Watch And Worry

Mainstream media have been obsessed with polling of the presidential race for the past nine months or so, and, at least on this last Sunday before the election, the polls they tout look good for the good guy.

I have mostly ignored the polling out of the belief that in the end, no matter what the polls showed in August or September, the race would be too close for comfort, at least for my comfort.

Nate Silver, the stats man from The New York Times, today estimated that Mr. Obama has an 85% chance of winning, taking 307 electoral votes. He explains:

Friday’s polling should make it easy to discern why Mr. Obama has the Electoral College advantage. There were 22 polls of swing states published Friday. Of these, Mr. Obama led in 19 polls, and two showed a tie. Mitt Romney led in just one of the surveys, a Mason-Dixon poll of Florida.

The pollmeisters at Huffington Post show the popular vote race at a virtual tie, Obama 47.7% and Romney 47.1%.  However, they published this portrait of the most recent polling in the battleground states:

HuffPo Pollster says:

Given the torrent of incoming data, the model now reports nearly complete certainty about Obama’s narrow leads in the most crucial tipping-point states of Iowa and Ohio, but that statistical confidence assumes that the final polls are collectively accurate and unbiased. When we factor in the historical potential for polling error, the probability of an Obama win falls to roughly 90 percent in Ohio and Iowa. An Obama win in those states is thus still very likely, but a 1-in-10 possibility still exists, given the typical historical pattern, that the polls could be wrong enough for Romney to win.

Four more states — New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia and Florida — continue to show closer margins, with Obama holding a slight advantage in New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia, while Romney has a slight edge in Florida. If the polling leaders were to carry each state where they currently lead by any margin, Obama would reach 303 electoral votes to 235 for Romney.

All of that is close to what Nate Silver has said and it sounds good for the President, but it is that fragment of doubt—10% to 15%—that will keep some of us from sleeping between now and Wednesday.

What obviously matters more than all the polling is the voting. And early voting—which some Republicans have been trying to slow down or stop—favors President Obama, but not as much as it did four years ago. According to the Associated Press, 27 million people have already voted across 34 states, and Democratic early voters are ahead of Republican ones in most battleground states.

Again, early voting represents some good news for Democrats, but not anywhere near decisive. Perhaps a clearer—or muddier—picture will emerge on Monday, as the final national polls are released by big-time news organizations.

But it is likely that those of us who care a great deal about this presidential election will find some reason to worry over what those final polls show, no matter what it is. I know I am one who would find reason to fret even if the much-trusted Nate Silver came out tomorrow night and said Obama had a 99% chance of winning.

Worry, worry, worry from now until the agonizing end is all there is left to do.



  1. Treeske

     /  November 4, 2012

    Duane, I worry too. A very close election is too easy to rigg. Those Financiers’ power has gone too far to give it up now. Go ahead, call me a pessimist!


  2. There could be some X factors. I see in today’s Joplin Globe that the GOP plans to deploy (paranoid) poll “challengers” on election day, making me wonder if that might be intimidating to some. Then there will be emotively-charged appeals. I saw a huge sign the other day that said, “FIRE HIM”, message unmistakable. When reason fails, fall back on the ever-reliable hate. One good thing is that “ObamaCare” is no longer carries as much pejorative sting as it once did. I hope.


  3. Jason

     /  November 4, 2012

    @Jim Wheeler: What is the legality of private citizens being stopped by a political party and forced to provide ID, on threat of being forcibly removed? I’d think it was highly illegal to do that.


    • Now who’s paranoid, Jason? 😆

      The “challengers” are prohibited by law from accosting would-be voters, fortunately. They are only allowed to observe and bring to the attention of election officials anything or anyone whom they think might be in violation. The only reason I brought up the issue is that it doesn’t take much to intimidate some people.


  4. Jason

     /  November 4, 2012

    Joe Scarborough showed innumeracy when he disputed Nate Silver’s probabilities, saying it’s no better than 50.1% chance, as if percentage of votes = percentage chance of winning. That’s just mathematically illiterate.

    Getting 51% of electoral college votes gives you 100% chance of winning, not 51%. Any reduction less than 100% certainty is due to uncertainty in our polling data. Just a few percentage points either side of 50% of the vote skews the overall chances to that candidate massively.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  November 4, 2012

    Sorry to intrude but……

    I watched CBS this morning with Dee Dee Myers, Peggy Noonan, some guy named Lowrey from the right and David G (a ‘moderate whose last name I cannot spell). The moderator (Bob S.) asked each of them if they could call the election.

    Meyers said “leaning towards Obama”, Noonan and Lowery said “leaning towards Romney” and David G. said it is NOT too close to call it is IMPOSSIBLE to call. David G. went on to say however, that whoever won at this point will have a hell’uva time GOVERNING.

    I agree with the moderate and NO will not comment over here after the election when we really know who won.

    Sorry to interupt your “whatever” as you try to predict the future!! But as I recall you thought the Wis Gov would be recalled as well!!



  6. I wonder if Anson Burlingame knows someone hacked his Word Press account. The real Anson Burlingame is on “self-deportation” status.

    The presumably real Anson Burlingame explained his rationale for “self-deportation” just three days ago:

    “I have now essentially given up my fight with the Erstwhile Conservative blog and comments on that blog. It is a futile exercise to try and offer conservative views to people that refuse to listen AND reply with personal vindictiveness on a routine basis when confronted with tactics resembling those employed by union thugs in a labor fight it ultimately comes down to force on force or ignore them. I now put myself in the ignore category.”

    Someone could be using Anson Burlingame’s account to parody the inanity of Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” policy aimed at eliminating the danger undocumented workers pose to national security. Then again, maybe the real Anson Burlingame intentionally inserted “essentially” before “give up”, allowing for convenient “more or less” wiggle room should self-imposed exile become too lonely.


    • Juan,

      His talk of self-deportation didn’t even last as long as Romney’s! Anson just dropped in to tell another whopper, to wit, that I predicted the demise of Gov. Scott Walker. Wrong again, Berlin-game!



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