For Whom the Cell Phone Polls
One of my favorite pollsters, FiveThirtyEight, predicted little change from last week's projection that Republicans have a 73% chance of taking over the House this midterm. "During an average simulation run, Republicans finished with 227 seats, up from 226 last week; this would suggest a net gain of 48 seats from the 179 they hold currently."
Yet, pollster Nate Silver calls that forecast "uncertain".
Whether the gain is 70-80 seats or as few as 20-30 seats, Silver cites that several factors inhibit an accurate forecast of the number of seats expected to be gained: the number of House seats in play, the generic ballot and the enthusiasm gap.
"If Gallup’s likely voter model, which implies extremely lopsided turnout in favor Republicans, were to be correct, G.O.P. gains would be well in excess of 50 seats. Other turnout models, however, imply more like a 4- or 5-point enthusiasm gap, which would be more consistent with patterns in a typical midterm election. With an enthusiasm gap of that magnitude, Democrats would probably lose the House only narrowly and would have decent chances of holding onto it."
Meaning, every vote counts.
Another big factor playing (or actually, not playing) into the midterm polls, is the Cell Phone Factor.
"It is also important to remember that there are some factors, like the fact that many pollsters do not include cellphones in their sample, that could potentially result in the polls underestimating the position of Democrats. Our model assumes there is a chance that the overall “consensus” of polling could be off, which could affect the results in a great number of individual districts. This is one reason that it thinks such disparate outcomes as a 70-seat Republican gain or a mere 30-seat gain are not exceptionally unlikely. But such systematic bias in the polling could run in either direction."
A personal aside. I can't remember the last time my 25 and 30 year old used the land line gathering dust in the corner of our kitchen. That being said, both voted by absentee ballot without one call from a pollster, via the Bell dinosaur or the cell, never too far from their reach. Odd that pollsters would not clamor for the insights of my NPA-registered young adult, which adds weight to Silver's cell phone polling point.
Read more from Nate Silver here.
Talk to Me.