Why Polling TX And OH Is Difficult

By Big Tent Democrat

Polls are all over the place in both Texas and Ohio and polling is NEVER an exact science. But I think extra caution is in order for Texas and Ohio. Why? Because of the demographic split. After Obama's sweeping win in Wisconsin, where he truly eroded Clinton base for the first time, we seem to have settled back into the old breakdowns - Clinton winning whites, women, Latinos, seniors and lower earning voters. Obama winning African Americans overwhelmingly, young voters, men and upper income voters. The margins appears fairly static.

This means the key issue now is who comes out to vote and in what numbers. Each pollster's turnout model will dictate their results. Since predicting who will turnout - the likely voter screen - is always the most difficult part of polling, I think it is fair to say we, and THEY, are all guessing.

At this point, no result will surprise me.

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    The better polls (SUSA and Selzer) (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 01:47:07 PM EST
    don't guess about who will turn out, but use a uniform standard. Essentially, they ask everyone how likely they are to vote, and adjust to census demography. I read something about this somewhere.

    Will a lawsuit slow things? (none / 0) (#2)
    by dwightkschrute on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 01:47:35 PM EST
    This would seem to only make thing more complicated.

    And that doesn't even include the (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 01:50:37 PM EST
    whole issue of voting in the booth and voting in the caucus, for Texas.

    That surely can only make things more difficult.

    Texas voting (none / 0) (#4)
    by wasabi on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 02:27:02 PM EST
    I was in line yesterday at an early voting site in Austin and an elderly man walked in and grabbed a sample Republican ballot.  He asked one of the campaign workers if he could cross-vote.  She said no, so he threw the paper down and stormed out.  I wonder which candidate he was planning to vote for and why.

    cross-vote (none / 0) (#7)
    by RalphB on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 02:42:32 PM EST
    wonder if he meant vote for some races on each primary ballot?  that's about all i know you can't do in TX.  i voted in Austin yesterday and it was really crowded.  i heard a couple of people ask about voting in the democratic primary just to make sure it wouldn't matter in november.  i assume your polling place was also crowded?

    how old was he? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Kathy on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 04:12:47 PM EST
    Maybe he thought he was at the grocery store?  Haha!  I kid, I kid!

    I have a couple of friends in Texas who have told me that early voting has been pretty eventful: long lines, lots of people annoyed about having to wait.  One of them saw a guy yelling at the poll workers because they insisted he was not registered and apparently, the guy assumed that because he paid his state taxes, that meant he was registered to vote.  A few folks in line didn't have ID and that caused some problems, too.

    There are rumors that both campaigns are watching all this very closely.  I hope we don't end up with dueling lawsuits.  I'm sure if Obama files one, it's only fair and if Clinton files one, it's because she's got sour grapes and wants to tear apart the party...


    I agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by pookie on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 02:30:40 PM EST
    no result will certainly be a surprise.  

    tryin to be too clever by half (none / 0) (#6)
    by pookie on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 02:32:00 PM EST
    I meant to say "I disagree"

    reporting vs actual polls (none / 0) (#8)
    by p lukasiak on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 02:56:18 PM EST
    After what happened in NH, I looked at a bunch of polls, to figure out why they were so 'wrong.'

    But they weren't wrong, when you bothered to look at the internals -- which showed a ton of people who didn't have their "minds made up", but were leaning one way or another.  

    The problem is that the reporting (and very often, the press releases of the polling companies) treats 'leaners' no differently than 'mind made up'.  

    (Some people are "early decision-makers", while others prefer to gather as much information as possible before making a firm decision.  Even though a late decision-maker may 'lean' toward one candidate, this is often based on 'feelings', and when it comes time to make the decision itself, facts themselves rule the day.)

    Republicans instructed to crossover in Texas (none / 0) (#11)
    by andrys on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 03:02:52 PM EST
    There's an open campaign, and seen on many forums and conservative blogsites, with instructions and a guide to going to the primary AND caucus in Texas to vote against Clinton to knock her out now.  People are assured they can then vote as they please in the Elections.

    Running out and will get the main instructions website later if someone hasn't posted it already.

    With 30% of the vote in Wisconsin being crossover, this is a real danger, in a state like Texas with such a weird way of distributing delegates and an entirely-open primary and caucus.  And we know about Obama's way with caucuses.

    IVR Texas Poll (none / 0) (#13)
    by KevinMc on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 04:37:41 PM EST
    I have recently been reading the IVR Texas Poll page.

    Todays release had some interesting observations /conclusions.  They do have a disclaimer:

    ...the screening questions produced too few primary voters to be as precise as I would like for the tight Democratic primary race. The five point margin of error is higher than the difference between the two candidates in many recent polls, and I will need to increase the sample size before I am comfortable releasing detailed percentages.  That said, after weighting to expected demographics, Obama received the support of one more respondent than Clinton did.

    They have some interesting conclusions.

    In previous polls, women over 60 was the only African-American segment where Clinton was competitive. Obama is now dominating that group as well. Younger Latinos are now going for Obama as heavily as younger voters overall.

    Clinton improved among white voters and Bush voters. She was stable among white Kerry voters, but there has been an increase in younger white Bush voters who will vote GOP in November, but vote for Clinton in the primary.

    Obama still has a significant number of older white Bush voters crossing over temporarily, but the effect is mostly offset now.

    Early voting and intended primary convention attendance are evenly split between Clinton and Obama, with Clinton receiving one more early vote than Obama while the same number intend to support each candidate at the convention. A disproportionate amount of Obama's support in these areas is in Harris and Travis Counties (Houston and Austin) so Clinton tends to lead in other parts of the state.

    I only recently started to watch this poll so I'm not sure about their historical accuracy.

    I do think the inroads that Obama has made with young Latinos will benefit him quite a bit in South Texas.  Younger white Bush voters supporting Clinton is something I had not heard about before.  It will be interesting to see what part they play in the Texas caucuses. With the conclusion that Obama's advantage among older white Bush voters being offset now, if IVR is correct, I think Hillary may pull this one out.

    IVR Texas poll (none / 0) (#14)
    by RalphB on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 04:56:22 PM EST
    I've got a question about this...

    "The two variables given the highest factor were voters under 40 and African-Americans. Latinos were given a smaller factor than whites and African-Americans as south Texas Latinos have turned out at much higher rates than the rest of the state in past Democratic primaries and therefore don't have as much room to grow."

    Does this seem backward since the stated reason Latino districts have less delegates now was because they had voted at lower percentages in the last two elections?


    South Texas (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by IVR Polls on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 05:14:36 PM EST
    That's some misinfomation that has been become accepted blog wisdom. Turnout is huge in South Texas in the Dem primary. In 2004, Webb County - Laredo - had 29% turnout, compared to Harris County - Houston - which was at 4%. In the general election, turnout is relatively high everywhere, so south Texas doesn't have the disproportionate influence that it does in the primary. Delegates are awarded based on general election Democratic votes. Most south Texas Senate Districts get 4 delegates, which is the average for the state.

    Thanks! (none / 0) (#17)
    by KevinMc on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 05:16:36 PM EST
    That is some VERY needed information.  Appreciate it.

    Thank you very much (none / 0) (#19)
    by RalphB on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 08:53:26 PM EST
    As usual the "conventional wisdom" was wrong.  Your correction is much appreciated.

    Thanks for bringing it up (none / 0) (#21)
    by IVR Polls on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 09:24:32 PM EST
    From one RalphB in Austin to another...

    I knew I couldn't be the only one :-) (none / 0) (#23)
    by RalphB on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 10:27:00 PM EST
    Have a great weekend!

    I didn't think about that. (none / 0) (#15)
    by KevinMc on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 05:06:24 PM EST
    That does seem backwards.  Perhaps it's a typo?  I'll check it later when they finally put up the percentages.

    I just voted in Dallas (none / 0) (#18)
    by ramasan on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 07:36:17 PM EST

    The lines were long and I had to listen to a Republican man behind me go on and on about the Bush Library including how Bush is more popular than Lincoln was...I behaved myself and got to talking with him and his young friend.  He'd been at dinner the night before with the editor of Fortune Magazine.  After a few drinks he asked the editor why the media was railroading the country into voting for Obama when Hillary was by far the smartest one in the race. He said it didn't go over too well, but he and his friend were there to vote for Hillary.  

    Most of the country has learned to ignore the media over the last 15 years, so it probably works in Hillary's favor that they consistently and blatantly behave so poorly.  

    Best news I've heard all day (none / 0) (#20)
    by RalphB on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 08:55:05 PM EST
    Thanks a lot for your observatios.

    The memory hole installed at... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Oje on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 09:54:39 PM EST
    SUSA, now, scrubbed the demographics post that predicted that 51% of primary voters will be under age 45 (TalkLeft post), the group that has consistently broke for Obama during the primaries. In  2004, that age segment was no more than 33% of primary voters. During 2008, the under 45 crowd has been consistently around 33% in the states from Arizona to Florida, with the notable exception being 41% in California .

    SUSA  reposted its demographics with different age segments in the past few days, so that it is not directly verifiable with 2004 or 2008 exit polls. It looks like they "fixed" their demographics so researchers could not make useful comparisons to exit polls in 2004 and 2008.  

    I am glad I was just imagining that discrepancy, I worried that their likely voter model was all wrong and Clinton may actually be ahead.

    Correction (none / 0) (#24)
    by Oje on Fri Feb 29, 2008 at 10:37:38 PM EST
    The exit polls do have numbers for under 49. But that group is consistently around 40%. And, I forgot that I used that strange age categorization by candidates age (under Obama, over McCain, and in between). My bad, I am the memory hole...

    The assertion that this polls overestimates younger voters (and thus Obama) voters still stands.