Sunday, September 28, 2008

Historical examples of how Sept. polls results were greatly changed by Election- an analysis


A look at liberal blogs reveals gleeful Democrats ready to pop their champagne corks and celebrating an Obama victory, considering the current movement in polls. Meanwhile, some Republicans seem caught somewhere between fatalistic resignation and despair. Not to panic! We are several weeks out, for one thing.
Many voters will NOT decide or will change their mind the last 48 hours.
Yes, today's Gallup Poll shows moving out to an 8 point lead on McCain, while the reliable Rasmussen poll shows a 6 point lead and the Hotline/FD poll shows a 5% Obama lead. According to the current Real Clear Politics (which average out various polls), Obama leads by 4.3%.

I believe that the last two weeks have very nearly constituted a "perfect storm" for Obama, with Wall Street Crises hanging over every one’s head. This definitely help steer many towards Obama, as McCain is PERCEIVED to be similar to Bush.
A little historical context about presidential polling is in order.

First, some examples related to the instability of polling in the final weeks of presidential elections.
• You probably forgot that around this time in September of 2000, a Newsweek poll showed Al Gore leading George Bush by a 52-38 margin. We've yet to see ANY poll showing anything close to a 14 point lead for Obama, and we know how the 2000 election turned out.
• At approximately this point in the race in 2004, polls showed George Bush with a lead in most polls that looked slightly greater than Obama's current lead. (8 in the CNN/USAT/Gallup, 8 in Pew, 7 in the Battleground, 6 in ABC/WJ). By the time the election rolled around, the race was back within virtually every poll's margin of error, with a RCP average of +1.5% for Bush.

• In 1996, the CBS/New York Times final pre-election poll predicted an 18% Clinton victory. This was 9.5% greater than the actual result.
I'd also like to point out that when Rasmussen (most reliable) put out his final poll for the New Hampshire Democratic primary in January, he showed Obama at 37% and Hillary Clinton at 30%. Clinton did nine points better than that, winning 39-36. The RCP average for this contest was also wrong--predicting an 8.3 Obama victory. Reuters, for instance, predicted that Obama would win by 13 points. They were fully 10 points off. This raises real questions about Obama's ability to deliver in actual votes what he's predicted to receive by the polls.
Of course, past performance is never a predictor of future results. All that I'm sure of is that a 5-8 deficit in September polls is not quite as terrible as some might initially think, considering we are in the midst of this financial storm. Will the economic news be AS BAD weeks from now? Probably not.
Finally, something like 20% of likely voters still have not made up their minds.
A significant % of Hillary supporters WILL NOT vote for Obama.
In blue states one-third of white and blue-collar Democrats just won't vote for a black man.

Obama cannot get over 50% in the polls. He is stuck around 46 to 49. So fret not, historically American voters do not like to put in office an ultra-liberal.

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