From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Working the polls

September 17, 2004 1:48 PM

Lots of focus on polling methodology the last few days. Gallup continues to pump out its polls showing Bush with a huge lead, meanwhile everyone else has it much tighter.

Steve Soto rips apart the Gallup methodology. They assume the turnout will be 40% rep, 33% dem and 28% independent. Only problem is that GOP turnout over the last 3 presidential elections has never been higher than 35%.

Albert Hunt explores how pollsters determine a likely voter, quoting Republican pollster Bill McInturff: "For low-turnout elections those old models work well, but in today's presidential election those models tend to til a little older, a little more white, a little more affluent and little more Republican. They may miss some of the extraordinary activity going on in African-American and Latino communities."

And Jimmy Breslin points out that it's illegal for pollsters to call cell phones, leaving out a huge number of mostly younger people who only have cell phones (including me). Can anyone quantify this with a recent stat? The only thing I could immediately find was a CTIA survey from 2000 pegging it at 5%. USA Today estimates that 18% of people give out their cell phone number as their primary number.

All of these things tilt the polls in favor of George W. Bush.

More from the archive in Politics.

Working the polls (09.17.2004)

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Read the 6 comments.


You keep telling youself that... "The race is much tighter!"... The simple reality about voter turnout is this:

There is no real love for Kerry. People will not turn out in force to vote for Kerry; rather, they will turn out to vote against GWB. This is not exactly a strong formula to pull large democrat turnout.

GWB supporters on the other hand are passionate about his presidency and wish to see it concerned. AND, they are equally worried about what 4 years of Kerry would do to the country (equally, I say, to those Kerry supporters who are worried what 4 more years of GWB would do)

At this point, and I don't see it changing anytime soon, GWB is in a MUCH better position to receive larger turnout than Kerry...

Sat Sep 18 2004 8:36 AM


3rd paragraph, 2nd line:
concerned = continued

Sat Sep 18 2004 8:37 AM

Jim Gilliam:

"People will not turn out in force to vote for Kerry; rather, they will turn out to vote against GWB. This is not exactly a strong formula to pull large democrat turnout."

That's the conventional wisdom, but I completely disagree. Voter turnout is much stronger when it's AGAINST a candidate, then when it's FOR a candidate. See this study based on data from the 72-88 presidential elections for more info:

So the question then becomes, do Dems hate Bush more than Reps hate Kerry?

I already know the answer to that one.

Sun Sep 19 2004 1:48 PM


I hope you are right, Jim. As much as the lazy American electorate may deserve another four years of incompetent government running up a huge debt and leaving it for the next generation to pay, I would just as soon not go there.

Sun Sep 19 2004 10:59 PM


"A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn't enough - people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day."

That's a quote from that article you linked to, Jim. You yourself have said before on this site that you do not like Kerry very much, even if you love him compared to Bush...

I really think we see a larger-than-normal portion of Kerry's support that isn't very happy that Kerry is the nominee. They are they Dean supporters, mainly. That is the voting block that is going have lower-than-normal turnout.

Bush, on the other had, is loved by more-than-usual from among his supporters. People who support Republicans tend to love Bush. Those supporters also see a huge threat with Kerry (National Security, mainly). That voting block has the perfect hero-to-vote-for;threat-to-vote-against scenario that will drive them to the polls....

Sun Sep 26 2004 7:17 PM

Jim Gilliam:

Almost there on the hero part...5 more days:

Sun Sep 26 2004 10:40 PM

Jim Gilliam
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