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Monday, July 14, 2008


Don't buy the new presidential polls, which show the race tightening up. Turns out that they ignore the increasing number of folks like me, who rely solely on a mobile phone and have no home service, and that could be dropping Obama's lead. This has some historical precedent, and it's bad news for pollsters:
Consciously limiting the respondent universe in a presidential election survey, resulting in a wildly incorrect prediction, did tremendous damage to the reputation of the Literary Digest 72 years ago. In 2008, we have the audacity to hope that the polling industry will not make the same mistake. In 1948, the failure of the whole polling industry to predict Harry Truman's victory over Thomas Dewey was due to many factors, the most important of which was missing the size of the late surge toward Truman -- but there was also a little undersampling that seems ironic given our phone habits 60 years later. Pollsters may have missed some Democratic voters in 1948 because they were technologically behind Republican voters. They were less likely than Republicans to have land lines.

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