Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rasmussen Has the Race Within Margin of Error

Yesterday, Gallup had the race within two points. Today, Rasmussen also has the race within the margin of error--three points.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows Barack Obama attracting 50% of the vote nationwide while John McCain earns 47%. This is the first time McCain has been within three points of Obama in more than a month and the first time his support has topped 46% since September 24 (see trends). One percent (1%) of voters prefer a third-party option and 2% are undecided.
Ed Morrissey notes:
We talked quite a bit about polling at last night’s Talk the Vote event. All three hosts reminded people that Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan with eight days left in the race in 1980 outside the margin of error. Furthermore, the rising number of refusals — those who refuse to participate in telephone polling — make the predictive value of electoral polling more questionable than ever before. Michael Medved said that some pollsters report refusal levels as high as 80%.
The Carter-Reagan data point I've discussed before. The 80% refusal level is new data for me and is astoundingly high. Think about that for a minute.

Four of five people that are asked to give input on a poll refuse to do so. That means you are selecting out a very specific minority of the population--the 20% that actual want to answer a poll. What other characteristics do these people share? Are they motivated to do so because they hate George Bush? If so, have you selected the people that actually think of McCain and McSame? Do the bulk of the other 4/5ths of the population not share those views?

I think the biggest takeaway is that you should take any statement that reads as "polling numbers show this election is going to be like no other election in history--the fundamental nature of the country has changed and changed drastically in the last two years" as non-scientific and likely bogus. This could be the year that every college student who says they are going to vote actually votes--but it probably won't be. This could be the year that states that have voted Republican for the last 44 years suddenly flip to the Democrats by huge margins--but it probably won't be.

All of the major polling results (regardless of how biased or skewed they are) are showing a trend towards McCain this week. Part of this is them adjusting their numbers so they don't appear like idiots on election day. But part of this is that recent events have been favorable to McCain and the election is now indeed close.

One thing is for Tuesday will be very interesting.

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