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Nate Silver has an interesting post summarizing how the various polling firms did in their state polls. Generally it looks like he finds most of them had consistently overestimated the (R) vote. He throws out the usual cuffed explanation for this (not enough cell phones, younger people have cell phones, younger people are more (D), bla bla).
But he appears to miss the elephant in the room, which is cheating. But surely no serious, scientific, quantitative genius person such as Nate Silver can possibly forget or just un-scientifically ignore the fact that the final vote contains some nonzero amount of cheating.
And cheating (or just, mistakes in tabulating) can’t possibly, even in principle, be picked up by pre-election polling. So it is always a possible, nonzero factor in explaining and understanding any mismatch between polls and “the actual vote” (i.e. the actual vote + cheating/mistakes).
Now – to echo a bunch of arguments I made against Silverbating righties – the fact that almost all these polls from all these different polling companies with all different sorts of methodologies find a consistent, systematic “(R) bias” just beggars belief. No quantitative-minded person can just accept that as the result of random chance. Sure, there will be errors and biases but wouldn’t the errors and biases cancel each other out? How likely is it that virtually all polls would come out with an (R) bias? That is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, which Nate Silver does not have.
The more parsimonious and scientific inference is that the “(R) bias” Nate Silver has found is, of course, nothing other than an estimate of the (D) cheating advantage. What else could it be, after all? Yes, it could theoretically be something else – but that would require an explanation, and evidence. Surely the null hypothesis is that the “bias” showing up from these polls is just the result of voter fraud.
I have taken the liberty of using Nate Silver’s data to estimate this fraud. Silver reports a table of the empirical bias from 23 polling companies who did at least 5 LV polls in the last 21 days. Only 4 of these 23 showed a (D) bias – again, highly unlikely to be the result of chance.
Tossing out the high (R) bias (Gallup with R+7.2) and the low (Pharos with D+2.5), the average bias of the remaining 21 polling firms was about R+1.2.
In other words, we now have scientific, quant-friendly evidence here that the (D)s get something like a ~1.2% advantage from fucking cheating.
Again, if you have a better explanation why all these polls would come out with a R+1.2 bias on average, you are welcome to advance your argument, along with your evidence. But fair warning, if you mumble some facile BS about ‘cell phones’ or ‘hurricane Sandy’ I’m going to fucking make just as much fun of you as I made of righties who BS’ed stuff about lefties more likely to lie about being likely voters or pollsters ‘using a 2008 turnout model even though (R) enthusiasm is really high’.
I think I’ve earned the right to say this because I have been and continue to be consistently on the side of the quants: if you don’t see Nate Silver’s table as, absent other quantified and supported explanations, prima facie evidence of the size of the (D) cheating advantage, then guess what? You’re not on the side of the quants, and you must hate math.
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