Monday, September 18, 2006

Nussle & Culver: The battle of the polls begins

It’s a battle of the public polls -- Zogby, KCCI, Victory Enterprise and most recently the Des Moines Register have put out the numbers. The public consumption polling fight is on, and as everyone expects this is turning out to be a bloody knuckles fight.

Nussle’s people sent out a press release on Friday pumping a new poll by Victory Enterprises, a GOP political shop based out of Davenport.

…In a survey released late yesterday by Victory Enterprises, Jim Nussle leads Chet Culver 41% - 38% in the race for Iowa Governor.

Campaign Manager Nick Ryan said, “Polls will be up and down from now until Election Day, proving this is going to be a tight race through November 7th. Jim Nussle isn’t taking any vote for granted as he continues to travel the state, taking his positive vision to Energize….blah, blah, yada, blah, you get the idea …

… The survey was conducted September 5-6 of 506 likely Iowa voters who have a history of participating in Iowa Gubernatorial elections. The survey has a 4.4% margin of error.

Sunday’s Des Moines Register made a front page story out of a tie.

…A new Des Moines Register poll shows Democrat Chet Culver and Republican Jim Nussle are tied, 44 percent to 44 percent, among likely voters at this stage of the statewide contest.

Ready to break the unusual tie are the 10 percent of Iowans who say they definitely will vote in the Nov. 7 election but are undecided on a candidate at this point.

Another 2 percent of those polled say they that prefer someone else to become Iowa's chief executive, or that they're not going to cast a ballot on this race.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Great! We now have four different polls, conducted within a two-week period and each producing slightly different results. It’s time for some meta-analysis. Well not really meta-analysis, that’s a little tough to do without the extended data sets, SPSS program and a post-doctoral yen for numbers. But we do have a hedge formula developed by a regular guy with a blog.

Blogging Caesar is an average, ordinary math geek with a habit. BC developed a unique formula to evaluate a race using the combined weighted average of a group of polls plus a set of anecdotally identified weighted variables that include incumbent job approval, partisan tendencies and a random looking error rate. He then mixes and springs his election projections for each race. BC was blogging in 2004 and proved to be an accurate poll-watching pundit, according to some other well-regarded pundits.

The Iowa formula for the 2006 governor's race using the averages out of the four polls and BC’s identified values for incumbent favorability and partisan tendencies reads:

[(-.1) * .9] + [(8) * .05] + [(-.7)* .05] + .001 = .275

The numbers translate to Chet Culver winning by a little less than one third of one percent of the vote. That's not much wiggle room for Chet Culver, and according to the model, the big advantage Chet has in this race is Vilsack’s favorability rating.

I doubt Republicans are going to let Vilsack get out of Terrace Hill without a few more bites to the ankles & kicks to the shins. We’ll probably see the Republicans make an effort to spin Tom Vilsack’s legacy of debt throughout the month of October.

It’s early; we still have the debates, candidate press events and possibly hundreds of negative ads to zone out. But if this race doesn’t break for either candidate, it’s going to hinge on turnout, and if a turnout advantage fails, then we can all look forward to Chet’s SOS team counting ballots on the Friday after the election.


A Hawk State Note:

If you are going to sit behind a couple of impressionable kids -- well, they're probably past that stage -- it would be really great if you could attempt to use a few more verbs, nouns, adverbs & adjectives that didn’t start with the letter F and end with a K ... or if that's not possible, at least make sure you're wearing a 'Clones tee.

Just a thought.

You forgot interjections.
Actually, I am perfectly comfortable with the use of a certain word in the context of an occasional interjection, just part of getting along in a house full of boys. It's similar to the toilet seat issue. You try at first and then you just tune it out.
A Cy shirt!!!!!!!!!!!

Three hours to watch and 12 months to gloat.

But, as much hypocricy as this admits, I was also happy that the crowd, at least around my section was not as contentious and there was far more mutual respect.

What's next, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together-mass hysteria?
I feel your pain Iowa Ennui. I cannot get my wife or daughter to put the toilet lids back up in my house.
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