November 05, 2006
Dean Barnett is absolutely "bursting" in anticipation of Tuesday (to use his word). He's looking at the polls and here's his take:
What is even more of a mystery is why they all erred in the same direction, dramatically favoring the Democrat. IÂ’ve offered theories in the past why this is so, and IÂ’ll briefly summarize them for those with better things to do this fine Saturday than thumb through my archives: Liberals are bigmouths who canÂ’t wait to share their opinions with strangers. Conservatives have lives.Hey, if the end result is exactly mid-way between this prediction and the doom-and-gloom scenario that the MSM is pushing, I'll be "bursting" come Wednesday morning.
To take a more serious look at the matter, what the polls measure right now are people passionate or bored enough to spend a half hour talking to a stranger or, worse still, punching buttons on their telephone when prompted to by a recording. Democrats are more likely to tolerate this exercise, just as they were more likely to tolerate the inquisition of an eager grad student as they left the polls on Election Day Â’04.
The pollsters have also yet to devise a way of predicting whoÂ’s actually going to show up on Election Day. One poll I read talked to some 1200 registered voters and deemed 1000 of them Â“likely voters.Â” Since even a presidential year generates only 60% turnout max, the pollsterÂ’s conclusion that over 80% of the people he spoke with are Â“likely votersÂ” is the professional equivalent of him throwing his hands in the air and saying, Â“How the hell should I know whoÂ’s actually going to vote?Â”
Of course, the pollsters canÂ’t say that because if they confess weaknesses in their methods, theyÂ’re less likely to have customers queued up to purchase their services. So instead they must perform a charade in which they profess omniscience.
SO WHAT ARE THE POLLSTERS MISSING? Well, first theyÂ’re missing the fact that a disproportionate amount of Republicans are likely to tell them to take a hike. Next, theyÂ’re overestimating the enthusiasm on the left. For all the cacophonous din that emanates from the left, itÂ’s critical to note that even their greatest hero, Ned Lamont, underperformed the polls on primary day. By several points.
Lastly, and most importantly, theyÂ’re missing a historic Republican Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort. Republicans are going to turn out like itÂ’s a presidential year. Independents and Democrats will turn out like itÂ’s an important midterm. The Republican turnout will be worth between a few and several points in every race where thereÂ’s an effective Republican machine. And that includes every battleground state.
Lest you think IÂ’m whistling Dixie, weÂ’re already seeing the results of the Republican efforts. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that early voting and absentee ballot results suggest Republicans are indeed voting in greater numbers than in 2004. (Sorry, no link, but you can trust me, right?)
None of the foregoing means the polls are worthless. It just means that to get an accurate gauge on things, you have to add a significant layer of Republican support to the reported numbers.
So whatÂ’s it all mean? In the tied races, the Republican will win. In the close races, the Republican will win. It adds up to Republicans running the table in the Senate. ThatÂ’s right Â– running the table. Montana, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Rhode Island (whoopee), and Maryland will all send or re-send Republicans to the Senate. But wait, thereÂ’s more! Michigan will send Sheriff Michael Bouchard to the Senate. And in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is in striking distance.
In the House, the same holds true. Republican Joe Negron will take FoleyÂ’s seat. New MexicoÂ’s Heather Wilson will return to Congress. So, too, will ConnecticutÂ’s Chris Shays. WeÂ’ll lose a handful of seats for the individual failures of certain Congressmen (hello, Curt Weldon), but we will retain control of the House.
Okay, IÂ’m officially out on the limb. But IÂ’m comfortable here. The paradigm has shifted. People like Stu Rothenberg are like old generals re-fighting the last war; theyÂ’re re-analyzing the last election without realizing that certain key facts on the ground have changed.
And you know those "generic ballot" polls? Jim Geraghty points this out:
Yes, on November 6, 1994, among registered voters, ABC News/Washington Post had the Democrats ahead on the generic ballot, 47 percent to 42. So we know just how valuable an indicator it is.The year the GOP swept both houses of Congress, the WaPo had the Dems leading by five points? What a bunch of crap. Remember, the generic ballot poll always favors Dems.
Even MSNBC is conceding the Senate to the GOP. If their willing to admit that, are they laying the ground work for a major backtrack from this "Democrat wave" prediction? Hmmmm.
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