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September 18, 2004

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The algorithm for distinguishing between 'registered' and 'likely' voters may work fairly well most of the time. But if there is a time where it isn't going to work, I suspect it will be during this election.

Well, Ruy Texeira has been arguing for a while now that Gallup's method of determining likely voters is wacky, particularly since the idea of sampling likely voters was originally designed to predict the outcome of an election very soon beforehand, not months in advance. This post pretty well sums up his case against it.

Yep. Apparently there have been unusually large requests for absentee ballots as well. The turnout come November might just take everybody by surprise.

According to this absolutely non-authoritative random post googled from the intarweb, the criteria for being a "likely voter" include:


*Have been in his or her place of residence for at least 4 years, that is has to have been registered to vote from the same location last time around.
*Has to have voted last time around.
*Has to have a land-line (pollsters are not allowed to call cellphones)
*and be near this land-line, willing to pick up the phone and take a survey between the hours of 8am and 7pm.

And, using that definition of a likely voter, the cunning pollsters have concluded that the winner of the upcoming election will be... (drumroll)...Dewey! In a landslide!

I'd settle for "likely to vote only once".

I'd settle for "likely to vote only once".

Voting early and often has never been such a good idea!

It seems to me that a "likely voter" algorithm has two flaws. First, it may well bias the sample in some way.

Even if it doesn't, it still increases the margin of error. Suppose you poll 1000 people who are likely voters according to your algorithm. Now suppose your algorithm is imperfect, as it surely is, and only 800 of these people will vote. Then you've really only sampled 800 voters, and the MOE goes to 3.5% from 3%. Not a big jump, but enough that, combined with possible bias, it ought to give us pause.

Harley,
A friend of mine, a regular donor to Emily's List, asked me why she would get a recorded message from George Bush asking her to request an absentee ballot. We live in the battleground state of Ohio.
My guess was the administration wanted people to vote before they heard more bad news from Iraq or the economy.
Why she particularly was called? She must be on some list somewhere that was targeted (she is very wealthy) because she is not a registered republican.

She must be on some list somewhere that was targeted (she is very wealthy) because she is not a registered republican.

It happens to both sides, carsick. It's not some conspiracy, it's a get-out-the-vote effort in which mistakes are made on both sides in identifying the political orientation of everyone on their call list.

Slarti
But why is the campaign to re-elect asking people to vote absentee?
That's the new part?
I understand get-out-the-vote activities. Is this just assumed another version of that? Highly unusual to ask folks who are not registered republicans to make sure they vote. And it certainly is not a public service announcement.

It's actually very easy to get state lists (for the states that require party affiliation to vote in primaries) of who is registered for each party. I know because I recently registered as a democrat and lo and behold I now recieve information in the mail from the democratic party assuming I am a democrat.

Never got that stuff before.

i before e except after c..."receive" above.

Any get-out-the-vote effort is going to include attention on people who can't make it to the polling place, or will be otherwise unable to vote on election day. The Kerry campaign will be doing the same thing, if they're smart.

As for the anecdotal part, I know a guy who's fairly active in the local Republican Party. He gets campaign calls from Democrats pretty frequently. Which, come to think of it, is odd, because I don't get calls from either campaign.

"Any get-out-the-vote effort is going to include attention on people who can't make it to the polling place, or will be otherwise unable to vote on election day."

I said my friend was very wealthy. I didn't say she couldn't make it to the polls. Far from it. Unless the assumption is the wealthy usually are travelling in the beginning of November.
I don't know the answer either. Your suggestion doesn't really satisfy either but thanks for trying.

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