Monday, November 5, 2012

Poll Position

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Poll Position

With the slew of recent polls in the race for the U.S. Senate here in Indiana, I thought it was time to put them all in perspective as we go in Election Day.

First, here is a summary of the most recent polls since the debate.

  • DSCC - Donnelly - 47, Mourdock 40, Horning/Undecided - 13%; 446 LV, MOE - +/- 4.5%; 10/24-10/25
  • Howey-DePauw: Donnelly - 47, Mourdock - 36, Horning/Undecided - 6% ; 800 LV, MOE - +/- 3.5%; 10/28 - 10/30.
  • Rasmussen: Donnelly 45, Mourdock - 42, Other/Undecided - 12; 600 LV, MOE - +/- 4%; 11/1
  • McLaughlin & Associates: Mourdock - 46, Donnelly - 44, Horning/Undecided - 10. 600 LV, MOE - +/- 4%. 10/31 & 11/1.


If you average all these polls out here is what you get:

  • Donnelly - 45, Mourdock - 41, Horning/Undecided - 10.


So, what is a voter to believe? By this count it looks like Donnelly goes to the U.S. Senate. Maybe, but keep a few things in mind.

First and foremost, any professional pollster will tell you that all polls are a snapshot in time. They tell you what people are thinking that day. All polls have their strengths and weaknesses. You could argue that the Howey poll was done in the midst of Mourdock's comments regarding rape and abortion. You could argue that Mourdock's poll oversampled adults 55 and over since they were 56 percent of his voter survey. You could argue Rasmussen uses landlines and not cell phones. Ultimately, what we take away from polls depends, in part, on what we bring to them. However, the bigger the sample size and the more reflective the sample is of the general population, the more reliable a poll tends to be.

If you are a Donnelly supporter, you probably like the results. If you are a Mourdock fan, you will likely do everything in your ability to try to discredit the pollsters. If you're a Libertarian, you want to make sure Andy Horning's name was mentioned in the survey.

Here is what I take away from these polls and others that I have been privy to. This race has gone from likely Mourdock to probably Donnelly. By my guestimate, Donnelly is probably in the 3-5 point margin of victory realm. The best hope Mourdock has to win are the early votes that have been cast in his favor and how big Mitt Romney and Mike Pence win over Barack Obama and John Gregg.

Now this is the point where someone chimes in and says "the only poll that counts is on Election Day." And you would be correct, to a point. I would argue the only polls that count have been the ones that have been cast since Mourdock made his comments. If his support has dropped off since then, he is going to have a very hard time making up the ground in a race that up until 46:20 in the last U.S. Senate debate was his to lose.

We'll know Tuesday night.

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