A 2.2% McCain lead is greater than a 13.8% Obama Lead

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 20:30

The Washington Post maintains a webpage titled "Political Landscape 2008." This webpage has been updated recently enough to reflect Obama's 13.8% polling lead in Pennsylvania, a trend that uses polls released as recently as Wednesday. On this webpage, the Washington Post collects recent polling data, and then declares a state to either be a "battleground," or leaning toward one party or the other. Here are some of their polling averages and diagnoses:

Obama +13.8%: Battleground state (PA)
Obama +10.4%: Battleground state (NH)
Obama +10.0%: Battleground state (NJ)
Obama +9.5%: Battleground state (IA)
Obama +9.0%: Battleground state (OR)
Obama +8.2%: Battleground state (MN)
Obama +8.2%: Battleground state (MI)
Obama +8.8%: Battleground state (WI)
Obama +7.3%: Battleground state (NM)
McCain +6.8%: Leaning Republican (GA)
Obama +5.1%: Battleground state (VA)
Obama +4.0%: Battleground state (CO)
McCain +3.8%: Leaning Republican (IN)
Obama +3.5%: Battleground state (OH)
Obama +3.1%: Battleground state (FL)
Obama +3.0%: Battleground state (NV)
McCain +2.2%: Leaning Republican (WV)

Notice anything wrong with this list? Could it perhaps be that any state where McCain leads, no matter his margin, is defined as "Leaning Republican?" Could it be that states where Obama leads by 7.3%-13.8% are defined as "battleground states," while states where McCain leads by 2.2%-6.8% are defined as "leaning Republican." Does the uneven math in this strike anyone as problematic?

The Washington Post claims that a 2.2% lead for McCain is larger than a 13.8% lead for Obama. That is objectively wrong and quantifiably unfair. This is as blatantly imbalanced as election reporting can possibly get. For more on this, see my related post on the persistent inability for big media to admit that Obama is over 270 electoral votes, no matter what polling indicates.

Chris Bowers :: A 2.2% McCain lead is greater than a 13.8% Obama Lead

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OMG, McCain Winning! (0.00 / 0)
174 to 168, McCain is currently winning by 6!

Someone need to tell Obama too (0.00 / 0)
He spent the day in PA...

Where else is he going to go! (0.00 / 0)
He's winning everywhere!  

The reason he's going to PA, I think, is based on Nate Silver's Tipping Point theory: if the election is close, where do you need to win.  He doesn't need to be in WV or NC because if he's winning there, he's winning.

[ Parent ]
It's to rally the base to GOTV (4.00 / 2)
He only did one event in Philadelphia during the six-week PA primary; he owed us another visit.  In 2004, I recall two large downtown Kerry events in the general -- one on the Art Museum steps, and one on the Parkway with Bill Clinton.

[ Parent ]
Dont Taunt The Advertisers! (0.00 / 0)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

i guess the wash post (4.00 / 1)
wants to be a bird cage liner like the wash times, mission accomplished.

Washington Post, Real Clear Politics (0.00 / 0)
The Post map sources Real Clear Politics, and when one follows their link one finds an altogether different map. Is the Washington Post a reliable source or are they just lying?

Well... (0.00 / 0)
RCP IS run by Right Wingers.  I had one of their higher ups as a client... His bookshelf was a virtual who's who of Wing nut progaganda.

[ Parent ]
This is a great find and great point (4.00 / 1)
I hope (and expect) this post to be widely linked.

This actually helps us (4.00 / 2)
The very last thing we need is complacency.  If our side gets the idea that we've already won, we'll let up, and some people who want Obama to win but have conflicts on election day might not bother to show up.

If the media want to claim that it's a tie, let them.

I'd expect that from the Times but not the Post (0.00 / 0)

Not to defend corp media... (4.00 / 2)
But is it possible that they are NOT changing the states they had as the ORIGINAL Battleground states.... regardless of how anyone is doing.  So in otherwords, they will ALWAYS be called battleground states more as a label than anything else.

Now I do agree that WV should be called a tossup.

WP needs to update its "Battle Ground" states designation (0.00 / 0)
This is how I interpreted the map:  The "Battleground State" designation wasn't dynamically being reassigned.  Instead those states were chosen a priori and the fact that Obama is leading in virtually all of them arguably emphasizes his lead.  Still, I find this process confusing and susceptible to bias.  In particular, one would presume the Electoral Vote totals in the Obama and McCain's column would reflect recent polling instead of polling from last June. One would also expect the EV totals to be consistent with the colorized map right below, and it isn't.  The suggestion that the race is close and McCain is ever so slightly ahead is really is pretty incredible and I'm surprised an editor didn't insist on something more accurate.  

[ Parent ]
You'll note that Michigan is still listed as a battleground (0.00 / 0)

... despite the fact that McCain abandoned it a couple of weeks ago.

Whoever is doing the a priori assignment of states to the battleground category needs to put the crackpipe away and spend a the next few weeks in detox.

[ Parent ]
Wapo (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps they simply figure the Mark Crispin Miller 10% in there... so McCain's lead in WV is actually 12.2% when you figure in 10% due to GOP vote suppression.

Isn't this just simply the media seeing the past? (0.00 / 0)
I mean, aren't they just skeptical that things have changed so much from 2000 and 2004? Is it so hard to understand that our media will think the future will look a lot like the past?

I mean even though we all can see the evidence, I'm having a hard time believing that West Virginia is really a toss up.

Not that there isn't plenty of evidence, but I can at least understand their reluctance to alter the official 'battlegrounds.'

even if that's so (4.00 / 1)
it's still a form of bias. They're using non-objective criteria to rate the likelihood of the candidates winning given states and - lo and behold! - those criteria inform them that McCain is doing better than the data suggest.

[ Parent ]
Not that big a deal (0.00 / 0)
I don't have a problem with West Virginia still being called LEAN REPUBLICAN.
Remember in 2004 when there were a couple of polls from Hawaii that showed Bush within a few points?  The Republicans hastily sent Cheney to Honolulu to do a rally in hopes of catching fire.  Well, Kerry still won, and the final numbers were never as close as those polls.

Actually, this might make some sense (0.00 / 0)
I won't defend all of their numbers, but there is some logic to saying that a 2.2% McCain lead matters more than a 13.8% Obama lead, depending on how much you think factors like "national mood" matter.  Given that the national mood strongly favors Obama now, the fact that WV favors McCain by 2.2% likely means there's a very large un-persuadable base there.  Likewise, a 13.8% Obama lead could include a bunch of wishy-washy voters who like a winner, and will melt back to the other side if the national mood shifts.

I'm not saying I agree with their methodology (whatever it is), but there's at least some plausible logic.

I agree with the theory (0.00 / 0)
that these designations were established months ago and they don't get updated no matter what the state of the race. The poll numbers are probably automatically updated from a feed from Real Clear Politics, and no one really maintains the page - it's a "set it and forget it" deal.

If this were the case though (0.00 / 0)
FL, NV and VA (to name a few) most likely came into the election as lean Republican.  I wonder if there's a way to look at this map right after the GOP convention.

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
They are doing their best to to steal the election again (0.00 / 0)
They can't steal the election if everyone knows that Obama's lead is insurmountable.

Even though they can see the numbers as well as we can, they HAVE to have the APPEARANCE of it being close, come Election Day.  So, they have to have a rubber banding measuring stick.  They will hide the facts anyway they can - to obscure it as long as they possibly can.

Their software was set up to produce a close 50.2-49.8 (or thereabouts) win for their man in the states that the Dem man is in the lead.  So, even though the numbers we see show Obama taking well over 300 EVs, if they start broadcasting that fact, they know the momentum will be overwhelming away from the GOP guy - "that guy".

They defrauded us in 2000, and then again in 2004.  Remember how they pretended that even the exit polling company that the networks had relied on for years was in error - ANYTHING to legitimize their stealing of the elections.  They do not have ONE method or tactic, but they cover it on multiple fronts.  

The MSM coverage is a MUST, though.  There HAS to be the perception of the race as being close.  No one would accept polls with Obama up 15% in a state, and then having McCain winning that state.

The rubber band measuring stick is just the PRE-stealing smoke screen.  Don't be surprised if McCain has an inexplicable "surge" in the last 10 days prior to Nov 4th.  Those polls DO have to close up by then.

Expect the worst...


The media Must have its Horse Race (0.00 / 0)
I think this is less about Obama, and more about playing against the person in the lead. They want it to be neck and neck. That sells more papers/viewers/ads/etc.


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