Polling science, art and witchcraft Pt. 2

posted at 10:01 am on November 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

More than a month ago, I undertook some digging based on the assumption that this election, win or lose – though “win” would have been much better – could produce some significant data in terms of polling. I asked the question, “Is polling science, art or witchcraft?” At the close of that piece I was left feeling that, once this was all over, somebody would be right and somebody would be unemployed. We now know the unfortunate values which were plugged into that formula.

During the day after the bloodbath, both Ed and AP posted some compelling pieces on the subject of precisely how so many of us got it so wrong. (Both of those linked items are very much worth a read, by the way, in case you managed to miss them the first time.) I agree with some parts of the analysis offered, but not with others. More on that shortly.

The one thing that is no longer in question is that we need to stop trying to read sinister motives into the professional pollsters and poll analysts and see what might be gained from the product that they’re putting out there. And since we’re on the subject of bad news, it’s also worth asking.. which pollsters were the most accurate, though most of them did pretty well? It was PPP. Gallup and Rasmussen – who we quote here frequently – came in tied for 24th. And really, people who get paid to conduct or analyze polls have little motive to fudge the numbers to try to “help” a candidate or party since they would be unemployed the following season for missing the target. So with that unpleasant tablespoon of cod liver oil safely down the hatch, we continue.

So what can we do with this data going forward which can help us? Here’s one place where Ed and I will disagree to some extent. He focused a fair bit of his analysis on the premise that our major error was assuming that the model for 2012 was more similar to 2010 than 2008, so we got caught with our pants down. I think that’s not the answer, and in fact is part of the problem. The model this year was neither 2010 nor 2008. It was 2012. The model is not stagnant. It shifts all of the time. Predicting human behavior is hard enough to begin with, but people shift based on conditions and their own personal experiences and evolution as they age. Nothing stays the same. As far too many generals have told us, you are doomed to lose if you keep fighting the last war.

The most consistent answer pollsters gave me when I asked about the dreaded “D+9″ sample – which Ed once quipped as being in “an alternate universe” – was that they didn’t pay much attention to the split. It wasn’t a significant cross tab. They were far more likely to weight a poll if odd numbers showed up in gender or age groups. Why? They were listening to the answers they got this year, not from two or four years ago. These numbers can be of value in determining where we need to focus the most resources rather than screaming about the sample rate and clapping all the louder for Tinkerbell.

And how can that focus be achieved? Just as one humble suggestion I have a thought. This cycle proved that there is a lot of money out there for conservative political activism, but clearly dumping it all into an endless series of TV ads doesn’t get the job done. If such resources could be channeled into better analytics and a wider, more targeted ground game, we could catch up in the significant areas where Team Obama took our lunch money. While keeping state laws closely in mind, activists from safe states could have their travel and expense costs covered to go into battleground areas and get the door to door work done.

Good analysts (yes… people in the same line of work as Nate Silver) could be found and employed to pour through the demographic data and target voters to contact. Issue items could be weighed to make sure that a positive, pro-growth conservative message was being brought effectively to the people we most need to reach. This would be a major shift in intelligent use of large, monetary resources. I’d be willing to bet that more than a few of you – if the travel, meals, hotel costs, etc. were covered – would be willing to take some time out in the closing month of the election to get out with a targeted list of potential voters and hit the doors, the local watering holes and such. And that’s an effective way to get some face time to combat the barrage of media spin.

Just a few more things to chew over as we pick up the pieces. Your suggestions, as always, are welcome.


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There is no future, we are doomed. Learn to love being doomed

SWalker on November 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM

In 2008, Rasmussen was the most accurate pollster. In 2012, it was 24th. Go figure.

SoulGlo on November 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM

27 comments or bust!

Bishop on November 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM

I found it interesting that the O gotv team targeted a Cuban neighbor on my block and didn’t knock on any of the other doors in my neighborhood. She wasn’t home but they left all the propaganda on her doorknob.

CoffeeLover on November 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

The graphic used for this is curiously wrong. The correct solution is h is greater than or equal to 0.6, not less.

Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Part of the problem that made PPP and others showing a more 2008 tilt to the electorate was that a) the Obama machine generated sinful numbers of “votes” and outrageous “turnout” in their prime areas (Cuyahoga, Philly, etc) while ORCA at the same time generated less votes for Romney than McCain’s turnout operation did 4 years earlier. By all rights, with proper voter registration and ID and with a reasonable facsimile of GOP turnout operation the partisan splits should have been maybe D+2 and we’re looking at President Romney.

giacomo on November 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Intuitively it seems likely wishful thinking had a lot to do with it.

DarkCurrent on November 10, 2012 at 10:12 AM

My two cents and two thoughts:

If you see a candidate doing something weird, like giving radio interviews at hip hop stations, you should assume it’s part of a plan not an act of desperation. They looked for new voters and they found them. Sure, they’re back on the couch watching MTV and smoking a doobie, but they did the job.

The millions spent on ads in the last 3 months of the campaign should be halved, and the rest spent in off years educating voters about personal liberty, what causes prosperity, and how the government has screwed that up. Because obviously they don’t know.

PattyJ on November 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM

27 comments or bust!

Bishop on November 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Silly Bishop… 29 comments or bust… o_O

SWalker on November 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM

The graphic used for this is curiously wrong. The correct solution is h is greater than or equal to 0.6, not less.
Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

The graphic is correct. It is just showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Part of the problem that made PPP and others showing a more 2008 tilt to the electorate was that a) the Obama machine generated sinful numbers of “votes” and outrageous “turnout” in their prime areas (Cuyahoga, Philly, etc) while ORCA at the same time generated less votes for Romney than McCain’s turnout operation did 4 years earlier. By all rights, with proper voter registration and ID and with a reasonable facsimile of GOP turnout operation the partisan splits should have been maybe D+2 and we’re looking at President Romney.
giacomo on November 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Exactly.

Personally, I am sick of hearing about how doomed we supposedly are. Rather than merely dwell on things largely outside of our control or on issues requiring long-term changes, I want changes made to the problems that we can and must fix. There is plenty that is mechanically fixable.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM

The graphic is correct. It is just showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

No, the graphic is wrong. Substitute in 0 and the equation is false. Sub in 1 and it’s true.

Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

[Comment #13.5: halfway there, Bishop]

Screw the polls. If you want to GOTV you don’t need so much of a good ground game as you do a charismatic leader (à la Reagan) …

I thought in 2012 it’d be Palin, but the RINO pundits succeeded in convincing enough Republicans — apparently including her — that she couldn’t win the general.

ShainS on November 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

BEYONCEs of the DAY:

Michael Barone (Media Pole stripper Conservative)
When I need advice on elections I go to the guy that predicted a 300+ electoral count for Mitt Romney.

http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/09/michael-barone-tea-party-wackos-and-weirdos-and-witches-cost-gop-senate-seats-video/

Conservative political analyst Michael Barone told an audience in Washington that Republicans put “too many” tea party “wackos, weirdos and witches” on the ballot this year, costing them seats in the U.S. Senate.

and the 2nd of the day:

http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2012/11/the-strongest-g.php

The strongest GOP presidential nominee in 2016 will come from Florida, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll. But Republicans and Democrats don’t agree if that person is Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush.

When I need advice on who to pick for a nominee I got to “political insiders” that picked Ford/Dole/McCain and Romney.

THIS kind of advice is why the republican party is DEAD DEAD DEAD.

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Yeah, I see Michael Barone is trying to distract from his failed prediction by talking about the Tea Party. Oh look a squirrel.

Nice try Barone but Romney lost for a number of reasons and you weren’t any better at seeing them than we were.

Deanna on November 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I read many times here and other places that-

Obama would win if turnout like 2008

and Romney would win if turnout closer to 2004

I and others here believed that it would be closer to 2004.

I and we were wrong.

it was a 2008 turnout and we lost.

c’est la vie.

gerry-mittbot -loser

gerrym51 on November 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Yeah, I see Michael Barone is trying to distract from his failed prediction by talking about the Tea Party. Oh look a squirrel.

it’s 2 separate issues. Barone was wrong about presedential election,

He is right about the senate.

I have no problem with the tea party primarying incumbents.

BUT THEY BETTER WIN IN THE GENERAL ELECTION. it seems more often than not they lose.

gerrym51 on November 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM

get ready: prediction

in 2016 the gop will field MULTIPLE CONSERVATIVE Candidates that will destroy one another and give the party another squishy moderate big government cloaked Progressive nominee.

And Mario Cuomo Junior or Saint Hillary or Joe Biden will have help from the media and will destroy the gop nominee who will run another gutless, gracious losing campaign.


And THIS is why the gop id DEAD DEAD DEAD.

We MUST TAKE OVER THE MEDIA.

They are the gatekeepers of political power in the U.S. If it’s not already too late.

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM

ORCA was a complete disaster.

Mitt as a businessman was a dumb joke, and we got played.

A Axe on November 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

There were just as many RINO-Establishment gop losses on the republican side as there were supposed TEA Party types.

Berg in North Dakota

Thompson in Wisconsin

Mcmahon in CT.

Sorry that whole destroy the tea party is just a meme that the media gets going and then all the pole stripper republicans get attention (and 5′s in their thongs) from the media if they attack the tea party.

This is obvious stuff people.

THIS is why the gop is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD.

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Y’all overlooked the most unspoken variable:
Who will vote for a flip-flopping, left-of-center Mormon?
(never forget the “known unknowns”)
I guess we found out, didn’t we?
One needn’t have spent time in Survey Research as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
It’s not rocket science:
Include ALL of the variables and you get closer to the truth.
(don’t forget the sheep who will try to not appear “bigoted”)
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on November 10, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Wow, OT from Drudge: wow where’s TXUS on this?

Who is John Galt on November 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:35 AM

People like you are boring. You hear “insiders” and reflexively go into your stupid “they are trying to force a RINO down our throats again” routine. It’s so lame and stupid.

Some people were asked their opinion, and they gave it. Frankly, I would have to agree that Rubio and Bush, at least at this very, very early stage, appear likely to be strong contenders. But let’s see how they all perform during the primary season. Remember how some of us thought the previously unbeaten Rick Perry would be such an unstoppable force?

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Please, Pappy, just light off that D61 near where I am. I hurt, and need relief.

Who is John Galt on November 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Wow, OT from Drudge: wow where’s TXUS on this?

Who is John Galt on November 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Texas has some parts that are very liberal, so if this were feasible, it wouldn’t happen in all parts of Texas. For secession to occur, peacefully of course, it might happen over a swath of counties in several states, let’s say counties that are 75% plus conservative.

WordsMatter on November 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

The graphic is correct. It is just showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10.
bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

No, the graphic is wrong. Substitute in 0 and the equation is false. Sub in 1 and it’s true.
Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

First of all, it is not an equation. It is an inequality. Second, the graphic is simply showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10 in order to solve. Whenever you multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a negative number in order to solve, you need to flip the sign, which is why it is marked in red.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I sell and implement IBM Business Intelligence (Analytics). Nate Silver had a book signing at the IBM convention 3 weeks ago. IBM/Cognos sells an incredible suite of tools for doing this and one of the best or the best outfits in the world. (I say this not to bore you, but to set up the observations.)

Most organizations aren’t terribly interested in this technology. Even when the senior management is, the middle management, like some of the postings is full of people who “know better” and “don’t need any fancy software” to tell them what is going on. And by the way, they sure don’t need be collecting that stupid data and silly computer stuff that just gets in the way of “whatever they think their job is”.

And while I’ll agree with Allah… re the state of polling. The problem is one of pragmatics and technology. (And for those of you who are “historically” inclined, a good example of breakthrough technology that actually failed to have an impact due to really poor management, try researching the “Ferguson rifle”. Thank goodness for bad management in that case.)

CrazyGene on November 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Remember how some of us thought the previously unbeaten Rick Perry would be such an unstoppable force?

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

And how many back surgeries have you recovered from sans difficulties?
Been there twice meself (number 3 is coming).
A healthy Rick Perry would have blown them all away.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on November 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Enough of this gobbly gook they are trying to feed us and which
we for some mysterious reasons try to analyze, deciper “what
went wrong”.

The election was lost for Romney because of two very simple reasons:

1. voter fraud on a massive scale – Joseph Stalin said that
it doesn’t matter who votes, it matters who counts the votes.

2. many people don’t want to give up their free stuff from the
govt.

And as a side note, does one really believe there are poor in this country? Other than the children whose parents have access to govt. help, however, sell it for drugs.

The poor receive free housing, clothing, food, healthcare, dental,
cell phones, laptops, and who knows what else.

I, who are one of the suckers who hands out a $20.00 bill to panhandlers, am going to ask them next time “What happened, didn’t Obama return your phone call?”

And with Solyndra, Fast & Furious, Bengahzi going on we are
discussing the nitty gritty little failues of the Romney campaign.
What dolts we are.

Amjean on November 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Barone is right. I can think of four senate seats off the top of my head from the 2010 and 2012 races that should have been safe GOP pickups. But we had awful candidates, so we lost. Gotta do better next time.

Jack_Burton on November 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM

ORCA was a complete disaster.

Mitt as a businessman was a dumb joke, and we got played.

A Axe on November 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Yeah, ORCA. Why did Mitt name his get-out-the-vote operation after a naughty conservative nickname for Oprah?

Scriptor on November 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Forgot one thing I learned when the Chicago teachers went on
strike. We are feeding the children in the schools breakfast
and lunch for free. Because their parents don’t.

Amjean on November 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

The question for 2016 is who to field against Hillary? She’s not stepping down from the highest job in the administration because it’s boring. She’s putting together another run, and you can bet that she will have the benefit of Obama’s machine.

Remember that the electorate was 54% women.

RINOs are people too on November 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM

booooooooooooooring

c’mon HA, Mitt lost and you’re still relevant. Write about something interesting, or call Obama a parachute eared Kenyan.

Slade73 on November 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

How could Dr. Panagopoulos do an analysis of poll accuracy on Wednesday? The votes weren’t all counted then; indeed, they still aren’t all counted, and won’t be for another week at least…

oddball on November 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

The Democrats analytics and micro-targeting allowed them to send the proper message to voters and manage the process.

The Reps dumped bushels of money into the MEDIA (who hates them) to broadcast to everyone. (“Political Consultants” get about 40% of the money spent regardless of the outcome. So 40% of what, $1B???, is a nice chunk of change. Who cares if Romney or any other guy wins? And on the down stream races Republican “consultants” prefer “self-funding” candidates. {Those are rich guys who can write their own checks and don’t have do deal with the little reality check of trying to shake money out of the electorate.})

We’ve got two choices: business as usual and watching the whole country turn into California or working smarter. What’s your pick?

CrazyGene on November 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

“You can go through all the scientific gobbledygook you like…I don’t believe it.”

- Polling Analyst on Fox

Stuck in the dark ages. At least there was a moment of enlightenment:

[Megyn Kelly to Carl Rove] Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better? Or is this real?

lester on November 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Elton John Burn Down The Mission

Songwriters: JOHN, ELTON / TAUPIN, BERNIE

You tell me there’s an angel in your tree
Did he say he’d come to call on me
For things are getting desperate in our home
Living in the parish of the restless folks I know

Everybody now bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It’s time we put the flame torch to their keep

Burn down the mission
If we’re gonna stay alive
Watch the black smoke fly to heaven
See the red flame light the sky

Burn down the mission
Burn it down to stay alive
It’s our only chance of living
Take all you need to live inside

Deep in the woods the squirrels are out today
My wife cried when they came to take me away
But what more could I do just to keep her warm
Than burn burn burn burn down the mission walls
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/e/elton+john/burn+down+the+mission_20046713.html ]
Burn Down The Mission lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

pos4thst on November 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM

sorry Jazz

I’m grieving, it’s a process

Slade73 on November 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

There were just as many RINO-Establishment gop losses on the republican side as there were supposed TEA Party types.

Berg in North Dakota

When did Tea Party favorite Rick Berg become an establishment RINO?

AngusMc on November 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

sorry Jazz

I’m grieving, it’s a process

Slade73 on November 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Me too. That why I asked PappyD61 to set off his D61 nearby..it would magnificently hasten the process.

Who is John Galt on November 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

C’mon. Don’t fall for the navel gazing regarding who showed up and who didn’t. That is the propaganda they want you to be dwelling on.
The SCYTL voting machines were rigged. End of story.
Their claim that Romney got less votes than McCain is laughable.
Romney won the election. Obama and his SEIU union thugs stole it.

there it is on November 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Intuitively it seems likely wishful thinking had a lot to do with it

This.

HA and the entire Repub blogosphere spent months telling us what we were seeing wasn’t what we were seeing.

Moesart on November 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Simple math. Obama got more actual votes.

Would the 3 million plus Republicans who voted last time but did not vote this time please stand up?

FU

Jvette on November 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The party needs new blood. I hate to admit it, but young republicans are more libertarian then conservative. That will be a struggle for the older republicans to get use to. Especially since republicans can never find someone pure enough that we can all agree on.

Marco Rubio, while not really my first choice, can reach the Yutes and Hispanics. He can go on MTV. He can go on Entertainment Tonight. He can go on Univision and Telemundo and do well. He has a background story that can’t be personally attacked.

While we are letting the Dems burn it to the ground over the next four years, we all need to be better organized and get involved. Do our part and get in the game. The rules have been changed on us. It’s time to change the way we do business or accept our lot in life. I refuse to accept what has just happened.

Rockshine on November 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM

“Is polling science, art or witchcraft?” done by “wackos, weirdos and witches*”?

Hmmm…

*Barone

Fallon on November 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Nice post Jazz.
Elections are won with boots on the ground.
Sitting on your ass writing blog comments or spending millions on media buys that most people ignore doesn’t win elections.
A good analogy would be a natural disaster. You have to get people with the resources they need to the areas hardest hit.
A trained and ready force of volunteers in all 50 states that could be mobilized to areas needed would make a world of difference.

MHatch on November 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

@MHatch — all of the above. Boots on the ground, yes. Intelligent trained boots on the ground, double yes.

Bloggers, sure .. (Chirping birds are nice and sometimes say good things).

Picking good candidates.. Vital !

Having the right technology in the hands of the people who can use it correctly, absolutely necessary.

Giving vast amounts of money to your enemies and middlemen ? not so much.

The United States that was the “best nation on earth” is almost gone. The Republican party is on the edge. Change is required and the fat cats on top, may not be there after the change. What is more important, the nation or sitting in the big chair?

CrazyGene on November 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

http://itmakessenseblog.com/2012/04/10/george-soros-will-control-your-votes-in-the-up-coming-presidential-election/

It’s who counts the votes that matters.

bgibbs1000 on November 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Remarkably little interest in that story. I guess we’re just a bunch of conspiracy wackos.

slickwillie2001 on November 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

http://itmakessenseblog.com/2012/04/10/george-soros-will-control-your-votes-in-the-up-coming-presidential-election/

It’s who counts the votes that matters.

bgibbs1000 on November 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM

That can be fixed. So can the fundamentals. Less whining and more doing.

CrazyGene on November 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM

First of all, it is not an equation. It is an inequality. Second, the graphic is simply showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10 in order to solve. Whenever you multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a negative number in order to solve, you need to flip the sign, which is why it is marked in red.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

The graphic is wrong because there are two negatives on each side, so the inequality is not affected by cancelling out on both sides.

I find great comfort in simple math problems, because our country is screwed.

pedestrian on November 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Any poll showing your guy behind is either skewed, biased, impossible or an outlier. And every poll showing your guy ahead is accurate, the sign of a trend, and should be shouted from the rooftops. Oh, and roll your eyes every time someone mentions Nate Silver approvingly.

YYZ on November 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM

CrazyGene on November 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I think too many conservatives believe elections are won with superior ideas.

Ideas can only be implemented with hard work and effective organization.
The vast majority of people don’t read HotAir (unfortunately). Getting those people who don’t pay a lot of attention to the poles takes boots on the ground.

High paid consultants, glitzy adds, and editorials won’t do it.

MHatch on November 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM

The Romney campaign kept soliciting the same people over and over and over again for money. Then they spent the money on more soliciting.

The TV ads were too few and far between.

And ground game? WHAT ground game?? In my area, Romney/Ryan signs were actually very hard to get!!! The robo-calls were wooden and extremely annoying: they sounded like carpet cleaning commercials delivered by a banker. There was no personal contact whatsoever.

Granted that ours was not a state where Democrats had a chance, but still…

landlines on November 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Until the pollsters can figure out how to figure the dead people’s and other fraudulaent votes, they will only succeed with wild a$$ guessing. From the “scattered” reports I’m hearing that could have accounted for at least 1% of the total.

NOMOBO on November 10, 2012 at 1:26 PM

My pre-election skepticism of Nate Silver was due to a sort of “boy who cried wolf” syndrome.

Let’s face it, the NYT was, is, and will always be, a shill for the Democrat Party. It’s the same outfit who helpfully added the headline “Let GM Go Bankrupt” to make Romney’s otherwise sensible editorial into radioactive electoral toxin. And that is only one of countless examples.

That they would, in this instance, actually take their thumb off the scale and play it straight, seemed like too remote a possibility to worry about.

That they did probably has more to do with Nate Silver being personally honest than any newfound commitment to journalistic integrity on the part of the NYT and its apparatchiks.

With that said, polls can’t measure the relative effectiveness of both sides’ GOTV on election day, and the best any analysis like Silver’s can do is extrapolate based on past efforts and assign uncertainties. Implicit in a 538-like analysis is the assumption that election day GOTV performance will not significantly shift the pre-election projection.

There is still a bit of a puzzle, since by all accounts Obama’s GOTV performed quite well this year, while Romney’s (based on many consistent accounts by Project Orca volunteers, and also the fact that his swing state vote totals are more or less the same as McCain’s in a much less favorable environment) seems to have underperformed.

And yet, whether by luck or some deep but inexplicable insight, Silver’s projected numbers are within less than 1% in pretty much every swing state. I see three ways to interpret this, none of them entirely satisfactory:

1) Good or bad election day GOTV has a negligible effect on the actual vote margins. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and the experience of other recent elections, like 2004.

2) Both sides’ GOTV performance was close to historical trends, such that it was actually captured by Silver’s model. The 2004 election would tend to predict somewhat better performance by the incumbent in this area, although there is no fundamental reason, a priori, that a well-organized challenger (which we hoped we had this year, but apparently didn’t) couldn’t come out ahead or at least break even here.

3) If Silver’s projections were “GOTV-neutral”, and the actual GOTV efforts were significantly unequal, then the fact that he was so close on the final margins means there was some bias that was hidden by the fact that Obama’s GOTV outperformed Romney’s.

There is another odd dynamic at work here. The Left/MSM have ridiculed us (and we have criticized ourselves) for “not believing the polls”. But if you want your candidate to win, and he is trailing in the polls, not the believing the polls is an entirely *rational* response.

In politics, the perception that a candidate has almost no chance to win can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy thanks to the bandwagon effect. In fact, Team Obama clearly understood this, and tried to use it to their advantage (as every candidate who is leading in the polls does). Had Romney’s supporters been convinced he had no chance to win, he would have lost by an even greater margin. And it’s quite possible that a significant fraction of Romney’s supporters who don’t read blogs, listen to talk-radio, etc, *were* convinced of that, and were dissuaded from voting as a result. With a margin of only a few percent (or less) in many swing states, the bandwagon effect could easily affect the outcome.

What is damning is not that *we* as supporters didn’t believe the polls, but that Romney’s staff apparently didn’t either.

LagunaDave on November 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM

But if you want your candidate to win, and he is trailing in the polls, not the believing the polls is an entirely *rational* response.

LagunaDave on November 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM

No, that would be wishful thinking.

antifederalist on November 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Any poll showing your guy behind is either skewed, biased, impossible or an outlier. And every poll showing your guy ahead is accurate, the sign of a trend, and should be shouted from the rooftops. Oh, and roll your eyes every time someone mentions Nate Silver approvingly.

YYZ on November 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM

That’s just so much condescending poppycock, putting that in the kindest way possible.

There was adequate evidence to be optimistic going into this election day and to discount D+9, D+11, D+6 polls based upon some fairly salient facts about the state of the country:
1) Gasoline prices have more than doubled since Obama took over
2) Energy production and utilization have been curtailed under Obama including destruction of our offshore drilling industry, closing FEDERAL (have to shout that because of the administration lies about expanded drilling due solely to PRIVATE lands) lands to drilling, outrageous EPA regulations against coal use, and additional EPA regulations.
3) Obamacaretax
4) Unemployment rate higher than when he took office despite gaming the books. This fact alone should have been sufficient to boot him from office. The government can publish numbers all it wants, if a family is out of work or knows close friends and relatives out of work, no trumpeting of “recovery” has any meaning to them.
5) Intrusive government regulation at multiple levels all costing people money, jobs, or freedom and all widely hailed by the administration
6) Fast & Furious. While the scandals may only be followed by relatively small numbers of people, those numbers should add up
7) Benghazi: Again, small numbers following but still unfavorable
8) Outrageous lifestyle being lived by Michelle & Scooter
9) A failed Trillion dollar stimulus package
10) Loans to alternate energy companies miraculously owned by his campaign donors with a huge failure and bankruptcy rate

All of these things should have made November 6 a bloodbath for the democrats, suppressing democrat turnout below 2008 levels and increasing Republican turnout to 2010 like levels. This was not wishcasting or rose-colored glasses thinking, it was realistic expectations for people who live in a sane and rational world. That’s why this whole election just isn’t making sense, the stars just magically aligned here such that a president who hasn’t gotten unemployment below 7.8% and promising high energy prices managed to get a large electoral college win on a 2.5% popular vote advantage. This is the Twilight zone.

Now, the things this administration had going for it were:
1) A significant portion of the population now dependent upon the government
2) A media complex so in the tank for the administration that no negative news articles about him were even whispered during the campaign season. It’s hard for the opposition to run against both an incumbent and a media that is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the DNC.
3) An indoctrinated young population that has come through the state education system in which civics is no longer taught and the state is worshiped as the solution to all problems

Still, the turnout just doesn’t make sense relative to the condition of the country

AZfederalist on November 10, 2012 at 1:56 PM

I’m less interested in a polling organization that was correct this time than in knowing which polling organization(s) was/were correct three or four times in a row. Doing it once can be happenstance. I don’t recall anybody suggesting that PPP should be right because they have the track record of being right. Do they? (I honestly don’t know.) It’s not the same type of thing, but I follow the NFL draft closely and every year they make a list of which prognosticators got the highest % of first round picks predicted correctly. There is one guy (writes for a paper in Dallas, I believe) who has a pretty good track record, but the rest are good one year and horrible the next.

jdp629 on November 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Looking forward:

YES PLEASE, PEOPLE WITH MONEY, PUT IT TOWARD TECHNOLOGY!

I don’t think that point can be more strongly stated. No one really believes commercials any more and the airwaves are beyond saturated.

alwaysfiredup on November 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

jdp629 on November 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Who the heck cares which polling org is more accurate? We need our own analytics. Anybody can do the kind of analysis that Nate Silver did. The polling orgs are just data points.

alwaysfiredup on November 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM

The pre-election polls will never be predictive of actual results. The Left cheat on the actuals: 141% turnout in Florida…

socalcon on November 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM

It’s time to stop stirring the tea leaves, just because we don’t like what we see on the bottom of the cup. Instead, use polls as a metric to see if the proper message is getting out. Keep changing the message until the polls become positive. Don’t give up, and GOTV.

Red Creek on November 10, 2012 at 2:19 PM

I don’t know if anyone caught this on wed. But Ed mentioned in passing on his show that the Romney campaign was sending around some of his posts doing poll analysis to show why the polls were wrong. yikes.

red_herring on November 10, 2012 at 2:34 PM

MHatch on November 10, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I think too many conservatives believe elections are won with superior ideas.

Ideas can only be implemented with hard work and effective organization.

The vast majority of people don’t read HotAir (unfortunately). Getting those people who don’t pay a lot of attention to the poles takes boots on the ground.

High paid consultants, glitzy adds, and editorials won’t do it.

This!

This is the only analysis that is relevant to last Tuesday’s results.

The Obama campaign team played varsity ball.

The Romney team played freshman level, at best.

This is the second general in a row that an inept GOP campaign team have been revealted to be comprised of incompetents who seem unable to deliver OR perform on fundamental basic campaign tactics.

No ground game? – You have no chance.

Kudos, MHatch.

davisbr on November 10, 2012 at 2:36 PM

LagunaDave on November 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM
What is damning is not that *we* as supporters didn’t believe the polls, but that Romney’s staff apparently didn’t either.

Bingo.

Second kudos.

davisbr on November 10, 2012 at 2:39 PM

First of all, it is not an equation. It is an inequality. Second, the graphic is simply showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10 in order to solve. Whenever you multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a negative number in order to solve, you need to flip the sign, which is why it is marked in red.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I agree that that dividing by a negative flips the sign (or direction of the inequality) but the solution to the original (undivided by a negative) equation (or inequality) is still the not what is shown as the answer. One way to view it is that the negatives in the numerator flipped the sign and the negatives in the denominator flip it back.

The answer is clearly wrong. How do you explain that the answer can be proven wrong by substitution?

Since the equation has little relevance to the topic, I suspect that the reason it was used is as an example of something that’s screwed up.

Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM

This is the second general in a row that an inept GOP campaign team have been revealted to be comprised of incompetents who seem unable to deliver OR perform on fundamental basic campaign tactics.

davisbr on November 10, 2012 at 2:36 PM

… and it seems that the same consultants and inside the beltway GOP were working both of those campaigns. Coincidence? Maybe it’s time to let them go; they just aren’t doing the job.

If they couldn’t beat Obama with the country given the current condition of the economy, these clowns aren’t going to win any election.

AZfederalist on November 10, 2012 at 3:00 PM

First of all, it is not an equation. It is an inequality. Second, the graphic is simply showing the step of dividing each side of the inequality by -10 in order to solve. Whenever you multiply or divide both sides of an inequality by a negative number in order to solve, you need to flip the sign, which is why it is marked in red.

bluegill on November 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

X + 3 is an algebraic expression

X + 3 = 5 is an equation

X + 3 > 4 is an equation

The fact that an inequality symbol is used doesn’t change it from being an equation.

chemman on November 10, 2012 at 3:18 PM

The answer is clearly wrong. How do you explain that the answer can be proven wrong by substitution?

Since the equation has little relevance to the topic, I suspect that the reason it was used is as an example of something that’s screwed up.

Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM

The problem here is that you are looking at scratch work, essentially. You appear to be looking at the graphic and seeing:

LINE 1: (-10h)/(-10) >= -6/-10

LINE 2: h LEQ .6. (the less or equal sign is giving me HTML errors)

Strictly speaking, this is incorrect. However, from the way it is written, particularly the fact that the inequality in line 1 is level with the numerators, rather than the fraction bar, presumably the point is that the original inequality was simply “-10h >= -6″, and so the first line is simply what happens when, instead of rewriting the entire inequality flipped, the person solving the problem simply draws the fraction bar under the inequality and flips the inequality sign once they write the next line.

Having graded many math problems over the years, I’m used to seeing people write this way. It’s a little sloppy, and can lead to mistakes, but assuming the initial inequality was “-10h >= -6″, the solution is correct.

RINO in Name Only on November 10, 2012 at 3:44 PM

The fact that an inequality symbol is used doesn’t change it from being an equation.

chemman on November 10, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Generally, in mathematics, we call them inequalities if a “less than”, “lessor equal”, etc is used, and reserve “equation” for things with equals signs. However, in chemistry, the convention might be different – it’s been forever since I took any chemistry class, but I vaguely remember that “equation” was sometimes used to refer to certain statements about chemical compounds, which didn’t necessarily have an equals sign. I’m guessing from your handle that this is the basis for the disagreement.

RINO in Name Only on November 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Having graded many math problems over the years, I’m used to seeing people write this way. It’s a little sloppy, and can lead to mistakes, but assuming the initial inequality was “-10h >= -6″, the solution is correct.

RINO in Name Only on November 10, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Yes. You posit a reasonable hypothesis. However, shouldn’t the teacher have crossed out the original inequality and written a switched one above it (maybe in red)? Or erased the original inequality and written a reversed one in it’s place?

If it’s the letter, then the “original” equation had the sign in the other direction and the answer is wrong. If not, this is a dreadful example of “show your work,” as the sign flip should have been displayed too.

Still, you do posit a possible explanation of how someone could have done this on a whiteboard and the answer is not “wrong.” I shudder to think someone would TEACH this way.

I still think Jazz’s reason for including this graphic was as an example of something screwed up. The question is whether it’s just plain wrong or merely sloppy/misleading.

Pythagoras on November 10, 2012 at 4:01 PM

PappyD61 on November 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

yes, but they did not primary incumbents

gerrym51 on November 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Any polls that got this election right did it by accident. The election was won by people that would not have even shown up in polling because they would be judged as non-voters.

Count to 10 on November 10, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Having graded many math problems over the years, I’m used to seeing people write this way. It’s a little sloppy, and can lead to mistakes, but assuming the initial inequality was “-10h >= -6″, the solution is correct.

RINO in Name Only on November 10, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Ok, thanks for explaining that. But I also think it’s sloppy. And somehow I don’t think Jazz graphic is meant to make the case that conservatives just because we’re anti-climate change and liberal arts, should also cede math to the left and be sloppy in polling, etc.

sauldalinsky on November 10, 2012 at 7:29 PM

A Axe on November 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

What the hell is this???

Axe on November 10, 2012 at 9:31 PM

The OP is right. Those of you still picking what you think should have made a difference or what you think the turn out should have been are falling into the same trap the Romney camp fell into. As stated over and over, other than Rasmussen, pollsters don’t pick a +/- D or R number. Most pollsters go with fixed demographic, age, sex, marital status, ethnic mix, ect..ect and once they match those demographics to their model let +/- D or R fall where it does.

Rasmussen wasn’t just off in 2012, they overstated R by 3.5% in 2010. The turn out was likely + 1 to 1.5% extra for Obama which makes sense because the median in polls understated his final margin by 1.5% (Rasmussen by 3.7, Gallup by 7.2). Of note is Gallup, they are just bad. This is the 3rd national election in a row they missed bad. 2008 they over estimated Obama by a lot. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/#more-37396

On turnout, it wasn’t the issue, Roce lied adain to cover his ass. As is the norm vote counts will continue to come in for a week. Romney is currently at 58.6 M, in the end he will have matched McCains 59M. http://www.google.com/elections/ed/us/results

This election isn’t about voter fraud, or ORCA,Romney won’t break the 48% mark and will lose by almost 3%, which is a lot in this polarized country. Take a step back, look at the facts, stop making excuses.

NextGen on November 11, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Oops, Rove lied again.

Sorry.

NextGen on November 11, 2012 at 8:39 AM

What the right needs to do-if they want to win a presidential election

stop talking about abortion and overturning roe/wade.

come up with an affirmative immigration policy.

WHAT THE RIGHT WILL DO.

keep talking about abortion and say they will overturn Roe/Wade

have a negative immigration policy.

cut off nose to spite face/shoot self in foot

there are not enough whites and declining.

gerrym51 on November 11, 2012 at 9:14 AM

stop talking about abortion and overturning roe/wade.

come up with an affirmative immigration policy.

gerrym51 on November 11, 2012 at 9:14 AM

My daughter voted for the first time this year. She’s bought into the social justice thing, and only voted Republican because she’s pro-life. There are a lot of people like her that would vote democrat if not for the abortion issue. I’m not sure we gain by abandoning abortion. Our nominees should definitely get some training on how to discuss it, though.

NbyNW on November 11, 2012 at 10:46 AM

All this talk about Obama’s voter targeting makes me wonder if they didn’t also target potential Republican voters to suppress their vote. It would be just as easy to do that as motivate their own base if they had access to the right voter data.

NbyNW on November 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Part of the problem:

Vote fraud alert: One out of five registered Ohio voters is bogus

Vote fraud is no big deal, right? It hardly ever happens. It’s so rare that it’s not even worth discussing. Anyone who claims to take the integrity of our ballots seriously is cynically exploiting phantom fears for the purpose of suppressing the Democrat-loving minority vote.

To keep that silly narrative alive, it’s important not to read the Sunday edition of the Columbus Dispatch, in which readers were informed that “more than one out of every five registered Ohio voters is probably ineligible to vote.”

Furthermore, “in two counties, the number of registered voters actually exceeds the voting age population: Northwestern Ohio’s Wood County shows 109 registered voters for every 100 eligible, while in Lawrence County along the Ohio River it’s a mere 104 registered per 100 eligible.”

31 more counties report over 90 percent voter registration, which is a good 20 percent higher than the national average. The Buckeye State sure is civic-minded! Well, except that 1.6 million of the 7.8 million registered voters in the state haven’t voted in at least four years. So I guess they were civic minded, once upon a time. Never fear – I’m sure plenty of those “inactive” voters will reactivate themselves just in time for Barack Obama’s re-election.

You might think these astonishing statistics indicate a crisis-level voter registration problem requiring immediate attention, particularly since this is 2012, not 1912, and modern technology gives us extremely potent tools for accurately managing massive amounts of data. But Attorney General Eric Holder disagrees. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sent Holder a letter back in February, warning that “common sense says that the odds of voter fraud increase the longer these ineligible voters are allowed to populate our rolls… I simply cannot accept that.” Husted said existing federal regulations “limit Ohio’s ability to remove ineligible names, thereby increasing the chance for voter fraud.”

No one from the Justice Department ever responded. Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which called Ohio’s voter registration train wreck to Husted’s attention, is now suing him for failing to take action, beyond issuing a “directive” to remove ineligible voters that Judicial Watch describes as “all bark and no bite,” since there is no evidence that anything was actually done.

Judicial Watch has already filed a similar lawsuit against the State of Indiana, and says other states with disturbing levels of ineligible registered voters include Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, California, and Colorado. Florida’s struggle to clean up its rolls, in the face of active hostility from Eric Holder’s Justice Department, has already made headlines.

Nationwide, the Pew Center for the States estimates about 24 million ineligible voter registrations, including “more than 1.8 million dead people listed as voters; about 2.75 million with voter registrations in more than one state; and about 12 million voter records with incorrect addresses, meaning either the voters moved or errors in the information make it unlikely any mailings can reach them.”

http://thewildernessofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/serious-question-here-what-if/#comment-3288

Read below that part to see how the military were disenfranchised.

avagreen on November 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM