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%.


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TLC’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – EV and Popular Vote Analysis

I am beginning a new feature that will continue through the end of the election, which is The Liberal Crab’s Poll of Poll of Polls.

For those not familiar with the concept of “Poll of Polls”, it’s when a pollster utilizes several polls to come up with a result – such as averaging.  However, many of the pollsters, particularly 538.com, use very sophisticated algorithms to determine that ‘average’.  They will try to eliminate outliers and poll bias to improve the likely result.

My concept is to take it one step further.  Since the “Poll of Polls” is done differently by different pollsters, I am taking those polls and trying to come up with an even better estimate.  None of these “Poll of Polls” is 100% accurate, but they are much more accurate than one poll.  So, in my theortical – non-provable world, I believe if you do a “Poll of Poll of Polls”, it should give you an even better answer.

Several notes, first:

1) The  current methodology is simply to average the results of all polls.  I believe for the sake of this exercise, this will be good enough.

2) I will use any polls I find and will add additional ones as I find them.

3) For the Electoral Map projection, if given the choice, I will use the map from a pollster with no toss-ups.  If the map only includes toss-ups, I will apply the electoral votes to the candidate ahead in their state poll of polls.  If they don’t provide the detailed polls for a state or if there is a tie, I will split the votes equally.  If a State has an odd number of electoral votes, I will give the additional vote to the candidate’s party that previously won the state.

The following sites are included in my first iteration: 538.com, The Princeton Election Consortium, Real Clear Politics, Pollster.com, Open Left, Electoral-Vote, Talking Points Memo.  Talking Points Memo only had a popular vote poll and Princeton, Open Left, and Electoral-Vote only had electoral vote polls.

Popular Vote

Obama – 50.6%  +7.0%

McCain – 43.6%

Electoral College

Obama – 351.8

McCain – 186.3

Some interesting outcomes of my analysis.  5 of the pollsters had the same 353/185 electoral count.  538.com and Electoral-Vote were the two very slight outliers (both within 5 votes).  However, the popular votes polls spread between a 5.4% and 8.3% lead for Obama.  538.com was the biggest outlier having Obama at 52% and McCain at 46%.  For those not familiar, 538.com is a little different as they give you their projection for November 5th.  The other sites are only a snapshot of today.  Nate Silver’s (of 538) algorithm is showing what the vote will look like with no ‘undecideds’.

So there you have it.  Take it for what it’s worth.  I have degrees in Business Finance and Political Science and definitely not a stat’s junkie.  I think the take-away is everyone is relatively comfortable with the electoral college being at 350 for Obama.  That’s great news as protection if McCain picks off Ohio or Florida (or even Pennsylvania).  The problem is that much of this is a house of cards and Obama could win big or not at all.

Open Left has a neat analysis that shows Obama with a solid lead of 7% or better in states accounting for 280 electoral votes.  Chris Bowers (of Open Left) says that’s significant because no major race poll has been off by more than 7% if taken the final week of the campaign.  I like that stat because if the ‘maximum’ Bradley Effect were to occur, pundits seem to think it might account for 5-6% of an impact.

I am open to suggestions and concerns, please feel free to post.