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I kept half an eye on the election results during the day, but what could be more boring than every single State voting the same way as 4 years ago?

There was some excitement this morning when Zogby called the election for John Kerry, but this looked more like wishful thinking than anything else (the page is archived here since they have removed if from their website). They got a few states wrong (which was understandable), but the oddest part was that they showed Bush with a 2% lead in Ohio but called it for Kerry. Anyway, the end result was their prediction of Kerry winning the electoral college by 311-213. Possible, I suppose, but also unlikely - and quite wrong as it turned out. I can only suppose that they hoped that if Kerry had won Ohio and Florida they would look like geniuses. Instead they look like idiots.

Simon has more on this, pointing out that some of the things that John Zogby said about the election when he was in Hong Kong were not as insightful as they might have seemed at the time:

Undecideds: turns out they probably did vote, given the rise in turnout, but they didn't break for Kerry as expected. Zogby said the candidates get 47% each just for showing up. If you take that then the undecideds broke at least 50/50 or even more for Bush. Obviously he could persuade them.

Turnout: The conventional wisdom was a higher turnout benefits Kerry. Clearly that wasn't the case. Total votes is 115-120 million, well up on 2000, and far above Zogby's critical level of 107 million for a Kerry win. Bush is well ahead in the popular vote so clearly these extra voters broke far more for Bush than expected.

It also turns out that this was the exception to the "rule" that incumbents either win handsomely or get booted out, and that poor approval ratings are an obstacle to winning re-election. Oh, and it really doesn't matter whether the Washington Redskins win, lose or draw.

The truth is that John Zogby had no way of knowing how people would vote, any more than similar experts "knew" how the Spanish electorate would vote in their general election earlier this year or how the British people would vote in 1992. The pollsters massage the figures to try and arrive at a reasonable result, but in so doing they guarantee that the numbers they conjure up are subjective rather than objective. Zogby guessed wrong, and ended up with egg on his face as a result.


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...on face

[I've updated the post to make it clearer]

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