Skip to comments.Are the Polls Biased? Democrats Hope Not
Posted on 11/04/2012 8:44:20 AM PST by markomalley
The latest crop of opinion polls has generally brought good news for Democrats. The Real Clear Politics average of all the national polls has given President Obama a slight lead, after this poll of polls had shown him trailing since Mitt Romneys post-Denver debate comeback changed the race. Even more important, polls of likely voters in the battleground states have given the president leads in most of them. This caused New York Times blogger Nate Silver to double down on his forecast predicting an Obama win. According to Silver, Obama now has an 83.7 percent likelihood of prevailing on Tuesday.
Well leave aside the arguments about Silvers odds-making, which depicts what even most liberals concede is an extremely close election as a near certain Obama win. Suffice it to say, as I wrote on Thursday, Silvers belief that Obama had a field goal lead with 3 minutes left in the game (which he may now think is more like a 4-point lead with 2 minutes left) is based on a belief that the polls he trusts are accurate. On Saturday, however, he returned to the question that has to be haunting his readers: what if these polls arent accurate? While he admits the possibility, he thinks it unlikely that so many surveys could be in error. That seems logical, even persuasive. But the problem with that assumption is the same as it has been for the past month. Most of the polls showing Obama ahead either nationally or in some states reflect a common bias: their sample reflects a picture of the electorate that resembles the 2008 Democratic advantage. But this year we expect the gap in party identification to be smaller. In short, unless the Democrats match or exceed the massive hope and change surge of four years ago, then what Silver and the Democrats who look to his column for encouragement fear will be true: all the pro-Obama state polls are going to turn out to be quite wrong.
Silver sums up this equation quite succinctly:
I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obamas favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction. If they are biased in Mr. Obamas favor, then Mr. Romney could still win; the race is close enough. If they are biased in Mr. Romneys favor, then Mr. Obama will win by a wider-than-expected margin, but since Mr. Obama is the favorite anyway, this will not change who sleeps in the White House on Jan. 20.
My argument, rather, is this: weve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.
Yes, of course: most of the arguments that the polls are necessarily biased against Mr. Romney reflect little more than wishful thinking.
But the state polls may not be right. They could be biased. Based on the historical reliability of polls, we put the chance that they will be biased enough to elect Mr. Romney at 16 percent.
That 16 percent chance that Silver talks about though is far more potent than the forlorn hope he implies. Quite simply, if Democrats do not have the near 10-point lead in partisan affiliation that many polls show which mirrors the 2008 results then the polls that show the president leading are a misreading of a race, which is either tied or actually trending in Romneys favor.
This is a possibility that Silver and those who look to him for comfort try not to think about, but which looms large in the final days of the race. The president may have gained some ground as coverage of Hurricane Sandy diverted the public from the election and allowed Obama (with an assist from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie) to appear in control of events. But it strains credulity to believe even that advantage can conjure up a Democratic turnout that would rival that of 2008.
Thats why the polls not only could be wrong, but are likely to be wrong. Silver may be right and our expectations of a more even partisan split may not materialize. But if that isnt the case, then November 6, 2012 will prove to be the Waterloo not only for President Obama but also for the pollsters who are predicting victory for him.
How does Nate Silver come up with 16%? It reminds me of the “scientists” who say there is a “16%” chance that global warming is natural.
The problem with taking an average of all polls is that averaging the bad polls in with the (few) good polls results in an average that is most likely to be wrong.
The polling data is bad because the turnout model is wrong.
But no one will admit this until Wednesday! Stay tuned.
He pulled the number out of some bodily orifice.
16% looks suspiciously similar to the 15.8% probability of being above one standard deviation from the average value on a bell curve.
So, we can bet everything we own on obama. If he wins it’ll pay 8-1, so, we’ll win big. If he loses we win even bigger!
Romney's final weekend surge has not yet been picked up in polls that were taken before the weekend. The current published polls are still reflecting Obama's "good" 2 or 3 days last week, when his campaign staged an effective photo-op in storm-stricken NJ with Chris Christie.
But state numbers are starting to tell a different story. With reliable polls now showing Romney catching up to Obama in states like PA and MI --states nobody expected to be competitive for the GOP-- then there can be little doubt we're seeing a wave for Romney.
11/03/12 REP12_WTA 3,506 1,048.766 0.284 0.325 0.299 0.300
The Iowa Electronic Market's margin of difference is higher than ever. The B.O. worshipers must be buying into the Nate Silver analysis.
If there is wishful thinking going on, it's on the part of the fools who think the GOP turnout isn't going to be a lot higher than in '08.
In 2008 anyone who wasn’t blind could see the momentum that Obama had going into election day by just looking at bumper stickers or yard signs. Yesterday my wife and I took a trip across the center of New York State to go to dinner. We traveled about 50 miles and only saw (1) ONE Obama yard sign and probably 50 Romney/Ryan yard signs. This was our poll before the election. The difference between us and liberals is that we believe something when we see it with our own eyes. If we had a liberal in the back seat during our trip, they would have somehow tried to make us believe that the one yard with the Obama sign was the only non-racist home on the highway. Liberals can never see the forest through the trees.
The problem with public opinion polls comes not just from bias, but from blindness.
There is a great deal of uncertainty with polling because of the change of peoples habits of purchasing telephone service. More and more people have cell phones only and have no land line service. Even among those with land line service, they are using caller ID and telephone answering devices and services to screen out many calls.
You can thank telemarketers, robocalling, and yes, even pollsters themselves for the ramp up of call screening used by those with land line service. There can be no doubt that the ability of pollsters to collect reliable public opinion data has been severely affected by this. If people will not answer the phone, how can they be polled? I would even go out on a limb and say that there is a vast hidden pocket of Republican support that has rendered itself unreachable by pollsters because of this.
A phenomenon peculiar to this year seems to be that the larger the polling sample, the better Romney and the Republicans do. If the polling sample is below 1000, the Democrats seem to do better, but if it is over 1000, then the Republican is more likely to lead.
Then there is the identity of the pollsters and their motivation. The point has been made that there are Gallup and Rasmussen, who make their bread and butter strictly through opinion polling. Their reputation lives or dies by their accuracy. Then there are all the others, which are either by media organizations or by colleges and universities. Of the pollsters, Rasmussen and Gallup are the most trustworthy, with the rest declining precipitously in trustworthiness because of their hidden agendas.
Even with Gallup and Rasmussen, that only goes so far for the reason I stated above and that is that opinion polling is in serious trouble because of people’s new telephone habits.
For the most part, polling has only been a feeding place for Democrat and media propaganda. I would urge all of you to ignore them and GET OUT and VOTE!!
I see this too.
my part of town was ground zero for the Obama campaign. They had their HQ nearby and it was PACK with people, signs were everywhere. People were holding house parties! They lit off fireworks on election night!
Today you wouldn’t even know there was an election. There are some yards with signs, most are for local Dem candidates and propositions. Only a few have Obama signs. Most of them are ones from 2008. There are now even a few Romney signs that popped up.
This is a very left-wing area. I cannot stress that enough. This is not going to be 2008 by a long shot.
And yet the national presidential polls from those same pollsters have almost all merged to a tie.
Silver is a lying commie; he and his lawyer buddies want to do lawsuits and that with Holder and Soros’s secs-of-state are all they have left to try.
What about the electorate of 2010? That probably is a more accurate description of the mood of the country.
If the media boot lickers put out bogus polls showing obama leading, would they not be taking the chance that obama voters think he’s already won and will stay home?
Or, are they hoping to make republicans think it’s over and stay home? And that ain’t gonna’ happen.
It would make sense for the bogus polls to show obama trailing just to get his base to vote.
Or maybe the polls are accurate. God, I pray they’re not.
To make it easier to get away with voter fraud in the close states (if the biassed polls have said Obama would win that state), or in hopes that Obama's base will riot if he loses.
Apparently the situation in Ohio is such that the outcome could depend on provisional ballots which won't be counted until 10 days after the election--so let's hope that the outcome doesn't depend on Ohio.
You say 2 + 2 = 4
I say 2 + 2 = 6.
Hmm. Can’t figure out who is right...so let’s average.
2 + 2 = 5!
Homo media pollsters and betting sites say Osama is a lock. GOP experts predict over 300 e votes for Romney.
Somebody is full of it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.