Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Myth of the Great Democratic Party "New Voter Surge"

Original Link: http://jay1949.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/the-myth-of-the-great-democratic-party-new-voter-surge/

According to various pundits, mostly Democrats, Barack Obama will be swept into office in November by a surge of new, mostly young voters who have been registered during the primary season. This is a myth.

There are a number of historical arguments against such a thing happening, including the observation that young voters don’t turn out in the fall and that new registrations don’t increase the percentage of eligible voters who go to the polls. Both of these observations are accurate to a degree, but they are not why I call the current political prediction a myth.

Here is the key factor: those new, young voters are registered now. If they were going to tip the balance so decisively in Obama’s favor, that would be reflected at least generally in the numerous opinion polls; but a fair reading of those polls does not support the argument being made by the Democratic pundits.

Public opinion polls use varying methods to gather and report information, but if you examine the polls reported on RealClearPolitics.com and other sites, you will see that they fall into three general categories: those reporting the responses of all adults contacted; those reporting the responses of registered voters; and those reporting the responses of likely voters. The different reporting methods are indicated by the notations “A,” “RV,” and “LV.” The “A” polls are probably over-inclusive, since they include responses from persons who simply are not going to vote. The “LV” polls are probably under-inclusive because they rely on certain factors, such as a prior voting history, which newly-registered voters lack. So if I were looking at the polls to get a sense of the impact of newly-registered voters, I would look at the “RV” polls - - these may also include voters who are registered but who will not vote, but they will include a sampling of newly-registered voters.

Now, here is my point: if you examine the “RV” and “LV” polls over time in the Obama-McCain head-to-head national polls, you should see that there is no substantial difference between the preferences stated by registered voters (the “RV” polls) and the preferences stated by the likely voters (the “LV” polls). If anything, the “RV” polls are less favorable to Obama than are the “LV” polls. But because the new voters are registered now, the “surge” is already accounted for. Therefore, I contend, the opinion polls - - and there are enough of them out there that sampling errors should average out - - do NOT support the premise that Barack Obama will be swept into office in November by the new, mostly young voters who have been registered during the primary season; this is a myth.

I have been around long enough the recall well the 1972 election, in which Sen. George McGovern counted on a surge of new, young voters to sweep him into the Presidency. He got hammered, royally. This is not 1972, and Barack Obama is not George McGovern, but still, if the opinion polls being taken currently mean anything, they give comfort to John McCain, who appears to be running a tight race even if Obama has an edge with the younger voters.

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