Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fun with Zogby

Sorry ... but Weird Al once thought "Fun with Dirt" would make a great TV show. Since many of you pointed out Zogby correctly noted Clinton's late break in Pennsylvania two weeks ago (which Zogby claimed he "quadruple checked"), I have to note a couple things I spotted today regarding a similar and unexpected trend in another state; Indiana.

Josh Marshall has some commentary about the Hoosier State, where Zogby still has Obama in a two point lead (rolling average over two days) but that in the last phone blast yesterday he led Clinton 47-41. This seems to contradict SurveyUSA which has Clinton 54-42. (North Carolina is a differnet story; Obama has a clear 51-37 lead).

JM writes:

I fondly remember my own personal Zogby epiphany moment. I don't recall who my interlocutor was. But I told this person that the thing with Zogby was that he relatively frequently nailed final totals right on the nose, even if pretty frequently his numbers were way off. To which my friend very wisely responded, "Josh, that means he sucks." And I thought, "Hmmm, I guess that's right."

Zogby was pretty dead on about the state by state in 2004 -- missing out only on Ohio, although actually most pollsters did underestimate the religious right's GOTV operation there. Why he had problems with the 2008 races until recently is something you'll have to ask Zogby. But here's why I think he may be on to something today:

I'm not sure if the various other pollsters have included those who went to advance polls -- where Obama has done consistently well everywhere in the US. (Turnout at early polling for these states was about 30%, itself a record.) Zogby has factored this in which leads to his surprising prediction. But here's Zogby's commentary about the various cross-tabs in both Indiana and North Carolina so you can decide if he's an outlier yet again.

The sum game for Hoosierville is a bit of a reversal of fortunes -- Obama now leads among Catholics and Clinton leads among Protestants, a total reversal from Pennsylvania just two weeks ago. Clinton has a solid lead in the south while Obama holds Indianapolis; leaving the north the battleground -- not the conventional wisdom. The story, however, is among older voters where Obama seems to have finally made a breakthrough and has a very slim lead.

They're the ones hurting the most with the increase in gas prices and may be thinking a middle class tax cut of $1000 -- about $20 less in withholding taxes each paycheque -- is actually worth more than a $30 pump one time "holiday" that GWB is going to veto anyway. If that $20 helps them get to and from work that'll be a big factor in their thinking as they vote.

However, Clinton does have impressive GOTV ops, as good as if not better than Obama's. That's something all pollsters, including the Zogster, can't get a handle on; as is who will actually vote and who's lying to the outbound phone banks. We should get a better picture starting around 6 pm Eastern.

UPDATE (3:12 pm EDT, 1912 GMT): Just to be clear, I stand by my prediction yesterday that Clinton will win Indiana; but in light of a last minute surge by Obama it will be a lot closer to the four point spread I think it will be. Meanwhile, my colleagues at Democratic Space are saying Obama will beat Clinton in NC 54.7-45.3 while Clinton will win IN 52.5-47.5 --both calls are roughly in the ballpark I think it will be too.

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