What happened to the concept of semi-accurate polling?

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The experts and statisticians are starting to come out of the woodwork and say what the hell happened? The Republicans had it right, we saw John McCain going a few points up and he won a few points up. The same polling agencies however went a little crazy and were calling a 12 point blowout for Barack Obama.

What happened?

Granted, the fact that Clinton’s name was at the top of the ballot always lends to the same year and after year superficial excuses for loss, but this wasn’t just a little loss it was a big loss. Maybe not in numbers but in the crushing blow it gave to the spirit of Obama followers.

12 points! 12 points! What have to ask ourselves, what happened!

Gary Langer the chief poller for ABC, almost immediately after the election stood up and questioned what happened with polling potential Democratic voters. Or it just may be something else.

Langer said, “In the end there may be no smoking gun. Those polls may have been accurate, but done in by a superior get-out-the-vote effort, or by very late deciders whose motivations may or may not ever be known. They may have been inaccurate because of bad modeling, compromised sampling, or simply an overabundance of enthusiasm for Obama on the heels of his Iowa victory that led his would-be supporters to overstate their propensity to turn out. (A function, perhaps, of youth.)”

I suppose that makes sense. Who knows really.

A hearty congratulations to John McCain for the big win in New Hampshire. His campaign promises a fresh breath of frank discussion in the White House.

It’s up to Barack Obama to get momentum back and take the reigns of the Democratic machine back from Hillary Clinton.

And it’s up to the pollsters to try for accuracy next time…

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3 Responses to “What happened to the concept of semi-accurate polling?”


  1. 1 slivermoon22 January 9, 2008 at 1:33 am

    The primary was rigged. That’s my opionion. Would you be at all surprised?

    We are wasting our time.

  2. 2 Withheld January 9, 2008 at 10:53 am

    She only won by 2 points—it’s not like she annihilated him. I live in NH and work part time for the top academic polling group here. With the exception of the very last poll that was done on Sunday and came out Monday, it was always her many points ahead, a few points ahead or a tie. That last poll that showed him ahead by 9 points could have been momentum and frenzy generated on the trail as his events got larger and larger — spirit of the moment and all. When it came down to it and people had to fill in the circle in the booth maybe they were afraid to take that leap of faith. (I only decided finally in the parking lot before I walked in to the polling station, and I have friends who walked in not knowing how they were going to vote until they had pen in hand inside the voting booth.)

    I can tell you emphatically that it was not bad modeling or compromised sampling — nothing in the methodology — so that leaves only his Iowa bounce to explain it — and a whole host of people who were undecided as of Sunday night when I finished my last poll at 9:00 pm. You can record that they are undecided and you can say that Obama had a 9 point lead OF THOSE WHO INDICATED THEIR PREFERENCE when polled, but if a huge percentage of people did not indicate their preference at the time of the poll because they were still undecided, there is absolutely no way of knowing how many of them are ultimately going to which candidate. And NO poll can predict that.

    I think also that part of it is fear — Democrats are terrified of another 4 years of Republicans, so while they like the idea of an inspiring newcomer, if he can’t win in November then what’s the point? And that has ALWAYS been her strong point on the polls I’ve done. It’s quite frustrating and annoying actually. You ask all kinds of questions about who is most honest, who will bring change, who is most trustworthy and likeable, and Obama scores above her consistently. Then when the question comes about who can beat the GOPs, they sort of resignedly sigh and say ‘Hillary.’ It’s like people got brainwashed early (either by Republican forces who WANT her to get the nomination so they can fillet her or by Hillary’s own camp) and they can’t break free of it to take a chance on anything less than a sure thing. Democrats just can’t afford a mistake that would cost them the election and while Hillary is distasteful to many, she is at least a known quantity. Even if what is known is less than ideal.

  3. 3 Anonymous January 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    That’s all well and good, but what I don’t understand is how any reasonable, intelligent person could possibly vote for Hillary.

    She talks about “35 years of experience” yet she graduated from law school 34 1/2 years ago.

    She talks about “inevitability,” and yet 55% of the American population will not vote for her for president under any circumstance.

    She talks about “caring for the poor,” and yet her Whitewater real estate development sold forest lots for people who wanted to put trailers on them, then forclosed and took everything if they were late with a single payment.

    Hillary talks about “ethics in Government,” yet as First Lady of Arkansas she made a fortune in cattle futures, as first lady of the US, she ransacked Vince Foster’s office in advance of Federal Agents, found subpoenaed documents in the back of a white house closet two years after they had been subpoenaed, was an unindicted co-consiprator on a criminal matter, illegally accessed FBI files, illegally fired, then smeared the White House Travel Office employees, and testified before two federal grand juries.

    What really astonishes and amazes me, however, is how the Democrats give her a bye. They allow the lies, and the corruption in search of an elusive victory over Republicans that they seem to feel they can’t have without the Clintons. Apart from being morally vacant, the Party sets the table for its own destruction. Do the Democrats, in not bringing up Hillary’s lapses now, seriously believe that the Republicans won’t mention them in the Fall?

    I believe that the major failings of the polling in New Hampshire is that the statistics were clouded by the stupidity, cupidity, and moral bankruptcy of the Democrats of New Hampshire.

    On to Nevada and South Carolina!


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