Oct 27 2008
Major Update: DJ Drummond (another poll skeptic like me) has discovered another indication that the poll weighting of party for party ID are nonsensical and Obama may be in some serious trouble. Before I get to DJ’s analysis I want to address comments about early voting typically being led by Republicans. While true, early voting is not stagnant but a growing phenomena. In some states it is approaching 30-40% of the electorate. As early voting expands the GOP edge will disappear and the early voting results will simply mirror the state as a whole. This is pure mathematics and obvious to anyone who thinks about it.
While early voting my have been at one time only 10% of the voting population, it would be dominated by GOP friendly groups who use it (military and older voters). But when it approaches 40% of the vote, the early voting will reflect the general population – it has to. Just as 1% of precincts will not give a good estimate of the final state wide vote, when you get 40% of precincts in you can tell how the race will end up. It either favors one candidate or is too close to call. Right now early voting looks to show ‘too close to call’.
Now, onto DJ Drummond’s 4th indicator the polls are critically flawed:
I found serious problems in their fundamental assumptions, not the least being the heavy weighting of democrats in the pollsÂ (and letâ€™s not mince words â€“ any poll weights by party affiliation, the ones which simply accept what is called in are just accepting the raw data as demographically accurate, which is just as absurd in terms of party affiliation, as it would be if they assumed that race, gender, age, or educational demographics did not need to be reweighted)
This is what many call as circular logic. This is a statistical no-no, so from the start we know the polls have gone from scientific to fantasy. But DJ notes something else in the Gallup early voting data that belies a large differential in democrat turnout:
Says Gallup;Â â€œEarly voting ranges from 14% of voters 55 and older (in aggregated data from Friday through Wednesday) to 5% of those under age 35. Plus, another 22% of voters aged 55 and up say they plan to vote early, meaning that by Election Day, over a third of voters in this older age group may already have cast their ballots.â€
The last two statements are very good news for McCain and bad news for Obama. This is because it demonstrates that enthusiasm to actually vote by republicans is equal to enthusiasm to vote by democrats. This runs directly against claims made in polling up to now, demonstrating that participation in polls is not directly related to voting this year.
Clearly the older, reliable McCain voters are getting out and voting, while those new, unreliable younger voters are NOT getting out and voting. So much for the vaunted Democrat Obama wave. – end update
I have been noting that national polls and some state polls may be way off based on optimistic voter turnout models which are historically nonsense (see posts here and here). One of the first indicators of whether Obama really is enjoying some massive lead is the early voting opportunities, which have not shown what Obama and the media have been saying is a huge democrat wave, like 2006.
First there was early voting and registration in Ohio, where Obama’s campaign promised to make huge gains – only to fall 80% short of their mark. All the hype in Ohio was pure fantasy when it came to Obama getting out the vote with this massive wave, which turned out to be barely a ripple.
Second, Gallup came out with poll numbers showing the amount of early voters between Obama and McCain show no huge wave for Obama, but actually a dead even race. Even though Gallup’s own national poll models showed a huge lead for Obama, it was not showing up in the early voting.
But today there is a 3rd indicator from early voting that things are just not going Obama’s way, and this time it is from deep blue California:
The results are simply shocking. The polls showed Barack Obama with an 18 point lead in California just a few days ago. The results thus far are the complete opposite. In the most liberal state in the entire country,the results are that 99,000 Republicans have voted and 96,000 Democrats voted. In the mail-in balloting the results so far are that 9,000 Democrats sent in their ballots and that 5,000 Republicans did so. So with nearly 210,000 people having voted,the Democrats have only a 1,000 vote advantage !
If we take the liberty of assuming that all Republicans will vote for John McCain and all Democrats will vote for Obama,then the race is incredibly close. I’m sure that Obama will eventually win in California,but if he is struggling here after he pushed so hard for early voting,then he will lose the election ! Everybody thought he would win California in a landslide,but so far anyway,it’s very tight. That means that in the less liberal states he is in real trouble.
This election is all about turnout. And I confess Obama’s crowds of 150,000 in MO and 100,000 in Denver has me worried he might pull this off. But there may be an equal force out there, a very quiet but very large and very much determined to vote against Obama. And if that is true, then Obama will not win. If there is a fight in CA in early voting, then there will be a fight across this land.