The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 03 November 2008


Popular Vote

Obama – 51.5% +6.8%

McCain – 44.7%

Electoral College

Obama – 347

McCain – 191


Well here we are, the eve of the election and the final Poll of “Poll of Polls”.  The final popular vote total is 51.5% for Obama and 44.7% for McCain, giving Obama a 6.8% poll lead going into the election tomorrow. Oddly, after analyzing the remaining undecideds and adding the Barr/Nadar/Paul third party factor, my final prediction is – 51.5% Obama, 44.6% McCain, 3.9% third parties.  Am I saying the remaining ‘undecideds’ in my poll are actually voting third party?  No.  I actually gave McCain 62% of the 3.9% of undecideds, based on his performance with them in recent days.  However, he is impacted by about 1% more by the third party candidates based on my analysis of 2-way and 3-way polls.  As a result, the final prediction matches the final Poll of “Poll of Polls”.

There was some odd things going on with the national tracking polls.  Despite the pretty radical differences in each of them over the last few days, they all ended up centering between 5-9 points.  There are some games the pollsters can play to make the results trend to the mean such as changing party ID.  However, the important point is that the pollsters who have a stronger reputation – Rasmussen and Gallup, utilizing their ‘traditional’ belief in who makes up a likey voter still has Obama with a comfortable 5-6 point lead (and some even larger).

As the National vote was tightening, the state polls were increasing their margin for Obama.  Now that the national polls have been increasing their advantage for Obama, ironically we see a tightening at the state level.  While the idea of a lag has been widely discounted, even here, since the polls are coming out more frequently, the fact is that poll trends (which is what the other aggregators use) are based on the current polls as well as some of the older polls.  In effect, there is still some lag.  Since the national polls have only helped increase Obama’s lead over the last three or four days, it’s conceivable the minor tightening is a result of the slight lag.  What would that mean for Election Day?  It probably means Obama’s state leads are a bit larger than being projected.  The aggregators have a mean in their evaluation of 347 Electoral Votes.  Based on the latest national polls, I suspect their adjusted estimate (if given 2-3 more days) would be back in the 355-360 range.  Based on the latest polls and my analysis, my final prediction is Obama 302 and McCain 236.  My map is as follows:


My analysis was based on several factors.  First, the latest polling trends.  Second, only including pollsters with good reputations.  Third, past voting trends in the state.  Fourth, level of support for the candidate above/below 50%.  Fifth, a general thought on the GOTV efforts in the state.  Florida has been trending back to McCain.  Ohio was on the edge.  It’s been trending back, slightly to Obama.  It’s close enough that if there is any impact from Palin’s ‘coal’ comments today, I could see that pushing it over to McCain.  Regardless, it’s within the margin of error and a state the Democrats have previously lost twice.  Missouri is close, but the GOTV efforts by Obama, I think, will make a considerable difference for Obama.  Colorado and Nevada show strong trends toward Obama.  Virginia appears to have stabilized out at about 4-5 points. Obama should be able to hold that lead.

More to come about what to look for tomorrow, as well as additional analysis.

My analysis looked at se


The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 02 November 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 51.1% +6%

McCain – 45%

Electoral College

Obama – 352

McCain – 186

Well, the most obvious thing to notice over the last two days is the increase in support for both candidates.  This makes sense as you’d expect some of the undecideds to quickly begin focusing in on their choice.  While the movement was nominal away from the undecided column (only .5%), the perceived trends continues with McCain picking up a larger share of that support.  McCain picked up 67% of the undecideds after picking up 56% yesterday.  Keep in mind, with the minimal reduction of undecideds (pool for analysis is small), the support will fluctuate.  Based on the latest polls and analysis, my election day prediction is that Obama will garner 50.7%, McCain 44.3%, Barr/Nader 5%.  The best news is even if the undecideds break to McCain, Obama’s continued ability to remain over 50% really means that the undecideds will not affect the popular vote winner.  Keep in mind, the biggest flaws in the polls is that they continue to measure against a two candidate race.   The third parties will garner 3-5% of the vote overall.  I continue to believe Barr is a more serious threat to McCain than Nader is to Obama.  The Real Clear Politics averages back that theory up.  I supect there will be a net -1% affect to McCain.  McCain’s got one day to make up 6%.  I do not think that’s going to happen.

Looking at the Electoral College, Obama lost a little support for the seventh of eight days.  All pollsters remained relatively stable except for  Nate Silver reduced his estimate from 344 down to 332.  However, based on the latest polls and projections and some analysis I’ve done via, I believe the final Electoral total will be much closer than most aggregators are predicting.  My final count now is Obama 291, McCain 247.  Why the big change from yesterday?  I’ve moved Ohio and Florida back to McCain.  Remember yesterday when my gut told me that those may not go for Obama?  Well after further analysis and thought, I believe they will be going to McCain.  I had a good conversation back and forth with Sam Wang from The Princeton via his comments section today.  I pointed to the fact that these aggregate models are great, but too much focus is put on the quantitative aspects and not enough on the qualitative.  I’d like to think to get ahead of curve here because we’ve been able to put an analytical spin on the metrics.  This is the same methodology I use in my ‘day job’ to analysis Earned Value metrics.  These candidate polls are all lagging indicators, I’ve always believed you need a little qualitative input to determine where things are going, when you are predicting the future.  This decision was as much a quantitative as qualitative.  Why did I make this change?  First, the polls have been closing (some rapidly).  In fact, if you turn up the sensitivity on the models from Pollster, the margins are very close.  These states all went to Bush in 2004 and there is very little to show that these statistically insignificant leads will hold up for Obama.  He may win one of them, but I am going to be conservative in my estimates.  I also have questions with Virgina, as those polls have been closing too.  However, there still a statistically significant lead for Obama and when pairing down the polls to the four or five with the best rep (leaving out Zogby), his lead is maintained.  If you were to take Virginia away, Obama would still be at 278 over the 270 he needs.  None of the other states appear to even be close.  Of course, McCain continues to play hard in Pennsylvania and the polls are tightening.  The difference in Pennsylvania and why I am not nearly as nervous, is Obama’s support is still at 51% and McCain has not been able to chip away from that number.  McCain is picking up undecideds.  He can pick up all the undecideds and still fall short.

Two final points.  First, I come from the school of being conservative.  The point is to understand the chances that a particular candidate will win.  This is a safe projection of the final tally.  Why give Obama the benefit of the doubt in states that went to Bush in the last two elections, the polls have been closing, and we don’t know how a ‘Bradley Effect’ may affect the vote.  Second, if Obama wins by the 6% projected here and in other polls, he will probably garner a lot more than the 291 EV’s.  I still believe there is a slight disconnect between the popular vote and Electoral College.  I tend to think the popular vote might be closer.  I didn’t move my estimates, though, because there is no data to suggest the national polls are wrong. Again, if they are right, then Obama will probably clear 300 EV’s.

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 01 November 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 50.9%  +6.2%

McCain – 44.7%

Electoral College

Obama – 354

McCain – 184

McCain and Obama both gained in the polls today, but McCain’s gain was slightly better, but nothing that changes the dynamic of the race.  The biggest change, and one that is extremely positive for Obama, is that undecideds dropped by 1% since yesterday.  The drop went 45% to Obama and 55% to McCain.  If you extrapolate that across the remaining undecideds, McCain would pick up a net gain of only .5%.  Accounting for all voters and using the algorithm just described, the vote total would be Obama 52.8% and McCain 47.1%.  That would still give Obama a 5.7% margin of victory.  However, Bob Barr and Ralph Nader will take votes away.  The analysis from reviewing Real Clear Politics from about a week ago, would take about 2% from Obama and 3% from McCain.

My best guess for election night, based on the latest information is – Obama 50.8%, McCain 44.1%.  That would give Obama a 6.7% win margin.  That is a significant win.  Keep in mind, if there is still a Bradley Effect, the pundits believe it would be a 2-6% effect.  Obama’s win margin would still be above that number.  Interesting, and perhaps giving credence to my current projection, this is about where the race stands right now.  Obama right at the 50% threshold and McCain still not breaking through the 46% ceiling.  Just for the heck of it, there are two days left – McCain needs to make up 3% per day to close the gap.

But that’s the popular vote.  It really doesn’t matter.  What matters is the Electoral College.  Depending how you define ‘tightening’, there may or may not be tightening in the Electoral College.  If you consider tightening states changing columns (e.g. from Obama to McCain or Toss-up), there hasn’t been any tightening.  If you consider tightening races getting closer, then there has been some tightening in Pennsylvania.  The state is still strong for Obama, but McCain has definitely made inroads and perhaps cutting Obama’s lead in half in the last week.  The good news is the state is strong for Obama and, if it took a week to get this close, he should still win it relatively easily.  The bad news could be if the polls are even a little tighter than they’ve been projected.  Keep in mind, in the Real Clear Politics final poll for 2004 Obama was up .9% and won by 2.5%.  Obama is up in their poll by 7.5%  Pennsylvania is polled every day so these results are current.  It’s very difficult to see how he’ll cut that lead close enough to make a difference in two days.

Now the real good news?  McCain still needs to win the following states, even with Pennsylvania (Obama’s lead follows each state): Florida (+4.1%), North Carolina (+1.3%), Ohio (+5.6%), and Colorado (+6.2%).  Those are very tough odds.  If he loses Pennsylvania, I believe it’s over.  If he loses Pennsylvania and Virginia (+6.0), it is over.  Keep in mind, he still needs to win a host of other states where they are still considered ‘toss-ups’ – Indiana (-.5%) and  Missouri (-.6%). There also a couple of states that are ‘leaning’ McCain, but McCain’s lead is still smaller than Obama’s in the States McCain is trying to win – Georgia (-3%), Montana (-3.8%), Arizona (-3.5%).  My best guess for election night, based on the latest information is – Obama 338 McCain 200.  Although, my brain and my heart are telling me that Obama will not win both Ohio and Florida.  So, I believe Obama’s range will be 311 to 338.

The last two lingering item is how Obama’s Aunt story plays out and the final smear assult.  There are vastly different opinions on the Aunt story, ranging from no effect, effecting Obama, to even effecting McCain (if GOP is implicated).  This story appears it might be even more dangerous to McCain, judging by the fact his campaign will not mention it.  As for the smears, it probably will affect those with a choice by a minimal amount and a little more with the undecideds.  I can’t imagine that it will shift the election more than 2%.

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 31 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 50.5% +6.3

McCain – 44.2%

Electoral College

Obama – 356

McCain – 182

Good news from the popular voting front.  It appears that McCain’s march to tighten the popular vote has stalled out over the last few days.  Obama picked up .1% and McCain dropped .1% since yesterday.  For five days, McCain’s support has remained between 44.3-44.4%.  Unless the polls are incorrect, it looks like McCain’s ceiling may have been slightly lower than the 46% we saw back in September.  The bottom line is that Obama’s support has been solid above the 50% line.  This is great news as it guarantees a popular vote win (providing the numbers hold), regardless how the late independents break.  I tend to think they will break for McCain, but it won’t be in the 75% range.  Also remember, that this is a two person horse race in most polls.  Add Barr and Nader and I think you will see a net -1% for McCain.  McCain now has to make up over 2% per day to capture the popular vote lead.  That looks very unlikely.

We finally see some movement in the Electoral College numbers.  Obama’s lost 4 more EV’s and that’s a total of 9 since last week.  This has been soley the result of a gradual move from each pollster  of Indiana from Obama to McCain.  For the last week I’ve warned we’d probably see Obama finish in the 330’s-340’s for the final poll on Monday.  I still think that will happen based on where Missouri and North Carolina end up (a total of 26 electoral votes).   Regardless, everything remains stable.  The polls don’t appear tightening to any significant degree. Pennsylvania remains solid.  Colorado and Nevada have strengthened for Obama.  Virginia also remains steady.  Obama is also now looking at outside chances of picking up Montana, North Dakota and perhaps Arizona.  The bigger news is that McCain hasn’t pressured any states that Obama ‘needs’ to win back into a tight race.

As my previous post has indicated, if you believe the polls (and I do) then this race is essentially over.  I think even if there was an October surprise, it would be difficult to have McCain come back (depending on what the surprise was).  The only type of surprise that probably could cost Obama the election is one that directly implicates him in something nefarious or awful.  Looking at how the Bin Laden tape of 2004 and the drunk driving arrest affected the last two races, it probably moved the race only a 1-2%.  That would still give Obama a comfortable lead.

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 30 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 50.4% +6.1%

McCain – 44.3%

Electoral Vote

Obama – 360

McCain – 178

The race for the popular vote has some what steadied out now.  McCain was down .1% and Obama was even.  This is the fourth straight day where McCain has been between 43.3% and 43.4%.  Not much movement.  He’s got four campaigning days left, which means he needs to gain 1.5% every day.  But looking over the 19 days the poll has reported, Obama is down .2% and McCain up .6% – a net of less than 1%.  Looking at the polls today, they were flat to slightly leaning toward Obama.  That’s a good sign.  Some of the Poll of Polls has Obama above 50%, some right below 50%.  That threshold is important as it wouldn’t matter how the undecideds broke – particularly with his lead in the Electoral College.  I suspect the polls will point up slightly for Obama tomorrow, based on his Obama-on-the-air-all-the-time technique he’s been employing.  I do caution, I believe there is probably another 2% of McCain support that will ‘come home’ to him prior to the election.  I also believe Obama will stay at about 50%.  The one question – why can’t McCain gain back that 2%?  I think there is an aspect to the McCain support that hasn’t been analyzed yet and maybe influencing why he can’t get above 45%.

Is there anything really to say about the Electoral College?  It really hasn’t changed.  The state polls are probably trending more to Obama.  At the very least, they aren’t tightening.  McCain still needs to flip six states in four days – this includes winning Pennsylvania.  Obama has 311 Electoral Votes in states where he has at least 50% of the vote.  McCain can still win – but everything has to go right for him.  But it’s not impossible

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 29 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 50.4% +6.1%

McCain – 44.4%

Electoral College

Obama – 360

McCain – 178

Very bizarre night.  I couldn’t get my polling numbers until after midnight, then my computer lost my data file, and the editor for the blog is acting funky.  Anyway, on to the analysis.

This was Obama’s third worst polling day and tied for his worst day-over-day drop (.7%).  On the surface it looks like there isn’t a lot of good news for Obama.  Any good news, probably not?  But, the ‘ok’ news is two fold.  First, this is the third day in a row where McCain’s support has been flat.  That is never a good sign when you are trying to make up ground with so few days left.   Second, Obama’s drop did not correlate with a McCain gain.  What does that mean?  It means Obama lost some support but it wasn’t picked up by McCain.  These voters are still considering Obama and may constitute some of his ‘soft’ support – similar to what we’ve talked about with McCain.  He is still .2% above his lowest number over the last 17 days.  McCain now has five campaigning days left to gain 6 points.  That’s 1.2% per day.  Since the polls started tightening over the weekend, he’s only gained about .36% per day.  If there is closing, though, this rate will probably accelerate as undecideds start making their decision.  But still, 1% each day may be tough.  Additionally, these trackers are either 3 or 5 days worth of polling.  Which means each day is worth about 1/3 of the poll numbers.  Most polls were flat today and some of Obama’s strongest numbers from early in the weekend have dropped off.  What that means is that we’ll probably see no change in the polls tomorrow or a slight uptick for Obama – I’ll leave all the math reasoning out, for now.  If that premise is right, McCain will have not made an impact for yet another day.

The Electoral College tells a whole different story.  We *still* see no tightening in the state polls.  I have professed the ‘lag’ theory in state polling, which means it takes some times for national poll tightening to occur at the state level.  That has changed a bit as we reach the final stretch of the election.  There were 45 new state polls out today.  This is different from a couple of weeks ago when there might be 4-5 per day.  Polling is much more real-time now.  The point?  Have confidence that the race is about where the Electoral College says it currently stands.  As my graph shows, it really hasn’t changed in 17 days.  I still maintain you will see a drop to the 340’s sometime in the next few days.  I believe North Carolina and Missouri will probably drop out of Obama’s column.

Looking at the individual state polls, the news is nearly all good for Obama.  He is growing his leads in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.  He seems to be growing a decent lead in Ohio and gaining more ground in Florida.  Pennsylvania’s new polls shows double digit leads for Obama.  Virginia continues to remain a solid high single digit lead for Obama.

So how can the national polls differ from the story in the Electoral College?  Well, the most common theory is that the red states are getting more red.  Obama’s support is enthusiastic and strong.  He is already over 50% and his base is strongly with him and planning to vote.  McCain is reacquiring his ‘soft’ support.  Much of this is in ‘red’ states.  I suspect if you had polls out in Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma, you’d see his leads getting stronger.  Somewhat offsetting that is Obama’s small, but improving, positive position in key battleground states.  That’s why Obama’s numbers remain stable, while McCain’s improve.

Here’s the warm fuzzy picture:  Obama will win all Kerry states – 253 Electoral Votes.  He will also pick-up Iowa – 260 Electoral Votes. At that point, he needs ten more.  He can take Virginia, where leads about 7.  He can take a combination of (two of three) Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico – where he leads all by about 7 points.  He can take Ohio where he leads by about 6 or Florida where he leads about 4.  He could also still take Missouri or Indiana – both basically toss-ups.  Or, he can come from slightly behind in North Carolina.  The moral of the story is that if he holds Pennsylvania (which is about a ten point lead), he will win.

I am just not sure how McCain can come back in the Electoral College in five days.  However, it is politics and anything can happen.  Finally, if there is any ‘bump’ (and I think there will be one) from tonight’s Obamamercial, we won’t see any real effects until Friday and won’t fully be in the numbers until Sunday.

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 28 October 2008

Popular Vote

Obama – 51.1% +6.7%

McCain – 44.3%

Electoral College

Obama – 362

McCain – 176

In the popular vote analysis, McCain continues to march – though slowly – up the polls.  He gained another .4%, and broke the 44% threshold.  Obama, on the other hand, has remained relatively flat.  Today he dropped .1%.  That comes after three days at the same level of support.  Since Friday, when Obama’s gap between McCain and him was at it’s zenith, Obama’s gap has closed by 1.2% from from 7.9% to 6.7%.  For Obama, there is still a lot of good news.  First, we expected the polls to tighten and this tightening is so slight that many pollsters are arguing that this is just statistical noise.  I tend to disagree since we’ve seen three days of improvement by McCain.  However, to take a popular vote lead, McCain needs to pick up 1.1% in the polls each day through Election Day.  In the three days McCain has made up ground, he’s picked up .4%/day.  In the three days since he started gaining he’s been able to make up only the amount he needs to close each day.  Again, not impossible, but without a significant shift in the trajectory, he can’t win the popular vote.  Removing my two degrees of separation from the actual polls, the individual trackers have either gone up, down, or remained static.  For the most part, the polls that have had the bigger lead for Obama have tightened (Daily Kos/Research 2000, Gallup) , while the polls with the smaller leads have showed Obama opening up a little more lead (IBD).  And yes, the ones in the middle seem to be relatively static (Rasumssen, Zogby, Battleground).  I continue to maintain that while the polls are tightening, they are only regressing to their equilibrium of Obama at 50% and McCain at 46%.

On the Electoral College, the story remains the same as it has in the 16 days we’ve been running the poll.  However, I am expecting to see a drop from the 360’s to the to the 330’s by the weekend.  North Carolina, Missouri, and Indiana appear to have moved from Obama to toss-up and some polls have Indiana already back in McCain’s column.  But that still puts Obama up by 60 Electoral Votes from what he needs to win.  Obama could still lose two out of the four – Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and win by 12-25 votes.  That would still give him some cushion if he didn’t win all the other toss-up states he is currently winning.  Really, it appears that only North Carolina, Missouri, and Indiana are the only ones really tightening.  Indiana is the only one that is showing some strong leanings for McCain.

Six days out, McCain still needs the same eight states we’ve been discussing for over two weeks now.  That is less than a day’s focus per state – and barely one state/day with Palin and McCain in different states.  At this point, he is putting all his eggs into the Pennsylvania basket.  He will let his ads, surrogates, and robocalls do his work in the other seven states he is tied or behind in – to help win him the election.

Also, please see my post at the Daily Kos on the race tightening.  I got props (not literally) from David Gergen this evening – agreeing with my take on ‘Obama poll bumps’.