I haven’t written anything about the US elections yet this cycle. This is for two reasons, first because there are vast amounts of US polling to get on top of in order to say anything sensible, secondly because there are already some very good US polling sites that I couldn’t hope to better. If you want to read wise and sensible analysis of US polling don’t hang around here, go and read Mark Blumenthal and Simon Jackman.

However, since we are now within a week of the election I thought I may as well put some threads up if only for discussion.

First, all things I complain about in coverage of UK polling are the same in US polling. Most notably warnings about cherry picking, comparing like to like and being aware of methodological differences and house effects from different pollsters. For example, I keep seeing people cherry picking out Rasmussen polls and Gallup polls to claim that Romney is doing better. Rasmussen are one of the most prolific polling outfits in the US, but also tend to produce some of the most Republican results. Gallup use a very tight screen for likely voters that also tends to produce favourable figures for the republicans. Look at most other polls and Obama is doing better.

Secondly, remember that the person who gets the most votes doesn’t necessarily win, it is who wins states with enough electoral votes to win a majority (270) of the electoral college. The average picture across all the national polls in the US has Romney and Obama very much neck and neck. However, polls from the key swing states, which themselves have become very regular as the election approaches, have Obama clearly ahead in terms of electoral votes.

There are various US websites (I’ve already mentioned Pollster.com, though fivethirtyeight tends to be the best known these days) that make projections based on state polling, and these all show Barack Obama with large leads in terms of electoral votes.

This has, in turn, produced some (generally pretty poorly informed) criticism of the projection sites, normally based around what sort of weights they give to different polls, what polls they include and so on. I don’t think these criticisms carry any weight, however even if one is sceptical about the weightings, filters, trends, house effect adjustments or whatever that the various projection sites make, the bottom line is that even if one takes just a crude average of state polls, Obama is still ahead.

As I write, Obama is almost undoubtedly ahead in states worth 243 votes. He needs to pick up another 27 electoral votes to win – looking at the recent polling in states that are in play:

  • In Wisconsin (10 votes) Rasmussen has the candidates equal in their last poll, but all three polls done in the last week have Obama significantly ahead
  • There have been four Iowa (6 votes) polls in the last week, three have had Obama ahead, the other had Romney one point ahead (but had a very small sample size)
  • In Ohio (18 votes), which is very likely to be the deciding state, there have been 11 polls in the last week, ten showed Obama ahead, one had Romney ahead
  • In New Hampshire (4 votes) there have been three polls in the last week, all showing Obama ahead.
  • In Colorado (9 votes) the four polls in the last week have been evenly split, 2 showing Obama ahead, 2 Romney ahead (though the Obama polls had bigger leads)
  • In Virginia (13 votes) there have been 9 polls in the last week, 2 showed Romney ahead, 1 a tie, 6 Obama ahead.
  • Florida (28 votes) is really neck-and-neck, the last week had three Romney leads, four Obama leads, two ties

Whatever you think of complicated projections, just on the raw averaged polling numbers Obama would get in excess of 290 electoral votes and win the Presidency. If the polls are correct, then Obama is on the way to winning, with very little time indeed to turn it around.


282 Responses to “US Presidential election”

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  1. MIM
    I share everyone’s horror & disgust at everything surrounding Saville & co & for that matter the things that went on in Rochdale recently as well, where once again the police were seriously lacking in prosecuting those guilty, not because they were rich & famous but because they were Pakistani. (For reasons which I have never understood, the police seem to think that ethnic minorities should be treated differently from everyone else.)
    However, I really am not a supporter of ‘string ’em up from the nearest tree’, just because there has been an accusation. That is a very dangerous road to go down. Everyone so accused must have the opportunity to defend themselves because, surprise, surprise, false allegations are sometimes made. There is one such storeyline in Coronation Street (yes, sad I know) at the moment.
    Now I agree, it is unlikely to be the case here, although it would not surprise me if one or two spurious claims do come to light, from disreputable people who are after some of Saville’s money. Everyone of these claims must be fully investigated and the police must go wherever the evidence takes them. I do wonder though, how some will be proved or disproved from incidents that happened up to almost 50 years ago.

    I do think that the police need a serious shake up, even re-organisation as there seems to be precious little sharing of information on suspects between forces – I don’t know what the answer is, but something has to change and I am hopeful that the introduction of police commissioners is the start.

  2. ROBERT NEWARK.

    Institutions seem to be very difficult to police properly.

  3. Socal “If any of the Romney sympathizers here (and I think that if they’re Tories, they need to listen to what their leader, David Cameron, has to say) think they’re somehow going to use this tragedy to go after Obama, they’re barking up the wrong tree”.

    I guess I fall into that category and I agree that DC conservatism has much in common with the Democrats and frankly Obama is the man for the job for the next 4 years. Like Blair, he suffered from too much hype & expectation before he was elected, with the result that he was bound to disappoint some people. Romney seems to one of those who opens his mouth before he has his brain in gear. Not a good trait in a leader.
    It’s odd, but I often think that every era throws up the right man/woman for the job when it needs to. The Republicans time will come again, they just need to find someone ‘normal’ first.

  4. @ Socal & others

    I am still not convinced that the US presidential election is yet decided. According to the RCP website, the latest opinion polls show the candidates remain neck and neck in the national vote (giving the impression to undecided voters that Romney still has a good chance of wlnning).

    As 1 week ago, the electoral college is still divided 201 Obama/Biden, 191 Romney/Ryan and 146 “Toss Ups” (11 states where the lead for either candidate is <5% and thus within the MoE). Various commentators on this site still assume that Obama will win most of the "Toss Up" states, but RCP is not committing itself.

    If Romney wins NH (4), FL (29), CO (9), NC (15) & VA (13), as seems likely, then his EC total would be 261, so it all comes down to the result in Ohio, where I accept that Obama currently has a small (+2.6%) lead. With the winning target being 270, it seems to me that everything is still to play for.

    Obama's resumption of campaigning, when Staten Island is still in a shocking state, and Lower Manhattan is still without power or other services, as shown on the BBC news, seems callous and may yet cost him the election.

  5. “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows the race tied, with President Obama and Mitt Romney each attracting support from 48% of voters nationwide.”

    Without being too cynical, does this mean the Obama is well ahead?

  6. Robert N

    The issue is FAR wider than some police bumbling. It is about a culture of protection and perhaps perversion of justice.

    There are allegations that Saville was well connected with senior police officers, and was tipped off on details of the Haut de la Garenne inquiry as it was in progress. Last night raised allegations that police had deliberately ignored allegations of sexual abuse against well-connected, powerful men.

    Then you have alleged actions after Hillsborough.

    All from the same era. All allegations of something much more deliberate and intentioned rather than simple incompetence.

  7. Chrislane1945
    I don’t say it’s easy but neither is running a multinational company.

  8. @robert newark

    `but I often think that every era throws up the right man/woman for the job when it needs to. `

    That is a great comment…I feel every era needs different ideas.Cameron`s problem is that Labour ideas haven`t died(Brown saved them with his efforts in the recession but got no credit for it) and Cameron hasn`t put forward different ideas for the majority yet… Something for the Tories to address before gaining the majority.

  9. daodao

    Colorado and New Hampshire both have Obama ahead according to RCP.

  10. Leftylampton
    Oh, if only it were bumbling. Don’t forget that the forces are still riddled with the funny handshake brigade, which is where a lot of this tipping off suspects, will emanate from.

  11. @Statgeek

    “The smear campaign arguably worked, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why those who voted Labour did again. Nor can I understand why anyone would keep voting in the same party manner if their MP was an expenses criminal.”

    This depends on how nakedly party political you are, doesn’t it? If you think there is something inherently dishonest about Labour MPs, and that wrapped up in Labour’s ideology is a propensity to fiddle expenses or smear political opponents, then I suppose you’d punish the party at a subsequent by-election. Ditto, the Tory Party and the Lib Dems if you felt, as a voter, that the misbehaviour had been encouraged or ignored by the party. I can think of no incidents where this has been the case, by the way, and in the Oldham East and Saddleworth case you refer to, it resulted in the offending MP being thrown out of the Labour Party. You’ll also know that expense-fiddling cases crossed party lines too and weren’t the exclusive preserve of any one political party.

    If, however, you take what in my view is the more sensible line and believe that all of these individual cases are the result of human fallibility and acts of individual foolishness, then why on earth would it make you any less likely to support the party that you have always supported and, presumably, want to govern your country?

    Your argument seems to be based on what you’d like to be the case as opposed to any inherent logic.

  12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-20181601

    Looks like heckling our so called leader has become a criminal offence, it scares me what our country is becoming, all dissent will be squashed etc.

    As for the US, I really don’t think Romney can win anymore, But it should be close.

    I think he will pick up Indiana, Florida, N.Carolina and Virginia, but I think Ohio is beyond his reach, and I’m not sure there is any other state looking like flipping for Romney (Romney would need Ohio + any other state or DC if he won all the ones I thin he would win.

  13. @Robert Newark

    Good grief; if you think “DC conservatism has much in common with the Democrats” what extraordinary political terrain do you think that the Republican Party, Romney and his likely 60 million voters occupy?

    It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

  14. Surely if Democrats are like Conservatives (I see them more as Lib Dems) then Republicans would be UKIP, there’s a lot of cross over, Republicans keep on about America becoming self reliant, energy independent etc, also they’re big on liberties, and seen as quite Libertarian just like the “current” Republican stance. They’re seen as being a bit too right by the general populous etc. Socially Conservative and Economically Conservative etc etc. Also UKIP supporters tend to be quite religious.

  15. @Maninthemiddle

    In fairness to Cameron, I think this is probably more to do with heavy handed and officious policing (or private security) than any wish on his part, or his party’s, to suppress dissent.

    You may remember that something similar happened at a Labour conference some years ago when some private security goons manhandled a veteran Labour member out of the Conference hall for heckling Jack Straw. It created a terrible image at the time, and allowed political opponents to make some hay, but it was a cock-up rather than a manifestation of the “Stasi tendency” in Labour raising its head as the Daily Telegraph tried to claim!

    Cock-ups beat conspiracies just about 99% of the time.

  16. LEFTY

    I’m just going on the Newsnight programme.

    I haven’t read the terms of reference for Waterhouse.

    It does look like very similar to Hillsborough though-I agree.

  17. I’m reminded of all the allegations that came out after the death of cyril smith. It’s seems odd that these things only come out after folk die. Of course the news about cyril was especially shocking for me cos he was always one of my favorite politicians( shows how good a judge of character I am!!!) I’m also struck by the increasing similarities with the Belgium well connected ring of some years ago, they never did get to the bottom of that and many victims would not testify because they said that their abusers were so well connected that pursuing them through the courts was pointless. I’m guessing that in this case as well the whole truth will never come to light.

  18. LEFTY

    @”There are allegations that Saville was well connected with senior police officers”

    Yes- I read those reports-weekend social get together in his flat.

    Have you come across this ?

    http://www.channel4.com/news/how-jimmy-savile-revealed-all-in-the-psychiatrists-chair

    I used to watch Anthony Clare’s interviews-but don’t remember this one.

  19. I see that the majority are drifting towards what was dismissed before as a conspiracy theory.

  20. @MitM

    “As for the US, I really don’t think Romney can win anymore”

    I wish that I shared your confidence.

    On this site we quite rightly take the results of UK polls with a heavy pinch of salt. But from what I read about the problems with US polling, we ought to be far more sceptical about the results of polling there. The typical response rate to phone polling is 9% according to this article, and that’s even before considering automated robocalls. There’s massive scope for differential response rates within the remaining 91%. Nor is there the same transparency of disclosure of methods and data that we have in the UK. Should there be any small systematic bias against Romney hidden in the polls, then Obama is most likely done for.

    All we can really say is that it’s far too close to call.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-j-samuelson-pollsters-moment-of-truth/2012/10/28/5c4f5a38-211c-11e2-ac85-e669876c6a24_story.html

  21. I pity the US electorate , for the choice they are faced with.

    I wouldn’t vote for either of them.

  22. Colin I don’t.

    I think both sides unfairly paint the other. I think both parties have picked excellent candidates, both Obama and Romney. There’s allowed of false accusations made about both.

    Both have considerable good executive experience, Romney is Massachusetts and Obama in his first term. Both I deem likeable, both have excellent track records and well qualified, compare that to the dismal showing over here.

    If you believed all the negatives then yes, we have a muslim socialist intent on destroying liberties and killing people through his healthcare overhaul, vs a heartless fat cat businessman who is going to bleed Americans dry for everything they have just to increase his profit margins and start countless wars for the fun of it.

    But both those scenarios are just completely false, a good video, its 4 years old, but just substitute the word McCain for Romney and its the same.

    It shows how laughable all the accusations from both sides are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-_JhRJ0tWA

    It’s called If The Other Party Wins

  23. Phil – I think that response rate for phone polls is actually *higher* than we now tend to get in this country.

  24. @CB11

    There were MPs of all colours in the expenses row. I made no distinction between the red, the blue or otherwise. You have inferred that I did.

    The point is, if a party gets to put up a replacement candidate for one who is basically a criminal, then there’s no end to the bad aspects of the party system.

    I picked Oldham as it stuck in mind at the time. It was nothing short of lies and the party took no responsibility for it. “Just an individual’s mistake” is not a sufficient excuse. Equally, the party should take responsibility for the expenses fiddling that their MPs were involved in. Frankly I believe the majority were at it, and only a few were stupid enough to get caught.

    “Your argument seems to be based on what you’d like to be the case as opposed to any inherent logic.”

    Sounds like a great argument against any manifesto pledge. Of course it’s based on what I would like. It’s not illogical to expect a little honesty. Naive perhaps, but there you go.

  25. MinM:

    Describing Romney as “likeable” is a bit too much of a generalisation for me. YOU may like him but I don’t think that’s a mainstream view here. Personally I find him more on the obnoxious side of the spectrum and, as I remarked previously, the UK media would tear him apart for his blatant untruths and changing positions.

  26. The idea that the electorate of any given constituency should be denied the right to vote for the party and candidate of their choice because the incumbent did something wrong, even criminal is plain daft.

    Where would one draw the line: recently a drunken MP assaulted another – should that result in his party losing the right to contest an election?

    For individual misdemeanours its generally accepted that the individual concerned should be the person punished.

  27. @ Cyril Smith

    “I’m reminded of all the allegations that came out after the death of cyril smith. It’s seems odd that these things only come out after folk die. Of course the news about cyril was especially shocking for me cos he was always one of my favorite politicians( shows how good a judge of character I am!!!) I’m also struck by the increasing similarities with the Belgium well connected ring of some years ago, they never did get to the bottom of that and many victims would not testify because they said that their abusers were so well connected that pursuing them through the courts was pointless. I’m guessing that in this case as well the whole truth will never come to light.”

    I was never aware of anything bad about Cyril Smith coming to light. Allegations aren’t always true.

    @ Robert Newark

    “(For reasons which I have never understood, the police seem to think that ethnic minorities should be treated differently from everyone else.)”

    Hmmmm. I think I agree with this statement but for different and contrary reasons.

    But I do agree with you that one is innocent till proven guilty.

    @ Daodao

    “I am still not convinced that the US presidential election is yet decided. According to the RCP website, the latest opinion polls show the candidates remain neck and neck in the national vote (giving the impression to undecided voters that Romney still has a good chance of wlnning).”

    Yeah, I’m not either. I have increasing confidence (and I have confidence about certain individual states). If they truly are both neck in neck in the national popular vote and Romney wins, some other states will break towards him. Yes, no Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. But states are like that until someone wins without it (for example up until 1992, no Democrat had ever won the White House without winning Texas).

    “As 1 week ago, the electoral college is still divided 201 Obama/Biden, 191 Romney/Ryan and 146 “Toss Ups” (11 states where the lead for either candidate is <5% and thus within the MoE). Various commentators on this site still assume that Obama will win most of the "Toss Up" states, but RCP is not committing itself. "

    RCP is biased. That said, I do agree with you that the election is not over.

    "If Romney wins NH (4), FL (29), CO (9), NC (15) & VA (13), as seems likely, then his EC total would be 261, so it all comes down to the result in Ohio, where I accept that Obama currently has a small (+2.6%) lead. With the winning target being 270, it seems to me that everything is still to play for."

    I don't think he's likey to get any of those states. NH is probably the likeliest. Obama has been trending upwards in FL, he's been ahead in VA the entire election (and Powell endorsement probably clinches it there if it wasn't clinched already), and NC is a tie that could go either way in a coinflip.

    "Obama's resumption of campaigning, when Staten Island is still in a shocking state, and Lower Manhattan is still without power or other services, as shown on the BBC news, seems callous and may yet cost him the election."

    Oh really? It's somehow more callous than not stopping your campaign at all (despite claiming to), minimizing the plight of the victims (by saying all Americans are suffering the same way as those in affected areas), and then launching a phony canned goods drive (when the Red Cross and other emergency relief organizations specifically say to not send them canned goods)?

    Lower Manhattan has had its power restored. It was restored yesterday afternoon to an eruption of spontaneous cheering. Staten Island is in a shocking state. It's why the DHS Secretary was there herself yesterday personally supervising relief efforts.

  28. @ Paul Croft

    “Describing Romney as “likeable” is a bit too much of a generalisation for me. YOU may like him but I don’t think that’s a mainstream view here. Personally I find him more on the obnoxious side of the spectrum and, as I remarked previously, the UK media would tear him apart for his blatant untruths and changing positions.”

    He’s not considered likeable here. Even by his most committed and ardent supporters. They don’t like him very much, he’s just a vehicle for them.

    This is totally OT: but have any of you guys ever purchased shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt? And if so, did you like them?

  29. SOCAL

    My opinion on Romney is that he has changed him mind on too many issues to be trusted. Any politician who constantly checks the political wind and then takes a policy position they don’t really agree with, should not be taken seriously. Once they are elected, they may just change their stance to match their true beliefs.

    I don’t like Romneys plans re Healthcare, as he does not appear to support the additional 30 million people that now have this under Obama for the first time.

    I also don’t think Romneys sums add up. There is a danger that government debts may increase, as I am not sure what savings he will make to afford any tax cuts.

  30. Nick Davies, celebrated journalist and seeker after truth, has visited the North Wales scandal before.

    http://www.nickdavies.net/1997/10/01/secrecy-imposed-on-the-exposure-of-alleged-child-abuse-news-and-feature/

    It’s all out there already but Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC has ruled that nobody can name names.

  31. NickP

    That’s quite frightening if any of it is true.

  32. @ SoCal

    I bought Charles Tyrwhitt shirts for Mr Cynic, he was happy with them. However, they constantly bombard us with marketing now they have our details!

  33. jarrod

    I doubt there is anything in Nick Davies’s article that is untrue.

  34. Not doubting it whatsoever.

    It seems incomprehensible to me that so many of british institutions could prey on the most vulnerable in society and have the power to cover it up.

  35. NICKP

    Horrendous.

    The trouble is that if-as alleged- policemen were involved-or even if they were culpable by turning a blind eye-what are the chances of their current colleagues wanting to open up the Pandora’s Box?

  36. colin

    exactly.

    See a pattern?

  37. ……and what did this lot, and/or their predecessors do about it?

    http://www.nwalespa.org/members_details-107.aspx

    As of 15th November , another door closes up there.

  38. Good Afternoon All.

    i. So many injustices against vulnerable young people to investigate from these past events. I doubt very much if there is the popular will to force the ‘powers-that-be’ to get to the bottom of things.

    ii. Procedures to ensure that these things are stopped have not yet been fully put into place.

  39. @Anthony Wells

    Following your last comment, would you mind elaborating a bit further on what you know of the respective response rates to different pollsters in this country, please? Or at least point me in the direction of some source information on response rates?

    If 9% is too high generally, what is the typical UK response rate to telephone polls? 8%? And would this consist of perhaps 5-6% willing to give their voting intention, and 3-2% who take part but are undecided or who refuse to give a voting intention, with the remaining 92% refusing to take part at all?

  40. The current climate created by the Jimmy Savile scandal and Newsnight’s withdrawal of their programme seem to me to have created the opportunity to launch into a Matthew Hopkins style atmosphere where people could get their revenge on someone they didn’t like by “outing” them as a paedophile, whether they are/were or not knowing that the prevailing mood is to believe them rather than the accused.

  41. NICK

    Yes-a pattern certainly.

    These people-including Saville-seem somehow to have avoided scrutiny simply by being significant in public life.

    It certainly looks like there is a pattern of Nelsonian Eye from the Police, and that is deeply disturbing .

    It will be interesting to see what Judge Dame Janet Smith reports after enquiry into the culture and practices at the BBC in the era of alleged sexual abuse by Savile

    Surely there must have been a good deal of Blind Eye there too? If so -why? Was it money-ie don’t rock the boat-this guy is popular & keeping our ratings up-or was it something more sinister?

    The Savile Police investigation too will be interesting, because they surely must encounter-and explain-their previous reluctance to act on the complaints which they are now treating so seriously.

    So, yes , I agree that there seems to be a pattern-the apparent ability of significant public figures to avoid investigation.
    But I’m not yet clear whether the reason(s) for that are the existence of a high level conspiracy to subvert the course of justice. I doubt that this is the case.

    The other thing which I anticipate emerging from Dame
    Janet’s enquiry is an indication that the definitions & concept of sexual abuse of minors was very very different in the BBC back then. I think that was true across society , and thus in many organisations.

    I only mention the latter point as a possible factor in explaining why these Blind Eye’s were turned then-not in any way as mitigation. There was no excuse -even if society didn’t understand that fully.

  42. NickP

    When corruption on this scale is controlled by those with power we need to be very worried.
    What motivates a man of the law to perpetuate a cover up, I wonder?

  43. “When corruption on this scale is controlled by those with power we need to be very worried.”

    Yep. It makes you paranoid.

    Do I want the “powers that be” to have access to all the emails sent in the UK? Would they use the power to catch these rats in high places? Or to protect them?

    I am in a paranoid state of mind.

  44. MinM:

    Just read the report on what you refer to as “heckling”.

    Given the guy’s previous and what actually happened I’m extremely surprised that you use that to descibe his actions and then build a wider story around it.

    He deserved to be sentenced.

  45. @Phil

    “All we can really say is that it’s far too close to call.”

    fivethirtyeight has an excellent riposte to this today. Essentially a huge majority of polls in ‘tossup’ states have Obama ahead. For this to be due to sample error is highly unlikely, it requires a systematic bias across all the polling companies.

    Nate Silver explicitly accounts for this in his model (giving Romney about 18% chance of winning as a result).

    @SoCalLiberal

    One of the reasons that things in the UK come out after people have died is that you cannot libel a dead person in UK law. This makes it a lot less risky for the media.

    Good luck for Tuesday!

  46. @ Jarrod Sammut

    It seems incomprehensible to me that so many of british institutions could prey on the most vulnerable in society and have the power to cover it up.
    ——————–
    Really? It seems entirely comprehensible to me.

    Until 2003, when the age was raised to 18, the tabloids had girls of 16 on page 3. Prior to that, they even ‘mocked’ the age 16 cut-off by having 15 year olds pose wearing next to nothing & with a count down to their 16th birthday when ‘all could be revealed’.
    This, in so-called family newspapers!

    It was as late as 1998 that all schools were banned from beating children; although a ban was placed on state schools allowing this in 1986. I believe the 1986 bill banning it was passed by just a single vote. The PM voted against the ban.

    My recollection is that beating & exploiting teenagers was ‘not such a big deal’ back then. During the Thatcher era there were several campaigns to bring back the birch for youth offenders. Thatcher herself was in favour – several of her speeches & interviews allude to this.

    My only doubts about a ‘cover-up’ are: Was it necessary to cover it up at all? I am more minded to believe that the prevailing ‘grass-roots’ culture was to treat ‘juvenile deliquents’ as devious little liars whose allegations were made simply for the purposes of attention seeking; ergo, would interventions from ‘on high’ have been required?

  47. Someone on the BBC/USA election site says Romney hasn’t spoken to reporters for ten days.

    Amazing if so.

  48. @The Sheep

    Thanks but I was fully aware of that fivethirtyeight article when I penned my comment.

    I’m just not convinced that you can assign precise probabilities as a means of discounting systematic polling bias in the way that Silver claims. I’ve seen too many examples in various contexts of researchers becoming so wedded to a model that they turn a blind eye to its potential limitations and stretch it beyond its reasonable capabilities.

    For example, is Gallup’s more stringent likely voter adjustment is more likely to be correct than the less onerous adjustments of other pollsters? That in my mind is a judgement call and different people would predict substantially different outcomes based on their judgement. The idea that you can somehow move from that to sum up the chance of Obama winning to within 1 decimal place is fanciful.

  49. @Phil

    You can certainly assign precise probabilities, but they may not be accurate.

    So lets just say that NS is giving a 4:1 odds to Obama winning over Romney. That’s a long way from being “too close to call”. And the model you’re critiquing isn’t the 538 one, it is the overall polling methodology of US polling organisations, including YouGov. There _could_ be systematic bias in almost every one of over 40 polling organisations…

    And lets be honest, for all the criticism of NS as a “shill for Obama” he is one of the most conservative of the meta pollsters: PEC for example has Obama between 98 and 99.9% likely to win.

    Apologies for any typos; French keyboard

  50. Phil – I believe it is about 8% (these things aren’t published anyway, it’s just from talking to phone pollsters).

    In order to actually get an interview, a phone pollster needs to make about 12 calls. Of course, that isn’t all non-response, some of it is non-contact (i.e. no one picks up, they hang up without taking, or whatever). I don’t know the breakdown between non-contact and non-response.

    On top of this there are some people who take part in the surveys, but refuse to answer voting intention questions.

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