Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Could the polls be wrong?

Posted by sanityinjection on October 30, 2008

Latest polls show Obama ahead in just about every key state. But the McCain campaign still seems to think they can win this thing. Why?

I think I know why. Consider the following hypothetical statement by a voter in a key state:

“Man, I am so sick of this whole election campaign. People coming by the house, our mailbox full of brochures, ads every five seconds on TV. Damn pollsters keep callin’ my house, I just hang up on them. I can’t wait until the whole thing is over!”

I think we can all agree that this statement represents the views of a decent number of people, probably including some we know. Clearly, their views are not being captured by any polls. Now ask yourself this: Assuming this person votes, who do you think they are likely to vote for? In other words, if this person is sick to death of all the hype, are they likely to vote for or against the candidate who seems to be the King of Hype? If this person is a cynic, are they more likely to vote for Obama or McCain?

I think the McCain campaign is counting on this group of people turning out to vote and voting for McCain. I do not know whether that assumption is right, but if it is, I agree it could make the difference between winning and losing. There are a lot of these people out there.

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15 Responses to “Could the polls be wrong?”

  1. good point. Also in this atmosphere it’s scary to say your voting for McCain, plus if you say that the next question is, is it because Obama’s black? Easier to lie to someone and go vote for McCain anyway.
    http://www.thenewconservatives.blogspot.com/

  2. Wiggly said

    Do you really think that’s a logical explanation for why the thousands of people who are being polled are responding the way that they are?

    Occam’s Razor says otherwise.

    Your ridiculous and fevered daydreams notwithstanding, the polls are almost certainly as correct as they have been in any other election cycle, but I guess we’ll see the truth of things in less than a week.

  3. Wayne said

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com is the best site for polls. People at this point are saturated as they are in every election cycle, and if they are frustrated I can see why. McCain has run the most sloppy negative campaign in American history, whipping up fear wherever he can in his incoherent style. This fear has isolated the part of the electorate that it still plays to and this is why it is now possible McCain can lose his home state of Arizona, it is now in play, something I thought would never happen. I refuse to believe all the nonsense spewed by the disgraceful McCain camp, all of it can be debunked if you choose to do the proper research.

    We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

    Obama/Biden 08

  4. Well, Wayne, I hate to tell you, MUCH of the Obama lies, misdirection, and associations are going to come back to haunt him. Simply for one reason- those PEOPLE who really matter, those “middle class” people, really are seeing the Obama campaign for what it really is. Sen. Obama has a flawed campaign, even though unquestionably very “hollywood” in terms of production, but THAT doesn’t resonate well with those Americans who work everyday, pay taxes and never complain, and actually LIVE the American dream.

    Freedom and liberty matter to those “folks” and the “spread the wealth around” comment isn’t sitting very well with more than you understand. The dissection of “Joe the Plumber” didn’t do Obama any favors either. Fact is, he is just like more Americans in the mainstream, and NOT from the “radical liberal left”. Polling these people hasn’t been done very effectively because of one simple reason- THEY WORK EVERYDAY. They also have kids and family and things like little league sports, caring for family members, dinner on a table at night, and maybe a day fishing or hunting is on the agenda. There is so little “time” at home by these people that pollsters seldom even contact them. When they do, there is definately little interest in answering a poll bu these people.

    I have been following elections since well before 1972, the first election I voted in. I have never seen polls so far apart, state polls so far apart, and nor have I ever seen an election like this either. There are so many people who are fully aware of the issues at stake and are more informed than you realize and believe me, they really DON’T support Obama. Little can be placed in outcomes THIS election based on polling. It is STILL anyones race to win.

    Those UNDECIDED…well that is a different story. Basically, if they haven’t decided that Obama is their guy by now, then they are not going to decide he IS on election day. There is going to hang the balance of this election. And that doen’t bode well for Obama. All too many questions still linger about Obama, his past associations, and his lack of real experience.

  5. sam*i*am said

    i dont get polled and i like it this way but i believe mccain will win. i believe the american people are smarter than obama thinks they are. i personally am sick of hearing him basically say that america sucks and is doomed to suck if all those racists who question his magnificence refuse to see the light and vote for the anti american democrat.i think there are a lot of others who feel the same way. mccain/palin 08

  6. jack said

    ….the “left” has manipulated the polls…and they have tried very hard to manipulate the public as a whole with remarkable deception….obama is proposing a eurpean style socialism and with reid and pelosi he will be able to bring it in easily…that will simply be a disaster for the economy and for everyone in the economy including the people they want to spread the wealth to…obama’s expertise on the economy is about as good as his expertise on foreign policy where he has shown he doesn’t know what languages they speak in iraq and afganistan and who sits on the UN security council…he in no way represents a better future for america and he does not represent middle america…so then they have had to depend on deception and big time help from the media that has gone from providing information to propoganda for their candidate…

    …if the truth and the facts get out to enough people then IT will be PRESIDENT MCCAIN

  7. DemtoRep said

    I also am a Dem voting Republican for the first time, as well as all my friends and family!! and Praying the Dear LORD is with us as well as millions of others that puts Country before party!!! McCain/Palin 08!!!!!

  8. Teri Vigil said

    I do not believe the polls…They do not for one thing ask the same number of repubs as demos. I am praying that the election goes to McCain and Palin. These are the true Americans that love their country. Obama is not qualified and he is dangerous. Ayers, Wright, Farrakhan, etc…..

  9. Wayne,
    You obviously do not live in Arizona or you would know that Arizona is not play for Obama. I do and I have been involved in Arizona politics for 45 years. Maricopa County (the Phoenix metro area) has over 55% of the voters in the state and has not elected a Democrat to a County office since 1964. I have designed polls and I currently supply samples for polls. The mere fact that any poll says that McCain will not carry Arizona by a minimum of 10 points is fatally flawed.

    The problem is that these polls are not taking into account the number of registered Democrats who are voting Republican (the PUMA’s). In Arizona, we call them pinto Democrats and the Republicans can count on 1 out of 6 to vote Republican like clockwork. The fact that the RCP average for AZ is 5.2 points for McCain lets me know right away that all the polls are erroneously favoring Obama by a minimum of 5 points.

    In addition to a ridiculous party split (Pew uses 24% as voting Republican), the polls are way overestimating the turnout for Obama. Republicans have always turned out better than Democrats. The youth and minority voters are notoriously the worst at turning out and those are the major supporters for him. If they do turn out then Obama wins, but I will believe it when I see it.

  10. jack said

    All I got to say is:

    If you like pain, vote for McCain. Or should it be McPain? lol

  11. jack said

    Teri Vigil,

    And how about Liddy, Keating Five and Alaska Independence Party (or do you want Alaska to separate from the USA). I mean, what a combo – Old man and a moron hockey mom – Is this the best that this country has to offer? We would become even bigger joke in the international arena.

  12. jack said

    Jack (other Jack, not me)

    You obviously still think that economy is created by businesses, right? I have news for you – its the people who make the economy grow or contract. Its people who create jobs – and by people I mean customers. You can have all the companies taxed 0% and if the public doesn’t buy their products they will fail. Oh, I guess that it is perfectly OK to spend our money to bail out big companies. Btw, we are socialistic society, you like it or not (please don’t confuse socialism with the communism). Once we pay taxes to support government and any social services we are a socialistic society. I just rather see the tax money going to ensure better education and healthcare then to useless wars and to support big businesses. You still don’t know why e have a market problems that we have right now, do you?

  13. Denise-Mary said

    I am a lifelong former Democrat who proudly voted for McCain earlier this week (mail-in ballot). I am one of MILLIONS of disenfranchised Democrats crossing traditional party lines to ensure that Obama does not gain the presidency, not to mention my 401(k).

  14. Dave H said

    The thing the pollsters don’t tell you is that 50-80% of the people contacted by pollsters refuse to respond. And those are just the people who actually pick up the phone, which a lot of people won’t do if it’s an unrecognizable number on their caller I.D. (Non-answerers are considered “not at home”, and their responses are assumed to mirror those of answerers.)

    Pollsters assume that the people who do respond represent a valid cross-section of voters. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but nobody really knows for sure. We know for a fact, for instance, that exit polls tend to skew Democratic due to this type of self-selection.

    The polls’ margins of error are based on historical models, but historically, there has never been this high of a “refuse to respond” rate. That, plus the uncertainty over whether there’s a “Bradley effect” and how big it is, means the polls are just a big guess. I’m not saying that Obama isn’t leading in polling responses, but the only poll that counts is the one that happens next Tuesday.

    How many people who refused to respond to polls will vote? Which way will they skew? Both camps seem pretty certain that they’ll break for McCain, but by how much, nobody knows. Nobody. The only thing we know for sure is that most polls show the race close enough that, should the Bradley effect and the effect of “refuse to respond but will vote” be as significant as people think they could be, McCain can still win.

  15. sanityinjection said

    Daniel Finkelstein of the London Times discusses a handful of ways that the polls could be wrong, but not all of them are good news for McCain:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5068612.ece

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