Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19 Points Per Newsweek

Thursday marked the 11th straight day in which Barack Obama's lead over Hillary Clinton in nationwide polling from Gallup was large enough to fall outside of the daily tracking poll's margin of error. In the time since, however, Obama's lead has shrunk to a statistically insignificant lead of just three points.

Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows a tightening of the national Democratic race, with Barack Obama now holding just a 3-percentage point advantage over Hillary Clinton, 47% to 44%.

[...]

In Thursday night's interviewing, Clinton received a greater share of national Democratic support than Obama, the first time she has done so in an individual night's interviewing since April 3. That stronger showing for Clinton helped to snap Obama's streak of statistically significant leads in the three-day rolling averages Gallup reports each day. Until today, he had led Clinton by a statistically significant margin in each of the prior 11 Gallup releases.

So Wednesday night's debate on ABC did Obama in, right? Well, maybe not.

Despite her campaign's relentless attacks on Barack Obama's qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday's critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.

The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton's big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters.

According to Keith Olbermann tonight on Countdown (and I haven't been able to independently verify this as it's not in the Newsweek article accompanying the new polling), there was no statistical difference between the results on Wednesday, before the debate, and Thursday, after the debate. Doing a bit of back-of-the-napkin math, it would appear that the margin of error for just Thursday's sample would be a bit under plus or minus 6 percentage points, meaning that even in the Newsweek polling in the field just last night Obama's lead was statistically significant.

So what do we know at this point? Supporters of either candidates can pick and choose from various polls to come up with a conclusion that they like. But at this point, the safer action to take would just be to sit back, relax, and wait for more polling to be released to see which one of these surveys (if either) is catching a trend and which (and perhaps it's both) is an outlier.

Tags: Democratic primaries (all tags)

Comments

53 Comments

Trust your instinct

and go with that.

by Coldblue 2008-04-18 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Actually, the "safer action" at this point is just wait until Tuesday's results come in. It's close enough to Tuesday now, and the PA polls so different (and variable) that I think it's probably just a waste of time to see where in the +0% to +20% victory range Clinton falls. With the significant caveat that Obama and Clinton are, and have been for some time, within 10% of each other (signifying there's no national blowout factor at play), the national polls are just as irrelevant as they always were.

by Addison 2008-04-18 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

that info about pre and post debate is on Page 2 of the Newsweek story:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/132721/page/2

Stacy DiAngelo of Princeton Survey Research Associates, which did the April 16-17 polling, says that of the registered voters who were surveyed 517 were interviewed after the debate and 692 before. She added that the views of those surveyed remained largely constant.

by along 2008-04-18 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Very small sample and I'd like to see the demographics.  I think there is some oversampling going on, using certain groups that would historically favor Obama.

by stefystef 2008-04-18 08:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

517 respondents in one night is not a "very small sample." It's MOE of about 4.5%, which is not much higher than many multi-day polls.

There might be oversampling.

by elrod 2008-04-18 10:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Obama's down from an 11 point lead to only 3 points in a week, according to Gallup. He's tanking.

by KnowVox 2008-04-18 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

down four points over four days is not tanking -

by ruskin 2008-04-18 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Down 11 in a week IS tanking.

by KnowVox 2008-04-18 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Down 11 in a week? Since April 10, he's down 4. She's up 2.

Um, tough week dude?

by along 2008-04-18 07:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Read the graph. Obama's down from an 11 point lead to only 3 points in a week, according to Gallup. He's tanking.

by KnowVox 2008-04-18 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Any single day's sample stays in the poll for four days.  So Thursday's sample will be included in the polls released Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon. Just something to keep in mind..

by politicsmatters 2008-04-18 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

I read the graph, and proved your statement wrong.

by along 2008-04-18 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Down 11 in a Week

Do you know the difference between "down 11" and "down from 11 to 3"?

Or are you merely insane and I should not be bothering with you?

by Aris Katsaris 2008-04-19 04:32AM | 0 recs
This is what Olbermann was referring to...

in the newsweek article:

Stacy DiAngelo of Princeton Survey Research Associates, which did the April 16-17 polling, says that of the registered voters who were surveyed 517 were interviewed after the debate and 692 before. She added that the views of those surveyed remained largely constant.

by Tenafly Viper 2008-04-18 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Johnathon - Any idea why Obama performs better in multi-day polls with large samples?  It seems like he always is further up in them than the tracking numbers (I also think Rass uses bad voter frames for their numbers)

by CardBoard 2008-04-18 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

all I know is that my poll can kick your poll's butt hands down

by Xris 2008-04-18 06:44PM | 0 recs
Your poll sucks and furthermore

your poll uses Republican methods.  Ha!

by GFORD 2008-04-18 07:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Your poll sucks and furthermore

But your poll was taken on a weekend! And oversampled... the...um.. wrong people!!

by LandStander 2008-04-18 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Your poll sucks and furthermore

But my poll coincides with my biased view of the political race so it has to be right!  I hate all of you and am the only true Democrat because I support Candidate A!  I am taking my toys and going home.

by Xris 2008-04-18 07:14PM | 0 recs
That's okay

all of your toys were made in China.

by GFORD 2008-04-18 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: That's okay

In that case...you might want to see a doctor.

by ProgressiveDL 2008-04-18 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

That last paragraph was some sage advice.

by LandStander 2008-04-18 07:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

I saw the Newsweek poll and it is such an anomaly I don't take it seriously, especially reading posts and various polls from PA.

I don't trust these polls.  I think there will be a real change towards Hillary on Tuesday.  Her supporters are coming out in full force this weekend.  Thousands of people have volunteered and there is very strong support for her in Northern/Western PA.

by stefystef 2008-04-18 07:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19
Tanking?
http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/arch ives/2008/04/philly_ignites_for_obama.ph p
by nogo war 2008-04-18 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Poll numbers PA and National are all over the place.

There will be nothing concrete until Tues, no matter what anybody says.

At least the "Hillary should step down!!" choruses seeem to have quieted down as the Bamabots realize their man is in deeep trouble.

He'sgone from Hope to Change to Bitter in two months, and he looked out of his league last night.

by dembluestates 2008-04-18 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

....and a rally of about 40K tonight?  

by mady 2008-04-18 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

40K on a warm Friday night with nothing to do but catch a free show, Obama event you can say you went to (because it's so cool).  The chance to be at a "happening".  Like a rock concert, only free.

Like the crowds to see the Pope, everyone who goes to see Obama is not a believer and not everyone converts.  

by stefystef 2008-04-18 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Pathetic remark. Sounds like jealousy.  You think Hillary would draw that many people out on a night like this?

by elrod 2008-04-18 10:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

As HRC can't catch up Obama is not in trouble. He's expected to lose PA by 15-20. He will and it won't matter.

by RLMcCauley 2008-04-18 09:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

It'z just amazing what a record-setting media buy can do, ain't it?

Money talks, 'Bamabots walk!

LOL

by dembluestates 2008-04-18 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Can you can the insulting labels?

by politicsmatters 2008-04-18 08:07PM | 0 recs
Did you even read the main post?


by TL 2008-04-18 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you even read the main post?

He can't read.

by elrod 2008-04-18 10:44PM | 0 recs
Thanks much for the effort to be even-handed.

It's appreciated!

 

by TL 2008-04-18 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Jonathon,

I read on Ambinder's blog that the Newsweek poll includes "leaning Democratic voters," which probably means that it includes Independents and the Gallup poll is registered Dems only.

If that's true than that would more than likely explain the differentiation of the two polls.

Knowvox,

Don't be so shortsighted.  He's not tanking.  He's dipped before. He'll be back up again... Like he always is.  I apologize if more people like him than Hillary.  I really do, but... more people would rather him be president than Hillary.  Sorry.

by jturn17 2008-04-18 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

Not really true.  Again, the numbers Newsweek has are still:

Obama 48 McCain 44
Clinton 47 McCain 43

The difference?  There is none - any difference is all within MOE.

In other polls, it looks like Obama may in fact be tanking...

by mikes101 2008-04-18 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

that person on Ambinder's blog was wrong. As you can see from the Gallup graph posted in the comments above, and on every Gallup tracking graph and poll published since they started it in January, the poll "is based on national Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters."

by along 2008-04-18 09:37PM | 0 recs
I do not trust Newsweek numbers.

They are just out of sync with every natinal poll out there.

by ann0nymous 2008-04-18 11:59PM | 0 recs
Re: I do not trust Newsweek numbers.

Actually, not really...  From RCP:

Newsweek    04/16 - 04/17    588 RV    54    35    Obama +19.0
Gallup Tracking    04/15 - 04/17    1231 V    47    44    Obama +3.0
Rasmussen Tracking    04/14 - 04/17    900 LV    46    41    Obama +5.0
ABC/Wash Post    04/10 - 04/13    643 A    51    41    Obama +10.0
Reuters/Zogby    04/10 - 04/13    532 LV    51    38    Obama +13.0
AP-Ipsos    04/07 - 04/09    489 LV    46    43    Obama +3.0

The only numbers below 10 are the two tracking polls, and the oldest "regular" poll on the list (the AP-Ipsos poll).  The ABC/Wash Post and Reuters/Zogby polls both show Obama up over 10.

Newsweek's poll may show the largest lead, but it's not entirely out of whack with the last few polls that have come out (except the tracking polls).

by leshrac55 2008-04-19 12:14AM | 0 recs
by hjhjh220 2008-04-19 01:49AM | 0 recs
Re: scorpion

Hide rated for being spam, not Arabic.  These all point to online game sites.

by ProgressiveDL 2008-04-19 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Per Newsweek

Frankly, Newsweek, like NBC/MSNBC, is in the tank for Obama.  Just like media twists its propaganda, they're probably doing the same thing with their polling.

by moevaughn 2008-04-19 03:49AM | 0 recs
Newsweek

They employ Markos and Karl Rove. That's all I need to know. They are not interested in unbiased reporting.

by ineedalife 2008-04-19 04:23AM | 0 recs
Clinton down only 0.4% (< 80k) in popular vote

Counts from RCP

Comments?

by BostonIndependent 2008-04-19 05:31AM | 0 recs
No

You missed a zero, she's actually down 800,000.  Oh...that's right, you are counting the made up votes from Michigan and Florida.  Carry on.

by ProgressiveDL 2008-04-19 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: No

And discounting the caucus votes in IA, NV, ME, WA. Disenfranchise! Disenfranchise!

by kyle in philly 2008-04-19 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: No

Sigh. You obviously didn't take the time to read the data I posted. I'm sorry I asked. I will carry on. Thanks. See ya'll in Nov.

by BostonIndependent 2008-04-19 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: No

Of course I read it.  And I looked for which set would lead to her being down by .4%.  And lo and behold, it includes Florida and Michigan.  Is there another way for her to get that close without counting unfair votes?  Am I missing something?

by ProgressiveDL 2008-04-19 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Conspirancy against Hillary?

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/ega...0 6622/?src=hsn

Quote:
omfg..it's as maddening as reading The Hunting of the President.

Guerilla Women...read this and weep. The thugs stole OUR PRIMARY with the complicity of the DNC!

They wanted to force FL and MI to hold undemocratic caucuses instead of (rethug) state-sponsored primaries!!!!

link and excerpts...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-...u _b_94158.html

Dems Take the Hit for the GOP

The Republican role is not some irrelevant anecdote. The DNC is charged, under its rules, to determine whether the Democrats in a noncompliant state made a "good faith" effort to abide by the party's electoral calendar, and to impose the full weight of its available penalties, namely a 100 percent takedown of a state's delegation, only if Democratic leaders in that state misbehaved. So the fact that it was Republicans who fomented the move-up of primaries in both these states to dates out-of-line with the DNC calendar is at the heart of the matter.

...Back in June, a DNC spokeswoman, for example, told the Associated Press that neither Dean nor the Rules Committee "has the power to waive the rules for any state," explaining that "these rules can be changed only by the full DNC." Yet a few months later, on the same day that the Rules Committee stripped Michigan of its delegates, it waived the rules for New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, each of which had also moved up their primaries.

Though Dawson and others on Rules now say, as they did in recent interviews, that states whose contests were always scheduled before February 5 were free to shift dates without sanction, that's not what the delegate selection rules adopted in 2006 say. Those rules provided an automatic 50 percent loss of delegates for any state party that moved its contest to any day "prior to or after the dates" spelled out by the DNC.

That's why Rules powerhouse Donna Brazile said she would "grudgingly support the waiver," warning New Hampshire shortly before the December committee vote that "the days of 'privilege' may end soon."

Not only did "first-primary-or-die" New Hampshire switch from January 22 to January 8, it moved ahead of Nevada, whose January 19 caucus had been deliberately scheduled by the DNC to precede New Hampshire's. But New Hampshire's Democrats got a DNC waiver because their back was up against the wall, due to a decision by the South Carolina Republican Party to move its primary up to January 19. That unilateral decision -- which the Carolina Democrats declined to join in -- forced New Hampshire's hand. The waiver was, in other words, a reasonable response to a Republican provocation. What's unclear is why one Republican provocation is more equal than another.

A DNC official claimed that the Michigan party had sponsored so-called "firehouse caucuses" in the past and could have set their own date and done them again, ignoring the state-run January 15 primary. The Florida party, the DNC source added, was "offered $880,000" by the DNC to host their own caucus on a date in compliance with the DNC schedule and chose to participate, instead, in the state-financed primary, a "bad faith" decision.

But Florida party officials said the $880,000 would've only covered the cost of 150 caucus sites, with the capacity to draw a maximum of 150,000 voters out of the state's 4 million Democrats. "It wasn't a real offer," a spokesman said. Michigan's party would have had to self-finance caucuses, which, even with added Internet and mail voting, drew only 165,000 voters in 2004, a fraction of the 600,000 who voted in 2008. Stripping both states of their full delegations because the state parties in each refused to run these limited-participation caucuses--which would have occurred a couple of weeks after an official, state-financed primary -- is a bit like punishing Democrats because they like democracy.
Zee | 04.10.08 - 2:27 pm | #

by Christines 2008-04-19 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19
This is hardly a new observation, but it's not recognized nearly well enough:

As someone who spends quite a lot of time working statistics, I'd like to point out that a move from a polling result outside to one inside a margin of error is not, itself, necessarily a statistically significant move. And even the apparently significant 8-point swing over the week could represent anything from a wiggle to a big Obama drop.

The MOE on these Gallup tracking polls is +/- 3. That means >6 point separation is required for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.

Yet, it also means that at that confidence level, the results of each finding in any poll are subject to a fluctuation of +/- 3% entirely as a result of sampling error.

So, Obama 49, Clinton 42 +/3 could be expressed as a "confidence interval" as Obama 46-52, Clinton 39-45. That entirely encompasses the results from the next day's rolling sample, O: 47 / C: 44.

Even though one day's results are "statistically significant" and the other day's are not, the difference between the two days is another matter. These poll results alone actually prove nothing about movement from day 1 to day 2 - that "movement" could be fluctuation around the true mean based on sampling error.

On the other hand, the movement from 51/40 to 47/44 across several days is more convincing. 51 +/- 3 is 48-54; 47 falls outside that range. Yet even there, not by so very much.

There are ways to test the level of confidence with which we can say 51/40 to 47/44 represents a real movement that require more data than Gallup publicly (at least to my knowledge) releases, but we can look at these MOEs and say yes, there likely is some real movement. Yet how much? Well, with full raw data from Gallup we could create a maximum likelihood model describing the most probable degree of movement. We can't say for sure that there has been an 8 point swing (O -4, C +4). That's merely one possibility in a probability cloud, that probably ranges from something like a "true" but rather trivial 2 point swing (O -1, C +1), to a much more impressive 14 point swing (O -7, C +7).

And in response to what? Well, just as the actual degree of separation between the two candidates has sampling error, and the meaning of a "movement" has sampling error, the timing of any movement has even more potential for statistical error. Looking strictly before the debate, the movement is all reasonably within the MOE. Looking strictly after the debate, the movement is all reasonably within the MOE. It's only combining the two that we have what appears to be significant movement. A cumulative effect of recent developments? Maybe.

Finally, we have to bear in mind that comparing two samples based on their margin of error would normally involve an assumption that the two samples are independent. Unless you're comparing across > 3 days, they're not independent (two consecutive rolling samples share 2/3 of their data). So it takes the Apr 14 - 17 separation before the statistics are simplified by meeting the assumption of two independent samples, rather than sharing some of the same error variance.

In other words, while we can look at these results over the last week and say yeah, this hasn't been Obama's best week of the campaign, what I think people really want to know is: a wiggle or a real drop?

Based on what Gallup releases... we don't actually have a basis to draw a conclusion. Even if we all had the statistical background to deal with all these issues, we lack the raw data to be able to run all the stats. We can just make rough guesses based on means and MOEs. This could be either a wiggle, or a plummet, or something in between.

Overall, honestly we spend way too much time dwelling on changes in horse race polls, especially just one poll, without really knowing what we're looking at.

by arenwin 2008-04-19 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19
(BTW, this wasn't meant as a criticism of Jonathan's post, which draws a similar "sit back and chill" conclusion.)
by arenwin 2008-04-19 07:59AM | 0 recs
Hillary Beats Obama by 1 point in Gallup Today

And she clearly does better than Obama versus McCain.

Why does Obama, a "transformative" leader do so much worse than Hillary versus McCain?

Massachusetts:

Clinton 56
McCain 41

Obama 48
McCain 46

New Mexico:

Clinton 46
McCain 49

Obama 44
McCain 50

Missouri:

Clinton 47
McCain 46

Obama 42
McCain 50

New York:

Clinton 55
McCain 39

Obama 52
McCain 43

Ohio:

Clinton 53
McCain 42

Obama 45
McCain 47

Oregon:

Clinton 47
McCain 46

Obama 51
McCain 42

Virginia:

Clinton 39
McCain 55

Obama 44
McCain 52

Minnesota:

Clinton 47
McCain 46

Obama 49
McCain 43

Wisconsin:

Clinton 46
McCain 46

Obama 49
McCain 44

Kansas:

Clinton 36
McCain 57

Obama 37
McCain 54

Alabama:

Clinton 34
McCain 60

Obama 32
McCain 64

California:

Clinton 53
McCain 40

Obama 50
McCain 43

Iowa:

Clinton 42
McCain 48

Obama 49
McCain 42

Kentucky:

Clinton 46
McCain 48

Obama 29
McCain 63

http://www.surveyusa.com/electionpolls.a spx

http://www.surveyusa.com/index.php/2008/ 04/17/april-head-to-head-contests-six-st ates-flip/

by mmorang 2008-04-19 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Up Just 3 Points in Gallup Poll, But 19

jonathan, the fact that you're citing newsweek and olbermann is telling.  i don't know if you've already endorsed obama, but as someone who doesn't know whether you have, i can assure you that your bias is showing through loud and clear.  you clearly have no clue what the obama campaign has been doing stealthily for a year--and now not-so-stealthily in the past week in PA.

by nance 2008-04-20 05:15AM | 0 recs

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