Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Good and the Bad in Dispatch Election Analysis

Like it or not, the Columbus Dispatch is the paper of record when it comes to statewide politics. Between some political reporters and the natural proximity to politics central, the paper will run more stories and have more statewide information than anyone else.

The Good.

The best Dispatch post-mortem so far is a story analyzing Obama's 88-county strategy. The story doesn't stop at the obvious (scoreboard; it worked.) Instead the writers dig through the numbers to show that the strategy paid off. Obama improved Kerry's performance in most regions throughout the state, winning some new counties in the northwest and blunting the Republican advantage on its home turf. Moreover, the paper notes that Obama actually underperformed Kerry in Appalachian counties and in the Mahoning valley.

Click. Read. The whole article is worth the time.

The Bad.

The headline alone tells you we're heading off the tracks: "As Usual, Dispatch Poll Was Accurate." As usual? Do you guys remember any of your earlier polls? Or are we engaging in a bit of revisionist history.

Let's review. As accurately noted, the Dispatch poll showed a dead heat in 2004 just before the election which was in the MoE of Bush's two percent win. But a month before, the Dispatch poll was an outlier, showing a seven percent Bush lead when the average of Ohio polls showed two percent.

The next year, the Dispatch suffered a humiliating stumble, predicting victory for two of the four Reform Ohio Now amendments before all four were crushed at the polls.

In '06 the poll showed Strickland ahead by six and a half points more than his ultimate margin of victory and was, again, the only poll to do so. For a poll that claims a 2% MoE, that's ugly. By the way, the RON poll and the '06 gov poll were so far of that they gave Fitrakis fodder for his usual moonbattery.

Happily, no significant statewide races last year offered the paper a chance to issue a meaningful poll.

"As usual" it was accurate? A better headline would have been "Dispatch Poll Fails to Embarass the Paper This Time."


grandpaboy said...

"...they gave Fitrakis fodder for his usual moonbattery."

Hahaha. Unfortunately, BF now has a radio show on our liberal station down here. Hey, as long as I get my Stephanie Miller in the morning...

Anonymous said...

Pho - thanks for the heads up on the Dispatch Article.

Great information -- it's fascinating (and a bit scary) all the machinations that go into the process of electing our leaders.

It always makes me think of the book 'Wisdom of the Crowds' -- I'm usually a big believer in it's findings -- but it requires an 'educated' population and a voting process that is not influenced by external bias. Something that - with the media exposure and the related spin and all of that makes me think is practically impossible in this day and age.

I mean - I read a lot -- but can I really say I was educated with unbiased information before hitting the voting booth? Did i do my part on that front before casing my ballot -- hmmmm not sure I can truthfully say yes to that. I think I probably let my media of choice influence me to what I wanted to hear and cast the vote anyway.

I like to