Category Archives: political polls

>OBSERVATION: The polls are wrong … as usual.

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We soon will have completed voting for the 2008 Presidential Election. There is a reasonable chance that we will know who the next President of the United States will be sometime on Wednesday. There is also a chance we may be in a prolonged 2000-like ballot counting tug-o-war right up to the time the Electoral College convenes to settle the matter to the satisfaction of the law, if not the satisfaction of the voters – at least half of them. We are, after all, a “house divided.”

As I write this, a flurry of pollsters are attempting to justify their existence by predicting the outcome.

Before we address the current numbers, there is something you should know about polls. They are all bullsh*t. Yep! They are about as accurate and scientific as newspaper horoscopes. If you think I am being too harsh, ask your self these questions.

Why do different polls taken at the same time get such widely different results? Where is the “science” in that?
Why are the results of an election often outside the “margin of error.” That should be impossible. Obviously, the margin of error is as bogus as the poll itself.

You also have to keep in mind the tricks pollsters use to allow them to claim legitimacy.

First, there is the margin of error, itself. If you have a poll showing the candidates at 52 and 48 percent respectively, with a margin of error of 4 percent, the pollster can claim accuracy if the race is 56 to 44 – or even 48 to 52 with the “other” candidate winning. Even I can predict elections within that range without getting anyone else’s opinion.

You don’t believe me? Okay. I think John McCain will win 49 to 48 with 3 percent going to other candidates. My margin of error is 4 percent. So, if McCain wins 53 to 44, I’m right. If Obama wins 52 to 45, I’m right. Check back with me on Wednesday.

Also, pollsters often claim to have missed the mark due to a major last minute change of heart by the voters. Now … ask yourself: How many people do you know who change their mind the last weekend before an election? I have been involved in elections for more than 40 years, and I find very few undecideds in the last month. Rather than say their last poll was WRONG, pollsters invent this fake phenomenon of last minute voter switches.

You see, pollsters always claim their polls are right at the time they are taken. They can do this because they are comparing them to an unknown – the REAL sentiment of the electorate.

Another trick is the “undecides.” Now place close attention. After the election, the pollsters will say that most of the “undecideds” broke for McCain. They almost always break for the Republican. You know why? Because the polls are almost always erroneously biased in favor of the Democrats. So to explain the wrong prediction, the pollsters say that the “undecideds” all went to the GOP. Again, based on my experience, there are very few “undecideds” at this stage. Those who say they are, are lying. They may tell the pollster they are undecided, but they know damn well who they are voting for. Hmmm. Maybe more Bradley Effect.

To more fully appreciate the uselessness of voting surveys, take a look at the exit polls. There are no undecideds in exit polls. If there is any validity to the “science” of polling, then these should be spot-on predictors. But noooooo! Based on exit polls, the media gave the 2004 election to Democrat John Kerry in their rush-to-judgment early reports. When the votes were counted, George Bush won by a wide margin. Even in exit polls, the science is flawed and the public fibs. I mean … if you decided to lie about who you are going to vote for, why would you ‘fess up who you did vote for?

(Die hard liberals like to say that the 2004 election was stolen, but there is no evidence that GOP shenanigans tipped the scale – and of course, they overlook the counterbalancing Democrat shenanigans. Yeah folks, the Dems are gold medalists when it comes to stealing votes. I come from Chicago, the Harvard of vote fraud.)

Now that we know opinion polls are nothing more than semi-educated manipulated guesses, let’s take a look at this year’s offerings. Since even a good guess requires reliance on past experience, we can conclude that the polls will be based on more b-s this year than usual.

There is no history to draw upon. We have never had a black candidate, a woman candidate, the oldest candidate. Never before has one candidate had such enormous financial resources. The economy has tanked. Though biased, the media has never been so determined to influence the outcome. Can they? These issues cut in all directions.

At this moment, the pollsters mostly give the election to Barack Obama. This has led liberal Democrat pundits and partisans to express optimism to the point of anticipating a blowout or landslide. Methinks this is not sound thinking.

There are some things that may not have changed in this historic year. Polls are almost always wrong, and the GOP almost always does better with the voters than the pollsters. Since polling bias is driven by media bias (the pollsters’ clients), and since the media bias is particularly acute this year, the polls maybe be much to generous to Obama than even past Democrat candidates.. If this is still the case, then this election is very close indeed. It is also true that black candidates poll better than their final vote totals – that old Bradley Effect. Will this again be the case?

The great assumption in this election is that a huge turn out the voters clamoring for Obama’s promise of change. The campaign and its supporters have so idolized the candidate, that they project their rabid enthusiasm on the general public. They also site some early election exit polling as evidence of this trend – not appreciating that those lying to the pollsters last week will lie on their way out of the polling booth.

I expect there to be a Bradley Effect in this election, and it may become quite significant. I say this because the media has so glamorized Obama, and demonized John McCain, that a lot of people don’t want to wear their vote on their sleeve. Right or wrong, people worry about there cars being vandalized or windows broken for supporting such a seemingly unpopular candidate as McCain.

Hey! I’m one of them. I usually put on a bumper sticker and display a window sign for my candidate, but this year I don’t feel comfortable doing that. Keep in mind, I live in Illinois. If a pollster calls me, I will say I am voting for Obama just because I think undermining the pollsters is a patriotic duty. Now I figure, if I am doing that, there are probably a lot more like me out there. Conversely, there is little reason or evidence to suggest that Obama voters are lying to pollsters.

I recently attended a Chicago Democrat fundraiser. Sure … the speakers spoke well of Obama, but the more intimate chat around the room revealed a surprising number of white Democrats – even some office holders – who were not voting for their “favorite son.” You can bet this folks would be lying to pollsters for sure.

So … what does all this mean? For me, it means that the polls are untrustworthy in general, and more so this year. It is impossible to know who is winning this race at this moment … and I would not completely rule out a McCain/Palin victory. The theory right now is that McCain needs to win all the so-called “battleground states.” But, what if one or two of those perceived solid blue states, like Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Mexico, etc., comes in red? Remember, they are only solid blue becasue the pollsters say so.

Always remember what it is called when a pollster is right. Luck.
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>OBSERVATION: Will Obama fail to win?

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Like the race between the tortoise and the hare, Barack Obama can out sprint the lumbering John McCain any day of the week. Thus, McCain was right when he said that the media had now written him off. Aside from a few columnists, the news corps, entertainment-as-news comics and left-wing talk show jabber mouths are back to gloating over their vision of Obama hopping over the finish line by a wide margin.

I have reluctantly surrendered to the possibility that Obama can now win, but I have not written off McCain just yet – not by a longshot.

The most interesting bewilderment about this election is why Obama is not slamdunking McCain into some neo-Goldwater status. McCain is portrayed as a geezer – and a cranky one at that. The economy has tanked. The war drags on. George Bush continues to be the increasingly unpopular dunce-in-charge. McCain and his campaign cannot seem to maintain footing on the slippery ledge of the political chasm. The veep candidate is made out to be a dizzy blond slapped with a pseudo-scandal. It even appears that the less-popular-than-Bush congressional democrats are poised for gains in both chambers.

Then there is the money. Obama, by virtue of flip flopping on public funding, is proving that his devotion to campaign finance reform is as fragile as anything and that the entire concept is fatally flawed. However, his Machiavellian switch-a-roo, augmented by some very questionable money bundling schemes, means the Illinois senator enjoys a substantial financial advantage.

Finally, there is Obama himself. A gifted speaker. Tall. Movie star handsome, with an engaging smile. Kennedyesque. He can sell anything – or more appropriately, nothing. McCain, but virtue of his age and handicaps, has the movements of a hand puppet, with a voice like the mad scientist in a horror flick.

Yet … there are those polls. No matter the situation, Obama cannot seem to breakaway from McCain. They are still sweating heavily in the Obama camp – and well they should. First, the polls are probably inaccurate. The current 10 point lead Obama sees in Ohio, for example, is just bad polling. That state will not be a blow out for Obama, if he even carries it at all.

Then there is the tendency for the Republican candidate to pick up the lion’s share of the independent votes. The notion some have, that “independent” is synonymous with “liberal,” is just wrong.

This election may see the nationalization of the Bradley Effect, which suggests that African American candidates (at least at the gubernatorial level) enjoy significantly higher polling numbers than vote totals. There is every reason to assume that this will be even more dramatic in the presidential campaign, since there has been so much accusation of racism against those who do not support Obama.

From the get-go, everyone assumed that this would be another in our modern series of close presidential elections, where anything can happen. That has not changed. Give McCain a couple good days and/or Obama a couple bad days, and the dynamic of this race completely changes.

There is always talk of an “October Surprise.” Maybe we have seen it, but cannot recognize it at the moment. Perhaps the October Surprise with how far off the current polling is. I can only say… if the polls are proven to be way off base, the truth will not be to good news for Obama.