A heartening rumor

I have no idea if this email, which I got from the local Republican grapevine, is true, so I offer it for whatever you think it’s worth:

Good morning,

I wanted to pass along something heard Saturday at a community event. As most of you may know, Zogby International is headquartered in our neck of the woods in Utica. I happened to chat with a couple of people who work for Zogby and were quite emphatic about the recent 2-3 point Obama edge. They said, did not imply, that it’s even closer. The reason? Zobgy contractually is required to poll more Democrats than Republicans. The folks who passed along this intel are strong supporters of McCain-Palin working for the very big Democrat John Zogby. They stressed that the Zogby lunch table buzz is that this is a dead heat and right now is the time that McCain can win the election.

It could just be our version of psy-ops, but who knows?

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  • suek

    This about says it all…


    As for the Zogby thing…who knows. I think that the polls are intended to mislead, discourage and brainwash the sheeple. Sheep tend to stay with the flock. If you can convince enough of them that “everybody” is voting for X, a large number of others will follow along – simply because that’s what “everybody” else is doing. Sad but true.

  • Ellie2

    My ethnic background (Irish) was filled with superstitions about the risks of drawing the attention of the fates to yourself or to those you love. “May you be in Heaven an half-hour before the devil knows you’re dead…” Baby showers were rarely held before the birth. In the theatre they “say break a leg.” You can probably think of similar admonitions or taboos.

    The Obama camp must surely have tempted the fates beyond all possible restraint. Pelosi says victory is 100% certain. The pundits say “it’s over.” HelenL is chortling over the “bad news.”

    Keep the faith, folks. Things always turn out they way there are supposed to, or so my mom always taught me.

  • Mike Devx

    Here’s an article about polling bias. The basic premise is: poll organizations require clients, and who are the clients of each of these polling organizations? It also lists the headquarters of polling organizations and makes the point that all headquarters are in strong liberal areas. And then, finally, the “weights” that the organizations apply, to deliberately change their numbers, even if honest, are often inaccurate, sometimes very much so.


    The key paragraphs to me:

    Obviously, though, the polls want to finish as close as possible to the actual results, but this year they have a problem. There has been unprecedented manipulation of demographics, corrupting even the raw data to the point where effective resolution of public opinion is doubtful. This might be described as an honest mistake, if one is willing to accept greed as an honest motive. Gallup, for example, who has more experience than any other polling group and who therefore should have known better more than anyone else to fiddle with the weights. In several past elections, Gallup and other polls have learned from operational blunders.

    In 1948, Gallup screwed with the weighting, assuming the republicans would turn out much in much larger numbers than the democrats, but they were wrong, and badly miscalled the election. In 1952 Gallup assumed the other way, that the race would be tight and down to the wire, but they blew that call as well. In 1976, Gallup assumed the opposite, that democrats would overwhelm republicans because of Watergate, but when it became obvious that republicans would vote anyway, Gallup had to change its model to show their participation more accurately. In 1980, Gallup called Carter ahead until the very end, when they grudgingly granted Reagan a small lead, yet another case where Gallup’s assumptions were well off the mark. In 1996, Gallup overstated Clinton’s support and understated Dole’s support throughout the campaign, and in 2004 Gallup called the race too close to call. This year, trying to gauge the effects of Barack Obama’s ‘rock star’ charisma, Gallup decided to abandon historical norms and overweight urban and youth voters, and to over-sample democrats all campaign long. This model, dubbed the “expanded voter”, has proven a disaster for Gallup, so much so that the group reintroduced a more historically balanced model, which they call the “traditional” model. The problem for Gallup, however, is that their methodology became so skewed throughout the campaign up to now, that it may be impossible for Gallup to correct its procedures before the final election poll. In the light of past blunders, this year missing the call may not be unreasonable at all to expect.

    So OK, Gallup is having a bad year, but what about the rest? Well, there the phrase to consider is follow the leader. Gallup has been doing this stuff for longer than anyone else, and the other polls have often fallen into the habit of chasing what they see Gallup do. But for an objective look at their performance, I direct you to another of my past articles, where I noted the NCPP’s record on poll accuracy. From what I see here, if Gallup is having problems, it’s likely just as bad or worse for everyone else.

  • Mike Devx

    And now, the other side,
    I often check out contrarian conservative, Rick Moran. He posts this – and it is depressing.


    I am saving that page in my personal archive. It’s the second such article I’m saving. Rick Moran is ON TRIAL for me. At the end of this election cycle, I am going to compare results against what Rick is saying, and he is ON TRIAL to me. If he is wrong, I am never going to pay one ounce of attention to him again.

    I’m going overboard, you may ask or proclaim? Well, you’re welcome to. My main objection to what he’s written is that he offers no explanation of why he might be wrong. And there are *definitely* reasons why he might be wrong. The most obvious is that he is treating polling as a “new science”, with no historical record. And the historical record contains a decidedly large number of huge, egregious polling errors. Rick makes absolutely no mention of this, and takes it into account absolutely *not at all*!!! Talk about egregious mistakes!

    For Rick, polling science has now, suddenly, become perfect, and totally reliable. Else, he would have taken into account, in his post, the severe uncertainties raised by pollings’ past.

    That is why he is ON TRIAL for me. It is definitely, absolutely, a question of judgment. If he turns out to be right, he will rise in my estimation… but the lack of balance in his article would still remain troubling to me.

    (It is the same troubling – and enraging – lack of balance that enrages me about our so-called conservative elite columnists’ recent articles, showing that these columnists have begun an en masse turncoat fleeing toward Obama, attempting to secure their future among the cocktail party crowd in D.C.)

  • suek


    No argument from me…we all have our own opinions, and are entitled to them, but what I’ve read of Moran makes me value his opinion – though not necessarily on polling. We each have strengths and weaknesses – I have no idea if his views on polling is worth the bits and bytes he uses, but his other opinions are usually worth a read…

    So…even if he’s dead wrong on this matter…I’d like to suggest you don’t totally write him off – just ignore his opinion on polling.

  • Mike Devx


    >> So…even if he’s dead wrong on this matter…I’d like to suggest you don’t totally write him off – just ignore his opinion on polling. >>

    Maybe I need to have my head examined. I was browsing Rick Moran just now (fitful night trying to sleep) and I reread his polling blogpost. There *are* two whole paragraphs containing the kind of qualifications that I was criticizing him for *not* having. Some samples:

    Don’t trust the polls? I wouldn’t either. In fact, a good case can be made that almost all the polls are undercounting Obama’s support and the Illinois senator is even further ahead than the polls indicate. (Read this piece by conservative political guru Michael Barone on polls.) This is because there seems to be a truly remarkable and historic dynamic at work […]

    Regardless, it would appear that the models that pollsters are basing their horse race numbers on may be flawed thus not giving us a true picture of Obama’s support. If you read this excellent piece by Nate Silver on his blog 538, you get a good sense of how accurate the daily tracking polls are performing, their pluses and minuses and a little history of the polling company. Nate concludes that the Gallup poll that tracks likely voters using the increased African American and youth turnout in their model (Gallup LVII) is probably as accurate a daily indicator as you can get. In that poll, as of yesterday, Obama had expanded his lead to 10 points.

    I hasten to add that historically, the youth vote doesn’t seem to materialize on election day and African Americans only make up around 11% of the electorate. But in 2004, after the left spent about $60 million on a massive get out the vote drive for younger voters, turnout in the 18-24 category surged 16% […]

    Perhaps the fact that these paragraphs contain conclusions that immediately refute what I’ve shown above are why my brain filter seems to have just discarded the entire paragraphs? Maybe I thought they were too weak a counter-argument to his main argument? In any case, what’s above is good enough, even if I don’t like it, and even if I strongly disagree that Gallup LVII is the best of Gallup’s polling methodologies. So unless Rick Moran modified his posts to later insert the above (highly unlikely that he would do that!) I was wrong.