Thursday, November 08, 2012

Polls, should you trust them? Well that depends. Update!

Courtesy of Political Wire:  

A Fordham University study ranked 28 polling firms on how their pre-election national surveys compared to the results on Election Day. The ranking: 

1. PPP (D) 
1. Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP 
3. YouGov 
4. Ipsos/Reuters 
5. Purple Strategies 
6. YouGov/Economist 
11. Angus-Reid 
12. ABC/WP 
13. Pew Research 
13. Hartford Courant/UConn 
15. CNN/ORC 
15. Monmouth/SurveyUSA 
15. Politico/GWU/Battleground 
15. FOX News 
15. Washington Times/JZ Analytics 
15. Newsmax/JZ Analytics 
15. American Research Group 
15. Gravis Marketing 
23. Democracy Corps (D) 
24. Rasmussen 
24. Gallup 26. NPR 
27. National Journal 
28. AP/GfK

Did you notice that both Gallup and Rasmussen share the same abysmal ranking of 24? And unsurprisingly these were the TWO polls on which the Republicans hung all of their hopes for winning this election, And yet they were actually WORSE than the Fox poll itself which we all undoubtedly simply assume to be biased.

So what does that mean?

I don't know about you, but for years I have always considered the Gallup poll to be quite accurate. (In fact I don't believe I ever seriously questioned their data.)

So have they ALWAYS been this far off? Has their model ALWAYS been flawed? Or did something nefarious happen this time around?

You know like many others I also think that Karl Rove and the GOP had a plan in place to steal this election. However I disagree that Hurricane Sandy derailed their plans.

I think it was due to the fact that there was too much scrutiny from poll watchers, a riveted media, and even the voters themselves,  for them to successfully pull it off.

However in my opinion they STILL might have risked it, if not for Nate Silver.

Nate Silver laid out a bullet proof algorithm that had already proved highly successful in elections past, and that essentially became our firewall against a successful attempt to steal this election. If they had still taken the risk, with so much scrutiny directed at them, and with the math so clearly working against them, they would have risked exposure in a way that could have doomed the Republican party for all time.

Personally I think that was what was behind Karl Roves' tantrum on election night. He KNEW the fix was in but he needed time, time that he simply did not have, for it work its dark magic.

However in this election, the election of 2012, math and logic finally reared their beautiful heads, and Rove's traitorous attempts to steal our democracy may have been dealt a fatal blow.

From this day forward we know who to trust, what their data tells us, and how to use that data to fact check those attempting to sell us a false narrative about the eventual outcome of our elections.

And for that we owe Nate Silver, and the many other honest pollsters a huge debt of gratitude. Not just for what they did in this election of 2012, but for how that will protect us in elections yet to come.

Update: Speaking of math, it looks like Romney has finally conceded Florida.  Which leaves our final tally at Obama 333 and Romney 206.

And THAT my friends is what a landslide look like!


  1. Anonymous11:05 AM

    My fear, going into the election, was that it would be stolen. I kept going to Nate's 538 blog to reassure myself. I thought for sure, Florida would be stolen. Then concerned about the ownership of the voting machines. Somehow, that did not happen, and I am thankful.

  2. Hey, if it were just Ohio or Florida that were going to make the difference, they would have executed the plan. But those two states wouldn't have been enough this time.

    1. Anonymous2:28 PM

      I believe this

  3. Anonymous11:25 AM

    I too, believe an election theft was planned by the GOP. This is why Romney was so convinced he was going to be in the White House shortly.

    1. DetroitSam4:15 PM

      I agree. I believe that the reason it took Mitt so long to concede is because he was on the phone with Karl Rove trying to find out why their plan to steal the election was not
      working. Mitt was shocked the he lost because he only listens to Fox.

  4. hedgewytch11:28 AM

    Still, I wish someone would turn over some rocks to expose the creepy crawlies once and for all.

    I switched over to Fox right after NBC called for Obama. I saw Rove frothing at the mouth. It was a beautiful sight to see - the smug expression wiped off his mouth - perhaps for ever.

    Karl Rove should be in jail.

  5. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Here, here! I second that. My hat's off to Nate!!

  6. Anonymous11:30 AM

    You know, the guy in Pennsylvania who took the phone video of the voting machine that kept changing to Romney when the voter tried to click on Obama ... that was very powerful. We are all poll watchers now. I, too, thought that Rove's meltdown might have had something to do with his expectation that results were going to be tampered with. It was incredibly weird.

  7. Anonymous11:33 AM

    i, too, believe an election theft was planned but we were out there, folks, to do our darnest to make sure that didn't happen.

    i've done legal voter protection work for three national cycles now.
    we are organized through obama for america and are sent to the hotspots.

    i'm proud to say that it worked this time and last time and will work the next time.

  8. Anonymous11:34 AM

    It's the sign of the antichrist! 3 6's!

    Ahhhh we're doooooomed!

  9. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Mitt Romney Campaign: We Lost Florida To Obama In Presidential Election

    Mitt Romney's campaign said that President Barack Obama won the state of Florida in the race for the White House.

    The Miami Herald reports that Romney adviser Brett Doster said in a statement, "The numbers in Florida show this was winnable," and added, "We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again."

  10. Smirnonn11:39 AM

    Maybe we're entering a new era of elections. With the plethora of facts and math available online it's hard for the Roves of the world to massage the election returns in their favor. I still believe some tactics were employed but Obama's numbers were just too good for the tricksters to flip the election. I wonder how much higher Obama's ACTUAL numbers were.

    1. Yeh!!! I was thinking that, too.

      Will we ever know?

  11. Anonymous was watching, Tagg Romney may have gotten cold feet, or they tasked the job to a flunky who couldn’t pull it off, for whatever reason. An invisible hand may have stayed the machines. Karl Rove and Tagg Romney are idiots compared to some folks out there.

    But, yeah, Rove clearly expected Ohio to flip, and was desperately buying time; he was even stammering; something I don’t recall him doing.

  12. Anonymous11:43 AM

    All that money, but their plan was foiled. Rove has a LOT of 'splainin' to do. His reputation as kingmaker has been destroyed. All we need now is for the IRS to investigate his tax exempt Crossroads. He has made plenty of $$$, sure beats pretending to be a preacher.For all the damage this fat repulsive person has done to this country, I would like to see him finally pay.

  13. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Sure, Obama’s lucky. He also relentlessly seizes his chances and makes every one of them count.

    ...One of the key traits that allows Obama to capitalize on good fortune is his tendency to take the long view of politics. The Colin Powell endorsement is a case in point. The general’s benediction came at the best possible moment, as Obama was trying to build steam heading into the last two weeks of the campaign. In that sense, it may have appeared lucky. But Obama had been consulting with Powell closely throughout his term. The two men met frequently in quiet White House sessions on a wide range of national-security issues, sometimes to the consternation of the Pentagon brass. There are few Washington wise men with whom the president is closer. Powell’s endorsement was likely not in question— only its timing.

    As Republicans lick their wounds in the wake of their electoral drubbing, they may be tempted to blame their woes on Obama’s luck. But that would be self-defeating. They’d be better off finding solace in the fact this is the last time they’ll have to run against Barack Obama, a man who is so skilled at both creating and seizing on good fortune. “Obama is a preparation freak,” says one member of his cabinet, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He makes his own luck.”

  14. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Great post. We need to be aware of this come 2014.

    This was well worth re-reading:

    1. Buckeye Bitch1:47 PM

      Yes, they thought the fix was in, because IT WAS...they just weren't able to pull it off this time. They still have to be held accountable for what they tried to do. Start with Jon Husted, Ohio Sec of State who signed off on the last minute software patches, and Karl Rove and go from there. Faced with the prospect of jail time, I don't think those two chubby-cheeked assholes would hold out for long.

  15. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Mark Levin passionately defends conservatism and analyzes last night's election in the opening monologue of the Wednesday broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program. Here's a partial transcript of Levin's opening remarks:

    MARK LEVIN: We conservatives, we do not accept bipartisanship in the pursuit of tyranny. Period. We will not negotiate the terms of our economic and political servitude. Period. We will not abandon our child to a dark and bleak future. We will not accept a fate that is alien to the legacy we inherited from every single future generation in this country. We will not accept social engineering by politicians and bureaucrats who treat us like lab rats, rather than self-sufficient human beings. There are those in this country who choose tyranny over liberty. They do not speak for us, 57 million of us who voted against this yesterday, and they do not get to dictate to us under our Constitution.

    We are the alternative. We will resist. We're not going to surrender to this. We will not be passive, we will not be compliant in our demise. We're not good losers, you better believe we're sore losers! A good loser is a loser forever. Now I hear we're called 'purists.' Conservatives are called purists. The very people who keep nominating moderates, now call us purists the way the left calls us purists. Yeah, things like liberty, and property rights, individual sovereignty, and the Constitution, and capitalism. We're purists now. And we have to hear this crap from conservatives, or pseudo-conservatives, Republicans.

    1. Anonymous1:21 PM

      And this, you putz, is one of the big reasons you LOST.

    2. Anita Winecooler9:45 PM

      I think this is going to take a long time to sink in for them,I'm thinking 4 year, 8, 12 or more years.

  16. Jon Stewart had fun teasing NS about his epic fail: he got the Senate race in ND wrong! (A Democrat won in a VERY red state.) That was the ONLY one he called incorrectly.

  17. Did you see that announcement that Anonymous put out right before the election? It was directed to Karl Rove and was threatening to do something if he attempted anything. They said that they were WATCHING him.
    M from MD

    1. Anonymous12:32 PM

      didn't see it but GREAT!

      We are ALL watching...


  19. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Romney concedes Florida

    It's over. Some guy named Mitt Romney has thrown in the towel.
    That's 29 electoral votes for a 332-206 victory.

    Thanks, Florida, for giving us an excuse to extend the celebration yet another day!

  20. Olivia12:00 PM

    Gryphen, I think you are absolutely right about the GOP planning to steal the election. I thought it all the way along because they were too confident in the face of reality. I believe that is why we are seeing all the confused disbelief, whining and hand wringing that they lost. Many of them are still walking around shaking their heads. They really thought they had it won no matter WHAT the polls showed. That's why they ridiculed Nate Silver, they were sure the votes were properly purchased, polls be damned. The average Republican thought that all that PAC money ensured an easy victory. Hey all you suckers, I guess "God's Will" beats Adelson and Koch money!!!

  21. Anonymous12:44 PM

    It may have been that they thought they could rig the election. Another factor, I think, is that the more "conservative" politically a person is, the fewer the opportunities to engage people of other political views. It's a huge echo chamber.

    That's how we get someone saying you can't get pregnant from rape. When you only talk to people with that idiotic view, after a while it sounds normal to you. Todd Akin was actually surprised that his "science" was not mainstream.

  22. Great post and great comments as well. I always thought Gallup was good as well but I think their techniques may not be reaching as many cell phone users as some other polls do. And Rasmussen is an automated polling that does not directly contact any cell phone users. Cell phone users tend to be younger and more apt to vote for Obama so that may be part of it.

    1. Anonymous1:50 PM

      Add to that people just not answering their phones. One interesting thing I noted, we got a phone call from some pollster, can't remember which one, and I answered all DEM answers. I NEVER heard from another one again. It was like they did not want to talk to me, an obvious Obama supporter. Maybe next time, I will answer all GOP answers and see how many more I get...
      The echo chamber is right, Fox has done the GOP no favors when they control both the narrative and the "reality". All those Koch and Adelson types heard what they wanted to hear and nothing more. For people who are supposed to be such astute businessmen, you'd think they'd get some out of the bubble research to find out what is REALLY going on instead of relying on Rovian bull shit spewed by Fox and pals.

  23. ThanksABunchJohn1:02 PM

    Gryphen, don't forget Anonymous issued Rove a warning not to rig the election!

    I completely agree with your post here and will go one step further. Romney kept the country waiting and hour and 45 minutes after the election was called before giving his 5 minute concession speech. He told journalists that he only wrote one speech on election day - THAT'S how confident he was. I believe he was waiting for the Rove "magic" to happen. If the plan wasn't aborted in the final hour, the margins were too large for it to have any effect. They grossly underestimated the heroic fortitude of those voters whom they tried to suppress. And they really overestimated the "enthusiasm gap". Thank God.

    1. physicsmom6:33 PM

      Thanks for mentioning Romney's lame concession speech. Several people on MSNBC complimented him on "the best speech of the cycle." Unless they meant it ironically, they were being too nice. The Romney speech was vapid and shallow. He offered genuine thanks to his benefactors and supporters, gave lip service to Obama and fled the stage. It was terrible.

    2. Anita Winecooler9:53 PM

      Great comments, TABJ and physicsmom. I kept wondering WTH he was waiting for and thinking the same thing about rigging the election. They didn't factor in new technology. People were taking photos with their phones, documenting the long lines, voting machines that counted Romney when Obama was selected, and the nasty tactics used to suppress the votes.
      There was no "legitimate excuse", the "System didn't have a mechanism to shut" new technology down.

  24. Anonymous1:04 PM

    " Um... so Obama suppressed the vote by convincing people to vote for him... which is what campaigns are all about... while Rove and his fellow GOPers worked on suppressing the vote by trying to keep people from actually physically voting. I don't think Rove knows the definition of "suppression." He must be taking vocabulary lessons from Sarah Palin."

    From huffpo - good one!

  25. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Speaking of polling... very interesting article.

    Adviser: Romney "shellshocked" by loss

  26. Sharon1:56 PM

    I totally agree with your post Gryph, this was just a replay of 2000/2004 and Rove got away with it. I have often thought how different our country would have been if Gore was elected, just think about the global warming alone. If I was a parent of a fallen soldier, I might be tempted to actually do physical harm to Rove, let's hope we all see justice done to him and Cheney during our lifetimes. The Daily Kos article gave me goosebumps, but I have already seen all the documentaries made about both the stolen elections
    to know it was true. It turns out Sandy was the turning point, just not the way they say it was.
    Rove should be tried for treason.

  27. Anonymous2:15 PM

    The Tea Party's Queen has been officially DETHRONED.

    The racist Tea Party movement lost where it hurts the most: the vote tally. Extremist Tea Party candidates only won 4 of 16 Senate races according to CNN, a success rate which surely cannot fuel a movement much longer.

  28. Anonymous2:23 PM

    I also held the Romney campaign suspect of plans to rig votes considering they had brass about their win. Then Romney's folks ceasing communication, arrogance reporting Mitt only had an acceptance speech then the long delay to concede does not add up.

    They do not seem to fact check nor plan according to statistics (including calling Ohio) having relied on voter suppression, obstacles, blatant lies, threats, and tripling down on such tactics. Even their deficit approach is void of economics recorded historicly. What stuns me is the shield of christian values while blatantly lying to create an evil one even if it is Chrysler and GM.

  29. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I think they thought they were going to win FL without magic Diebold machines based on polling. Nate Silver actually had it going to Romney until a few days before the election when he moved it to toss-up status, then to Obama on Monday (I watched his site obsessively, so I know -- I'm the ninny who kept commenting about how nervous I was).

    I think they fixed the machines in OH but I think they were using turnout numbers from 04 to do it. There are a looooot of conservative talking heads talking about how they thought 04 was the model. Yeah, the model for cheating! They allllll seemed to know how many minorities voted in 04 vs. 08. They failed to anticipate how angry they were making African-Americans with their blatant disenfranchisement, thus they failed to create the right model for the win.

    And my side theory is that they were looking for word from volunteers on the ground about turnout in OH -- supposedly for their big turnout machine, ORCA, but really to adjust the virus that was changing votes. IMO the young Republican volunteers were too scared to go to black neighborhoods so they fudged it and said the numbers were good. Team Romney, on election night, were saying that Obama was underperforming in Cuyahoga county. No he wasn't! Why would they say that when the lines were hours long???

    And then, I think when Romney was "huddled" in the room with his senior advisors, supposedly writing his speech, they were trying to make the decision about whether to change MORE votes. But at that point, it was too late. There weren't enough unreported votes from the GOP counties to counter the Dem areas. I say THIS because on MSNBC they were saying that Romney's team weren't sure about the numbers and I think I remember them saying something about "irregularities." -- UH -- NO, there weren't any reported irregularities that favored Romney. The other thing that stopped the fraud was that it was pretty apparent that FL and VA were going to be lost, too. So it wouldn't have mattered if they stole OH.

    This is my theory. I know it's crazy. But it soothes me to think that their own racism is what did them in. The GOP tried to keep African-Americans from voting so they created a situation where black voters stood in line for HOURS after the polls closed in the rest of the state, which meant that the rest of the state's precincts had already reported their numbers which meant that the votes couldn't be changed to counter the MASSIVE OUTPOURING of African-American votes for the president! Their racism undid their evil plot! Poetic justice!

    BTW -- Obama was leading by five points in exit polls in Ohio. He only won with two.

    1. Anonymous1:52 AM

      I love the part about "young Republican volunteers afraid to go into Black neighborhoods." I was one of those once, in '92, but going into suburban Milwaukee areas to collect numbers from old white guys. During the week, I also volunteered for the Red Cross, giving out smoke detectors in inner-city homes. Crack was king back then, cities were being destroyed quickly. We're in the remnants of that now.

      I also believe that there was a chance that the fix could have been in, and completely agree on the new role established in the aggregation and better understanding of polls, let by Nate Silver and 538.

      Statistical analysis of polls and voting plays a very important role in the transformation of countries into democracies around the world. People are getting to vote for the first times in their lives, many of them are in America sadly. People are seeing that no, society is not allowing them to succeed - the education and preparation for life, combined with a construct of government and society that allows for decent prosperity - is not being provided to all in America. Being born black and into poverty nearly guarantees you will remain in poverty throughout your life, we must work to build a society that reduces these societal 'guarantees' for future generations.

  30. Anonymous2:40 PM

    The thing that is sad about the Republicans and the Romney campaign is that they believed the polls that were favorable to them and ignored the rest. Then, they were so surprised on election night.

    We kept an eye on Nate Silver's 538 because he had the best record from 2008. (I think that he missed one state). I can't imagine why the Romney campaign didn't look at Nate Silver's numbers. It is the sign that Romney would not have made a good president, someone who could look at all of the information, not just the good stuff.

    1. ThanksABunchJohn3:55 PM

      I don't buy it. They knew full well they were putting up and promoting cooked polls (Unskewed especially). They wanted something to reflect the vote switching they intended. The only thing I do believe is that they didn't know what a huge landslide Obama would deliver, and their tampering would have no effect.

  31. HuffPo is reporting that Ann Romney cried when they lost.

    1. Anita Winecooler9:57 PM

      Tears of joy, no doubt. She no longer has to deal with "those people"

  32. physicsmom6:41 PM

    Note: Nate Silver doesn't do any polling. He aggregates information from all the other polls, national and state and runs an algorithm to average them out. So the data he aggregates includes the best polls (PPP, Reuters) as well as the bad ones (Rasmussen, Gallup). That is why he's been so accurate. So don't compliment him on his polling, but on his statistical genius. FWIW.

  33. Well, Silver was off too.

    He predicted 313.

    Florida went to Obama.

    It's 332.

    That said there were so many tied for 15th place that anyone lower than 10 was just abysmal.

    Pollsters really need to revise their methods. They may have worked in the 80s but not any more.

    Cell phones are skewing the data for one. If you're only polling land lines you're in trouble.

    With minority groups voting more you're also going to have to poll more than English speakers.

    1. Anonymous3:51 AM

      No. You're wrong. You don't understand what that number is. That 313 was a probability thing, NOT the number of votes he was expecting. It was an average of all likely outcomes. He actually DID predict that the president would win 332...because he got every single state right. PLUS he had Florida as a toss-up...and it was very close. Probably the # of electoral votes for Obama was low because Florida was so close. When he changed it to Obama, he had Obama with an additional 0.002 percent of the vote.

  34. Anita Winecooler10:05 PM

    The lady from the board of elections did a news conference apologizing for the long lines for people who voted, and for those who gave up and left without voting - vows to "fix problems"

    Why apologize, if everything was legit? How many votes did President Obama ACTUALLY get?


Don't feed the trolls!
It just goes directly to their thighs.