« Impressions on the Exit Poll Report | Main | Numbers Guys »

January 21, 2005

The "Reluctant Bush Responder" Theory Refuted?

First, my apologies for not posting yesterday. The Inauguration was also a federal holiday, which meant no child care in my household and a day of being Mystery Daddy not Mystery Pollster.

So without further ado: Though the Edison/Mitofsky Report gives us much to chew over, the table drawing the most attention is the one on page 37 that shows completion rates for the survey by the level of partisanship of the precinct.

Comp_by_partisanship

Click for Full Size Image

A bit of help for those who may be confused: Each number is a percentage and you read across. Each row shows completion, refusal and miss rates for various categories of precincts, categorized by their level of partisanship. The first row shows that in precincts that gave 80% or more of their vote to John Kerry, 53% of voters approached by interviewers agreed to be interviewed, 35% refused and another 12% should have been approached but were missed by the interviewers.

Observers on both sides of the political spectrum have concluded that this table refutes the central argument of the report, namely that the discrepancy in Kerry's favor was "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters" (p. 3). Jonathan Simon, who has argued that the exit poll discrepancies are evidence of an inaccurate vote count, concluded in an email this morning that the above table "effectively refutes the Reluctant Bush Responder (aka differential response) hypothesis, and leaves no plausible exit poll-based explanation for the exit poll-vote count discrepancies." From the opposite end of the spectrum, Gerry Dales, editor of the blog DalyThoughts argues [in a comment here] uses the table to "dismiss the notion that the report has proved...differential non-response as a primary source of the statistical bias" (emphasis added). He suspects malfeasance by the interviewers rather than fraud in the count.

The table certainly challenges the idea that Kerry voters participated at a higher rate than Bush voters, but I am not sure it refutes it. Here's why:

The table shows response rates for precincts not voters. Unfortunately, we have no way to tabulate response rates for individuals because we have no data for those who refused or were missed. Simon and Dales are certainly both right about one thing: If completion rates were uniformly higher for Kerry voters than Bush across all precincts, the completion rates should be higher in precincts voting heavily for Kerry than in those voting heavily for Bush. If anything, the table above shows slightly higher completion rates look slightly higher in the Republican precincts.

However, the difference in completion rates need not be uniform across all types of precincts. Mathematically, an overall difference in completion rates will be consistent with the pattern in the table above if you assume that Bush voter completion rates tended to be higher where the percentage of Kerry voters in the precincts was lower, or that Kerry voter completion rates tended to be higher where the percentage of Bush voters in the precincts was lower, or both.  I am not arguing that this is likely, only that it is possible. 

Note also that the two extreme precinct categories are by far the smallest (see the table at the bottom of p. 36): Only 40 precincts of 1250 (3%) were "High Rep" and only 90 were "High Dem" (7%). More than three quarters were in the "Even" (43%) or "Mod Rep" (33%) categories. Not that this explains the lack of a pattern - it just suggests that the extreme precincts may not be representative of most voters.

Second, as Gerry seems to anticipate in his comments yesterday, the completion rate statistics are only as good as the interviewers that compiled them. Interviewers were responsible for counting each voter they missed or that refused to be interviewed and keeping tallies on their race, gender and approximate age. The report presents overwhelming evidence that errors were higher for interviewers with less experience. One hypothesis might be that some interviewers made improper substitutions without recording refusals appropriately.

Consider my hypothetical in the last post: A husband is selected as the nth voter but refuses. His spouse offers to complete the survey instead. The interviewer breaks with the proscribed procedure and allows the spouse to do the interview (rather than waiting for the next nth voter). [Note: this is actually not a hypothetical - I exchanged email with a professor who reported this example after debriefed students he helped recruit as NEP interviewers]. Question is: would the interviewer record the husband as a refusal? The point is that the same sloppiness that allows an eager respondent to volunteer (something that is impossible, by the way, on a telephone survey) might also skew the completion rate tallies. Presumably, that is one reason why Edison/Mitofsky still plans to conduct "in-depth" interviews with interviewers in Ohio and Pennsylvania (p. 13) - they want to understand more about what interviews did and did not do.

Third, there is the possibility that some Bush voters chose to lie to the exit pollsters. Any such behavior would have no impact on the completion rate statistics. So why would a loyal Bush voter want to do that? Here's what one MP reader told me via email. As Dave Barry used to say, I am not making this up:

Most who are pissed off about the exit polls are Democrats or Kerry supporters. Such people are unlikely to appreciate how profoundly some Republicans have come to despise the mainstream media, just since 2000. You have the war, which is a big one. To those who support Bush much of the press have been seditious. So, if you carry around a high degree of patriotism you are likely to have blood in your eye about coverage of the Iraq war, alone. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh had media in their sights every day leading up to the 2004 election, and scored a tremendous climax with the Rather fraud and NY Times late-hit attempt. I was prepared to lie to the exit pollster if any presented himself. In fact, however, I can't be sure I would have, and might have just said "none of your f---ing business." We can't know because it didn't happen, but I do know the idea to lie to them was definitely in my mind.

Having said all that, I think Gerry Dales has a point about the potential for interviewer bias (Noam Scheiber raised a similar issue back in November, and in retrospect, I was too dismissive). The interviewers included many college students and holders of advanced degrees who were able to work for a day as an exit pollster. Many were recruited by college professors or (less often) on "Craigslist.com." It's not a stretch to assume that the interviewers were, on average, more likely to be Kerry voters than Bush voters.

My only difference with Gerry on this point is that such bias need not be conscious or intentional. Fifty years or more of academic research on interviewer effects shows that when the majority of interviewers share a point of view, the survey results often show a bias toward that point of view. Often the reasons are elusive and presumed to be subconscious.

Correction:  While academic survey methodologists have studied interviewer effects for at least 50 years, their findings have been inconsistent regarding correlations between interviewer and respondent attitudes.   I would have done better to cite the conventional wisdom among political pollsters that the use of volunteer partisans as interviewers -- even when properly trained and supervised -- will often bias the results in favor of the sponsoring party or client.  We presume the reasons for that bias are subsconscious and unintentional.

In this case, the problem may have been as innocent as an inexperienced interviewer feeling too intimidated to follow the procedure and approach every "nth" voter and occasionally skipping over those who "looked" hostile, choosing instead those who seemed more friendly and approachable.

One last thought: So many who are considering the exit poll problem yearn for simple, tidy answers that can be easily proved or dismissed: It was fraud! It was incompetence! Someone is lying! Unfortunately, this is one of those problems for which simple answers are elusive. The Edison/Mitofsky report provides a lot of data showing precinct level characteristics that seem to correlate with Kerry bias. These data make a compelling case that whatever the underlying problem (or problems), they were made worse by young, inexperienced or poorly trained interviewers especially when up against logistical obstacles to completing an interview. It also makes clear (for those who missed it) that these problems have occurred before (pp. 32-35), especially in 1992 when voter turnout and voter interest were at similarly high levels (p. 35).

Many more good questions, never enough time. Hopefully, another posting later tonight... if not, have a great weekend!

Related Entries - Exit Polls

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on January 21, 2005 at 03:22 PM in Exit Polls | Permalink

Comments

Any chance of correlation with other races in a precinct? Certainly too hard to do nationwide, but maybe in selected precincts. If there is accuracy for the exit polls in statewide races or Congressional races but inaccuracy for the presidential race then this points to a vote counting issue. If not then this proves nothing one way or another. Ohio and Florida both were electing Senators.

Posted by: elliottg | Jan 21, 2005 3:52:14 PM

Good post Mark. Your patience and efforts to explain this are admirable.

RE: The hypothesis that Bish voters would have lied.

My father-in-law is a ret. USMC Lt. Col. and absolute Kerry Hater since the early 1960s. He told me one night in October that he was polled by Gallup. I'd never heard of someone actually getting called so it piqued my interest. He told them that he would vote for Kerry because the polls are "biased" anyhow and he wanted to keep them guessing.

I don't understand the logic, but I certainly know MANY who despise MSM and anything other than that which is hosted by Fox News, Rush, or other established conservative outlet.

Also, the part about the report that I thought was interesting was the mixed precinct-polling stations. I poll-watched 3 precincts on election day. Each precinct was grouped with 3 other polling stations.

At each of the polling stations I visited, if an exit pollster was required to stand outside the building, they would have no idea which precinct the exiting voter actually voted in.

Posted by: Rick Brady | Jan 21, 2005 3:52:27 PM

Sorry.. "Each precinct was grouped with 3 other polling stations."

That should read, "Each of my precincts were grouped with 2 other precincts in the same polling station."

Posted by: Rick Brady | Jan 21, 2005 3:54:08 PM

Note that the highest refusal rate is in the "neutral" precincts. Is it possible that someone who voted for the "wrong candidate" would be likely to refuse to complete a form while their buddy/spouse who voted for the right candidate waited?

Posted by: Fran | Jan 21, 2005 6:10:50 PM

Here's an interesting and relevant anecdote.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=203&topic_id=97506&mesg_id=97575&page=

Posted by: Jeff Hartley | Jan 21, 2005 7:55:47 PM

Dag nabbit! Sorry, it should be "BUsh voters" and "since the early 1970s." Geez.

Posted by: Rick Brady | Jan 21, 2005 8:12:03 PM

ftr - john conyers has written to mitofsky and rosin again, looking for the raw data. the letter is here:
http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1112

i havent had a chance to fully analyse the report yet - but did notice a couple of things that people might consider when looking at the WPE numbers:
1) the stats about the interviewers are incomplete - the report (somewhat confusingly) describes why n=1250 (rather than 1480), however for many of the remaining questions, n is approx 1100, and 1118, and 1127, and 1180, and 1240 etc - so just keep an eye out for that. if they cant even interview their own interviewers properly then...
2) keep an eye on the sub-sample n sizes for each issue the report discusses - sometimes the report draws apparent conclusions based on small numbers
3) similarly, be wary of making simplistic logic 'shortcuts' - for example, one of the memes which seems to be catching fire is that 'smart people had higher error rates (presumed bias)' - although the data doesnt necessarily say that - its true that the 'advanced degree' had the highest mean WPE, but it isnt significantly higher than '1-3 years college' - and if you look at MedianWPE, the 'smartest' category has the 2nd lowest error, *much* better than '1-3 years college' (5.2 vs 7.0)
4) also, be aware that some of the statements made in the report are somewhat misleading - for example, "The completion rates tend to be slightly higher in precincts with more educated interviewers".
given that the '1-3 yr' category included *half* the interviewers, and they only got 53% completion, the AdvGrads' 60% completion rate seems 'a lot' higher.

the above points arent designed to make any particular point - other than we need to be careful when looking at the numbers (of course) and be wary of some of the apparent conclusions.

separately, to MP's "Reluctant Bush Responder" point, it ought be noted that the nsize of 'Mod Rep' category is 250% larger than the 'Mod Dem' category, which is curious in itself, and could dwarf any of the other issues.

cheers.


Posted by: luke | Jan 21, 2005 8:12:59 PM

rick - i think that you said somewhere that early polls are often inaccurate (i cant lay my hands on the quote at the mo) - no surprises there given that sample size increases throughout the day. on p19&20 the report seems to show that things got much worse throughout the day (with the geo and composite estimates) - the report actually seems to try to hide the fact.

incredibly, the number of t>1 states actually grew by 80% between call1 and call3 (composite/pres). does anyone have any insight/speculation as to how this can happen?

Posted by: luke | Jan 21, 2005 11:56:39 PM

I believe it's worth estimating explicitly how big the differential response rates would have to be in order to explain all of the within precinct errors. The Edison/Mitofsky report doesn't do this explicitly, but the data it gives on pages 36 & 37 of its report suffices for a calculation under the mild additional assumption that third party voting was negligible.

The simple algebra is as follows. (Before continuing, please note that this argument with additional commentary and nifty HTML tables can be found on my blog at http://williamkaminsky.typepad.com/too_many_worlds/2005/01/direct_evidence.html ):

Let K = Kerry's vote percentage.  Thus, 1-K is assumed to be Bush's vote percentage.  Let c = the mean completion rate for all voters, and W = the mean within precinct error.  We seek to solve for b = the completion rate for Bush voters and k = the completion rate for Kerry voters.   Thus, we solve this pair of equations

    c  = b(1-K) + kK

    W = [b(1-K) - kK]/c - (1 - 2K)

[Justification: The first equation says the mean total completion rate c has to be the average of the mean Bush and Kerry completion rates, b and k, weighted by the respective Bush and Kerry votes, 1-K and K.   The second equation says the mean within precinct error W is the exit poll (Kerry-Bush) vote margin [b(1-K) - kK]/c minus the official (Kerry-Bush) vote margin (1 - 2K).]

After some simple algebra, these equations yield

      b = c + cW / [2(1-K)]

      k = c - cW/(2K)

Thus, using the above quoted data from the Edison/Mitofsky Report and taking K to be the midpoint of the Kerry vote intervals defining the precinct partisanship categories, I thus produce the following estimates:

Precinct Partisanship (K)
Mean WPE (W)
Measured Total Response Rate (c)
Estimated Kerry Response Rate (k)
Estimated Bush Response Rate (b)

Highly Democratic:
K = 90%
W = 0.3%
c = 53%
k = 53%
b = 54%
Estimated Kerry-Bush diff response rate that accounts for all of W = -1 percentage point

Moderately Democratic
K = 70%
W = -5.9%
c = 55%
k = 57%
b = 50%
Estimated Kerry-Bush diff response rate that accounts for all of W = 7 percentage points

Even
K = 50%
W = -8.5%
c = 52%
k = 56%
b = 48%
Estimated Kerry-Bush diff response rate that accounts for all of W = 8 percentage points

Moderately Republican
K = 30%
W = -6.1%
c = 55%
k = 61%
b = 53%
Estimated Kerry-bush diff response rate that accounts for all of W = 8 percentage points

Highly Republican
K = 10%
W = -10.0%
c = 56%
k = 84% [ (!) Yes, 84% ]
b = 53%
Estimated Kerry-Bush diff response rate that accounts for all of W = 31 percentage points (!)

The differential response in the moderately Democratic, even, and moderately Republican precincts is 7 or 8 percentage points more for Kerry voters than Bush voters, which prima facie does not seem very large at all, and thus for these precincts the hypothesis of differential response seems like a pretty plausible one to account for the entirety of the exit poll discrepancies. (Honestly, though, what actual data does anyone really have to assess whether a differential response rate is in fact unreasonably large or believeably small?  Again, this data can't prove the differential response hypothesis beyond reasonable doubt.  It's just the necessary differential response rates to fully account for the exit poll discrepancies in light of this within-precinct-error data aren't so large in the vast majority of precincts---the moderately Democrat, even, and moderately Republican ones---that more reasonable doubts are added.)  On the other hand, the differential response in highly Republican precincts does seem, prima facie, to be implausibly huge: 31 percentage points if we assume K = 10% or 16 percentage points if we make the most conservative possible assumption that K = 20% (the very edge of the Edison/Mitofsky definition of "highly Republican").   Thus, for these precincts, the hypothesis of differential response seems, prima facie, pretty dubious as a complete explanation of the exit poll discrepancies.

Posted by: Bill | Jan 22, 2005 1:54:41 AM

Mark - another thing when considering the "Reluctant Bush Responder" issue is that even though we see the average WPE of -6.5, we have to remember that in fully one quarter of precincts, there was WPE>5 for Bush. (p34)

surprisingly, only 25% of precincts were within plus or minus 5 percentage points.

in fact, if you look at the table on p42, an astonishing 28% of precincts actually had WPE 15" is higher than "WPE > -15" - and the same pattern exists throughout the table.

that all seems to refute the Reluctant Repub hypothesis.

if anyone has any insight to explain how 28% of precincts actually had WPE <-15, id love to hear.

Posted by: luke | Jan 22, 2005 2:26:50 AM

luke,
you do realize each precinct is a very small sample..and therefore would have a large random sampling error associated with it..thats why only 25% of precincts are within
5%

Posted by: Brian Dudley | Jan 22, 2005 10:45:31 AM

Another result undermining the Reluctant Bushie theory is that precincts in small town and rural areas (<50K population) showed smaller WPEs. These areas are generally heavily Republican, and moreover are the focus of the post-election parable that Bush was put over the top by an upswelling of Christians in rural/exurban areas.

Rural areas (296 precincts) had a WPE of -3.6, compared to -7.9 for cities >500K, -8.5 for cities between 50K and 100K.

Small towns (10K to 50K) similarly had a lower WPE, -4.9 (126 precincts) than the larger towns and cities.

So again, why would these heavy Republican areas be the more accurate, if Republicans per se refused at higher rates?


Posted by: Joe Knapp | Jan 22, 2005 4:09:38 PM

brian - thanks for the reminder. do we know how many interviews there were per precinct? we'd still hope to see something approximating a normal distribution tho.

ftr - ive posted a chart at
http://wotisitgood4.blogspot.com/2005/01/exit-poll-reluctant-bush-responder.html which maps the refusal rate vs state (with the states sorted by 'most blue' to 'most red'. the graph shows refusal rates trending down as you move 'redder' - thus it seems to further undermine the 'reluctant bush responder' theory (altho its possible to contrive other explanations)

Posted by: luke | Jan 22, 2005 9:55:14 PM

apologies for the frequent posting...

just a general comment (with 2 parts):
a) even if we take the reports' main conclusions as given - that there is a problem with the weather, or distance from the polling site, or interviewer education, or interviewer age, or the interviewing rate et al - it seems that we are inevitably destined for reductio ad absurdum - and the next time the exitpolls are 'wrong', the purported solution will appear as a perfect national blend of gender/age/race/education - and when that doesnt work, we'll hold out for a solution where we try to map those same elements by state, and then by precinct. and when that doesnt work, we'll look at the demographic spread of the recruiters in an attempt to stamp out bias at that level. and so on. and if that doesnt work, we'll find some other seemingly random, contrived statistic that fits the purported narrative such as 'when people pay attention to elections, the WPE increases by order of magnitude - and we have a single data point to prove it'. do others get the same sense? it all just seems kinda futile. which brings me to my next point...
b) (trying not to sound flippant) if we consider exitpolls generally, in the ukraine and elsewhere, they tend to be used as indicators of fraud or otherwise (and i appreciate that the nov2 exitpolls were specifically designed for purposes other than to identify fraud) - but arent they also subject to the same considerations - distrust of the media, age/edu/gender/source of interviewers, weather, distance from polls etc?

Posted by: luke | Jan 23, 2005 1:59:47 AM

Freeman responds to critics:

http://nashuaadvocate.blogspot.com/2005/01/news-statisticians-under-fire-for.html

and

http://alternet.org/story/21036/

Posted by: aaa | Jan 23, 2005 7:45:00 AM

Mark,

I don't know if you have mentioned this in previous posts but I think another data point is being ignored in all this. Especially in key states like Florida and Ohio, there were reports of voters in Democratic precincts having to wait much longer than those in Republican precincts. I particularly remember reading about ultra-long waits in Ohio for Democratic voters. Many voters simply lost patience and left. When people are fed up with waiting or are exhausted after having waited for hours to vote, it is hard for me to imagine that they would be willing to spend more time talking to exit pollsters after they voted. That is yet another reason why I find this theory of the "Reluctant Bush Responder" less than sound.

Posted by: TR | Jan 23, 2005 1:16:42 PM

A quick note to Jeff Hartley about the Democratic Underground thread he linked to: I hadn't seen the thread before, but as a New Hampshire voter on November 2nd, 2004 (I voted at the Ledge Street Elementary School here in Nashua) I can say this -- there is no precinct in New Hampshire, let alone in Derry, in which "2500" or even "2000" people passed through during the course of a single hour. Keep in mind the whole state had 671,000 voters on Election Day. By this New Hampshirite's calculation, what, maybe 25,000 voters (4% of the entire state) were assigned to and voted in that particular precinct? Impossible. I live in the second-largest city in the state, I voted downtown, and despite voting at around noon I believe I was something like the 520th voter to cast a ballot (according to the lone optical-scan machine being used in the precinct). There was *literally* no wait to vote, and despite it being around lunchtime (maybe just a tad earlier) there were only 20-25 voters in the entire area (both inside the building and coming in from outside) during the ten minutes or more I was there. So the notion that in *Derry*, a suburb of Manchester, there were 2000+ people actually voting during the course of a single hour in a *single precinct*...no way. Even in Ohio, inner-city precincts were limited to around 1,500 *total registered voters* in each precinct.

So, I'm sorry, but that observation is bunk. I'd be stunned if *100* people voted in that Derry precinct over the course of an hour.

The News Editor
The Nashua Advocate

Posted by: Nashua Advocate | Jan 23, 2005 2:26:40 PM

Bill -- The remarkable 31% differential becomes a less remarkable 14-ish if we use the median WPE for that bracket (rather than the mean) and guesstimate a representative K within that bracket in the .87 ballpark (reasonable or even generous since the bracket is a tail of a distributions, and using .90 would treat it as uniformly distributed from .80 to 1.00).

Also note that algebra on the aggregates may not be a poor guide to algebra on the instances, especially as (k - b) goes hyperbolic in K.

The real surprise is that all guesstimated cases in this bracket require extraordinary respone rates by Kerry voters -- which is not at all predicted by the "Bush voters hate network-logo'd kids with clipboards" version of the differential response hypothesis.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle | Jan 23, 2005 2:54:24 PM

"The table certainly challenges the idea that Kerry voters participated at a higher rate than Bush voters, but I am not sure it refutes it."

There are various levels of proof and refutation. It seems that you are using a strict standard of what 'refute' means, perhaps it is a mathematical standard that you are presuming. Why? The Mitofsky report itself does not prove mathematically that its assertion of more Republicans refusing the poll created a great error in the polls. The Mitofsky report barely shows any evidence at all for this unmathematical claim. As far as proofs and refutations, your analysis, therefore, is on equal footing with the Mitofsky report.

Furthermore, certain items seem to cast a cloud of suspicion on the Mitofsky report. First, it claims to prove its conclusions, while its conclusions are very unproven by any professional standard. Second, the report came out the day before the Inauguration, as if to confirm its legitimacy. Certainly, it will be torn up, but it could not have been within a 24-hour period. Third, the news media jumped on the bandwagon, with all major networks reporting the report's conclusion without any kind of analysis of the legitimacy of the conclusion. In other words, it would seem that perhaps US citizens are once again duped.

"Here's why:

The table shows response rates for precincts not voters. Unfortunately, we have no way to tabulate response rates for individuals because we have no data for those who refused or were missed."

There are other ways to estimate/get these numbers. Try this experiment. Take the 'real' vote counts to derive 'real' percentages per state of Kerry and Bush voters. Next, "filter out" the poll percents for each. What you have remaining should on average be the percent of Kerry voters and Bush voters in the Refusal Rates per state. Finally, see if these numbers make sense. There are several ways to do this. (a) Look at a distribution with mean and deviation. Is it normal or does it make sense? Are there outliers? (b) Try to fit it to a linear function of Rep rate to refusal rate. What's the r-value? What kind of confidence is there? Are there outliers? Does this function provide a better explanation than the hypothesis that the exit poll data is correct? Is that true for all states or just some?

Posted by: Don | Jan 24, 2005 10:12:20 AM

A few quick thoughts...

Luke asks why the "Mod Rep" precincts are so much more numerous (n=415) than the "Mod Dem" precincts (n=165). But I suspect it has something to do with why so many more counties on this map (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm) are red. I suspect – though I don’t know for sure -- that urban Democratic precincts tend to be a bit larger, and thus less numerous, than more rural Republican precincts. Remember that the eixt poll sample selection methodology takes precinct size into account.

Luke is right to warn readers to note the occasionally small subgroup sizes in the Edison/Mitofsky report. The average number of interviews per precinct was roughly 50, given the number of interviews and sampled precincts reported.

Consider a subgroup like "High Republican," which has been focus of this post and the comments in this thread. It had only 40 precincts and thus represents roughly 2000 interviews. The sampling error reported by NEP (http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/MethodsStatementStateGeneric.pdf) for a sample that size was +/- 4%, but remember that "within precinct error" (WPE) uses the margin between the candidates which combines two estimates (the Kerry and Bush vote), so the effective 95% confidence interval is between +/- 7% and 8% on the WPE (depending on your assumptions about the independence of the Bush and Kerry percentages).

Thus, while I have no quarrel with Bill Kaminsky’s algebra (above), his conclusion that "the differential response in highly Republican precincts does seem, prima facie, to be implausibly huge," ignores the possibility that sampling error contributed to the WPE that subgroup. The "High Rep" precincts are only 9% of all precincts where George Bush won at least 60% of the vote (40 of 455 – p. 36). Throw in the potential for fuzziness in the non-response tallies kept by interviewers, and I remain skeptical that the data in this table "refutes" differential participation in the survey as a source of error.

I am hoping to post more on the main page today, but so far my day job is not cooperating...

Posted by: Mark Blumenthal | Jan 24, 2005 12:12:34 PM

It's becoming more and more apparent that John Kerry was the actual winner of the election, but had it stolen by the Republicans, either through massive vote fraud or intimidation. What a sad day for our former democracy.

Posted by: Jayson | Jan 24, 2005 12:57:54 PM

Supposing there is a response differential, and supposing it's a compound artifact of voter affinity for pollsters and pollster affinity for voters ... then it's a damnably multivariate problem, and these quintile summaries don't give us much to go on.

I am surprised by the lack of apparent correlation of refusal rate to Bush vote by precinct, but the extreme precincts are both sparse and nearly irrelevant to the aggregate error. [By way of boundary landmark references, note that a 100% Bush precinct -- like a 100% Kerry precinct -- would have no effect whatsoever on forecast error, no matter what the refusal rate.]

We need data points, not summaries, and even then it's a highly occluded portrait.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle | Jan 24, 2005 2:21:58 PM

What I want to see is a precinct by precinct list with the exit poll results (including age, sex, and race), voting results, voting results of precincts housed in the same building, pollster information (including source of recruitment), and method of voting (paper, punch, touch-screen). I believe that Conyers will get such data sooner or later, and I don't want him interpreting it for America. It needs to be available to everyone - or, at the least, to experts across the political spectrum. That said, in the marketing world, there have been times that I had all of the data that I could dream of and still was not able to determine "what really happened."

Posted by: Fran | Jan 24, 2005 3:48:35 PM

Are you people forgetting that the raw vote data per precinct has been available since November?

People at Berkeley did an analysis of the 2004 Florida data. Their conclusion was that there was a statistically significant relationship between some type of e-voting and Bush "over-votes."

See the paper. This is real mathematics, by the way, not the bubble-gum analysis or summaries that we have seen so far:
http://verifiedvoting.org/downloads/election04_WP.pdf

Do you agree/disagree with the Berkeley numbers? Have you tried to reproduce them yourself?

Posted by: Don | Jan 25, 2005 8:51:26 AM

You mathmatical wizards should also keep in mind that many Democratic voters -- being less wealthy, more working class, many with two or more jobs -- were much more likly to be in a hurry than Republican voters, who tend to be much better off financially, and are more likely to be in management positions at work. Hold down two or three jobs and take care of kids, see how much you rush around.

Posted by: Ellen | Jan 25, 2005 2:02:05 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.