Tweet of the Day, Why I Won’t Fight In A Burning Building edition.

As the Klingons will tell you: that’s what fools do.

Those are ‘dive out the window before the generator explodes’ numbers, in fact. If I look at ’em too long, I feel SAN points starting to loosen. They’re downright unnerving.

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? Continue reading Why bad polling can be better than no polling.

In which I spitball the final NH results.

Just off of the top of my head:

Trump 25
Cruz 20
Rubio 20
Kasich 16
Carson 12
Everybody else 7

This is probably wrong. The numbers, I mean. But I think that the basic idea – Trump falling behind but ending ahead, Cruz and Rubio battling it out for second place, Kasich at a high-water mark, Carson fading, and everybody else getting their coats on – is sound enough.  Bear in mind: if Trump comes in second his campaign will definitely start to death spiral. If Rubio comes in ahead of Cruz Ted Cruz is not actually in trouble, because Iowa and New Hampshire rarely agree with each other.  Kasich would need to win New Hampshire before we’d all stop writing off his campaign. And so on.

Also bear in mind: nobody knows jack about what’s going to actually happen next week. We’re mostly just good at sounding confident. Largely because there’s never a penalty for failure. I mean, look at me: I told everybody that Trump would either win or be in fourth place, and guess what happened?

I don’t think people should rely so much on betting markets this cycle.

I mean, I understand why is writing about them, but the truth of the matter is that if you relied on the betting markets to make your predictions in Iowa last Monday then you ended up making wrong predictions. Not that the polls did much better, there – or, to a lesser extent, the ‘polls-plus,’ which I think still ended up not taking into account that the nominal front-runner there hadn’t done even the minimum amount of campaign infrastructure that one should reasonably expect from a front-runner. Honestly? If we knew how seriously contested elections were reliably going to go ahead of time in a particular kind of race we’d probably stop having elections in that particular venue.

Also: nothing gets stale quicker than a hot new trend or metric that completely and totally explained what happened in the last election.  Why?  Because political campaigns hire people who can read.

Quote of the Day, Poll Analysis Is Dark Sorcery edition.

Below in an excerpt from a very good basic primer by Kristen Soltis Anderson on how to think about polls. I particularly like this part:

…it is important for us to separate out the “predictive” quality of these horse-race polls (they are not really predictive, despite everyone loving to use them as a forecasting metric) and the “validity” measures that give us reason to believe or doubt polls as they stand today.

When deciding if you “trust” the polls, I would encourage people to stop worrying about whether these polls are predictive, because they really aren’t. I do think we need to be very critical about whether or not these polls are valid measures of this current snapshot in time, and I think there are important questions to be raised on that front.

I’ll add to it that valid polls largely only become predictive ones after the fact; you can easily have a situation where a poll is accurately describing the national political environment until it suddenly isn’t. I think that it’s generally safer to keep in mind that it’s safer to analyze polls in terms of the present than in trying to use them to predict the future. And if 2012 taught us anything, it’s that trying to mutate any one result in order to fit them fit the past is not a good idea…


Buried lede, here: polling shows that Barack Obama is a *rotten* communicator.

Look, when you’re the President, you shouldn’t be getting numbers like these in a poll asking voters whether they think that you love America:

The answer: a surprising number. Democrats are convinced he does love his country (85 percent of those surveyed answered yes in the poll), while Republicans (69 percent no) are skeptical. Independents break in the president’s favor by only 42 percent to 38 percent. Nationally, only 47 percent of people think the nation’s leader loves America while 35 percent do not.

This is, in fact, representative of a communications failure on the President’s part. Even if you assume that the GOP is being horrible and inaccurate in their assessment of Barack Obama, a 42/38 split among independents is essentially a tie. Perhaps the Democratic party should be spending less time whining about how the Republicans are being mean to the President, and more time trying to prove – in a positive manner – that we’re being unfair, too.

The obligatory “Man, that Q-Poll was pretty bad for Obama, huh?” post.

This is a glass two-thirds full kind of situation, really.  Maybe 3/4ths: after all, it annoys some so when I get to chuckle.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating took a hit amid three controversies surrounding his administration, including an investigation into the IRS unfairly targeting conservative groups seeking nonprofit status, a new poll Thursday showed.

Obama has a 45 percent approval rating and a 49 percent disapproval rating — compared with a 48 percent approval, 45 percent disapproval rating from May 1, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.

Continue reading The obligatory “Man, that Q-Poll was pretty bad for Obama, huh?” post.

#rsrh Another quick reminder on turnout models.

  • We will not know which polling firm had the best turnout model until after the election.
  • Based on previous history, having a good turnout model in previous election cycles does not necessarily mean that you will have a good turnout model in this one.
  • A poll is not accurate simply because it agrees with you; in fact, a poll is often not accurate even when it agrees with the end result.
  • Every criticism about the assumptions made in a particular turnout model will itself be based on assumptions.

And everybody in the business will agree to the above, with the private caveat Except for my favorite polling firm, of course.

Moe Lane

PS: What? No, there’s been no new polling, particularly. But this has to be brought up sometime.

#rsrh This analysis of decaying Democratic percentages…

…by The New Republic (!) is all very well, but it lacks one key phrase: “voting enthusiasm.”  Which makes a certain amount of sense: dwelling on that topic might force one to come perilously close to turning a ‘the election is tied’ narrative into an ‘actually, Obama is more or less losing right now’ one.  And we can’t have that.

Here’s the real problem with the polling, honestly: we don’t know what the electorate is going to look like in November.  We just know that basing it on ’08’s numbers is a mistake… but nobody knows how much of a mistake it’ll end up being.  And while it’s easy for me to say “Well, they should just eyeball it and pick voting percentages that look right,” that’s because I’m not a professional pollster…

Moe Lane

(H/T: Hot Air Headlines)