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Closing the Polling Gap

Posted on Jan 9, 2008
polling booth
AP photo / Alex Brandon

How to explain the discrepancy—which was, in the case of New Hampshire this week, essentially on the Democratic side of the ballot—between polling numbers and election results?  In a column, ABC News’ polling poobah, Gary Langer, makes some suggestions and calls for a “serious, critical look at the final pre-election polls in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire.”

ABC News:

A starting point for this analysis will be to look at every significant Democratic subgroup in the New Hampshire pre-election polls, and see how those polls did in estimating the size of those groups and their vote choices. The polls’ estimates of turnout overall will be relevant as well.

In the end there may be no smoking gun. Those polls may have been accurate, but done in by a superior get-out-the-vote effort, or by very late deciders whose motivations may or may not ever be known. They may have been inaccurate because of bad modeling, compromised sampling, or simply an overabundance of enthusiasm for Obama on the heels of his Iowa victory that led his would-be supporters to overstate their propensity to turn out. (A function, perhaps, of youth.)

Prof. Jon Krosnick of Stanford University has another argument: That the order of names on the New Hampshire ballot - in which, by random draw, Clinton was toward the top, Obama at the bottom - netted her about 3 percentage points more than she’d have gotten otherwise. That’s not enough to explain the gap in some of the polls, which presumably randomized candidate names, but it might hold part of the answer.

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By Conservative Yankee, January 10, 2008 at 7:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I mentioned on another thread, before the primary… New Hampshire citizens LIE to pollsters. It’s an inside joke, and anyone who has ever lived (for a time) in New Hampshire knows this.

Maybe the voting machines are rigged, maybe Hill-the-business-shill found her one emotion and useed it.. maybe maybe maybe… BUt what isn’t maybe is voters in New Hampshire lie to pollsters

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By Conservative Yankee, January 10, 2008 at 7:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I mentioned on another thread, before the primary… New Hampshire citizens LIE to pollsters. It’s an inside joke, and anyone who has ever lived (for a time) in New Hampshire knows this.

Maybe the voting machines are rigged, maybe Hill-the-business-shill found her one emotion and useed it.. maybe maybe maybe… BUt what isn’t maybe is voters in New Hampshire lie to pollsters

THAT is why Jean Shaheen who was 18 points ahead in the polls lost to John Sununu!!

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By Jaded Prole, January 10, 2008 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

Anyone who still believes that legitimate national elections are possible in the US is delusional. It will take major changes in the way ballots are cast and counted, not to mention the way campaigns are funded, as well as media fairness and voter education before any election process can have any legitimacy.

The entire process as it is, is a disgusting sham controlled by and for the corporate elite.

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By Louise, January 9, 2008 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment


What if the polls were right? Now there’s a unique concept. Far over the heads of the folks at ABC who cant recall ever seeing such a discrepancy between the polls and the results.

They cant?

No wonder mainstreammedia does such a lousy job! They cant remember the last two presidential elections!

Not to mention a few in between!

Thanks for posting a link to the table!

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By Louise, January 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

Thanks weather!

I was just about to give up! But your observation made me chuckle ... glad to know there are some out there who care! smile

Can’t wait till the next primary [yeh right]

Maybe we could make a little money on the side predicting the outcomes based on Diebold locations, outsourced machine vote tabulation, and the percent of crooked poll workers.

Not quite sure how to do that.
Party affiliation maybe?

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By Louise, January 9, 2008 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

Once again the pundits are going to subject their readers to an analysis of “polling failure” [gag] just like they have for the last seven [double gag] years. To dumb or to cowardly to ask just once, “Could the polls be right? Is it possible somebody’s cheating?”


Like any of you really care ...

Oh, you do?

Well then you might want to take a look at these.
“... statistics from the data shows that Obama in non-Diebold towns garnering 38.7% of the vote to Clinton’s 36.2%. The results in Diebold towns show the exact opposite: Clinton with 40.7% of the vote and Obama with 36.2%. Not only are the positions swapped but the informal statistics have the second place candidate holding 36.2% in both cases ...”
“Ron Paul Votes Not Counted In New Hampshire District
Vote fraud confirmed, Clinton reversed mammoth pre-polling deficit to beat Obama, Diebold machines aid Giuliani, Romney”
YouTube - Rigged USA Elections Exposed

But if that’s just to darn much trouble, hey, no reason to care now. After all we are all well entrenced in the republican Empire, and quite accustomed to having our rights and freedoms mashed in our face and stomped in the mud.

Besides, soon there wont be enough to go around and keep the 1% of the privileged happy, so war’s a good thing, right.

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By rbrooks, January 9, 2008 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is it just me, or does this surprise Diebold-counted victory, and the MSM’s next-day breathless exit-polling rationalization, have a familiar ring to it?
How about a serious critical look at the relationship between the Diebold scanners that tabulated the much-touted paper ballots, and the DLC governor and his board of elections (whose candidate shocked, SHOCKED everyone by winning the election in an astonishing 17%-37%-39% display of state-wide, day-long consistency)? Don’t you think it was, to say the least, odd? Clinton, 39. Obama, 37. Edwards, 17. All night? What are the chances?
Remember the good old days when we had elections, when the totals showed constant, sometimes dramatic, movement as the numbers came in from the rural areas, from the wealthy suburbs and the inner cities? Trending, sooner or later, but always in motion? And the commentators would say stuff like “looks like the rural areas are starting to come in”?
Well, hey. Maybe those New Hampshire voters just happened to maintain their relative percentages with perfect precision and consistency, all over the state. All night. I’m sorry, I can’t see it. For me, it’s a real strain to believe that all over the state as the vote tallies were reported, exactly 37% coming in were Obama, 39% for Clinton, and 17% for Edwards. All night long. Not changing. That was where they started out early in the evening, and where they ended up. Doesn’t that just sound like something a lazy programmer would do, or maybe one who only had a few minutes to get in and get out - punch in the outcome and let ‘er ride?

Here’s a link to a table that may be the best circumstantial evidence of election-tampering:

I’m amazed at the chorus of “what was wrong with the polls?” This country needs to grow up. We’re not in Kansas any more. Where’s the question “what if the polls were right?” and the logical follow-up: “Did Diebold and the DLC hack the New Hampsire primary?”

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By weather, January 9, 2008 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We outsource the tabulations of Our voting overseas.

Which country is it?

For 0 points, but a jar of Vaseline as a door prize.
Can anyone guess which country it is?

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By EJC, January 9, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As the political and journalism establishment try to explain the disparity between the polling and voting outcomes in New Hampshire, they are missing the point.  Unlike Iowa, voting in New Hampshire is private and people are free to exercise their prejudice tendency outside of the public spotlight.  The only times pollsters have missed the mark in this fashion, the candidate involved were black.  People are unwilling to discuss race in this situation.  Racial relations have advanced as far as people are pretending.  We need to look at race as a factor in Mrs. Clinton’s victory.

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By P. T., January 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

The pollsters didn’t realize the crying trick would work.  The Clintons were ahead of the curve.  I predict it won’t be long before Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris are out there crying.  wink

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By Stephen Smoliar, January 9, 2008 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

If you REALLY want to know the weakness of polls, don’t talk to the practitioners!  John Nichols has a much better analysis over at THE NATION, which I used as a point of departure for my own argument:

For those who would rather “cut to the chase,” the underlying principle is that, once you factor in that you are dealing with the subjective and social aspects of human nature, any “instrument of measurement” cannot avoid distorting the “signal” it is trying to measure.  The consequence is that the only valid conclusion you can ever draw is that people do what people do.  I do like the epithet “poobah,” though, since it reminds us of that ludicrously self-important blow-hard that W. S. Gilbert created for THE MIKADO!

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