POLLING MAGIC

Stephen Green remarks

Well, it looks like New Hampshire voters defied expectations by failing to defy expectations.

The hype the last week has been (apart, of course, from Dean’s Iowa disaster followed by his near-miraculous recovery as predicted here last week) that NH voters are a cantankerous lot, prone to proving the pollsters wrong just for the sake of sticking it to the pollsters.

But not this year — the results were almost exactly in line with Zogby’s numbers yesterday and this morning.

Yep. Ditto the Iowa caucuses, for that matter. All previous evidence pointed to “organization” being the important thing, polls be damned. Not so much.

There are at least three possible explanations for this: 1.) Pollsters are getting better at filtering out the noise and counting only people likely to follow through on their stated intentions. 2.) These are two isolated incidents that, when taken out of context, look like a “trend” when in reality they are just two isolated incidents. 3.) We’re reading history wrong, emphasizing the handful of times when the voters confounded the pollsters and ignoring the numerous times when the predicted winner won.

The three aren’t mutually exclusive.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. It seems to me that Zogby still has some explaining to do. Justifying his last-minute reformulation of polling results to bring them in line with what other pollsters were reporting, Zogby said that there was a late surge at 5PM Monday night for Kerry among leaners which weakened the Dean numbers.

    Exit polls on election day do not confirm this. In fact, they contradict it, showing that Dean did much better with those who decided within the last three days while Kerry was the big winner among those who decided in the last month.

  2. Paul says:

    Exit polls on election day do not confirm this

    Before you jump on the “Bash Zogby” bandwagon you might want to:

    A) Consider that to some degree the exit polls contradicted the final results.

    and

    B) Try to at least quote the exit polls accurately.

    Not only is your point meaningless it is not even correct.