2. Unlikely voters voted — and they voted Republican! Almost all pollsters apply likely voter models of some kind, which estimate how likely a respondent is to vote based on their degree of interest in the election, their voting history, and in some cases, their knowledge of things like where their polling place is. On average, these models show Republican candidates performing about 6 points ahead of their standing among all registered voters in these surveys.
Most of the people whom the models deem to be “unlikely voters” are Democrats, who appear to be less charged up about this election than Republicans, or who have more scattered voting histories.
But there could also be a group of Republican-leaning voters who are cast aside by these models: specifically, those who identify themselves with the Tea Party. While we’re still struggling to get a handle on exactly what types of voters affiliate themselves with the Tea Party, some group of them are folks who are dissatisfied with “politics as usual” and may until recently have been disengaged from electoral politics entirely. They might not have voted in 2006 or 2008, and perhaps also not in 2004 and 2000; a few might even be people who cast their last ballot for Ross Perot in 1992 or 1996, or who have never voted at all.