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This is a good day to reflect and look back (there's a winter advisory here in CT), as we move into the holidays and look to January 20th and beyond (is Bush still here? Damn.)

One of the hot topics of this election, and a perplexing one, was poll performance as a reflection of where the electorate's head was at. We know the polls did well, at least the final polls. From's Mark Blumenthal:

How did the polls do last week? Quite well. While we worried about the many challenges, the telephone survey again defied the odds and delivered mostly accurate results.

We know that Nate Silver at and the algorithm at, our go-to sites, performed well, as did our own R2K poll. For example, as of now the provisional popular vote is Obama 52.7 McCain 45.9, with more to count):

For this post, however, I'm going to concentrate on the graph, because an ongoing discussion thoughout the latter part of September through election day was "Why aren't the pollsters all saying the same thing?".

It's a tough thing to accept some degree of uncertainty. If we have 95% confidence, that means that one out of every 20 polls might be a bit of an outlier. That's why we've gravitated to the polling aggregate sites (and learned to look at trends within a poll.) But at the same time, we can't hold snap elections in September and October to check our polling assumptions.

So how does this compare to previous elections? What's the norm? In mid-October, pollster David Moore addressed this in a post entitled Different Polls, Different Trends, in which he pointed out an observation from 2004:

All the results were well within the polls' margins of errors in comparison with the actual election results.

However, the interesting point is that during the month of September, these very same polls showed dramatically different dynamics. As shown in the next graph, there were three basic stories: ABC, Gallup, Time and ABC all showed Bush gaining momentum in the weeks following the Republican National Convention, and then falling toward the end of the month. Furthermore, although these pollsters all agreed with the general pattern, at the end of the month Gallup showed Bush with an 8-point lead, CBS and Time had him at one point, and ABC at 6 points.

The second story, reported by Fox, Zogby and TIPP, showed very little movement over the month of September, with the margin varying from a Kerry lead of one point to a Bush lead of three points.

Finally, Pew had its own dynamic, not found by any of the other polls, showing a significant surge for Bush after the convention, followed by a dramatic decline, then another significant surge.

Now we have data from AP to support the idea that in 2008 it wasn't so much the polls missing what the voters thought, it was that many of the voters couldn't decide.

Inch by inch, voter by voter, Barack Obama and John McCain labored for more than a year to lock down supporters and woo defectors. It turns out, though, that the nation's voters were a lot more fickle than commonly expected, and far more prone to switch allegiances.

An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll that tracked the same group of about 2,000 adults throughout the long campaign reveals a lively churning beneath the surface as people shifted their loyalties — some more than once.

More about voter behavior:

Those abandoning one candidate were often canceled out by others gravitating to him, resulting in little net change in the candidates' overall support. Yet the frenetic, beneath-the-radar movement helps explain why the two political parties spent hundreds of millions of dollars this year. They needed to constantly woo new supporters while keeping those they thought they already had from defecting.

Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard University political scientist who has studied voting behavior, said such movement has been especially pronounced lately. He cited Republican defections because of unhappiness with President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, uncertainty over which party could best address the economic meltdown and this year's influx of young and other first-time voters.

Now, if you're a fan of labels, you can look here (from Pew) about who calls themselves what.

Democrats, on balance, describe themselves as either liberal (34%) or moderate (37%) and the proportion labelling themselves as liberal has risen in recent years. Republicans, on the other hand, are not only largely conservative (68%) but, as their share of the electorate has declined somewhat, a higher proportion now say they are conservative than in the past. The ideological balance has been more stable among independents.

But don't get carried away by labels. Many voters prefer the term "progressive" (Rasmussen) and, in any case, the label doesn't always reflect policy (Pew):

Yet, even within ideological groups there are disagreements over major issues. Liberals are divided in their views of offshore drilling -- 49% favor and 48% oppose allowing more oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters as a way to address America's energy needs.

Conservatives are about equally split when it comes to the U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens. Half of those who describe their political views as conservative favor government-backed insurance even if it means raising taxes, while 47% oppose it.

All of that is important in the context of deciding whether or not this really was 1932 and a realignment, or merely 1980 and a late-deciding "throw the bums out". From the WaPo, a story entitled Pollsters Debate America's Political Realignment:

Conservative analysts have insisted that although the Democrats achieved a sweeping victory, it does not indicate a fundamental change. "America is still a center-right country," as Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio, the House Republican leader, insisted soon after the votes were counted. Liberals call that argument nonsense. The election, wrote John B. Judis in the New Republic, heralds the arrival of "America the liberal," provided that the Democrats play their strong new hand effectively. This election was "the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s, was delayed by September 11, and resumed with the 2006 election."

It's very likely the voters haven't decided, either. The potential is there, especially with younger voters who this year rejected Republicanism, giving Obama a historic 34 point advantage (usually the 18-29 year olds vote similarly or off by a few points relative to everyone else, but certainly gains were made across all age groups.) But deciding those things before Obama is even President yet still seems a bit premature. After all, fighting over the independent voter never goes out of style, and this year, that's the segment of the voter pool that really grew.

But any way you slice it, this remains an across-the board Dem-leaning electorate right now, with the middle (whatever it is defined as) reasserting itself.

First, the middle asserted itself. This was not a base election. Independents broke decisively for Obama, favoring him by a 52%-to-44% margin over John McCain. Obama also won an overwhelming 60% of self-identified moderates. By comparison, John Kerry carried 49% of independents and 54% of moderates four years ago.

Second, the political landscape shifted, mirroring pre-election polls that have shown increased Democratic party-affiliation since early 2006. While in 2004 the electorate was equally split along partisan lines, this year it was dramatically more Democratic (39% Democratic vs. 32% Republican).

Claims of this being a center-right country are nonsense. Policy-wise, we are a moderate-pragmatic nation. The trick is going to be to stay there, given that the middle is a moving target.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:49 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This "center-right" crap is the last gasp from (6+ / 0-)

    the "permanent Republican majority."

    •  It depends on where you look (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, MadEye, climateguy84, raf

      The best case for describing the U.S. as "center-right" comes right in the link to Pew in the above diary: 38% describe themselves as conservative, 36% describe themselves as moderates, and only 21% describe themselves as liberal.  Taken at face value -- and there is good reason not do so, as DemInCT notes, including that many people have very little idea what the labels actually mean -- that certainly looks like a "center-right" populace.  Combine that with the notion that institutional pressures -- lobbyists, the need for fundraising -- tend to push policy in a rightward direction, you can see the basis for the label.

      Luckily, the question of how to label the country is nonsensical.  Conservatives suggest that if we are a center-right country, the only proper representation
      will come from the center-right.  That "represent the ideology, don't pay attention to who they votes for" is not the tune they sang back when Reagan was elected.

      People know less about what they want than about what they don't want; to me, that's always been the point of the literature on "retrospective voting": the notion that people look backwards rather than forwards in determining a vote.  This election leaves open a range of acceptable policies from left to center-right; we don't know exactly where on that segment of the political spectrum (to oversimplify) voters will fall, and neither do they.  What we can say is that voters have rejected -- definitely in terms of their personnel decision and probably in terms of ideology as well -- the "hard" right, which is from where we've been goverened for most of the past 30 years.

      I don't know if the U.S. "is" center-right, center-left, or whatever.  It seems to be a fairly nonsensical question.  But I know what we are not anymore, and that is: we are not a conservative nation.  Hopefully that change happened in time.  

      The netroots is what the Letters to the Editor page wanted to be when it grew up.

      by Seneca Doane on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:16:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama/Reid/Pelosi: culmination of progressivism? (0+ / 0-)

      I think your response regarding the "center-right crap" is rather knee-jerk.  Certainly, the response is NOT to say "no it isn'!  we are a liberal country!".  Because you just fall into the trap that our decidedly timid and moderate Democratic politicians represent the be-all/end-all of liberalism or progressivism.

      In fact I think the appropriate response is "The American people have clearly spoken.  We are a nation that strongly prefers Democrats."  Please avoid calling the current Dems liberal or progressive as a collective.  That steals the power of the "better" part of More and better Democrats.  After all, if we are already a nice and liberal/progressive nation, then what is there to fight for?  I think you fall for the Republican framing.  I argue that we are actually a center-right nation and that Democrats are a center-right party.  (On the other hand, Republicans are a far-right party.)  And the challenge of progressives is to simultaneously empower Democrats while shifting the Democratic party from being center-right to center-left and ultimately truly progressive.

      我們做得到! 歐巴馬加油! wǒmen zuò de dào! ōubāmǎ jiā yóu!

      by LwPhD on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 06:41:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pressing forward is the key. (0+ / 0-)

    It's good to know what the polls say, but dithering about it leads to nothing getting done. And when you don't do anything, voters desert you.

    The Republicans more or less governed for 30 years with a bunch of junior-college Randian bullshit, but they articulated what they wanted to do and they went for it ruthlessly and people responded to that. We should be able to do twice as well given that we have, you know, facts and experience on our side.

    All of which is to say that there's a difference between analyzing (and this is excellent analysis) and governing, and I hope the Dems finally realize that.

    Fired up! Ready to go!

    by RickMassimo on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:55:58 AM PST

  •  who was it, Bill Maher I think, who said a more (4+ / 0-)

    accurate term for the "undecideds" this time would be the "retardeds".  I am totally blown away that up to 10 percent of voters really didn't know who they were going to vote for until that last week.

    It's like they were being buffeted by the campaign ads, one day liking McCain because Palin is pretty, the next day liking Obama because his kids are cute.  It really baffles me still.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

    by nailbender on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:58:39 AM PST

    •  a Daily Show classic (4+ / 0-)

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:05:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's the sort of thing you can say (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, MadEye, nailbender

      when you don't spend much time talking to voters.

      Some informed and intelligent people remained undecided until towards the very end.  Some of this was because rejecting Republicanism, after the past 30 years, required unlearning some entrenched habits and ripping apart some emotional bonds.  Obama did run a careful race, which often meant using a lot of generalities on policy, campaigning on stylistic abstractions like "hope," and asking to be trusted.  My judgment was and remains that he is trustworthy and that there is basis for hope, but it's not like it's crazy not to accept that.

      Many voters were worried that Obama was far to the left -- which, incidentally, is what many of us hope that he will turn out to be, so it's not a ridiculous concern -- a placement they rejected because of, among other things, decades of media villification of the left (as well as, it must be conceded, past failures among the successes among progressive policies.)  Four years from now, they may love the fact that Obama was as progressive as we hope he will turn out to be.  But that will take some relearning.

      Meanwhile, our job is to rehabilitate our side of the political spectrum in the eyes of voters not already committed to it.  This will take some time.

      The netroots is what the Letters to the Editor page wanted to be when it grew up.

      by Seneca Doane on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:24:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RAST, MadEye, nailbender, Seneca Doane

        and the Colin Powell endorsement loomed large for many of those voters.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:33:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  well put, as ususal. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Seneca Doane

        I actually had some conversations with those folks, but I came away with a very strange feeling, like they had an opaque screen drawn down somewhere in their brain, in fact much like a learning disability (and these were not stupid people in most other senses).  Especially after the crash and the demonstrable failure of the conservative economic paradigm, they were really trying to sort it out.

        Not having a tv, I tend to discount the effect of the TM on folks, of course, and just like anybody, I operate out of a self-organized perspective which is by nature prejudiced.  

        Still and all, I'd wager that there were as many tabloid-oriented wafflers (drawn as much to Obama's personal magnetism as to McCain and Palin's soap opera narrative) out there as there were of the truly intellectually confounded that you describe.

        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

        by nailbender on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 03:32:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I normally make my mind up years in advance. (0+ / 0-)

      Literally. After every presidential election, it's usually pretty clear who is going to be running next time around. But this year...sort of, but not exactly.

      After 2004, I decided that Feingold was the only candidate I would support (not to be confused with "vote for") in 2008, but I was not disappointed when he chose not to run. Then my only interest in the presidential race was that I didn't want John Edwards to win it. Fortunately, he fell by the wayside early enough that I didn't have to do anything about it.

      I committed early on to vote for HRC if she got the nomination. (Just because she was a woman, so sue me.) I didn't commit to vote for Obama because he was black, largely because I didn't give his candidacy that much thought early on.  Later I thought I probably would vote for him because he was black...not seeing any other reason to vote for him, but I never committed to it.

      I was very active in the election, working on a self-initiated campaign to increase awareness of the number of women we had on the ballot and the number of political firsts that could be achieved for women in our state if they were elected. I wanted to vote early...not just during early voting, but early, when the lines were not long.

      I was already familiar with the candidates, but I was delayed a bit by the fact that we had a bond referendum I had to check out. After I did that, then it was a matter of deciding my voting strategy. I considered three: 1) Don't vote at all, 2) Vote for Obama and all the women on the ballot, and 3) Vote only for candidates I really wanted to vote for. I finally decided on strategy #3.

      So, I can't speak for any other undecideds, but as for, I didn't vacillate between Obama and McCain, just between voting and not. I didn't much care who got elected this year. I don't think this election was that important.  Mentally, I left this country after 2004. I'm only here in body.

  •  Obama did a better job of reaching moderates (0+ / 0-)

    McCain was wedded to the radical right wing policies of the Bush Regime.

    Independents broke decisively for Obama, favoring him by a 52%-to-44% margin over John McCain. Obama also won an overwhelming 60% of self-identified moderates.


    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:58:51 AM PST

  •  And pragmatism must rule the day. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justanothernyer, Taya Lawrence
    We must be careful not to overreach, lest the pendulum swing the other way.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:59:23 AM PST

  •  The McCarthyism Gene (5+ / 0-)

    Everything you need to know about Republican politics - concisely and brilliantly written. I'm too lazy to make a diary, but everyone needs to read this:

    This editorial really needs to go viral.

    McCain housing policy shaped by lobbyist.

    by timba on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:59:32 AM PST

    •  I'll put that in the Pundit Round-up tomorrow n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:07:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOL, Palin "possibly" has the McCarthy gene? (0+ / 0-)

      Possibly? For reals?

    •  Excellent analysis...but chilling. (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for recommending it.  I agree:  a must read.

      --It's a feverish world, Inman said, for lack of better comment. (Charles Frazier)

      by Taya Lawrence on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:31:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  thank you for pointing out this column (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BradF, thethinveil

      This article rings much more true than other tales about fiscal responsibility and individualism. The GOP rose on the backs of blacks, gays, socialists, communists and welfare mothers and any other group it could demonize.

      The politics of fear and smear have been evident for decades. I saw it in 1980 when Ronnie Raygun opened his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., of all places. The same town where those three civil rights workers were executed by KKK terrorists in 1964. Ronnie then proceeded to accuse welfare mothers (read single black women) of driving Cadillacs and bilking the system.

      I swore then I would never belong to the GOP. That party as it exists now represents the worst of humanity. It has no redeeming qualities and must be eradicated. I'm just glad more people are seeing it for what it really is.

      -7.38, -5.23 I'm celebrating Barack Obama's victory. Catch me with the protests after 01.20.09.

      by CocoaLove on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:43:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I still think the US is center right (0+ / 0-)

    It just matters where you throw 'center'.

    French conservative politicians sound like democrats.

    Oh , damn now I have done it, those socialist French.

    It depends what references you take.

    If you say Universal health care, many Americans get annoyed, if you say it elsewhere all they say is how do we make it better.

    Americans like to believe they are moderate, may I refer you to the polls taken at the start of the Iraq war over 75% were favorable.

    As I said it depends how you define the meaning center.

    Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

    by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:08:33 AM PST

  •  pragmaism (0+ / 0-)

    is the order of the day but with a leftward tilt. This is actually what the nation wants. It's worth noting in this respect, for instance, that there never was a majority in favor of the Bush tax cuts.  The people understood that they were bunk and were  OK with paying more taxes to address social needs.  Think it's more likely Dems err by not being far enough left than too far left.

  •  perhaps I am just a cynic . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but the fact that the polls this election predicted the results pretty accurately, makes me rather suspicious of previous elections, when the election results were DIFFERENT from the poll results, and the Repugs were all full of excuses about why that should be . . . .

    Editor, Red and Black Publishers

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:11:00 AM PST

    •  you are a cynic (0+ / 0-)

      but as a reality-based data guy, you should appreciate that you are completely wrong about what the polls said. And don't mistake the polls for exit polls. That's an apples and oranges comparison.


      The Accuracy of the National Preelection Polls in the 2004 Presidential Election

      The 2004 presidential election campaign provided a venue for a wide variety of polling, and it was not without its controversies. In the end, the final estimates of the preelection polls, the bread and butter of the polling industry, were very good at suggesting it would be a close race, with Bush the likely winner. In historical perspective, the overall performance was above average for the period since 1956.

      and table.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:18:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

      I don't recall the Republicans bothering with excuses. Most of the excuses I heard came from Democratic coincidence theorists.

      I don't think the fact that the results in 2000 and 2004 differed from the polls (if they did) says much. All polls have a margin of error. Those elections were (apparently) quite close, so the polls wouldn't have had to be off by much to be "wrong." This year, the election was not close, and it would have taken a whopping error for the polls to have missed it.

  •  2004 wasn't a normal year for party affiliation (0+ / 0-)

    as is evidenced by the chart you posted, it was a high-water mark for Republicans.  The Dem's party advantage this year came from more Republicans calling themselves independents. Democratic support  ticked up slightly, but within their normal range of support.

    •  that's true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadEye, TonyAngelo, thethinveil

      but what's much more important is this, the 18-29's  which blows "normal year" away:

      A 34 point voting gap is far from the norm, even excepting 2004. For example, 1996:

      Vote By Age
            Clinton Dole Perot
      18-29    53 34 10
      30-44    48 41 9
      45-59    48 41 9
      Over 60  48 44 7

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:29:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Being not so moderate myself.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...what I don't get about people who are moderates and independents is not that they're middle-of-the-roaders who pick & choose.

    What I don't get is how many seem to go back & forth based on the latest buzzword and spin. Obama and his organization played it right and timed it right, and the economy helped too. But the same moderates were at various times attracted to McCain's "brand" of independence.

    I'm a practical political realist who's sense of right and wrong is left wing. I guess I just don't understand those moderates. The poll analysis says a lot about where & how they placed themselves in this election, but I still don't understand how their brains work.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:15:01 AM PST

    •  You're a high-information voter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itzik shpitzik

      The low-information voters don't care as much about ideology and judge candidates by their "characters". Hence, the Republican Party's campaign of character assassination and the swinging of voters towards Obama after the debates. Fortunately, more of these low-info voters decided McCain was hot-headed and mean than decided Obama was really a secret Muslim who pals around with terrorists.

      •  Flattery will get you... (0+ / 0-)

        ... a rec'd post.

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:36:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  more... (3+ / 0-)

        this was from a health care polling seminar.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:40:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't confuse "high information" with (0+ / 0-)

        ..."early information."

        I think it's a good bet that many independents don't follow politics as closely on an ongoing basis as partisans, for a number of reasons. That makes them low-information citizens. It doesn't necessarily follow that they are low-information voters. They may have lots of information by the time they arrive at the polls.

        Keep in mind that, in many states, independents can't vote in the primaries. So they have little reason to book up on the candidates until winners emerge from the primary season. Others are independents because they are turned off by politics in general and don't like either party much. Not a lot of motivation to book up any sooner than they have to.

    •  Well, as an independent moderate (0+ / 0-)

      let me offer a couple clues. I can only speak for myself, since, as the word "independent" implies we think for ourselves. Also, to clarify, I'm an independent with a small "i", not a member of the Independent Party.

      Neither party (or individual candidates) ever align with my views completely, so every vote is a compromise. For example, I consider myself left of center on some issues, like socializing health care, but am a strong supporter of  international free trade. I have no use for Palin-style neocons but am a big believer in fiscal restraint - and voted to re-elect my Republican representative as one of the few who seemed to actually adhere to that core Republican opposed to Ted Stevens and many like him.

      Frankly, McCain was my guy in 2000. He told the social conservatives where to stuff it (although it cost him the party nomination) and was known for reaching across the aisle and getting things done. In 2004 I was so dissatisfied with the major party candidates I voted for a third party guy in protest. As for the most recent election, it shouldn't be that hard to figure out why an independent would hesitate about jumping head first into Obama's camp. Even if he advocated the most of the same things I did, he has very little in the way of a public record to judge how effective he would actually be. Frankly while many found his lofty speeches inspiring, I felt they too often lacked substance. Talk, after all, is cheap and politicians do lots of that. However I must say he has made impressive cabinet choices (although his choice of Hillary for Sec of State gives me some pause) and on that score seems to be off to a good start. I have a feeling I may end up liking him more than many Democrats who will be disappointed that he isn't partisan or "liberal" enough.

  •  Another little tail tale sign in politics (0+ / 0-)

    When you have to state your religion

    then have to give a speech defending your religion

    Is a sign things have got out of hand politically speaking, its all right if you want to be the next Pope.

    Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

    by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:17:41 AM PST

  •  Wright & Palin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Notice McCain only led Obama during the Rev. Wright hysteria of mid March, and for about 10 days in September when the Sarah Palin hysteria began. Other than that John McCain could not best Barack Obama in terms of public perception on who was more fit to lead the nation the entire year. McCain needed outside help, or divine intervention of some kind. Seeing which side he operated on it was highly doubtful God was ever going to intervene of McCain's behalf.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:21:42 AM PST

  •  I think this is a load of bull (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, sphealey

    Voters made up their minds long before election day. The issue in key states was about energy and turnout, and Obama won that battle. Only in the most hotly contested states (Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina) can one make a real case that voting behavior was somewhat fluid (though the county maps pretty much show the same pattern as the rest of the nation. It is just as likely that the reason these states were close was simply because national trends had become reflected in conservative states as well as liberal ones, and Obama's investment in those states made them turn blue quicker-by about 1 or 2 election cycles).  The only demographic that fluctuated was seniors.  They ended up voting a bit more for McCain (9 points) than polls taken a week or 2 earlier had indicated. However, McCain had led by nearly 20 points or more among seniors in the summer and after the convention, but he lost a lot of ground during the financial crisis and the debates and never fully regained that advantage.

    If you look at the county maps, you see that red counties voted red, but not as much as before, blue counties were more firmly blue and suburban counties shifted blue.  Those trends were there before the conventions and crystallized about 2 weeks after the conventions.  

    Alternative rock with something to say:

    by khyber900 on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:44:49 AM PST

    •  We actually have numbers. (5+ / 0-)

      In actuality, minds started to be made up mid-September, but whereas 74% knew who they were voting for before Oct 1, 15% decided in Oct and the rest (10%) decided in the last week.

      Note that 60% decided even before 9/1/08, but 40% is a lot of voters still.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why did we keep hearing GOP pundits say that (0+ / 0-)

        late-deciding voters would go 100% for McCain? It got really, really irritating. It was like the Republicans were hoping that many Americans were secretly too racist to vote for Obama or something like that.

      •  I even think this data is misleading. (0+ / 0-)

        The demographic groups voted along the same trends as had been predicted earlier.  Late deciders probably voted more along the lines of their demographic's overall trend.

        Also, when I look at places like Florida or Ohio and I see Obama winning Franklin County and Orange County by almost 20 points, that tells me that the campaign's effort to identify, register and bring voters to the polls had more of an impact than what the late deciders did.  

        Obama found the areas within red states that were Dem friendly and realized that Democrats had underperformed both in terms of likely and unlikely voters and made a real push to make those areas more blue.  They succeeded.  The main determining factor in the Obama camp's thinking about where to target resources was demographics.  

        Alternative rock with something to say:

        by khyber900 on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:22:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  btw, you realize a lot of what you are saying is (0+ / 0-)

      complete horseshit, right?

      The only demographic that fluctuated was seniors.  

      We ran the R2K poll so we could follow that stuff. the 65+ had the biggest variation but it was in one direction

      The 30-44 was really struggling to decide.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:04:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Analysis--We are Center Center (0+ / 0-)

    I believe we are a Electorate...with a big center. We are progressive on social issues, believe in unity, but very pragmatic when it comes to economic and national security issues that affects our present well being and our children's future. We are ready to listen to everyone's view and judge them on their merits. We embrace both our similarities and differences...diversity and inclusiveness are our badges of honor.  

    I am glad the pragmatic idealists...the grown ups are now in charge.  

    Thanks to my DKOS family for keeping me informed and doing all of the leg work to analyze this historic election. I love each and everyone of you and wish you nothing but the best this year and 2009.

    Oracle2021: The purpose of life is a life of purpose."

    by Oracle2021 on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:45:15 AM PST

  •  Appreciated, a "There's More" option may help (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, I know His Kossness doesn't allow it. But that doesn't necessarily mean it makes good sense.

    ... just sayin'

    Front Page articles need to use "There's More" when > 1000(?) words. I know His Kossness doesn't allow it. Still ... it helps more, hurts less.

    by FeloniousMonk on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:56:36 AM PST

  •  Exit Polls in Ohio and Florida (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Taya Lawrence
    It would be interesting to see a comparison of the exit polls in 2004 vs 2008 in these two states.  Especially Ohio where the exit polls did not match the counted vote.  Since this was only true in a couple of states and since there was a fair amount of questioning of why the exit polls in Ohio were off, it would be interesting to match up the internals in 2004 vs 2008 to see just were the 2004 numbers were off.

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter - Martin Luther King

    by Do Something on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:58:13 AM PST

    •  you'd have to look at leaked exit polls at the (0+ / 0-)

      same time of day, because the final exit polls are adjusted to match the final results. I'm not sure what that would tell you.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:07:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it was true in a bunch of states, actually (0+ / 0-)

      I think there were about a dozen states with double-digit errors -- whereas the discrepancy in Ohio was "only" 8-9 points.

      Since the data are archived (the 2008 data aren't available yet, but should be in the spring), you may be able to find what you want, although the archived data don't include 'real' precinct identifiers or the size of the discrepancy in each precinct.

  •  46% for McCain / Palin (4+ / 0-)

    What I take away from all those numbers is that 46% of the voters in this country were willing to entrust control of America's nuclear arsenal to Sarah Palin.

    We have a lot of work to do...

    Regulate banks, not bedrooms

    by Eagleye on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:01:23 PM PST

    •  we've made a lot of progress in eight years (0+ / 0-)

      and have an excellent chance to show the country a positive example with our president and congressional control with dems.

      our job is to make sure we don't f-it up and hold our representives accountable if they do.

      First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win - Gandhi

      by mysticlaker on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:22:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  as a sidenote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Did an excellent job with the polls analysis and projection. While not as exciting as the fivethiryeight analysis and the pollster comments Sam Wang did a an almost dead-on projection.

    It'll be fun to see how this (usually) friendly poll analysis competion plays out between the current sites, and any new ones that show up in the next cycles.

    One thing I'm glad about is that real clear politics has some competition.

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win - Gandhi

    by mysticlaker on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:17:50 PM PST

  •  Just watched the final focus group on Cspan (5+ / 0-)

    from the Annenberg group from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Public Affairs Event
    Focus Group with Obama Voters
    Peter D. Hart Research Associates
    Fairfax, Virginia (United States)

    Half voted for Bush in 04
    At least half were Republicans
    All voted for Obama.

    Very interesting to see how their decision was reached. Many last minute switches to Obama.

    From what they said, I would conclude this was much more about Obama and McCain then about party.

    They still are more identified with the Republican party but recognized that Obama was likely to lead better than McCain.

    Without exception, they all thought Obama was a good, decent, honest man and that seemed to be what decided it in the end for each of them.

  •  Center-Right Nation? Ridiculous! (0+ / 0-)

    The fact that Independents went Democratic, big-time, shows the absolute folly of right-wingers who want the Rethuglican Party to adopt a Gingrich-Palin-Norquist drown-the-teeny-weeny-government philosophy.

    But I sure hope they keep on going in that direction.

  •  And by the way, in that focus group where (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the most important issue was the economy only 3 could identify the name Henry Paulson. And out of those 3 none really seemed to know who he was since they couldn't use one adjective to describe him.

    In general, people are very low informed and it is going to be very easy to blame the Democrats for this financial crisis.

    That's why I consider it paramount that fingers are pointed right now as to who is to blame.

    It's going to get much, much worse before it gets better and I don't want Obama taking the blame for this meltdown.

    •  Rethugs will blame Obama, Clinton, Carter, FDR (0+ / 0-)

      They will never accept blame for anything...Iraq, the economy, intelligence failures, 9/11, etc. etc.

      Bush 41 used to blame Carter for his admin's economic woes (as if 8 years of Reagan never happened after Carter left office).

  •  The House polls were way off (0+ / 0-)

    I have to say.  I don't know why but so many of them were just off suggesting races we would win when we wound up losing and in some cases, not even by a close margin.

    In terms of young voters, I'd like to posit the following theory:  gay marriage helped Democrats.  In California, Democrats picked up 4 Assembly seats (net gain is 3), many of which had been solidly Republican in the past or not voted Democratic in a very long time.  That is the best Democratic performance in the state in 10 years (we did pick up 3 in 2000 but one of those seats was AD-16, a heavily Democratic Oakland Assembly seat that had voted in a liberal Independent, Audie Bock, in a fluke special election in 1999).  In all of these races, the GOP candidate was feircely pro Prop 8, all the Democrats opposed 8.  I'm pretty sure that 8 passed in at least 2 if not all 4 districts.  So how did gay marriage help the Democrats?  For older voters and middle aged voters who are ignoramous bigots, gay marriage is not a major issue.  Yes, they'll vote to ban gay marriage but that generally doesn't determine their votes.  Young voters though who believe in civil rights and equality are now starting to come out to vote against gay marriage bans.  They often vote Democratic because Democrats are associated with being in favor of gay marriage even if they're not tuned into local legislative races.  Thus in close races that would normally favor the Republicans, these seats have fallen to Democrats.

  •  90% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    9 out of 10 Republicans would entrust our country's defense and economy to Palin--that is disgusting.  It either shows they hate America or are very bigoted--either way, if you are a Republican, please don't even say hello to me in the future.  

    •  No, It Shows They Trust the Lord (0+ / 0-)

      to guide her when she needs the help. This is a realtime God remember, not one stuck in scriptures.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 01:34:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dems. have too deliver (0+ / 0-)

    We all now have a very clear picture of what a FAILED Presidency is really like. On the one hand Obama doesn't have a very high hurdle to leap to be successful on the other people have very high , maybe even unrealistic expectations for his  admin. In any event he has too deliver on some of maybe even a majority of his promises and in the present economic situation that's going to be daunting too say the least. On that note I'd forget about the polls.

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

    by Blutodog on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 01:37:29 PM PST

  •  The Pew - Gallup spread (0+ / 0-)

    at the second week in September...that looks rather odd ..What is that about? What event happened right there..when they flew apart..?

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 01:43:41 PM PST

  •  Wooohooooo!!! (0+ / 0-)

    I was truly missing your polls.  Withdrawal: still watching for the daily poll on daily koss. Thanks, Dem in Ct.  I feel better.

  •  Who wants to bet (0+ / 0-)

    .. that "The Middle" shifts left proportionally to how far and how long the economy tanks?



    "I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace." -- George W. Bush

    by SecondComing on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 03:26:04 PM PST

  •  Interestingly, it's not that the Democratic (0+ / 0-)

    percentage of the electorate has grown, it's that the GOP share has fallen.

    All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing. - Edmund Burke

    by MikePhoenix on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 04:57:51 PM PST

  •  Wherever do people get the idea that... (0+ / 0-)

    ...independents are "the middle"?

    •  moderates are the middle (0+ / 0-)

      all 45% of them in the indie category and 44% of the voting public (exit polls).

      BTW, wherever did you ever get the idea they weren't? ;-P

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 06:05:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah! So that's it. (0+ / 0-)

        Oh, I think it's impossible to say anything particularly meaningful about independents as a group, except that they don't vote the party line. They are, almost by definition, a diverse lot.

        I live in a very left-leaning county; until the recent exodus from the Republican Party, most of the independents I knew were far left of Democrats. A lot of independents don't feel that their views fit anywhere on the thin red-purple-blue line. A lot of them don't like to be defined by a label, and given the three choices, would probably pick the least defining label of the three. Younger voters, who are I believe, more likely to be independent than older voters, tend to confuse "moderate" with "non-polarized"... they have never known anything but very "immoderate" partisan politics. More a statement of political style than position.

        I would be interested to see the figures if 'None of the Above' were offered as a 4th option.

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