Saturday, September 20, 2008

Betrayed By Polls

Let me start this post with a full disclosure. I am addicted to polls. I can't wait for new polling data to come out and when it does I take it all in for a few minutes and them immediately want more polling. I check the RCP Average multiple times a day. I follow the Gallup and Rasmussen Tracks everyday, and when Gallup has McCain doing worse than Rasmussen I rationalize in my head why Gallup polling stinks. Heck I even read commentary about polling. But the other day I realized something. Polls at this point in the game are completely meaningless, and when the election gets closer they still won't be all that useful.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well it all started the other day when McCain was having a bad polling day, then out of nowhere later in that very same day came Wisconsin University with their Big 10 Battleground polls, and low and behold there was McCain tied with Obama in Iowa! "Aha' I said to myself "I knew Iowa was going to be close, there couldn't have been that dramatic a shift in 4 years". Looking for a trend in Iowa I waited until the next day to see what other pollsters found. And wouldn't you know it but Survey USA had Obama up 11 in Iowa. I was mad and angry. Not because the poll showed McCain so far down but because I felt betrayed(That’s right I felt betrayed by a poll, that’s how you know that when the election is over you need to get outside more and retrieve your sanity). For a moment I tried to defend the polls like a battered spouse would. "It's not the polls fault. Big10 polls aren't even rated Survey USA gets top marks, so just stick with the reliable polls and you will never be treated like this again."

So that’s what I did. I went to and pulled up their pollster ratings and found that among the top rated major polling firms were Rasmussen, Survey USA, Research 2000, Quinnipiac, and Mason Dixon. Since MD doesn't have state polls out yet regularly and R2000 is a DKos poll that received high ratings only because they polled the Democrat primaries so well (wackos polling wackos). I stuck with Quinn, Ras, and Survey and used their latest polls (but no pre-Sept polls). Here is what I found.

State/ SUSA/ Quinn/ Ras
Ohio/ M+4/ O+5 /M+3
Virginia/ O+4/ - / Tie
N. Mex/ O+8 / - / M+2
N.J./ - /O+3 /O+13

Now unfortunately we don't have too many more states that were polled by 2 or more of these 3 firms in the last couple of weeks but based on what we have it makes you scratch your head. Who's winning in Ohio? Virginia? Is it close in NM or NJ? Who knows. All I know is that the top rated pollsters from can't agree on any of those questions. Now I must say in Washington, Florida, and Georgia they have very similar results to each other, but that just makes it more difficult to decide to trust them or not.

Not completely convinced I was wasting my time with polling I checked to see if each of the above pollsters were at least steady within their own polls, and all to often I found that not to be true. For example Rasmussen had McCain up 5 in Florida and had the race a tie in Florida in a two week span! Is Florida a tossup like 2000 or slightly out of Democrat reach like 2004? Rasmussen couldn't even stick with one answer for more than a week.

My time and resources were running out in my attempt to vindicate the polls but I had a few more tricks up my sleeve. I could check where the polls were at this time in 2004.

A couple of examples from Mid September 2004:

Florida- ARG Kerry +1 Gallup Bush +9 - Actual Result Bush +5
Ohio - MD Bush +7 SVis Bush +12 - Actual Result Bush +2
PA - Qn Bush +4 ABC Bush +3 - Actual Result Kerry +3

National -USAGallup Bush+14 CBS Bush +9 - Acutal Bush +2.4

Mid September in 2004 and everyone was all over the place, the same is true now. And last time all different firms in all different states were wrong. The same could be true now.

Trying to find one final reason to believe I looked to the RCP Final Poll Average. Maybe if you looked hard enough at all the polls combined like RCP does you can find the truth. Now remember these numbers are from just before the election not mid September.

State / RCPAve / Result
Florida /B+ 0.6 /B+ 5
Ohio /B+ 2.1 /B+ 2
Iowa /B+ 0.3 /B+ 1
Wisconsin /B+ 0.9 /K+ 1
Colorado /B+ 5.2 /B+ 5
Michigan /K+ 3.5 /K+ 3
Penn /K+ 0.9 /K+ 3
Hawaii/B+ 0.9 /K+ 9

Ok finally we find some good results. RCP was dead on in OH, IA, CO, and MI. Off a bit in PA, and FL(enough to matter in close election). And picked the wrong winner in WI and HI. This is a strong result but completely dropping the ball in one state, being off in another, and not being dead on in a few more could make for a dramatic swing in the electoral college projections from reality this fall.

So what does this all mean and what did I finally convince myself of. First of all I will no longer take polls too seriously until late October. Second, I will rely more on the Averages at RCP and 528 than on any individual poll. Third, every time I see poll that is within 5 or 6 points one way or another I'll consider it a tie that could go either way. And Fourth, I won't stop looking at polls like a madman I will just remind myself that most of the polls will betray me

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No More Hallmark Products for Me.

Update: Hallmark also interested in bringing out a line of cards for women with botched abortions. It goes something like, Sorry Barack didn't succeed in blocking the law to allow your baby born alive to receive medical help, since you have to keep that "mistake" we send our condolences.

Hallmark has lost a customer. Actually now that I think about it I always try and buy the cheapest decent looking card in the aisle, which probably isn't a Hallmark Card. But when I graduate, and am willing to frivolously spend money it won't be on Hallmark Cards.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Last Veep Thoughts

Obama can't pick Biden because he looks like a crook, and at the same time looks like he should be on the top of the ticket instead of Obama.

He can't be Sebelius, because any woman except Hillary would send Democrat women into a frenzy, plus she gave the response to the state of the Union that could have been given by a skeleton robot.

He shouldn't pick a General or Sam Nunn because the overwhelming compensation for his lack of experience will shine through.

He can pick Kaine, but it would be a big mistake because it would in a no experience ticket.

Bayh or Jack Reed seem most logical. Both have experience but don't come off as Washington insiders. Though I don't think Reed offers and electoral help, while Bayh could get Clinton's people on board, which could translate into Clinton voters for Obama.

Hillary? At this point, why not?

Darkhorse pick that would make a lot of sense. Senator Ken Salazaar from Colorado. Why? He is from a swing state that Obama needs, plus Salazaar won there in 2004 not the best Democrat year. He is Hispanic which could instantly increase Obama's Hispanic support. His brother is a Congressman from another Colorado district to help win CO. And finally he has been in the Senate for since 2004 so while he doesn't have an abundance of experience he is not a newcomer, and he was Attorney General for 6 years of Colorado. Experience without D.C. He won't pick him most likely but all and all and interesting choice.

Finally, its probably going to be Bayh

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Reason to Vote for McCain and Not Against Obama

Second Update: If you want to hear the abortion answer without the judges part just watch below.

Update: if you follow the link below you then have to go to McCain Part 1, thats what the time below references.

Usually I cringe when McCain talks about global warming, hurricane Katrina, or "Big Oil" but when he says things like this the begining stages of excitement for this campagin start to stir inside me a little.

Watch from 13:45-1503 of the video.

Not only does he give a good Pro-life answer, but then seems passionate about talking about nominating Judges that will end the ugly practice.

Right On!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama's Team is Delusional about Evangelicals: But Barry Could Win the Evangelical Vote!

I posted back on June 19th that Obama was wrong in thinking he had a chance to win Mississippi in November because his argument was based on false facts. He claimed that Mississippi was 40% black but only voted as 25% of the population. This was his rationale for putting the state in play; if he could just get African Americans to vote their proportion of the population he would have a 40% built in head start. The problem was, and is, that Mississippi is only 36% black and made up 34% of the voting population in 2004. Meaning Obama's plan to turn them out to vote their proportion would mean just a 2% increase, hardly enough to flip a 20 point Bush State.

Moving on to Evangelicals Obama's team encounters the same problem; he claims he can win over many evangelicals but by definition these people he intends to win over hardly seem to be the evangelicals he needs, if evangelicals at all.

Obama's National Director of Religious Affairs, Joshua Dubois said

I think a lot of evangelicals are concerned with climate change, they’re concerned with genocide in Darfur, they’re concerned with our troops in Iraq and what we’re going to do about our energy crisis.

Now call me crazy but a person who is concerned about climate change and Darfur so much so to vote for Obama sounds more like a 23 year old, blue haired kid, from Seattle drinking a Starbucks, than it does a church going family man in Georgia.

And I don't know if a group of voters that is identified by their religion would put Barry's vague energy plan (which as a astute political observer I could not fully explain to you) above moral, family, and life issues which are directly affected by their religious belief.

So because Barry is a little confused about what evangelicals are concerned about I'll try and help him out. Evangelicals are Pro-life, they are for traditional marriage, they go to church (even when their not feeling bitter), and a lot of them also share other conservative beliefs such as low taxes, and support for the War on Terror. Most importantly they believe in God and look for His guidance through life, while trying to be true to Him and their families along the way.

Obama can't just define Evangelicals as his current voting bloc and then run around claiming he has so much Evangelical support. That would be like McCain saying that he is going to win liberals over by appealing to their pro-life views, and their support of the war. If that is what liberals believed then maybe McCain would have a shot.

So I guess if Obama sees a college aged hippie, who belongs to NARAL, protests against the war, who eats only organic products, while driving around a Prius; and says "Ohh let me try persuade that Evangelical to vote for me". He will probably win 100% of the Evangelical vote. In his delusional little mind.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dumb Cop

As a dog owner this is a sad story for me, but at the same time I can't help to be completely infuriated. A young man and his girlfriend were speeding down a highway in Texas trying to rush their dying dog to a vet clinic in time to save his or her life. Well, along came the highway patrol to pull them over for speeding (which is completely reasonable) after the car pulled over at the police's request the man driving jumped out of the car screaming and explained to the officer that their dog was choking and he needed to get him to the vet hospital.

Now while using the reason and logic not quite at the level of a 1st grader, the officer detained them for 20 minutes!! While the dog died.

Instead of the officer writing a quick ticket and instructing them to drive the speed limit to the hospital, or even giving them a pass and allowing them to obey the speed limit and proceed to the hospital, or even follow the frantic dog owner's suggestion of detaining the driver while letting the girlfriend leave with the dog, the officer instead took the classy route and exclaimed

"Chill out, it's just a dog, you can buy another one."

Nice. Real Professional.

I have always held the view as a law student that the police officers who serve should get just as much education with the law as I am required to receive (A Bachelor's, and a 3 Year Doctorate of Law) mainly because while lawyers get to sit back a their desk with all the paperwork on a case and then get to consult others, and research the situation before deciding a course of action, police officers actually have to tap into a vast knowledge of law and make decisions that are life or death in a split second. And Hell, the government even supplies them firearms in the process, even more reason for them to be educated at a law degree level. If not that then at least at a 1st grade teacher level, which in New York requires 6 years of schooling after high school and 2 degrees. If the proper schooling was in place this particular officer would have not be on the force since he probably would not have passed the SATs to get into college. You need a working brain to pass those kind of tests.

One other point is that in the article, it states that the brilliant officer discussed the situation with two other officers while detaining them as the couple watched their dog die. The other officers must also be the cream of the crop for Texas law enforcement as well for not noticing the situation needed to be handled by a grown up immediately.

On a final note, if my dog was dying and I realized this moron cop wasn't going to let me go to the vet hospital I would have hopped back in the car and high tailed it to the vet. No low level government imbecile will be responsible for my dogs death if I could do something about it.

Why we let our local governments invest so much power in so few, so unqualified a bunch of people, as to actually have such great detainment powers over fellow civilians is mind boggling.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Election Won't be so Bad for Republicans and Breaking that Northern Virginia Myth

It has amazed me as to how much Republican politicians, analysts, and pundits continue to concede the point that this is a Democratic year and we will be lucky if we make it out of this election with some dignity.

The reason its amazing is because it's just not true!

Republicans better start acting like winners, and start showing the American people why their ideas and beliefs are the only way to pull the U.S. out of this so-called malaise.

First the American People have never elected a President as liberal and out of touch with everyday Americans as Barack Obama is. Never. Ohh they tried, (remember John Kerry, and Micheal Dukakis) but it never works. The American people are not majority liberal and the only time Democrats can manage to sneak into the White house is when they nominate southern "moderates"

Second Check out the national polling. In such a Democratic year Barack Obama cannot pull away. The RCP aveage has Obama up by only 4.5 points. For most polls that's in the margin of error. Ohh and Republicans always poll better in the fall (Ask Dukakis).

Third just take a look at the playing field. All we have to do is win Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado and its over, that coming from Karl Rove. If someone told you a while back "hey for the Republican to win the Presidency all he has to do is hold CO, VA, and OH." You should respond by saying thats going to be a tough road for the Dems. The Demographics are on our side. Now I know, I know,... "but what about Northern Virginia, and Colorado is in blue tide". Well let me tell you a secret, Demographics don't change 16 points in four years! That would be whats necessary for Obama to win Virginia. I mean Jim Webb, a conservative Democrat with a military record could barley win in Virginia in the best year the Democrats will have in the next 30 years, all this while his opponent was running an inept campaign and calling people maccacca. How does that exactly translate into a shift that allows Obama to beat a war hero in Virginia in a Presidential election.

A side note on all of the Northern Virginia changing Demographics nonsense:

Virgina has 11 house seats, 9 of them won by President Bush in 2004 and 8 of them controlled by Republicans. This includes both of the Northern Virgina districts. Bush carried both booming districts in 2004, although some talk as if Republicans can't compete there. Most importantly according to the Almanac of American Politics (Barone's book) the districts that voted for President Bush increased population from 2000 to 2005 by 493 thousand, while the Kerry voting districts lost 5 thousand people!! And from 2000 to 2005 Northern Virginia grew by 220 thousand people while the rest of Virginia grew by 268 thousand! Meaning Northern Virginia will actually have less impact compared to the rest of the state in these elections then in 2000! One final note Eric Cantor's 60 percent bush district grew almost as much as Tom Davis's Northern Virgina district.

The point of all of this is we need to get our chins up and start acting like winners. Start showing moderates and independents why they voted with us before, and that we are still the most dominant force in American politics no matter how many George Soros's give money to prop up empty suit Governors in Colorado and Virgina. If Obama's campaign needs to come to our home field to beat us (Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, NC,) then we should welcome it. Democrats are in their own world thinking they are going to take Senate seats from us in Mississippi and North Carolina, so let them be delusional, its probably better that way. In many ways we have a lot of advantages this year lets start acting like we do.