Saturday, March 3, 2012

No forecast in Washington caucuses

Washington state has a Republican caucus today, but I am making no prediction, and neither is Nate Silver.  Only PPP did any polling there, one poll this week and one two weeks ago.  They disagree radically, the early poll at the height of Santorum's national popularity showed he was ahead while the poll this week said Romney was the leader.

It's not that I don't trust PPP, but more that I don't trust a single fresh poll, especially when it concerns a caucus with a miniscule turn-out. Wyoming had a caucus on Wednesday, February 29, but I didn't see a single poll published anywhere. There are ten contests this Tuesday but several are still with no polling data whatsoever. North Dakota, for example, has a non-binding caucus.  There is no reason to keep track of what they do at all.

I am not yet sure of how many of Tuesday's contests will have enough data for me to make a prediction.  It all depends on how many polls get published in each state between now and Tuesday morning. The two big prizes are proportional primaries in Georgia and Ohio.  Recent polls show Gingrich comfortably ahead in the state he used to represent and Santorum is ahead in all the recent polls out of Ohio. The next biggest contest is Tennessee, which has only one poll so far this week.

Let me set a threshold of data for my system.  I need at least three polls from three companies in the last week and at least one of those has to be from the last three days before the election.  That means for Tuesday contests, I want a poll that finished up on Saturday, Sunday or Monday and at least two more polls that concluded Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. There are ten contests on Tuesday.  I'll be surprised if I have a prediction in more than five.

Stay tuned.

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