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'Cellphone Effect' Could Skew Polling Predictions

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the go-vote dept.

Cellphones 836

Ponca City writes "A good deal of polling data suggest that Republicans may win the House of Representatives in today's mid-term elections. However, Nate Silver writes in the NY Times that there are several factors that could skew the election, allowing Democrats to outperform their polls and beat consensus expectations. Most prominent is the 'cellphone effect.' In 2003, just 3.2% of households were cell-only, while in the 2010 election one-quarter of American adults have ditched their landlines and rely exclusively on their mobile phones, and a lot of pollsters don't call mobile phones. Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white — all Democratic demographics — and a study by Pew Research suggests that the failure to include them might bias the polls by about 4 points against Democrats, even after demographic weighting is applied. Another factor that could skew results is the Robopoll effect, where there are significant differences between the results shown by automated surveys and those which use live human interviewers — the 'robopolls' being 3 or 4 points more favorable to Republicans over all. It may be that only adults who are extremely engaged by politics (who are more likely to be Republican, especially this year) bother to respond to robocalls. Still, when all is said and done, 'more likely than not, Republicans will indeed win the House, and will do so by a significant margin,' writes Silver. 'But just as Republicans could beat the consensus, Democrats could too, and nobody should be particularly shocked if they do.'"

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836 comments

I'm sitting this one out (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102034)

I'm sitting this one out, and possibly 2012 as well. Voting for the guy or gal that lies the least still means I'm supporting a liar. The very nature of politics nowadays automatically means someone with enough clout to run for election is unfit to serve...

Vote or Die (0, Flamebait)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102084)

Bitch.

-Rick

Re:Vote or Die (5, Insightful)

thehostiles (1659283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102190)

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope
I don't vote. Two reasons. First of all it's meaningless; this country was bought and sold a long time ago. The shit they shovel around every 4 years *pfff* doesn't mean a fucking thing. Secondly, I believe if you vote, you have no right to complain. People like to twist that around – they say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain', but where's the logic in that? If you vote and you elect dishonest, incompetent people into office who screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You caused the problem; you voted them in; you have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote, who in fact did not even leave the house on election day, am in no way responsible for what these people have done and have every right to complain about the mess you created that I had nothing to do with.”

-George Carlin

Re:Vote or Die (5, Insightful)

c0mpliant (1516433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102438)

I'm afraid quoting George Carlin isn't relevant to me. This attitude of "I didn't vote, so I'm not responsible for who gets elected" is complete BS. You are just as responsible for the people who voted for them because you are a part of the silent majority qho sits around on the hole all the time and is annoyed by who actually gets elected. Get up off your hole and vote who you think is the best candidate, if you don't like your options get involved and perhaps even run yourself. But this attitude of "I'm above all that" is pie the sky at best and dangerous at worst

Re:I'm sitting this one out (5, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102120)

You should vote, if only to vote for a write-in or third party candidate. This election is as much about the "Two Parties" screwing things for "Joe Sixpack" in favor of their corporate overlords. The problem is that we don't have much of a choice from the two major parties.

So, vote, but send a message. If third parties get more than 20% combined, there can be no call for "mandate" from either of the two parties.

Voting for the lessor of two evils is a logical fallacy. There are more than two evils running for most posts.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102198)

Except the vast majority of 3rd part candidates are lunatics too radical to get a major party nomination. Rational people simply don't run for political office anymore since the act of running for political office is in and of itself irrational.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (5, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102364)

In many cases, I agree. In 2000 I voted green even though I didn't agree with half their agenda, I've been disenfranchised by moving around for several years since then. But I just voted strait democrat in this election because the republicans in my area decided to go with comic book villain style candidates.

Rick Scott (R, FL gov) = Lex Luthor

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102396)

God damn it. I have to Spelling Nazi myself now. strait -> straight.

And that should be a period and not a comma in the second sentence.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

CrimsonTemplar (450939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102404)

The problem with write-ins is that in some states, Georgia for example, a write-in candidate gets your ballot thrown out since the Diebold machine can't handle those. I confirmed this with the Secretary of State's office.

What needs to happen is that we need to get more 3rd parties on the ballot so that we can exercise our choices and have them counted.

This of course assumes the voting machines haven't been tampered with to award the election to one of the two major parties already.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102464)

The problem with write-ins is that in some states, Georgia for example, a write-in candidate gets your ballot thrown out since the Diebold machine can't handle those. I confirmed this with the Secretary of State's office.

Your ballot gets "thrown out" of the machine, and gets hand count. That's the good news.

What's the downside of that?

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102428)

Voting for the lessor of two evils is a logical fallacy. There are more than two evils running for most posts.

I never said there were only two. I said "guy or gal" in an attempt to cut off anyone accusing me of being sexist ("What do you mean, vote for the guy? Why can't it be a woman?")

Voting for the "least evil" still means you're voting for "evil", regardless of its quantity. I refuse to give my support to someone that ::shock:: I don't actually support.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102436)

well ok I did what you said....

I did my write-in candidate and voted for 'Archangel Michael', you better do something better.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (0, Redundant)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102138)

Well that's a healthy attitude. You're the reason that extremists get elected, because they know you won't bother anyway.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102166)

It doesn't matter who you elect - voting simply creates the illusion of consent.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102386)

What does that mean? Does that mean you don't consent to your government? If so, there's a really easy solution for you. It involves moving, but you'll never have to live under a government you don't consent to again.

You think voting may create the "illusion of consent" (implying there is no actual consent), but not voting creates the reality of apathy.

If you disagree with the choices you're being presented with, then find the nearest political office of someone who does represent your views and volunteer.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102400)

if in your mind "voting creates the illusion of consent", then you have told us all something powerful about your own failed psychology, and nothing at all about actual reality

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102424)

It doesn't matter who you elect - voting simply creates the illusion of consent.

Not exactly true.

There are key differences in Democrat and Republicans.

That said, I disagree with both of them, but I vote against the party which I see the greatest threat to my personal liberty and well being.

Which I view as of now as the Republicans as they seem to be willing to trade my personal rights and freedoms off to either security issues, morality through legislation, and or various other issues that affect me personally.

Its not that the Democrats do similar things, but they do less of them.

I originally, voted against the democrats in 2000 simply because of the DMCA, anti-violent video game laws, and anti-smoking legislation only to find out that the republicans created the Patriot act and various laws that were started to make it feel like we were heading towards a Police state.

So given the choice of living in a Nanny State vs a Police state, I'd rather put up with a Nanny state... (catch my drift)

Of course if you really want change, you should start raising awareness of STV [wikipedia.org] and Proportional Representation [wikipedia.org]

You see... As one of the first major nationalized democracies which instituted the First past the post system [wikipedia.org] which was seen as the best way to handle the situation as no one had tried this before in such a way. Although people like Jefferson did point out the mathematical problems with the system, no one bothered to change it.

Now when European monarchies were overthrown and replaced by democracies over the 19th and 20th centuries a great deal of the instituted proportional democracies (most notably the Wiemar republic) simply because it is more mathematically fair and prevents the dominance of 2 major political parties we face in our first past the post system.

Arguably the UK has the same issue as they've also had a first past the post system in voting system that has lasted longer than the US system and are actually talking about trying out STV or a watered down version of prop rep.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (0, Redundant)

Azarael (896715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102164)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you should have more than two choices for your vote. Sure voting independent has it's pitfalls, but choosing not to vote will not change anything.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102246)

You're right, I do have more choices...and every one of my choices is a person running under false pretenses who won't do what they say they will.

Not voting breeds apathy, you have no right to complain if you dont, etc. etc....well you know what? Voting for someone just because they aren't a part of the two-party system still puts me on record as having supported that person.

Like I said in my OP, voting for the person who lies the least still means I'm supporting a liar.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102324)

There are good politicians. Not all of them are hopelessly corrupt. You are just too lazy to do the research. Finding a good one to support is too much work, and your self serving and frankly lazy cynicism makes you seem wise to the ignorant, so why bother?

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102384)

There are good politicians.

Not in Maryland, there aren't. I've done my research, and none of them come across as genuine. They all spew out talking points and they all insist they (or their "side") have all the answers.

As soon as someone tries to tell me that only they (or their "side") have the answers, they lose all credibility with me.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102498)

Well, okay, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt then. There are places without any good choices.

On the other hand, what if one side is owned lock stock and barrel by corporate interests, and the other side is only fifty percent in the pocket of big money? Then all the policies coming from one side would be geared towards making more money for the rich, while only half the policies from the other side had that goal. Just an example, but I still think you've given up fighting for your own interests too easily. Remember, by default the powerful remain powerful, the status quo stays the same.

By not voting you are voting for things to stay the same, and I don't think that's what you want, or what is in your best interest.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102440)

Even if politicians were honest they don't know anything about solving problems.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102406)

There's an easy solution to that, then. Run yourself. Sure, you may not win, but you're voting for someone you feel isn't corrupt. Support yourself.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102460)

There are other reasons to vote too - for example, the proposed Montgomery County ambulance fee is on the ballot. Ultimately, things like that & the composition of the school board have a real effect on the quality of life. The perfect is the enemy of the good, especially in respect to politicians, so I do try to go for the least bad one.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102168)

So you've essentially been avoiding democracy since classical Athens?

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102178)

In that situation, I always vote third party. Failing to vote is a vote for apathy, and politicians will start to ignore you. That's why you always see polls of 'likely voters.' The fewer people vote, the more power remains in the hands of those who do. That should be obvious this election, when the democrats are being hurt by so many of their party declining to vote. On the other hand, republicans are out in force (apparently, we'll see tonight).

On the other hand, if you vote third party, politicians will start changing to see how they can tap into your vote.

Incidentally, there were some very compelling reasons Abraham Lincoln would have been considered not fit to serve (he owed too many people favors by 'buying' their vote in the primaries, he was hugely driven by ambition, he had a poor family relationship, he was a lawyer), and yet he turned out ok. Everyone is flawed, great people do great things despite their flaws.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102254)

Failing to vote is a vote for apathy, and politicians will start to ignore you.

That is the most hilarious thing I've ever heard.

You actually think they don't ignore you even if you do vote?

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102444)

Failing to vote is a vote for apathy, and politicians will start to ignore you.

That is the most hilarious thing I've ever heard.

You actually think they don't ignore you even if you do vote?

And that's the most hilarious thing I've ever heard. Career politicians only care about one thing: votes. They only care about contributions because contributions buy advertising that gets votes. They only care about a given piece of legislation because the good/bad press from it affects... wait for it... votes. In short, politicians care ONLY about people who vote and of voters, they only care about ones likely to vote for them.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Insightful)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102180)

You don't get to sit out the result, so you might as well toss a vote to whoever you find less abhorrent.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102220)

I didn't sit out. I just voted. And this is how I voted:
  1. Libertarian or other third party.
  2. No third party? Vote against incumbent.
  3. No alternative to incumbent? Abstain.

I can't stand either the Dems or the Reps and I can't understand how folks can toe their respective party lines. I'll vote for one of those corrupt major parties if there's no third party candidate (here in GA the Libertarians got a following) to vote against the incumbent.

Dems - taken over by statists and leftists.

Reps - taken over by the lunatic Evangelical Christian nuts and the folks who can be easily bought with low taxes - balanced budgets be damned!

Both run by big money.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102374)

Libertarians are run by big money. There is nothing big money likes better than total deregulation and a government whose only function is to protect the property of the haves from the have nots. You are a willing tool of folks like the billionaire Koch brothers, who fund libertarian and tea party candidates who promise to destroy the only thing keeping them in check: government regulation. Thankfully, by voting libertarian you are just throwing your vote away, the majority of Americans can see through the scam and would never vote diametrically opposite their true interests.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (4, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102232)

Hmm. Taking your complaint seriously:

I'm not sure you conclusion is supportable. If you are voting for whomever "lies the least" then you're actually supporting honesty (assuming you actually can telling more lies). If other people vote the same way then you could counteract the effect of people voting for whomever tells them what they want to hear. Looking at it from a macro point of view, voting for the least dishonest person increases the value of honesty in campaigns. Failing to vote at all on that basis does the opposite of what you want, it actually encourages more dishonest behavior because it increases the relative value of the votes of the gullible (by making the votes of skeptical irrelevant).

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102350)

True, but I refuse to my support behind someone who is deceiving the populace so that they can obtain some measure of power.

The system is fucked, regardless of who gets put in there; the very nature of our government and our modern politics dictate this to be so. By not voting, I am not responsible for any of those people being in power.

If the day arrives when an honest person who truly wants to change things for the better without any self-serving need to fulfill an ego or provide companies/politicians/lobbyists with favors, I'll vote for them. Until such a time, I'm not going to casually toss my support behind someone just for the hell of it.

Many people on this planet are don't get to vote. Likewise, many people on this planet are forced to vote. America is one of the few bastions where we not only have the freedom to vote, but the freedom to CHOOSE to vote.

I'm exercising that freedom.

you are the perfect slave (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102278)

in your words, is the perfect cattle of an authoritarian country, the perfect double plus good citizen

the simple truth of the matter is, if you wait for your perfect candidate, you will never vote. and even then you will find something wrong with them. every election, ever held, and will ever be held, will simply be a choice between the lesser of two evils. no one is pure, no one doesn't have lies spread about them

the real criminal is you: you who hold your candidates to impossible standards, and then complain no one meets those standards

what you are really doing is rationalizing your desire to absolve yourself of responsibility for the society you live in. you are detaching yourself from any crimes that happens in your society, absolving yourself of guilt: "i didn't choose our leaders"

and in a country composed of people who think like you, sits the happiest tyrant

go to work slave. don't ever complain again. even when they increase your workhours and decrease your salary. not your fault, right?

you, all by yourself, no one else to blame, have given up the right to complain, by choosing not to do the ONE TINY THING that guarantees that you live in a free country: VOTE

Re:I'm sitting this one out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102282)

That is the primary reason I vote.

I only vote for candidates that:
1) do not lie
2) support the local people, not businesses headquartered outside of the county
3) do not beat around the bush. as in, you can go to their website and they, in some detail, say what they will do.
4) do not run attack ads
And I personally feel who we represent in the house is one of the best in the country because locally the community feels the same way as I do under the subject.

If your county elects liars, then go vote! Change the status quo.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102342)

You don't have to vote for one of the big two. Vote for some independent candidate. Or write someone in. But go vote.

Re:I'm sitting this one out (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102414)

Not voting for anyone is tacit acceptance of all of the candidates, since one of them will win the election. It's also subjecting yourself to governance by the likes of me. As my new-found slave, you may come over and cut my grass this afternoon.

hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102048)

"Less white" is the key here.

Polls are irrelevant (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102054)

The party which wins will be the party which is more successful in hacking electronic voting machines.

Re:Polls are irrelevant (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102122)

Voting is irrelevant... It doesn't make a difference who amongst the democrats or republicans wins. Hasn't for a long time.

Re:Polls are irrelevant (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102296)

The differences are far smaller than one would like(ie. the US will be a more or less imperialistic oligarchy with an alarming degree of disregard for human rights, massive domestic incarceration, and increasing concentrations of executive power in either case); but the differences are there.

I know, for instance, which administration I would rather be homosexual under. Corporate money(albeit slightly different types between the parties) is a constant; but the relative influence of religiosity is a pretty significant variable. Democrats tend to be snivelling cowards(cough, getting rid of don't ask, don't tell, cough); but most of the genuine theocrats hang out on the right, either Republican or "Constitution" party.

Re:Polls are irrelevant (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102186)

Zero Cool/Acid Burn 2012!!!

Re:Polls are irrelevant (0, Troll)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102416)

The party which wins will be the party which is more successful in hacking electronic voting machines.

That is the line Republicans are pre-feeding to the press, in case they lose or do not win as much as expected, they will simply trot out voter fraud and whine like the bitchy princesses they are.

I hope it is a bloodbath (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102056)

Keep grasping at straws. Hopefully, all democratic seats will be losers.

So... (2, Interesting)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102074)

Basically you're telling us what we've already known for decades... that polling is retarded and highly inaccurate.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102182)

Actually I would like to see the polling banned.
It introduces way to much bias into the process. People tend to not want to throw away their vote so once a canidate is in the lead people tend to want for them or not for them instead of the person that they think is the right one.

That and they should keep primary results a secret until every state votes.

It is funny but I had a long drawn out discussion about the value of randomizing ballots and bias. This bias is probably a million times greater than who is first on the ballot.

Since everybody has the right to a secret ballot make it illegal to ask people how they will vote or have voted!

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102358)

That's not an issue with polling, it's an issue with using a terribly flawed voting system (first past the post). Fix the system and it would fix quite a few political problems. For example, preferential voting eliminates the need for strategic voting as you've described above.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102204)

And even if it weren't WHY THE FUCK IS POLLING ALL THEY TALK ABOUT? Paying attention to the news will tell you 1. Who is running 2. How likely they are to get elected 3. If they are having sex with someone who isn't their spouse 4. What their opponents are saying about them, in order of most to least information.

Not on there: their history or what they will actually do (if anything) when elected. Who do I vote for, the guy who's likely to win? Because that's about the only thing you'll get from the news.

How a candidate is polling is of interest to the candidate and his staff, and to people who already know who they are voting for to either say "Ha ha, we're going to win!" or "Damnit, we're going to lose!" To everyone else, it should be trivial information.

Re:So... (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102392)

This is a symptom of the commercialization of the news media. They've concluded that races are exciting and facts are dull. Since they're in the business of sell out the viewers, it's obvious what they're eventually going to do.

Re:So... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102378)

The purpose of polling is often not to predict elections, but to influence them. The obvious case is with push polls, where the poll itself is a means of spreading propaganda, e.g. "How do you feel about the fact that [Candidate A] is corrupt?" The less obvious thing is that political organizations want the news to say, "[Candidate A] is beating [Candidate B]. This means that if you like [Candidate B], you're stupid and all your friends will disagree with you, and there's no point in voting."

And besides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102456)

Whichever party wins just determines which of our rights are taken away first.

Will I lose my right to carry a gun this time around? Or maybe my right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? My right to smoke Salvia? My right to keep the money I earned?

Everything we value is on the chopping block, the only difference is which subset is directly assaulted.

Demographic weighting is missing...a demographic? (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102080)

Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white — all Democratic demographics — and a study by Pew Research suggests that the failure to include them might bias the polls by about 4 points against Democrats, even after demographic weighting is applied.

Umm...isn't the point of demographic weighting to factor in "unweighted" demographics like this?

Re:Demographic weighting is missing...a demographi (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102304)

The "cellphone effect" causes polls to under-represent certain demographics, say by 10%. Those demographics also tend to be under-represented in the voting population, say by 50%. That 50% reduces the magnitude of the cellphone effect, so you expect the overall correction to be 5% in favor of democrats. This is how I interpreted "demographic weighting" in the summary, I'm not sure what problem you're seeing with it.

Do you want to vote for... (1, Troll)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102096)

The noble candidate A, who will lower taxes, expand benefits, and is for a strong America

or

The candidate B, who voted for increased taxes and fewer benefits.

---

Do you want to vote for"

Corporate controlled sock... er "Conservative" Candidate A?

or

Corporate controlled sock... er "Liberal" Candidate B?

Re:Do you want to vote for... (1)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102272)

The noble candidate A, who will lower taxes, expand benefits, and is for a strong America

???

Re:Do you want to vote for... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102368)

exactly...
And everyone chooses "A".

WHO GIVES A SHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102102)

about who is *going* to win? Can't they wait until after the polls to bring the news?

Re:WHO GIVES A SHIT (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102264)

Speculation, and playing the odds. It's in our blood. A smart booky will come out of this smelling like rose

Caller ID, too (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102106)

I have a landline, actually, but it has caller ID. I don't answer calls from unknown or out-of-area callers, which includes pollsters.

I wonder which demographics correlate with people who use Caller ID to screen calls. (Cue debate.)

Re:Caller ID, too (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102194)

Exactly. The wife and I don't answer obvious pollster calls. And we have received at least 1 per night for the last month.

I DON'T TALK TO ROBOTS!!! (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102200)

They keep robocalling our house and I keep telling them this is a private line and that I don't talk to robots.
But robots don't listen.


Although, if I ever get a political push-poll robocall that starts by asking "are there stairs in your house?" I will answer long enough to ensure them I am protected.

Re:Caller ID, too (1)

memojuez (910304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102490)

I've been polled three or four times in the last month and a half. Since I prefer a Libertarian or NPA Canditates, but I seem to be added to the margin of error instead of my candidate(s) getting any love.

younger, more urban, and less white (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102110)

Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white -- all Democratic demographics...

And all far less likely to vote than old, white people.

Maybe the Democratic GOTV effort will surprise me, but I was less than impressed with the "historic" turnout among young people in the '08 election. The vast majority of them still are either too apathetic or too cynical to bother voting.

And will those first-time African American voters from '08 still turn out even though Obama is not on the ballot this year? Will Latinos turn out even though the Democrats did nothing on immigration reform?

New Polling Measure Hastens Process! (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102112)

It may be that only adults who are extremely engaged by politics (who are more likely to be Republican, especially this year) bother to respond to robocalls.

Poll Phone Operator: Excuse me, sir or ma'am, do you have a free minute to answer a few simple questions anonymously about who you plan to vote for?
Phone Respondent One: Well, let's see, what would Jesus do?
*Poll Phone Operator hangs up the phone and puts a check mark next to the Republican candidate*

Poll Phone Operator: Excuse me, sir or ma'am, do you have a free minute to answer a few simple questions anonymously about who you plan to vote for?
Phone Respondent Two: Sorry, what did you say? It's cloudy and my solar powered phone is cutting in and out.
*Poll Phone Operator hangs up the phone and puts a check mark next to the Democratic candidate*

Poll Phone Operator: Excuse me, sir or ma'am, do you have a free minute to answer a few simple questions anonymously about who you plan to vote for?
Phone Respondent Three: Yes I do, just let me put NASCAR on mute, I can talk and watch at the same time.
*Poll Phone Operator hangs up the phone and puts a check mark next to the Republican candidate*

Poll Phone Operator: Excuse me, sir or ma'am, do you have a free minute to answer a few simple questions anonymously about who you plan to vote for?
Phone Respondent Four: I'm so sorry but I just put on a 180 gram vinyl Arcade Fire album and I fear that if I remove the needle prematurely I would ...
*Poll Phone Operator hangs up the phone and puts a check mark next to the Democratic candidate*

Poll Phone Operator: Excuse me, sir or ma'am, do you have a free minute to answer a few simple questions anonymously about who you plan to vote for?
Phone Respondent Five: Fuck you and fuck the establishment you rode in on.
*Poll Phone Operator hangs up the phone and puts a check mark next to the Independent candidate*

Re:New Polling Measure Hastens Process! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102292)

I must object - I watch NASCAR every weekend, yet I will never again vote for a republican for national or probably state wide office, and haven't voted for one in a decade. Despite the redness of my neck - I am an engineer with multiple degrees in physics and math -

Grasping at straws. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102118)

In 2003 it was uncommon for people to port out their home number to their cell. Most polsters don't even know what's a cell and what isn't anymore. I can attest to this being in Madison Wi because Russ Fiengolds called me at least a dozen times this week in a desperate attempt to keep his seat.

Lopsided summary... (5, Informative)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102126)

Some background is in order here; this is not a typical piece for Silver. He did a companion [nytimes.com] to it a couple days ago, giving the reasons the GOP could overperform. These are just "what if" stories, designed to flesh out the message he's been driving for some time now, which is that this election has unusually high uncertainty. He isn't engaging in hackery and claiming everything will be fine for Democrats...

Re:Lopsided summary... (-1, Troll)

leereyno (32197) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102250)

Good to know.

Considering this is an article for the New York Times, I was about to blast it as typical leftist dreck. But if he's intellectually honest and able to suspend his political sentiments in the interest of objective truth, then I've got no beef with him.

Re:Lopsided summary... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102354)

Way to keep an open mind. God bless America.

Re:Lopsided summary... (3, Informative)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102390)

Nate Silver used to run the website www.fivethirtyeight.com which in September was folded into the NYT website. That's a pity for us because he was often one of the few politicos who was a hard numbers person and didn't really play favorites. I tend to not go to the NYT page for my news, and the lack of an RSS feed from fivethirtyeight means that I don't really use it anymore.

another effect (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102134)

There's another really common effect I've seen in every election. Whoever is losing tends to make up reasons why they're not going to lose because it makes them feel better. Why doesn't everyone wait a couple hours and just see who wins THEN draw conclusions about the different polls' accuracy. If you think about it, estimating how accurate polls' estimations are before you see the results is extremely stupid and against all logic and math. If this story came out tomorrow as an explanation for why the democrats won more than everyone thought, then we have a story.

Lead in questions to determine voter type... (1)

that_xmas (707449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102142)

Most polls use the turnout numbers for last election as a baseline for potential voters, then ask questions to determine to which party the respondent belongs. If polls spit out just the raw numbers, they'd be more than useless.

Your worries about skewed numbers are mostly unjustified....it's been 50+ years since the "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN!" days. (And younger, urban voters don't vote in mid-term elections anyhow.)

Re:Lead in questions to determine voter type... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102408)

Most polls use the turnout numbers for last election as a baseline for potential voters, then ask questions to determine to which party the respondent belongs. If polls spit out just the raw numbers, they'd be more than useless.

Your worries about skewed numbers are mostly unjustified....it's been 50+ years since the "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN!" days. (And younger, urban voters don't vote in mid-term elections anyhow.)

There's only so much normalizing you can do with an increasingly skewed sample before you're just making things up.

collective insanity (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102144)

American public: "Wow, those Republicans sure fucked everything up. Better vote Democrat this time."
T+4 years: "Wow, those Democrats sure fucked everything up. Better vote Republican!"
T+8 years: "Wow, those Republicans sure fucked everything up. Better vote Democrat this time."

Umm, people? We have other choices, you know. The extremes of *any* party are going to be nut-jobs, but we can probably do a lot better to let the D's and R's set a few rounds out.

But we won't, will we. Because voting is supposed to be about thinking with other people's brains and voting with the flock.

Re:collective insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102380)

I like how [insert talking head here] goes bananas whenever the little R/D changes to the one they don't like, so they fire up the ol' propaganda machine to tell us all how the world is ending and it's all those R/Ds fault. X years of their guy doing the same thing is, however, what we need, and you won't hear a peep out of them then.

Re:collective insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102502)

Change is terrifying.

It's not like either one of the primary parties has totally and obviously destroyed the country. I mean that in the strict sense, not "OMFG, the country is destroyed because Obama doesn't have a birth certificate!!11one!" I mean we're still here. Either Republican or Democrat will keep the status quo with just relatively minor differences.

A completely new party will have totally unknown results. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but it's scary because it's an unknown and things aren't so bad that the risk outweighs the desire for change. Plus there really has not been a 3rd party representative that seems 100% stable. Not that the major parties have ever fielded one either but the 3rd parties are going to need a Superman type figure to overcome the scariness of the unknown.

NY Times (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102146)

Keep dreaming.

As a paper, it is incredibly biased and even their map lists Democrats on top in every race. It's not alphabetical. It's not anything except biased. I'm really getting tired of seeing the "poor Democrats" being picked on and subtle stuff like this getting ignored. Is it a big deal, since--I hope--it will order based on percentage of vote garnered? No. Does it point out a huge problem with the paper's reliability? Yes.

NY Times Election Map [House] [nytimes.com]

And... (1)

Korveck (1145695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102148)

The younger, more urban, and less white Americans are a lot less likely to vote. With Republicans riding on the rage and Democrats failing to do anything about it, the outcome is too predictable in this midterm election.

Google says otherwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102150)

And in other news: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/10/31/1520249/Predicting-Election-Results-With-Google

The 'cellphone effect' is true, but it doesn't mean that republicans will not not get a majority in the house. It just means they will most likely get a couple of seats less than predicted.

skewed predictions (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102162)

"Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white"

That's so true. I just got back from Hawaii with a nice tan and I only use a cell phone.

skewed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102174)

i was gonna skew somebody if i got one more robo-call last night. sheesh.

Nice theory fails in practice (1, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102176)

Republican preference has been consistently underrepresented in polls for as long as I remember- and cellphones didn't suddenly appear in the last year.

no, no bias here at all (0, Troll)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102214)

Complete wishful bullshit.
Amazing how much rationalization is going into analyzing (and trying to explain away) polling data that suggests a Democratic bloodbath. What, too much "change" in the air now?

Fwiw and purely anecdotally, I've always seen results skew 4+ percent to the right of polls, because consevatives (even 'engaged' ones), are far more likely to share their view with a pollster, while liberals - especially the young - LOVE to tell everyone how liberal they are.

Re:no, no bias here at all (0, Offtopic)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102260)

*LESS likely...

Damn no edit button.

Re:no, no bias here at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102494)

It's called the Preview button. Apparently "consevatives" (sic) are too stupid to use it though.

Re:no, no bias here at all (3, Informative)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102458)

Complete wishful bullshit.
Amazing how much rationalization is going into analyzing (and trying to explain away) polling data that suggests a Democratic bloodbath. What, too much "change" in the air now?

Fwiw and purely anecdotally, I've always seen results skew 4+ percent to the right of polls, because consevatives (even 'engaged' ones), are far more likely to share their view with a pollster, while liberals - especially the young - LOVE to tell everyone how liberal they are.

That's great. Exactly the opposite of my experience, but it probably depends on where you live. I live in a town with a pretty strong liberal majority, so nobody ever goes around spouting anything about it. It is the more conservative types who go around telling everyone within earshot how conservative they are (but you're right, it does tend to be the younger ones - I think because they are so excited about being all "rebellious" going against their liberal parents).

Come to think of it, it may actually be the independents that are the worst in this respect (but around here independents are usually conservative, so same difference).

The Idiocy of Politics (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102236)

It doesn't matter [youtube.com] who you vote [youtube.com] for.

Dear US slashdotters. (2, Interesting)

wazoox (1129681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102242)

Please do the right thing. Go f***ing vote. And please vote well (i. e. not for the religious wingnuts, right-wing war mongerers, and Fox-News watchers).

Thank you.

Re:Dear US slashdotters. (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102336)

as an american, i say thank you for your words

mod parent up

and get off your lazy asses, AND FUCKING VOTE

Re:Dear US slashdotters. (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102474)

As a Canadian citizen who has many friends in the United States, I agree with the first half of the GP post. Please do the right thing and go vote. Just vote for whom you believe will make a better country for you, your family and your friends. Don't listen to the mudslinging and flamewars - read the websites, get informed. Choose out of knowledge, not fear.

Change is a myth. Voter always effed (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102300)

Here's how it is going to go down. We will replace a set of idiots who don't care about us, with a new set of idiots who don't care about us.

Re:Change is a myth. Voter always effed (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102356)

your words say more about your own failed psychology than it says anything about the actual reality we live in

I've just got my package from amazon today (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102308)

I purchased a book called "How to lie with statistics" by Darrell Huff. It was written in 1954. The first chapter is called "The sample with the built-in bias". It contains amongst other things the story of polling phone subscribers for the 1936 presidential election.

Long story short, phone subscribers were economically and socially biased to be more likely to be republican at that time and so the poll picked Landon as a probable president and not Roosevelt. It's sad and funny at the same time to see how little the pollsters learned.

Re:I've just got my package from amazon today (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102402)

Wow! This has nothing to do with the main subject, but I remember this book well. I read it around 1958 or 59. It was a real eye-opener to a high school kid about how the world really works, and to be careful in placing belief blindly. Remember the 1948 election!

Re:I've just got my package from amazon today (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102454)

They know what they have always known:
People will pay money for poll results that favor them.

Consider the source of this article (0, Flamebait)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102366)

The New York Times is pretty left wing. Of course they're going to grasp at threads to say the polls are wrong, and America really wants the kind of government we've had these last two years.

Beware of any poll, or comments on the validity of polls, conducted by the far left or the far right. They're likely to be skewed in one direction or the other.

Someone will be shocked (2, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102410)

Democrats could too, and nobody should be particularly shocked if they do.

well I listen to a lot of FOX radio on AM mainly for comedic entertainment, and to keep tabs with what that side is saying, and according to them if Democrats win everyone in the country must have been influenced, intimidated, or bribed

so yes I would think they would be quite shocked and provide me with quite a bit more entertainment value

Damn... (1)

airdweller (1816958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102446)

"...Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white — all Democratic demographics..." ...I'm older, suburban and white. I must be a Republican...

Who can say (3, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102470)

Who can really say. Counter-example:

I'm doing graduate research involving monitoring students in computer science labs. Today the instructor asked how many students were planning to vote. Around 15% raised their hands. At least that many had a stunned look in their eyes as though they didn't even realize it was election day.

Young people may be more likely to own only cell-phones and tend to be much more progressive, but it seems as though they may be a lot less likely to vote. Most of them probably live within a few blocks of where they can vote and it's a nice day out so there's not much of an excuse.

I follow Silver's site as he often writes a lot about the statistics behind his model, which I usually find more interesting than the results or political commentary, but if these observations are true, why the hell aren't they built into his model? If these effects actually exist and skew polling results, why haven't they already been taken into consideration? Also, what effects exist that skew the results in the other direction and what evidence supports them?

This article feels sloppy, especially when compared to the usual high quality from fivethirtyeight. Let's wait another twelve hours and then we'll have a pretty good idea about the actual outcome and can start speculating what might have caused it to deviate from the expected results so that the prediction model can be adjusted accordingly.
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