Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One week out from the next crucibles

Gallup national tracking polls for Feb. 1 through Feb. 20
Next Tuesday, the Republican voters in Arizona and Michigan will go to the polls and we will get a snapshot that actually counts of the state of the electorate in those two widely separated states.  About a week ago, Sick Rantorum appeared to be cruising in Michigan, while R-Money was maintaining a large lead in Arizona.  Now the polls are saying the races are closer than they were last week, each of the second place guys closing the gap.  There are even polls that have R-Money ahead in the state of his birth where his very moderate daddy was governor, but those are off-brand polls with crazy amounts of None Of The Above compared to other more reputable companies polling at the same time.

I did a quick count in my Excel file to see just how many polling companies there are.  Since early December, I have kept track of literally hundreds of polls conducted by dozens of companies.  While some local news organizations do good work in their state - I like the Des Moines Register polls in Iowa, for example - the two companies that put out the most product nationwide are Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling (PPP) and generally, those are the names I trust the most, but not always. Nate Silver looks for patterns in the companies; I don't.  My system gives the most weight to polls that are taken close to election day. If two polls are taken on the same day or overlapping time periods, I consider the poll with less undecided to be more reliable.  Silver has his current predictions available on the New York Times website for next week's contests; I don't.  I am certain there will be plenty more polls and none of the current data will be part of my final numbers for prediction next Tuesday.

Things will get crazy on the first Tuesday of March, AKA Super Tuesday. There are 11 contests that night, the biggest of which are Georgia and Ohio. Polls from both those states are still all over the place, including a recent poll that says Gingrich, R-Money and Rantorum are neck and neck and neck in Georgia. If he doesn't win that one in the state he used to represent, that might be the final embarrassment for The Man With No Shame. (Sorry, that isn't a specific enough nickname in this contest. I mean Gingrich.)
Again, let me say that polls taken two weeks before the fact are not to be taken seriously in this race. The obvious comparison would be to say this race is as changeable as the weather, but even that isn't changeable enough. It's like a little kid with ADHD playing with a seven button blender. Sometimes it's set at mix, sometimes at puree. There's no telling how things will change, either the direction or the speed.
Still, it's more fun than keeping track of the Kardashian reproduction glands.  That was a hobby that did not fit my interests or talents well.


No comments: