of Winning

Nate Silver has his usual spin on outrageously absurd election outcome odds:

President Obama is now better than a 4-in-5 favorite to win the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. His chances of winning it increased to 83.7 percent on Friday, his highest figure since the Denver debate and improved from 80.8 percent on Thursday.

He shows a bunch of polls from a murder’s row of bad polling where Obama is leading and maps out three arguments where they could be wrong.  After arguing and dismissing the first two he concludes:

That leaves only the final source of polling error, which is the potential that the polls might simply have been wrong all along because of statistical bias.

You don’t say!

The FiveThirtyEight forecast accounts for this possibility…I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction…My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.

Silver makes such pronouncements with outlandish statistical weights as if it is nearly unbelievable that the poll results could be wrong.  One of the main purposes of this blog was to look at the exact same polls, analyze 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 Sean Davis, we are reminded this was the identical situation only 2 years ago is probably the highest profile race where a deeply unpopular Senate Majority leader was behind in nearly every poll yet still won.

Out of 14 polls between October 1 and election day, Sharon Angle led in 12 of those polls.  Her average lead on election day according to Real Clear Politics was +2.6.  She lost by -5.6 points — an 8.2 point swing.  The polls were not just wrong, but WAY wrong.  Could anyone analyzing the internals of these polls see this?  Why yes they could. But even in the highest profile contest of the cycle, almost no one did such an analysis. The few who did, Democrat pollster Mark Mellman, Republican pollster Glen Bolger and liberal reporter/columnist Jon Ralston, all consistently said the polls were wrong — and each was largely ignored until proven correct on election day.  Why did they know this?  Because they looked at the data in the polls and said the internal information does not reflect the top-line results and the Nevada electorate on election day will not reflect what these polls are indicating. They were right and the polls were wrong … by A LOT.

Today we have an identical dichotomy where the stat gurus like Nate Silver say Obama has an 84% chance of winning because that is what the top-line poll numbers tell him.  Nate Silver called the Nevada Senate race incorrectly because the poll data was wrong.  His accuracy is predicated on accurate polls.  Mountains of evidence says today’s Presidential polls are equally as wrong as the Nevada Senate polls.

Critics of the polls on the Right, like myself, of whom even Silver concedes offer “intellectually coherent” critiques say the results on November 6 will be very different. Maybe Nate Silver is correct and Barack Obama will be re-elected President on November 6.  But any analysis of the data in those same state polls he relies on says the voting preference of Independents, the increased turnout of Republicans, the decreased turnout of Democrats, the change in favor of Republicans in early voting, Romney’s favorability on the election’s top issue (economy) and numerous other factors will result in President Romney on November 6.  United States Senator Sharon Angle from Nevada may disagree.

The Battleground State Version of the David Axelrod Turnout Model Take-Down

DISCLAIMER: Blogging may be light this afternoon due to some issues away from the blog.  I’m still apparently 2-3 days away from getting electricity and heading home so adjustments will crimp into blogging.  I’m trying to get out the Clark County early vote post which was a good day for Democrats but not nearly the big day they hoped/needed. I’m not even monitoring my usual source for scoops and posts so I can get the backed-up posts out.  So big news like Romney heading to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (tonight!) will have to wait. My ability to monitor comments is limited.  Play nice.  To newcomers on both sides: no name calling, hair pulling, nonsensical comments or you’re outta here as soon as I notice. Disagree all you want but offer sound reasons not just your blind belief. End Disclaimer.

Today’s must read:

Click on this link and read this whole piece by Reid Wilson in the National Journal.  It addresses my exact point in the David Axelrod Turnout Model take-down. My post was on the national numbers but the same story applies at the state level. This column talking to Rob Jesmer walks you through the exact same arguments state-by-state.  A must read:

A few days ago, I sat down with Rob Jesmer, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Jesmer is usually tight-fisted about his polling; he doesn’t share it with members of the media when the numbers are good for his candidates, which avoids the inevitably uncomfortable dilemma when the numbers are bad for his candidates. But he wanted to open his books, if only for a peek, to demonstrate a phenomenon happening across the political spectrum these days: His polls look nothing like polls Democrats are conducting.

It’s a constant refrain from both sides these days. The two parties, the outside groups that are playing such a big role this year, and even some candidates themselves are so dubious about their own numbers that they are employing two pollsters for one race, using one to double-check the other. What flummoxes them even more is that their own party’s pollsters are getting similar results, while the other side is offering a completely different take.

Republicans say their party is a victim of media bias — but not in the standard Lamestream Media sort of way. Pollsters on both sides try to persuade public surveyors that their voter turnout models are more accurate reflections of what’s going to happen on Election Day. This year, GOP pollsters and strategists believe those nonpartisan pollsters are adopting Democratic turnout models en masse.

Regardless of the cause, strategists on both sides acknowledge the difference in their internal polling. Republicans believe Democrats are counting far too much on low-propensity voters and a booming minority turnout that isn’t going to materialize on Election Day. Democrats believe Republicans are hopelessly reliant on an electorate that looks far more like their party than the nation as a whole. The day after Election Day, somebody’s pollsters are going to be proven seriously wrong.

Deep down, both parties secretly worry it’s their side that is missing the boat.

Reporter Finds First Five Students at Columbus, OH Obama Rally Are Romney Supporters

This is rich (h/t @mattmargolis):

The cheering midst of a rally featuring President Barack Obama and a largely college-age crowd of 15,000 on the Oval at Ohio State University would not seem a likely place to encounter those not in the president’s corner. Yet, the first five students approached at random by a Dispatch reporter on Oct. 9 turned out to support Republican Mitt Romney and his aspirations of replacing Obama in the White House.

It’s not 2008 any more:

The must-vote adoration and enthusiasm for Obama isn’t what it once was among 18- to 29-year-old Millennials in central Ohio, a must-win area in a must-win state for presidential hopefuls. This is not 2008, when two-thirds of the youth vote broke big for Democrat Obama and his message of change amid the accompanying offer of making history by electing the first black president. This is 2012, with Obama running on a recession-riddled record. Job prospects are iffy for even educated young Ohioans. Some fear their generation is in danger of failing to match or better their parents’ now-dinged lifestyles.

Columbus and demographics

Millennials, an increasingly diverse and growing group representing 16 percent of Ohio’s population, are coveted by both Obama and Romney, with both making college campuses a frequent stop. And the biggest of them all, Ohio State and its 56,387 main-campus students, rests in the heart of Franklin County, which cast 50 percent of the presidential vote in a 20-county swath of central Ohio four years ago. Obama chose OSU, in fact, to kick off his re-election campaign at a May 5 rally…Franklin County typically is vital turf in presidential elections, with successful Democrats such as Obama relying on six-figure wins to overcome the GOP votes cast by the reliably Republican counties dominating central Ohio.

About that enthusiasm gap — Youth vote

But, courting and turning out the votes of youth, who are less reliable in going to the polls than older voters are, is proving more difficult this time around — a trend that could work against Obama’s re-election chances. National polls suggest Obama still enjoys a near 20 percentage-point advantage over Romney among young adults, but their enthusiasm has waned, leaving them less likely to vote than in 2008. Polling late last month by the Pew Research Center found young voters, who have cast a majority of their votes for Democrats in the past three presidential elections, are significantly less engaged than in 2008. Sixty-three percent of young registered voters plan to cast ballots this year, compared with 72 percent four years ago. And 61 percent call themselves “highly engaged” this year, down from 75 p ercent in 2008.

Herb Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State, said youthful excitement over Obama has been tempered by the “real world and reality” of governing during tough times…Asher expects Obama to be a favorite again with Millennials in central Ohio but adds a footnote: “The real question is not so much the level or loyalty of support but turnout. … The youth vote is an integral part of his strategy and extremely important here.”

Romney Actually Leading Based on Today’s ABC/Washington Post Poll

I’m hesitant to do this with every poll but after the below monstrosity from ABC/Washington Post, it was worth the time to rework the poll with a more reasonable election turnout.  The largest bone of contention is that the party identification had a Democrat advantage of 9 percentage points more Democrats surveyed than Republicans which in shorthand is D +9. This exceeds the best-in-a generation turnout advantage Obama had in 2008 which was 7 percentage points more Democrats or D +7.  But what if that absurd disparity in turnout was a more reasonable turnout of D +3 which is also the historic average over the last 7 Presidential elections?

First I will map out the poll as reported by ABC and the Washington Post

The party ID and vote totals according to ABC/Washington Post:

Democrat Republican Independent Other Total
Washington Post/ABC Party ID D +9 35 26 33 6 100
% of: Democrat Vote Republican Vote Independent Vote Other Vote
Barack Obama 91 7 42 24.5
Mitt Romney 8 93 48 53.0
Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote
Obama Vote 31.85 1.82 13.86 1.47 49
Romney Vote 2.8 24.18 15.84 3.18 46

We see in the final column on the right, we end up with the exact vote split of 49 to 46 favoring Obama according to ABC/Washington Post. The only issue with the above calculation is the “Other” category for support which breaks for Romney 53 to 24.5. I had to back into those #s since they are not provided. If someone sees the actual breakdown I’d be happy to adjust the above calculations. The differences can only be a couple tenths of a percent from what I have  and it won’t affect the outcome but I wanted to point that out up front.

Now what happens if we leave fantasy land where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 9 percentage points and we simply go with the historical average of D +3?

Below I map out the exact same poll but with a more reasonable party ID based on today’s electorate.

Democrat Republican Independent Other Total
Washington Post/ABC Party ID D +3 32 29 33 6 100
% of: Democrat Vote Republican Vote Independent Vote Other Vote
Barack Obama 91 7 42 24.5
Mitt Romney 8 93 48 53.0
Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote Party ID * % vote
Obama Vote 29.12 2.03 13.86 1.47 46.48
Romney Vote 2.56 26.97 15.84 3.18 48.55

Now we see the lead has flip-flopped and coincidentally, if we use rounded numbers, the vote totals are the exact opposite of the ABC/Washington Post results and Mitt Romney is leading 49 to 46. But I included the decimal places because you can see the real lead is only 2.07-points and the rounding misleads on the overall margin.

This is why voter registration, enthusiasm and turnout are all essential to any successful campaign. Mitt Romney is almost certainly leading in this election but if Democrats meet or exceed their advantage at the ballot box like they achieved in 2008, they will almost certainly win the election. Thankfully as we have shown countless times, as in the take down of the ABC/Washington Post poll below, all the evidence points to a dramatically different turnout on election day in favor of Republicans relative to 2008.

Dan Balz Steals My E-Mail

I’m only kidding about that headline but today’s Dan Balz columnn echos an exact point I made in a private e-mail to a friend 24-hours earlier:  “This coming week may decide the campaign between the next debate, the unraveling story over the Embassy attacks, the refusal to provide security and the deception in the aftermath. Just need to keep Romney from getting in the way of the circular firing squad forming around Obama.”

Here is Dan Balz opening:

Every week after Labor Day is touted as a critical week in presidential politics. The coming week may actually live up to that characterization. During the next eight days, President Obama and Mitt Romney will meet for their final two debates — Tuesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island and the following Monday in Florida. At that point, it should be clear whether the momentum that Romney picked up from the first debate in Denver has stalled or whether he continues to gain ground against the president. In the meantime, the front-page headline in Saturday’s Columbus Dispatch should serve as a warning to Obama’s headquarters in Chicago. It read, “Romney on the rise in Ohio.”

Whistling past the graveyard:

Obama advisers were saying earlier in the past week that they believed the post-Denver Romney surge had stopped. But virtually every recent poll since Denver, here in Ohio and in other battleground states, has shown movement toward the Republican challenger. Obama may still lead in enough states to win reelection, but the margins are no longer comfortable.

Romney surge

On Friday night, a huge crowd filled the town square in nearby Lancaster to greet Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, for a joint appearance after Thursday’s vice-presidential debate…Romney spoke of seeing a “growing crescendo of enthusiasm” around the country. All candidates say that in the final weeks of a campaign, but there is more than a little truth to it in this case. Republicans are energized in ways they weren’t before, still driven more by their anti-Obama feelings but increasingly happy with their nominee.

Pressure on Obama to perform

The pressure is squarely on the president Tuesday night, given his performance in Denver.

Pressure on Romney to sustain momentum

But Romney, too, needs a strong evening to cement the first. He cannot afford any backsliding. His advisers know that if, as expected, the president does a better job Tuesday, stories will inevitably be written about his bounce-back. No one expects a second mismatch.

The Benghazi bungle

[Romney is expected to criticize Obama regarding] the recent attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the administration’s changing stories about what happened, are symptomatic of broader weaknesses in Obama’s foreign policy. Romney has pressed the Libya issue aggressively in recent days, but his advisers are still trying to gauge just how much political traction it may provide. Obama advisers believe it will not be as significant as Romney hopes.

Obama’s empty agenda

There’s one other weakness in Obama’s message: the question of what his second-term agenda actually is. He has been vague about this throughout the campaign, preferring to focus on criticisms of Romney and defense of his first-term achievements. If he has something important to say about a second term, Tuesday night affords him the opportunity to say it.

Diminishing impact of debates

The last two debates have the potential to change the race again — and the candidates will prepare accordingly — but it’s likely that the biggest impact has already occurred.

Ground game and Turnout

Increasingly, both campaigns are focused on the real competition, which is turning out identified supporters and winning over the few remaining undecided voters.

Ohio for all the marbles

Romney, for example, has been spending much more time in Ohio in an apparent attempt to turn around a state that remains crucial to his White House hopes. He campaigned here Tuesday and Wednesday, he and Ryan campaigned in different parts of the state Saturday, and Ryan will be back Monday. Romney can get to 270 electoral votes without Ohio, but he would have to win Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and either New Hampshire or Wisconsin. In other words, he would have to win just about every other battleground state. Obama advisers have expressed confidence about Ohio. They see Romney as a flawed candidate for the Buckeye State this year: a corporate takeover artist mismatched with a state where blue-collar workers who have seen their jobs disappear over the years are wary of someone with his profile, and where the auto bailout, which Romney opposed, has helped boost confidence. But Obama, too, is taking precautions in Ohio. His campaign staffers and volunteers are trying to bank as many early votes as possible, knowing that they have a bigger challenge in turning out their voters than does Romney. The president will campaign in Ohio the day after the Hofstra debate. And on Saturday, the campaign announced a big rally for Thursday that will feature former president Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen — an event clearly designed to get the president’s base to the polls and to win over undecided voters.

Will the Party ID really look like R + 2 or R +3?

The just released Pew Research poll showing Mitt Romney up 4-points has the political blogosphere and twitterverse (can we get one name for the two?) up in arms over the party identification of respondents which was R +2.75 (Dem 32.5, Rep 35.25, Ind 29.5). But is that any more correct than the D +7 or D +10 samples we on the Right have indignantly complained about all election cycle? We have asked this question before and have seen detailed analysis of the trends and historical data which on average has been D +3 since 1980.

But what struck me in the Pew Poll was the party identification is  oddly similar to the current Rasmussen party identification that he releases on a monthly basis. Why do we care how close it is to Rasmussen?  Because he nailed the last two elections despite wild swings in the electorate’s preference.

Rasmussen Reports released his party ID for September last week and commenter “blcjr” took the raw data Rasmussen makes available to show you how trends have changed over time from 2004 through today.  Below is Rasmussen’s month-end party ID for each October in Presidential years and therefore the result immediately before the actual election.  We compared that with the exit polling party ID provided by the Winston Group:

Year Rasmussen Actual
2004 D +1.5 (Dem 38.7, Rep 37.2) D +0 (Dem 38, Rep 38)
2008 D +7.1 (Dem 40.3, Rep 33.3) D +7 (Dem 40, Rep 33)
2012 (Sep) R +2.6 (Dem 34.2, Rep 36.8) ?????

In the two prior Presidential election years Rasmussen essentially nailed the party identification and accurately captured the ground swell in favor of Democrats in 2008.  Not coincidentally Rasmussen called the 2004 election within 1% and nailed the 2008 election on the nose.  If party identification is to Republicans advantaged by near +2.6%, Romney should win overwhelmingly, much like the results we see in today’s Pew Poll with a party identification of R +2.75.

Chart compliments of commenter “blcjr”:

Party identification over time since 2004 through September 2012

In Battleground Iowa, Early Voting Turnout Is Key

Nice look at the early voting in Iowa. Democrats always come out of the gate strong, but Republicans have flipped the script all over the state. Key nugget: “The Romney campaign and Republican National Committee had done more by April than John McCain did in Iowa by election day…”

Obama Enthusiasm Down 10pts, Romney Enthusiasm Up 10pts

I have hammered this point countless times when enumerating reason after reason why the turnout results in polling is unrealistic and not reflective of today’s electorate. Obama had a record advantage in 2008 and the enthusiasm among his troops is meaningfully lower today while the enthusiasm among his opponent’s troops is equally higher.  According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, the two camps are approximately even in enthusiasm:

President Obama may win re-election, but if he does it appears it will be without the legions of fervent supporters and big enthusiasm that propelled him to victory four years ago. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Mitt Romney’s supporters are about as enthusiastic about supporting him in November as are those who back Obama. This is a stark contrast from the Post-ABC poll earlier this month, as well as throughout 2008, when Obama had huge leads over Sen. John McCain in this area.

In the new poll, 51 percent of  voters who support Obama are “very enthusiastic” about supporting him, as are 48 percent of Romney backers who are very enthused. Romney came close to Obama on enthusiasm once before, closing the gap to six percentage points in August.  Compared with four years ago, Obama’s supporters are less enthusiastic, while Romney’s are clearly more so than were McCain’s. Obama’s level of intense enthusiasm is down 10 percentage points from late September 2008, when 61 percent were “very enthusiastic.” Strong enthusiasm for Romney is 10 points higher than it was for McCain at the same point in the campaign.

The four-year drop-off in Obama enthusiasm has been most stark among ideological moderates. More than six in 10 moderate Obama voters were “very enthusiastic” about supporting him In a Post-ABC poll at this point in the 2008 campaign. Today, just 42 percent of Obama’s moderate voters are highly enthusiastic. Liberals, by contrast, are just as enthusiastic about Obama now (65 percent very enthusiastic) as four years ago (61 percent). For Romney, the improvements over McCain are among conservatives, older voters and among evangelicals. For instance, a 56 percent majority of white evangelical Protestants are “very enthusiastic” about voting for Romney, up from 36 percent who were jazzed about McCain. The spike among this group may come as a surprise, given that evangelical Christians were among Romney’s weaker groups in the Republican primaries this year.

About that Enthusiasm Gap … We’re not in 2008 any more Dorothy

Gallup has another survey out today in conjunction with USA Today.  While there are plenty of interesting take-aways from the survey questions, what struck me most was the enthusiasm gap and who is up versus who is down this year.

The poll of 1,446 adults, taken Monday through Thursday, has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Republicans have opened a big enthusiasm gap: 64% say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, compared to 48% of Democrats. In general, though, the results show an electorate that is less excited and less engaged than in recent presidential elections.

Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting than in 2008, although Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic. Fewer Democrats and Republicans say they have given a lot of thought to the election than they did in the falls of 2008 and 2004.

Polls of “adults” over-sample Democrat support which makes the subsequent take-aways all the more damning.  I’m going to repeat them for those who missed it the first time:

Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting than in 2008


Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic.

Paraphrasing Inigo Montoya: You keep using those 2008 turnout models. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

Why the Q-poll is a qrock — New York Post

If you’re feeling motivated, please visit the actual column linked here. Leave a comment on the Post’s website regarding the column (if available), email the NY Post link to the universe and tweet it out from the New York Post website as many times as you like if you have a twitter account.  It’s all I’ll ever ask of you. — “Keith”

Why the Q-poll is a qrock


Yesterday’s Quinnipiac Poll results were great news for President Obama: The Q-poll has him ahead by substantial margins in three battleground states — up 9 points in Florida, 10 in Ohio and 11 in Pennsylvania. Take a closer look: These numbers seem less like a scientific effort to measure how the campaign is going, and more like a drive to push it in that direction.

Simply put, the Quinnipiac surveys oversample Democrats; they only make sense if we believe that President Obama’s supporters are going to turn out in even greater numbers (relative to Republicans) than they did in 2008. Questions about the partisan makeup of poll samples have been rampant this election season, and Quinnipiac (which recently partnered up with CBS and The New York Times for polling) is at one extreme of that debate.

The 2008 election was a banner year for Obama and Democrats in general. The top of the ticket was a historic candidate (now our nation’s first black president); America had war and Bush fatigue, and the financial meltdown created an anti-Republican wave. Plus, Obama’s opponent, despite a great biography, was a poor candidate — a foreign-affairs and military expert running when the economy was the issue. John McCain’s campaign also had far less cash to spend.

All these factors helped yield to a strong Democratic advantage at the voting booth — where more voters identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans by a remarkable 7 points, 39 percent to 32 percent. This was the best advantage for Democrats in over a generation; in polling shorthand, we refer to it as D +7. For comparison, the 2004 split in party ID was perfectly even at 38 percent apiece (the GOP’s best showing in any recent presidential contest), and the average split in modern elections is D +3.6.

But Obama’s advantages are clearly less strong this year. He’s given us 8-plus percent unemployment for three years, economic growth below 2 percent and 23 million unemployed — and now the American flag is being burned across the Muslim world. Plus, Mitt Romney’s ground game far exceeds McCain’s 2008 effort.

But the Q-poll is having none of it. Like some other polling outfits, it is consistently and systematically insisting that Election Day turnout will favor Democrats as much or more than Obama’s 2008 best-in-a-generation advantage. In the Q-polls released yesterday, the spread between Democrats and Republicans each exceeded Obama’s 2008 advantage.

In Florida, the 2008 actual result was D +3; yesterday’s Q-poll had it at D +9. In Ohio, it was D +8 in 2008, D +9 in the Q-poll. And Quinnipiac gave us D +11 in Pennsylvania, versus a 2008 result of D +7. Mind you, each of these states has seen dramatic changes in party preferences since 2008 — electing Republican governors, flipping the state legislatures to GOP control, etc. Quinnipiac and others have given us polling that reflects a Democratic edge exceeding 2008 all year — including in last week’s Q-polls on Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Doug Schwartz, the director of Quinnipiac Polling, recently addressed these criticisms, citing the change from 2004 to 2008 to justify his sampling: “A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compare it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party-ID gap.” Um, so why is Schwarz assuming that the trend from 2004 to 2008 will continue in 2012?

Again, we have a president mired in a weak economy — with the economy remaining voters’ top issue (no survey even shows a close second). And Obama’s 2008 voting coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012, especially Hispanics and the youth vote.

But Quinnipiac uses 2008 as the norm — and then adds in even more Democrats, because, says Schwartz, there are “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.” Yes, more people identify with Democrats — that’s why national polls should reflect a sample that’s D +2 or D +3, and state polls should reflect a sample between the 2004 and 2008 electorates — not the unusually and likely unrealistically large Democratic advantage that Quinnipiac is awarding President Obama.

Like to The New York Post column: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/why_the_poll_is_qrock_56LUGAzegy7yn9zE8PsymK#ixzz27dv2FZLG

What Obama Must Do to Win

Charlie Cook points out that with the economy as the overriding factor and little chance of it improving President Obama is left with few choices barely over four months remaining until the election:

We are past the point where Obama can win a referendum election, regardless of whether it is on him or the economy. The success of his campaign is contingent upon two things.

First, when focusing on the narrow sliver of undecided voters, between 6 and 8 percent of the electorate, the Obama team must make its candidate the lesser of two evils. It has to make the prospect of a Mitt Romney presidency so unpalatable that about half of those undecided voters will begrudgingly vote for reelection. Polling focusing on the undecided voters reveals they are a deeply pessimistic and angry segment of the electorate and don’t particularly like either candidate (fitting, because they don’t tend to like politicians). But they show signs of being more conservative than not. One unpublished analysis gives Republicans a 10-point advantage on the generic congressional ballot test among those undecided about the presidential race. Close analysis of the numbers shows that Obama might have an edge with between a third and a quarter of the currently undecided bloc. That’s cutting things awfully close.

The second key is turnout. African-Americans look solid for Obama and very likely to vote in high numbers, but young and Latino voters’ turnout appears problematic. Obama’s recent announcement of a newly articulated Dream Act-light policy could help, but it is too soon to see any data showing measurable change. It is what many Latino voters wanted to see, though Obama did it less than five months before the election when it could have been done three years ago. After deportations had reached levels higher than those under George W. Bush, it could take a lot to drive up Latino turnout.

Who Thinks Democrats Will Have A Record Turnout? Franklin & Marshall Apparently (EDIT: Or Maybe not)

August 16, 2012 Update:  I hotly complained about the voter registration breakdown in this Franklin & Marshall poll which was D: 50, R: 37, I: 12. While I knew the difference between “party registration” and “party ID” I found it unthinkable that a 13% voter registration advantage for the Democrats.  I was wrong. My complaints were due to the Democrat party ID in 2008 was Dem: 44, Rep: 37, Ind: 18 of D +7 — a record year for Democrats, and up from D: 41, R: 39, I: 20 or D +2 in 2004.  My criticism of the party registration in the Franklin & Marshall poll was unfounded.  Democrats in Pennsylvania continue enjoy a party registration advantage exactly as Franklin & Marshall survey.  Maybe more Democrats will cross over in 2012 and maybe reduced Democrat enthusiasm for Obama will keep them home, but as it stands Franklin & Marshall’s methodology is correct.

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In a “Quick Hits” post Wednesday I linked to the Franklin & Marshall poll showing Obama with a commanding +12 point lead in Pennsylvania. Great news for Obama, right? Not so much it turns out. The internals in this poll tell a very different story such that despite the double digit lead, the poll should be of grave concern for the Obama campaign. Really.

A lot of things looked odd in the demographic breakdowns in the poll:

  • Despite the gender gap with men for Obama — he lost men by 1-point to McCain–in this poll he was beating Romney by +7
  • While most polls have Romney outpacing Obama on fixing the economy (or no worse than even), this poll has Obama up  +6
  • Among the all-important Independent voter, Obama leads by an incredible +22%

If those polling margins are accurate, not only will Obama win Pennsylvania, but he will probably win 400 electoral college votes.

Luckily for the Romney campaign, the oversampling of Democrats is so ludicrous it renders the Obama lead of +12 irrelevant as this poll fails in every way to reflect the likely turnout in November.

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Walker Recall as Proxy for November

We’ve written many times about the difficulties extrapolating too much between the Wisconsin recall election and the race in November between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Quite possibly the primary unknown for the recall was who is going to show up on election day? Will it be the Wisconsin of 2008 that voted for Obama by +14 points or will it be the Wisconsin of 2010 that voted in Governor Walker and an overwhelming Republican legislature? Republicans want a repeat of 2010 and Democrats obviously would like to see a repeat of 2008.

Looking at the Walker percentages across demographic groups, yesterday’s recall was an almost perfect repeat of his 2010 performance:

According to quite possibly the best source for coverage of Wisconsin, Craig Gilbert in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

This was a volatile conflict but not a volatile electorate…Tuesday’s electorate in many ways resembled the one that propelled Walker to victory 19 months ago. It was slightly less conservative [but] like 2010, it contained nearly even numbers of Democrats and Republicans.

So if Republicans looking to flip Wisconsin into the Romney column were hoping to recreate the 2010 Republican wave, yesterday’s turnout was a strong piece of evidence in their favor.

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Demographic Watch: Everyone (and None are Good for Obama … Really)

While nearly every post in this blog will be about the Battleground States, when I see something uniquely impacting the election outcome  or on slow Battleground state news days (like today), it’s helpful to see what’s going on underneath some of the national poll numbers. The incomparable Charlie Cook digs down deep into six full weeks of Gallup tracking data and unearths more than a few takeaways that should send shivers down the spines of the over-confident campaign in the Windy City:

Gallup has now finished its first six full weeks of tracking surveys for the 2012 presidential campaign, interviewing 20,565 registered voters. Yes, you guessed it: President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied, 46 percent to 46 percent.  On the surface, the race looks tight. But voter enthusiasm numbers are a headache for the president’s reelection team (emphasis added). This week, Gallup released six full weeks of results. The first half of these were interviews between April 11 and May 6; the second half were from May 7 through May 27.

2008 versus 2012

Although polling was consistent between genders across the two time frames sampled (Romney +8 among men, Obama +7/8 among women), things begin to unravel for the President when you compare these results to his 2008 margins.:

[I]n 2008, the exit polls showed that Obama edged Sen. John McCain by 1 point among men, 49 percent to 48 percent. Among women, he beat McCain by a whopping 13 points, 56 percent to 43 percent.

This is a -9 point swing with men and a -5/6 point swing among women. Those are horrific margin erosions to the President’s re-elect chances.

Independents split down the middle; Romney edged Obama by 1 point in the front half, 43 percent to 42 percent, and by 2 points in the second, 43 percent to 41 percent… [In] 2008 Obama carried the independent vote by 8 percentage points, 52 percent to 44 percent, and the overall election by 7 points.

A -9/10 point swing among Independents. Ouch!

African Americans too?  Yep

Obama is winning the African-American vote by gargantuan proportions: 90 percent to 5 percent in the first half of the survey and 88 percent to 6 percent in the second, not far off his 2008 showing (95 percent to 4 percent).

Wait, “not far”?  I love Charlie Cook but come on. This is a -6 point swing among African Americans.  That is HUGE.

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Beware Funny #s: Ralston Dismantles Nevada “Dead Heat” Poll

The dean of Nevada politics, and solid lefty, Jon Ralston opens up his column with a little chest thumping over his prescient 2010 call for Harry Reid to win his improbable Senate re-election. Normally this would be a bit unseemly, but Ralston’s call for Reid was consistent from start to finish and his analysis, in the face of mountains of contrary opinions, proved to be spot on. In his column deconstructing the recent NBC-Marist poll showing Obama up 2 but within the margin for error, he importantly identifies who and what gave him such successful insights into the Reid race:

[M]any polls erroneously created the impression that Angle was likely to defeat Reid. But there were problems with almost every one of those surveys, easily discovered by exploring the internals. And Reid’s pollster, Mark Mellman, turned out to have the only consistently correct numbers for one reason: His model of what the turnout was going to look like most closely approximated what it actually was.

The is the Rosetta stone for every poll and pollster.  Getting the party ID and turnout to most accurately reflect who will actually show up in the voting booth determines everything about the validity of any poll.  This is often as much art as science, but reputable pollsters get this more consistently right than wrong which is why I take great umbrage when Battleground state polling forecasts 2012 turnout to be a similarly Democrat year as 2008 (the D +8 spread we’ve seen multiple times) — no one thinks Democrats will be able to repeat such an advantage.  And Ralston was all over this in 2010 while GOP operatives fine tuned their Reid obituaries.

So the chest thumping is both warranted and a helpful reminder as Ralston digs into the recent NBC-Marist poll on Nevada:

[B]eing a poll junkie, I dived (sic) into the crosstabs, which can tell you something about the survey’s validity and also set the contours that will help determine the outcomes in November. The NBC/Marist poll makes some assumptions that might be instructive for November, but also might skew the current results. [T]he survey highlights the key factors that will determine the outcomes for the top-of-the-ticket races:

• Regional turnout: Nevada is three states – Southern, Northern and Rural. The greater the percentage of the vote in Clark County, the better for Democrats, who have a huge registration edge. The NBC/Marist poll turnout model indicates Clark County will make up 72 percent of the vote in November. That’s high by about 5 percentage points based on the past two elections, which shortchanges super-conservative rural Nevada by almost that much.

This reveals 3 things: the oversampling of the heavily Democrat region greatly increases Romney’s chances for victory in a normalized turnout. If Obama is able to achieve this level of Clark County mobilization (Ralston doubts it), he’ll likely win the state. But maybe most importantly, in this heavily Democrat region, Obama only leads by 5 points. This would spell doom for Obama in November according to Ralston.

• Hispanic turnout: The NBC/Marist poll has Hispanics as 19 percent of the electorate, which is something that has never happened in the state’s history. The highest was the past two cycles, in which 15 percent of voters were Latinos.

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The Wisconsin Voter: “Anger is the most powerful mobilizing force”

Much to my chagrin, thoughts (hopes?) of the Wisconsin recall being a proxy for the subsequent national election continue to diminish. It seems I am not alone in my skepticism on the transitive nature of the recall and admittedly both national camps have avoided the state. At the same time, favorable Walker polling simultaneously favors Obama in November although some smart analysis does indicate the margin of victory for Walker could portend a shift in the state towards Romney.

Despite the Wisconsin recall likely not having the 1:1 impact on November I hoped for, it is instructive to look closer at the Wisconsin voter today to better understand how each campaign can capitalize on the unusually motivated state. The invaluable Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel took a deep dive look at the Wisconsin voter and lived to tell about it:

In the War for Wisconsin, voters here have become famous for three things: participation, polarization and discord. In plainer language, they’re active, they’re divided and they’re angry. An angry citizen is an active citizen. That’s what pollsters believe. That’s what scholars have found. And that’s what 16 months of protests, petitions, rallies and recalls suggest. Bitter partisan conflict has coincided with extreme political engagement.

Voters are angry. But are they engaged?

Tuesday’s election is the culmination in Wisconsin of a spectacular activist eruption featuring the largest protests since Vietnam, one of the biggest petition drives in election history, and a recall movement without any precedent in American politics. The official turnout forecast for Tuesday is 60 to 65 percent of the state’s voting-age adults, which in the context of recent decades is a more or less insane figure. Dating back to 1950, average turnout in a mid-term election for governor is 47% and the highest was 52.4% in 1962. When last year’s state Supreme Court race became a proxy war over the governor’s agenda, turnout soared: 34% of the state’s voting-age adults voted in a judicial election – more than turned out for governor in some states in 2010. Just last month, with all the focus on a hot Democratic recall primary to decide Republican Scott Walker’s opponent, Walker’s supporters astonished the political world by turning out more than 600,000-strong to vote for the governor in a virtually uncontested GOP primary. It was the most votes for anybody in a gubernatorial primary in 60 years.

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