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Can the Polls Accurately Predict an Obama Win?

Update: At approximately 10:30pm ET The Associated Press projected Hillary Clinton the winner in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary.

Hip-hop artist Jay Smooth created this video on the night of the Iowa primary, suggesting that we may not be able to judge Obama's electability based on his polling performance.

Jay writes:

Some quick thoughts on Obama's win in Iowa. (I'm not necessarily endorsing Obama btw, would love to see him win but there are other candidates I like too.. haven't decided yet what I'm doing in the primary.)

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Rating: 2.7/5 (7 votes cast)

Comments (6)

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Experience suggests that momentum isn't always what it appears.

Last weekend, following the Iowa win, the Rasmussen poll had Obama ahead by 10 while Clinton was still leading by a small margin in the remaining polls. I knew that was out of whack, and flat out wrong, but what followed was a bandwagon effect where lots of people, enthused by Obama's success, wanted to be part of the winning momentum. Who doesn't want to be on the winning team?

Apparently women voters were key to Clinton's comeback, which may be pointing to a difference between rural Iowa and the more urban and urbane New Hampshire. What that suggests (if anything) for the balance of the country I'll leave the stats pros, who will probably get it wrong again (wink).

What was most disheartening to me was the way Obama Democrats turned against the Clinton Democrats following Obama's win on Iowa - stopping as low as booing Clinton at the New Hampshire dinner the next night.

Karl Rove couldn't have done a better job...

And that ain't "change" - that's Democrats defeating themselves. Tonight I have little faith that a Democrat will take the White House. I suspect we will end up defeating ourselves and fielding a candidate who has no chance of winning the national election... although I will certainly work to see that doesn't happen.

At this point Clinton has no choice but to go on the attack against Obama, and attempt to pull momentum onto her side, knowing that she'll be under equal attacks from both Edwards and Obama.

Obama was the first out of the gate to turn negative, two months ago. America will have to live with the outcome of that decision, but Democrat fighting against Democrat is the result, and it ain't pretty.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

All of that makes perfect sense, just as it made perfect sense in New Hampshire.... until tonight.

You're hoping that's the outcome, Larkin. And hope, as we learned tonight, isn't enough to win elections.

Lee Ward:

There's lot of campaign still ahead, and lots of chances for both candidates to secure a victory or defeat. I suspect Obama will do well in South Carolina and Nevada. I also expect that he will be fully vetted by the time Super-Duper Tuesday rolls around, and hope will give way to the question of experience and qualifications. Neither candidate has, in my opinion, proven themselves in those regards.

Further, if America does lean towards "hope" for the White House they will lean towards "experience" in Congress, and we have a far greater chance of having a Republican-controlled Congress if Obama is President, imho. If not in 2008 then in 2010, experience tells me... but I know you're hoping for a different outcome (wink).

Steve Crickmore:

I may as well get my two cents in. A few random thoughts. I don't think Obama was very negative when he was spinning his wheels 30 points down in the polls. Not as nearly negative as Clinton was starting to turn in the last week, when national polls were showing Obama pulling close to her.

What happened in New Hampshire?. The expectations were perhaps too high for pro Obama like people like me. Iowa is very different to NH. I didn't realize that the projected NH polls were projected to show what they they expected the youth vote and turn out to be based on what the Iowa polls were. That seems pretty unprofessional...When I looked at the Obama crowd outside in Lebanon in the youtube video Jay's home town I didn't see one face of color..It looked like a Norman Rockwell tableau. In Iowa they have never even ahad a women congresswoman before. New Hampshire was always expected to be the firewall for Clinton .Her husband was very popular there. In Iowa, I think he came 4th or 5th when he first campaigned in 92 for the presdidency. NH is perfect Clinton country
in that respect as well as for McCain..history repeats .

51% of the Americans voting are women..Clinton's idea of real change is being the first woman, in the presidency. As Larkin says she gets a pass when she chokes up on campaign trail maybe even a lift for showing raw emotion. A male candidate like Muskie, Dean or Obama if he did that, would be toast. Obama's idea of real change is giving all Americans hope that they can influence government again. This may be too subtle for most Americans, a third of whom can't name the vice presdent and don't know which party is in charge of Congress). They are more likely to prefer an 'Argentinian-style' change of leadership than to suport an candidate who appeals to what all Americans could do together if they all had equal oppotunity.

Lee Ward:

"I didn't realize that the projected NH polls were projected to show what they they expected the youth vote and turn out to be based on what the Iowa polls were."

I don't know what you're talking about Steve. The Rasmussen poll was based on what voters were telling them, not on what Rasmussen interpreted or projected the turnout to be. People were saying they would vote for Obama in larger numbers than reality.

Voters said one thing and did another. Polls, in the case of New Hampshire, proved highly unreliable in terms of what votes said about Obama versus what they actually did.

There is a huge lesson to be learned there by Democracts. Hope isn't enough to win the general election in November.

Steve Crickmore[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Lee, I couldn't find the exact article I read this about, but maybe this helps- from a newstory-Pollsters need to look not just at factors like race but at "their own failings in sampling and likely voter modeling."


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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