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Thursday Afternoon Poll Blogging

[ 35 ] August 30, 2012 |

As Erik points out, Silver has positive news for Obama in Ohio.  Much of this optimism hangs on the house effect of the recent Gravis Marketing poll; measuring and adjusting for house effects can be a bit of an art.  House effects can also vary from election to election, which to my mind makes reliable inferences drawn from them somewhat risky.  House effects perhaps aren’t as unreliable as BABIP or Catcher ERA, but it isn’t impossible that, in this electoral context, Gravis Marketing has a more valid combination of a likely voter model, demographic weighting of the sample, method of measuring leaners, etc., than do the other houses.  Unlikely, I’ll allow, but not beyond possible.

Incidentally, two days ago UK Polling Report put up a thorough post on house effects.  Granted it’s from the British context, but the basic principles involved are context-independent.

One good illustration of how variance in house effects matters is on August 25, Silver has a discussion of a recent CNN poll and the difference between it’s registered voter estimate (Obama +9%) and the estimate after their likely voter filter is applied (Obama +2%).  Another, perhaps more optimistic (from a Democratic POV) illustration is an article by Jonathan Chait discussed over at The Democratic Strategist.  Briefly, most houses are apparently assuming an electorate that is whiter than reality.  The example cited is ABC, which assumes a 78% white electorate.  This would be going against a trend consistent since 1992 when the white share of the electorate fell from 87% (1992) to 74% in 2008.  It was 77% in 2004.  Even if the enthusiasm gap favors Republicans in 2012, reversing this trend ten years seems highly unlikely.

TDS nails it in the end, of course:

None of which changes the priority challenge facing Democrats — to launch the most extensive and intensive GOTV mobilization of the base constituencies in the history of the party.

Unrelated to polling (and I trust that Lemieux might have something to say about this) a district court panel unanimously ruled the Texas voter suppression law unconstitutional, and the three judge panel included a Bush II appointee (along with Clinton and Obama appointees).  Before we get too excited, the chance of me having those drinks in New Orleans as scheduled for right about now is marginally better than Texas flipping blue any time soon, and it has to meet a more stringent test for changes in electoral law as Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act applies to the entire state, burdens that Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin can ignore.

Of course, Texas is also challenging the constitutionality of Section 5, a challenge the same panel allowed to proceed (and good luck with that).

Comments (35)

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  1. Martin says:

    I gave that Chait article a lot of thought. Question — even if the share of the white vote is generally on the decline, is it reasonable to expect nonwhite turnout percentage to exceed 26% after the most enthusiastic election from a nonwhite perspective imaginable? I feel like that 77% white vote figure may not be off the mark. I’d appreciate anything you have to add.

    • Craigo says:

      Believe it or not, the white share of the vote “only” dropped by three percent – from 77% to 74%. That’s a smaller drop than in either 1996 or 2004, when the white vote share dropped by four points.

      While it’s true that there were many, many more minority voters that year, there were also many, many more white voters. The net effect was a decline that was right in line with the trend of the last twenty years – a decline of a little less than one point per year. Anyone banking on a minority tidal wave receding in 2012 will be disappointed.

      • ben says:

        There are about 90M Americans who are eligible but will not vote in 2012 and the majority are white. Maybe by 2024 the Republicans will decide they want to increase the percentage of Americans who vote.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Keep ignoring Citizens United and the coming Super PAC flood (they’ve been holding back for the Fall. The Dems have actually outspent us so far when looking at campaign+party+Super PAC spending, but have far more cash on hand now), the two jobs reports left, and of course the election integrity laws that will stop the kind of shenanigans that happened in 2008.

    Also ignore that Romney is surging in Wisconsin, in Michigan, and even beginning to put Connecticut in play. Change is coming to Washington…

  3. Greg says:

    Wisconsin’s voter ID law is injoined under the WI Constitution. So far as I’m aware there haven’t been any federal decisions made one way or the other.

  4. My friends, it’s so wonderful to see this discussion of polls and polling and all the wonderful poll-type things that go into a campaign like this, don’t you think? Ann and I just love the polls, with their math, sure all the whole numbers but also the little not-whole numbers that are just parts of larger numbers that you find in these sorts of devices. Numbers are really something else, we can all agree on that. If you don’t have those, how can you measure how successful you’ve been as compared to other individuals who may also be employing numbers to gauge their own success? And that success is people, my friends, always people.

    I’d love to stay and talk more about all the nice things that are numbers and number-related things, and oh by the way, isn’t it great that on most of your computing devices all the numbers are the same height? And it’s just the right height, don’t you think? For a number of that nature, I mean. But, oh gosh, I’m being told I have to finish learning what I believe today so I can use English words to communicate those beliefs tonight to this great nation, for which I will never, ever apologize, not even for various sums of money, although we could possibly negotiate over that.

    No, my friends, I just wanted to let you wonderful American persons know that in addition to my speaking-words-to-people event tonight at the convention, I am also announcing the world premiere of my newly formed collection of written words for younger persons, Of Thee, in the Sense of Many of You Young Persons, I Am Also Capable of Producing Vocal Melody: A bound volume collecting various English-language words that are intended to convey a story to a younger-aged readership, written AND illustrated by Mitt “Mitt” Romney, which is now available on these World Web mechanisms, at http://mittalsocansing.wordpress.com. I hope you persons who have begotten other, descendant, persons will share my words with those descendant persons of yours. God bless you all and God bless these United States of America, which by the way I also will not apologize for saying!

  5. wengler says:

    Off-topic but the Chicago Teachers Union just gave their 10 day notice to strike. I fully expect Emanuel to attempt to do his best Scott Walker and really try to screw them over.

    This story could be an interesting intersection of union rights and the Presidential campaign of Obama and Romney.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Romney already hitting it out of the park.

    Stick a fork in Obama, he’s done.

  7. David M. Nieporent says:

    Unrelated to polling (and I trust that Lemieux might have something to say about this) a district court panel unanimously ruled the Texas voter suppression law unconstitutional

    No, they didn’t. They ruled that Texas hadn’t met its burden of showing it complied with Section 5 of the VRA.

    The Supreme Court has already rejected the claim that voter ID laws are unconstitutional “voter suppression laws.”

    Notably, in this case the court unanimously rejected the government’s evidence that there are large numbers of voters without IDs or that those people are disproportionately minority.

    • Craigo says:

      Notably, in this case the court unanimously rejected the government’s evidence that there are large numbers of voters without IDs or that those people are disproportionately minority.

      No, they didn’t.

      “To thecontrary, record evidence suggests that SB 14, if implemented, would in fact have a retrogressiveeffect on Hispanic and African American voters. This conclusion flows from three basic facts:(1) a substantial subgroup of Texas voters, many of whom are African American or Hispanic, lack photo ID; (2) the burdens associated with obtaining ID will weigh most heavily on the poor;and (3) racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty. Accordingly,SB 14 will likely “lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to theireffective exercise of the electoral franchise.”

  8. chris says:

    Briefly, most houses are apparently assuming an electorate that is whiter than reality.

    Isn’t the electorate always whiter than reality? The only question is *how much* whiter the electorate will be than the real country.

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