Asking the experts: Which polls are, or aren’t, legitimate?

posted at 7:47 pm on September 27, 2012 by Allahpundit

After yesterday’s post on poll trustworthiness, I started wondering whether there’s any poll or model that’s been consistently accurate over time and therefore worth watching down the stretch as a weathervane of where the race really stands. I e-mailed two experts whom I trust and put that question to them. Is there any steady signal they trust amid the cacophony of statistical noise? Anyone we can look to as a beacon in the darkness when the NYT drops its next D+10 sample of Utah or whatever on us?

Short answer: No, there’s no one whom they count on to get it more or less right every time. Polling averages did well in 2008 and 2004 but not so well in 2000 and 1996. The first person I spoke to told me flatly that it’s not worth paying much attention to the numbers now because the assumptions being made about the composition of the electorate on November 6 differ too widely among individual pollsters to distill a truly useful average. That uncertainty is compounded by the fact that, with six weeks left until America votes, there’s still an ocean full of potential “black swans” — wonderful/terrible jobs reports, war with Iran, a new eurozone spasm, etc — that could send the trendlines fluttering. (Team Romney told Rich Lowry they think their dip in Gallup’s tracker lately is due to one such black-swan moment whose effects are already fading.) Once we get to within a week or two of election day and pollsters’ assumptions finally start to coalesce, the polling averages will become more reliable as an indicator of where the race really stands. As my own addendum to that, I think we’re close enough to the first debate that there’s no point picking through polls until late next week at the earliest. Why worry about this week’s data when there’s a hugely important event that’s bound to affect the race right around the corner?

My other source had less to say about the reliability of polling averages generally than their reliability with respect to specific candidates. He told me that if you look at historical averages, you find that they underestimated Gore in 2000, Dole in 1996, and Bush 41 in 1992 — all of them dull, somewhat stiff candidates whom their respective bases weren’t thrilled about. Why would polls miss the mark on people like that? His theory is that pollsters pay lots of attention to voter enthusiasm but less attention to whether voters say they’re “certain” to vote, and in the case of candidates who aren’t beloved by their base, those two variables don’t match up especially well. There were plenty of Republicans who weren’t enthusiastic about Bush and Dole but who were nonetheless certain to vote for them in hopes of defeating the Democrat. Ditto for Gore vis-a-vis the GOP. (Kerry and McCain were also dim lights to their bases and the polls gauged their support pretty well, but in McCain’s case he had a huge shot of enthusiasm late from adding Palin to the ticket.) He thinks the same thing could be happening this year — essentially, pollsters are keying off of the Dems’ slight edge in “enthusiasm” and missing the fact that plenty of unenthusiastic Republicans will be at the polls anyway to vote for a guy who’s taken to citing RomneyCare lately as proof of his empathy. If that’s the case, then they’re lowballing Romney’s support. And in a tight race, that’s potentially a decisive error.

See? I am capable of writing a poll post that’s not hopelessly eeyorish. Although I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t how I felt when I saw those Gallup numbers yesterday. Oof.


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bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM

I understand your concern…and I think (hope, pray)you’re going to be surprised.

Regardless….the choice is clear.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 10:53 PM

I didn’t mention Newt nor was he in that CBS/Romney interview, so I don’t know what you are talking about.

Just to enlighten you, I’ve voted Republican my entire life. Never have I voted for a Dem for any office, Local/State/Federal.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM

LOL! He was saying if you want Mitt to attack Obama, you’ll have to put a Newt mask on Obama because Mitt had no trouble attacking him! That part about the pillow was just gratuitous, since Newt is a little, well, portly.

Night Owl on September 27, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Really?

looking back over the last four disastrous years you can’t figure it out?

And another one that is honestly too stupid to vote.

You were right partner – stay home – the grown-ups will take it from here.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Yeah really. We have been in constant degrade for, well Since Reagan left office. Everyone here says we are at the edge of the end.

Romney does not change the direction. He slows it down a little bit. But if we are at the end that just means a few extra years at most. Do you let the problem we are causing today and have been causing for the last 24 years become their problem to deal with when we are too old to do much about it?

If we are that close to the point, as you claim, then how can you say you cared when you made the problem hers instead of standing up and facing it down at the time you knew.

It would have been like the Founders going. Nah, not today. Maybe in a few years! hell, I’m old, 20 years from now, it will be someone else’ problem.

Obama is a symptom. Prove me wrong on this one detail.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM

America was lost long before Obama…Think LBJ..Teddy Kennedy’s immigration changes..Bill Clinton w/NAFTA and Chinese free trade access…. The frog is boiled he just hasn’t stopped twitching.

bluesdoc70 on September 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM

I believe Romney will be pretty easy to pressure from the right if he wins this. It’s up to us to do that, not rely on Romney to do the right thing. With Obama, we don’t stand a chance. With Romney, we do. That’s really all there is to it.

Night Owl on September 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM

I totally agree. We have no chance with B.O. Keep the House, take the Senate and with a Romney win, we’ll have a fighting chance. A change in Speaker and Majority Leader will help a great deal:-)

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM

He admitted he was also cozmo

Steveangell on September 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM

You ignorant posers can only dream.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:01 PM

I totally agree. We have no chance with B.O. Keep the House, take the Senate and with a Romney win, we’ll have a fighting chance. A change in Speaker and Majority Leader will help a great deal:-)

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Dream on, you’ll have to primary Boozner and Turtle to get rid of them.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Obama is a symptom. Prove me wrong on this one detail.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM

A symptom?

He’s the RESULT of 4 years of unfettered, wasted spending….of big government run amock…of Marxism on steroids.

A friggin’ symptom? HE’S THE DISEASE you idiot. It’s called socialism.

Again – stay home – you’re too stupid to vote.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:01 PM

As I predicted. Reduced to name calling.
Or should I refer to astonerii.

Pretty sure that having two accounts talking to yourself is against the TOS.

Steveangell on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

With all due respect, what is the purpose of you constantly wanting to push this on us? Is it to keep our confidence up or to convince yourself of something?

Robb on September 27, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Robb, here is my answer for you: GO F*** YOURSELF…

mnjg on September 27, 2012 at 11:06 PM

Dream on, you’ll have to primary Boozner and Turtle to get rid of them.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Do you think a real conservative Speaker and Senate Majority Leader would last long before the democrats bring charges against them and the republicans in office vote them out of power?

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Pretty sure that having two accounts talking to yourself is against the TOS.

Steveangell on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Well gosh darn Goofy, turn me in. Could you post your whine to the powers that be here? It would be entertaining.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Romney does not change the direction. He slows it down a little bit. But if we are at the end that just means a few extra years at most. Do you let the problem we are causing today and have been causing for the last 24 years become their problem to deal with when we are too old to do much about it?

If we are that close to the point, as you claim, then how can you say you cared when you made the problem hers instead of standing up and facing it down at the time you knew.

It would have been like the Founders going. Nah, not today. Maybe in a few years! hell, I’m old, 20 years from now, it will be someone else’ problem.

Obama is a symptom. Prove me wrong on this one detail.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM

How does this explain your willingness to vote for Obama?

Are you looking to get there faster? Are you working towards a Repub congress to stop Obama from any further detriment to our country?

Because if you think Obama getting another 4 years won’t be a problem for future generations in this country, I think you are sadly mistaken.

ccrosby on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Pretty sure that having two accounts talking to yourself is against the TOS.

Steveangell on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

I really wish you would not insult me like that. I have way better debating skills that him. But feel free to report us. I am in the clear, he might not be :) wouldn’t that be sweet, LOL

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:08 PM

… wouldn’t that be sweet, LOL

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Hey nutball, its my turn to write. It would be the only way ABR idiot nutballs could win.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:12 PM

ccrosby on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Again, the voting for Obama thing. Go back and find the context. You can probably figure it out by looking at the date and GO, OH, that is what was going on…

The question is, Obama leading to crisis which leads to facing those things that are causing the decay, then perhaps addressing those things. That would lead to a more prospering future, after the downward hit. As history shows, if you get rid of the disease, you get back to your old level quickly and continue growing faster.

As opposed to Romney tinkering around the edges, buttressing for another 40 years the things that are causing the decay, so no immediate drop to recover from, but a slower growing country that is still always right at the edge of collapse.

Do you want the surgery, or a damned pain pill?

Like I said, Romney might offer me something that shows a direction change for the country. He has 40 days.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM

I knew I was in a bad mood earlier…

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM

I’d say so!! Regarding Cut/Cap/Balance. You do know that we could have had that if it wasn’t for the 3 musketeers, right? That would be Boehner/McConnell/Reid. If Romney wins, we have to get rid of Boehner & McConnell to pass it. I’m sure Jim Jordan would be a help there as he opposed Boehner on that. I wanted Jordan to move into Boehner’s District and run against him for his seat, LOL

Another possibility is Ryan. I don’t recall how he voted on that.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:15 PM

A symptom?

He’s the RESULT of 4 years of unfettered, wasted spending….of big government run amock…of Marxism on steroids.

A friggin’ symptom? HE’S THE DISEASE you idiot. It’s called socialism.

Again – stay home – you’re too stupid to vote.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

What a failure you are.

Obama did not come to power through his own self esteem RETARD, I can call you RETARD as you call me IDIOT?

Obama got there because Americans are SO DEGRADED by the SOCIALISM in our SOCIETY that allows DEGENERATES to LIVE OFF THE WEALTH OF OTHERS, that they saw no problem electing someone like him. HE IS A SYMPTOM.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Do us all a favor and vote for Obie!!..:)

Dire Straits on September 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Another possibility is Ryan. I don’t recall how he voted on that.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:15 PM

I can guess. Which side was for bigger government?

We’ll see.

I won’t be round much after today. A few posts from work while my computer calculates things, and then half an hour or so after, probably save it for right before bed so I can get my blood boiling first.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM

I totally agree. We have no chance with B.O. Keep the House, take the Senate and with a Romney win, we’ll have a fighting chance. A change in Speaker and Majority Leader will help a great deal:-)

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Do you think we have any hope of that?

Night Owl on September 27, 2012 at 11:19 PM

Obama got there because Americans are SO DEGRADED by the SOCIALISM in our SOCIETY that allows DEGENERATES to LIVE OFF THE WEALTH OF OTHERS, that they saw no problem electing someone like him. HE IS A SYMPTOM.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM

You truly have a Libtards view of your country, you pathetic little loser. The midterms didn’t wake you up at all.

Come November – you and your obamabot friends can cry me a river.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

With all due respect, what is the purpose of you constantly wanting to push this on us? Is it to keep our confidence up or to convince yourself of something?

Robb on September 27, 2012 at 8:43 PM

And you know what else POS… My MATH that cannot be disputed scare the hell out of liberal scums like you because it show the truth…

mnjg on September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Hey nutball, its my turn to write. It would be the only way ABR idiot nutballs could win.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Well, apparently you and me. We’re the same. So, just think on that. Someone thinks you act JUST LIKE ME. I hope that leaves you with nightmares and a insecurity complex for a few weeks.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM

I won’t be round much after today. A few posts from work while my computer calculates things, and then half an hour or so after, probably save it for right before bed so I can get my blood boiling first.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM

No worries…no one misses the trolls.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Do you think a real conservative Speaker and Senate Majority Leader would last long before the democrats bring charges against them and the republicans in office vote them out of power?

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

To be honest I’m near the point where I don’t give a crap anymore. Nobody else seems too either with a few exceptions. I firmly believe it will take a civil war to rid us if the reprobates that infest our republic and restore our constitutional government because it’s getting pretty obvious that a political solution isn’t going to do it.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Like I said, Romney might offer me something that shows a direction change for the country. He has 40 days.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM

I’m going to have to politely disagree. The current path this president has us on is unsustainable. To a democratic republic that is.

Your willingness for the United States to be brought to it’s knees to make a point, to me, is the height of arrogance.

Mitt may not be a conservatives wet dream, but I believe, he believes in this country and the possiblities it holds for everyone.

I’ll take that any day over what Obama has given, and promises to give in the future.

ccrosby on September 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM

LOL! He was saying if you want Mitt to attack Obama, you’ll have to put a Newt mask on Obama because Mitt had no trouble attacking him! That part about the pillow was just gratuitous, since Newt is a little, well, portly.

Night Owl on September 27, 2012 at 10:56 PM

LOL, thanks. I thot he meant something else, since I voted for Newt in the Primary and supported him. I ranted against Romney with the best of them:-)Newt is a fighter and his knowledge is vast. But Romney is our Candidate, so for me, it’s Vote for America-Vote Romney!

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

You truly have a Libtards view of your country, you pathetic little loser. The midterms didn’t wake you up at all.

Come November – you and your obamabot friends can cry me a river.

Tim_CA on September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

They did. They made lots of promises, got put into power, and then proceeded to cave on everything. Many of those who were Tea Party allied candidates.

But what really got me was the fact that Tea Party people detest and hate to a very high degree social conservatives. They think fiscal conservatism can stand on its own.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM

astonerii on September 27, 2012

You’re a hoot. God so laughable.

*

Purpose.

CW on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Dream on, you’ll have to primary Boozner and Turtle to get rid of them.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM

I thot the Speaker of the House is elected? Don’t know how the Senate rules are. Let me know if you do.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:26 PM

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM

A batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball thinking I am another batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball? Nah, it doesn’t bother me. Just a batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball being a batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:28 PM

ccrosby on September 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

yeah, that war in 1776
Abe Lincoln.

Detestable people to bring that stuff onto a nation. Provocateurs they were.

I do not want to bring it the nation. The nation brings itself to that point.

I did not vote for Obama. The nation did.

We do not chose the times in which we live.

If there WILL be trouble, let it be in my time, so that my children may know peace. – Thomas Paine

Feel free to keep kicking the can down the road. It will be the kids that suffer for it. The nation used to have men of character in it. Now, they fold like a cheap lawn chair at the tiniest degree of difficulty.

Like I said. Romney has to offer to change the direction. He is the nominee. So far, he is a failure. 40 days.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

I thot the Speaker of the House is elected? Don’t know how the Senate rules are. Let me know if you do.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:26 PM

They are elected by a majority of the members of each house. My point was the members are not going to kick them out of their position. It’ll take the people in their state and district to make it happen unless they do something so stupid that their members have no choice.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

A batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball thinking I am another batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball? Nah, it doesn’t bother me. Just a batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball being a batcrap crazy 0bama fluffin’ ABR nutball.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Nothing there. You cannot attack one single premise. NOT ONE? I think your friends are going to start looking at you as a very wimpy individual if this is the best you got.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:31 PM

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:31 PM

You stopped being worthy months ago.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM

You’re a hoot. God so laughable.

*

Purpose.

CW on September 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM

Thanks CW. I really like that you came out of your shell and gave a very original reply to me. Sleep well.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:33 PM

And you know what else POS… My MATH that cannot be disputed scare the hell out of liberal scums like you because it show the truth…

mnjg on September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Dude. What part of what i said implies that i’m a liberal. I’m just a very nervous Romney supporter trying to make sense of all of this. Your attitude defies your clear knowledge of math. Dont sell your ideas with this attitude. Just asking a question. Four years ago we had some guy on here just like you who absolutely predicted McCain would win and said he had inside info. Just wanna see where you’re coming from. Take it easy.

Robb on September 27, 2012 at 11:33 PM

You stopped being worthy months ago.

cozmo on September 27, 2012 at 11:32 PM

No, you proved yourself unworthy. Intelligent conversation and the art of persuasion just did not stick with you.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Robb on September 27, 2012 at 11:33 PM

If they are attacking you with name calling… Probably a person without anything intelligent to say.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:35 PM

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:26 PM

They are elected by a majority of the members of each house. My point was the members are not going to kick them out of their position. It’ll take the people in their state and district to make it happen unless they do something so stupid that their members have no choice.

bgibbs1000 on September 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Thanks for that. Did you follow the Cut/Cap/Balance issue? There were many House members that weren’t with Boehner on that. Many were with Jim Jordan’s group and opposed Boehner and voted against him. Boehner had to do some serious arm twisting and there are bad feelings over that. We’ll see; have to get Romney in first!!

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

And you know what else POS… My MATH that cannot be disputed scare the hell out of liberal scums like you because it show the truth…

mnjg on September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Your comment to Robb was uncalled for. In addition you are making a judgement against someone you know nothing about. I didn’t appreciate your nasty comment to AP yesterday while trying to promote yourself either. When asking a favor of AP, insulting him first isn’t the best way to go about it. Maybe you learned something, since he didn’t even respond to you.

You earn respect here, it’s not a right that comes with Registration, so that’s something you need to learn.

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:15 PM

I can guess. Which side was for bigger government?

We’ll see.

I won’t be round much after today. A few posts from work while my computer calculates things, and then half an hour or so after, probably save it for right before bed so I can get my blood boiling first.

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM

My laptop is acting up and I’ve lost several posts:-) I’ll check on Ryan’s vote on CCB. Keep that B.P. under control:-) 18mos? Awww, so cute at that age. Take care, later…..

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 11:55 PM

A change in Speaker and Majority Leader will help a great deal:-)

bluefox on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Do you think we have any hope of that?

Night Owl on September 27, 2012 at 11:19 PM

Well, all I know is many House members were upset with Boehner.
Not sure about the Senate. There are Conservatives in now and if we can get enough elected in the General, who knows? Always good to hope:-)And Pray!!

bluefox on September 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM

astonerii on September 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

So you’re equivicating 1775 to 2013?

I’m afraid I have to deal with the world as it is today.

We did not get here overnight, we won’t get back that way either.

Going further down the path of socialism, will not get us any closer to our goal.

You still have not answered the question of how you can justify voting for Obama? You apparently understand at least part of the history of this country, what on earth would make you vote for him?

ccrosby on September 28, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Praying for Romney to have a good night next Wednesday.

sherrimae on September 28, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Dude. What part of what i said implies that i’m a liberal. I’m just a very nervous Romney supporter trying to make sense of all of this. Your attitude defies your clear knowledge of math. Dont sell your ideas with this attitude. Just asking a question. Four years ago we had some guy on here just like you who absolutely predicted McCain would win and said he had inside info. Just wanna see where you’re coming from. Take it easy.

Robb on September 27, 2012 at 11:33 PM

OK then, I trust that you are speaking the truth that you are not a liberal… The “polls adjustment calculator” is not that complicated. All what it does is take a very biased media poll sample and adjust it to a more realistic sample that is closer to what actual party ID breakdown on November 6 2012… If you believe that 2012 is going to be like 2008 in term of party ID breakdown then you should believe most of the media polls… If you do not then adjust it accordingly using my program… It is that simple…
Sorry to use foul language in my previous posts…

mnjg on September 28, 2012 at 12:53 AM

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