Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 5, 2008

POLLSTERS CAN EXHALE.... The presidential election offered a test for a lot of institutions, but professional pollsters had to realize that if Barack Obama came up short last night, not only would Americans question pollsters forever more, but we would probably start to look askance at the very idea of random statistical sampling.

As it turns out, they can relax.

The final Pollster.com report on the national popular vote showed Obama leading with 52% support. Based on the results that are currently available, Obama won with 52% support.

Indeed, looking over that interactive map that some of us have been obsessing over for quite a while, the polling averages really didn't get any states wrong at all. Arguably, the only state where the numbers were really off base was North Dakota, which turned out to be less competitive than expected, but that's a pretty inconsequential demerit in an otherwise impressive showing.

I'd add, by the way, that the final DailyKos/Research 2000 poll showed Obama leading McCain nationally 51% to 46%, while the final Rasmussen poll showed Obama up 52% to 46%. Both can take a bow not only for having nailed the final result, but also for beating their rivals.

And speaking of polls and impressive showings, how did Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight do? Nate's final projections showed Obama winning with 348 electoral votes and 52.3% of the popular vote. As of this morning's count, Obama has 349 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote.

We're going to wonder how we got through elections without him.

Steve Benen 8:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (6)

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Comments

How odd is it that Bush had poll numbers showing he'd lost the last election? Will he leave Jan. 20??

Posted by: artemus on November 5, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

The only way to test a poll is to have an election. Therefore, the polls I would question most are the ones that more than a week earlier. And I do think there is a lot of scale thumbing.

Posted by: Danp on November 5, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

> we would probably start to look askance at
> the very idea of random statistical sampling

Several years ago, when the conservatives got all up-in-arms about the Clinton administration's proposal to use statistical sampling in the U.S. Census, a statistician I know commented, "If you want to dismiss the validity of statistical sampling, fine. But next time you go to the doctor, and they want to do a blood test, insist that they take it ALL."

Posted by: Andy on November 5, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Alaska races seem skewed. Maybe all the votes have not been counted. And NC is way closer than the polls showed.

Also interesting: Barr+Nader votes were double the McCain-Obama margin in NC and MO.

Posted by: tomj on November 5, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'd just like to mention that my prediction was 52% to 45%, which I made the day before these final polls came out; which says to me that they copied MY prediction and just changed one number to make it look less obvious. Of course, I've been saying that McCain was going to get about 45% or so all year, and even have a blogpost in June that shows this prediction. I've never thought McCain had a chance and I was proved fucking right.

If you want, you can read my June post about Obama and try to see if I got anything wrong:
The Year of Obama

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 5, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the attraction to main-stream perspective, but if "professional pollsters had to realize that if Barack Obama came up short last night, not only would Americans question pollsters forever more, but we would probably start to look askance at the very idea of random statistical sampling"? No, I think many or most cogent Americans would have suspected foul play, and that would have been the real reason the polls were "wrong."

Posted by: Neil B on November 5, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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