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Ear to the Ground

More Evidence That Polling Is an Imprecise Enterprise

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Posted on Oct 30, 2008
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Composite: wikimedia/grangercollegeadvising.com

Polling mania continues! So, Thursday brought word of two newly hatched polls—one by The New York Times/CBS News and the other by Fox News—and their results are strikingly different. One poll (hmmm) found that Team Obama was leading by 11 points, while the other (wonder which one?) showed McCain gaining on Obama in a big way. What whimsy!


The New York Times:

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of advertisements, the nationwide poll found the contours of the race hardening in the last days before the election on Tuesday. Twelve percent of the voters surveyed said they had already voted. These were among the findings:

Mr. Obama is maintaining his lead, with 51 percent of likely voters supporting him and 40 percent supporting Mr. McCain in a head-to-head matchup.

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Fox News:

As the candidates make their closing arguments before the election, the race has tightened with Barack Obama now leading John McCain by 47 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, according to a FOX News poll released Thursday. Last week Obama led by 49-40 percent among likely voters.

Obama has a bit more strength of support going into the final week. Among his backers, 88 percent say they support him “strongly” and 12 percent “only somewhat.” For McCain, 78 percent of his voters support him “strongly” and 22 percent “only somewhat.”

In addition, 66 percent of Obama’s supporters say it is “extremely important” to them that their candidate wins compared to 59 percent of McCain supporters.

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By samosamo, November 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

By Louise, November 1 at 7:50 am #

Sounds like the best system for voting, especially for these ‘modern’ times. My frustration with the idea of voting became apparent when the discrepencies of 2000 reared its ugly head and when I found that there was NO paper trail I knew without a doubt what was going on. And after reading “What Happened in Ohio?” the 2004 election’s obfuscation factors proven that the Ohio sec. of state blackwell was hands on and the director of the misdirection and disruption that occurred at the polls in those polling places, all my doubts disappeared about the voting fraud in Ohio. Then when there was no accountability for blackwell and some others, my frustration went back up in the clouds.
Finding and going to web sites BLACKBOX voting, VERIFIEDVOTING.org and the Free Press, where I bought the book about the shenanigans purpertrated by the republican part of those elections, I found little resistance to my accepting these website’s idea of always having a paper trail in effect. In fact I took it down to the even more fundamental level of marking a PAPER BALLOT, placing it in a secured box, shipped to under extreme security to a counting house where under strict security and supervision the votes are counted. And have a 2 or 3 day window to vote to allow more voters time to get out because that is another curious tid bit of information I have read, that some employers will NOT provide a certain amount of time for an employee to go out and vote, thus creating a horrendous race against time to get something done that needs NOT to be rushed. I myself don’t need to know by 5:00pm on tuesday who has won the election.
Then, after reading and viewing Greg Palast’s work on the 2000 and 2004 elections(great dvd ‘Orwell Rolls in His Grave’ with Palast’s findings in florida)I KNEW what was going on and KNEW the elections had been rigged to get w into office in 2000 and keep him there in 2004.
And now, ***By Louise, November 1 at 7:50 am #
*** with your comments on your experience I feel as if there are places that take those extraordinary steps to ensure a fair and honest election. Where I vote, my name is on a list, I show my driver’s license, I vote. The ballot is read by an optical reader and there is a loss of faith to a degree with that but I don’t live in a swing state and the people I have voted for in the national elections have rarely won.

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By Louise, November 1, 2008 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

Back in the day, when I was a poll worker, lines formed, folks came in, their voter registration card, or ID if they had lost the card or not received it yet, was checked against the voter rolls, they signed and if the signature matched [pretty easy to tell] they were given a PAPER BALLOT.

There was always at least one representative from each party there to challenge, if necessary. Then they went into a little booth with a curtain, filled in their PAPER BALLOT and came out and put it through a slot in a sealed box.

When the polls closed, the boxes were opened with an official from each party watching the opening and counting of each ballet.

The counting involved three people at each table. One to read, one to record and one to witness, in addition to Party Officials overseeing the whole thing.

The totals were tallied, rechecked and forewarded to election central. The numbers of PAPER BALLOTS issued to a district, the number used, the number discarded because of a voters mistake and request for a new one, and the number un-used were tallied. If the numbers didn’t match, we had to go back and start over again and find the problem. Nothing was left to chance. We knew that, so we were very careful the first time.

The PAPER BALLOTS were then bundled, placed in a provided container, or containers clearly identifying the voting district they belonged to, sealed, signed, witnessed and sent on by special delivery.

When the containers arrived at election central, no matter what time of day or night, there were at least two people there to receive, and document they had received them.

We usually finished up before the sun came up.

The folks at election central then repeated the process, checking the forwarded info they had received against the PAPER BALLOTS they had just received. Then the PAPER BALLOTS were re-bundled according to district, re-sealed, signed and witnessed and stored for future reference, in case the vote was so close a recount, as demanded by most States Law, or a legal challenge required they be opened and recounted.

Sounds like a lot of work, but considering the numbers of voters involved, because of the number of poll workers, and the training they had recieved, it actually went pretty fast. Besides, isn’t our future, and the security and well-being of our nation worth a little extra time?

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By Louise, November 1, 2008 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

Ask yourself if the price we have paid through bad leadership and bad decisions over the past eight years was worth saving a few hours for you and mainstreammedia? I don’t think so.

We went home tired and satisfied, because we knew we had done it correctly, and the results were correct. The folks on up the line went home later, tired and satisfied because they knew they had done it correctly.

So why cant that happen today?

I think we can blame three factors.

First: A political Party [or Parties] that make very important decisions based on the slick sell job of an alleged computer guru, or guru’s, and fail to verify whether or not the guy[s] is a guru or a con-artist. Then when the fail-safe machines fail, those politicians display their ignorance of all things computer or electronic by never questioning the alleged results.

Second: Mainstreammedia demanding instant results. They’d rather risk an errant or fraudulent election result than give up the instant story. And even the ones smart enough to know those machines can be manipulated internally by some unseen somebody, miles and miles away, they prefer to fall back on demographics and popular vote versus electoral vote. Cause that’s less painful than printing the story headlined, ‘Boy Have We Been Snookered’ or ‘Golly We Are Dumb’

Third: We the people, because we don’t like to wait eight to twenty-four hours [sometimes longer] to know who won. We don’t question what appears to be an obvious contradiction between what we’ve all been watching and the alleged final result, because we use those magic machines every day ... to pull money from the bank, to buy groceries and to pay our bills. So we decide to believe the machines cant make a mistake. Ergo, we too display our ignorance of all things computer or electronic.

So, like it or not folks, unless or until we throw the fail-save machines in the garbage where they belong, and go back to relying on human resource, even if it does take a little longer, we really have no idea how factual the election results are.
We really have no idea.
And that’s a fact!

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By ron, October 31, 2008 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think some polls are trying to show it being a close race so if there is any hacking of the voter machines no one can say fraud. If this hacking of the voter machines just turns enough BO votes to JM votes the polls that said it was close would say “I told you”.
The two companies that make the machines are staunch JM backers so watch out.

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By Deborah in Florida, October 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

If one more person gives me this “Bradley Affect” crap I swear I’m going to scream.  I have no idea what happened in California, but that was then and this is now.  There will be NO Bradley affect here, NONE.  We are not a bunch of idiots who have to look away at the TV when Mr. Obama speaks because we are so disdained by the color of his skin.  Bring the debate into the 21st century PLEASE

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By Deborah in Florida, October 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

How can you news media folks attest to the accuracy of your polls when NOT ONE OF THEM takes into the equation the formerly disenfranchised voters who never vote in primaries.  Trust me, there are ton of us.  Compare the numbers from the last primary with the number of registered voters.  A lot of people did as they always did and didn’t participate.  There is no currently no way to measure how these folks will vote.  Given the tidal wave currently underway in this country my guess is they are on the democrat side.  Either way it is so crystal clear that this coming election will be a tidal wave of epic proportions.  If it is not someone or some people have a huge story to tell us about how and why our votes were stolen.  That’s just the bottom line of it all.  Period!

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By Deborah in Florida, October 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I take no credence for these poll numbers.  How can they possibly reflect those of us who were still disenfranchised and didn’t vote in the primary???  There are lots of us!!  You haven’t the first clue how we are voting and there is no means currently available to measure that.  The polls are basically way off their mark this time and Tuesday night we will all see it.  There is no question that this is going to be a landslide of historic proportions, too many events in recent history has already solidified that to the world.  I know it, you know and everyone else knows it.  The early voting efforts have all but decided who will win.  Tuesday night will be an exercise in patriotism, but the power has already shifted.  My fellow citizens have said with all the clarity they can muster…“We’re mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore!”  My only advice is to stay engaged.  We will show Washington that we DO have the power they so hoped we would not utilize in times of selecting our leaders.  Now show them that we will stay engaged enough to hold EVERYONE accountable to us!  One last thing, to the media mongols who keep bring up this bradley affect.  Are you freaking kidding me???  You’re the one making it an issue, we are clear, concise and determined in our convictions and have sat on the side lines being ripped around long enough.  Those days are gone, if the candidate is highly capable and represents bringing us as a country together to fight the battle for the better good of our country, we don’t care if he’s purple for crying out loud!!  In some respects I think the media by raising this issue time and time again are displaying unfavorable racist tones.  Stick to the issues and not the “fluff”

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By samosamo, October 31, 2008 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

Don’t forget that everything fux news is conservative platforms for manipulation of information. So, if fux ‘tightens’ the %s between mcpalin and obiden then they are setting the stage for at least one poll prediction that would justify a mcpalin win from voter fraud that they could deny ever happened because they miraculously had ‘polled’ a tight race.

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By Thomas O'Toole, October 31, 2008 at 5:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wonder how the pollsters will explain how they were so wrong on election night, Only the people pulling the leavers know who they are voting for.My guess for them is that “It must be the Bradley effect:Really

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