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October 21, 2008

You Actually Think We Still Have a Chance?

Yep, I do.

I am not an optimist. At all. Whenever I feel a twinge of pain, it's cancer. When the car makes a funny noise, it's a $5000 repair job. When it rains, the new roof is obviously going to leak. When I sit down to watch football, my favorite team is going to lose. On that last one, my pessimism has been justified.

Despite my Eeyore-like nature, I believe John McCain and Sarah Palin have a good shot at winning this election. Why the uncharacteristic optimism on this point? Because I think the polls are crap.

In college, I suffered through statistics. I hated that class more than Michael Moore hates George W. Bush. Statistical research methods was even worse. In retrospect, I'm glad I took those courses. Because what I learned from them is that for the most part, polls are crap. And this election's polls have been worse than usual.

Polling is, at best, an extremely inexact science and even the best polls are based on numerous assumptions about the population at large. And it's safe to say the polls we've seen this election season are not the best. In order to believe the polls are accurate, one would have to think voter sentiment can swing dramatically in the space of one week, and that the choice of Sarah Palin hasn't made a difference in GOP enthusiasm.

You would also have to believe that only 27% of those who show up to vote on election day will be Republicans. And let's face it - the media has been allowing bias to affect their coverage. Why wouldn't that bias extend to the polls they commission?

Some of the pollsters have justified their out-of-whack party distribution numbers by assuming that Obama will bring in huge numbers of new voters. How well did that work out for him in the primary? He lost the big rural states and his massive army of new voters was only good enough to give him a bare win over Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates. I should mention there's growing evidence to suggest he cheated his way into a primary victory.

So don't believe garbage polls like these. Look at the historical trends on party ID advantage - a ten-point Democratic advantage is a full six points over historical norms.

The spread was only three points in 2006, which wasn't exactly a good year for Republicans.

I say again: the polls are crap.

Will this election be a hard slog? Absolutely. Should we give up and wait for an Obama coronation? Not me. I think there's still a chance. If you need more encouragement, the PUMAs are quoting Ronald Reagan. Yes, you read that right.

(Optimism h/t: Treacher and Lucas)


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posted by Slublog at 09:05 AM

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