The Bandwagoneers, part II

posted at 10:03 pm on September 24, 2012 by Mitch Berg

Over the weekend, the Minneapolis Star/Tribune (“the Strib” to Minnesotans) released one of its in-house “Minnesota Polls” –  which has been, since the mid-1940′s, the brand-label poll of Minnesota political opinion by Minnesota’s marquee news outlet.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing a lot of analysis on the “Minnesota Poll”; to put it bluntly, it’s been a travesty since the late 1980s.  Its most annoying – or fraudulent, if you’re feeling less charitable – habit is the fact that it always under-reports Republican performance, especially in the polls it releases the Sunday before election day every two years, for Senate, Governor and President as well as key Constitutional referenda.  While the Strib writes this off to statistical noise, analysis shows that this phenomenon has been a universally one-way thing since 1988; it shorts Republican performance at three times the rate it shorts the DFL.  And the closer the election eventually turns out, the more pronounced the tendency; in other words, if the DFL is heading to a complete blow-out (as in the 2006 Senate race), the more accurate the polling turns out to be, whereas in razor-close races (like the 2010 gubernatorial race, in which Mark Dayton beat Republican Tom Emmer by four tenths of a point) the more ludicrously inflated the margin of the poll the Strib drops in that last, vital pre-election paper.

They released three polls over the weekend – on results for the Presidential race and the Constitutional initiatives that would define Marriage and require ID to vote in Minnesota elections.

And while the polls cover Minnesota, the analysis is germane for everyone.

———-

The results appear to the the sorts of things you expect in a state whose last two high-profile elections – the 2010 Governor’s race and the 2008 Franken-Coleman Senate battle – end in recounts decided, in the case of Franken/Coleman, by a margin of under 300 votes.

  • The Voter ID Amendment, the Strib claims, is leading by a tight 52% in favor, 44 against margin with 4% undecided.
  • The Marriage Amendment tallies an even tighter lead; 49 in favor, 47 opposed, with 4% undecided.  This is vital; under Minnesota election law, Constitutional initiatives must pass by a majority of the ballots cast.  Ballots left unmarked are countes as “No” votes.   If these numbers persist ’til election day, the Marriage Amendment loses.
  • President Obama is shown with a comfortable 48-40 lead over Mitt Romney, with libertarian Gary Johnson tallying another 5% of the vote.

At face value, this would tend to confirm the conventional wisdom; Minnesota is a very split state that still votes Democrat for the top of the ticket.

But to get to the real truth, you have to do something few Americans, and very very few in the Strib’s readership, ever do; look at the numbers that go into the poll.  These aren’t even a part of the actual stories about the poll, in the online version; they’re buried in a sidebar link.  But they’re there.

And the story they tell is a fairy tale (I’ve added emphasis):

 The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

The pollsters – Mason-Dixon, this year; the Strib fired its in-house staff in 2007, subbing the polls out to Princeton Research in 2010 and switching to Mason Dixon this year – would have you believe that there will be 13% more Democrats than Republicans at the polls this fall.

But recent elections reveal this as madness:

  • In 2008 – a banner year for Democrats, nationally and in stereotypically blue Minnesota – the partisan split was 39% Democrat, 33% Republican and 28% various flavors of Independent (a little under half of whom voted for the Independence Party, best known as Jesse Ventura’s vehicle).
  • In 2010 – the year the GOP flipped both chambers in the State Legislature and came within  a few thousand votes of winning the Governor’s race – the breakout was 38% Democrat, 34% GOP and 26% independent and Independence.

The Strib would have you believe that the DFL (Minnesotan for “Democrats”) has gone up three points since the wave election of 2008, and the GOP has dropped six from its performance in 2010?

Why yes, they do; according to the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger, “Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll for the Star Tribune, said those numbers are consistent with what he has seen over the years”, but neither explains precisely why.

The Strib’s partisan breakdown is very clearly balderdash.   Let’s try this:

  1. Roll the partisan breakdown back to something more closely suggested by history, something between 2008 and 2010 – let’s say 38% Democrat, 34% Republican, similar to 2010.    This means 3% lower DFL turnout, and 6% higher GOP, than is shown in the Minnesota Poll.
  2. Apply the various partisan levels of support for or against each measure or candidate – which are in the sixties for the Marriage Amendment, with Democrats in the high seventies against both Amendments, the GOP in the eighties in favor of the Voter ID Amendment, and with both parties in the nineties for their parties Presidential candidate (Democrats 91% for Obama, Republicans 96% for Romney), and…
  3. …add or subtract appropriately,
…then the three polls look a lot more like this:
  • Voter ID passes by 57/42 – which is very close to the 2:1 margin most other polls have shown.
  • Marriage Amendment becomes more like 53.5% for, roughly 44.5% against – which is outside the margin of error and means even if every single undecided voter votes “no” or leaves the ballot blank for the issue (which is treated the same way under Minnesota election law). the amendment passes by a sizeable margin
  • The Presidential race is actually 47.7% Obama, 45.8% Romney.

Viewed with extrapolations on a more realistic turnout model, it’s fairly clear that Voter ID is going to win big, the Marriage Amendment isn’t as close as its detractors would claimn, and our presidential race is within two points.

So why is the partisan split shown in the Minnesota Poll so ludicrous?

———-

The Star/Tribune, especially at the editorial-board level, is famously biased to the left, even among newspapers.

To a cynic, the answer is as obvious as the distortion in the numbers themselves; the Strib and their various pollsters are well aware of the “Bandwagon Effect” studied by Dr. Alfred Mehrabian, which noted that negative poll numbers do drive down election results for candidates who are shown to be losing.   Published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 1998, it noted:

Results of two experimental studies described in this article constituted clear experimental demonstration of how polls influence votes. Findings showed that voters tended to vote for those who they were told were leading in the polls; furthermore, that these poll-driven effects on votes were substantial.

And there’s your lesson nationwide; from the mass of AP and WaPo polls with absurd D+7 samples showing Obama with comfortable leads, to Nate Silver’s NYTimes poll analysis that shows Obama well-ahead in Minnesota – using the Strib Minnesota Poll as a key input to his findings, it’s reasonable to say “OK, let’s say you, the media, are not jiggering the figures to suppress Republican turnout – if, hypothetically, you were, how would they be any different?”

I’m still waiting on that answer.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Oh, goodie. I’ve got my Minnesotan-to-English Dictionary this time. Fire away, Mr. Berg!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on September 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM

If the StarTribune reports that the sun rises in the east, there is a very good chance the report is bullshit.

That paper cannot fail fast enough.

Loathing doesn’t even come close…

Bruno Strozek on September 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM

It comes down to this..

Do you want to be free..

Or not…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM

President Obama is shown with a comfortable 48-40 lead over Mitt Romney, with libertarian Gary Johnson tallying another 5% of the vote.

A small gift for Floating Rock?

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on September 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM

“OK, let’s say you, the media, are not jiggering the figures to suppress Republican turnout – if, hypothetically, you were, how would they be any different?”

I’m still waiting on that answer.

Excellent work. Great question.

thatsafactjack on September 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Bruno Strozek on September 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM

I would expect you to be a Minnesotan, a Wisconsonian or a Yooper with that name.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:12 PM

Election night should be interesting. One theory (the polls are right or the polls are wildly skewed) should be thoroughly eviscerated.

Stoic Patriot on September 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM

It comes down to this..

Do you want to be free..

Or not…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Exactly and Mitt should hit this point at the debate over and over and over…

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Here is something they can poll.

They can ask all the Democrats if they approve of the EPA’s work with this “human testing experiment”.

http://www.smw.ch/content/smw-2012-13597/

We are all just bumps in the road now.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Election night should be interesting. One theory (the polls are right or the polls are wildly skewed) should be thoroughly eviscerated.

Stoic Patriot on September 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM

Gallup and rassmusssen have it tied…

I would say these are the most accurate…

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:16 PM

It comes down to this..

Do you want to be free..

Or not…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Must be degree statement. Do you feel like we were free in say 2005? Are we free today?

astonerii on September 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Exactly and Mitt should hit this point at the debate over and over and over…

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I agree…to some extent..

People who vote should not need to have a candidate spend millions to make a point you already live by…

This country is in a world of hurt..

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Nonsense!! Mitch Berg is the only Minnesotan voting for Romney!

True polling should show 99.99% OBAMA .00000000000000001% Romney!!! Confess!!

/end of sarcasm

Varchild on September 24, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Must be degree statement. Do you feel like we were free in say 2005? Are we free today?

astonerii on September 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM

In 2005 I knew what freedom was..

Today I still do..

I just have to be more vocal…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:20 PM

28% Catholics in Minnesota…

Catholics will note vote for Obama…

The Church is telling parishioners that the HHS mandate is unfair and awful to make the Church go against Her teachings on abortion inducing drugs and contraception…

Maybe Romney takes Minnesota???

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:21 PM

Catholics will note vote for Obama…

The Church is telling parishioners that the HHS mandate is unfair and awful to make the Church go against Her teachings on abortion inducing drugs and contraception…

Maybe Romney takes Minnesota???

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:21 PM

There’s all sorts of wrong in that post, Gardner.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM

If Obama wins re-election then I am a firm believer that America is completely lost to Conservatives.

Even jump starting a third party wouldn’t matter at that point.

What exactly does President Obama have to do to lose the election, because I’ve not seen such political hairy cairy from any politician in my lifetime as I see now with Obama.

Obama is doing EVERYTHING wrong and we are just observers of his failures on domestic and foreign policy…. Everything is collapsing…Everything is a total fraud like General Motors.

GM’s sales are said to be made up of 79% Government funded/purchased/subsidized.

There’s nothing that I see that we can be proud of in an Obama presidency.

If President Obama wins….Then dang it basically means Liberal Democrats can just about do whatever they want and still win.

Varchild on September 24, 2012 at 10:24 PM

There’s all sorts of wrong in that post, Gardner.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM

How so???

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:26 PM

How so???

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:26 PM

First off, Catholics are just another segment of sheep. They vote ‘rat, and little will change.

And Minnesota? They voted for Mondull for Chirssake!

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM

Hey the mud skipper was makin’ stuff up about Lanceman

..link

SparkPlug on September 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM

I wish there was some way to get them to respond to this.

ChrisL on September 24, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Too, unlimited illegal immigration will over run your lands.

Just ask the Apache.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 24, 2012 at 10:30 PM

SparkPlug on September 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM

Heh. I saw that.

Someone should really inform the HotAir moderators about that racist Lanceman…

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM

France set to ban the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from official documents

SparkPlug on September 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Without clicking…
I already know..

Evolving…

We have reached a point in our evolution that God and his will…

Can be overturned,….

In this life…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Minnesota: do you want to be known as the state that gave us Al Franken, or Mitt Romney?

Simple choice from where I’m at… what say YOU???????

Khun Joe on September 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM

…this is the kind of polling that gives gummeandpokeme multiple orgasims!

KOOLAID2 on September 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Here’s the problem for Mitt Romney. He has to say and do certain things to appeal to the far right base that are fundamentally unpopular. Poll after poll after poll finds a majority of Americans support raising taxes on the wealth. If Romney were to say that all of you would stay home. Poll after poll finds Americans are not interested in cuts to education, infrastructure and anti poverty programs like school lunch and children’s health insurance; conservatives are against these things. The right wants to hear Romney call Obama a terrorist.which is something the country simply does not believe. You all are the reason Mitt romney is where he is in these polls. You’ve forced him to the right, hamstrung him and he’s suffering.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

First off, Catholics are just another segment of sheep. They vote ‘rat, and little will change.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM

Maybe you missed it but Romney is winning Catholics by 8%…

A 16 point swing from 2008…

As a long time Catholic, I have not seen in a long time the Church so outspoken on one issue as the HHS mandate…

Trust me, Romney will win Catholics by a sizeable margin…

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM

…this is the kind of polling that gives gummeandpokeme multiple orgasims!

KOOLAID2 on September 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM

But the screen name says…

Touch Me and call the paramedics…

Fonzie would be scared….

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Poll after poll after poll finds a majority of Americans support raising taxes on the wealth. If Romney were to say that all of you would stay home.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Heh. No we wouldn’t. We understand dog whistle.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM

What evidence suggests Minnesota is planning on not voting Dem after doing so consistently for quite a while now? This is just the same bilge people are peddling about Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Its just not. gonna. happen. The rust belt is over for the GOP. Just deal. You have the south outside of VA, Texas and Utah and you’ll have to fight each cycle for NV, CO and Ohio that’s the only way you win Presidential elections. Deal.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

what say YOU???????

Khun Joe on September 24, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Jesse Ventura… That’s what they say…. ;p

SWalker on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

This is the only state that didn’t vote for Reagan. They elected Jesse Ventura and Stuart Smally. They are pretty much the joke state in the union.

The Notorious G.O.P on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

MGardner on September 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Perhaps I painted with too broad a brush. I should have said northern Catholics.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

The rust belt is over for the GOP. Just deal. You have the south outside of VA, Texas and Utah and you’ll have to fight each cycle for NV, CO and Ohio that’s the only way you win Presidential elections. Deal.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

So, what you’re saying is we’re done. Stick a fork in us.

Lanceman on September 24, 2012 at 10:40 PM

This is the only state that didn’t vote for Reagan. They elected Jesse Ventura and Stuart Smally. They are pretty much the joke state in the union.

The Notorious G.O.P on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Na, their not the joke State, more like the drunk in the corner wearing a lampshade state… ;p

SWalker on September 24, 2012 at 10:41 PM

Poll after poll after poll finds a majority of Americans support raising taxes on the wealth. If Romney were to say that all of you would stay home.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Do you get paid by the wealthy?

Just curious…

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM

I created a “Poll Adjustment Calculator” to correct media biased poll that are insanely over smapling democrats or the new trick of way under sampling Independents because they are favoring Romney. You can apply this calculator to any state or national poll.

You can download this “Poll Adjustment Calculator” from the link below.

http://www.fileconvoy.com/dfl.php?id=g0f9a1c6111e9b12e14951111d0a0649192bfc3

The first section is to enter the results from a media poll, including % of democrats, % of Republicans, % of Independents, enter % Obama, % Romney, % Undecided, % Others for each of these groups ( i.e. demorats, Republicans, Independents)…

The second section is to t adjust the % democrats, % Republicans, % of Independents to match a more realistic elections turnout for each group. The worst case scenario would be democrats + 3% over Republicans. Make sure that when you do the adjustments for each of these group that they add to 100%.

The third section is the assignment of the % of undecided to each Romney and Obama. So you need to enter the % of undecided for Romney and those for Obama. Historically the undecided go 2:1 for the challenger…

mnjg on September 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM

What evidence suggests Minnesota is planning on not voting Dem after doing so consistently for quite a while now? This is just the same bilge people are peddling about Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Its just not. gonna. happen. The rust belt is over for the GOP. Just deal. You have the south outside of VA, Texas and Utah and you’ll have to fight each cycle for NV, CO and Ohio that’s the only way you win Presidential elections. Deal.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

You like your position today…don’t ya?

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:39 PM

You like your position today…don’t ya?

Electrongod on September 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM

…oh oh!…I think it depends who he’s with!

KOOLAID2 on September 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM

The Strib would have you believe that the DFL (Minnesotan for “Democrats” Communists). FIFY.

nagee76 on September 25, 2012 at 12:01 AM

this post should have been titled “Using dependable media bias to predict election outcomes reliably.”

Kaptain Amerika on September 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM

“Election night should be interesting. One theory (the polls are right or the polls are wildly skewed) should be thoroughly eviscerated.”

Yep, either the polls have been exposed as intentionally fraudulent or most Conservative blogs should be deleted because all they do is complain about the methodology/partisan bias.

There will be a ton of crow-eating on election night.

gumbyandpokey on September 25, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Here’s the problem for Mitt Romney. He has to say and do certain things to appeal to the far right base that are fundamentally unpopular. Poll after poll after poll finds a majority of Americans support raising taxes on the wealth. If Romney were to say that all of you would stay home. Poll after poll finds Americans are not interested in cuts to education, infrastructure and anti poverty programs like school lunch and children’s health insurance; conservatives are against these things. The right wants to hear Romney call Obama a terrorist.which is something the country simply does not believe. You all are the reason Mitt romney is where he is in these polls. You’ve forced him to the right, hamstrung him and he’s suffering.

libfreeordie on September 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Funny to see you talk again and again about “poll after poll” …

… in this post, which is all about the shenanigans certain pollsters are taking to skew their polls.

Just bad timing, I guess.

There Goes The Neighborhood on September 25, 2012 at 12:36 AM

If Obama wins re-election then I am a firm believer that America is completely lost to Conservatives.

Even jump starting a third party wouldn’t matter at that point.

What exactly does President Obama have to do to lose the election, because I’ve not seen such political hairy cairy from any politician in my lifetime as I see now with Obama.

Obama is doing EVERYTHING wrong and we are just observers of his failures on domestic and foreign policy…. Everything is collapsing…Everything is a total fraud like General Motors.

GM’s sales are said to be made up of 79% Government funded/purchased/subsidized.

There’s nothing that I see that we can be proud of in an Obama presidency.

If President Obama wins….Then dang it basically means Liberal Democrats can just about do whatever they want and still win.

Varchild on September 24, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Pretty much. That’s the point the Democrats and their Pravda media are going to drive home. They’ve been waiting to do this since George W Bush was elected, then reelected. They weren’t prepared for the rise of Fox News, and then the Internet 2.0 boom of social messaging and blogs. They’re determined to not let elections like 2004 and 2010 happen again.

I’m just spelling it out. Make you mad? Make sure you can find as many friends of a like mind to vote for Romney and other Republicans down-ticket.

Jurisprudence on September 25, 2012 at 1:02 AM

There will be a ton of crow-eating on election night.

gumbyandpokey on September 25, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Because your precious polls were all so dead on in 2010.

Deal.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on September 25, 2012 at 2:02 AM

President Obama is shown with a comfortable 48-40 lead over Mitt Romney, with libertarian Gary Johnson tallying another 5% of the vote.

A small gift for Floating Rock?

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on September 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM

oh no, don’t conjure that one up…he’ll be here in no time imparting his love for Gary Phenomenal Johnson to us :)…

jimver on September 25, 2012 at 3:49 AM

The star and trib sucks. My dog won’t even pee on it, it is useless except for coupons.

crosshugger on September 25, 2012 at 9:16 AM

It’s funny how people on the right are just now starting to get hip to the pollster game on the left. I think the obvious bad results of everything Obama touches has finally made them question the erports of a public that can wait for more of the same.

Conan on September 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM