FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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 writes on polling, elections data, and politics. For questions, comments, or to inquire about syndicating this weekly column for the 2020 cycle in your outlet, he can be contacted on Twitter @djjohnso (DMs open) or at djjohnso@yahoo.com (subject line #10at10 Election Column).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 24, 2019
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail