GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkWhy The New Hamsphire Polls Were Wrong
11:21:23 PM

The last poll before the New Hampshire primary had Senator Obama up by 9%. As of now, he's down 3% and the media has declared Senator Clinton the winner.

How'd that happen?


The campaigning has been incessant. The phone calls unceasing. It exceeded the threshold of sanity. We stopped answering calls from unknown out of state numbers days ago. I suspect that lots of other people did, too.

Who kept answering phones? Younger voters. Those participating in their first or second primary, whose excitement level exceeded their aggravation level. Also idealists, whose commitment level made them want to talk to everyone and anyone. Those two groups were more likely to be Obama supporters.

That skewed the sample.

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Comments :v

1. David Singer01/09/2008 01:12:35 AM

Sounds like the same problem the Literary Digest had in 1936!

But this time, I doubt the culprits will be driven out of business.

2. Bruce Perry01/10/2008 02:14:06 AM

I've seen another theory advanced by several sources to explain the Hilary bounce. The claim is that Hilary is getting a sympathy vote because some of the press is being too nasty to her. It's been claimed that Obama's support was gauged accurately by the polls but that Hillary's was underestimated. I haven't checked any polling figures to see if that's the case.

Here's one source:

There are others.

3. Scott Brown02/01/2008 11:24:06 PM
Homepage: http://Somewhere in These Once-United States

Why Kerry lost Ohio in '04. Why Clinton won the NH primary when Obama had it locked. And other anomalies.

Et al.

What kind of state are you people running over there, Richard? (Just kidding. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Arkansas, Florida, California...looks like the whole country's voting system is flawed, which starts with an "F" and rhymes with "fraud.")

To the suspicious QA mind, the fact that only at the start of this millenium did exit polls suddenly become wildly unreliable indicators as to outcome, and that curiously this new turn of events exactly coincides with the widespread use of electronic voting machines...well, hmm.

No paper trail? Would you let your bank get away with that?

No public oversight for chain of evidence? You serious?

Proprietary code? Opaque systems manufactured in South America and Asia?

I hate to point out the obvious, but if Pitney-Bowes could make foolproof USPS approved postage meters for 88 years (yes, I looked it up), there should be no (honest) reason to farm out the manufacture of our vote tabulating equipment to upstarts like Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, the Phillipines, Brazil, and god knows who or where else. And end up with an all too easily hacked system.

I say, if you can't make them secure, go back to thousands of citizens hand-counting hundreds of thousands of cardboard chads. In double-blind redundancy if necessary, to ensure that every citizen who gives enough of a rat's ass to vote can have faith that his or her small voice is being heard.

Can a paper system be hacked? In small, corrupt pockets of the broad voting spectrum, yes. Can a system funneled through a small coterie of private, unsupervised manufacturers, transporters, and electronic vote tabulators be hacked? Leaving no fingerprints? Come on, people.

I would think, of any discreet group, high tech professionals would be raising Holy Hell.

4. Richard Schwartz02/02/2008 01:00:09 AM

@Scott: AFAIK, the NH Primary exit polls were pretty much right on the money this year. It was the pre-election polls that were all wrong.

And see here:
And here:

All NH municipalities use either hand-counted paper ballots, or optically-scanned paper ballots. There is a pre-test of all machines to verify correct counting. There is a paper trail in all cases. Any hacking of the optical counters is easily discoverable.

Despite that, Kucinich called for a recount based on allegations that there were unexplained disparities between candidates in machine vs hand-count precincts. Obama is the one who stood to gain, and he didn't call for a recount for one good reason: his people actually know what technology we use, know there's proper oversight and a paper trail. And they understand statistics, demography, etc. They didn't see any sign of tampering or any need for the recount.

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