Gallup Poll Statistical Madness

by Sal on October 16, 2008

in Election 2008,Politics

The Gallup tracking poll, although flawed in some ways, is also one of the less political of the mainstream polls, and fairly accurate.  However, this year they’ve introduced a new wrinkle.  As well as its traditional likely voter metric, they are introducing a new “Expanded” Likely voter metric to “take into account higher turnout among groups of voters traditionally less likely to vote, such as young adults and minorities.”  This method favors Obama, but is based on no empirical evidence from past elections. 

I wonder if they are taking into account new voters energized by the vote of Sarah Palin?  David Rasbold over at Redstate has an interesting post on a conversation with an Obama insider, showing the Obama team as worried over the new voters Sarah Palin will bring

Obama’s campaign is extremely nervous about the energized republican base and what he called the “unkown factor” regarding Palin’s draw as a candidate.  In the polls they’re conducting around the country, and my boss wasn’t able to relay specific numbers, the Obama campaign is very, very worried about how Palin appears to be energizing whole groups of people who don’t typically get energized about politics, precisely because she appeals so strongly to the middle class, as well as women and dissatisfied republicans that stayed home in 2006.  More than that, they don’t know how to guage and predict the support of people typically turned off by politics, but that are enamored with her “up from the bootstraps” appeal.

Now, I’m not suggesting that people who have never voted before will turn out in droves to vote for McCain-Palin.  The point of this is to show that the theory of “new voters” turning out is a wash that could go either way, and in truth, the “new voter” has not traditionally shown up in past elections.  The Gallup “expanded” likely voter model is trash, and should be treated as such. 

Here at Axis of Right, we only post tracking polls with the traditional likely voter model.  Hence, we will be tracking Gallup’s daily tracking poll, because of its historical significance in spotting trends, but we will not be dealing with the expanded model hoax.

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