Pundits are double-counting voter enthusiasm.

Ed Kilgore points out that a lot of the predictions of a rout in November rely on double-counting voter enthusiasm.

Ed Kilgore’s post on the November Congressional makes a lot of good points; the whole thing is worth a read.

But what struck me most was this:

much of the “overestimation” of Democratic strength in past generic polls has involved early tests with no “likely voter” screen. As we get closer to Election Day, the Gallup generic ballot is usually quite accurate (as shown some years ago by TDS contributor Alan Abramowitz of Emory). So it’s not a good idea to just mentally add a few points to Gallup’s number for the GOP and assume that’s close to reality.

This is worth more stress than Ed gives it.  Likely voter screens try to figure out who will vote in November so as to poll only them.  (Rasmussen, which uses a stringent screen, polls incessantly and is therefore overrpresented when sites like pollster.com or RealClearPolitics take poll averages.)  But the well-known finding that Democrats had to be leading in the generic Congressional ballot to hold the house was based on past Gallup polls, which didn’t use a screen.  Democrats needed a big edge to overcome their historically lower turnout in midterm elections.  But likely voter screens, if they’re working as advertised, already control for lower Democratic turnout.

Pundits are routinely double-counting greater Republican enthusiasm.

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.