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EDIT:  I kind of buried the lede, I think, so I'm presenting it here in a revised  intro/headline:

In fact, every single newly registered voter that Team Obama has signed up, anywhere in the country, over the past couple of years is automatically disqualified as a Likely Voter under Gallup's methodology.
There's a surge happening, President Obama's support is solidifying in swing states, stabilizing nationally, with a probable margin of about 4% to 5% over Romney (52-47) on the horizon.  Ohio is solid, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Iowa as well, and odds are starting to favor Virginia, Colorado, and New Hampshire, with an outside shot at North Carolina.  Why?  Well, because a majority of Americans, and of voters, approve of the President, distrust Mitt Romney and the Republicans, and want to keep Barack Obama in the White House.

What might stop that from happening?  If Democratic voters don't show up at the polls.  If a big chunk of those out there who want and intend to vote for President Obama decide to be lazy, stay home, and blow off the election, while Republican Romney supporters faithfully carry out their electoral duties.

That's what the Gallup organization thinks will happen.  More precisely, Gallup employs a methodology that inherently assumes that a large portion of the electorate will stay away from the polls, even including many who tell them that they fully intend to vote.  Much has been said about Gallup's heavily conservative (in more ways than one) Likely Voter vs. Registered Voter methods and results, but I haven't seen any detailed discussion of exactly how Gallup applies its LV screen, and how it systematically excludes a great many people who are, in fact, highly "likely" to vote for the President.

I'll explain on Page 2.

Gallup's website helpfully provides a complete explanation of the method they use to screen LVs from RVs in their telephone interviews.  In summary, they ask respondents 7 questions.  Only those who give the "right" answer on 6 or 7 of those questions (with a few exceptions) are considered "likely" to vote.  Even a score of 5 out of 7 gets you kicked out of their LV results.

What are the LV screen questions?  To paraphrase:

1.  How much have you thought about the election?
2.  Do you know where to vote? (exception for mail-in voters)
3.  Have you voted in this precinct before?
4.  How often do you vote?
5.  Do you plan to vote this year?
6.  How likely are you to vote this year?
7.  Did you vote in 2008? (exception for age 21 and under)

Notice, then, how this can work.  You can be the most enthusiastic, dedicated voter in town, but you could still easily be kicked out of Gallup's LV pool.  For example:

Q2:  "Well, I just moved to this precinct, so I haven't found out where the polling place is yet.
Q3:  "Like I said, no I just moved here, so I haven't voted here before.
Q4:  "Sure, I always voted in my previous address"
Q5: "Yes, I'm definitely going to vote!"
Q6: "Totally sure, 10 on a scale of 10, I'll be voting!"

GONG!  Nope, sorry, you're not a Likely Voter, you failed questions 2 and 3.  How many thousands of Obama voters (especially young people, poor people, inner city folks) fit this description?

Another example:

Q1: "I think about the election every day, I read Daily Kos religiously."
Q2: "Sure, I know exactly where to vote, I've got it all staked out."
Q3: "Well, no, actually I just registered to vote this year, because I got fired up about the state of our country."
Q4:  "Well, I haven't voted before, because I just registered, but now I'm totally excited about voting for the first time."
Q5-6:  "I'm definitely, absolutely, unequivocally going to vote, for sure!"
Q7: "Um, didn't you hear what I said before?"

BEEP!  Another response for the RV scrap heap!  This one only scored a 4 ... total non-voter.  In fact, every single newly registered voter that Team Obama has signed up, anywhere in the country, over the past couple of years is automatically disqualified as a Likely Voter under Gallup's methodology.

It turns out, you see, that Gallup's "Likely Voter" screen isn't really trying to measure people's "likelihood" of voting; it's measuring consistency of voting.  Those who have been living in the same place, voting in race after race, are not only the "most likely" to vote, under this method, they're treated as the only ones who will vote.  

Other pollsters are less obnoxiously convoluted in their methods: they generally just ask "do you plan to vote?" and one or two other questions, and accept voters' stated intentions as a reasonable proxy for their likely behavior.  Gallup is trying to second-guess people's own assertions, by adding other hurdles: "Sure you say you're going to vote, but you didn't vote last time, did you? So why should we believe you this time?"

The net effect is clearly a bias in favor of demographics that lean Republican, particularly older, higher income voters, and those who stay in one place, and a huge bias against newly registered voters.  Even if their screen correctly excludes a significant portion of potential voters who might indeed fail to show up on election day, this method doesn't leave any room whatsoever for those on their blacklist who actually will get out and vote.  They apply no gradient of probability, no proportions: you're either in or out.

We've all seen the results.  Gallup's LV tracking poll figures don't measure the true "likely" vote intentions or outcomes.  They measure, at best, a worst-case, lowest turnout scenario, that inherently favors Republican fortunes.

What is "likely" to happen?  The actual vote tallies will further tarnish Gallup's sinking reputation.  And President Obama will be in office for another four years.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (33+ / 0-)

    Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

    by dnta on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 08:54:26 PM PDT

  •  I'm not an Unskewerer (19+ / 0-)

    really, I'm not.  But I do pay a lot of attention to statistics, and I've done quite a lot of modeling and market analysis, and when the numbers are consistently and curiously off-kilter, I like to find out why.  In this case, the findings are unmistakeable.  So I couldn't resist reporting them.

    Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

    by dnta on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 08:56:29 PM PDT

  •  WTF?... (9+ / 0-)
    More precisely, Gallup employs a methodology that inherently assumes that a large portion of the electorate will stay away from the polls, even including many who tell them that they fully intend to vote.
    So Gallup just marks up a certain percentage of their contacts as liars, & calculates their polling data taking into account "the bullshit element."

    This approach tops the unskewed poll nut.

    No wonder Gallup's numbers are bullshit.

    "You just gotta keep on livin man! L-I-V-I-N!" - Wooderson

    by wyvern on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 09:03:27 PM PDT

  •  Texas is voting (5+ / 0-)

    Mail in ballots are running 15% above 2008 numbers and in person voting is up 3% over 2008 numbers even considering the increase in registrations.

    That is a sign that voters, and probably Republicans based on jump in mail in votes, are voting even though there isn't an active GOTV effort here.

    I ran the numbers bases on the data from Texas' SOS.

    I, for one, have no problem being led by a 3500 year old Pharaoh who was trained by space aliens on a distant star.

    by Tomtech on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 09:06:32 PM PDT

  •  Thank you I've been trying to explain it.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dnta, FiredUpInCA, madhaus

    but you hit it exactly its actually skewing results they think they want to show.  

    No jobs yet Mr Boner....your times running out.

    by Camp on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:11:30 PM PDT

    •  Yeah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA, KiB

      I can't imagine why they would want to deliberately exclude ALL newly registered voters.  That's just sloppy and intellectually dishonest.  At worst, they could apply some percentage or grading scale to "unlikely" voters, rather than just eliminate them all.

      Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

      by dnta on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:27:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The bigger problem is early voting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike

    Apparently these companies ask if you plan to vote on election day.

    If you have already voted the answer is no. So they hang up.

    So what we have is a situation where as more and more Democrats cast early votes, less and less Democrats are being included in poll samples. Since we are absolutely KILLING IT in early voting Dems are more likely to be excluded from polling.

    Even though the whole point of polling is to predict what the end result will be on election day, not predict how people who wait until election day will vote.

    It seems like a horrible oversight to just exclude people who have already voted. And I think this is why you see such a big gap between registered and likely voter screens. People are not likely to vote on Election day if they have already voted. But they are registered to vote.

    I think they need a third screen where they ask if you have already voted and then never call that person again, eventually with a enough polls they can know exactly who is REALLY ACTUALLY IN REALITY leading the race well before Election day.

    We lose if we choose to forget; the lives of men, and money spent.

    by DeanDemocrat on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:22:06 PM PDT

    •  Actually Gallup counts early voters (5+ / 0-)

      They do treat those who vote early as voters, in their LV screen.  But they don't adjust their other factors to account for early voters who otherwise would be screened out.  Many early voters fit the characteristics of those whom Gallup considers "unlikely", but they don't care.

      Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

      by dnta on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:25:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's crazy not to count an early voter (0+ / 0-)

        who has already voted as a LV regardless of how they answer the other questions but apparently the fact that you have already voted doesn't prevent you from being excluded by Gallup.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 02:02:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Checked the web site myself (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sewaneepat

          Because this seemed crazy.

          They do ask, and they do give people who have already voted a perfect score of 7 on the Likely Voter screen.  So they are included in Likely Voters.

          "He not busy being born is busy dying" -- Bob Dylan

          by Kascade Kat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 02:22:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Posted to Facebook with your lede at the top (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dnta

    Thanks. Nice to have an explanation for this phenomenon. By their methodology I'm a marginally likely voter.  I moved this past year. Were it not for the fact that Oregon has mail-in I would not have had the answer yet to where my polling place is located as that is not something I would tend to be concerned with until election week. Yes, their Likely Voter screen in GOP-biased bullshit.

    Oh, and not only am I likely to vote, I already have. I wonder if they'd kick you out for missing two questions even if you've already voted ...

    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

    by kbman on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:40:33 PM PDT

  •  But... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, fumie

    It is true.
    Studies show the freshly registered voters turn out at a rate of about 40% (I read this 20 years ago, so I can't quote the data).

    A "Likely Voter" is one that says, "Voted in every election the past 24 years except when I was too sick to get out of bed in 1992".

    What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, Anger, discontent and drooping hopes... Life is too strong for you-- It takes life to love Life

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:54:38 PM PDT

    •  And that's the point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brooklyns finest, KiB, Calamity Jean

      Gallup doesn't count 40% of those newly registered voters, it counts 0%.  So they are guaranteed to miss a huge number of actual voters.

      Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set... -- Gandalf

      by dnta on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:28:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        I met a large number of first time voters who I suspect will be voting.  It's absurd to discount them completely.   This totally disqualifies Gallup's LV model.

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 06:21:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't a "Likely Voter" (for this election) (0+ / 0-)

      also include people who have already voted regardless of their answers to any other questions?  After all, the likelihood that they will vote in this election is 100% since they already did it.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 02:04:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Checked the web site myself. (0+ / 0-)

        People who state that they have already voted do get an automatic Perfect Score (7 points) on this screen.

        So they are counted as Likely Voters.

        However, people who miss two questions do not qualify, if they don't state that they have already voted.

        "He not busy being born is busy dying" -- Bob Dylan

        by Kascade Kat on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 02:20:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sheesh, that's dumb. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW
          However, people who miss two questions do not qualify, if they don't state that they have already voted.
          Their accuracy would take a big jump if they just started with "Have you already voted?" after early voting starts.  The questionnaire shouldn't depend on people volunteering that they early-voted.  

          Renewable energy brings national global security.     

          by Calamity Jean on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 08:29:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is not necessairly the case. Is the criteria (0+ / 0-)

          that they answer yes to at least 5 out of 7 questions or that they answer no to 2 or more of those 7 questions because there is a difference.  As an example, you have an early voter (7 out of 7 yes answers due to the automatic scoring) who misses 3 out of the 7 questions so out of 7 questions you have 7 "yeses" and 3 "nos".  In such a case it is entirely possible that they are not considered a likely voter depending on how their system is written.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 01:52:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  way too narrow (0+ / 0-)

      If that's the case then your LV sample would be extremely small.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 06:20:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's very possible (0+ / 0-)

    That Gallup's RV Model is the right one compared to the LV model.

  •  That is total trash (0+ / 0-)

    Question 5-6 is good enough otherwise you eliminate all first time voters which is quite silly.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 06:19:26 AM PDT

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