Electoral Vote Predictor 2004: Kerry 254 Bush 280
News from the Votemaster
Today is D-day. The first debate is tonight and may determine the result of the election. It will take a number of days to get any polling data though. Kind of makes today's polls irrelevant.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen recently addressed the issue of registered voters vs. likely voters. He said that one of the questions his firm asks is "Please rate your interest in the campaign from 1 to 10." Republicans always score higher on this question. Some firms use this question (often along with a few others such as "Did you vote in 2000?" as a screen to remove unlikely voters from the sample. He also said that in his experience, this screen does not work well until the final weekend of the campaign. For this reason, Rasmussen polls are of all registered voters. If you look on the pollsters page you can see the most recent result per pollster.
The importance of the difference between RVs and LVs can be seen in a Gallup poll of Ohio conducted Sept. 25-28. Among all registered voters, Kerry is ahead 49% to 46%. Among those voters Gallup thinks are likely to vote, Bush is ahead 49% to 47%. In other words, Gallup thinks Bush will carry Ohio because large numbers of Democrats won't bother to vote. Needless to say, both sides will strive mightily to get out the vote on election day. As an aside, this poll is the first one I have seen in many weeks showing Kerry ahead in crucial Ohio.
Gallup took a poll on whether people think CBS made an honest mistake about the memo relating to George Bush's service/nonservice in the Alabama National Guard. By a large margin (56% to 38%) the public thinks it was an honest mistake. Only 26% think CBS should fire Dan Rather. Perhaps not surprisingly, by a 2 to 1 margin (63% to 36%), Republicans think CBS broadcast the story to make Bush look bad. By a 6 to 1 margin (82% to 13%) Democrats think it was just an honest mistake. What strikes me as the worst part of this whole story is that everyone has forgotten the real story. It is not about whether one memo was a forgery or not. It is about whether George Bush got favorable treatment (as the former Lt. Governor of Texas, Ben Barnes, has said) and whether he fulfilled his obligations to the Guard. In a court case, if one piece of evidence is invalidated, it is discarded and the judge and jury look at the rest of the evidence.
A reader pointed out to me a possible systematic bias in the Florida polls related to the travel patterns of migratory birds. Snowbirds. A lot of New Yorkers have condos in Florida and spend summers in New York and winters in Florida. Some of them are registered to vote in Florida and do not yet show up in the Florida polls. But a large majority will vote Democratic. It might be an overlooked factor. On the other hand, the effect of the hurricanes may be even larger.
I am in the process of installing new software that will provide maps with averages of the past three polls as well as the "traditional" most recent poll wins. There were some bugs in the software and several errors crept in. As one example, the question of whether "D.C. comes before "Delaware" alphabetically depends on (1) whether the former should be sorted on "D.C." or on "District" and (2) if it counts as "D.C." whether "D." comes before or after "De" in the collating sequence. Librarians usually ignore nonalphabetic characters (periods, apostrophes, etc.) but computers don't work that way. As a consequence of a bug related to this sorting, the D.C. and Delaware polls were interchanged for a while. Anyway, testing is continuing and hopefully the new software will be ready by the end of the weekend. Sorry for the confusion caused by the bugs.
Projected Senate: 49 Democrats, 50 Republicans, 1 independent
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