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  Politics and Elections
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Public Policy Polliing Ohio poll predicts 37% turnout decrease - updated
Today, Public Policy Polling released a survey testing the presidential race in the all-important battleground state of Ohio.  The poll, conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, says Barack Obama has surged to a 4-point lead over Mitt Romney.  If you delve into the internals, though, an amazing fact surfaces.  PPP apparently thinks turnout in Ohio will be 37% less this year than it was in 2008!

How did I arrive at this conclusion?  Well, simple math using the voting data readily available reveals this to be the case.  In 2008, approximately 5.72 million Ohioans voted for president.  This year, as of Friday, Oct 26, 1.26 million have cast their votes early.  In the PPP poll, their sampling includes 35% who say they've already voted.  If that 35% sampling is meant to be representative of the real-time status on the ground in the Buckeye State, then PPP is projecting a turnout of 1.26 million/0.35 or 3.60 million voters.  That's a drop of 37% as compare to 2008.

A couple factors will reduce that projected decrease - early voting that took place on Saturday and Sunday, and absentee ballots that were "in the mail" but not received when PPP conducted their poll.  However, they won't change the fact that PPP's latest survey has a sampling that is completely out of sync with what's really happening in Ohio.  That may or may not affect the top line accuracy of the poll, but it certainly sows many seeds of doubt.

Update:  I've received several emails concerning the mathematics of this post.  From them, I've concluded that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the assertions I made.  Foremost among them is the idea that Public Policy Polling intentionally predicted a 37% turnout decrease in Ohio.  There is no doubt that was not their intention.  Second, some readers have assumed that I am overlooking a host of additional factors that would refute the claim of this post.  That, too, is not the case. 

The data I have examined here result in a simply mathematical conclusion based on raw numbers.  I'll try to do a better job of explaining it.  In PPP's polling sample, 35% already voted and 65% plan to vote but have not yet done so.  In the interest of reflecting a true picture of the Ohio electorate, PPP's voter sample should be mappable, for lack of a better term, to the electorate at large.  If you grant that they have collected an accurate picture of the electorate, then you would conclude that 35% of everyone who will vote in Ohio in 2012 have already voted.

Now, look at current actual voter numbers.  As I mentioned in the post, 1.26 million had voted as of last Friday.  If, then, 1.26 million voters represent 35% of all those who will vote as PPP's sample suggests, that works out to 3.60 million total voters when all is said and done - and that's 37% less than the 5.72 million who voted in 2008.  Let me reiterate - I do not believe that only 3.6 million people will vote in Ohio in 2012 - nor does PPP in my view.  My only point here is to shine a light on the impracticality of PPP's sample and thus cast doubt on the validity of their poll's findings.



Filed under: Ohio Presidential Race  2012 Presidential Election 



posted by Scott Elliott at 1:42pm 10/31/12::
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