Race tightening?

Does anyone have a good theory about why the ABC/WaPo poll and the Pew poll both tightened so dramatically, while the Newsweek poll taken at almost the same time (Nov. 2-3 vs. Nov. 1-4) showed no such movement?

I see the Iowa Congressional Control Market and Iowa House Control Market seem to be shrugging it off.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Race tightening?”

  1. It seems to be mostly due to the peculiarities of the pollsters' definition of "likely voters". The new ABC, Pew and Gallup polls all show the Dems with margins among registered voters distinctly bigger than their margins among likely voters — and with the drop in the former since their previous polls being considerably smaller than the drop in the latter. (The margins they give among registered voters are 10, 8 and 11% respectively, among likely voters, they're supposedly 6, 4 and 7%.) Unfortunately, we don't seem to have a figure for actual registered voters for this weekend's Time and Newsweek polls giving the Dems a 15-16 point lead among THEIR definition of "likely voters".
    The usual Dem margin among actual voters is about 2% smaller than their margin among registered voters — not 4%. Now add something else fascinating: Gallup — at the same time that it rates "likely" voters as distinctly more Republican than registered ones — continues to show MUCH greater declared enthusiasm for voting among Democrats than among Republicans this time (as virtually all polls this year have): http://www.usatoday.com/news/polls/tables/live/20… . (We don't have that data for ABC and Pew.)

  2. The most recent mason-dixon polls also showed a tightening in some of the senate races. montana is tied, Corker is up by 12, maryland is w/in 3, etc.

  3. Agree with the comment above.
    Or it might just be Halperin coming through for Hewitt, as promised and on schedule.

  4. Billmon has a theory, at
    http://billmon.org/archives/002930.html :
    "Part of the trend shown in the Pew and ABC/Post polls may simply be "natural tightening" — as Republicans and Republicans-who-call-themselves-independents come home to their party. But what needs to be kept in mind is that at this late stage the remaining independent undecided or soft leaners generally constitute the least informed, least involved and, in many cases, least intelligent segment of the electorate. Or, to be perfectly blunt about it: Many of them are completely fucking clueless, which means they tend to be the most easily manipulated by the kind of limbic, cesspool politics the Rovian machine now specializes in."

  5. A number of these polls show cyclic variations with a periodicity of about 3-5 days. This has led me to doubt strong claims about short term "tightening" or "widening" gaps, as it suggests instead fluctuations in the response rate or the composition of the responding sample. Alternatively it might be an indicator that there is a large segment of nominally undecided voters whose allegiance shifts with the wind, but when pressed by a phone pollster they put their marker on one or the other candidate, rather than admit to being undecided.
    Either way, as Heinlein said, why worry about this when when we'll all find out soon enough?

  6. With regard to Pew, I think a big part of it is the geographic distribution. Someone in comments at pollster.com pointed out that the Pew poll skews toward the South with 34% of respondents coming from the South. I think the 34% is pretty consistent with other Pew polls. Dems went from +10 to -6 in the South. Maybe things are going to be tougher for Dems in the GA, FL and TX races that are in play. Similarly, in the West, Dems went from +10 to +3. So the Colorado races and ID/WY might not come through. The Midwest stayed the same (+11) and in the NE dems went from +26 to +9. Given that many (if not most) of the targeted house seats are in the NE and midwest, maybe Pew is not as bad for dems as it appears at first blush.

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