21.Horserace

21.Horserace - Presidential Campaigns Seen Through Horse...

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Unformatted text preview: Presidential Campaigns Seen Through Horse Race Polls based on Tides of Consent , ch. 4 1 Do Polls Predict the Winner 1.1 Election Eve The simple answer is yes. If you observe the 10 or so organizations that do polls just before election day and find the mean or median of those 10 polls, you will be within a point or two of the outcome. Basically the horse race polls are well designed to predict elections, their only problem being that it is very hard to estimate who will actually vote. 1.2 Early in the Campaign Early in the campaign, say about April, the answer is opposite. The polls are wrong as often as they are right and you might as well do a coin toss. Examples: 1976 Ford beats Carter 1980 Carter wins reelection over Reagan in a landslide 1988 Dukakis beats Bush 1992 Bush beats Clinton About the only time one can be confident in the polls is when the election is so one-sided that you dont need polls to tell you how it will come out. 1 Problem Primary and caucus voters use polls to tell them which candidate will be the strongest for their party. Those polls are essentially worthless, but have an impact on decisions. Why? You should already know why early polls are worthless. It is the nonattitudes problem again. In the 2000 election study 24% of voters re- ported, when asked when they decided how to vote that (a) they knew all along, or (b) that they decided during the primary election season, by about April. What about the other 76%? They: 1. arent paying attention 2. do not know anything about the candidates (except the president) For example in 2008 they could not identify Barack Obama as (a) from Illinois, (b) a Democrat, and (c) a liberal. 3. they had not gone through the mental exercise of choosing between Obama and McCain. Remember, most people dont pay any attention to politics. Think of Olympic sporting events as analogy. We lose sight of all those events for four years, not paying them any attention. Then in a two or three week period when the games are on we learn everything we will eventually know in that brief period of concentration. Politics is much the same, many voters tune in only in October of presidential election years. So they are asked: If the election were held today, would you vote for John McCain, the candidate of the Republican Party or for Barack Obama, the candidate of the Democratic Party? 2 And then the large numbers who answer honestly, I dont know. I havent thought much about it. are prompted: But if you had to choose between the two of them, who would you choose? And so even though they have no idea whatsoever of what they will eventually decide, they go ahead and answer (i.e., make up a reported attitude that doesnt exist). And thats the majority of respondents for most of the election year, up until the July/August convention period....
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21.Horserace - Presidential Campaigns Seen Through Horse...

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