I’m going out on a limb today …
I think that the polls have been reporting some false positives for Obama … that is, reporting numbers more favorable than the reality for the President.
Importantly, I’m not suggesting bias by the pollsters. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re trying to do a fair & square job.
But, I think that there’s some systematic respondent bias. That is, some surveyed people are refusing to respond to polls … and, others are given answers that might not be truthful.
I don’t think the “refusers” are a random sample.
And, I think that some people are giving “comfortable” answers that may not mesh with their true feelings.
First, let me summarize a couple of things that I noticed in the past couple of days.
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The Catholic Robo-call
Yesterday, I got a very impactful robo-call from a Catholic Religious Rights group.
Well targeted since I’m Catholic and a proponent of religious rights.
Opening line: “Tomorrow, it will be just you and your conscience in the voting booth.”
I wanted to hang up, but I was hooked.
The message: the ObamaCare contraception mandate was about more than contraception … it’s government over-ruling religious beliefs.
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A note to a stiff-necked people
Later yesterday, I noticed a web article by David Mamet from the Jewish Journal.
The essence of the article is that Obama isn’t supportive of Jewish principles – except for social justice – so a Jewish vote for him is unprincipled.
Here’s the full post:
To those Jews planning to vote for Obama:
Are you prepared to explain to your children not the principles upon which your vote is cast, but its probable effects upon them?
Irrespective of your endorsement of liberal sentiments, of fairness and “more equal distribution,” will you explain to your children that top-down economic policies will increasingly limit their ability to find challenging and well-paid work, and that the diminution in employment and income will decrease their opportunity to marry and raise children?
Will you explain (as you have observed) that a large part of their incomes will be used to fund programs that they may find immoral, wasteful and/or indeed absurd? And that the bulk of their taxes go to no programs at all, but merely service the debt you entailed on them?
Will you tell your children that a liberal government will increasingly marginalize, dismiss and weaken the support for and the safety of the Jewish state?
Will you tell them that, in a state-run economy, hard work may still be applauded, but that it will no longer be rewarded?
Will you explain that whatever their personal beliefs, tax-funded institutions will require them to imbibe and repeat the slogans of the left, and that, should they differ, they cannot have a career in education, medicine or television unless they keep their mouths shut
Will you explain to them that it is impossible to make a budget, and that the basic arithmetic we all use at the kitchen table is not practiced at the federal and state level, and to suggest that it should be is “selfishness?”
Most importantly, will you teach them never to question the pronouncements of those in power, for to do so is to risk ostracism?
Are you prepared to sit your children down and talk them through your vote on the future you are choosing for them?
Please remember that we have the secret ballot and, should you, on reflection, vote in secret for a candidate you would not endorse in public, you will not be alone.
Note the last line and its similarity to the Catholic robo-call that I got
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Des Moines Register Poll
Karl Rove was asked how he can be confident that Romney will win Iowa since the Des Moines Register’s latest poll has Obama up by 5 points.
“I think there’s something going on out there and we saw it in the Des Moines Register poll.
The women who runs the Des Moines Register, who knows the state intimately, told me “Obama is ahead by 5 points, but 5% of our sample said “I’ve made a choice but I won’t tell you who it is”.
The Des Moines Register is a very liberal Democratic paper, so I doubt those people are are for Obama.”
Folks unwilling to tell a pollster the whole truth.
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Poll response rates
Over the weekend we posted a Pew analysis that says survey response rates – the percentage of called people willing to take a survey – is down to under 10%.
Pew says there’s no systematic difference between Democrats and Republicans.
MJ, a loyal reader, emailed me asking if I believed that.
My reply: “Those are the numbers, but my gut tells me that response rates are higher among Democrats.”
My answer was subconsciously recalling that past exit poll fiascos have been partially explained by Republicans being less willing to take exit polls … for philosophical reasons … and because they need to rush off to work.
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I mentioned in my final prediction poll that I’ve been intrigued that Rasmussen – an automated phone survey – always seems to score Obama lower than tradition person-to-person phone interviews.
In that post Iasked “wonder why?”
After posing the prediction, I noticed a WSJ piece reprising the “Bradley Effect” … people saying that they’re voting for a minority candidate – even though they don’t intend to … so that the interviewer wouldn’t think that they’re prejudiced against minorities.
I don’t think the Bradley Effect was evident in 2008 … I think practically all folks were giving pro-Obama responses because they really intended to vote for Obama.
For at least some folks, I’m not so sure that’s the case in 2012.
It’s much easier to “punch 2 if you’re voting for Romney” tnan to tell it to an interviewer who you think may be judging you based on your answer.
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My hunch is that some people are ducking surveys –- evidenced by the very low response rates –- to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
Rather than declare that they’re going to vote for Romney, and risk interviewer displeasure, they’d just as soon refuse to be interviewed.
For those who agree to be interviewed, if they plan to vote for Romney, they may falsely report they’re voting for Obama … just to give the interviewer politically correct answers.
Similarly, some folks in groups that are broadly pro-Obama (think Manet’s editorial above) are just staying silent until they get in the voting booth.
I may be totally off base, but the anecdotes above can’t be just coincidences.
We’ll know tonite or tomorrow.
Couple of safe predictions:
(1) If Romney wins big, everyone will ask :”How could the polls be so wrong?”
(2) Every pundit will dance around the issue – highlighting turnout numbers by party – and avoid the above explanation like a plague.