Is the Media Cherry-picking Pre-election Polls by listing Likely (LV) but not Registered Voter (RV) Polls?

 

TruthIsAll

 

Jan. 27, 2009

 

The media seems intent on pushing likely voter (LV) polls (likely voters are a subset of registered (RV) voters). RV polls include new voters - mostly young Democrats. Since LV polls do not include new voters, they underestimate the Democratic share. From 1992-2004, Democrats won new voters by an average 14% margin. In 2008, Obama won new voters by 71-27%.

 

Real Clear Politics (RCP) is not being real clear. RCP does not list the final 5 registered-voter (RV) polls that show an average Obama lead of 52.2 - 39.6%, a 12.6% margin (the latest RV poll listed is the 10/13 Ipsos poll).  RCP averaged the final 15 likely-voter (LV) polls: 52.1 - 44.5%, a 7.6% margin. The average of the final 25 LV polls was 50.84 - 42.60%, an 8.24% margin.

 

This analysis will show that the discrepancy between the LV and RV averages is to be expected. In fact, the 25 LV polls, when combined with Obama and McCain shares of new voters, match the RV polls - and confirmed that Obama won by double his official 9.5m 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

 

On July 28, USA Today released their polling results - and raised eyebrows: “Obama was ahead 47%-44% among registered voters, down from a 6-percentage point lead he had last month. McCain led 49%-45% among likely voters, reversing a 5-point Obama lead among that group. In both cases, the margin of error is +/-4 points”. Gallup chief Frank Newport commented: "Registered voters are much more important at the moment" and that McCain's lead among likely voters suggests "the possibility's there that Republicans can get energized.”  

 

But Obama led McCain 48%-40% among registered voters in a separate Gallup tracking poll over the same three days. Gallup never suggested that  the discrepancy between the RV and LV polls could have been due to the fact that the Democrats were registering millions of new voters while Republicans were deserting the GOP.

 

With 131.37m votes recorded as of today, Obama’s margin is 9.5m (69.46 - 59.94m). He has 59.2% of the 10.2m votes since Election Day, raising his total vote share to 52.87 - 45.62%. He’s won new voters by 12.1 - 4.6 million (71-27%), a 7.5m vote margin – almost equal to his total.

 

 RV and LV polls do not generally allocate undecided voters. Typically, undecided voters break strongly for the challenger - and Obama is considered the challenger since McCain represented Bush’s third-term. Given the official third-party 1.5% recorded share, we will allocate the undecided vote (UVA). Typically, the challenger wins at least 70% of the undecided vote, depending on the popularity of the incumbent. This analysis assumes that Obama was the challenger since McCain represented Bush’s third term – and Bush had a 22% approval rating. Conservatively, 75% of undecided voters were allocated (UVA) to Obama.

 

Considering that LV polls do not include new voters, why not calculate the total vote in two stages: likely (LV) and new (RV) voters? 

1) Use the average final LV poll to calculate the Obama/McCain shares of returning (likely) Bush and Kerry voters.

2) Use the 2008 National Exit Poll (NEP) for the Obama/McCain shares of new voters.

 

The Final NEP is always forced to match the official vote count. According to the 2008 NEP, 13% (17.1m) of the 131.37m who voted were new voters. Let’s check that number. We know that there were 122.3m votes recorded in 2004. Applying the 1.2% annual voter mortality rate and assuming a 95% turnout of 2004 voters still living, 110.6m former Bush, Kerry and third-party voters returned to vote in 2008.

 

Since 131.37m votes have been recorded, there had to be approximately 20.77m new voters (15.8% of the total). Therefore, the NEP understated the number of new voters by approximately 4 million (3%) and also overstated the percentage mix (4%) of returning third-party voters by 3% - an impossible 4 million.  Obama had 71% of new voters and 66% of others. More weight should be given to pre-election RV polls (which include new voters) than to LV polls (which do not).

 

Consider the November RV and LV polls:

 

- 3 RV polls had Obama leading 52.33 - 40.0%. Assuming he had 75% of the undecided vote, his projected RV share was 56.96%.

 

- 9 LV polls had Obama leading 51.00 - 43.6%. Assuming he had 75% of the undecided vote, his projected LV share was 53.96%

 Based on his projected LV share, he won returning (LV) voters by 59.7 – 49.3m.

 

- The National Exit Poll indicates that Obama won new voters by 71-27% (14.7 - 5.6m).

 

Combining returning and new voter shares, Obama won by 74.4 - 54.9m  (56.7 - 41.8%), within 0.3% of the RV 56.96% projection.

The 56.7% share was also close to the Election Calculator model (57.5%) – an independent confirmation.

 

Note: the final shares do not include uncounted votes, which are heavily (70-80%) Democratic. In 2004, the Census survey indicated that 125.7m votes were cast - but only 122.3m recorded. In 2000, 105.4m were recorded out of 110.8m cast.

 

Based on the above, we can conclude that:

1. Pre-election LV polls were correct in predicting the Likely Voter (returning) shares.

2. Pre-election RV polls were correct in predicting the Registered Voter (returning and new) shares.

3. LV polls were misleading since they failed to sample over 20m new voters, lowering Obama’s share by 3%.

4. RV polls were realistic since new, first- time voters were sampled.

5. The True Vote can be calculated as a combination of two components:

a)      Final LV poll average with undecided voters allocated to determine the Obama/McCain shares of returning 2004 voters 

b)      National Exit Poll to determine the shares of new voters.

 

The 2008 Election Analysis is a comprehensive compendium of pre-and post election polls, projections and a True Vote sensitivity analysis.

 

 

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%


Recorded votes
2004   122.30m
2008   131.37

Assumptions

75% of Undecided vote allocated to Obama (UVA)

2004 Voters
4.8% mortality (5.87m)
95% turnout 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)

 

November Pre-election Poll shares                

Poll

BO

JM

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 04

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%

100.0%

                                                                                

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

 RV

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 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

 

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

 

Poll

Poll

Sample

Obama

McCain

Spread

Obama 75% UVA

McCain 25% 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

                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                              

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

 

 

Recorded State Votes, Final Pre-election Polls and Projections

 

Obama had a 53.8% projected vote share based on a 75% undecided voter allocation (UVA).

The probability of the 2.1% difference in total margin assumes a 2.0% aggregate margin of error.

The probability of the difference in margin for a state is based on a 3.0% margin of error for the average of the final 2-3 polls.

 

 

 

Recorded (000)

 

 

 

 Vote share

 

 

Poll share

 

75% UVA

25% UVA

 

 

Prob

 

Total

Obama

McCain

Other

Obama

McCain

Other

Obama

McCain

Obama

McCain

Other

Diff

of Diff

Average

131370

69457

59935

1978

52.87

45.62

1.51

51.29

43.85

53.80

44.69

1.51

1.86

17.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AL

2100

813

1267

20

38.7

60.3

0.9

36

61

37.5

61.5

0.9

-2.4

21.5%

AK

326

124

194

9

37.9

59.4

2.7

40

58

39.5

57.8

2.7

3.2

14.2%

AZ

2304

1035

1230

39

44.9

53.4

1.7

46

50

47.7

50.6

1.7

5.6

3.1%

AR

1087

422

638

26

38.9

58.7

2.4

44

51

45.9

51.6

2.4

14.1

0.0%

CA

13576

8274

5012

289

61.0

36.9

2.1

60

36

61.4

36.5

2.1

0.9

38.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CO

2401

1289

1074

39

53.7

44.7

1.6

51

45

52.8

45.6

1.6

-1.8

27.8%

CT

1647

998

629

20

60.6

38.2

1.2

56

35

61.9

37.0

1.2

2.5

20.1%

DE

412

255

152

5

61.9

36.9

1.1

63

33

65.2

33.7

1.1

6.4

1.7%

DC

266

246

17

3

92.5

6.5

1.0

90

9

90.0

9.0

1.0

-4.9

5.2%

FL

8410

4282

4046

83

50.9

48.1

1.0

49

47

51.3

47.8

1.0

0.7

40.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GA

3932

1844

2049

39

46.9

52.1

1.0

46

49

49.0

50.0

1.0

4.2

8.3%

HI

454

326

121

7

71.8

26.6

1.6

68

27

70.6

27.9

1.6

-2.6

19.9%

ID

657

236

403

18

36.0

61.3

2.7

33

62

34.7

62.6

2.7

-2.5

19.8%

IL

5523

3420

2032

72

61.9

36.8

1.3

60

37

61.3

37.4

1.3

-1.3

33.5%

IN

2753

1374

1346

33

49.9

48.9

1.2

46

48

49.6

49.2

1.2

-0.6

41.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IA

1537

829

682

26

53.9

44.4

1.7

54

39

58.0

40.3

1.7

8.1

0.3%

KS

1238

515

700

24

41.6

56.5

1.9

39

56

41.3

56.8

1.9

-0.5

42.9%

KY

1828

752

1048

27

41.1

57.4

1.5

41

55

42.9

55.6

1.5

3.5

12.4%

LA

1961

783

1148

29

39.9

58.6

1.5

40

50

46.4

52.1

1.5

12.9

0.0%

ME

731

422

295

14

57.7

40.4

1.9

56

43

55.3

42.8

1.9

-4.8

5.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MD

2632

1629

960

42

61.9

36.5

1.6

57

38

59.5

38.8

1.6

-4.7

5.7%

MA

3081

1904

1109

68

61.8

36.0

2.2

55

37

59.3

38.4

2.2

-4.9

5.0%

MI

5007

2873

2049

86

57.4

40.9

1.7

53

38

58.5

39.8

1.7

2.2

23.3%

MN

2910

1573

1275

62

54.1

43.8

2.1

53

43

54.4

43.5

2.1

0.7

40.7%

MS

1290

555

725

11

43.0

56.2

0.8

42

53

45.1

54.0

0.8

4.3

8.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MO

2928

1442

1446

40

49.3

49.4

1.4

47

46

51.2

47.4

1.4

4.0

9.5%

MT

491

232

243

17

47.2

49.4

3.4

48

47

49.2

47.4

3.4

4.1

8.5%

NE

801

333

453

15

41.6

56.5

1.9

37

56

40.8

57.3

1.9

-1.5

30.9%

NV

968

534

413

21

55.1

42.7

2.2

51

44

53.1

44.7

2.2

-4.1

8.6%

NH

711

385

317

10

54.1

44.5

1.4

53

42

55.7

42.9

1.4

3.2

14.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NJ

3876

2215

1613

48

57.2

41.6

1.2

55

38

59.3

39.4

1.2

4.3

7.5%

NM

830

472

347

11

56.9

41.8

1.3

53

45

53.5

45.2

1.3

-6.8

1.2%

NY

7595

4770

2742

83

62.8

36.1

1.1

64

31

66.9

32.0

1.1

8.3

0.3%

NC

4311

2143

2128

40

49.7

49.4

0.9

49

48

50.6

48.5

0.9

1.7

28.6%

ND

318

141

169

8

44.5

53.1

2.5

46

47

49.4

48.1

2.5

9.9

0.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH

5710

2933

2674

102

51.4

46.8

1.8

51

45

52.7

45.6

1.8

2.6

19.6%

OK

1463

502

960

0

34.4

65.6

0.0

34

63

36.3

63.8

0.0

3.8

10.8%

OR

1828

1037

738

52

56.7

40.4

2.9

56

39

57.6

39.5

2.9

1.7

28.1%

PA

6013

3276

2656

81

54.5

44.2

1.3

52

43

54.7

43.9

1.3

0.5

43.3%

RI

470

297

165

8

63.1

35.2

1.7

58

39

59.0

39.3

1.7

-8.3

0.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SC

1921

862

1035

24

44.9

53.9

1.2

43

53

45.1

53.7

1.2

0.4

45.2%

SD

382

171

203

8

44.7

53.2

2.1

44

53

44.7

53.2

2.1

-0.1

48.2%

TN

2600

1087

1479

33

41.8

56.9

1.3

40

54

43.5

55.2

1.3

3.4

12.8%

TX

8087

3529

4479

79

43.6

55.4

1.0

44

54

44.8

54.3

1.0

2.3

22.7%

UT

956

328

596

32

34.3

62.3

3.4

32

56

38.5

58.2

3.4

8.4

0.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VT

325

219

99

7

67.5

30.5

2.1

60

36

61.4

36.5

2.1

-12.1

0.0%

VA

3723

1960

1725

39

52.6

46.3

1.0

51

46

52.5

46.5

1.0

-0.3

45.8%

WA

3049

1751

1229

69

57.4

40.3

2.3

54

39

57.6

40.2

2.3

0.3

46.5%

WV

715

304

398

13

42.6

55.7

1.8

42

50

46.7

51.6

1.8

8.3

0.3%

WI

2983

1677

1262

44

56.2

42.3

1.5

54

40

57.4

41.1

1.5

2.4

21.7%

WY

255

83

165

7

32.5

64.8

2.7

35

58

38.2

59.1

2.7

11.4

0.0%