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« Romney Now Back Within M.O.E. in Pennsylvania and Michigan. | Main | MNF »
October 08, 2012

Romney's Debate Performance Edges Him Within Striking Distance of Obama in Michigan

Still behind -- but a ten point lead has become a three-point edge.

Margin of error.

Obama’s 10 percentage point lead (47%-37%) in a poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA of Lansing dropped to 3 points (48% to 45%), according to the poll of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The gap between Romney and Obama was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Undecided voters shrank from the September survey’s 16% to just 7%.

Meanwhile, the Susquehanna Poll has Romney within two in Pennsylvania, post-debate.

In a poll conducted just after the first presidential debate, from Oct. 4 to 6, 47 percent of respondents said they support Obama; 45 percent support Romney. 3 percent support Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Via @justkarl, liberals everywhere are suddenly very interested in partisan splits, after mocking conservatives for raising flags over D+8, D+9, D+10 polls.

In an earlier post, I noted @chucktodd tweeting the partisan splits in the Pew poll, when he previously insisted that You Takes the Partisan Splits As You'se Finds 'Em And You Don't Question Them.

The Washington Post's Chris Cilizza also is a sudden believer that partisan splits deserve scrutiny. Here's Cilizza a couple of weeks ago:

After the release of any — and every — swing state or national poll these days, the Fix Twitter feed and email inbox immediately fill up with messages that are some variation on this: “Party ID skewed! D+8!”

That’s political shorthand for a belief that the party identification in the poll — the composition of the sample of people who are being polled — is misaligned to the actual partisan composition of either a state or the country and, therefore, is producing results that are not reflective of the actual state of the race.

The problem with that argument? It’s based on limited information and a series of false assumptions none bigger than that because the country has been virtually evenly divided on partisan lines for the past decade or so that the party identification question should result in something close to a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans. That’s not right.

Um, no, but not D+8, 9, 10 or 12, either.


And, perhaps most importantly, remember that the exit poll captures the composition of the last electorate — not the composition of the next electorate. If pollsters had assumed that the 2008 electorate would have looked similar to the 2004 electorate, they would have badly missed the massive surge to Obama. Ditto if pollsters had used the 2006 midterm party composition (in which Democrats scored across the board victories) as the baseline for the 2010 midterm electorate, which much more strongly favored Republicans.

What all of the above points to is the reality that polling is equal parts art and science. The best of the best — like the folks at the Post — understand that putting together the sample for any poll involves weighing what we know the electorate looked like in the past with what it looks like today and what it will look like on Nov. 6.


Alleging bias is, of course, easier than digging deep into the realities of why party ID in polling looks the way it does. But that doesn’t make it right.

Got that? Just because the voter turnout was such-and-such two, four, or eight years ago, does not mean pollsters should ponder whether the partisan ID found in polls mirrors any previous election.

We can't look to the past to determine tomorrow's electorate, after all.

The Washington Post's Chris Cilizza says so, so you should believe him.

Which makes me wonder why today, of all days, he immediately knocks down the Pew survey by comparing it to partisan splits in recent elections:

That pesky party ID question: The Pew sample for this poll was 36 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. That’s a major shift from the organization’s September poll which was 29 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. In the 2010 election, the electorate was 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent, according to exit polling. In 2008, 39 percent of the electorate identified as Democrats while 32 percent said they were Republicans and 29 percent said they were independents.

Ah! So suddenly it is important to compare a poll's partisan split to likely, plausible turnout figures, based on turnout from past elections!

But two weeks ago you told me we just goshdarn couldn't predict what the electorate would look like, so we shouldn't examine such things!

To steal a line from Barack Obama: Today I met an energetic young fellow named Chris Cilizza. But this couldn't be the real Chris Cilizza, because he reversed all of the positions he's been announcing for the past year!

digg this
posted by Ace at 06:55 PM

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