Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spinning around the Poll; Allen Set Up for Election Day Surprise?

Not Larry Sabato has an early look at the most recent Mason/Dixon poll that shows Allen over Webb by 48% to 32%.

Bloggers for Allen are doing their level best, here, here and here to spin this and other recent polling as positively as they can for their candidate.

But, the reality is that Allen's consistent showing at or below 50% is a sure sign of trouble for him and any incumbent.

Check out this analysis over at by Nick Panagakis , for example, that reports:

An incumbent leading with less than 50% (against one challenger) is frequently in trouble; how much depends on how much less than 50%. A common pattern has been for incumbents ahead with 50% or less to end up losing.

The key is the behavior of undecided voters. Again, according to Panagakis:

our analysis of 155 polls reveals that, in races that include an incumbent, the traditional answers are wrong. Over 80% of the time, most or all of the undecideds voted for the challenger.

And, as to the "spread":

The overwhelming evidence is that an incumbent won’t share the undecideds equally with the challenger. To suggest otherwise by emphasizing point spread or to say that an incumbent is ahead when his or her percentage is well under 50% leads to election day surprises.
But, according to Zogby, the 16 point spread shown in Mason/Dixon may indicate some break in the clouds looming over the Allen campaign:
... traditionally, the undecideds break for the challenger against the incumbent on the basis of the fact, simply, that the voters already know the incumbent, and it's a referendum on the incumbent. And if the incumbent is polling, generally, under 50 percent and leading by less than 10, historically, incumbents have lost 7 out of 10 times.
At a minimum, the weak Allen showing indicates that Virginia voters may be willing to consider a change. Check out this analysis of the Daschle/Thune race on election eve. Or this report re: Lieberman's travails.

It's up to Webb to prove that he's a viable challenger and preferable alternative to Allen. If he can do that, victory may be his on November 7th.

1 comment:

Bill Garnett said...

Thanks – you have provided some real food for thought and an excellent resource for current polling data and analysis.

Personally, I’m wondering when the commonsense factor will come into play – and when there will be a tilt in public opinion against the experience of the last five years – and a tilt against those fundamentalist religious zealots who have crossed that bright line between church and state and have become the bedfellows of the Republicans.

I wonder when commonsense conservatives will stand up to this intrusion against the more bedrock conservative values of liberty, justice, freedom, and fairness? – of minimal government intrusion into private life and to a more pluralistic society?

When will others wake up to the fact that Osama bin Laden is the ultimate in fundamentalist religious conservative zealots? – only he is attempting to force the Koran, rather than the Bible, in a literal word-by-word interpretation of his own, down the throats of everyone else. How far apart is he from our own fundamentalist conservative religious zealots in America who are only tolerated in the Republican Party as they can energize their uneducated, unenlightened, authoritatively ruled and naive voter base by manufacturing divisive social issues?