Saturday, November 1, 2008

Virginia Mason Dixon Poll

A commenter below asked about a new Mason Dixon poll showing Obama up 47-44 in Virginia but suggesting that the undecideds are a McCain leaning lot:

"Among undecided voters this year, 93 percent are white and 75 percent live outside Northern Virginia, where Obama has a substantial lead."

My first reaction is that it is highly unlikely that 9% of likely voters are still undecided. I think a lot of folks who still don't have their minds up just aren't going to be voting. There are probably some conscientious people who feel a civic obligation to vote and are genuinely torn but for the most part if you still don't have a dog in this fight I don't think you're going to turn out.

My second reaction is that this poll had a sample size of 625 people so you're generating a profile of undecideds based on like 57 respondents. That's a pretty darn high margin of error.

I'm having a hard time detecting any overall trends in our last round of polls. In some states it seems like Obama is doing better, in some a little worse, in others about the same as both our recent polls and those of other organizations.

We'll finish field work and start rolling them out late tonight.


Andrew H said...

The article says nearly 4 in 10 White Voters support Obama. That should be enough for him to win VA. Some of the other numbers don't seem to comport with Rasmussen or Survey USA numbers.

Also, Mason-Dixon had McCain UP 3 in their poll over 4 weeks ago when SUSA and CNN were showing Obama up in high single digits.

I'm not too concerned unless I see PPP, SUSA, or Rasmussen show similar tightening

Steven SF said...

The Mason Dixon pollster's clear implication is that these undecided voters are really stealth McCain voters who are deceiving the pollsters because of the Bradley Effect.

I think it's rather lame he doesn't just come out and say it (and stand behind it).

Will Cubbison said...

If they are overwhelmingly people who we except to be in McCain's base, but they aren't in his base, how likely is it that they settle on him in the final days?

William said...

It's worth noting that according to Nate Silver(I know that the guy who runs ARG goes into a blind rage when you mention his name, hopefully you guys won't since you're actually good pollsters) Mason Dixon has a recognizable Republican house effect

Unknown said...

Which states are on the way tonight?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why Mason Dixon think the undecided voters are going to go to McCain because of the Bradley Effect. If they take a look at their own poll a day before the Harold Ford Senate race they had Corker at 50%, Ford 38%, Undecided 9%. The final results were 51% to 48% Corker. All the undecided went to Ford. And this is in one of the most racist states in the country. Here is a link to the polls for that election.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Mason-Dixon performed a lot better than SurveyUSA with the 2006 Senate election in Virginia. It showed a one-point Webb lead (46-45) while SurveyUSA showed a larger Webb lead. It seems that the undecideds between Webb and Allen pretty much split but it remains to be seen, if this poll is correct, whether Obama can perform at a Webb level among these undecideds.

The only poll that matters is on November 4th. I understand the need to drive the narrative that it's over to depress Republican turnout but we'll all find out soon enough the outcome whether you are a McCain/palin supporter or Obama/Biden supporter. We'll find out who fell flat on his or her face as a pollster soon eough.

Anonymous said...

of course you will put mason dixon poll down, they do have a better track record then you guys, why not just evaluate your own poll, and figure out on how not to be so biast,

you guys are an ivr system while mason dixon uses live voters, heck you guys could be getting kids answering your calls

Anonymous said...

Nate Silver isn't so much a pollster as a statistician, right? He measures a poll's value against all other polls - meaning Mason-Dixon looks to him like a GOP-leaning outlier, thus less trustworthy. But it could be they're closer to correct and everyone else is wrong. I could also be an alien from outer space blogging in my UFO. It's possible!

Anonymous said...

Is Harold Ford really a good candidate or example for the Bradley effect though? The guy is a very conservative Democrat and from a very powerful and well-known political family in that state.

We'll know soon enough whether this Bradley effect still exists on Tuesday. The voters will let all of us know.

Anonymous said...

"A new Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters in eight battleground states shows that Obama leads in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia. For his part, McCain is ahead in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio."

Just so you know, Mason-Dixon is reporting a similar racial/geographic composition of the undecideds in Florida, though not as explicitly stated as it did with Virginia.

Anonymous said...

People that won't vote for somebody because of the color of their skin don't care if you're a conservative Democrat or come from a powerful political family. All they care about is that you're black.

Anonymous said...

anon - lower turnout just about always benefits Republicans. So if there actually were a vast conspiracy to drive the narrative in Obama's favor, as you so blithely imply, it wouldn't be in saying the race is over.

Anonymous said...

do we know what the actual numbers are in those other 7 mason dixon polls. I'm a little disappointed to see he is down in ohio, as I tend to think he's got a better shot there than florida.

Anonymous said...

There are no numbers released yet for the other six states (sans PA, I think they count their last poll as their final result); these projections were apparently leaked to the paper.

I think PPP will show the same thing, except with Ohio leaning Obama and Florida leaning McCain and North Carolina leaning Obama. My guess for the final PPP projection is 321 electoral college votes for Obama (Indiana goes to McCain). The Mason-Dixon polls give me a slimmer of hope b/c of its analysis of the undecideds but my second hope would be to keep Obama below 300 electoral college votes. Sometimes you just get beat and this year may be one of those years where conservatives and republicans tip their cap.

Anonymous said...

Another question Tom, have you seen SurveyUSA's New Mexico poll? It shows McCain winning white voters 55-42, which is pretty much the same margin that Bush won against Kerry in that state. SurveyUSA seems to be showing that the reason why Obama will win New Mexico fairly easily (by more than 5 points) is because his advantage among Hispanics is so much higher than Kerry's advantage against Bush. There seems to be a pretty big disparity between the white support in the SurveyUSA poll and your poll (an ASU poll showed the race tied in New Mexico earlier this week but Obama ahead in Nevada, oddly).

I wonder what result SurveyUSA will show for Nevada, if it shows Mac performing at Bush levels among whites in New Mexico. The Hispanic electorate is smaller in Nevada but the white electorate in Nevada is probably more liberal than New Mexico. The polling should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Cool, it is good to hear you are rolling out some numbers tonight, I can't wait till tomorrow.
Please start with PA and release as many as you can tonight!
Please, Please, Please :)

Anonymous said...

For those interested here is a summary (expressed in terms of spread of Obama over McCain) of PPPs last polls (with release dates given) for some of the states they will be releasing polls today:

NC +1 (10/27)
VA +8 (10/25)
OH +7 (10/24)
FLA +1 (10/21)
IND +2 (10/21)
MO +2 (10/14)
AZ -8 (08/04)

Anonymous said...

Mason-Dixon has always shown Obama down in OH. It and (save for a couple of polls) Rasmussen have been the most bearish pollsters on Obama in OH. My two cents. M-D's credibility outside the South has deteriorated over the past decade and beginning in 2006 its creds for being the best in polling the South has taken some severe hits. Given that M-D has been one of the most pessimistic pollsters for Obama this cycle, the fact that they peg him ahead in 5 out 8 battleground states they polled is actually good for Obama.

Unknown said...

By tonight, I assume you mean... this night, right now? Getting pretty late now... ;)

Unknown said...

Tonight...this morning...however you want to characterize it, I still manage to find myself awake.

Anonymous said...

Yup we are all waiting! Please, tonight :)

Anonymous said...

Folks I believe PPP will not be releasing its poll results until Sunday night.

Unknown said...

The same pollster only gave a 47-45 lead last week. So in this poll, Obama has slightly increased his lead.

Anonymous said...

Sunday night? I need my crack NOW

Anonymous said...

So, PPP is behind schedule.. Tom said they would "start rolling them out" last night. Anyone have an update on that?

Tom Jensen said...

It was already today when I said late tonight. Should have been more clear.

Anonymous said...

Tom, any sense of what the Ohio numbers look like? That state and Penn. are giving me heartburn.

Anonymous said...

any clues on VA????????

Anonymous said...

Atleast yo can give us some pointers? Who is ahead where?
Suspense is killing us :(

jr1886 said...

Did you find more African Americans likely voters in your sample in NC? it's look like about 900,000 will vote in by Election day. AS of today, 694549 have done so during early voting.

If Survey USA shows Obama down by 2 or less in NC, I will know Obama's winning as they consistently peg the AA % of the electorate at 20%.

I like what your doing PPP and I can't wait for your results to start trickle in later tonight

Anonymous said...

SurveyUSA shows Obama winning Virginia 50-46; in 2006, their final poll showed Jim Webb defeating George Allen 52-44 (

I still think Obama takes the state but I think the networks will take their time to call this race, unlike Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa.

Mac and Sarah seem to be finishing stronger than they did a couple of weeks ago but it appears they are out of time.

Anonymous said...

In the latest SUSA VA poll party id is D 38 R 36, in the one before that it was D38 R 30!!! 6 point swing in party id different

Anonymous said...

Exactly which states will be released today ?

Thank You

Anonymous said...

I'm still having a hard time making up my mind who to vote for. I was a Republican and voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 but after the Iraq Fiasco and Katrina I voted for the Dems in 2006. I'm not to happy about Obama though because here in Pennsylvania the economy isn't doing too good hhigehr taxes will just destroy it. On the other hand, McCain seems clueless. So, now I have to decide by Tuesday who I dislike the least. So, if anyone could name me the 3 biggest knocks against Obama (lack of experience, etc.) and the the 3 biggest knocks against McCain (erratic behavior, etc.) I would be eternally grateful. As it is I think I may just flip a coin to decide who I'll vote for.

Anonymous said...


Obama is only proposing higher taxes on families and businesses making more than $250,000 a year (for individuals, it is $200,000 a year). And even for those people, it is simply going back to Clinton levels, not a massive increase.

For people below those numbers, he is proposing a TAX CUT.

In fact, a study showed that for the middle class, Obama offers 3 times more tax cuts than McCain

Wanna know roughly how much you'll save in tax cuts under Obama (and McCain)

So, if it's the economy you are worried about, both candidates offers tax cuts, its just that Obama is focusing heavily on the middle class whereas McCain, while helping the middle class, is also focusing on the rich. Obama is investing in the middle class, and wants to give tax BREAKS to companies that create jobs here, helping the economy

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