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In the diary, I will examine the implications of the figures reported in the articles quoted below for interpreting polling internals from Gallup's October 9-15 tracking poll (showing Romney up by 52-48).  I apologize if someone has already done this, but with today's Gallup poll holding steady at 51-45, people continue to be concerned, despite the preponderance of polls pointing the other way.  I figure a little reassurance can't hurt.

From Ron Brownstein [National Journal, 8/27/2012, Obama Needs 80% of Minority Vote to Win 2012 Presidential Election]:

Obama’s strategic equation defines Mitt Romney’s formula: 61/74. Romney’s camp is focused intently on capturing at least 61 percent of white voters. That would provide him a slim national majority—so long as whites constitute at least 74 percent of the vote, as they did last time, and Obama doesn’t improve on his 80 percent showing with minorities.  
From Jonathan Chait [New York Magazine, 8/28/2012, Why Is Obama So Confident?]:
The white share of the electorate has been dropping steadily for more than twenty years — from 87 percent in 1992 to 83 percent in 1996 to 81 percent in 2000, 77 percent in 2004, and 74 percent four years ago. Ron Brownstein’s recent reporting suggests that both campaigns expect an electorate that’s about 74 percent white. As pollster Mark Blumenthal has exhaustively shown, Gallup has systematically underweighted the number of minorities in its polls, due to technical issues related to the difficulty of finding and weighting poll respondents.

To the best of my knowledge the most recent internals provided by Gallup are from the October 9-15 tracking poll.  You can find them here.  

Gallup's figures show Whites voting 61% for Romney and Non-Whites (including Hispanics) voting 16% for Romney.

For simplicity’s sake, imagine the electorate as 10,000 people, and assume that Mr. Brownstein and Mr. Chait are correct about the likely racial breakdown of the 2012 electorate (74% White, 26% Non-White (including Hispanic)).  

7400 will be White; Romney will get 61% of them, or 4514 votes.
2600 will be Non-White (including Hispanics); Romney will get 16% of them, or 416 votes.
In total, Romney will receive 4930 votes (49.3% of 10,000).

To reiterate, if the electorate breaks down racially as it did last time around AND Gallup's recently-instituted Likely Voter screen correctly identifies who will actually vote, Romney should have received about 49.3% of the votes in this poll, not 52%.  The cross-tabs do not indicate the racial breakdown of voters passing Gallup’s screen, but the group is clearly more than 74% White.  I can't imagine that Non-Whites will be less motivated to vote this time around.  Are Whites more motivated?  If so, why?  Am I missing something important here?

Andy Sullivan [Reuters, 10/19/2012, As other polls show tight race, Gallup stands apart] quotes Gallup chief Frank Newport:  "We try to keep our eyes on the boat and do the best job possible. We're going over some additional tweaks with our methodologists to make sure we're on top of it."

Which begs the question of the meaning of changing Gallup poll numbers in general?  If they are constantly tweaking, do changes in topline numbers have any meaning at all?

As a final note, my daughter is newly registered in Massachusetts and voting in that state for the first time.  She is also 100% certain to cast her ballot for Obama on election day.  She would very likely not have passed Gallup’s LV screen if she’d been polled before 7 p.m. yesterday, when she opened a letter from the election commission telling her where her polling place is located.


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Comment Preferences

  •  tyvm. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, myboo

    "Say little; do much." (Pirkei Avot: 1:15)

    by hester on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:06:52 PM PDT

  •  Is this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fou, sunbro, terjeanderson, ffour

    Everyone Chill the fuck out! I got this - unknown but credited to Barack Obama

    by natedogg265 on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:07:30 PM PDT

  •  Southern whites (10+ / 0-)

    Record turnout of white voters in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma etc.  Let them run up the score.  There is absolutely zero panic from team Obama.  Their internals all lead to one key metric.


    As an added salt in the us steal Arizona like we stole Indiana and North Carolina last time.  

    Republicans===the party of the 1% rich people in America. Or in other words..The Party of NO!

    by jalapeno on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:07:46 PM PDT

  •  Romney will not get 61% of whites. (18+ / 0-)

    Everyone Chill the fuck out! I got this - unknown but credited to Barack Obama

    by natedogg265 on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:08:29 PM PDT

  •  the main problem is not so much in exactly what (4+ / 0-)

    these polls show in the crosstabs as...the media narrative that polls like Gallup feeds which could, in fact, have a detrimental effect on turnout for the President's reelection efforts.

    The problem isn't with people who come to this site who read the very helpful information you've provided (thank you).

    The problem is what the effect will be on more low-information types of voters who think the President might be losing, that Romney might be winning and...well...the possible dampening of enthusiasm to actually get out there in vote.

    In addition to dampening enthusiasm, there are some folks (believe it or not) who can be very easily be swayed to switch to someone else...just to go for the winner. They would never admit it. It doesn't happen as simply as that. But some people are more easily influenced by who is winning and who isn't, as opposed to who they want to win.

    In any an official member of the daily kos poll junkie/hand-wringer society (see my diary (sorry about the shameless diary pimping, but it's better than just wringing my hands, no?:          ), thanks for this.

    It does help...some.

  •  I have not see Romney at 60% of the (7+ / 0-)

    white vote in any national or competitive state poll.  Perhaps that's why he's switched gears and is now trying to improve his numbers among women.

    Have you googled Romney today?

    by fou on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:13:17 PM PDT

  •  Now we are unskewing polls? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox, terjeanderson, wwjjd, ffour


    Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz

    by FredFred on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:13:29 PM PDT

    •  Poll unskewing (3+ / 0-)

      I hear you, but when you have a persistent outlier, I think it does make sense to examine its working assumptions to see if there's a logical explanation for it.  

    •  Unskewing isn't a crime in and of itself (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inkin, majcmb1, InformedDiva, FiredUpInCA

      We've been doing it here for a long time and so has 538. The difference is whether you're doing it with logic or with bullshit

      There are two types of republicans, the rich and the stupid. The rich ones strive to keep the stupid ones stupid and the stupid ones strive to keep the rich ones rich.

      by frankzappatista on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:23:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nothing to do w/the POLL, its the LV screen at iss (0+ / 0-)

      ue, which produces a 7 pt swing from BO win to 1% big win, a result not supported by other national or state polls.

      Its as if 5 accountants had the same #, and all but 1 crunched them and concluded you owe taxes, but the last not only says you don't, it insists you're getting a refund!  If that result is contra the raw data and the result of an 'adjustment' none of the other accountants make, you might want to reconsider before risking tax fraud, no?

      The Thug's 'unskewing' wasn't about how the pollsters intepreted the data but how they collected it.  Thus, they said, you don't have enough conservative or Thug voters, or whites, or 2 many whatevers.  One problem is that some of the identifiers (like party ID) were not fixed and unqiue (like race) but variable, so 'adjusting' by having more Thugs/cons would as likely created inaccuracies (indeed more likely, since they were insisting on midterm levels which never occcur in a P-election).  More imporantly, they changed the results by changing the data to what was needed to get their pre-judged results: the exact opposite of scientific method.  That is why it was rghtly ridiculed.

      BTW, the 74% white vote Gallup LV assumes is most likely and easily proved too high.  74% was what is was in 2008, but it has been going down by a few % pts every P-election, it was 78% in 2004.  Given census data, it would not be surprising to see it at only 72% or lower this year.  

      Now, add to that the % of that white vote each candidate needs to win.  Is it co-incidence that 1%s campaign assumes 74% white and needs 61% of that?  And that is assuming it gets far more Hispanic votes than anyone shows it getting (something like 50% again more), and if it gets less non-white votes it needs more that 61% othe white.  Finally, consider that no candidate has recieved that % of white voters since Nixon in 72 and Reagan in 84.  Thugs didn't win 61% even in 2010.

      Perhaps 1% will defy history, the odds and present trends and get a 74% white electorate and win 61+% of that.  But assuming that is the most likely scenario, as Gallup's LV screen is, is not something supported by the actual data.

  •  ALL white racists support Romney (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All minorities support Obama.  From Gallup back in May;
    Gallup on whites and minorities

    Long term the demographics are not on the side of white racists.  And long term, younger white Americans who are less racist IMO will also make a difference.  But for the next two or three election cycles America and the world will keep being damaged by the distant echos of slavery that still resonate in the minds of so many.

    It's amazing to me that racism is still so prevalent.

    Put the white

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:24:13 PM PDT

  •  he may in the south (5+ / 0-)

    Romney needs to win the toss up states and he isn't getting 61% of white voters there.

  •  Your analysis under estimates BHO strengh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MadGeorgiaDem, majcmb1

    Over the past elections the minority vote percentage was 81, 77 and 74.  You follow normal progression and the percentage this year should be 70 or 71 percent, not 74.  That 3% difference is HUGE and is consistent with the changing demographic we are seeing.  The dull out assault of the Republicans will assure that turnout rates of minorities will be close to 2008.

  •  This is basically unskewing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you want to do it it's fine, but we dont' get to laugh when the other crazies on the right do it.

    Anyway, I do and h ope that minorities come out.  If minorities come out, nothing to worry about.  VA, OH, and NV would be guaranteed and that's the election right there.

    I thinK Plouffe's focus is on the right place. WE diarists and Kossites can focus on the national numbers, but I think the campaign themselves will deliver this year in GOTV.

    •  No It's Not. Demograhic Categories In A Poll Are (0+ / 0-)

      supposed to reasonably represent the actual mathematical proportions of the demographics of the city, state, or country that the poll is trying to assess.
      20 Questions Journalists Should Ask About Poll Results

      The method pollsters use to pick interviewees relies on the bedrock of mathematical reality: when the chance of selecting each person in the target population is known, then and only then do the results of the sample survey reflect the entire population. This is called a random sample or a probability sample. This is the reason that interviews with 1,000 American adults can accurately reflect the opinions of more than 210 million American adults.
      The unskewing the Wingers were doing was based upon the alleged oversampling of Dems vs. Rs. Self-reported party affiliation is not a characteristic like sex, race, or age and the only way to know the percentage of Dems:Rs is to ask.  

      If more people report themselves as Dems that is evidence that pollsters collect that may reflect current attitudes towards a party but it is not a sampling error in a poll that samples the right proportions of men women, and age cohorts.  The more Dems trend is currently being borne out by the increased Dem registrations being reported state by state.

      •  I agree with you... (0+ / 0-)

        Party ID is mutable, but highly unlikely that someone will self-identify as Hispanic in one poll and white in another!  Or male in one and female in another.  This doesn't seem to me to be the same as trying to "unscewing" vis-a-vis party identification.

  •  Alan Abramowitz has a post on this topic out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  Thanks For The Link. IIRC Nate Silver Has Also (0+ / 0-)

      commented on the RV polls being more reliable.

      In 2010, the same large gap was evident in Gallup's polling and in the end the actual Republican margin in the House elections was considerably closer to Gallup's results for registered voters than to its results for its likely voters. It is entirely possible that the same thing is happening this year.
  •  well stated- LV and Party ID suck big time (0+ / 0-)

    with Gallup. They are intentionally dishonest. As election day gets closer they will modify so as not to embarrass themselves.

  •  Romney losing = end of the Southern Strategy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Another reason that I want Obama to win.  In 2016 a Southern Strategy would have to get something like 65% or 66% of the total white vote given demographic shifts.  It just becomes untenable as an electoral strategy.

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 02:04:07 PM PDT

  •  Lets look at voter the flip side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

      Aside from being White and getting the racist vote aside from getting the 1% vote just who has a reason to feel up about voting for Mitt?
         Can anti Abortion GOPers a huge block be happy with Mitt's flip flopping on their biggest issue?
         Can Ron Paul supporters be happy with the way Ron Paul was ignored at the GOP convention Clint Eastwood got to speak to an empty chair on Prime Time TV but Ron Paul was ignored.
       Ron's voters are a small chunk of the GOP but they were very vocal and energetic if they stay home the GOP loses maybe 1% of their vote.
         Does anyone think that Mitt can motivate social conservative voters to go out and vote?

  •  I think it's impossible to scrutinize the Gallup (0+ / 0-)

    poll.  They vary sample sizes and regions and their LV screen is very, very arbitrary.  Best thing to do is do what Nate Silver implied (but did not outright state):  look at it for cosmetic purposes, but if you want to know what's really going on in the race exclude it from your calculations and averages.

    Alternative rock with something to say:

    by khyber900 on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 05:29:15 PM PDT

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