Gallup’s screw-up in charts

Great, great piece at the Monkey Cage by Samuel Best on how Gallup got it so wrong with their pre-election polls.   Apparently their likely voter screen gave them a wildly inaccurate view of the electorate.  Plain old common sense should have told them some adjustment was necessary.  Anyway, here’s the key charts:


 Gallup estimated that non-Hispanic whites would comprise 78 percent of voters in 2012.  This would have been the highest proportion of whites in a presidential active electorate since 2000.  Given the secular downward trend in white composition, this Gallup expectation never had a chance.  In 2012 the exit polls indicate that 72 percent of voters were white, 2 points less than 2008 and a full 6 point lower than Gallup’s expectations…

That the outlier poll (Gallup) was the most inaccurate survey in 2012 should not come as a surprise to Monkey Cage readers.  What is perhaps surprising is that Gallup simply would have needed to review basic voter composition trends by key age groups and racial categories to see the obvious sources of error in their assumptions.  One view might praise Gallup for not adjusting their longstanding likely voter formula to better conform to conventional wisdom or even past trends.  However, moving forward, it seems that Gallup’s likely voter formula will continue to systematically underestimate the proportion of young adults and non-white voters.  As non-whites and young voters increased in size as a proportion of the electorate and became more distinctive relative to the overall voting population, underestimating the proportion of non-whites and young adults in the active electorate has become more consequential for Gallup’s overall estimates.

Gallup has a great reputation in polling.  They can handle a bad election.  If they don’t do dramatically better in 2016, though, their reputation is mud.  Also want to emphasize the point that Best makes that if a poll looks like an outlier, and quacks like an outlier… well, you know.

Demographic factoid

Now, I know that only 20% of minorities voted for Romney and that 60% of white people did, but put this way it is just so stark:

Stay classy, Mississippi

Why does this, sadly, not surprise me:

A student protest at the University of Mississippi against the re-election of President Obama turned disorderly on Wednesday morning, with some students chanting racial epithets and two arrested for disorderly conduct.

The university said in a statement that a crowd of 400 people formed at the student union shortly before midnight after reports of a riot spread on social media. Some students yelled racial slurs and profanity in anger over Mr. Obama’s re-election, the statement said. Photographs posted online showed students lighting Obama campaign signs on fire.

Photo of the day

I’m sure you knew a photo like this was coming today.  From the N&O election gallery:

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 06: U.S. President Barack Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)


John Cassidy in the New Yorker:

Hang on a minute, y’all. Who knows what the future holds? For now, let’s take the measure of what has happened, which is historic enough. For the fifth time in the past six Presidential elections, the Democrats have won the popular vote. For the second time in succession, Americans have elected a black man, the same black man, as President. Throughout the country, Republican extremists like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have been repudiated. Residents of Maryland and Maine (and probably Washington state, too) have voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The United States of 2012 hasn’t turned into Scandinavia, but it isn’t the United States of 2010 and the Tea Party either. To the extent that the election was about anything more than negative advertising and relentless micro-targeting, it was a triumph of moderation over extremism, tolerance over intolerance, and the polyglot future over the monochrome past.

The exit poll largely told the story. In the nineteen-to-twenty-nine age group, Obama won sixty per cent of the vote. He got ninety-three per cent of the black vote, seventy per cent of the hispanic vote, and seventy-five per cent of the Asian vote. Fifty-six per cent of women voted for him, as did sixty-three per cent of unmarried people, two-thirds of secular voters, and about four-fifths of gays and lesbians. Romney carried fifty-nine per cent of white voters (male and female); a majority of all Americans aged forty-five or over; and fifty-seven per cent of married people. In ideological terms, Obama forged a liberal-moderate course to victory. Despite his post-Convention lurch to the center, Romney couldn’t win over enough self-identified moderates. In that group, Obama took fifty-seven per cent of the vote…

Now, the American public has rendered a judgement. By a small but significant majority, it has rejected the insular, backward-looking, feed-the-rich, extremism of today’s G.O.P., even when that extremism has a standard bearer who is relatively moderate—or, at least, flexible. It has reëlected to office a President who, for all his failings, tried during his first term to address some of the biggest problems facing the country, and did so in a spirit of pragmatism and civility that the Mitt Romney who governed Massachusetts would have appreciated.

Dickerson on Obama

John Dickerson in Slate:

A few theories of political science were upheld. Debates didn’t change the outcome and late deciding voters don’t break for the challenger. Nine percent of voters said they made up their mind with three days to go, and they broke for the president, 51 percent to Romney’s 44 percent.

In the end, Romney was right. It was all about the economy. But Americans seemed to want more than someone who cares about fixing the problem; they want someone they think cares about them. It was the empathy, stupid. When voters were asked which candidate cared more about then, Obama won more than 80 percent of those voters…

Regardless of what happens in the second term, the president won an enormous victory by protecting his first term’s achievements, particularly the Affordable Care Act, which Romney had promised to repeal. Although he won by slimmer margins, he held on to all but two states he won in 2008. That’s an incredible accomplishment when you consider the economy he has governed over for the past four years. (And the two states he gave back—North Carolina and Indiana—were always expected to fall back into the GOP column.) Politically, there is no reason to believe his second term will be easier than his first. Republicans will call it a tactical victory and look at the close national vote tally to convince themselves that there’s nothing in this election that should cause them to concede ground during the coming budget fight.

Barack Obama won in 2008 as a man who floated above the vast great nation. In 2012, he remade himself into a determined, street-level fighter for the middle-class. During his first campaign, Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” He was the first African-American president in the nation’s history. Now he is the first African-American president to be re-elected. Now that he is freed of the constraints that come from having to get re-elected, the president who put his grand visions on hold to survive, can get back to working on that bend.

Rasmussen accountability

And from the Daily Kos:

But let it be known: Rasmussen polling is a fraud that exists to prop up Republican candidates.  Oh, sure, we all knew that… but the actual numbers prove it beyond doubt.

Nationally, Rasmussen polled at 49%-48%.  The actual result was (so far) 50%-49% Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll.

In Colorado, Rasmussen polled at 50%-47% for Romney. The actual result was 51%-47% for Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll.

In Florida, Rasmussen polled at 50%-48% for Romney. The actual result was 50%-49% for Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll.

In Iowa, Rasmussen polled at 49%-48% for Romney. The actual result was 52%-47% for Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll, doubled.

In New Hampshire, Rasmussen polled at 50%-48% for Romney. The actual result was 52%-47% for Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll.

In Ohio, Rasmussen polled at a 49%-49% tie.  The actual result was 50%-48% for Obama, a two-point swing.

In Virginia, Rasmussen polled at 50%-48% for Romney. The actual result was 50%-48% for Obama, the reverse of Rasmussen’s poll.

In Wisconsin, Rasmussen polled at a 49%-49% tie.  The actual result was 52-47% for Obama, a six-point swing.

In other words, in all the races that mattered, Rasmussen got it egregiously wrong.  They didn’t call a single battleground state right except for North Carolina, and even there it appears that they overestimated the margin of Romney’s win.

Now, serious poll-watcher types will treat Rasumussen as the joke it is in 2016.  Hopefully this horrendous show sinks through to journalists as well.  And honestly, should be out of future RCP averages (it clearly distorted them this year).

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