Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why doesn't polling mirror event turnout numbers?

By Libby

This is why I don't trust the polling that shows Obama with such a relatively narrow lead. McCain held a event billed as a Country Music Extravaganza. It's headlined by "Big and Rich" who I understand are really popular country music stars. The WaPo reports the crowd numbered in the several hundreds. I'd say that's stretching the numbers if this video from a local news source is any indication.

The website blocked the video embed, so I took it out, but you can watch it here and the local coverage with additional photos is here. Looks like maybe 300 hundred to me, but there's no wide shots so let's even say 600 were there. Then compare it to the event Obama held in Portland, fronted by a virtually unknown local group, that drew 72,000 people.

McCain can't get a thousand people out to listen to his whiny droning even with a big name band and Obama draws hundreds of thousands, or least tens of thousands, whether or not he offers additional entertainment. I would think the polling spread should reflect this and would be wider or is it just that McCain supporters are so old they can't totter out of the house to see him in person?

I know the wonky crowd says the spread is about right, but I always have this suspicion that Obama supporters just don't answer their phones when the pollster calls. What worries me about it is that it's a perfect setup to steal the election again. As long as the polling holds close, they have perfectly plausible deniability when the inevitable voting fraud comes to light.

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16 Comments:

OpenID expatbrian said...

I think your 300 estimate is high. If there were that many, the depth of the crowd in the very center, facing McCain would be much more. I give it less than 200 at best. About what you might expect at a Junior High School football game.

7:09:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I was giving him every benefit of the doubt Brian. I'd agree there was probably only a couple of hundred, but then again, in a venue like that it may be that people were more spread out along the periphery off camera.

Whatever, if Obama was there, it likely would have been elbow to elbow. I really don't get the disconnect between the crowds Obama draws and the polling.

8:48:00 PM  
Blogger Vicki-Jo said...

I agree, but it's giving me little comfort because the media are addicted to polls, even when they contradict each other. Who answers landlines? Why isn't that part of the statistic in these polls? I'll bet if polls went online, you'd get a more accurate count. And that count would be Obama in a landslide.

11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Wyatt said...

I think the problem is the cell phone phenomenon. More and more people have given up their landlines and gone exclusively to cell phone usage... especially amongst minorities and adults younger than their 40s or 50s. For some reason or other, polls don't call cell phones. I'm not sure if it's because there's some solicitation restriction on cell phones, or it's more difficult to find cell numbers because there isn't a nice compiled directory for the numbers, such as a phonebook.

One of my favorite blogs that track polls talked about this a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/07/cellphone-problem-revisited.html

11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Renideo said...

Good point, and as we've seen recently, turn out, or 'energising the base' is as important as general views. Voting is a complicated business that polls often fail to reflect.

1:38:00 PM  
Blogger randy said...

I'm in agreement with points: Land-lines = old people and these polls keep right-wing hopes of stealing the third election in a row alive.
Where i think common sense is totally wrong is it all the pronouncements that "yeah, the kidz are all 'energized' or whatever but they never show up on election day".
I think if you're down with spending a whole day out trying to just see a candidate in the middle of the summer you'll find the time on election day to give that earlier time commitment meaning.

2:43:00 PM  
Blogger Harriett said...

Until they call cell phones, I do not beleive any poll accurately reflects what voters will decide in November.

3:40:00 PM  
Blogger Sweet said...

I'll tell you why it's skewed, and you're halfway there--the ones voting for Obama are not answering the phones. With the ubiquitousness of Caller ID and bill collectors, people (like me) don't answer the phone unless it's a number they recognize. I'm sure I've let a few pollsters slip by because I don't answer the phone for fear of having to talk to someone I can't pay. The ones who answer the phones have the money to not worry about collections, and they're all voting for McCain.

3:55:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who is worried about this. Thanks for all the comments and wyatt, I agree that 538 rocks.

7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Proud2bHumble said...

Would peckers account for holes in telephone polls?
Cuz if you pick a pack of polling peckers,
you'll probably find their fingers free
nearly never nine to nine,
when paleold voters dine in their homes at scheduled times,
while the working poor
ain't rolled in the door
from their second job at the store,
and the youngsters don't mind
not bein' landlined...
So the peckers
hardly penetrate,
so demoscriminate...
Just like a buncha peckers,
always skewing things up.

;-}

4:58:00 AM  
Blogger realist said...

"What worries me about it is that it's a perfect setup to steal the election again."

Steal the election again? Oh. I remember. Running and getting enough votes to get enough states in the electoral college is considered "Stealing" if you want the other guy to win.... at least if you are using "sore loser, damn the typical Constitutional election process!" logic.

5:27:00 AM  
Blogger ADNK said...

Note to Realist:
Realistically, one voting machine per 15k voters is disenfranchisement (see Ohio '04). Election fraud is real.

6:28:00 AM  
Blogger realist said...

Election fraud is real, but even John Kerry could not find any in Ohio in 2004.

(Election fraud is made less real as more and more places pass voter ID laws)

9:04:00 AM  
OpenID jasperjava said...

Voter ID laws will lead to MORE disenfranchisement, since many poor people don't have adequate ID, or the time and resources to acquire it.

There was a nun at the polling station who was turned away because she didn't have state-approved voter ID.

Voter ID is another way they intend to steal the election. That's the only way Republicans can possibly win.

If you're saying that B*sh was legitimately elected, that's a serious insult to Americans. You should apologize.

10:34:00 AM  
Blogger realist said...

Voter IDs are not a problem, since getting a valid ID is easy. There has been a problem with people double-voting, or noncitizens voting, and the ID reform greatly reduces this.

As for Bush being legitimately elected, all you have to do is read the Constitution. There's this little thing called the electoral college, and the amazing fact that just about every President prior to Bush won the same way he won: by winning the actual popular vote in enough states to get enough electoral votes.

The only difference with the Bush election was that the razor-thin edge meant a contradiction between the popular vote and electoral vote. I will not apologize for being aware of the Constitution and the way the President is always chosen.

Welcome to the real world, where sometimes people whose politics we hate do get elected.

2:32:00 PM  
OpenID expatbrian said...

Realist, you're full of shit. There is also a little thing called Diebold voting machines that are programmable. And a supreme court who said that JUST THIS ONE TIME, we will not allow a full recount.

You're quite a defender of Bush. I don't hear you saying much about McCain. Just why is he the very best person to drag our nation out of this quagmire? Or do you not talk about him because you realize like we do that he has no substance?

6:21:00 PM  

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