It appears that the McCain campaign's argument this week for why it still has a chance is that turnout will be like 2004. There would have been a time where I might have bought into this type of thinking as a possibility. But after watching the record turnout in state afte state during the Democratic primaries, knowing that McCain is hardly someone who enthuses the conservative base and understanding the conditions in the country, I just do not see it. Andrew Kohut, whose Pew poll is spitting out some outrageous numbers, is however, correct when he says:

[T]he poll shows that roughly 12 percent of the electorate this year is black, up from 2004, with a similar increase among younger voters. Kohut defended this approach, saying there are historically high levels of interest in this contest among both demographic groups. At the same time, he added, "we've consistently shown less enthusiasm and engagement among Republicans than is typical, and the composition of the electorate shows that."

In any event, the WaPo pollsters, who show Obama with a 7 point lead, are not even using an expanded turnout projection:

Some polls show Obama with a healthy lead even without an assumed surge in African American and young voters. Obama's seven-point lead in the Washington Post-ABC News poll is not premised on disproportionately higher turnout among those demographic groups. The poll's turnout model currently shows that 10 percent of likely voters are black, compared with the 11 percent who voted in 2004, according to the network exit poll. Voters younger than 30 make up 16 percent of the Post-ABC sample, little different from the 17 percent four years ago.

Post polling director Jon Cohen said the survey designers "carefully consider a range of likely voter scenarios and use our best judgment. Our polling throughout the campaign has been on target and, we believe, helpful to understanding what is really happening. I hope it stays that way."

I've said it before - the WaPo pollster Gary Langer has proven to me he is the best in the business. From 2004, when ABC nailed the presidential election (I railed against the poll at the time because I thought it had too many undecideds breaking to Bush, they were right and we who complained were wrong), to the 2006 congressional elections to this years presidential primaries, they have been, as the WaPo pollster Jon Cohen says, on target.

I think they are wrong on the turnout but I must admit they have a great track record.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

< The Polls - 10/29 | Obama The Progressive >
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    There is an argument to be made (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Exeter on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:59:42 AM EST
    that Obama, not McCain, will inspire alot of the red neck GOP turnout and may keep some red neck dems home in Ohio, FL, and PA.

    The polling hasn't made sense to me (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:06:54 AM EST
    Not that I understand that much about polling but something just didn't seem to ring true for me, and it appears to be once again that those doing the polling were ignoring certain realities.

    While I tend to agree. . . (none / 0) (#1)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:38:19 AM EST
    with the "enthusiasm" argument, history has taught me to suspect any argument that begins "This year will be different because. . ."

    That doesn't mean that it isn't, sometimes, true that "this year really is different".  But it often isn't true.

    Incidentally, if this year is different, then it's extremely unlikely that the pollsters will get it exactly right in the first (or only) year of expanded turnout.  So the results could be a good deal better for Obama, or worse, than they expect.

    That's why, notwithstanding my expectation of a blow-out, this is going to be a nail biter for me.

    Enthusiasm actually counts (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:48:44 AM EST
    In 2004 dems were not enthusiastic about voting for Kerry, it was more of a vote AGAINST Bush. This year it is quite the opposite.

    Basically, Obama's voters are willing to stand in four hour lines and McCain voters aren't. Guess who wins?

    Obama will probably win by 4-5 points.


    About enthusiasm-- (none / 0) (#38)
    by indy in sc on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 12:23:04 PM EST
    this story out of Georgia is crazy.  You can tell folks are really fired up to vote when they'll stay in line until 1:00 am to do it.

    here's the thing (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:45:55 AM EST
    This year has been much different already. Turnout in the Democratic primaries was simply off the charts.

    One of the reasons. . . (none / 0) (#18)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:06:15 AM EST
    I agree on the enthusiasm argument.

    Another is those polls that show results like 52-36 Obama.  Those missing 12 percent are probably people whose poll response is "Uh, McCain, I guess" in the polls that push leaners.  How many of those folks will actually make it to the voting booth?

    Still, I'm uncomfortable making the kind of argument I would normally dismiss, not withstanding that it is probably true, finally, this year.


    McCain will get 48% (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by MKS on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:14:52 AM EST
    of the vote....just for showing up as Woody Allen says.....Those apathetic Republicans do vote....

    I hope to see the Progressive blogs turn into ghost towns with everyone off making calls & doing GOTV....Those new voters don't just magically appear at the polls.


    Well, (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:47:22 AM EST
    I think the tightening polls, if publicized, have the opportunity to increase turnout. That puts Drudge in a bit of a pickle, doesn't it?

    (And yes, I am worried. Not about McCain inching up, but about Obama inching down. National polls are leading indicators, after all. . .)

    Why worry? (none / 0) (#6)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:50:17 AM EST
    It's not as if Obama is dropping below 50 in all of the polls?

    I am starting to see why people don't really like the trackers because any sort of small movement can really affect things even if it's just noise.  If Obama starts falling below 50 in the non-trackers then we can start to panic.


    Sorry, there is undeniable tightening (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:53:12 AM EST
    and Obama HAS dropped a little bit--often below 50%--in many of the trackers.

    Ras? Gallup? R2K? ABC? (none / 0) (#13)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:01:41 AM EST
    He's still at 50% in those trackers. I'm not looking at Zogby, Diageo or Battleground because they have been way too volatile.

    Let's look at all the polls as a whole. If Obama drops below 50% in both the non trackers and trackers, then we can talk.


    Ras had him at 52, now he's a 50 (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:03:08 AM EST
    And in yesterday's sample, who knows where. Hotline has him below 50 again, and R2K has him inching down too.

    I'm not going to be a ostrich about this, sorry.


    50 (none / 0) (#21)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:09:27 AM EST
    That is the key number.  Anyone who thought that Obama was ahead by 8-10 points was not being realistic.

    I expect Obama to win 52% of the vote.  If Ras and the others start showing Obama down below 50% for a few days then I will start to worry a bit but it's easier to win when you are 49% then 45% even if most of the undecideds break the other way.


    I'm going in with the assumption (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:12:24 AM EST
    that McCain will probably get 70% of the undecideds.

    I want Obama at 51, preferably 52.


    The good news is that (none / 0) (#25)
    by MKS on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:20:09 AM EST
    there are fewer undecideds for McCain to get....The latest Ras poll puts them at 2% and others at 1%....

    Yes, Obama just needs to hold...but for a very long eternity of 6 days....



    That would be unprecedent (none / 0) (#26)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:23:18 AM EST
    In what general election has one candidate got 70% of the undecideds? Also, this is an election in which the sitting pres has an approval rating of about 25%. I do not see McCain getting more than 60% of the undecideds if they even bother to show up and wait in line.

    I also think that undecideds shouldn't be considered on broad group of folks that can be applied state by state. Yes, most of them appear to be downscale but in places like CO and VA they could be moderate Republicans who are still wavering.


    This election is unprecedented (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:27:32 AM EST
    Listen, I could be wrong. I would PREFER to be wrong. But I watched the polls pretty closely during the primaries, and except for in this South, Bill McInturff's point that Obama "gets what he gets" is pretty much on target.

    So then McCain's screwed either way right? (none / 0) (#28)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:45:06 AM EST
    He is averaging about 52% of the vote in PA right now, 51% in CO and almost 52% in VA so if he holds all the other states then McCain is done based on his pollster's assessment which also means that FL and NC could be slipping away quickly from McCain.

    McCain is probably screwed (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:47:41 AM EST
    but national polls are leading indicators, and the statewide polls just don't come out often enough and aren't fresh enough when they do come out for me to feel comfortable. We're still getting state polls that were in the field last week and stopped gathering data on the 26th.

    So if Obama is over 50% in the national polls on election day, I think he's good. Otherwise, I worry a bit.


    A good point, explained well (none / 0) (#31)
    by Cream City on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:09:12 AM EST
    so thanks for not being quite as cryptic as usual.:-)

    So in the swing states, we may not yet have seen what is happening this week -- and we may not see as of next Monday what may have happened over the weekend?  If I've got it now re the national vs. state polling lag, and especially in the 10 or so states that really will decide this, that shows why the fat lady may have finished singing by Monday, but we still will be only hearing her warm-up. . . .


    There's is only one public swing state tracker (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:11:49 AM EST
    that I'm aware of: Muhlenberg/Morning Call for Pennsylvania. It has consistently shown good numbers for Obama.

    Otherwise, we just have to wait and watch the national trackers.


    Yes (none / 0) (#11)
    by Faust on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:00:16 AM EST
    if it tightens it can re-energize and ultimately I think that's better for our side since there are more of us, at least in theory.

    I have to admit despite the obvious tightening it's hard for me to get worried here. The current tightening trendlines are mild enough that even if they continued with no change from now until next Tuesday Obama would still be in acceptable shape. There are 6 days left and there is a 6 point spread between them. So McCain has to get a point a day to pull even in the national polls. In addition there has still been little movement in the state polls, at least the ones that really matter.

    So while I certainly don't want to say this thing is in the bag, it's looking very good right now. My worries are all confined to my own state for the most part at this point, and I'm a bit worried about California's prop 8.


    Turn-out reality check . . . (none / 0) (#5)
    by wurman on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:49:38 AM EST
    Gov. Crist extended FL's early voting from 8 to 12 hours per day to deal with the "who could've known?" numbers that are showing up.  This would seem to be some evidence of an unprecedented year.

    One last thing (none / 0) (#7)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:52:01 AM EST
    According to that bizarre McCain memo, they admit that AA turnout and youth turnout will be higher than ever but yet they somehow say that McCain will still win.

    How can they reconcile this while at the same time saying that they don't think turnout will be higher than 2004 and still believe McCain can win?

    2 guesses from random pundits--- (none / 0) (#14)
    by wurman on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:02:36 AM EST
    1. Modified Wilder effect in which all of the undecideds break to McCain because in many states the Obama lead is smaller than both the margin of error & the fence-sitters.
    2. Modified Kerry effect where large numbers of nominally Democratic Party blue-collar & ethnic & Catholic voters yawn & stay home on election day--especially if the weather is really bad &/or snow on the roads.

    I saw Chuck Todd (none / 0) (#20)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:07:15 AM EST
    speculate about #1 but increased turnout by core groups could easily offset undecideds breaking.

    At this point about 3% of the electorate is undecided if you want to call it that and the undecided group varies from state to state.  There is evidence that in certain states the undecideds won't all break the same way.  

    I expect them to break heavily for McCain in the rust belt states but not so much in the south or the west and given McCain's deficit in his must win state of PA I don't see how McCain wins while losing VA, CO, NV and possibly NC.


    Both effects seem far-fetched (none / 0) (#24)
    by wurman on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:18:18 AM EST
    I don't agree with any of the McCain & Palin & RNC pundits who attempt to massage the opinion poll results into scenarios that have the potential to generate some form of McCain 270+ electoral votes.  As stated by almost all of the "Village" elders, McCain has to run the table in 7 or 8 or 10 states that are nominally within either the margin of error or the undecided percentage differences.

    Not likely.

    Also, most of the simulations showing PA & VA going to Obama are knock-out blows to McCain.

    Big Tent called it a while ago: it's over.

    James Carville called it after the 2nd debate: it's over.


    Do not underestimate the Evangelicals (none / 0) (#17)
    by MKS on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:05:47 AM EST
    They believe in miracles....God intervened in Florida in 2000....McCain being behind plays into a big narrative....as does Palin....

    The new Obama vote is soft.....There is way too much complacency...

    Democrats do not win by very much when they win.


    I am a little concerned (none / 0) (#9)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:56:23 AM EST
    about turnout issues in PA - I fear it could be a total fiasco, and I suspect that's why McCain put all his eggs in the PA basket - knowing there was no early voting.  But Obama is up so far in polls of PA (that I've seen) that even if there are turnout issues he still looks good to win.

    The base (none / 0) (#12)
    by TheRealFrank on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:00:42 AM EST
    McCain doesn't enthuse the conservative base. However, Palin does, and it seems that their strategy is based on their base turning out. They're hitting all the codewords ("socialist", "taxes", etc).

    What the silly McCain memo is saying is obviously spin, but it does show what their strategy is. It's the old Rove get-out-the-base strategy.

    The national trackers have a downward trend right now, which is worrying, but Obama is still in a better position. Let's hope it holds.

    There's a problem with that strategy (none / 0) (#16)
    by bluegal on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:04:21 AM EST
    That strategy worked when party id was about equal and moderate republicans weren't repulsed by Palin.

    This same pollster admitted about a month ago that there is a 6-7 point dem advantage and that in order for them to win they needed to bring it down to 3-4 dem.  McCain is not doing well with indies and in this year where dems are enthused and indies are voting dem, a base turnout election is not going to work.


    The election will be won in the courts (none / 0) (#30)
    by pluege on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 10:57:25 AM EST
    Obama could save his millions on prime-time infomercials and put it to good use on the legions of lawyers he will need to keep republicans from stealing the election. He should have his battalions in place already and taking aim.

    And does he not? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:24:16 AM EST
    I've read several stories about how much the Obama campaign has 'lawyered-up'. Anyway, if there's any lesson from his history it's that he's good at working the refs in a tight election.

    He's good at eliminating the (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:31:31 AM EST
    competitions before the votes are cast.  

    ooooh, oculus (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:36:32 AM EST
    Skating on thin ice here....

    Just the facts, Ma'am. (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:38:49 AM EST
    Why all the fuss (none / 0) (#37)
    by coast on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 11:52:19 AM EST
    BTD said it was over last week...right?

    Totally Damaging McCain Video (none / 0) (#39)
    by MikeTheMechanic on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 12:28:06 PM EST
    After I saw this video, I couldn't possibly vote for McCain..

    He personally admits he ran for ambition, not issues, and the rest of the parts shows proof of him lying in his own words on lots of critical topics (economy, national security, etc).