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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Very Best Polling News I’ve Ever Heard for Obama

posted by on October 21 at 17:05 PM

Getting someone to announce who they’d like to be president isn’t too hard. One of the trickiest things for a pollster to do is predict who among the people they’ve sampled will actually go and vote.

An Obama blowout, or even a victory, is dependent upon his ability to get voters enthusiastic enough to turn out and actually vote. He was successful in the primaries.

The more conservative (mathematically, not necessarily politically) pollsters tend to be skeptical about whether or not people will show up at the polls—asking questions like “did you vote in 2004” to help sort out the true likely voters from the chaff.

But, thanks to early voting (in some States) we have data to answer this question:

…pollsters are finding that some voters whom they considered “unlikely” voters have in fact turned out to vote. Zogby gives Obama a 21-point lead nationwide among people who have already voted, and SurveyUSA and Civitas peg his advantage among early voters in North Carolina at around 20 and 30 points, respectively.

(Via FiveThirtyEight.)

Where allowed to do so, more people are voting than the conservative pollsters had expected. And by an overwhelming margin, early voters are voting for Obama.


Remember, this only a teeny amount of the total electorate—more of a way of answering a technical question about polling than a victory lap.

Please, please vote if you haven’t already. Volunteer if you have voted. (I’m haranguing my relatives in Michigan.)

Remember, there are more races than the presidential one this year—races that are unbearably tight.

I’m terrified of waking up to Governor Rossi in fifteen days.

RSS icon Comments


Hate to be a wet blanket, but enthusiasm (strangely) doesn't win the race. Remember 2004? Remember how exit polls showed a Kerry wave? It was because his supporters were more *enthusiastic*. But the quiet asshole surge carried the day for Bush. I think this is the same thing.

Posted by Big Sven | October 21, 2008 5:11 PM

can it be november 4th already? this anxiety is killing me.

Posted by mnm | October 21, 2008 5:17 PM

This is wrong. This kind of thing has the potential to change results, which is why early voting and exit polling should not be allowed.

Posted by MR. Langauge Person | October 21, 2008 5:20 PM

Big Sven:
Agreed. It makes me a little nervous too.
That's why I find the fact that more people are voting than expected, more than the 2004 turnout, is the really good news.

Unlike in 2004, where democrats and republicans were about equal in voter registrations, democrats have a HUGE lead in this year's registered voters. A high turnout, just purely by the math, makes for an Obama victory.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | October 21, 2008 5:21 PM

I've been irked before at how west coasters can get east coast presults before their polls close, but this is just wrong.

Posted by w7ngman | October 21, 2008 5:22 PM

I agree with @3, even though he spells language wrong.

But I suspected this, which is why I have said several times I smell 400 electoral votes. Which is good; McCain needs to be humiliated, and his "base" needs to be driven out of politics altogether.

Posted by Fnarf | October 21, 2008 5:24 PM

I so agree. I'm hopeful that Obama will take the day, but very hesitantly so. Every time I think of Nov. 5th I get an upset stomach.
I'm terrified of the Diebold effect more than the Bradley effect. Even with all the positive polls for Obama, I still see it as anyone's race.

Posted by Enigma | October 21, 2008 5:25 PM

We will never support and not re-defeat terrorismist Yo-Mama-Bama in November and 2012! Burgle Bargle Burgle arf snarf fnarf barf!

Posted by dieboldsarmy | October 21, 2008 5:26 PM

@7: me too. And I'm going to be in DC on the 7th. I hope I'm happy to be there, but...

Posted by Abby | October 21, 2008 5:31 PM

I'm liking the bit in MSNBC's new poll (via talking points memo) that finds that:

Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.".

News update: Americans Not as Dumb as Initially Feared

Posted by cdc | October 21, 2008 5:34 PM

This time, Democratic voters won't be denied. It seems much more likely that a lukewarm Republican in an early voting state will sit this one out than a Democratic voter leaving anything to chance, exit polls be damned.

Posted by Demolator | October 21, 2008 5:43 PM

Big Sven:

your enthusiasm information is a bit off. From

"...Even in polls taken just before the 2004 election there wasn’t much difference: 67 percent of Bush voters said they supported him strongly, compared with just 49 percent of Kerry voters. And while 37 percent of likely Republican voters said they would be “excited” by a Bush win, just 24 percent of likely Democratic voters said they would be “excited” by a Kerry victory."

Your point is still spot-on. People celebrating as if an Obama victory is a sure-thing are morons, but that doesn't mean we don't have to recognize that Obama does have a few things going for him.

Posted by rowlikewow | October 21, 2008 5:43 PM

The early voting turnout is kind of worrying me. What's going to happen in states that don't have early voting? It seems like a lot of people are going to give up when they face hours-long waits to vote.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 21, 2008 5:53 PM

@6. Oops. It was unintentional, I swear. However, this kind of results polling can change things in either direction. I don't want people to see results (especially in a closer race where early results can be wrong) and not bothering to vote, or on the other side voting to defeat the leader.

Posted by MR. Language Person | October 21, 2008 6:05 PM

Well, this makes me feel crummy for crapping out on calling for the governor tonight on account of, well, feeling crummy. But I'm still planning to go doorbelling for her this weekend.

Jesus I don't want that used-car salesman Rossi as our governor.

Posted by exelizabeth | October 21, 2008 6:10 PM

Is it just me, or is anyone else bothered by the fact that they are already reporting results from early voting.

I think this is wrong. I think early voting is great, but they should keep the ballots sealed until the election. Like mail-in ballots. Mail-in ballots can arrive to election offices a week or so before the actual election, but they are not counted before the election. Or in cases where they are counted, the results aren't revealed until the polls close on election night.

When we hear numbers like this, some people may assume that Obama is 20% ahead, and their vote won't matter. So they might not bother showing up at all. This is very disenfranchising, and will wreak havoc on down-ballot races and issues.

I can understand why the pollsters and the candidates would love this data. But I think it should be kept under wraps until voting booths close on election night.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | October 21, 2008 7:52 PM

Polls, polls, polls. The October 20 CBS/NYT poll that had Mr Obama up by 13 points also contained a serious oversampling of Democrats: 38.2% Dems, 27.3% Republicans, and 34.7% independents.

I don't comment much on polls for one reason: polls can say anything you want them to. I could commission a poll tomorrow that would show a majority of voters want Hugo Chavez for president of the USA. They're not worth a thing unless you look at the internals. Then, maybe, you can find out the real story.

Posted by Seajay | October 21, 2008 8:46 PM

rowlikewow@12: thanks for the rebuttal. I had been quoting a CNN story that clearly had it wrong. About Kerry.

So as you said: let's not get complacent. Well, that's not what you said. But it's what you meant.

Posted by Big Sven | October 21, 2008 10:28 PM

I don't see a margin of error for any of these polls, am I just totally blind?

Without a margin of error these polls mean zilch!

Posted by scotlanded | October 22, 2008 6:04 AM

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