Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

Secret Sauce at work in the North Carolina Senate race

One race: North Carolina Senate general between Republican Richard Burr and prospective Democrats Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall. Two polls: Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen Reports. Two markedly different results: Rasmussen shows Burr nearly 10 points higher than PPP does.

What’s going on?

PPP has Burr ahead of Cunningham 43-35 (MoE 3.6) and ahead of Marshall 43-37, Rasmussen has Cunningham losing 53-31 (MoE 4.5) and Marshall down (50-32).

PPP has Burr at about an 83% average lead probability and under the 50% danger line, while Rasmussen has Burr at a 98% average lead probability and at or above 50. However both have the pictured matchup of Burr and Marshall looking better for the Democrats. So the relative pairings agree, it’s just the absolute support of Democrats and Republicans that varies between the polls.

The difference appears to be that PPP polled “voters” (presumably 2008 voters) while Rasmussen sticks with his model of “likely voters,” which can vary from 2008. Rasmussen has been up front in saying he expects Republicans to have an advantage in 2010, while PPP’s voted-for-Obama crosstab better matches the 2008 results in which Democrats had better motivation.

Both methods are legitimate, and the fact that both have Marshall running ahead of Cunningham is consistent with both being honest. What both polls cannot be is correct. One of the two is making the wrong assumptions, leading to wrong results. If the disparity continues, come November North Carolina will be a great test of the two likely voter models. One secret sauce will win and one will lose.


One Response to “Secret Sauce at work in the North Carolina Senate race”

  1. if i were to bet (which i don’t) regarding nov2010, i’d expect republicans to vote with strong motivation, though not to the level of 2008 “obama” voters. the dems managed to convert a lot of nobush voters to proobama voters. republicans in 2010 have only “nobama” and lack any “pro”. also, republican primaries are leaning even harder right, which means they’ll win elections mostly in only the “red” states.
    independent voters in nov 2010 will be split.
    by diverse indicators, the economy has hit bottom during recent months — vc investment, consumer spending, residential real estate. once *real* employment rates begin to pick up, “nobama” will slither off into nincompoop fringe. that will occur after nov2010, but the “light at the end of the tunnel” will be evident in november.
    the general feeling is that “teabagger[1] outrage” is already crumbling, and even at the “tea party’s” peak, fewer than half of (true) independents were teaparty sympathizers.

    1. a little trivia: teapartiers are (more or less recently) trying to “reclaim” the “teabagger” moniker, imitating “queer nation’s” attempt to reclaim “queer”.

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