Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is it Gut Check time on the Presidential Polls?

An interesting phenomenon is occurring this election cycle. Both sides are pointing at polls to say their guy will win. That is all fine and dandy, except often they use the exact same poll. As the saying goes, a good pollster can make his guy look good given the correct set of questions and sample. So it was with some excitement that I noted challenges to the conventional wisdom that the big pollsters get it right. After all, I clearly remember all of the media outlets having to walk back their predictions in 2000 when the actual vote count failed to follow the polling model.

Still, I never really understood the two big issues as to why polls, and, more to the point, subsequent predictions based on them, vary by so much. A piece by Dan McLaughlin at Red State  brought it into sharp focus.) Read the whole thing at the link, but in short it's because the Math Model people (typically the Democrats and big polling houses) believe the science of the poll, which can and quite often is flawed, whereas the other bunch (generally the Republicans who believe polls are skewed through over or under sampling) has a Historical Perspective, which I equate to the "gut check model."

Everyone, or at least the intellectually honest parts of everyone, agrees that for the majority of the current polls showing the President with a huge lead (or any lead in some cases) to be correct the Democrats need to turn out in at least the same percentage this year as in 2008. Using that math, the polls, which typically over sample likely Democrat voters to reflect the inflated turnout number, would be right. Where the Math Model fails is when the Historical Perspective gut check comes in and we realize that no sitting president has had the same level of turnout from their base  when running for re-election. It is therefore not likely to happen for the first time this year, and certainly not where such a large percentage of the President’s previous vote appeared to come from new, first time or previously disaffected voters. I won’t even go into what some refer to as the "white guilt" vote, which also is unlikely to be repeated.

So how does that affect this election? No idea. The only poll that really matters happens on the "Tuesday following the first Monday in the month of November," which we will all watch unfold together. For the record, I’m in the Historical Perspective gut check camp on the polls, I just don’t know if the gut check completely negates the President’s lead in some of these polls, or just dials it back a notch.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Almost a year has passed since my last entry into what is becoming less of a blog and more of an online record of my thoughts. Honestly there were things I wanted to write about in the last 10 months but a lack of time, and lots of sleep deprivation, prevented me from doing so. I will try to do better in the near future.

So in the last year the political silly season began, ran its course and is now in the home stretch where the two prevailing major party candidates look like marathoner’s: almost ready to pass out with a few miles to go but unwilling to throw in the towel. Will one of them absolutely melt down and fall face first to the pavement in exhaustion? Only time will tell.

Then there is the little issue of a full on anti American uprising in much of what we commonly refer to as the middle east, though most of it is actually in Northern Africa. At least four Americans killed, buildings burned (including one each American embassy, consulate building and school), a Fatwa issued and ongoing rioting consume much of the news every day. During this whole event all I could think about was "They are lucky Ronnie’s not in control." Then it came to me that the press conference would be priceless.

"My fellow Americans, earlier today it was brought to my attention that our embassy in Cairo, Egypt suffered a significant amount of damage, some of it structural, during a local rally. I believe that much of the local population’s displeasure with that building relates to their dislike of the building’s aesthetics, as evidenced by the destruction of our most notable decoration, the American Flag. The exterior and interior paint scheme also seems to have upset a few folks as evidenced by the spray painted slogans and images and attempts to remove the old paint with fire. Therefore, I have ordered that the current embassy compound be completely renovated. In order to accomplish this task as quickly and efficiently as possible, at this very moment the United States Air Force is demolishing the old structures with MOAB "Daisy Cutter" construction equipment to make way for the new, aesthetically pleasing, embassy compound. Of course the government of Egypt will understand that as sovereign United States territory we did not need to ask its permission before beginning this renovation process on United States Soil. I assure you that despite what you may have seen on television, none of the approximately 4,000 people in and on the embassy grounds are United States citizens and, therefore, anyone injured during this construction phase was illegally trespassing onto United States property. I know you share my enthusiasm for the next phase of our embassy renovation project, which will require the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and other Army and Marine"construction support" battalions to safely complete. Rest assured, this portion of American soil will be rebuilt by Americans, for Americans. Good night, and God bless."