FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Rose Colored Glasses Scenario 1; 538 and #FeelTheMath 0

Last Wednesday, Nate Silver added to his lore this primary election cycle by publishing a “rose colored glasses” path to victory for Bernie Sanders. It required Sanders to start with a double digit victory in Wisconsin at plus sixteen.

There was only one problem.

The same horrid polls that keep telling us Sanders will lose everywhere suggested Sanders was substantially behind in Wisconsin. At the time, Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton a wonkish eighty-four percent chance of winning Wisconsin. Days earlier, FiveThirtyEight contributor Julia Azari commented on those chances to Newsweek. Azari insisted that while Wisconsin might look like “Bernie territory,” in actual fact “things that are rare don’t happen that often.”

The results are in: Bernie Sanders won Wisconsin yesterday by 13.3 points, shaving ten to twelve delegates from Clinton’s lead.

By yesterday morning, FiveThirtyEight had taken account of new polling, adjusting its chances to a 72% chance of victory for Sanders. Still, its Polls Plus model forecast him falling woefully short of the Rose Colored Glasses Path at just a 3.0% margin of victory. By only being wrong by 10.3% this time, FiveThirtyEight may have marginally brought down its overall 12.2% Clinton House Effect outside the South. Bravo!

My projection was Sanders +10.6%, giving me a slight 2.7% Clinton bias. I predicted 100% of Wisconsin’s counties correctly.

The problem is this: early polling in the Democratic primary cycle is astoundingly atrocious. It tends to become somewhat less atrocious as election day nears, but still tends to make errors that should be obvious to the half dozen or so paid staff members at FiveThirtyEight who are literally getting paid to analyze the strength of polling and squeeze more accurate results from them in total then any individual poll could alone.

This phenomenon is well on display already in Pennsylvania. The Rose Colored Glasses post refers to some of the most chuckle worthy polls this season to note that Sanders is “down by twenty-something points” in Pennsylvania. Since Sanders needs a +7% victory: #FeelTheMath. I will not belabor the point again, but a poll with 18% eighteen to forty-four-year-olds has no business anywhere near FiveThirtyEight.

Here’s a little chart I’ve been working on recently. I’ve highlighted the highs and lows based on exit polling so far. The lowest percentage of 18-44 year-olds was in Oklahoma at 33%, almost double the Franklin and Marshall sample size; the highest so far has been Michigan’s share of 18-44 year-olds at 45%, exactly two and a half times the Franklin and Marshall numbers.

age-demos-through-wisconsin

*Note: the numbers in parenthesis to the right of figures in the 18-29yo column are the 18-24yo share of the vote according to exit polling.

Early this morning, however, a more rational poll from Quinnipiac is out. It pegs Clinton up just six, with another six percent undecided. But what about Quinnipiac’s age demographics? They’re still off, even if much closer. Quinnipiac’s numbers require that the 18-44yo share of the vote in Pennsylvania will be just 29%. That’s 4% lower than Oklahoma and 6% lower than Florida. It is not entirely impossible that Pennsylvania will have the lowest share of young people and the highest percentage of retirees voting of any state to date. It’s just not all that likely. Pennsylvania does have the second highest share of people 65 and older residing within its borders (nineteen percent for Florida; seventeen Pennsylvania). And, Pennsylvania is stacked up with four other difficult, closed primary states on the same day. Realistically, if we adjust the age demographic in Quinnipiac’s Pennsylvania poll to reflect Florida numbers or, more likely, Ohio numbers, the race is a dead heat. Clinton would be +1% with Florida’s age demographics for voters according to exit polling. Sanders would be +1% if the Ohio numbers are more accurate.

I’ll have a new post up, hopefully later today, with a different route to victory in pledged delegates than FiveThirtyEight’s. It will be based on more realistic attention to demographic contours and, even more importantly, factors like where particular states lay on the election calendar.

Three weeks out, a dead heat in Pennsylvania. The Rose Colored Glasses scenario is looking less and less Rose Colored by the moment.

Panama anyone?

More articles by:

Doug Johnson Hatlem is best known for his work as a street pastor and advocate with Toronto’s homeless population from 2005-2013. He is now a film producer and free-lance writer based in Chicago.

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Sam Husseini
The Trump-Media Logrolling
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail