Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

18 April 2012

Gallup Polls in April: What Can The Past Tell Us About The Future?

Music to read by:

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die

Yesterday, Gallup's daily tracking poll had Romney up by 5 over Obama.  People usually say that polls taken this far out are meaningless and I’ve always agreed; however, I took a look at past presidential Gallup polls taken in April and discovered something interesting.


Stevenson:  42


Nixon:  47


Goldwater:  29


NIXON:  43
Humphrey:  34


NIXON:  53
McGovern:  34


Ford:  43


Carter:  41


Mondale:  41


BUSH:  45
Dukakis:  43

1992: (gap closed by end of April and Clinton took the lead for good in June)

Bush:  44


Dole:  35


BUSH:  47
Gore:  41


BUSH:  48
Kerry:  46


OBAMA:  45
McCain:  43

ONLY two have not been indicative of the results of the November election:

#1:  1980
#2:  1992

In both, the incumbent President had a huge lead and lost his reelection bid.

In NONE of the Gallup head-to-head polls was an incumbent President behind nor were any of the eventual winners behind in April.

If history and numbers mean anything, then Gallup has a sobering reminder to any on the left who think Obama is still the odds-on favourite:

"The improvement in Obama's approval rating is likely tied to more positive economic news in recent months, especially concerning unemployment. Obama's approval rating reached as high as 50% in Gallup Daily tracking, for April 3-5, before settling back down into the mid- to high 40% range in recent days.

Although Obama's approval rating is improving, this is offset by the fact that it remains below the averages at the same point in time for presidents who were re-elected. All presidents since Eisenhower who were re-elected enjoyed average approval ratings above 50% during their 13th quarters in office."

Of further interest, according to Dick Morris, who compared the final Gallup polls with the actual results in every race in which an incumbent president was opposing an insurgent since 1964, undecideds lean towards the challenger.

"With most current presidential polls of likely voters showing 9 percent to 10 percent undecided, the question of where the undecided votes go becomes of paramount importance.

In these races, the undecided vote went heavily for the insurgent and the incumbent lost vote share between the final poll and the election, even when the incumbent was winning the contest easily overall. Six of eight presidents seeking reelection performed worse than the final Gallup poll predicted, while one finished the same (Reagan in 1984) and one gained votes (Bush in 2004). Seven of the nine insurgent candidates did better than the final Gallup survey predicted.

• In 1964, Johnson lost 3 points to Goldwater at the end.

• In 1972, Nixon lost 1 point to a third-party candidate.

• In 1976, there was a 4-point swing to Carter.

• In 1980, there was a 3-point swing to Reagan or Anderson.

• In 1984, there was no change between the final poll and the results.

• In 1992, there was a 1-point shift away from Bush. In that contest, there was also a 5-point swing away from Clinton to Perot at the end.

• In 1996, there was a 5-point swing away from Clinton and to Dole or Perot.

• Only Bush in 2004 ran better in the result than in the final poll, by 
2 points.

In other words, of the total of 
19 points that shifted between the final poll and the election results, 17 points or 89 percent went to the challenger.

The implications of these findings are that the current polls, while seemingly close, portend a strong Republican victory. The average of the past eight presidential horse race polls shows Obama with a 47-44 lead over Romney. But among likely voters, in the Rasmussen survey (all others were of either registered voters or adults), the president was running behind Romney by 48-44.

But given the historical fact that the final results are almost always worse for the president and almost never better, we really need to focus on the Obama vote share rather than his lead or lack of one against Romney. 

If Obama is, indeed, getting 44 percent of the vote, he is likely facing, at least, an 11-point loss. If he is getting 47 percent of the vote, he is looking, at least, at a 6-point defeat. (Given the fact that six of the eight incumbent presidents not only lost the undecided, but finished lower than the pre-election survey predicted, it would be more likely that Obama’s margin of defeat would be greater than even these numbers suggest.)

There are other indications of a Republican landslide in the offing. Party identification has moved a net of eight points toward the GOP since the last election. In Senate races, there are currently eight Democratic-held seats where Republicans are now leading either the Democratic incumbent or the Democratic candidate for the open seat.

The predictions of a close election are all based on polling of registered voters — not likely voters — and fail to account for the shift in votes against the incumbent that has been the norm of the past presidential contests."

Fresh analyses of the electoral map by RealClearPolitics, the Washington Post and other news organisations show that Romney begins the general election campaign with 170 of the 270 electoral votes he would need to win the election. In order to pick up the additional 100 electoral votes, Romney only needs some states that routinely went to Republicans before the 2008 race (namely Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Montana)  while retaining a few states that Sen John McCain (R-AZ) managed to win – including Arizona and Missouri.

As the Fiscal Times states, "Three presidents who unsuccessfully sought a second term since 1976 – Republican Gerald Ford in 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980, and Republican George H.W. Bush – all presided over economies with unemployment rates that were lower than the 8.2 percent unemployment rate today and all but one with economic growth rates higher than the current 1.7 percent increase in GDP."

Only 44 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, while 50 percent disapprove, according to the latest survey by American Research Group in March.  A total of 41 percent of Americans say the national economy is getting better, but only 36 percent of Americans say their household financial situations will be better in a year.  And, both the ABC News/Wash Post and Rasmussen Reports polls show that 64% of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

I think that Morris is dead wrong about this election being a landslide for Romney, but I also believe Prog claims that the November election will be a landslide and cakewalk for Obama equally dubious.

Ants Marching

He wakes up in the morning
Does his teeth bite to eat and he's rolling
Never changes a thing
The week ends the week begins

She thinks, we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking
But we never say a thing

These crimes between us grow deeper

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die 

Goes to visit his mommy
She feeds him well his concerns
He forgets them
And remembers being small
Playing under the table and dreaming

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die

Driving in on this highway
All these cars and upon the sidewalk
People in every direction
No words exchanged
No time to exchange

When all the little ants are marching
Red and black antennas waving
They all do it the same
They all do it the same way

Candyman teasing the thoughts of a
Sweet tooth tortured by the weight loss
Programs cutting the corners
Loose end, loose end, cut, cut
On the fence, could not to offend
Cut, cut, cut, cut

Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die



wbhickok said...

What no music to read this by?!?!?


Predictable-History said...

There you go! It doesn't really match the post, but Dave Matthews is one my favourites and I can't think of a song off of the top of my head that goes with Gallup polling data. lol