The Four Absurd Assumptions About The Polls That People Got Completely Wrong

Barack Obama

Photo: AP

The popular conservative theory that pre-election polls were systematically wrong or biased in President Barack Obama’s favour was proven to be completely unfounded Tuesday.Based on Election Day exit polls, here are four big assumptions about pre-election polling that turned out to be myths:

  • PARTY ID: During the campaign, conservatives embraced a theory that polls were skewed, based on the thought that the electorate could not possibly lean as heavily Democratic as it did in 2008. In the end, though, the party ID makeup in 2012 was 38 per cent Democratic, 32 per cent Republican and 29 per cent Independent, almost identical to 2008’s 39-32-29 split.
  • LATINO AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN TURNOUT: A big question hovering around Obama’s re-election was whether he could turn out Latino and African-American voters. With lower Democratic enthusiasm overall, it was assumed that these demographics wouldn’t turn out at the same levels as 2008. But African-Americans made up the same percentage of the electorate as they did in 2008 (13 per cent), and the Latino percentage actually increased from 9 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • YOUTH TURNOUT: Similarly, it was assumed that young people would not be as enthused, and thus would not turn out at the levels they did in 2008. But 18-to-29-year-olds made up 19 per cent of the electorate in 2012, up from 18 per cent in 2008. 
  • THE CATHOLIC VOTE: Obama’s support among Catholics was expected to be hurt because of his administration’s high-profile scuffle with the Catholic Church over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act earlier this year. But Obama won the Catholic vote by a 50-48 margin — a drop from the previous election, but not the catastrophic slide that some projected.

Now here’s why Nate Silver got it right > 
 

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