"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Polling

The New York Times and CBS -- no right-wingers, they -- have a new poll out showing that Obama and Romney are tied at 46-46.   A few points to remember on polling going forward:

1.  Always look for polls of "likely" voters.   Republican voters tend to be more settled in life and more affluent, which means they are marginally more likely to vote than Democratic voters (who tend to skew slightly younger and more transient).   So a poll of registered voters will tend to marginally favor the Democratic candidate.   This poll was a poll of 862 registered voters, so I think Romney would have been slightly ahead among likely voters.

2. Always look for the underlying split between Democratic and Republican responses.   If the poll shows that it polled a signifcantly higher number of Democrats than Republicans, that means that they probably are undercounting Republicans, as the division ought to be close to 50-50, with perhaps only a slight advantage to Democrats.  In this poll, they don't provide the underlying data, so you can't tell.... another warning sign.

3. Always remember... undecided voters tend not to vote for the incumbent.   If you're still undecided about Obama after he's been in the public eye for four years and President for three plus years, you're not going to vote for him.  Undecided votes break late for the challenger.

4. If you're the President and you can't get more than 50% at this stage, you probably aren't going to win.

This is another way of saying... don't be confused by polls showing Obama marginally ahead or tied.   They know they are in trouble, and they are going to be desperate throughout the summer... expect talk about race and the "war on women" and the "Buffett rule" and the 1% to increase.   I'd also expect some "planned chaos" over the summer, including demonstrations that "spontaneously" get out of control and turn semi-violent.  

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