Why the Final Pre-election Polls and the National Exit Poll Confirm an Obama 20m Vote Landslide

TruthIsAll

 

Jan. 25, 2009

 

This analysis will show why the final likely voter (LV) and registered voter (RV) polls, in conjunction with the National Exit Poll, confirm that Obama won a landslide at least double his 9.5m official vote margin. The mathematical confirmation is not obvious and requires a focus on the structure  (and anomalies) in the pre-election and exit polls.

 

Adjustments must be applied to the final pre-election polls and National Exit Poll to derive an approximation to the True Vote. The following facts should be clearly understood so that the adjustments make sense intuitively.

 

- RV polls sample registered voters.

-  LV polls sample likely but not new registered voters. They are a subset of RV polls.

- Obama’s average 13% RV poll margin was  nearly double his LV poll margin.

 

- From 1992-2004, the Democrats won new voters by a 14% average margin.

-  In 2008, there were approximately 20.8m new voters (131.37m  - 110.6m returning 2004 voters).

- According to the Final National Exit Poll (NEP) Obama had 71%  (14.7m) of 20.8 million new voters.

 

- Final pre-election polls indicated that approximately 5% of voters were undecided.

- Undecided voters typically break 70-90% for the challenger (Obama).

 

- Based on the final LV 9-poll average with undecided voters allocated, Obama had 53.96% (59.7 of 110.6m returning voters).

- Combining new and returning voters, Obama won by 74.4 - 54.9m  (56.7 - 41.8%)

- Obama had an average 56.96% share in the final 3 RV polls - within 0.3% of the combined LV (returning voter) and new voter share.

 

- The Final National Exit Poll (NEP) is always “forced to match” the official recorded vote count.

- In 2004, the Final NEP Bush/Gore 43 / 37% voter mix implied there were 52.6m Bush 2000 voters in 2004; he had 50.5m in 2000.

- In 2006, the Bush/Kerry returning voter mix was an implausible 49 / 43%. The Democratic landslide was denied.

- In 2008, the impossible Bush/Kerry 46 / 37% mix implied there were 11m more returning Bush than Kerry voters; Bush won by 3m votes.

 

- The Election Calculator model confirmed both the LV poll / new voter share and the RV projection

 

In order to determine the number of returning 2004 and new 2008 voters, voter mortality and turnout rate estimates were applied to the recorded 2004 vote. The calculation indicated that there were approximately 110.6m returning voters. Since 131.37m votes were recorded, there were approximately 20.77m new voters (15.8% of the total). Based on the 71-27% NEP share, Obama won new voters by 14.7-5.6m.

Pollsters usually allocate 60-90% of the undecided vote (UVA) to the challenger. The UVA is a function of the incumbent's job performance. Obama’s UVA was projected at 75%. This was plausible since he was the "challenger". McCain represented an incumbent with a 22% approval rating.

 

Considering that the LV polls do not include new voters, why not break the projection of the total vote into two parts? Let’s use the average LV poll to calculate the Obama/McCain shares of returning (likely) voters and use the National Exit Poll to calculate their share of new voters.

 

According to the National Exit Poll (NEP), 13% (17m) of the 2008 electorate consisted of new voters and returning third-party voters 4% (5.2m). But 4% is impossible because only 1.2m third-party votes were recorded in 2004. If the third-party percentage is changed to the true 1%, then applying 3% to new voters raises the percentage to 16%, which means that there were 21m new voters, not 17m as the NEP indicates.

 

Although this does not have a material effect on the total Obama share (he had 71% of new voters and 66% of other) it does indicate that more weight should be given to pre-election RV polls which included new voters than to the LV polls which did not.

 

We can approximate the number of returning 2004 voters by applying the 1.2% annual U.S. voter mortality rate (4.8% since 2004) and assuming that 95% of living 2004 voters returned to vote in 2008 and 4 % were returning third-party voters (5.2m). But 4% is impossible because only 1.2m third-party votes were recorded in 2004. If the third-party percentage is changed to the true 1%, then applying 3% to new voters raises the percentage to 16% (21m) new voters, not 17m as the NEP indicates. Although this does not have a material effect on the total Obama share (he had 71% of new voters and 66% of other) it does indicate that more weight should be given to the pre-election RV polls, which included new voters, than the LV polls which did not.

 

In 2004, 122.3m votes were recorded. Applying the 4.8% mortality rate and 95% turnout, 110.6m returned to vote in 2008. Since 131.37m votes were recorded, simple subtraction shows that there were approximately 20.8, new voters.

 

The National Exit Poll was forced to match the recorded 52.87-45.62% recorded vote – but the returning voter mix was impossible (see below).

 

The 2008 Election Calculator confirmed the above analysis:

Obama had 55.3%, assuming the NEP “Voted in 2004” shares and the 2004 recorded vote (adjusted for mortality and turnout).
Obama had 57.5%, assuming the NEP “Voted in 2004” shares and the 2004 unadjusted exit poll (adjusted for mortality and turnout).

Based on the above logic, this confirms the accuracy of the RV and LV polls:

1.The pre-election LV polls were correct in predicting the likely voter (returning) vote shares.

2.The pre-election RV polls were correct in predicting the registered (returning and new) vote shares.

3. The LV polls by themselves are misleading; they understated the true Obama margin by 6%.

4. The RV polls, adjusted for undecided voters, were accurate.

5. Obama won the True Vote with a 57% share with better than a 20 million vote margin.

 

 

Why did RCP fail to list these 5 RV polls? 

 

Poll           Date    Obama McCain   Spread

Gallup      11/02          53        40           13
ABC/WP   11/02          54        41           13
Pew
        11/01          50        39           11
Pew
        10/26          52        36           16
NBC          10/20          52        42           10

 

Total                          52.2      39.6        12.6

 

LV and RV Projections of Returning 2004 Voters

 
2008                     Total            Obama           McCain        Other

Recorded

131.37

69.46

59.93

1.98

Share

100%

52.87%

45.62%

1.51%


Assumptions

75% UVA (undecided voter allocation) to Obama

2004 Voters
4.8% mortality (5.87m)
95% turnout of lving 2004 voters in 2008 (110.61m)

2008 National Exit Poll share of new voters
Obama  71%
McCain  27%
Other     2%

 


Calculating the 2008 True Vote

(Assume final LV polls for returning voters and National Exit Poll for new voter shares)

 

Final November Pre-election Polls                   

Poll

Obama

McCain

Other

Undecided

LV  (9)

51.00%

43.56%

1.50%

3.94%

RV (3)

52.33%

40.00%

1.50%

6.17%

                                                                                    

Allocate undecided voters          

UVA

Obama

UVA 75%

McCain

25% UVA

Other

LV

53.96%

44.55%

1.50%

RV

56.96%

41.55%

1.50%

                                                                                         

Calculate returning voters from prior election                                           

Total 2004

122.29

 

 

 

Died

5.87

4.8%

 

 

Alive

116.42

 

 

 

Turnout

110.60

95.0%

(LV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total 08

131.37

 

 

 

New

20.77

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vote

Obama

McCain

Other

Total

NEP

71%

27%

2%

100%

New

14.75

5.61

0.42

20.77

 

 

 

 

 

Returning

53.96%

44.55%

1.50%

100.0%

Turnout

59.67

49.27

1.66

110.60

 

True Vote                                                                 

Total

74.42

54.87

2.07

131.37

Share

56.65%

41.77%

1.58%

100.00%

                                                                                

Recorded Vote

Total

69.46

59.93

1.98

131.37

Share

52.87%

45.62%

1.51%

100.0%

      

Final RV Polls (11/02)

Poll

Poll

Sample

Obama

McCain

Spread

 Obama 75% UVA

McCain

25% UVA

Spread

3RV

Date

Average

52.33

40.00

12.33

56.96

41.55

15.42

Gallup

10/31 - 11/02

2847RV

53

40

13

57.125

41.375

15.75

ABC/WP

10/31 - 11/02

2446RV

54

41

13

56.625

41.875

14.75

Pew

10/29 - 11/01

1325RV

50

39

11

57.125

41.375

15.75

 

LV and RV Poll Averages (10/03-11/03)

 

Average

Obama

McCain

Spread

Obama 75% UVA

McCain 25% UVA

Spread

10 RV

50.30

40.00

10.30

56.45

42.05

14.40

25 LV

50.84

42.60

8.24

54.64

43.87

10.77

 

Final 10 RV Polls (10/04-11/02)

 

Poll

Poll

Sample

Obama

McCain

Spread

Obama 75% UVA

McCain 75% UVA

Spread

 

10 RV

Date

Average

50.30

40.00

10.30

56.45

42.05

14.40

 

Gallup

10/31 - 11/02

2847RV

53

40

13

57.13

41.38

15.75

 

ABC/WP

10/31 - 11/02

2446RV

54

41

13

56.63

41.88

14.75

 

Pew

10/29 - 11/01

1325RV

50

39

11

57.13

41.38

15.75

 

Pew

10/23 - 10/26

1325RV

52

36

16

59.88

38.63

21.25

 

NBC/WSJ

10/18 - 10/20

1159RV

52

42

10

55.38

43.13

12.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ipsos

10/09 - 10/13

1036RV

48

39

9

56.63

41.88

14.75

 

Newsweek

10/08 - 10/09

1035RV

52

41

11

56.13

42.38

13.75

 

FOX News

10/08 - 10/09

900RV

46

39

7

56.13

42.38

13.75

 

Ipsos

10/02 - 10/06

858RV

47

40

7

55.63

42.88

12.75

 

NBC/WSJ

10/04 - 10/05

658RV

49

43

6

53.88

44.63

9.25

                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Final 25 LV Polls (10/03-11/03)

 

Poll

Poll

Sample

Obama

McCain

Spread

Obama

75% UVA

McCain  25% UVA

Spread

 

25 LV

Date

Average

50.84

42.60

8.24

54.64

43.87

10.77

1

Research2k

10/31 - 11/02

1100LV

51

44

7

53.63

44.88

8.75

2

Zogby

11/01 - 11/03

1201LV

54

43

11

55.13

43.38

11.75

3

Hotline/FD

10/31 - 11/02

882LV

50

45

5

52.63

45.88

6.75

4

Rasmussen

10/31 - 11/02

3000LV

51

46

5

52.13

46.38

5.75

5

Battleground

10/27 - 10/30

1000LV

49

45

4

52.38

46.13

6.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

Marist

11/03 - 11/03

804LV

52

43

9

54.63

43.88

10.75

7

FOX News

11/02 - 11/03

971LV

50

43

7

54.13

44.38

9.75

8

NBC/WSJ

11/01 - 11/02

1011LV

51

43

8

54.38

44.13

10.25

9

CNN

10/30 - 11/01

1017LV

51

43

8

54.38

44.13

10.25

10

Pew

10/30 - 11/01

2587LV

49

42

7

54.63

43.88

10.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

CBS

10/28 - 10/31

1005LV

54

41

13

56.63

41.88

14.75

12

Marist

10/29 - 10/29

543LV

50

43

7

54.13

44.38

9.75

13

FOX News

10/28 - 10/29

924LV

47

44

3

52.63

45.88

6.75

14

Ipsos

10/23 - 10/27

831LV

50

45

5

52.63

45.88

6.75

15

Newsweek

10/22 - 10/23

882LV

53

41

12

56.38

42.13

14.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

CBS/NYT

10/19 - 10/22

771LV

52

39

13

57.63

40.88

16.75

17

FOX News

10/20 - 10/21

936LV

49

40

9

56.13

42.38

13.75

18

Pew Resrch

10/16 - 10/19

2382LV

53

39

14

57.88

40.63

17.25

19

Ipsos

10/16 - 10/20

773LV

50

42

8

54.88

43.63

11.25

20

CNN

10/17 - 10/19

764LV

51

46

5

52.13

46.38

5.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

Pew Resrch

10/12 - 10/14

1191LV

50

40

10

56.38

42.13

14.25

22

CBS/NYT

10/10 - 10/13

699LV

53

39

14

57.88

40.63

17.25

23

LAT

10/10 - 10/13

1030LV

50

41

9

55.63

42.88

12.75

24

ABC/WP

10/09 - 10/11

766LV

53

43

10

54.88

43.63

11.25

25

CBS/NYT

10/03 - 10/05

616LV

48

45

3

52.13

46.38

5.75

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Probability Obama Exceeds Given Vote Share for various MoE

(based on 11/2 RV Polls,  5293 Sample MoE = 1.33%)

                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

 

2-party

Obama Share >

1.00%

1.20%

1.33%

1.50%

1.75%

2.00%

 

 

 

 

 

Probability

 

 

 

 

 

55%

54.18%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

 

56%

55.16%

100%

100%

99%

99%

97%

96%

 

 

57%

56.15%

93%

89%

86%

83%

80%

77%

 

 

57.74%

56.87%

50%

50%

50%

50%

50%

50%

 

 

58%

57.13%

31%

34%

35%

37%

39%

40%

 

 

59%

58.12%

1%

2%

3%

5%

8%

11%

 

 

60%

59.10%

0%

0%

0%

0%

1%

1%

 

 

 

2008 National Exit Poll

(forced to match the 2008 recorded vote, but the returning voter mix is impossible)

 

2004

Mix

Votes

Obama

McCain

Other

Obama

McCain

Other

New

13.00%

17.1

71%

27%

2%

12.13

4.60

0.34

Kerry

37.17%

48.8

89%

9%

2%

43.51

4.35

0.98

Bush

45.83%

60.2

17%

82%

1%

10.34

49.27

0.60

Other

4.00%

5.3

66%

24%

10%

3.48

1.25

0.53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

100.0%

131.37m

52.87%

45.28%

1.86%

69.46m

59.48m

2.45m

 

Election Calculator: Scenario 1

(returning voter mix based on the recorded 2004 vote (Bush 50.73-Kerry 48.27%) adjusted for 4.8% voter mortality and 95% turnout)

 

2004

Mix

Votes

Obama

McCain

Other

Obama

McCain

Other

New

15.80%

20.8

71%

27%

2%

14.83

5.51

0.42

Kerry

40.64%

53.4

89%

9%

2%

47.52

4.80

1.07

Bush

42.71%

56.1

17%

82%

1%

9.54

46.01

0.56

Other

0.85%

1.1

66%

24%

10%

0.74

0.26

0.11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

100.00%

131.37m

55.28%

43.08%

1.64%

72.62m

56.59m

2.16m

 

 

Election Calculator: Scenario 2 

(returning voter mix based on the 2004 exit poll (Kerry 52-Bush 47%) adjusted for 4.8% voter mortality and 95% turnout)

 

2004

Mix

Votes

Obama

McCain

Other

Obama

McCain

Other

New

15.80%

20.8

71%

27%

2%

14.83

5.51

0.42

Kerry

43.78%

57.5

89%

9%

2%

51.19

5.18

1.15

Bush

39.57%

52.0

17%

82%

1%

8.84

42.63

0.52

Other

0.85%

1.1

66%

24%

10%

0.74

0.26

0.11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

100.00%

131.37m

57.54%

40.78%

1.67%

75.59m

53.58m

2.20m