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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 11:30 AM

Public vs Private Polls

Axelrod recently dissed public polls as introducing an illusion of volatility into the race and strongly hinted that the campaign's own private polling data, which is presumably more reliable, shows a stable race with them in the lead. Here's a quote from a CBS News report:

"We know what we know and they know what they know and I'm confident that we're going to win this race and we'll know who is bluffing and who isn't in two weeks," said Axelrod.

The latest CBS News national poll does show Mr. Obama in the lead (48 to 46 percent), but it's within the poll's margin of error. Today's ABC/Washington Post poll has the race within the margin of error as well. But others, like Gallup's daily tracking poll, put Romney ahead.

Axelrod maintains that the "90 public polls coming out every day" create volatility that just isn't there. He says the current state of the race is stable and exactly what the Obama team expected.

"This race has settled into exactly where we thought it would be and it's the race that we've prepared for," he said.

I wondered about the difference between private and public polling and why the one should be more reliable than the other, and found this interesting read from a December issue of Slate:


It seems to suggest that the "likely voter" models that public pollsters use are piss poor, but probably much cheaper, way to measure the electorate. If this is right, we shouldn't put too much stock in the plethora of public polls. But then what are we to do? Take the candidates words for how things are going? That doesn't seem right. Why don't public pollsters adopt methods that are more like those of the private pollsters? The Slate article suggest an answer -- cause in general they are really interested in knowing, for marketing purposes I guess, everybody's opinion on most matters. But when it comes to elections only voters count. But I guess they don't really have enough stake in getting it right, to really spend the money and time to do that. They just need enough information to allow them to spin their tales about the horse race.

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Reply Public vs Private Polls (Original post)
kennetha Oct 2012 OP
kennetha Oct 2012 #1

Response to kennetha (Original post)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 04:57 PM

1. Another thing about public polling likely voter models

They don't and can't take account of campaign's efforts to turn unlikely voters into likely voters. The Obama campaign isn't just concerned to get likely voters to the polls but to get low propensity voters out. That's a lot of what they are trying to do with early voting.

See this quote from Messina:

Early vote is not taking a final universe of voters and only changing the day they vote," he explained. "If that were what we were doing, that would be concerning. What early vote does is help us get out low-propensity voters – voters called “sporadic” voters – which broadens our universe and freezes up more get-out-the-vote resources later and especially on Election Day. And let’s be very clear, more sporadic Obama voters are voting than sporadic Republicans in the battleground states, and that is both a sign of enthusiasm, but also organizational strength that is going to matter down here.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-winning-ground-game-2012-10#ixzz2AFhLSicI

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