Why bad polling can be better than no polling.

Let me walk you through this poll as an explanation of why bad polling is sometimes better than no polling. It’s an Idaho press release that confidently says: “Donald Trump will likely win Tuesday’s Idaho Republican presidential vote, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll finds,” despite the fact that the poll is… actually saying the exact opposite. Why?

  • First, dated Feb 17-26. Which is to say, before Super Tuesday and the ongoing series of dumpster fires for Trump. That means that it’s stale, and should have been released last week. No idea why it wasn’t. I suspect that there are other stale polls out there, too.
  • More to the point, here’s the topline: Trump 30, Cruz 19, Rubio 16, Carson 11, Don’t Know 11, Other 9, Kasich 5. Which means that even before the ongoing attacks – which we know are working, thanks to this weekend – Trump was only at 30%. Between the undecideds and the Carson voters, either Cruz or Rubio would find it trivial to make up that gap.

And if you think that I’m being a Pollyanna with that last point, consider: it’s essentially what happened in Kansas and Oklahoma, which are two states that have the same general ‘feel’ as Idaho. Or the state races generally: the polling averages tend to put a ceiling on Trump’s support, and one that he typically doesn’t reach. If he’s getting 30% a week out, the question becomes: who will he be fighting for second place?

And that’s why bad polling is better than no polling.  You can look at bad polling – although to be fair, the really only bad polling practice here was the decision to sit on this thing for a week – and try to figure out what the heck is going on.  With no polling you’re just a rat on the RCP polling page, feverishly hitting refresh.  Well… maybe not ‘you.’ You probably don’t have my condition, after all.


17 thoughts on “Why bad polling can be better than no polling.”

    1. At a guess, I think that Cruz takes ID, Rubio takes HI, Trump takes MS (by a bit), and we see a brawl in MI. Kasich’s best shot is with MI, and if he takes it then that’s the story of the night.

  1. Wait, you’re waiting around for RCP to tell you stuff?
    You’re not finding the top four newspapers in a given State and seeing what their editorials have to say?

    1. I honestly don’t think I’ve read an editorial within the last year….
      There’s always tea-leaves. Or fortune cookies.

    2. Sadly, what at least two of the four top newspaper editorial pages have to say, is silence. It’s been somewhat deafening.

        1. It is.
          Also, somewhat frightening.
          My sense is that Cruz will win. But it’s just a gut feeling. It’s based more on what the state culture used to be, than what it’s become.
          That said, illegal aliens are a major problem here. And the national Republican party going scorched earth to keep Mike Simpson in office has caused no end of hard feelings. Trump definitely has a solid base of support.
          I can tell you Rubio is screwed, but beyond that, my magic 8-ball is hazy.

          1. I guess I should note the elephant in the room. The shooting of the pastor has had an emotional impact on the race.
            I don’t care to be ghoulish and speculate add to how that will affect the primary. But it will have an impact.

      1. Most of the editorial posts have been taken up trying to convince the populace that the Syrian refugees being dumped into our communities are a good thing.
        They’re having a difficult time of it. Especially when it turned out that of their seven hand-picked examples from the last round, only two had jobs, and only one of the others even paid lip service to wanting one.

        1. ‘s a hard sell, that. People know what they see, and they see Syrian immigrants maybe taking jobs… while at the same time they see labor participation at the lowest level in a generation ..

          1. And a large mosque going up on the major street, which really should not have such a large number of very nice brand new cars in the parking lot during working hours.
            Not to mention the local paper accusing the entire community of a hate crime when some kid took a can of spray paint and tagged his nickname on one of the pieces of plywood covering the holes where the windows will be.
            The Syrians taking jobs isn’t really an issue. They, the Congolese and the Somalis aren’t exactly interested in working. (The Nepalese are better. But they’re mostly women and children.)
            The big thing on that front are illegal aliens up from Mexico. During the summer. They likely make up a plurality of the local population. Most of what they make, is then sent back to Mexico in remittances. (To make a Keynesian squirm ask them about the multiplier effect of THAT.) It’s a double whammy. The price of labor is depressed, and a good portion of what money comes into the community immediately leaves without being circulated. Combine that with cultural decay and we’ve got ourselves a pretty nasty spiral going on. In my hometown, nearly 3/4 of the commercial buildings on Main Street are sitting vacant, and most of the others are barely holding on.
            Kids used to have a future here. Now, not so much. If they start, about the best they can hope to achieve is middle management at a chain store or restaurant.
            Of course, there are things that travel with the Mexican migration that can distract from facing the future, or at least provide a different kind of hopelessness. Drugs have become a big problem hereabouts.
            It’s really sad to see a community my ancestors spent generations building falling apart.
            And there’s exactly $&&@all I can do to stop the slide.

  2. Personally I’m hoping Cruz crosses 50 in Idaho– since I think they have the rule that >50 gets all the delegates. Hawaii has such a small Republican population that it could go anywhere, though if I had to put money on it I’d put it on Cruz, since Rubio has been sinking and Trump has not done well in closed contests. Mississippi being open and Michigan being effectively open (they don’t register people by party in MI so there’s no way to enforce what’s supposed to be a closed primary) are going to be another matter.

    1. We do.
      If any candidate gets an absolute majority in Idaho, they get all of our delegates.
      Likewise, if any candidate fails to receive 20%, they get no delegates. (No matter how much the governor has stumped for them. That’s Kasich, BTW. Not even the state’s establishmentarians are backing Rubio.)

  3. Bad polling is better than no polling because it gives us something to talk about until the actual polls are closed.

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