Wednesday :: Aug 11, 2004

And So The Poor Doggy Had None


by pessimist

One of our resident wrong-winger friends is a big fan of the Rasmussen Poll, which because of it's overlapping three-day polling method and its demonstrable Republican slant in both methodology and content makes it in my opinion the least useable of the polls in tracking political support in this nation.

We haven't heard much from him about this poll of late, for the candidates have been statistically tied for a while now. Imagine the surprise upon seeing this:

For the second straight day, the Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows Senator John Kerry with 49% of the vote and President George W. Bush with 46%.

Today is the first time in more than six months of daily polling that either candidate has reached the 49% mark on consecutive days.

Since Senator Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday, he has now reached the 49% mark on four occasions.

During that same time frame, President Bush has never exceeded 48% in our Tracking Poll.

Rasmussen Reports Electoral College projections show Kerry with a modest lead, 228 Electoral Votes to 197. There are 113 Electoral Votes in the Toss-Up category. Later this week, we will release our first statewide poll for
Nevada.

After the recent flap over Yucca Mountain, that could be glow-in-the-dark toxic!

Woof!

The latest Zogby Poll doesn't have such good Bu$h news either. While John F. Kerry sat idle at 48% approval, George Warmonger Bu$h actually lost ground.

Associated Press-Ipsos poll of Aug. 3-5, 2004 isn't helping either. It shows Bu$h with a 49-50% disapproval of his job performance. I guess our CEO pRezdent isn't going to earn a bonus this year!

The only polls which shows any good news for Bu$h aren't ones that I would put a lot of faith in! On two exchanges where investors trade contracts on political outcomes, the Iowa Electronic Markets poll and the Dublin-based Intrade, Bu$h is shown as having a slight lead:

Bush futures - which pay $1 if President Bush wins the election and nothing if he loses - were trading at 52.4 cents on Friday. That means traders believe Mr. Bush has a 52.4 percent chance of winning re-election.

I'll run right down to the airport and hop a flight to Vegas and drop ten grand on THAT prediction!

With the kind of bravado we usually see from our firendly wrong-wingers, Michael Knesevitch, director of communications and business strategy at Intrade, says:

"Our contracts have a much higher predictive value than any public opinion poll because people have to put their money where their mouth is. We predicted all the primaries. We also had Edwards as being the vice presidential nominee back in May."

Like that was a tough call! That's like betting that the 1962 Mets weren't going to make the World Series that year!

As for the Iowa Poll, they are less-flagrant about their prowess:

A comparison of 596 opinion polls with Iowa's presidential futures prices at the time the polls were conducted shows that the futures prices were closer to the actual result 76 percent of the time, according to Thomas A. Rietz, an associate professor of finance at the University of Iowa and a director of the market. As of Friday, Iowa traders thought that Mr. Bush had a 52 percent probability of winning.

'Closer' 76% of the time? Fills me with faith!

I'm not the only one who is skeptical of the value of these two polls:

The people who trade securities online look a lot more like the crowd at the "21" Club - most of them affluent white men - than the voter registration lists.

Then there's the margin of error. On the day before the election, the Iowa market typically misgauges the vote share by about 1.37 percentage points, Mr. Rietz said. When the popular vote isn't that close - in 1996 or 1992, for example - that is no big deal. But in 2000, when the Iowa market projected that Mr. Bush would win a majority of the votes cast for Democrats and Republicans, that seemingly small margin meant the difference between a successful projection and a failed one.

Besides, the two exchanges cannot even agree with each other on who will win the popular vote. Intrade's contract on that vote gives Mr. Bush a 46 percent chance of winning; Iowa Electronic Markets traders believe that he will win 51 percent of the two-party vote.

Throw another economic model into the mix, and the picture becomes more confusing. For more than two decades, a Yale economist, Ray C. Fair, has been testing and refining a model that uses economic data and past results to project the winner of the two-party popular vote. "The theory is that the economy causes people to vote the way they do," he said.

Looking at results dating to 1916, Professor Fair has found that incumbents running for re-election have a head start, that Republican incumbents tend to do better than Democratic incumbents and that an incumbent fares better when his party has not controlled the White House for two terms or more. Thus, he said, "Bush has the best possible incumbency situation that you could have." Plug in the variables on growth and inflation, and Professor Fair projects that President Bush will receive 57.48 percent of the two-party vote.

PROFESSOR FAIR'S model has been remarkably accurate over the years, with an average error of only 2.4 percent. And in each of the last two elections, he has come within 1.3 percentage points of predicting the accurate vote total.

Great news for President Bush, right?

Not necessarily.

Professor Fair says the model can misfire when the equation doesn't include significant economic factors that may influence the electorate. It lacks a variable for job creation, for example, which may be a sore spot among voters this year
.
And the model turned in its worst performance when an incumbent named Bush was seeking re-election. In 1992, the model projected that President George H. W. Bush would win 51.7 percent of the two-party vote and retain the presidency. Instead, he received merely 46.5 percent of the two-party vote and lost.

Sounds to me like there just might be better investment opportunities elsewhere - like in the chicken-entrail-reading markets.


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pessimist :: 10:54 PM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!