The scenarios: 5-Gallup electorate poll is right

Byline: | Category: 2012 | Posted at: Monday, 5 November 2012

(With just one day left before tomorrow’s election, I foresee see five possible scenarios.  Each day leading up to Election Day, we have explored one of the scenarios.  This post is the fifth and last installment of the series.  Tomorrow morning we will predict which one will be the result.)

In a sense, Nate Silver was right all along.  The New York Times prognosticator assured us that elections were the sum of their parts.  It’s just that he focused on the wrong parts:  instead of looking at state races, he should have watched the underlying issues and demographics that were pulling Obama down.  The clues were out there:  13% of the President’s 2008 voters in one comprehensive poll defected the Republican way.  And there wasn’t much give back from the other side.  The “undertow” effect is what some people called it.  But after this performance, most just called it (and by exetension, President Obama) “the Big Suck.”

Those expressing enthusiastic support for President Obama had rarely been even within ten points of their enthusiastic opposites who expressed strong disapproval for the incument.  With 90% of his base locked up as “broken-glass voters,” Mitt Romney was free to fight for the vital middle ground as early as the first debate.  There he increased his lead.  Almost every poll leading up to the election found him winning independents by between 6 and 20 points.  As Dan McLoughlin noted a week before the race:

“If you averaged Obama’s standing in all the internals, you’d capture a profile of a candidate that looks an awful lot like a whole lot of people who have gone down to defeat in the past, and nearly nobody who has won.”

Meanwhile, in what should have sent up alarm bells across the land, Barack Obama’s campaign was diminished to arguing that it would win on the strength of its get-out-the-vote efforts with youth and minorities.  Second to mentioning Harry Truman, this is the last refuge of the losing side.  Almost never is depending on sporadic voters a recipe for success.  Even in 2008, Obama’s leads with those demographics only padded the margin he had already won because of his eight point lead with independents.  Falling precipitously from his earlier indy numbers, he and his acolytes should have known that calamity lay ahead

Most pollsters took a beating in predicting the race.  But that should have been expected too.  The last two times that a Republican challenged a Democratic incumbent (1996 and 1980) the polls overestimated Democratic support by 5.1 and 7.2 points.  And ’96 was not even in bad economic times.  

The biggest gap was not one of gender, but between the opinions of those who voted and those who did not.  Those most likely to vote–whites, property owners, investor class, church-goers, married, and the elderly–despised where Obama had taken the country by margins of sometimes more than 20 points.   Singles, minorities, and the youth still backed the President, but with diminished support and turnout from four years before.

The entire outcome hinged on who turned out to vote, and when only nine percent of the electorate wished to talk to pollsters, projecting who that was likely to be, became a fool’s errand.  But statisticians are not above being fooled.  A look at any one of those demographics–even the ones that still supported him–would have showed the President’s downward shift from four years before.  But it was too easy to weight bad samples toward a guesstimate of a turnout model instead.  Only Gallup got it right, and the result was nasty for Democrats.  They went from a 12-point advantage in party identification among likely voters in 2008, to a one-point disadvantage in just four years.

As for the outcome:  Romney by 53 to 46.  Wave or undertow, it didn’t matter.  Barack Obama won only 11 states and DC.  They were the few lone blue islands awash in a red sea.  The effect downticket was just as bad for Democrats.  They returned to the Senate holding only 43 seats (including 2 Independents).  Bob Menendez, weighed down by a prostitution scandal, was further hamstrung by a Democratic electorate that, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, had things to do other than vote while, fooled by the pollsters, they complacently expected a Democratic win.  In the House, the GOP returned to Washington with gains and a total of 250 seats.

Gallup was right.  A week before the race, early voter polling and actual early voter numbers showed a massive plunge in Democratic support–and this on top of Democratic expectations that they would lose on Election Day but win enough early votes to carry the election.  The fall was so dramatic that after the election, Democrats openly contemplated the notion that it was their ideas that were out of touch.


See all the scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Nate Silver is right

Scenario 2:  RCP is right

Scenario 3:  Rasmussen is right

Scenario 4:  Gallup tracking poll is right

Scenario 5:  Gallup electorate poll is right

And the prediction is . . .

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26 Responses to “The scenarios: 5-Gallup electorate poll is right”

  1. physics geek Says:

    Democrats openly contemplated the notion that it was their ideas that were out of touch.

    Thanks. I needed a laugh this morning.

    Ed: Admittedly, that line is far more unlikely than the electoral result contained within that scenario.

  2. sean braisted Says:

    Am I missing something? Didn’t Gallup just post a tie in the National poll? Couldn’t it be that they simply had an outlier poll that they adjusted during their time off?

    Ed: I’m looking for their last poll. Don’t yet see it online, and if Gallup follows its normal protocol, it will come out at 1300 Eastern.

  3. Instapundit » Blog Archive » BOB KRUMM: What If The Gallup Electorate Poll Is Right? Plus four other scenarios…. Says:

    […] KRUMM: What If The Gallup Electorate Poll Is Right? Plus four other […]

  4. Basil Says:

    I’m curious why this scenario would focus only on Gallup’s poll of the electorate. Isn’t Gallup’s poll based on a single month — October — of data? Obviously that is relevant, highly so, but Rasmussen has been tracking the partisan makeup of the electorate for several years, now, and that would seem relevant also. A couple of months ago, I did some analysis of the Rasmussen tracking, through August, and then updated it when the September numbers came out. I’ve been waiting for October numbers, but Rasmussen has not released anything yet. However, the Gallup data for October would confirm the trends I found through September.

    A picture says it all:

    Based on this, a month ago I predicted 53-47 for Romney. But I didn’t allow for the fact that the two principal candidates will not get all the votes, so I’ll accept your 53-46. But 377 EV’s for Romney? I’m betting on 338, closer to your “Gallup Tracking” scenario.

  5. Sean Braisted Says:

    Sorry, I was apparently looking at a Swing State poll.

  6. crypticguise Says:

    This is really a great blog. Interesting, and thought provoking. Of course I think this is going to be a Romney win, and he will get over 300 electoral votes and win the popular vote by 53 to 46 percent.. my prognostication and hope.

  7. @PurpAv Says:

    Democrat ideas are never out of touch. They were simply “explained” poorly.

  8. Lester Says:

    There is a saying in analytics. Garbage in. Garbage out.

    Records of baseball players are rigorous recorded and maintained.

    Polls are not rigorous data collection activities to put it mildly.

  9. Monday Morning Ketch-Up – Fired Up and Ready to Go! « Nice Deb Says:

    […] Bob Krumm writes a column as a retrospective, from after the election, looking back at all the reasons why Romney won — and why this outcome should not have taken people by surprise. […]

  10. winewife Says:

    Great post, fun read! The last line will keep me giggling all day :)

  11. 2012independent Says:

    Rasmussen’s Party ID projection for October 2012 is R+6.

  12. RealAmerican Says:

    I predict CA will go for Romney.

  13. RealAmerican Says:

    Final result will be

    usurper: 106
    Romney: 432

  14. DaveinMinnesota Says:

    Just waiting till after I vote (and Mitt Romney is elected) to begin hearing from the MSM about:

    A. The plight of the poor homeless again.

    B. Gas prices

    C. The National Debt

    D. Corruption in all levels of government

  15. Norcross Says:

    They were simply “explained” poorly…

    As in, not explained simplistically enough for us backward “wing-nuts” to understand.

    Only those people smart enough to agree with the “diverse” progressive position 100% on every single issue possess enough brain power to understand their lofty goals.

  16. Why Nate Silver Is Wrong | Ethics Alarms Says:

    […] can read some different analysis of why Silver is wrong here, and […]

  17. Parsing the data « Law of Markets Says:

    […] Hoping it’s this: […]

  18. Can you smell what the electorate is cooking? « RED STATE WITCH Says:

    […] The scenarios: Gallup electorate poll is right […]

  19. Down to the wire at Catallaxy Files Says:

    […] are realisic possibiliies based on assessments of the data. The first is a projection based on Gallup’s electorate poll and the second is from Nate Silver and The New York Times. By just past noon tomorrow we should […]

  20. Bob Builder Says:


  21. Glen Dean Says:

    Bob, excellent work over the last few weeks.

  22. Electoral Vote Prediction: What Will Happen Tomorrow? | Battleground Watch – the Conservative Top 10 Says:

    […] he is tied nationally but more importantly leading among the Battleground State polls. But as Bob Krumm writes: “The last two times that a Republican challenged a Democratic incumbent (1996 and 1980) the […]

  23. Lorenz Gude Says:

    Bingo – if it all comes down to turnout, and there seems to be considerable agreement on that, then as you say trying to predict turnout on a 9% response rate to pollers is a fools errand. I continue to believe the enthusiasm of 2008 is just not there – it is a different election with the incumbent on the defensive. Yet every morning I get up and Obama has gained in the RCP average! Perhaps that means noting, but the direction sure has me worried. Just manipulation by the MSM? Sure could be. Or did the President get a Sandy bounce or are last minute undecideds breaking for the President? It will be an interesting post mortem.

  24. blahblahblah Says:

    “Yet every morning I get up and Obama has gained in the RCP average!”

    You know, with regards to the inflated +D turnout we constantly see giving those results in polls, there seems to be an aspect I am not sure anyone has addressed anywhere.

    When you poll, you never get a correct sample of the expected turnout. You wont have as many minorities or youth and you wont get a correct amount of women one way or the other – Pollsters have to correct for these numbers.

    But here is the problem – “Women said X% for Obama. Youth said X% for Obama. Minorities said X% for Obama” – a good chunk of those people are one in the same! If you are boosting the numbers for women, youth and minorities based off your reply sample, you are almost certainly imputing double to triple the proper Democrat vote ratio. You’ll end up with, for instance, an unintended (and invisible) Women sample much higher then you are going for by adding extra youths and minorities, and the Dem turnout will already be artificially inflated without your even trying to get it there since all three lean Democrat.

    I would bet money the polling problems come in the fact that women are more likely to answer the polling questions anyway, and minority/youth men are especially unlikely to answer. That means that even if you have a +R on the base poll, adding in such a disproportionate amount of Youth and Minority Women will mean you are double to triple weighting many Democrat votes, artificially inflating their total without ever even intentionally doing so.

    To get around it you would literally need to place each person into only their proper extended break-down (ie; Minority-Black, Women, Youth, Democrat, Likely Voter) and make sure you have a proper amount of each and every one of the almost endless combinations – but polls dont do that and they instead are almost certainly over-weighting Democrats extremely heavily because of it, without even trying

  25. Lorenz Gude Says:

    Thanks for a great series of posts. I learned a lot.

  26. BobB59 Says:

    I want it to be Romney 52-47 just for the 47 result. Heh.