An analysis at political site Real Clear Politics expands on a point I made several days ago; pollsters are mistakenly using the sky-high Democrat turnout from the 2008 election rather than historical norms to model turnout this year, causing many races to seem closer than they are.
The Toomey / Sestak race is an excellent example. The two candidates have nearly identical support within their own parties, which would favor Sestak in a year when Republicans weren’t more enthusiastic to vote than Democrats, and Toomey holds a large lead among independents. In a high Republican turnout year like this, the in-party support should cancel each other out, leaving the large Toomey lead among independent voters the deciding factor. However, the poll shows the race tied because it assumes a large Democrat turnout.
Writer Sean Trende makes the case that the elections held in 2009 looked very much like those held in 2004, and that the 2010 models should follow the 2009 trends. Instead, they’re using the anomalous 2008 election turnout.
I wish I could quote the whole thing. Everyone should read it beginning to end.
[I]t doesn’t appear that the screens being used by pollster this year are creating an electorate that resembles 2004 at all. Instead, the partisan environment these pollsters’ screens are producing is somewhere between 2006 and 2008 – the type of electorate you’d expect to see in a good Democratic year.
A quick examination of the crosstabs indicates that these pollsters are almost all seeing the same basic environment in race after race: Republicans and Democrats are drawing near unanimous support from their partisans, while Democrats are drawing support from 35-40 percent of Independents.
In other words, these pollsters don’t disagree on how Republicans, Democrats and Independents are going to cast their votes. Instead, they disagree on how many Republicans, Democrats and Independents are going to cast their vote.
The tightening polls are giving a lot of conservatives pause. I’m not saying there’s no reason to be worried; there’s too much at stake this year not to worry about every vote. But it does appear that the polls are tightening much more than the actual races are.
Like That? You'll Probably Like These.
- Quinnipiac Poll Shows Toomey Slightly Ahead Of Sestak
- Liberal Polling Outfit PPP: Toomey Up By 9%
- WTF: Toomey Down In Two Recent Polls
- Sestak Can’t Break 50%…In His Own Congressional District
- Polls Miraculously Show Toomey And Corbett Regaining Huge Leads