Thursday, August 30, 2007

2008 Democratic Presidential Race - Iowa Polling Confusion

According to, two new Iowa polls show a very close race but with two different leaders. Here's what they write:

Two new polls of "likely Democratic caucus goers" conducted over the last ten days that show very different results. The American Research Group (ARG) survey (conducted 8/26-29, n=600) shows Hillary Clinton (with 28%) leading Barack Obama (23%) and John Edwards (20%). And a new survey from Time/SRBI (conducted 8/22-26, n=519, Time story, SRBI results) shows essentially the opposite, Edwards (with 29%) leading Clinton (24%) and Obama (22%).

The article goes on to complain about the lack of disclosure of methodology used in the polls, and then praises the Time poll for disclosure:

The sample source was a list of registered Democratic and Independent voters in Iowa provided by Voter Contact Services. These registered voters were screened to determine their likelihood of attending the 2008 Iowa Democratic caucuses.
Likely voters included in the sample included those who said they were
100% certain that they would attend the Iowa caucuses, OR
probably going to attend and reported that they had attended a previous Iowa caucus.
The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 5 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Surveys are subject to other error sources as well, including sampling coverage error, recording error, and respondent error.
Data were weighted to approximate the 2004 Iowa Democratic Caucus "Entrance Polls," conducted January 19, 2004.

Turnout in primary elections and caucuses tends to be low, with polls at this early stage generally overestimating attendance.
The sample included cell phone numbers, which, to the extent SRBI was able to identify them, were dialed manually.

I emailed Schulman to ask about the incidence and he quickly replied with a "back of the envelope" calculation: Their sample of 519 likely caucus goers represents roughly 12% of eligible adults in Iowa (details on the jump), exactly the same
percentage as obtained by the recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, but higher than the reported 2004 Democratic caucus turnout (5.5% of eligible adults). Keep in mind, however, that the ABC/Post poll used a random digit dial methodology and screened from the population of all Iowa adults.

Keep in mind that these polls make calls to landlines and not cell-phones. I decided to check on articles related to the matter of cell phones and polls, and found one by the Pew Research Center that reported only 7 percent of the population was "cell-phone only" -- but that was in 2005. A more recent study of this year now reports that estimate to be up to 16 percent, more than double the count in just two years. Thus, I argue that with such a rate of growth, the cell-phone only population will be up to about 25 percent -- one quater of the population -- by election year 2008.

The Pew report explains that the exclusion of cell phones in 2005 probably renders a poll in error by one-percent. But considering that rate and this population increase, it's reasonable to argue that the polls are inaccuate by as much as 4 percent. If you add the error term of 5 percent in the case of the Time Iowa poll, it means a whopping 9 percent error, basically making the Iowa Democratic race impossible to call.

Stay tuned for my video on this.

Embattled Idaho Senator Larry Craig Faces Opposition From Own Party

Senator Larry Craig (R) of Idaho is currently facing fierce opposition from Presidential candidates John McCain, Mitt Romney and fellow Republicans in congress over his admittance of guilt to a disorderly conduct charge steaming from an awkward encounter with a male police officer in a Minnesota airport bathroom.

The final straw was delivered Monday afternoon when he discussed his sexual orientation during an infamous news conference in Boise when he claimed ''I am not gay and, have never been gay.'' His statement has construed political backlash from his colleagues who are calling for his resignation due to the shame and negativity he has brought to the Republican party.

The senior senator from Idaho had the opportunity to declare his innocence in front of a judge, but opted to plead guilty to what is a ridiculous charge. From the audio tape there was no concise statement from him admitting to any wrong doing, and most likely if he had fought the charge he would have been victorious. The unfortunate part of this case is that the senator is extremely frightened to come out of the closet and inside he must be going through hell.

Free WiFi In San Francisco Dormant - Earthlink Deal Off The Table

According to the SF Chron,...

"Mayor Gavin Newsom's high-profile effort to blanket San Francisco with a free wireless Internet network died Wednesday when provider EarthLink backed out of a proposed contract with the city.

The contract, which was three years in the making, had run into snags with the Board of Supervisors, but ultimately it was undone when Atlanta-based EarthLink announced Tuesday that it no longer believed providing citywide Wi-Fi was economically viable for the company."

Perhaps this opens the door for Google.

Republicans Ask Larry Craig To Step Down

He's got to give up his committee assignments, according to CNN, Huff Post, and other news outlets. But as this story unfolds, I predict he'll step down before the end of the year.

Larry Craig's become the poster child for hypocritical behavior. And his poor wife's being dragged through this. That's terrible to watch.