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Why Jay Cost does not take polls at face value

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:36 pm - November 2, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Like many conservatives covering the race, Jay Cost considers the internals of the polls, focusing, as we have done, on the independent vote.  He observes, that in the last thirty years, party identification has reached near parity, with independents increasingly tilting toward Romney (as per this post).

Cost grants that his approach is different from those that the “poll mavens” have offered:

They are taking data at face value, running simulations off it, and generating probability estimates. That is not what this is, and it should not be interpreted as such. I am not willing to take polls at face value anymore. I am more interested in connecting the polls to history and the long-run structure of American politics, and when I do that I see a Romney victory.

Read the whole thing.  Polling internals do show more support for Mitt Romney than the top-line number sometimes suggests; most surveys show him leading on the economy and even on an ability to fix Washington’s gridlock.

Conn Carroll sees something similar, contending that since, “Obama is losing among independents by double-digits, all of the state polls showing Obama ahead in swing states like Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin, are predicated on voter turnout models that don’t just match Democratic turnout in 2008, but ambitiously exceed it.

Not only is Obama losing independents, but according “to a new study by the liberal group Third Way,” Ed Morrissey reports, “Republican registration has gained a net 3.8% over Democrats in the last four years,” meaning that turnout models based on the 2008 election aren’t applicable for the current contest.

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