Unlikely Voter

Poll Analysis and Election Projection

Terribly inconsistent polling in Florida

I am at a loss as to how to analyze the polling of the race for Governor in Florida. Of the last four polls at Real Clear Politics, Republican Rick Scott leads according to Rasmussen Reports and Ipsos for Reuters, while Democrat Alex Sink leads acccording to Mason Dixon and CNN/Time.

Two polls concluded on the same day (Rasmussen and Mason Dixon) are not supposed to have a thirteen point swing between them, predicting different winners, but they do. So what’s going on?

A friend pointed out to me that this polling is reminiscent of the primary, as Rick Scott’s race against Bill McCollum also showed this kind of volatility. Maybe there’s something to that, but I’m not sure. Primary polling this year was erratic all around, and Florida wasn’t special on that point.

Striking in the CNN/Time result of Sink 49-Scott 42 (MoE 3.5): Sink wins Democrats 85/10 while Scott leads Republicans only 75/15. We’re still seeing the primary effects in that poll. The Mason Dixon poll gives Sink 80% of Democrats and Scott still only 75% of Republicans in arriving at a Sink 47-Scott 40 top line (MoE 4).

Rasmussen has that partisan information behind a paywall and I don’t know if he’s showing the same kind of disparity, but given that Scott does much better (Scott 50-Sink 44 lead for Scott, MoE 4), I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rasmussen’s LV screen shows more Republicans, and more Republicans leaning toward Scott without being 100% for him yet.

Reuters and Ipsos also show Scott ahead, driven by an “enthusiasm gap” between the parties that we’ve seen in the past in other states, for a Scott 47-Sink 45 (MoE 4.6) advantage.

If I create a projection of this race based on these four polls the way I run my Senate projections, I come up with a 45% chance of Republican victory. But that 45% doesn’t reflect the polling well, as only one poll (Reuters/Ipsos) shows it very close, and all the rest show the situation moderately well for one candidate or the other.

My gut feeling here is that Scott’s base is still unhappy about the primary and it will take them a while to come into his column. But Bill McCollum voters aren’t going to go all-in for Sink, I just don’t see that.

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