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Sunday 7 September 2008

The only poll that counts

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Yet again reading in the sundays UK coverage of the Presidential election "race tightening" and nothing but reporting of the national poll numbers.

None of this matters as the only poll that counts is the electoral one. Huh? This is the one George Bush won in 2000, despite having less votes nationally than Gore. Each state gets so many 'electors' and it's the total of them which decides the winner. Not called the 'United States' for nothing.

And in that poll - the only poll that counts - currently stands at:
Obama 301 McCain 224 Ties 13
So it's no wonder that the cool heads at Intrade, who put money on outcomes, currently have:
Obama win 311 to 227
Obama has been leading, by these sorts of margins, in these real-world polls since June. Of course this could change but every indicator is that it's not exactly 'tight'. Bear this in mind as you read non-stop UK coverage about a so-called 'tight' race .... journalists have a vested interest in ignoring the only poll that counts.


On Palin, this is what she's up against in the vice-presidential debate. I predict a knockout:

Postscript: I've been reminded that the pollsters also have an interest in this being 'tight'. Plus the New York Times has more today on that electoral vote map showing places like the Dakotas 'in play'.

Postscript: Here's another reality check. Obama will have 1.5 million organisers on the ground for the election - thanks to the web, all the groundwork which I've been documenting. This is something like 5X what Karl Rove ever managed.

Palin may indeed 'energize the base' but these numbers, alongside the sustained voter-registration effort, which has driven Democrat-aligning voter sign-ups for months, is yet more evidence that all the evidence is pointing to Obama winning.

Postscript: A point raised by a commentator as well as some pundits is the 'Bradley effect', where people say they'll vote for the African-American candidate to pollsters but don't. Short answer to this is that no-one knows until November 5th. But, as I note, those betting money on the outcome still hold that this will be negligible and are betting Obama. I'd also add that the evidence from the primaries shows a negligible to non-existent Bradley effect.


  1. John F. Kerry lead the electoral count for the majority of the 2004 election cycle, and lost.

    And, what makes you qualified to make predictions?

    Biden's biggest problem is that he's just not likable.

    Gore beat Bush in the debates but Bush got more out of them because Bush was likable and Gore was not.

    Your analysis sucks.

  2. Very true Barry :)

    Also; the ONE (tm) won't take Ohio, Nevada, Colorado or Virginia... all that racism you know (heh)

  3. Kerry: "the majority of the 2004 election cycle"?!?

    So far for Obama it's all the 'cycle'!

    The people who bet money on outcomes have a difference with you.

    Hardly 'sucky' analysis?

    However Lord Nazh does have a point [Bradley effect]. Although, as I say, those putting their money down disagree and don't think this will effect the result.

    Barry: Try taking your partisan hat off for five seconds.

  4. I'm not saying it for the 'bradley effect' but for the 'buyer's remorse' effect :)

    the racism was a joke; it's hard to understand why people (not you) think that white people would vote against Barry because of his skin but not his policies... he's got no shot at winning any conservative votes and yet all we will hear is racism

  5. If it's as you say, why would people tell pollsters they're voting for him?

    This is an academic, non-partisan point.

  6. I have no doubt that many non-conservatives say they will vote for him (and they will be overly represented in the poll because of the national demographic on the R/D divide); his loss of support will be because not all of those will actually vote, not just the bradley effect that they claim to support him over racist fears.

    Also, by the time of the actual vote, people do change their mind because of non-racists reasons.

  7. I just added this link

    Which even more strongly suggests accuracy in the predictions.

  8. Which actually strongly suggests that a poll of 1000 people cannot accurately determine what 100+ million will do in a secret ballot.

    Exit polls are always wrong, why? :) (have you ever answered an exit poller? I havn't, simply because it's not their business and more conservatives than progressives will not answer them)

  9. Threshold sensors are notoriously variable. The electoral map could change overnight. If you consider only the states that are locked up for each candidate and not just leaning one way or the other, the race is wide open.

  10. The article I link to has just such a discussion on exit polls. This isn't about exit polls.

    Follow the debate on non-partisan sites such as these - maybe with a special focus on those actually betting money on the outcome. whichever way you look at it the evidence points one way. Which evidence suggest otherwise? I'm seriously interested if you have some links about this.

  11. Paul, today Intrade has Obama at 50 and McCain at 49.1.

    You were saying???

    Like I said, your analysis sucks.

  12. Er, are we looking at the same website??
    Says 51.6 vs 48.4 (ask) right now ..

    Look at the electoral vote on intrade.

  13. Paul, the Intrade market is in flux constantly. McCain was actually leading Obama earlier today.

    Look at this page tracking the trend of each candidate on Intrade.

    Also, sorry for saying your analysis sucks. That sort of rhetoric, while true, isn't helpful.

  14. Thanks for that, it's interesting has an interesting analysis of convention polling bounce.

    I've never said it's definite for Obama, just that looking at the electoral vote you would have to say McCain is working uphill - and this gets very little reporting. RCP has Obama ahead in the electoral vote still. I was talking about the UK but I observe this as well in the US reporting I see.

  15. Current EC is (counting toss-ups to who's ahead) is Obama 273 and Mc 265, but that counts BO taking colorado and new mexico (9/5 resp.)

    It would be very easy to flip either of those

  16. I agree. I'm not disagreeing! But you wouldn't know any of this from the constant reporting of just the national polls.

    + this is just polling remember. B.O. has far more money and people on the ground (thanks to the web!) and the Democrat registrations (which I understand aren't counted in polling?) are extremely strong.

    I don't discount anything but a dispassionate, non-partisan analysis has to have Obama to win, even now. We're in the final stretch and if B.O. was that awful why is he still slightly ahead?

    This *should reverberate for conservatives because - as some commentators have noted - who do you need to win? which voters? And will being negative with B.O. win it for you?