Obama opens widest lead

Byline: | Category: 2012 | Posted at: Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Proof of Barack Obama’s last-minute surge came from National Journal’s latest poll today.  He leads by 5 points, his widest margin of any national poll since the first debate.  And for only the second time in that same period the incumbent has hit the magic 50%

Of course, there’s this:

In its likely-voter model, the Congressional Connection Poll projected that the 2012 electorate will be virtually unchanged from 2008, with Democrats holding an 8 percentage-point advantage among voters (compared with 7 points last time) and whites representing 73 percent of voters (compared to 74 percent last time).

It was actually 76% if you accept the Census figures instead of the exit polls.  Nonetheless, now Nate Silver isn’t out alone on his limb. 

But if you really believe that youth are more likely to vote this year, that there will be no dropoff in minority participation, and that after four years of Barack Obama as President, Republicans are as unenthused about Mitt Romney as they were about John McCain, then this poll probably gives you some comfort.


The RCP Average is now tied.  A few grains of salt:

1.  The National Journal poll is now in the mix.  It is an outlier by four points from any of the other polls in terms of its spread.  It shows the second lowest Romney portion of the vote and the highest percentage that Obama has received of any poll in a couple weeks.  Without this poll in the mix, instead of the race tied at 47.6, it would be Romney 47.9 to Obama 47.3.  That’s why it’s a good thing to remove outliers if you’re going to do an average of polls.  Remember, even when you do polling correctly, you still get it wrong one time out of ten.  Removing outliers removes their influence from the result.

2.  The National Journal poll of 713 likely voters is a relatively small sample for a national poll.  Even more troubling is that it comes from a pool of 1,010 adults.  That means that 71% of the adult population contacted was queried for this “likely voter” poll.  Since 1972, turnout has never been that high.  In 2008 only about 62% of the voting age population showed up to vote.  Usually turnout is in the high-50s.  71% is unreasonably high.

3.  The poll was conducted from the 25th through the 28th.  Three of those four nights were weekends, and that skews the results.  In fact, with polling conducted over four days, I’m having trouble understanding why so few respondents. 

4.  Finally, the last night of polling was the 28th of October, hours before Sandy hit the coast.  From here on out, I’m not sure what to think about national polling, given the effects of the storm on such a large swath of a very populated portion of the nation.  I suspect that it is going to give us screwy samples for another day or two.

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One Response to “Obama opens widest lead”

  1. Lorenz Gude Says:

    Well, thanks – this brings some clarity to what is going on to cause the sudden tie. Who knows if it is a positive or negative development. It may enthuse Dems and discourage Reps. Or given that Dem confidence and therefore complacency is perhaps higher per your past explanation of Intrade, it will scare the dickens of of Reps and get more of them crawling across that famous broken glass to vote. That said your analysis leaves the possibility open that these new polls show some sign of manipulation which fits my suspicion that the MSM is just using polling as another tool to control the narrative. On the other hand it closes the discrepancy between the state and national polls and may be real. Or it may be a bit of both.