The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 3, 2013: Americans Will Believe Anything

Americans will believe anything. Don’t believe me?

A friend and co-worker of ours likes to give us things off his despair.com desk calendar. The entry from a couple of months ago was called

I want to believe…

48 % of Americans believe in ghosts. (Source: CBS News [NOTE: CBS apparently does not know what “majority” means.])

41% of Americans believe in ESP. (Source: Gallup. [NOTE: Their numbers don’t seem to confirm CBS’s numbers on ghosts.])

36% of Americans believe that space aliens have visited Earth. (Source: Kelton Research.)

20% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. (Source: Pew Research. [NOTE: Okay, it was Gallup, and they said it was only 18%.)

Add to that the crazy responses you get from Public Policy Polling (which conducts their polls through automated telephone polls), and when you learn that:

6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive

7% of voters believe the moon landing was faked

13% of voters believe President Obama is the anti-Christ (another 13% say they’re “not sure”)

…it’s not hard to believe after all.

So, yeah, Americans will believe anything. I believe I’ll have another drink.

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you believe.

Polls and Party ID

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This year some of the biggest noise around conservative blogs regards the belief that pollsters are oversampling Democratic voters and weighting Democrats too heavily in their calculations. This is a flip from the last presidential election in which it was liberal blogs claiming that Republicans were being weighted too heavily in polls. Polls are weighted on a variety of factors to reflect as near as is possible the demographic characteristics of the American electorate, and many pollsters include party ID as part of that equation. I had never given the issue much thought until the last couple of weeks, as I heard more and more from conservative sites about the “flawed polling” that was painting a far too optimistic picture of Barack Obama’s support. It turns out that much of this had already been put in perspective during the 2004 race by Mystery Pollster:

Party Identification is one of the longest tracked and closely examined questions in political polling. “Generally speaking, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or what,” has probably been asked on more surveys over more years more
consistently than any other question.

The most important thing to remember is that Party ID is an attitude, not a demographic. People can change their views of political parties. They cannot change their age, gender, race, years of education and locale (unless they’ve moved).

<snip>

[R]ecent studies have shown evidence of significant short-term change in Party ID. The 2000 Annenberg National Election Study (NAES), like the 2004 study now underway, was a daily tracking survey that ultimately included more than 58,000 interviews over the course of the year, roughly 5000 interviews per month. NAES observed that the percentage of the electorate identified as Independent “was not stable over time.” In a chart on page 61 of Capturing Campaign Dynamics, Daniel Romer and his colleagues showed the percentage of Independents falling steadily from roughly 31% to 27% during the conventions, then spiking 8 points to 35% just after the Democratic convention in early September, then falling off again steadily back to roughly 28% on election day, then plummeting sharply to below 25% a few days later. No surprise that they concluded:

Surveys that are weighted by party identification may be operating under some misconceptions about party identification. Party identification may not be as stable as once thought and could be considered an indicator of the respondents’ attitudes toward candidates at a given moment of the campaign. (p. 61)

There is another good reason to be weary of automatically weighting survey results by Party ID. Most of the national polls ask Party ID toward the end of the survey. Campaign pollsters can tell you that Party ID can vary with the content of the questions that precede it.

Though I had never considered the issue before, this does make intuitive sense. I’ve always considered the number of self-proclaimed independents to be far higher than actual voting habits would suggest. It only makes sense that this would extend to party ID generally. Now, what weighting by party ID does do is make polls more stable over time. Not surprisingly, if you consistently weight your polls, for example, as 35% Democrat, 35% Republican, and 30% Independent, you won’t see massive shifts in opinion, because those self-identifying as Democrats are likely to hold the same opinion as did the self-identifying Democrats in previous polls. If their opinion has shift markedly, they will simply not identify as Democrats anymore. Same goes for Republicans and Independents.

Continue reading

Polls show Obama pulling away from McCain

Raw Story

The popularity gap between Barack Obama and John McCain has doubled from seven percent earlier this month to 14 percent, according to the Pew Research Center’s latest voters poll published Tuesday.

Conducted October 16-19 among 2,599 people and with a 2.5 point margin of error, the Pew poll found Democrat Obama’s support had grown to 52 percent of voters against 38 percent for his Republican White House rival.

A Pew poll at the beginning of October showed a seven-point gap between the two.

Read on..

From a distance: Calling the race for Obama finally

I cannot interpret it any other way. Throughout the British press Obama is declared the winner of last night’s debate. Given the fact, that McCain would have needed a decisive, overwhelming victory, this equals with James Carville’s assessment:

Obama won the debate. Period. It wasn’t a tie. He clearly won the debate. Call the dogs in, wet the fire, the hunt’s over.

This is not saying the Obama campaign can relax their efforts, from what I’ve seen of them they surely won’t, but it should give them the leeway to stay on the issues and not stoop too much to the smear tactics employed by the McCain/Palin people.

Look at what the newspapers in Britain have to say below the fold:
Continue reading

From a distance – Calling the race for Obama, or maybe not just yet ?

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The underlying conviction of the British newspapers about the Presidential Election seems to be, Obama will win the race. They just don’t dare to say it out loud. In a way it is understandable, there have been so many surprises in this overlong campaign, so why not another momentum change in the last four weeks? Personally, I do not think there will be another upset, if only because the McCain surprises have lost almost all of their charm. His first one, the nomination of a woman as running mate could have been a real game-changer, had he made a wiser choice. By all means the perfomance of Sarah Palin is painfully inadequate. Whatever the pundits say, she was an abject failure in the debate. She so obviously skirted the questions to spew forth her talking points it was an embarrassment to watch. I am not an American, but I am a woman and really, to me this is insulting. John McCain’s second attempt at mavericking the race by theatrically suspending his campaign, racing to Washington to “fix it”, was another failure. So what on earth can he think up now that will change a race that has Obama leading 264 to 163 in electoral votes (111 votes toss up with Obama leading in six of the eight remaining toss-up states). Going dirty is the only remaining option, William Kristol has already done the “journalistic” groundwork for that and the McCain campaign has already gone there, but my guess is that people have moved on and mostly made up their minds. Barack Obama will win this race.

But then, who am I? Let’s have a look what the big boys and the big girls in journalism have to say:

Starting with The Times there is Daniel Finkelstein, who essentially says the race is over. Holly Watt is traveling the South and is detecting early warning signs in Georgia:

The Peach State has already begun early voting, and it will not have lowered Republican blood pressure one little bit. 30% of Georgia’s voters are African-American, but that group has cast 40% of the votes so far.

Continue reading

Why I Don’t Believe The Presidential Race Is Tied

OPINION

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While visiting another blog (hey, we do that sometimes; how do you think we find such great stories?), I came across a comment from another poster who made a logically false claim about political polling. He said that “If you get good representation among the respondents (regarding, age, gender, race, education, home etc) you can get accurate results with less than 2000 respondents regardless of how large the real population is.” Continue reading

Politics of Fear 2.0

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Ok, it’s a wee bit more subtle this time: No mushroom clouds, no smoking guns, no weapons of mass destruction, no UN hearings or white powder in vials. On the other hand the Georgian President was nudged into war and a contract with Poland allows the ultimate provocation to place powerful American weaponry into Russia’s back yard. With the help of Russia’s imperialistic tendencies and their stick at nothing government, the Administration managed to get the public perception back to military threats as a major concern of Americans. The threat level’s up. And expect it to get boosted even more.

There’s nothing like a good old crisis with Russia to get voters to toe the line. And consequently bring McCain’s poll numbers up.

My behind is clearly much, much too close to Poland – which Russia threatened with a nuclear attack – for my own comfort, to appreciate gameplaying with the security of us Europeans for a cheap, albeit quite successful, election campaign booster. I do not need another mindless, intellectually incurious, neocon tool as a leader of the still remaining superpower. I loathe and fear the clueless risk-taking of diplomatically challenged leaders and their military recklessness which is designed to instill fear in you all. For their own political gain and at the cost of lives all over the world.

Worst. President. Ever.

CNN:

A new poll suggests that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush his handling his job as president.

“No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

“Bush’s approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon (22 percent and 24 percent, respectively) but even those two presidents never got a disapproval rating in the 70s,” Holland added. “The previous all-time record in CNN or Gallup polling was set by Truman, 66 percent disapproval in January 1952.”

CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider adds, “He is more unpopular than Richard Nixon was just before he resigned from the presidency in August 1974.” President Nixon’s disapproval rating in August 1974 stood at 67 percent.

How low will he go..?

Huffington Post

AP Poll: Bush Public Approval at New Low

Public approval of President Bush has dipped to a new low in the Associated Press-Ipsos poll, driven by dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy.

A survey released Thursday showed 28 percent approve of the overall job Bush is doing. That was statistically tied with his previous low in the poll of 30 percent last month and in February.

Read on..

Worst. President. Ever.

Opinion: This cannot go any further!

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What,what,what,what WHAT!? Hillary Clinton is gaining ground in Texas and Ohio? Gaining ground?

March 4, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton gained ground on rival Barack Obama to take a slim lead in Texas and pull even in Ohio before their crucial Democratic presidential showdowns, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Tuesday.

Survey Feb 6 – 12 by Quinnipiac University:

Clinton leads Obama 55 – 34 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in Ohio and 52 – 36 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. These are the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll’s first surveys in this election cycle of Ohio and Pennsylvania likely voters, a more select group than the wider range of registered voters surveyed in prior polls.

Texas Primary numbers January 30/31

November and December polls both gave Hillary Clinton a hefty 51% to 17% lead over Barack Obama, but that has changed considerably over the last two polls. Current results give her just a ten point lead over her main rival, 48% to 38%.

Gaining ground, my foot! This smacks to me of “the surge is working!”

This spin has triggered a very unpleasant development. Or, is it the other way around and an unpleasant development has been prepared by spinning the numbers? Hillary Clinton seemingly has decided her damaging campaigning hasn’t made a dent yet into the Democratic Party’s chances of winning the Presidential in November, so she’ll continue after today’s primaries/caucus. After all, her goal is her goal.

Indicating her intention to stay in the race, Clinton told a rally in Toledo, Ohio, yesterday: “I’m just getting warmed up.” Echoing the sentiment, Mark Penn, her chief strategist, in a conference call with reporters, said: “We expect on Wednesday morning that the momentum of Senator Obama will be significantly blunted.”

Fact is: Hillary Clinton has lost support in almost all groups that initially, hey only about four weeks ago, had given her a solid double digit lead in both large states. This is a large number of democratic primary voters who turned away from her and her “gains” right now are well within the margin of error. It can turn out both ways. Barack Obama may win both key states, Texas and Ohio narrowly, Hillary Clinton may win both, or there will be a split decision. What will not happen is a win in both states for Hillary Clinton by margins large enough to overtake Barack Obama’s lead in delegates. If you want to see how hard it is to get a decisive lead, check out the delegate counter at CNN.

Hillary Clinton will have to make a decision tonight. It will have to be a decision mindful of the goal of taking back the Presidency for the Democratic Party and much more important, a decision mindful of the difficult task ahead. Mending a country broken by war and economic depression, a country ill-prepared for a future that requires a fundamental change in lifestyle as to not ruin the very basis of our existence – our planet, can not be done by enlarging the rift in society in order to fulfil oneself’s lifetime ambition.

America’s voters have voted for an end to the war and gave the Democratic Party an immense credit in November 2006. The disappointment with what Congress did with these votes is going very deep, the approval rates of the Democratic led Congress are at a dismal 18%.

If Hillary Clinton, too, does not listen to what voters say, Congress and Hillary Clinton, between them, will have achieved the impossible. Running against a Republican Party which brought you the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush and not winning. No mean feat!

I wish you all a good Primary Tuesday, take care!

Disenchantment every Whichway

While Eugene Robinson is spluttering with rage on the President’s legacy in the Washington Post.

It’s official: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now a full-blown epidemic. George W. Bush apparently has reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon.

Others don’t fare better. Lawmakers are not worth their keep.

A record number of Americans say that most members of Congress do not deserve to be re-elected, according to new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll.

And Hillary Clinton faces growing scepticism, too:

The polls are starting to suggest that the snow may have just begun to melt on the high slopes of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Who knows what will be left standing when the avalanche is over ?