Back to previous post: Republican Weirdness

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Uh, yeah, well, about that

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

October 23, 2008

The Myth of the Likely Voter
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:02 AM * 56 comments

Tons of polls are announced every day telling us about how the Likely Voters are going to vote. These are probably less useful than you’d think.

Do you all recall New Hampshire’s primary election? The pollsters were predicting an Obama victory. Yet the state went for Clinton. What happened?

After I went to the Balsams to observe the Dixville Notch polling (and Making Light scooped everyone with the news, since I knew where to stand in the room to get a cell phone signal and the CNN guy didn’t), I dropped back by the hospital to share some donuts with the Night Duty Nurses.

They were all talking about the election, of course. And in the course of chatting with them I discovered many things. For example, while I had been getting as many as three pollsters calling me per day, none of them had been polled even once. The reason for that: They weren’t “likely voters.” I have voted in every primary and general election since I turned 21 (those were the days when the voting age was 21). A goodly number of the nurses had never voted before; they had either just registered or were planning to register at the polling place (allowed in our state). Another big bunch only voted in the general elections every four years, not in the mid-term elections and never in the primaries.

Yet all the talk among ‘em (including among the Republicans in their midst) was “How do you think Hillary is going to do?” If I were smart I would have called it for Hillary right then.

So for this election, don’t look at the polls that count “likely voters.” Look at the polls that count possible voters (that is, people who are, or could be, registered to vote).

(For those of you who are interested, Obama is running three to four points higher in the polls of all voters than he is in polls of “likely voters.”)

Comments on The Myth of the Likely Voter:
#1 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Wouldn't the "truth" lie somewhere in between?

#2 ::: David Dvorkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:33 AM:

It's not a myth, though. The problem is how to determine who's a likely voter. That's tricky in any election and seems to be more so in this one.

#3 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:33 AM:

The owner of fivethirtyeight.com discusses this at length; basically, if you are a newly registered voter, haven't voted regularly or just moved to a new address (in a different precinct), some polls automatically put you in the "not a likely voter" category. It's why he tends to dismiss certain polls that target only "likely voters" as being inaccurate, and focuses on those who include both likely and registered voters in their results.

I know when my wife and I voted on Monday, the majority of people voting with us were saying how this was the first election in years they had decided to vote in. The latest results from NC's early voting program is over 10% of registered voters have already voted, and of that group a whopping 65% were registered Democrats.

#4 ::: Jean ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:44 AM:

I don't know the pros and cons in general of polling the 'likely voters'. But if you have a candidate who is perceived as something new, who appeals to people who are not regular voters, polling 'likely voters' will surely understate their support?

#5 ::: Rana ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:59 AM:

But if you have a candidate who is perceived as something new, who appeals to people who are not regular voters, polling 'likely voters' will surely understate their support?

I wonder, too, if the tendency of polling agencies to focus on people with fixed landlines (rather than cells) is also going to be at play this year. In particular, I'm thinking of how a lot of Obama supporters skew young, and guessing that, despite their vigorous presence on the internet (esp. Facebook) they're unlikely to be part of the polling data due to their lacking fixed residences with landline phones in their names.

#6 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Actually, that depends on which "likely voter" model the pollsters use.

Nate@538 had a detailed discussion of this just the other day; the "traditional likely voter" model, which includes past history, shows just the spread you describe; the "expanded likely voter" model, which is based solely on self-described voter intent, runs about the same as the registered voter polls.

(In the first, someone who says "Absolutely I will vote, yes I know where my polling place is, yes absolutely I will vote" -- but who hasn't voted in the past few elections -- is not considered a "likely voter").

#7 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:27 PM:

I would have thought that being newly registered would make me very (if not necessarily "more") likely to vote. After all, why did I bother to register just now? [*] Why, to *vote*, silly! Otherwise I could just sit back, enjoy my unregistered state, and (at least in TX) stay off jury duty.

[*] Note this is strictly hypothetical; in real life I have been registered to vote for over 30 years, although I've had to re-register a couple of times after changing states.

#8 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:34 PM:

Rana @5:

Check out this Pew study:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/964/

Short version: Many pollsters have been trying to solve this problem by weighting their results by age (the main demographic difference between the landline and cell-only crowds.) But the Pew study suggests that that alone doesn't solve the problem. It turns out that cell-only young people are even more Democratic than their landline peers. The Pew study suggests that this could have an effect on the order of one point on the top line numbers. (I.e. landline-only polls understate Obama's support by about one point, on average.)

Likely voter models seem to be something of a necessary evil, since it seems ludicrous to just assume that the people who don't show up on election day have the exact same beliefs, loyalties and preferences than those who do, but the problem Nate Silver identifies re: newly registered voters is a serious one.

I'm leery of simply saying that registered voter numbers are better. After all, I thought young people were going to come out in big numbers for Kerry and it simply didn't happen. It turned out that the likely voter models in that race did a much better job. Still, it seems like projections of who will vote this time around that are based on last time around have a fair chance of being blown completely out of the water.

#9 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:40 PM:

joann@7: That's one of their big problems. They don't consider date of registration at all in their likely-voter screen.

In addition to youth turnout being underestimated this year due to trying to base the estimate on previous years, I bet a lot of young people are also getting screened out as unlikely voters because this is their first election...

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:42 PM:

John L. #3: That's it. In this election, higher than usual numbers are voting for two reasons.

(1) Early in the year, the primary cause was because of disillusionment with the Republican Party/Bush Maladministration. This brought lots of new voters to the polls and raised the numbers of people voting in the Democratic primaries caucuses. Added to Hillary and Obama mania (which had different sources) this meant that the primaries had very high turnout levels. Levels high enough to amount to realignment.

(2) The economy is in crisis. This tends to cause people to want the government to do something. The primary tool for doing this is voting. Consequently people are registering, and since in many states early voting is possible, we are seeing early voting in numbers that are unprecedented. Election Day itself should be interesting.

There are reasons to worry about vote-rigging and mechanical manipulation, but the tide may be too high even for Rovian tricks.

#11 ::: elfwreck ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 12:54 PM:

This ties into my thoughts on the Prop 8 in California polling. Prop 8 would eliminate same-sex marriage in CA; it's (of course) hotly contested. the "Yes on 8" numbers are growing in the polls... but I suspect that a great many "No on 8" voters are excluded from the polls. Cell phones vs landlines is one issue; "willingness to talk to pollster" is another--many same-sex marriage supporters are of varying "alternative" lifestyles, and avoid any contact with official statistics-gatherers. And, of course, many are new voters, or people who rarely vote, but this issue will bring them to the polls.

The yes-on-8 crowd tend to be regularly voters; they're over-represented in polls.

#12 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 01:07 PM:

elfwreck, I hope you're right.

#13 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 01:26 PM:

I also think that younger voters who register right before they vote for the first time don't recognize how disruptive the voting process is to their daily life (just for one day, but still).

Every time I've voted for President, the lines were HUGE. Had to leave early or come in late, stand in line for however long it took, and then figure out the form and turn it in. I've voted in every Presidential/Congressional election since 1980, so it's not a big deal for me.

For someone voting for the first time, though, it may be enough to discourage them from trying in the first place. Especially if they're working in a service industry job that frowns on coming in late or leaving early.

That's why I've been watching NC's early voter program this year, specifically, who is voting. I've noticed that many (about half IMO) of the voters are young, under 30, and may be voting for the first time. I'm thinking they're voting in such huge numbers because NC has taken the trouble to make it as easy as possible; polling stations are in locations where people already are going (malls, country clubs, shopping centers) and the hours are the same as the businesses around them, plus weekends. The excuse of "well, there's a long line" or "it's cold and rainy today" don't wash when you can vote at any of your county's early polling stations, on any day from now to November 1, even on the weekends.

#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Rana, #5: Yes, and the pollsters will have to come up with another way to address that demographic, because it's illegal to auto-call cellphones for any reason. (Not that this stops out-of-country spammers from calling mine to tell me that I've "won a cruise" or that this is my "last chance to register your warranty" for merchandise I haven't bought. Grrr.)

elfwreck, #11: From your keyboard to the Lady's eyes...

#15 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 01:54 PM:

I think the pollsters are up against a really hard problem, here. Among other things, you don't want the pollster tinkering with their likely-voter algorithm or other weighting of polls based on what they want the answer to be, what they expect it to be, or what other polls are reporting--otherwise, the first few polls going wrong can lead everyone off a cliff, or candidates that seem awful to the pollsters can end up doing way better than their poll numbers suggest.

One comment I saw (I think on electoral-vote.com) was that lots of black voters are likely to show up to the polls so they could tell their grandkids they had voted for the first black president. I don't know if that's true (though it sure sounds plausible), but it's the sort of thing that really messes up models based on previous behavior.

#16 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 01:55 PM:

David Sedaris said this regarding uncommitted voters:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?"

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2008/10/27/081027sh_shouts_sedaris

#17 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 02:00 PM:

albatross@15: here's a relevant anecdote that I thought beautiful.

#18 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 02:26 PM:

An interesting question for the political scientists (at least one hangs out here and writes poetry) is how this will affect future black turnout. If lots of people who have never cared enough to bother registering and voting end up doing both this year, we could see the echoes of that for the next several years.

After all, you now know where the polling place is, you're registered, and you got a *really* good feeling voting for the first time. Why not do it again next time?

#19 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 02:45 PM:

(For those of you who are interested, Obama is running three to four points higher in the polls of all voters than he is in polls of “likely voters.”)

Stop it stopitstopit. After 2004, I am terrified of getting my hopes up. Remarks like this make it harder and harder not to.

#20 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Every time I hear somebody talking as if it's already won, I have to fight the urge to stick my fingers in my ears and start chanting "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU DON'T TEMPT FATE LA LA LA".

I'm not normally superstitious, but this time around... don't jinx it!

On a more practical level, I'm going to go do some phonebanking for the Obama campaign this weekend.

#21 ::: Dragon ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 03:13 PM:

There's a reason FiveThirtyEight has been throwing his weight behind the Gallup Expanded model-- it's the polling model that polls registered rather than "Likely" voters. He said pretty much this (without the anecdote) the other day.

#22 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Zelda@19: After 2004, I am terrified of getting my hopes up.

Yup. I was SURE Kerry was going to win. I felt sick when he lost--I couldn't believe it. I wanted to move to Canada. I'll never feel confident again. I live in Virginia and I'm going out canvassing for Obama (for the 4th time) this weekend.

I think there'll be an "Obama effect" in this election that will render the "likely voter" models useless. People who wouldn't otherwise bother will come out to vote on both sides: some for him, some against him. Forget the polls--I have no idea what will happen on election day. I'm hoping my son's generation will tip the balance heavily in Obama's favor, but I was counting on them in 2004 and they let us down.

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 04:52 PM:

albatross @ 18

That's an excellent point, that I hadn't thought about because I haven't been willing to think beyond the election for some time now. Especially if Obama wins, there will be large block of voters, both black and white, who will be energized by having had an effect on the outcome of the election, and who will be looking forward to repeating the experience in the midterm in 2010. They portion of them that were also energized by the experience of political activism for Obama are also likely to go kick some lethargic Democratic Party butt and get the Party into a more proactive stance as well.

#24 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 04:58 PM:

Oh, there's a bigger impact than that, Bruce.

Obama is getting an entire generation of young people interested in, and fired up about, progressive politics. And that lasts: when you talk to people who are still liberals in their fifties and sixties (in other words, haven't had the rightward drift that many of the population experience as they age), they often trace their lasting commitment to their political views to activism as young adults.

In other words, this election will be paying dividends not just for years, but for decades.

#25 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 05:00 PM:

If Obama loses, I may just give up on voting for a major party.

I never had, and in 2004 I screwed up my scruples & voted for Kerry...and look what it got me.

If that happens again - I mean, in the last year I've registered DFL, I went to their stupid City convention, I am getting more junk mail than you could believe, I actually talked politics with some of my right-leaning relatives...if Obama loses, I'm bowing out of the system and going back to the Green party, or finding some Socialists up here.

#26 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 05:56 PM:

What good would that be supposed to do, Rosa?

#27 ::: Rana ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Carol @16

Ha! That's a good one.

However, to be fair to those uncommitted voters, I suspect that it's less a choice between chicken and shit, and more one of "am I going to choose either of them?" I mean, what if you don't like or can't eat chicken?

#28 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 06:29 PM:

Rosa: You make me think of that old line (sometimes accurately repeated by my boss):
They told me if I voted for Goldwater, I'd end up carrying a rifle in Southeast Asia. Well, damned if they weren't right.

Sometimes, the marginally acceptable guys lose to the evil guys. This sucks, but I'm not sure abandoning the process is a solution.

#29 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Dragon@21

Gallup's expanded model doesn't poll registered voters. It uses a model of likely voters that doesn't use past voting behavior. As a consequence it is more similar to the results from registered voters than Gallup's "traditional" likely voter model is.

(Nate does prefer the "expanded" models for this election, since the "traditional" models from several different pollsters favor McCain by several points and there are other indications that suggest this is not correct.)

#30 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 09:55 PM:

I've voted in every election since I was 18; I'm 53 and a cell-only user. On the other hand, I'm getting only Democratic literature even though I didn't register for a party (you don't have to in Virginia, and that sometimes gives benefits in primaries).

#31 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Ambar (#17): Wow. I can't stop crying after reading that.

#32 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 11:51 PM:

I got a flyer in the mail from a local candidate this week, urging me to vote for him on line A or E. I realized that not only was he not saying which party he was running under but not a one of the lawn signs I'd seen all over the county gave a party affiliation on it.

#33 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 04:10 AM:

About being afraid to hope for a win:

2004 was the first American election I ever really paid attention to (I was aware of the 2000 election but not at all of any of the issues or the differences between the parties or candidates). I remember watching the progressive "netroots" organize and pour their energy into Kerry's campaign. We all thought the young people would come out--and some did. We didn't win--but. I do really think that all the work that was done in 2004 wasn't entirely in vain: it laid the groundwork for this year. Obama's been brilliant at campaigning and drawing people in, but he also had the support of networks of people that had been formed during Kerry's campaign. Back in '04 some of us heard about this new candidate for senator in Illinois, and whispered rumors back and forth that maybe in four years' time he might be ready for the presidency....

My point, I guess, is that while I am still skittish and afraid to hope (and have been avoiding political news most of the week, now that I've gone and early-voted), I think the momentum behind Obama this year is greater than it was for Kerry. Maybe it's just who I hang out with, but I saw a lot more "anybody but Bush" voters last time, and a lot more "I'm voting *for* Obama" voters this time.

Somebody wake me up in two weeks? I'll be over here playing Puzzle Pirates and surfing for webcomics.

#34 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 05:51 AM:

Nenya, I've noticed that I'm afraid to seriously volunteer for the Obama campaign because that would mean getting my hopes up too much. It's seemed like my support has been the kiss of death for every candidate I ever supported (and yes, I'm aware how irrational and magical-thinking that is -- of course it couldn't have been the Democrats' campaign miscalculations or the right wing's sleazy tactics, no, it was me personally somehow!)

Yes, part of it is that I'm an introvert and therefore terrified of cold-calling and cold-canvassing. But to be completely honest, a lot of it does have to do with not wanting to get my hopes up, not wanting to get excited, trying not to care too much, just in case.

#35 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 08:03 AM:

Carol @ 32:I got a flyer in the mail from a local candidate this week, urging me to vote for him on line A or E. I realized that not only was he not saying which party he was running under but not a one of the lawn signs I'd seen all over the county gave a party affiliation on it.

Out here in the wilds, I think the only reason local candidates declare a party affiliation is to get on the primary ballot, or to get the straight party voters. I don't think I've seen any signs with affiliation on them -- I didn't even realise that one long-time township trustee declared Republican, or that another declared Democrat until I voted (absentee, as I'm working).

It will be an interesting election to work. I hope I don't whack anybody while we're sequestered (the absentee counting board is sequestered until the counting is complete to prevent leaks). I expect I'll just keep my mouth shut and rant when I get home. Very much old-school Republicans out here, not at all fond of what Bush&Co are doing; but just cannot bring themselves to vote Dem, and are searching hard for reasons not to.

#36 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 09:30 AM:

Being deaf, I don't know if there have been any polling attempts to contact me, but I'd probably be considered a likely voter. I happen to be Registered as a Republican (either don't ask, or be ready to accept "it was a whim, mumblty-mumble years ago, and I haven't gotten around to rectifying it"), and have noticed a remarkable change, this year, in my Election Mail. There used to be a deluge of ads (from both parties), but this time it's been maybe a dozen things from the Democratic side (about half of them being pleas from Obama for donations), and half that many from the Republicans -- all single-sheet broad recommendations (which I find useful in a "what not to do" sense). I guess the budget of both parties is going mostly to TV (there's probably still one of those sets around here somewhere), but I think the Democrats are missing a bet by not putting more emphasis on their local/lower-level candidates. (And yes, I will change the Registration, in order to vote for the most Liberal/Progressive candidates in the next Primary.)

#37 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 10:14 AM:

abi @ 24

Another good point that I should have seen; after all, I'm one of those "people who are still liberals in their fifties and sixties", and I got started in progressive, activist politics in my teens. And that's a really exciting idea for me; I would love to see some people rowing on the port side of the boat again, so we quit this rightward drift we've been in for more than 30 years.

Nenya @ 33
Yes, that's exactly what I meant about not being willing to look beyond the election. Oh, it hasn't helped that the last few months have been just full of unpleasant little surprises, and some pleasant ones, that all require a great deal of effort to deal with. There have been days lately where I would have gladly just pulled the covers over my head and stayed in bed for a week or three, but that the dogs needed to go outside. I heartily recommend pets for keeping one grounded.

#38 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 10:55 AM:

Nenya: Somebody wake me up in two weeks? I'll be over here playing Puzzle Pirates...

I am so going to hell.

Please bill me for all your addiction recovery expenses. It's the least I can do.

#39 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 10:57 AM:

addendum: It's seemed like my support has been the kiss of death for every candidate I ever supported (and yes, I'm aware how irrational and magical-thinking that is...

So it's not just me?

#40 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 11:19 AM:

#26 Well, the Green party here is small enough that one person's effort actually makes a difference, which is a good feeling. We might get more Green city council members and Park Board members - the ones we have have done some good, despite one of them being an idiot. If we can affect zoning laws, we may be able to get better quality affordable mixed-density housing into our urban core, which is an issue near and dear to my heart.

But more than that - what good has my major party affiliation done, so far? Where I vote, I am always in the near-unanimous majority, so it doesn't appear to make any difference one way or the other. I have gotten the approval of more of my relatives, but that doesn't affect the political process much. So, for Kerry I went against my own conscience for...nothing, really, except the right not to be called names by bitter Democrats anymore. Whoo, *there's* a gain.

On the other hand, Keith Ellison and Barack Obama are actually worth working *for*, instead of just opposing their opponents. So being involved with the party has gotten me that little bit of satisfaction. And I learned that major parties on the local level are actually no more together or organized than anarchists or Greens, which I guess was useful to learn - I spent decades under the mis-assumption that "real" parties had members who actually showed up to meetings and stayed on agenda.

#41 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 12:02 PM:

#35 JennR

It's not necessary to convince the disgruntled still-registered-as-Republicans to vote for Obama, them staying home and not voting would help....

What gets counted in "fair" elections are what's on the valid ballots. If all the Republicans stay home in disgruntlement and only voters who voted for Obama voted, the results of a fair election would be an Obama win.

The basis of "get out the vote" for your preferred candidate(s) is to make sure the voters for your side cast ballots for your preferred candidate, and the supporters of the candidate(s) you don't prefer, don't get encouraged to cast votes.

Every person who doesn't vote who prefers the candidate(s) you don't support, is one less vote against your preferred candidate. Effecting the opposition supporters to stay home, has an effect similar to getting more legitimate votes cast for the candidate you prefer....

Strategies used four years ago in Ohio and other places, suppressed/eliminated/altered votes for Kerry, and either replaced them directly with votes for the disaster placed in the White House, added nonexistent votes for the disaster, prevented them from being cast, or made them disappear--there were all sorts for stories about boxes of ballots which Republican appartchiks took custody of to collect and count without any oversight from opponents or impartial authorities,
disappeared ballots, machines which would provide whatever results anyone with privileged access to them and the information about reprogramming them wanted them to display, lack of equipment for voting in districts with profiles favoring voting for Kerry, intentional misinformation given out to prospective voters about polling site locations....

#42 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Caroline@34: I too am an introvert, and I had to really push myself to even try phone banking. (No one's getting me to knock on doors, though. Not this time, anyway.) Two observations and an idea:

1) MoveOn.org's phone calls are to other registered MoveOn members, so you're calling people who are at least generally in the same ball park you are.

2) BarackObama.com has a number of different campaigns, and they tell you whether you're calling to persuade, or whether you're calling to get out the vote. Try the latter, they're less likely to be annoyed at being called.

3) Haven't tried yet, but I think actually hauling myself to a field office once to make calls in company will improve my comfort level with the calling process (a little mentoring/modeling).

#43 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 02:35 PM:

A friend of mine who's been phonebanking for the Obama campaign wrote up his first experience with it here. The part of the message he asked everybody to help spread:

The campaign office manager stopped by later in the day to thank us personally and ask whether we'd be willing to commit to taking more shifts. Obama's supporters really are getting dizziness due to success and not showing up when they say they will. Obama's lead in the polls is creating a complacency among supporters that the advisers are afraid will create a serious drag on fundraising and turnout. Today three out of thirty RSVPs actually showed up. This is not typical. All the popularity in the world isn't going to win an election if we don't get people to the polls. A sign by the door said "November 5: No Regrets". Don't leave yourself spending November 6 wishing you'd done more. FINISH HIM.
I'm an introvert with a strong dislike of talking on the phone, but I'm going to do some phonebanking this weekend. This feels like the most important election since I've been old enough to vote, and I feel like I need to do something to help.

#44 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Don Fitch @36: No need to apologize for being a registered Republican (even if you really meant it!). I live in DuPage County, Illinois, the land of Denny Hastert-- you could have knocked me over with a feather when Dem Bill Foster* won as his term replacement, because everything around here goes Republican.

Several of my friends have registered Republican just so they get a voice in which Rep candidate will ultimately win. They've started letting independents vote in the primary of their choice here, so I'm thinking of repudiating my Dem registration, so that I can actually vote where it will count on local matters.

*Hey, is Bill Higgins around? Where can I get a couple of Foster yard signs?

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 02:56 PM:

re phonebanking: I realize that I am unually phone-phobic, but when I get a call from a politician's campaign, that's a mark in the minus column. I may still end up voting for him/her, but every call I get is one more reason not to.

And I changed my registration from Democrat to independent several years ago because I got sick of all the "get out the vote" calls. (The kicker was probably the guy who, on being told I'd already voted, asked, "Who'd you vote for?" None of his d*mn business.)

#46 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 08:09 PM:

I'm as introverted as the next person. Believe me, knocking on strangers' doors is WAY outside of my comfort zone. The reason I've canvassed for Obama 3 times and will do so again on Sunday is this: a few years ago the democratic party did a study to find out what the most effective method was of increasing voter turnout. They tried 4 things: phone banking, direct mail, literature drops, and knocking on doors. The first 3 methods each increased voter turnout by between 1 and 2 percent (which is important in a close election), but knocking on doors increased voter turnout by 12 percent. Knocking on doors has been Karl Rove's GOTV ground game all along--it's how Bush won in 2000 and 2004. I don't want to feel on November 5th what I felt in 2004. I don't want to think I didn't do everything I could possibly do to help this country redeem itself in the eyes of the world by electing Obama.

#47 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 08:11 PM:

P.S. Bush didn't really win in 2000, but it shouldn't have been as close as it was.

#48 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 08:13 PM:

P.P.S. (Sorry) I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't live in Virginia--we're a key battleground state this year. I would LOVE to see Virginia put Obama over the top on election night!

#49 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2008, 08:50 PM:

Rachel Maddow reported tonight that 98% of Michigan's qualified voters are registered to vote this year. This has never happened.

Love, C.

#51 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2008, 12:33 AM:

Paula @41: You missed the sentence in which I set the context. I'm going to be sequestered (ie, locked in) from noon until at least 8pm (it's a small precinct, only expecting 600 absentee voters) with the absentee voters' ballots, a scanner, a poll book, two very nice but old-school Republican ladies, and a older Democrat lady "from the city" (mind, she moved out to this township 20 years before I did, but she's still the "city lady"). In the interest of keeping the peace, as I am 20 years younger than anyone else on the board, I actually *like* these ladies (until they start talking politics), and I know the folly of offending older residents in a community that I have no intention of leaving, I will keep my mouth shut if they start talking politics. That's one reason the township clerk put me on the AVCB -- I can keep my mouth shut. Everyone on the board has already voted. It's hard to 'hide' the polling place, as there's one in the township, and it's the township hall.

Many of the people who live around here are old-school Republicans. They don't like what Bush&Co have done, but still have a visceral objection to voting Democrat in a national race. (They vote Dem in township races, but that's not a 'true' Democrat, that's Julie who lives on the farm on that corner across from L's orchard.) Not voting at all is anathema (and no, I don't think I'm exaggerating). It's probable that many of them will leave the Presidential race blank, but I won't know until after the election.

#52 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2008, 02:04 AM:

It will be very interesting to see (if it's reported) what fraction of ballots have no vote for president. I know people have sometimes used that to measure unambiguous errors in voting, as the assumption is that even if you don't care about dog catcher, you probably care about president. But at least two groups (Republicans who can't abide McCain[1] but won't vote Democrat, Democrats who can't abide Obama[2] but won't vote Republican) have strong reasons to leave that race blank.

[1] This might also be because of the Bush record, or Palin, or any number of things.

[2] My guess is that this is likely to be almost always because they don't like the color of his skin, but I could certainly be wrong.

#53 ::: Peter Fallow ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2008, 12:47 AM:

[Spam from 122.164.236.149]

#54 ::: Stefan Jones sees likely spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2008, 01:35 AM:

Huh? Irrelevant at least.

#56 ::: Xopher sees SPAM probe ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2011, 09:02 PM:

Clearly pasted in.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.