Nate said something fascinating on his http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/ today:
There is another type of argument, however, that is potentially more troubling. It could be that, irrespective of the character of this political cycle, polling itself is in decline. This is a widely held view among political elites and many polling professionals — and quite a few of the readers of this blog, I might add.
He said a lot more stuff, too. It’s time to talk about it. Here are some thoughts and questions of my own:
2008 changed the political landscape. People who weren’t supposed to vote at all came out in droves. Yet for 2010, the pollsters are still assuming the historical demographics. How much will this hold?
For at least two election cycles, the complaint has arisen that people with only cell phones, and no landlines, are under-represented. and that they vote in ways different from the average landline holder. How much of an effect will this have in 2010? No one knows.
A lot this year has been said about “enthusiasm.” Many pollsters seem to create their “likely voter” models based on a presumption of reality of an “ethusiasm gap.” Yet there has never been a demonstrated connection between “enthusiasm” and turnout, particularly when “enthusiasm” is measured weeks, or even months, before the election. How much of a factor is this, really?
How much does the narrative of a poll drive the election? If we are told, again and again, that the election is already decided, will the presumed losers stay home? Or will the presumed winners not bother to vote, convinced they have it in the bag?
In the end, the 2010 midterms seem likely to revolve around turnout. If one said has a more effective GOTV stretgy, do any of the above factors matter?
What do you think?