Thursday, October 18, 2012

State-Level Polling

More evidence of trouble with that Gallup poll comes in the form of state-level polling that is WAY out of whack with Gallup's national numbers. This afternoon, NBC/WSJ/Marist released two state-level polls that are VERY bad for Romney. The President leads in Iowa by 8 and in Wisconsin by 6. Folks, there are two possibilities on these numbers:

1) They're wrong
2) Romney is in very deep trouble

It is entirely possible they're wrong. I would actually be surprised if Obama was ahead by 8 in Iowa right now. I do think he's ahead in both of these states but my guess would have been something more like 4-5 points in Wisconsin and perhaps a little less in Iowa.

If these polls are accurate, here's why Romney's in trouble:

1) States don't usually move by themselves. They reflect national trends a lot of the time. If Obama is ahead by 8 in Wisconsin, he's winning by something like 4-6 points in Ohio and he's winning in Virginia and so on.

2) If the Obama campaign knows they have leads like that in those states, they can move at least some of their resources from those states towards Florida and Ohio and Virginia, etc.

3) Obama's lead is the same in Iowa as it was a month ago. There has been no movement or whatever movement there has been has cancelled itself out. Obama was winning in September and this would mean he's winning now.

4) Early voting appears to be as big a disaster for Romney in Iowa and Wisconsin as it is in Ohio. 34% of likely voters in Iowa say they've already voted and Obama is winning among these voters 67-32. The poll reports that Romney is winning among likely voters planning to vote on Election Day but not by nearly enough. Similarly, 156% of likely voters in Wisconsin say they've already voted and Obama is winning there 64-35. But the race is about even there among those planning to vote on Election Day. So, Obama appears to be winning right now in these states and locking in large numbers of votes right now.

Anyway, coming back to that Gallup Poll, the situation is simple: The two sets of numbers (Gallup and NBC/WSJ) are not consistent or the result of statistical noise. Nate Silver agrees and advises that people "be careful" with the Gallup numbers.

There is something very different going on in the sampling and one of them (Gallup or NBC/WSJ) is just dead wrong. I don't think Gallup is right.


Jonathan Keller said...

I'm curious about #4 here. Why do you think the early vote in the states you mentioned is so tilted towards Obama? Some possibilities:

1) His ground game is more effective -- i.e. in 2008 (when i worked on the primary), we were very aggressive about locking up the early vote.

2) #1 is irrelevant here. More Democrats, and solid Obama voters, are just the early voting types (for whatever reason).

In other words, why is the EV skewed so much, and the regular vote more even?

(as a side point, was also wondering if any early voting occurred before the first debate?)

Larry Becker said...

I think it is #1. The Obama campaign has been pounding people in these states like Ohio to get out and vote early. Also, the Obama campaign has almost a 3:1 advantage in field offices nationally.

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