Sunday, November 4, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Polling Profession Is On Trial

We are now about 48 hours away from learning the first results of the
2012 national election campaign. Most polls show the election to be close.
Most polls, but not all, are based on a larger turnout of Democrats.
Those polls mostly show the presidential race tied, and Democrats
winning most of the admittedly close U.S. senate races. Virtually all polls
show the Republicans retaining control of he U.S. house by a comfortable

If indeed the intensity is on the Democratic side, and more Democrats turn
out on Tuesday (as they did in 2008), then Barak Obama will be re-elected
and the Democrats will continue to control the U.S. senate.

If, on the other hand, the greater intensity is on the Republican side (as
virtually all indicators say it is), then the presidential result could be quite
different, and the GOP might take control of the senate.

There have not ever been as many polls in a national election as this cycle,
and not ever before has the media taken so many questionable polls
seriously. Except for Gallup and Rasmussen, there are serious questions
about the assumptions and weighting of most polls this cycle, and thus
the whole profession of political polling is on trial.

The late expansion of the number of battleground states is an ominous for
the incumbent president. Mr. Obama cannot afford to lose even one of them,
including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Even states now considered safe for one candidate or another could
provide surprising results on Tuesday.

Of course, there are much more serious matters than polling at stake in
2012, and the nation's voters, one by one, will make a critical judgment
on Tuesday about their own future and the future of the republic.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

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