Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting It Wrong

Some very interesting insights on the NH surprise from a pollster:
But another possible explanation cannot be ignored — the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor...

Poorer, less well-educated white people refuse surveys more often than affluent, better-educated whites. Polls generally adjust their samples for this tendency. But here’s the problem: these whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews...

Certainly, we live in a different world today. The Pew Research Center has conducted analyses of elections between candidates of different races in 2006 and found that polls now do a much better job estimating the support for black candidates than they did in the past. However, the difficulties in interviewing the poor and the less well-educated persist.

Why didn’t this problem come up in Iowa? My guess is that Mr. Obama may have posed less of a threat to white voters in Iowa because he wasn’t yet the front-runner. Caucuses are also plainly different from primaries.

January 10, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

Getting It Wrong


THE failure of the New Hampshire pre-election surveys to mirror the outcome of the Democratic race is one of the most significant miscues in modern polling history. All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent. These same polls showed no signs that Senator Hillary Clinton might close that gap, let alone win.


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