Three Articles Worth Reading As You Consider The Polls (Especially In Ohio)

I’m just going to post three articles without comment and allow you to draw your own conclusion:

Tracking Ohio’s absentee ballot requests.
September 27, 2012
by Moe Lane

We[**] got a guy out there doing just that, and the link to his spreadsheet is here.

Executive summary: the process is ongoing, and what’s being tracked are absentee/early ballot REQUESTS, not turned-in ballots.  So it’s not telling us who’s ahead in Ohio; it’s merely telling us what we know of which party’s members are asking for ballots.  In other words, it’s a possible measure of voter enthusiasm in Ohio.  So…

2012 2008 % of 08
Total 601208 740725 81%
Democrat 177155 288270 61%
Republican 145560 144300 101%
Cuyohoga 159572 231497 69%
D Cuyohoga 86274 119891 72%
R Cuyohoga 38134 35067 109%
Hamilton 61253 102796 60%
D Hamilton 9793 16763 58%
R Hamilton 18304 23677 77%
Summit 39056 92941 42%
D Summit 9581 43524 22%
R Summit 7525 12857 59%

The above shows first the total absentee/early ballot requests of all counties currently reporting*, for both 2008 and 2012; followed by the current totals for three of the top five most populous counties in Ohio (full information is not yet available in [Republican] Franklin and [Democratic] Montgomery counties).  So, in 2008 the total absentee/early ballots for all counties currently captured by the linked spreadsheet was just under 741 thousand; the 2012 equivalent so far is currently 601 thousand, or 81% of 2008′s total.  And when you look at the partisan breakdowns… simply put, the Democrats are not requesting absentee ballots at the same rate as Republicans are.  Of the three counties listed above, only Hamilton is particularly Republican… yet Cuyohoga Democrats have yet to reach their 2008 numbers while the Republican numbers have, and it may still end up that Summit county Republicans will surpass the Democrats there.  In fact, if this trend continues then total Republican early/absentee ballot requests in Ohio may surpass total Democratic ballots; it is uncertain whether the Democrats will match their 2008 totals, while the Republicans very probably will.

Shorter executive summary: what we know of early/absentee ballot requests in Ohio does not support the current narrative that Ohioan Democratic voters are as enthusiastic about voting in 2012 as they were in 2008.  This in turn does not support the current narrative that the Democrats will do better in Ohio in 2012 than they did in 2008.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*This is an important caveat: there are considerably more counties out there that still need to report in.  This report indicates that there were a total of 1.72 million absentee/early voters in Ohio in 2012; clearly the process has a way to go.

[**UPDATE: For the record, that ‘we’ is generic.]

The point here is that Democrats are at 61% of what they attained in 2008, versus Republicans who are at 101%.

Second article:

Drop in Ohio voter registration, especially in Dem strongholds, mirrors nationwide trend
By Doug McKelway
Published September 27, 2012
FoxNews.com

[See video available at Fox News]

“Don’t boo, vote,” President Obama often says in his stump speech whenever  crowds boo a Romney plan.

The off-hand call to vote may be by design. It comes amid a precipitous  decline in Democratic voter registration in key swing states — nowhere more  apparent than in Ohio.

Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from 4  years ago. Of that reduction,. 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding  Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of spin and hype on the part of the Obama  campaign to try to make it appear that they’re going to cruise to victory in  Ohio,” Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost said. “It’s not just  Cuyahoga County. Nearly 350,000 of those voters are the decrease in the rolls in  the three largest counties, Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin.”

Frost points out that those three counties all contain urban centers, where  the largest Democrat vote traditionally has been.

Ohio is not alone. An August study by the left-leaning think tank Third Way  showed that the Democratic voter registration decline in eight key swing states  outnumbered the Republican decline by a 10-to-one ratio. In Florida, Democratic  registration is down 4.9 percent, in Iowa down 9.5 percent. And in New  Hampshire, it’s down down 19.7 percent.

“It’s understandable that enthusiasm is going to wane a little bit from that  historic moment (in 2008),” says Michelle Diggles, the study co-author and  senior policy adviser for Third Way. “You can only elect the first  African-American president of this country once.”

The dip in registration has been framed by some as the result of Republican  efforts to suppress the vote – an accusation that Ohio Secretary of State John  Husted, a Republican, categorically rejects.

“That’s kind of a silly notion that removing deceased people and duplicate  records from the roll has anything to do with voter suppression,” he said. “It  actually has to do with voter integrity. They can’t point to one legally  registered voter that’s actually been removed from the rolls.”

The Third Way study, which was conducted in August, indicates the Democrats’  drop in registered voters coincides with a gain in independent voters.

“There are about half a million more independents now than there were just  for years ago,” Diggles said.

One Democratic Party consultant told Fox News that independents in Ohio may  be leaning Democratic – an effect that may be tied to the bailout of Chrysler  and GM. One of eight people in Ohio work in businesses directly tied to the auto  industry. The state has been carpeted with Obama ads that point to his bailout  of the industry and it’s managed bankruptcy.

Mitt Romney also favored a managed bankruptcy of the auto industry. But he  criticized the expenditure of taxpayer money and the preferential treatment  given to union-linked creditors over the industry’s secured creditors.

Others question the bailout’s effect on swaying the minds of independent  voters. In the words of Diggles, independents are “not a stable voting block at  all.”

Last article:

Asking the experts: Which polls are, or aren’t, legitimate?
posted at 7:47 pm on September 27, 2012 by Allahpundit

After yesterday’s post on poll trustworthiness, I started wondering whether there’s any poll or model that’s been consistently accurate over time and therefore worth watching down the stretch as a weathervane of where the race really stands. I e-mailed two experts whom I trust and put that question to them. Is there any steady signal they trust amid the cacophony of statistical noise? Anyone we can look to as a beacon in the darkness when the NYT drops its next D+10 sample of Utah or whatever on us?

Short answer: No, there’s no one whom they count on to get it more or less right every time. Polling averages did well in 2008 and 2004 but not so well in 2000 and 1996. The first person I spoke to told me flatly that it’s not worth paying much attention to the numbers now because the assumptions being made about the composition of the electorate on November 6 differ too widely among individual pollsters to distill a truly useful average. That uncertainty is compounded by the fact that, with six weeks left until America votes, there’s still an ocean full of potential “black swans” — wonderful/terrible jobs reports, war with Iran, a new eurozone spasm, etc — that could send the trendlines fluttering. (Team Romney told Rich Lowry they think their dip in Gallup’s tracker lately is due to one such black-swan moment whose effects are already fading.) Once we get to within a week or two of election day and pollsters’ assumptions finally start to coalesce, the polling averages will become more reliable as an indicator of where the race really stands. As my own addendum to that, I think we’re close enough to the first debate that there’s no point picking through polls until late next week at the earliest. Why worry about this week’s data when there’s a hugely important event that’s bound to affect the race right around the corner?

My other source had less to say about the reliability of polling averages generally than their reliability with respect to specific candidates. He told me that if you look at historical averages, you find that they underestimated Gore in 2000, Dole in 1996, and Bush 41 in 1992 — all of them dull, somewhat stiff candidates whom their respective bases weren’t thrilled about. Why would polls miss the mark on people like that? His theory is that pollsters pay lots of attention to voter enthusiasm but less attention to whether voters say they’re “certain” to vote, and in the case of candidates who aren’t beloved by their base, those two variables don’t match up especially well. There were plenty of Republicans who weren’t enthusiastic about Bush and Dole but who were nonetheless certain to vote for them in hopes of defeating the Democrat. Ditto for Gore vis-a-vis the GOP. (Kerry and McCain were also dim lights to their bases and the polls gauged their support pretty well, but in McCain’s case he had a huge shot of enthusiasm late from adding Palin to the ticket.) He thinks the same thing could be happening this year — essentially, pollsters are keying off of the Dems’ slight edge in “enthusiasm” and missing the fact that plenty of unenthusiastic Republicans will be at the polls anyway to vote for a guy who’s taken to citing RomneyCare lately as proof of his empathy. If that’s the case, then they’re lowballing Romney’s support. And in a tight race, that’s potentially a decisive error.

See? I am capable of writing a poll post that’s not hopelessly eeyorish. Although I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t how I felt when I saw those Gallup numbers yesterday. Oof.

The guy being shot was actually me on November 4, 2008.  And I thought I’d died so magnificently, too…

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