Browsing the archives for the polls tag.

Daily tracking polls update: “Looking OK now” edition

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Tracking polls update, 31 October

Chart1: Daily tracking polls update, 31 October

Three days ago, I was feeling nervous about a sudden seeming lurch-let towards McCain in the daily tracking polls. This in spite of repeated posts by the experts insisting that there was no actually meaningful tightening going on, it was mostly just a question of statistical artifacts.

By this morning,’s status update did acknowledge that there had been some movement: “If you look at our national trend chart, we definitely show a narrower Obama margin now (5.4% as of this writing) than about a week ago.” Obama’s current national trend estimate, Mark Blumenthal explains, now stands about a point lower than his high of 50.9% a week ago, and McCain’s current estimate is slightly less than two percentage point higher than his low of 42.2% on October 12.

However, there’s still little to worry about, basically, as he points out the obvious to calm our nerves: “[T]ime is short and Obama’s lead still looks daunting. [..] Obama continues to lead on every national poll and yesterdays tracking updates show no decisive shift in either direction.”

Today’s tracking poll numbers certainly help sooth the jitters, as most actually show movement towards Obama (see Chart 1). Over the last two days, the ABC/WaPo, IBD/TIPP and Rasmussen daily trackers all have Obama’s lead back up 1 point, Zogby has it up 2, and the Gallup samples have moved back in Obama’s favour too: the regular voter and expanded likely voter samples both by 2 points and the traditional likely voter sample by no less than 5 (from 3% to 8%).

The result is that the average of all daily tracking polls has Obama’s lead back up by 1 point from +5.6% to +6.6%, after it had fallen by 2.7 points in the previous four days.

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Daily tracking polls update: the nervous edition

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Is John McCain’s evil masterplan working?

I’m a bit confused about what masterplan, evil or otherwise, McCain would be implementing right now – I mean, ginning up a red scare about Obama the Socialist, really? But it wouldnt be the first time that a tack I considered wholly idiotic seems to work with American voters. (They sometimes work with Dutch voters too, for that matter – though probably not the red-baiting one.)

Either way, the daily tracking polls are showing some tightening of the race. Could be statistical noise, could be real. The movement would probably not be enough to decide the race either way, but still, the lowest estimates of Obama’s lead are getting disconcertingly close to zero:

  • Gallup has Obama’s lead down 3 points today, both in its expanded likely voter model (from 10% to 7%) and its traditional model (from 5% to a perilous 2%);
  • Rasmussen has Obama’s lead down 3 points in two days, from 8% to 5%;
  • Research 2000 has Obama’s lead down 4 points in two days, from 11% to 7%;
  • Zogby has Obama’s lead down a point today to just 4%, after it already fell from 10% to 5% the day before yesterday.
  • The IBD/TIPP poll is stubbornly stuck at a modest 3-4% Obama lead since the 22nd.

All in all, Obama’s average lead in the daily tracking polls has fallen from 8.3% three days ago to 6.0% tonight.

Chart 1: All daily tracking polls

Chart 1: All daily tracking polls

It should be said that there is one non-tracking poll that paints a seriously different picture. A Pew poll out today is showing a delirious 15-point lead for Obama among likely voters, with McCain down at just 38%. John Judis flagged that one (using the poll’s even more favourable numbers for registered voters) to tell us to “start popping the corks”.

The balance is evened out again, however, by the GWU Battleground tracking poll (which I dont include in the graphs because it’s not a daily tracking poll), which has Obama’s lead unchanged at just 3%. So count me in with his colleague Noam Scheiber, who is “still sweating” it.

For an overall picture of all national polls, check out …

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WaPo/ABC Poll: the difference between white voters in the South and elsewhere

Politics, Presidential Elections, US culture, US Elections, US Politics

This bit of polling analysis caught my attention: Obama does well among whites, very, very well indeed. But with one glaring exception: the South. The Southern exception is alive and well:

Obama is outperforming any Democrat back to Jimmy Carter among white voters, getting 45 percent to McCain’s 52 percent. But in the South, it is a very different story. Obama fares worse among Southern whites than any Democrat since George McGovern in 1972.

My electoral map of how whites voted in 2004 already showed that when you single out white voters, it’s not Wyoming and Utah that are the most Republican states, it’s Mississippi, Alabama and South-Carolina. The latest ABC/WaPo poll suggests that even as whites across the country have been remarkably receptive to Obama’s message, those in the South are still very hostile:

Whites in the East and West tilt narrowly toward Obama (he’s up 8 and 7 points, respectively), and the two run about evenly among those in the Midwest. By contrast, Southern whites break more than 2 to 1 for McCain, 65 percent to 32 percent.

That stark divide is not simply a partisan difference. While white Democrats outside the South give Obama margins of 80 points or more, he leads by a more modest 65 points among white Southern Democrats. The Democrat is up 55 points among liberal whites in the region, far under his performance among those voters elsewhere, where he is up by 79 points.

Southern white independents are also far more likely than politically independent whites in other regions to support McCain: They break 62 to 33 percent in his favor. White independents in the West favor Obama by a similarly wide margin, 63 to 34 percent. White political independents in the East and Midwest divide much more evenly.

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McCain 2008 = Gore 2000? Matching the numbers from Gallup, ABC, TIPP and Zogby

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A fair bit of attention has been paid in the blogs today to the assertion of McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt that “The McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush one week before the election of 2000.” It’s met a good dose of scepticism. The WaPo drily annotated the quote as follows:

McCain’s team dismisses the most dire polls — those showing the race nationally with a double-digit lead for Obama. Advisers believe the contest’s margin is in the five-to-seven-point range, about the same deficit, they say, that then-Vice President Al Gore faced at this time eight years ago against then-Gov. George W. Bush. (A Washington Post poll at the same point in the 2000 race showed a tie.)

NBC’s First Read similarly remarked:

[T]he NBC/WSJ poll right before the election found Bush ahead by three among likely voters (47%-44%). But our most recent poll shows Obama up [..] 11 points among likely voters (53%-42%).

In addition, Marc Ambinder points out that the margins are “way different” state-by-state: “Obama’s doing much better in 2008 than Al Gore was in 2000 in the battleground states.”

Now I had a graph up here a week or two ago charting how Obama’s current Gallup numbers compare with the lead or deficit that Kerry, Gore and Clinton faced in the previous three presidential elections. In the days since, Googlers have found this site through at least 27 permutations of searches involving some combination around Gore, Bush, polls, October, historical, 2000, elections, tracking and Gallup. So this is a good occasion to update that post and expand it, not just looking at the Gallup numbers but also those from the ABC, Zogby and TIPP daily tracking polls from 2000, 2004 and 2008.

First off, that chart from last time, based on the Gallup polling numbers from the last four elections. Here’s the update:

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Too. Many. Daily tracking polls. Update, 22 October.

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

The last daily tracking polls update I posted was on 8 October. That’s a lot of daily tracking poll results ago. Yet the bottom line is that nothing much has changed since.

On 8 October, the three-day running average of the daily tracking polls had Obama in the lead by 7%. Today, it has him in the lead by 7.1%. And in the meantime the clock is ticking on, and the window of opportunity for McCain to still close the gap is rapidly closing (or has it already closed?).

One major thing has changed though: there are ever more of the damn things. Daily tracking polls I mean. It seems like no self-respecting pollster can do without one this year (and to think that Gallup didn’t even have one in 2004!).

In early October you already had the long-running Gallup and Rasmussen ones, the Research 2000 one (sponsored by the Daily Kos) and the poll sponsored by Hotline and the alcoholic drinks business Diageo, conducted by FD. Zogby and Reuters started their own on 7 October; Investors Business Daily and the pollster TIPP followed on 13 October, and as of last Monday, ABC and the Washington Post present one as well.

daily tracking polls

Chart 1: All daily tracking polls

If you’re keeping a graph and you were basing any kind of trendline on the average of all daily tracking polls, this – well – sucks. Because every new poll comes with its own house effect, deviating from the others in its own ways. Zogby, for example, started off showing a 2-point lead for Obama when Rasmussen, Gallup and R2000 had it at 8-11 points. Then, just as the Zogby poll had settled nearer to the average, the IBD/TIPP poll came on the market showing Obama in the lead by just 2 points, when the other pollsters had it at 4, 5, 6, 10 and 12 points, respectively. And just when Rasmussen, Zogby, IBD/TIPP and Hotline agreed on a 4-5 point Obama lead last Monday, the ABC/WaPo jumped in with its own tracking poll showing a 9-point lead.

Finally, there was Gallup, on 12 October, providing no longer just data for registered voters, but separate numbers for not just one, but two distinct “likely voter” samples as well, one encompassing a larger universe of voters than the other.

Seriously, you would be put off posting new graphs too.

Which of the three sets of Gallup numbers do you feature? How do you deal with how the ups and downs in your average reflect some new poll having been added into the mix as much as any genuine shift in the numbers? And how meaningful do any of the numbers still seem anyway, when on almost any given day the five-to-nine sets of numbers you’re looking at have Obama’s lead anywhere between 3 and 11 points? (And that’s just the daily tracking polls!)

Chart 1 above, if you click it to enlarge, shows how messy and, by implication, uncertain it all is. The pollsters are all over the map in pinpointing Obama’s lead. But saying that is also identifying the obvious commonality. Every one of the daily tracking polls has Obama in the lead, and that’s been true since 17 September, over a month ago.

How big is that lead though?

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Instant debate polls uniformly positive for Obama

Debates, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Hattip to for the links – see also see their post from the first presidential debate about the methodologies used by these pollsters for the instant debate polls.

CNN poll:

Poll: Debate watchers say Obama wins

CBS poll of uncommitted voters:

CBS Poll: Uncommitted Voters Say Obama Won Final Debate

Democracy Corps focus group:

Undecideds Laughing At, Not With, McCain

See also:

Decisive debate win reinforces momentum for Obama

Media Curves poll:

Debate results for the 3rd 2008 Presidential Debate

Survey USA poll (California):

Heavily Democratic California Again Sees Decisive Obama Win In 3rd Presidential Debate

The Time article on the Democracy Corps focus group conducted by Stan Greenberg neatly illustrates the extent to which these polls show devastating numbers for McCain, far beyond just the question of who won:

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I Heart the Bradley Effect

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Elections
Tom Bradley greeting supporters, 1973

Tom Bradley greeting supporters, 1973

I have long been skeptical of whether the Bradley Effect is something that continues to be a problem for black politicians. Deval Patrick‘s 2006 gubernatorial campaign and Barack Obama’s 2004 senatorial campaign and 2008 primary campaign, among other examples, all seemed to show that whatever validity the Bradley Effect might have had, its power has faded.

This article from someone who was there argues that the Bradley Effect was never actually a legitimate phenomenon. While that may or may not be true, this post by Nate Silver collects some of the latest studies showing the disappearance or dissipation of the Bradley Effect, and speculates as to why things may have changed.

However — if people believe the Bradley effect is a legitimate concern, it leads to emails like this!

Dear MoveOn member,

Obama’s now ahead in most polls. That’s great, but there’s just one problem: the polls could be wrong.

This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they’ll do in the privacy of the voting booth. And there are plenty of other unknowns.

We can’t afford to take any chances with the most important election of our lifetimes. Whatever the polls say, we all need to get out, talk to voters, and make sure every single Obama supporter makes it to the polls.

The Obama campaign in Columbus needs more volunteers this week for a big voter-outreach effort. Click here to sign up:

And THAT is fabulous news. If there is one thing I’m worried about in the run-up to the election it’s complacency. I worry about a premature coronation, and the backlash that would result. If everyone takes a chill pill and says “well, the polls look good, but I dunno if I trust the polls,” and continues to work hard and take nothing for granted… great.


Should Obama backers check themselves?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

With Obama riding high in the polls, comparisons between John McCain and Bob Dole are gaining ever more currency. Former Hillary campaign flack Howard Wolfson has gone as far as declaring it’s over:

Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can’t afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can’t say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn’t going to save John McCain. The race is over.

Last Saturday, Wolfson went as far as penning a “premortem for the McCain campaign“, and was promptly criticized for it by ABC News’ Jake Tapper. On his blog, Tapper warned Obama backers to “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself“:

Buoyed by encouraging poll numbers [..] lots of Obama backers out there seem to think this thing is over. [But that’s] not what lots of smart folks in the Obama campaign think. They believe Obama’s poll numbers are artificially high, McCain’s are artificially low, this race will come down to two or three points, and anything could happen.

As Anne Kornblut and Jon Cohen in the Washington Post today remind us, “recent history suggests that mid-October leads are vulnerable […]”.

Is Tapper right? Should we check ourselves before rejoicing too early, only to find ourselves flat-footed when the numbers unavoidably narrow again? That’s always a piece of advice that’s close to my heart, but it bears mentioning that Tapper cherry-picks his data to make the point.

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What’s Behind Obama’s Surge?

Politics, Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Economy, US Elections, US Politics

Nimh makes an excellent point about the often overlooked impact of plain old prosaic advertising on poll numbers.



While I agree that advertising dollars are important (and adore the graphs!), the post got me thinking about some of the other factors involved in Obama’s surge. Advertising is an underestimated piece of the puzzle, but still just one piece of the puzzle. So here are some of the other elements that I think are at play:

Obama’s 50-State Strategy

This has a lot to do with the Obama campaign’s relatively large advertising budget — but it’s not just about advertising. Obama’s been spreading McCain very thin in many different ways, as McCain has to spend time and resources defending red states, rather than being able to focus on battleground states. The thinner things are spread, the less McCain is able to campaign effectively (not just advertising but field offices, rallies, paid staff, etc.).

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Daily tracking polls update: whacked out edition, 8 October

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

God knows what got in the daily tracking polls today, because they’re all out of sorts.

Daily tracking polls update, 10/8: click to enlarge

Daily tracking polls update, 10/8: click to enlarge

Yesterday, the Diageo/Hotline poll suddenly had Obama’s lead drop by four points, from +6 to +2. That’s an unusually steep drop for a tracking poll. It was the biggest day-on-day change in any of the daily tracking polls since 7 September, over a month ago. It was all the stranger because none of the other tracking polls showed something similar: Obama’s lead dropped by one in the R2000/Kos poll, increased by a point in the Gallup poll, and was unchanged in Rasmussen’s.

Today, the weirdness continues. The Hotline poll has Obama’s lead down another point to +1. Rasmussen has his lead dropping by two points as well, from +8 to +6. But Gallup has it storming ever upward, today from +9 to +11; it has Obama at 52% of the vote. That result, as Gallup’s Jeff Jones points out, is “the best for Obama during the campaign, both in terms of his share of the vote and the size of his lead over McCain.”

So which is it? Is Obama up by 11%, 6% or 1%? That’s quite the difference. And is he moving up or down?

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Oh, right, there’s an election…

Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

I adore politics. My job is politics-related. I’ve been watching this election cycle closely from the very beginning.

So it’s kind of hard for me to remember that there are a whole lot of people out there who just don’t care very much about politics. Now is when they start to pay attention.

And Barack Obama has shown over and over again that when people pay closer attention to him, he benefits (and his opponent suffers).

Take these three graphs from Pollster, indicating voter preferences in the lead-up to the Democratic primaries in Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.






See how that orange Obama line goes up-up-up, but especially in the very last stretch before the primary?

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Daily tracking polls update, 6 October

Daily tracking polling update, 6 October 2008

Tracking polls update, 10/6 (click to enlarge)

QuickPost Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

The daily tracking polls haven’t shown a great deal of movement over the past three days. As you can see (at least if you click the graph and look at it in original size), the Research 2000/Kos poll is still off on its own, measuring a 12-point blowout lead for Obama/Biden today, but it’s been stable. The three other daily tracking polls are roughly in agreement: Gallup and Rasmussen have an 8-point Obama lead, the Hotline poll a slightly smaller 6-point lead. That’s all roughly the same as the last three days, when all those three polls had the lead at 6-8 point too.

On the other hand, this stability in the daily polls does confirm the slight move that I signaled in the last polling update three days ago. I wrote then that “after five days of similar numbers,” with an average Obama lead of 6.3-7% on each, there was “a hint of new upward movement”, with the average lead moving up to 7.8%. Well, the Democratic ticket has kept that extra point and another extra half: the average Obama lead has been 8.3-8.5% since.

This seems to have become something of a pattern in the past month or so. Obama moves up a couple of points, stabilises at the new level for a few days, then moves up a couple of points again.

The Research 2000/Kos poll, which has had the largest or shared largest Obama lead in all but 3 of its 26 days of existence so far, is becoming a bit of a distraction. It’s not entirely easy to take a poll at face value that so consistently diverges from the others, especially if it’s a poll commissioned by the Daily Kos and it’s diverging in favour of Obama. But even without taking the R2000/Kos poll into account, today’s numbers are very good for Obama.

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