Part I: Obama optimism: why it is unfounded

Byline: | Category: 2012 | Posted at: Friday, 26 October 2012

A smart friend wondered today why Intrade still expects an Obama win even when the national poll numbers are slipping away from him.  It’s a good question that I’ll attempt to answer in two parts.  The first part is about why Obama optimism is unfounded.  (The second part is here.)

First let’s look at the Cook Partisan Voting Index in the chart below.  I’ve arranged each state numerically by PVI from most Democratic Washington DC to GOP stronghold Utah.  The third column is that state’s electoral votes.  The last column is the running total of EV.  (As an aside, since Colorado is the only state with a PVI of zero and its 9 electoral votes include the one that get either candidate to 270, this is why it is highly unlikely that a spread in the popular vote by much more than a point will present a situation where the overall vote winner doesn’t also win at least 270 electoral votes.) 

pvi_2.png

Compare where the last two weeks of the election was fought four years ago with where it is being contested today.  Most of the remaining swing states in 2012 are on the Democratic side of Colorado, which serves kind of like a 50-yard line marker.  One could quibble at the margin over this list of states.  For example, four years ago McCain went into Pennsylvania late in the race when he saw that Ohio was shutting down on him and this year there is some indication that the race is about to extend into Michigan and Minnesota.  However, there’s no question that the current race has shifted up the scale of states in the favor of Republicans.  Four states where Obama marched strongly into the opponent’s territory four years ago (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) are on nobody’s list of possible Obama wins this time. 

Consider also what the PVI means.  It is the amount by which a state is more or less Republican than the national average.  If for example, Barack Obama wins nationally by two points, we should expect him to get most states with a PVI of less than two.  If current national polls (according to the RCP average) are accurate, then Mitt Romney leads by about one point.  That means that if every state follows its partisan leanings, then Iowa and Nevada are on the bubble to flip to the Republican side.  That leaves Barack Obama to fight an upstream battle that requires him to keep those two states, plus either Colorado, which is one point more Republican than the spread, or Ohio, which is one point more Republican still. 

As an example, imagine that in 2008 Barack Obama had narrowly lost Ohio, and that every state shifted right by 4.6% (the amount by which he secured the Buckeye State).  That would have kept Florida, North Carolina, and Indiana in McCain’s column.  But still, it wouldn’t have mattered.  Obama would have won Colorado and Virginia and a total of 291 electoral votes.

Yes, Ohio probably goes with the ultimate winner, but because the list of remaining contested states has shifted north from four years ago, that means that Mitt Romney does indeed have more paths to victory available to him.  In fact, if yesterday’s polls are accurate, Romney has a lead of three points.  Sure, Obama may still win Ohio through the brute strength of his ground game there, but it probably won’t help.  To win overall, he will also have to hold onto another 61 electoral votes from the 7 Democratic-leaning states that that have a PVI greater than the national margin of 3 points.  That’s a lot of territory to defend.

***

One of the primary sources of Democratic optimism springs from Nate Silver, a former sabremetrician and blogger.  Four years ago he built a complex mathematical model that correctly predicted 49 of 50 state outcomes in the presidential race.  From his higher perch now at the New York Times, he confidently predicts that Obama has a 73.1% chance of winning and that he is likely to take about 294 electoral votes.  Read the comments on blogs both right and left; Democrats wield Silver’s predictions like a crucifix in front of a vampire of contrary poll results.  The headline in today’s (London) Telegraphfor example, adoringly calls him “the geeky statistician who is singlehandedly dismantling the myth of Mitt-mentum.” 

The first crack in Silver’s statistical prognostications appeared in 2010 when his early projections significantly undercounted Republican gains in the House.  Eleven days before the election he predicted that there was a 70% chance that Republicans would gain less than 60 seats.  They won 63.  That alone should be enough to remind observors that there shouldn’t be so much certitude about Silver’s 70% predictions a week and-a-half away from a vote.

But there’s another problem with Silver’s model; and it’s a problem that a sabremetrician should most studiously attempt to avoid:  It is based on the wrong statistic.

Sabremetrics is a portmanteau derived from a nearly 20 40-year old group known as the Society for American Baseball Research.  SABR sits at the intersection of mathematics and sports and its overwhelming desire is the search for the perfect measure of success.  These are the guys that found that instead of tracking batting averages or runs batted in, a far more accurate predictor of offensive baseball success is OPS: on-base percentage plus slugging.  (Moneyball, the story of Billy Beane’s use of sabremetric-like statistics to create a winning ball club in a small market team, is a great read on this subject.)

Silver’s model relies heavily on one metric:  the spread between candidates–and especially on the spread in state level polling.  There is a problem with both parts of that and with the model itself.

First, the model.  Most good time-series mathematical modeling is validated against past events in order to predict future unknowns.  Furthermore, greater weight is given to more recent events when verifying the model.  That is usually the smart way to model a problem–except, that is, when the recent event with the greatest weight happens to be an historical outlier.  The 2008 presidential election was an outlier.  It was the first election since 1952 when there was neither an incumbent president nor a sitting vice president on the ballot.  Since it was a contest unencumbered by incumbency, late-breaking undecideds were not predisposed by external factors to break one way or the other.  Going into election day, the RCP average showed about a 7-point lead for Obama over McCain and that’s the way it ended up on election day.  In other words, late-breakers broke to each side in about the same proportion as the decided portion of the electorate.  However, when there is an incumbent on the ballot, it is uncommon for him to get the late-breaking vote.  Look at the the chart from 2004 below:

2004.jpg

After John Kerry gained points at George W. Bush’s expense during the first debate, and after John Kerry gave some of those points away when he made a stupid third-debate remark about Dick Cheney’s daughter being a lesbian, we see a distinct pattern over the last two weeks of the race.  Bush’s numbers are stuck.  Meanwhile, the challenger John Kerry saw significant gains from his depths four days after the last debate.  In the last two weeks of the 2012 race we should expect to see a similar pattern.  Why?  Why not.  So far we have seen a similar pattern between the Bush-Kerry race and the Obama-Romney race all the way up to this point.  Here’s the same chart, but with both the 2004 and 2012 races superimposed.  They are almost identical in shape for both incumbent and challenger. 

2004v2012ver3.jpg 

Furthermore, the pattern of this race bears no resemblance at all to what occurred in 2008.  Therefore, there is nothing up to this point that would lead us to believe that 2008 is a good predictor for today.

Nate Silver’s model tells you where the race is. (More accurately, his model tells you where the race was, as data is usually about 2-7 days old.)  But it doesn’t account for where the race is going.  In 2008 that wasn’t a problem as late-breakers broke proportionately.  However, two weeks before the 2004 election, Silver’s model would have underestimated the challenger’s gains, just as his model underestimated the gains of Republican House challengers two years ago.  His is not a dynamic model that takes into account historical patterns and thus, it is unable to project future results.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad model, so long as you keep in mind the limitation that he produces a snapshot of the recent past and not a vision of the future.  Based on the most recent historical precedent for the 2012 election, Barack Obama is not in good shape when he is already behind a challenger who hasn’t yet seen his late-breaking surge.

But there is another problem with Silver’s model.  By relying so heavily on the spread between candidates to predict results, it misses the point that not all spreads are the same.  An incumbent with a two-point lead who is sitting at 49 points is in much better shape than an incumbent with the same two-point lead but who is at 45.  The incumbent’s level of support, not the spread, is the most important metric in a re-election race.  That is because it tells you how safe the incumbent is from the effects of a last-minute surge.  On that metric, Barack Obama is not safe at all.  Since at least 2010, when the creation of Obamacare led the news, Barack Obama has struggled with his support, only briefly breaking the 50% barrier. 

rasmussen.jpg

Even more alarmingly for the President, dissatisfaction is both strong and stable while his support has been lukewarm.  Rasmussen has polled the level of those who strongly aprove of the President and those who strongly disapprove.  It’s not a pretty picture for the President. 

rasmussen2.jpg 

Rasmussen shows that for a long time well over 40% of the electorate has strongly disapproved of the President, but only about 30% now strongly approve.  Neither the support for the incumbent nor the strength of it appears to be a metric in Nate Silver’s model.  Therefore, the over-reliance on the spread as a predictor of success makes for a model that doesn’t account for hard ceilings and soft support.  If you were a well-funded challenger, where would you rather be two weeks before an election:  4 points behind an incumbent stuck at 47%, or 2 points behind an incumbent at 49?  Even worse for Obama, is that he is stuck at 47 and already behind.

The final problem with Nate Silver’s model is its over-reliance on open-source state polling.  Good polling is very expensive.  That is why so few organizations do it well.  Furthermore, even those who do polling well, don’t do it the same way for all clients.  As an Army analyst, I have hired one of the major national polling companies to conduct recurring nationwide polling of a sufficiently large sample size to get statistically meaningful state level results.  The cost:  $11 million.  Sure, that was in Iraq and not the United States, but labor costs there are much less than here.  Nonetheless, I bring this up to point out that a good poll of the scope and scale necessary to derive national level results from state level input costs more money than even the largest media organizations can afford.  Only the campaigns themselves have the kind of money to do polling right.  All the publicly-released polls cut corners in order to do it on a budget.  They use small sample sizes, and loose voter screens.  Nor do they go back and check sample responses against the answers from a sample of non-responders.  That’s why at the state level you get wide variability and large swings in most polls.

The optimism that Obama’s supporters project is unfounded in hard data and historical precedent.  Against the numbers, his fans point to GOTV, state polls that buck the national norm, and magical statisticians who assure them that all is well.  The only thing missing is the inevitable last minute appeal to the ghost of Harry S. Truman.

Barring an unprecedented shift, Barack Obama is unlikely to win the popular vote.  That alone is enough to place him in an electoral disadvantage, worthy of no higher than a 50-50 chance.  But still, there they are: Democrats and Intraders and their irrational exuberance. 

Tomorrow, Part II will explore the reasons why the reality-based community is having trouble coming to grips with their reality.

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49 Responses to “Part I: Obama optimism: why it is unfounded”

  1. Instapundit » Blog Archive » BOB KRUMM: Part I: Obama optimism: why it is unfounded…. Says:

    [...] BOB KRUMM: Part I: Obama optimism: why it is unfounded. [...]

  2. crosspatch Says:

    I would say to buy Romney and take all the free money someone is willing to give you.

  3. Michael Barger (@MichaelBarger1) Says:

    This is a stunning and convincing analysis. I hope it is widely read (and widely ignored by Democrats :-) )

  4. Brett Bellmore Says:

    “Tomorrow, Part II will explore the reasons why the reality-based community is having trouble coming to grips with their reality.”

    Because “reality based community” is like “democratic people’s republic”; Nobody who really was one would bother to call themselves one.

    Ed: Brett, I may steal that line!

  5. Tim maguire Says:

    Thank you for doing this post. I’ve wondered for weeks about Intrade–it’s supposed to cut through the partisan bunkum by making people put their money where their mouth is, and traditionally it’s done a pretty good job. But this time it seems to ignore all evidence to insist that Obama continues to be a strong favorite and I’ve been wondering why.

    I’ve also noticed that Romney gains are temporary while Obama gains are persistent. So if something good comes from Obama, his numbers go up and stay up, but if something good comes from Romney, the bounce is temporary–as time passes, and for no apparent reason, Obama’s numbers will creep back up again.

    Maybe Intrade players are reading left-wing blogs and are convinced by Silver.

    As for Silver, I think he’s the best in the business at number crunching, but he’s also a run-of-the-mill partisan hack. So his analysis of where the numbers are is usually spot on, but his interpretation of the larger implications is hardly worth reading (perhaps you’ve here hit on the specific reason why). It surprises me though that someone as smart as Silver has such effective blinders.

  6. Moe Lane » I happen to agree with David Axelrod. Says:

    [...] The trajectory of the race is set.  The problem here for David Axelrod is that after the first debate his candidate was aiming for the ground, and three debates were not sufficient to level him out.  The open question of American politics right now is: what will Obama hit first?  The tree canopy, or the mountains? [...]

  7. MarkJ Says:

    The only fault I can find in the above piece is that you incorrectly stated the middle initial in President Truman’s name: it was always just “S” (with no period following). As one source states, Harry’s parents chose “S” merely to please both his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. The S did not otherwise stand for anything, which was a common practice among the Scots-Irish.

  8. Robin Says:

    Soooo…….somebody do some quick math. If I buy 30 shares at $3.69…….what do I get if Romney wins? And what do I lose if Romney loses??

  9. DH Says:

    The U.S. has online gambling restrictions that make it difficult to transfer funds to and from Intrade. As a result, I suspect most of the action comes from people outside the U.S. — i.e., people less knowledgable about the race who get their information from the foreign press. This press is even more Obama-loving than the American media.

    That’s my hypothesis. Are there any publicly available data on the national origin of Intrade money that could refute or confirm it?

  10. Roy Lofquist Says:

    SABR works for baseball because that world does not change. The bases have been 90 feet apart for 100 years. About the only thing that changes is the height of the pitcher’s mound. It is a constrained, predictable world.

    The real world, where elections are held, is a wild beast – war, pestilence, famine, unemployment … It is chaotic. It is unpredictable. It is human.

    I’ve been watching US elections since 1952. This is one of those wild times that happen every generation or so. I have been expecting a Republican blowout since November, 2010.

  11. Stephen Fredrick Says:

    Bob, I’m sad you wasted so much time and effort on this article. Well done but all irrelevant.

    I’m a professional floor trader in Chicago. Answer to Intrade question is simple: Soros controls the market.

    Two things you need to understand. One, Intrade is a freakishly small market. If it were a stock it would be delisted bc it’s so small. Second, to my knowledge, there are no position limits on Intrade. And if there are, Soros can easily work his way around them.

    Why does Soros care? If Romney was 75% bid on Intrade it would make the nightly news, it would be part of all general news coverage and it would discourage the leftist base.

    Keeping Obama 60-65% bid does the reverse. Liberal MSM outlets cite it and it undoubtedly discourages the GOP base.

    Soros was a player in 04. Early on Election Day Kerry was deemed a winner based on the Intrade bid. Watch for the exact same thing this time. Obama will reach 90% the night before and the day off.

    All early MSM election coverage on Election Day will loudly announce “it’s over, Obama is going to win. Just look at Intrade.”

    Don’t fall for it.

  12. Ambrose Says:

    “Reality based community” or, as I call them, the “community-based reality.”
    It differs from the “real” reality.

  13. Scaramouche Says:

    DH has a very good point. I did some research on how cumbersome it is to transfer funds to Intrade – which is located in Ireland. Personal checks have to clear before they are active. Cashier’s checks are costly for a person who is interested in just one or two contracts – say, the presidential race.

    There are also some anti-money laundering laws in Ireland that require account holders to submit proof of residency such as a utility bill.

    Intrade’s fee structure also changed from a per contract basis to a static monthly fee. This may have discouraged people from getting in and out over one event. If you simply left your money in waiting for another event you were interested in you would be dinged for monthly fees.

    The people at Intrade were quite open in answering my questions. I asked specifically about how many of their account holders are in the US thinking the same thing as DH. A great deal of their market comes from the US. But, I think the early money was on Obama and others wanting to get in the action may be just too pressed for time to sit down and go through all the steps. I am sure the consistency of the 60+ percent for Obama has also caused people to think twice.

    My guess if it were as easy to open an Intrade account as it is to donate to the Obama campaign the presidential election trade would be much closer to the US polls.

  14. vic Says:

    Intrade has the following problems- realted

    1. Volumes are too small, and as you said most of the volumes might be from mnon us sources.

    2. It is a lagging indicator. Watch carefully its trend. If you are a political junkie (I am, you will find that Intrade lags game altering events by 3-7 days or more.

  15. vic Says:

    Nate Silver:

    getting 49/50 states right really is not that big of a deal- I mean come on. plus he had access , apparently to internal Obama polls in 2008.

    he was pretty wrong in 2010.

    everything right now suggests a 3-5 or more diff in pop vote. I realy think rcp’s averaging methodology is flawed. they do a simple avg. so a poll with 70o from 5 days ago gets the same weight as a recent poll with 2700.

  16. vic Says:

    Gore wo0n pop vote by 0.5 % and lost

    a 3-5 % pop vote diff HAS to translate into a sign elc vote advantage

    even 1 % if we go by rcp

  17. Larwyn’s Linx: Ten Times Bigger than Watergate: Proof the President Lied About Benghazi? | Preppers Universe Says:

    [...] Report Raise Questions About Benghazi: TapperWatch Your Kids Around Obama Says NY PR Firm Owner: RWNPart I: Obama optimism: why it is unfounded: KrummDon’t Count Mourdock Out!: MorrisEconomyIt’s the Obonomy, Stupid!: SpenglerAverage [...]

  18. Jim Durbin Says:

    To add one more important point. Obama’s 2008 polling campaign was sharing it’s data with Nate Silver. That was an advantage no other pollster or aggregator had. his near perfect record was based on the best data out there, which is not mentioned when his record is touted.

  19. J Says:

    Intrade: 2 elections right, 98/100 states.
    538: 1 election right, 49/50 states.
    Princeton Election Consortium: 1 election right, off by a single electoral vote.

    Help me out guys! I want to believe! What’s Bob Krumm’s track record for electoral predictions?

  20. The Fop Says:

    There’s one thing Mr. Krumm is not taking into account, in regards to comparing this race to 2004, and that’s the role of Liberal media bias.

    In 2004, Undecided voters were much more likely to have made up their minds further away from election day, since the media spent four years hammering away at every story that would present Bush in a negative light.

    This time around, we have Undecided voters who have a gut feeling that Obama has done a poor job, yet the media has spent the past four years burying stories that present Obama in a negative light and doing everything in their power to prop him up. It’s seems logical that many of these Undecideds will wait until the last minute before finally deciding that they don’t want to take a chance on what another four years of Obama may bring.

    To a lesser extent, I believe that this is exactly what happened in 1980. The fact that Romney is polling better than Reagan was at this point in October of ’80, should be causing at least some pundits to have the guts to say that this election will be a blowout for Romney.

    The reluctance of established Conservative pundits to go any further than to say that they think Romney will “eek out” a win, shows the degree to which they suffer from Liberal media Stockholm Syndrome. Meanwhile, posters on sites such as HotAir and FreeRepublic are boldly predicting a Romney landslide.

    This Tea Party optimism verus Establishment cautiousness says a lot about the current state of
    of the Republican party. I’m confident that, just as in 2010, the Tea Partiers will drag the Establishment bed wetters over the finish line with them.

  21. Becky Says:

    I remember reading or seeing a smug little democratic operative insisting that the race would be won in Arizona. He said that no one was suspecting it, but Arizona is the state that would win the election for Obama.

    Didn’t Arizona recently manage to strike down (or get a stay) to allow “undocumented” voters to show up at the polls and vote? Given the number of people they can bus across the border, I’m surprised that GOP wasn’t listening the little dweeb.

  22. gchapman Says:

    intrade’s total dollar amount in its totality is 11 million dollars. It would take very little real money to game it.

  23. jimmyk Says:

    It is more difficult, and maybe illegal, for people in the US to trade, but I doubt foreigners on Intrade are much less informed than Americans. It’s the flawed polling and the media’s spin on it that is throwing off the market.

    Robin, you’ll lose $110.70 if Romney loses, you’ll net $189.30 if Romney wins (minus fees).

  24. Transterrestrial Musings - On The Irrational Exuberence Says:

    [...] ..of Intrade and the “reality-based” community. [...]

  25. HoratiusZappa Says:

    1. InTrade can be manipulated.
    2. InTrade bets represent a synthesis of information. The primary source of information is the collective media. For people overseas, interpreting the US media is an additional cultural/political hurdle. If media are wrong and interpretations are weak, InTrade bettors are wrong.

  26. crosspatch Says:

    Nate Silver is likely to be the laughingstock of this election cycle. He weights polls but rather consistently weights them according to how favorable they are for Obama. A poll less favorable to Obama gets a lower weighting. He will keep a poll favorable to Obama highly weighted long after the data has become “stale”.

    He got lucky in 2008 because of an overwhelming Democrat turnout at the polls validated his wishcasting. 2012 will see the opposite. We aren’t likely to see more than a D+2 turnout this time and it is likely it might even be R+1 or even.

    I believe even Rasmussen is overestimating D turnout at this point with a D+5 sample (and I heard he increased that yesterday to D+6). A serious “tell” here is this article by Gallup that actually belies the headline. Notice the last two rows in the table presented:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/158399/2012-electorate-looks-like-2008.aspx

    That is going to make all the difference in the world.

  27. Cornfed Says:

    Okay, somebody has to answer this for me, cuz my head is about to explode over this. I keep hearing all these polls criticized because they oversample democrats. But how would that happen?

    Do pollsters adjust or weight their raw numbers by partisan ID? In other words: When you see a poll that had a D+6 sample, for instance, did they adjust their sample to reflect that because that matches their turnout model? OR: Was the sample was D+6 because there were simply that many more Democrats that responded to the poll?

    If, in fact, that’s simply the % that answered the poll, then how do you make the argument that that won’t be a realistic picture of each party’s turnout this election?

    Pls chime in. I need to understand this. Thanks!

  28. Don Edwards Says:

    The Instapundit market on this election is really puny compared to what is being spent on the campaigns themselves. Think about what it would cost someone who wants to promulgate an “air of inevitability” to go long on Obama winning the election, by 10% of market volume, every day for three months. I think that amount – the three-month total – is roughly equivalent to the official Obama campaign’s spending per day. But there are lots of other groups spending money in support of Obama as well, some of them quite well-funded, and money spent in this specific manner would not register as a campaign contribution.

    I am not saying anyone IS deliberately manipulating the InTrade market for this purpose. But it certainly makes no sense to assume it isn’t happening.

    (By the way, similar manipulation in favor of Romney would be even less expensive. But if anyone’s doing that, they don’t seem to be doing a very effective job of it.)

  29. mockmook Says:

    Baseball stats are objective.

    Polling is subjective and has large error bands.

    So, I don’t put much stock in “scientific” analysis of polls.

  30. Aaron Says:

    @Cornfed

    There are a few polls (Rasmussen comes to mind) that weight partisan ID based on internally developed turnout models. That is one reason why Rasmussen’s polls tend to be more stable over time than Gallup.

    For other pollsters, it tends to be whoever ends up in the sample when they call. They do weight their samples by demographic factors like age and sex, but they do not weight by partisan ID. Many pollsters consider partisan weighting to be a dubious practice, since part of the purpose of polls is to figure out which party people are leaning to.

    Rasmussen has his own defense of partisan weighting, which you could look up. I think either approach is defensible, and it is up to the consumer of polls to understand the effects each approach have on the result.

    As for why polls that don’t weight partisan ID might run into problems, the main problem is that they might be capturing the sentiments of people who ultimately won’t vote. If the non-voter segment is significantly different from the voter segment, keeping them in the sample will bias the results. And it has typically been true that non-voters tend to be more Democratic.

  31. Dinocrat » Blog Archive » Interesting analysis of polling in the current election cycle Says:

    [...] Bob Krumm: Most good time-series mathematical modeling is validated against past events in order to predict future unknowns. Furthermore, greater weight is given to more recent events when verifying the model. That is usually the smart way to model a problem–except, that is, when the recent event with the greatest weight happens to be an historical outlier. The 2008 presidential election was an outlier. It was the first election since 1952 when there was neither an incumbent president nor a sitting vice president on the ballot. Since it was a contest unencumbered by incumbency, late-breaking undecideds were not predisposed by external factors to break one way or the other. Going into election day, the RCP average showed about a 7-point lead for Obama over McCain and that’s the way it ended up on election day. In other words, late-breakers broke to each side in about the same proportion as the decided portion of the electorate. However, when there is an incumbent on the ballot, it is uncommon for him to get the late-breaking vote. [...]

  32. RM3 Frisker FTN Says:

    Nine jurisdictions have enacted a law that awards their electoral college votes to the person who wins the popular vote. This is called the “National Popular Vote” law. Consequently, if Romney wins the popular vote, then he will also ‘win’ the approx 130 electoral votes associated with Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, DC, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii.

    I am anxious for something like this to happen, because it will “leave a mark” on the backside of the progressive movement with respect to their obvious attempts to undermine the founders’ peculiar wisdom gained from commercial experience, the Bible, Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy.

  33. William III Says:

    The wild card is vote fraud. The Democrats will be all-out this time to pack the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes. Will we worse than 1960. This is a frightening election.

  34. William III Says:

    The states with “National Popular Vote” laws avowedly award their electoral votes to the candidate garnering most votes nationwide, but it is phony. If Romney wins the popular vote but loses the nominal electoral vote, these states’ legislatures will, via emergency votes, switch their electoral votes back to Obama. This phony voting law is nothing more than a double-jeopardy disenfranchisement of Republicans whenever the national popular & electoral votes differ. It would end up going to the Supreme Court in a far uglier scenario than Y2000.

  35. William III Says:

    …pursuant to my previous post, it therefore follows that if Romney wins this election outright, and the “National Popular Vote” states therefore switch their electoral votes to Romney even though their own voters chose Obama, then the Republicans should vigorously challenge those electoral votes all the way to the Supreme Court. This fraudulent disenfranchising law should be overturned at this safe time, rather than waiting for a future election when the Democrats would use it to steal the election.

  36. William III Says:

    …further pursuant note, the “National Popular Vote” laws place the whole country hostage to massive voter fraud in safe Democrat states. In those states where Democrats hold all the levers of power, they could grossly inflate their own Democratic vote to North Korean levels in a bid to seize the national vote win. States who pass “National Popular Vote” laws are placing themselves in bondage to vote-thievery and gangsterism wherever it may occur in the USA. They are signing away their own constitutional voting rights.

  37. Phil Says:

    RM3 Frisker,

    Not exactly. Actually there have to be enough states in the compact that represent a majority of the votes before it is active, as far as I can tell. Happy if someone more knowledgeable than I lays this out.

  38. RNF123 Says:

    Just for the record, Michael Barone went to the same prep school as Mitt Romney and is a well known and proud Conservative. The oddsmakers still favor Obama and the electoral college favors him as well even if he wins the popular vote by a small margin.

  39. jimmyk Says:

    Cornfed,
    Most re-weight the sample to reflect their turnout models, especially in the registered voter polls in August-September. The problem is that those turnout models are based on past presidential elections. The “likely voter” polls usually do not re-weight, and that’s partly why they’ve shifted toward Romney.

  40. Will Undecided Voters Break Toward Romney? | News from around the world Says:

    [...] most interesting analysis of this phenomenon I’ve seen lately–and the most alarming for Obama [...]

  41. Cornfed Says:

    Thanks to all for your feedback on my question about weighting.

    FYI, here in Iowa, we had our door knocked on yesterday for a second time by Romney people. They really have the ground game going here, first time I remember that happening. They said that they came up here to Des Moines from Kansas — two van loads of canvassers. So, Romney is bringing in lots of people. Can’t say they’re not workin’ it!

  42. Tim Droogsma Says:

    Good read, bu I have a minor non-political quibble. You refer to the Society of American Baseball Research as a “nearly 20-year-old group.”

    When I moved to D.C. in 1987 (25 years ago), I was pleased to find myself attending church with Bob Davids, the founder of SABR, and I became a member. The organization was actually founded in 1971 by Davids, in a meeting at Cooperstown, N.Y., and has been providing baseball fans with great statistical analysis for more than 40 years.

  43. Demosthenes Says:

    William III, calm down. The NPV Compact would only go into effect when states holding at least 270 electoral votes between them had signed onto it. Currently, they are only at about half that number, so the NPV Compact will not be a factor in this election. If it ever gets ratified by enough states, then we can take it to the Supreme Court and get it overturned.

  44. Mitt’s the Likely One. - Token Conservative Says:

    [...] Instead, where is the campaigns’ Ground Zero? Most of all, Ohio, which is a slightly Republican-leaning state that Obama is clearly contesting, as is Romney. The others are New Hampshire, an old-line Republican state that has trended Democratic over the last decade due to an influx of Massachusetts residents seeking to escape the taxes and living expense of their home state and inflict them on their new home; Iowa and Wisconsin, long-time Democratic-leaning states (especially Wisconsin) that have recently been trending more Republican; Nevada, a Republican-leaning state in the past that has trended Democratic over the last decade due to an influx of California residents seeking to escape the taxes and living expense of their home state and inflict them on their new home; Colorado, a previously split state that has been trending slightly Democratic; and, if reports are correct, Pennsylvania, a Republican-leaning state in the past that has trended clearly Democratic in the past couple of decades. As to the last, I’ll believe in a GOP trend there when I see it. Obama carried all of those states in 2008. New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania voted Democratic in 2004, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania did so in 2000. When an incumbent is campaigning in such an array of previously-solid states, that is a campaign fighting for its life. [...]

  45. Lydia Says:

    Thanks. Now I understand why early voting is so critical to the Dems–they want to get ahead of the challenger last-two-weeks effect.

    “Meanwhile, the challenger John Kerry saw significant gains from his depths four days after the last debate. In the last two weeks of the 2012 race we should expect to see a similar pattern.”

  46. Dingbat Says:

    This is all well and good, except that the Nate Silver projection you cite regarding the 70% that Nate got wrong, he actually 80% for Republicans gaining heavily, which they did. So unless that is a massive mistake on your part or a deliberate misreading, the fact remains that Nate was right even in 2010.

    Ed: You cite the statistic in the first line of the below to buttress your case. However, winning the House only required the switch of about 40 seats in the GOP direction. Read the second line from Silver’s column written a week-and-a-half before election day:

    “Democrats have a 20 percent chance of holding the House — but Republicans have a 30 percent chance of winning at least 60 seats”

    A 30 percent chance of winning 60-plus seats is the same thing as a 70 percent chance of winning less than 60 seats. Back in the old days when you had to look up statistics from probability tables, for the sake of brevity, those tables went up only to 50%. That’s because the probability of A is equal to one minus the probability of not A.

    So is that a massive mistake or a deliberate misreading on your part?

  47. Mitt’s the Likely One, Part 2: The Intangibles - Token Conservative Says:

    [...] so in 2000. When an incumbent is campaigning in such an array of previously-solid states, that is a campaign fighting for its life. [UPDATE: And now it's Bill Clinton suddenly campaigning in Minnesota, as the polls show a narrow [...]

  48. Evor Glens Says:

    About InTrade:

    This is an off-shore outfit (Ireland) with long-lead times to transfer funds and open a trading account. They stopped taking applications from US residents in early October — IF the applicant intended to bet on the 2012 Presidential Election. What this means is that the InTrade odds we see now are based strictly on the betting behavior of exchange members who signed up prior to early October. If any American traders want to join and bet on Romney to win at this point, no dice.

    I am not sure exactly how to interpret this, but it is fair to say that any recent surge of interest to join InTrade and bet Romney will not be reflected in the current inTrade numbers being quoted on this, and many other websites. To some extent then, the numbers are less reliable as an indicator of broad sentiment in real-time; how much is anyone’s guess. FYI…

  49. Breakfast Links - Points and Figures | Points and Figures Says:

    [...] is Intrade predicting an Obama victory?  Markets are always smarter than singular [...]