BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 1/8/2008 8:49PM
NH Primary: Pre-Election Polls Wildly Different Than Results Announced for Clinton/Obama
Other Pre-Election Numbers, For Republicans and Rest of Dems, Nearly Dead on the Money...
[UPDATED several times at end of article, and still developing with new updates...]
I'm not sure why Obama would have conceded so soon, given the virtually inexplicable turn of events in New Hampshire tonight.
What's going on here? Before proceeding, I recommend you read the third section of the post I just ran an hour or so ago, concerning the way the ballots are counted in New Hampshire, largely on Diebold optical-scan voting systems, wholly controlled and programmed by a very very bad company named LHS Associates.
Those Diebold op-scan machines are the exact same ones that were hacked in the HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy. See the previous report, as I recommend, which also includes a video of that hack, and footage of the guy who runs LHS Associates.
That said, the the pre-election pollster's numbers (NOTE: that's not Exit Polls, but Pre-Election Polls!) were dead-on, for the most part, on the Republican side, as well as on the Democratic side. Except in the do-or-die (for Hillary) Clinton v. Obama race. I'm watching MSNBC right now, and they all seem to agree that the results, for the moment, defy explanation.
Here's a screenshot of a round up of all of the latest polls from RealClearPolitics.com tonight, and more, to get an idea of the serious concerns here...
They were all not just wrong, but wildly wrong. But only for the Clinton/Obama race.
For a closer look, here's Zogby's predicted numbers, for both the Republicans and Democrats:
And here are the latest numbers from the MSNBC website (the numbers seem to be identical over at CNN and elsewhere):
As you'll note, the numbers in Zogby's latest polls, for all but Clinton and Obama, seem to have been dead-on the money for both the Republicans and Democrats. Edwards, for example, was polled at 17% in Zogby's poll, and he received exactly 17% in the MSNBC numbers, with 63% of precincts reporting. So are we to believe that only those voters who preferred Obama previously, decided to change to Hillary at the last minute? I suppose so.
This election was regarded as do-or-die for Clinton, after most in the media had already written her off after her "thumpin'" in Iowa. But Tim Russert just agreed with Brokaw and Matthews that "this was the most stunning upset in the history of politics."
They are already grasping for reasons that this happened: the crying; she found her voice; the women turned out; oldline Dems showed up, etc. All reminiscent, if you ask me, of "the evangelicals who turned out at the very last minute to vote for Bush in 2004" as the Exit Poll apologists wrote in what would become conventional wisdom at the time. (Where did they get that info? The Exit Polls, they'll tell you. The same ones that they will also tell you were wildly wrong on every other count, apparently.)
Olbermann just called it "a titanic upset victory" for Clinton.
So, with another nod to the third section of the article I posted earlier here tonight, what's going on here?
While I have no evidence at this time --- let me repeat, no evidence at this time --- of chicanery, what we do know is that chicanery, with this particular voting system, is not particularly difficult. Particularly when one private company --- and a less-than-respectable one at that, as I detailed in the previous post --- runs the entire process.
I should also note that some 40% of New Hampshire's precincts are hand-counted, which equals about 25% of the votes. All the rest are counted on hackable Diebold op-scan systems, with completely hackable memory cards, all programmed and managed by LHS Associates. As Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org who seems to share my concern, says, LHS is the "chain of custody" in New Hampshire elections.
Other folks that I've spoken to, who follow this sort of thing, share my concern at this hour. Harris noted that it will be interesting to compare numbers of the hand-counted precincts with those counted on the hackable Diebold op-scan systems.
If I was Barack Obama, I'd certainly not have conceded this election this quickly. I'm not quite sure what he was thinking. And as far as offering an indication of whether he understands how these systems work, and the necessity of making sure that votes are counted, and counted accurately, it does not offer a great deal of confidence at this hour.
I'm trying to get in touch with his campaign, to let them know of these concerns. I hope you'll feel free to let them know as well, if any of you happen to be in touch with them, or a part of the campaign. I will, of course, be happy to discuss these concerns with them if they wish to call.
As mentioned, the numbers referred to above are not Exit Polls. They are Pre-Election Polls which are far less reliable than Exit Polls. So, if anybody knows where any decent Exit Polling data is, we'd appreciate it if you linked it in comments below...
UPDATE 9:18pm PT: This AP report includes information, said to be based on data from the Exit Polls. It indicates that the independents in NH, who may vote in either the R or D primary, voted mostly D, and were breaking for Obama. AP claims, however, that the same data show that Clinton's strength with women "offset that"...
Early exit poll data indicated six in 10 independents opted for the Democratic contest and Obama led among them, but Clinton's advantage among women offset that.
The results are from exit polls Tuesday in 50 precincts around New Hampshire for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. The Democratic primary survey interviewed 1,800 voters, the Republican primary poll 1,301. The sampling error margin was plus or minus 4 percentage points for each exit poll.
Note: the Exit Pollsters used here were Mitofsky/Edison, the same ones who ran the infamous Exits in 2004 showing that, in state after state, Kerry should have won. They also later said their own polling was completely wrong (which is disputed strongly by statistics experts such as U. of Pennsylvania Prof. Steven F. Freeman Ph.D.) So, it's lovely that AP and the TV nets hired them again...
UPDATE 9:40pm PT: While the talking heads are trying to figure out what happened here on MSNBC, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, while paging through a stack of papers said to be Exit Poll data, just said: "Of those who made up their mind in the last three days, there was a slight favoring for Obama. If there was a huge difference in a move to Hillary, in the last three days, it doesn't seem to be reflected in the Exit Polling."
UPDATE 9:48pm PT: Olbermann repeated what Russert had said earlier, that Obama's internal polls showed him winning by 14%, Clinton's internal polls had Obama winning by 11%.
The effect of Obama being an African-American, the so-called "Bradley Effect", is now being discussed as the newest "reason" to explain the numbers. Though it's noted that it didn't effect Harold Ford in TN in '06, or even Obama in Iowa just five days ago.
(ADDED: Josh Holland from Alternet points out via email, correctly, concerning my point about the "Bradley Effect" not coming into play in Iowa: "The 'Bradley effect' would not work in an open caucus, where everyone can see whom everyone else is supporting. The theory requires the privacy of a voting booth." He's correct. Thanks for pointing that out! --- BF)
UPDATE 11:06pm PT: As we know, the presumption is always that the polls were wrong. Never the results. Despite how much less transparent the system used to count votes is than the system used to collect polling data. With that in mind, Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic, makes the following point, in a post headlined "How Wrong Were the Polls?", suggesting that the only numbers that changed here were Clinton's. She surged. Everyone else, even Obama who just had an historic victory in Iowa five days ago, did not...
Commenter Brian makes an observation "No one is talking about how the polls actually nailed Obama's number. Obama didn't lose this election. He stayed steady and Hillary surged ahead." That seems to be true. Here's a chart comparing the actual results to the most recent Pollster.com current standard estimate polling average.
Just as Brian says, the difference between the Obama poll level and the Obama vote total level seems to just be your basic statistical variance. The pollsters underestimated Clinton's level of support. People who were undecided as of the last round of polling seem to have gone overwhelmingly in her direction.
So where did her votes come from, if Exit Polling data showed, as mentioned by MSNBC above, that last minute deciders broke evenly, and even a bit more for Obama??
UPDATE 1/9/08, 12:49am PT: Bev Harris offers this very useful information in comments below. Worth elevating the key points up here to the original post:
New Hampshire, for the Democrats, was the exact opposite of Iowa. They used one of the worst voting systems in America and then handed programming of every memory card in New Hampshire over to a private outfit run by John Silvestro.
First order of business needs to be examining the published precinct results and comparing the hand count locations to the optical scam locations.
The results web site does not make this easy. You have to hover your mouse over each one of about 250 municipalities and then take a screen grab and then type it into a spreadsheet.
So far, no one I know has completed that task.
Here is the site with the municipality results:http://www.politico.com/nhprimaries/nhmap-popup.html
Here is a comma delimited data file I created with the municipalities and whether they are hand counted or opscam:http://www.bbvdocs.org/NH/state/Jan-08-votingsystems-NH.txt
I took the information from the NH Sec State site. A few of the locations do not have the voting system specified; if they have a low population, they are probably hand count.
Whoever gets the handcount vs opscam spreadsheet done gets two points. The tools are in the two links above.
Additionally, BeeSting then makes our night, with a pointer to this Ron Paul website, which lists all of the precinct results, and how each one of them was counted (by hand, or by Diebold/LHS Associaties/John Silverstro).
Thank you BeeSting and Bev both! Looks like we'll have lots to learn in the morning...