Saturday, June 19, 2004

2004 Popular Vote

Deborah Orin has an interesting article on new data issued by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Election Poll. Seems the AEP "won't release the actual horse-race numbers," so we need to dig a little deeper. In fact, no mention of this poll is made on the AEP web site.

The raw data of Kerry versus W - "Kerry would get 78 percent of Democrats and about half of independents ... [and] would get 8 percent of Republicans." The poll was adding information about how Puffy would do and comparing her performance to Kerry's. But the words "performance" and "Hillary" that close together is too much on an empty stomach, so we'll focus on Bullwinkle.

If the raw data holds, what would be the outcome of the popular vote?

I am amazed that the number of registered voters by party affiliation does not seem to be readily available on the net. So I needed a fill in ... an approximate distribution is available here: Democrats - 37%; Republicans - 26%; Independents/Other - 36%. Since this is 1998 data and it only adds up to 99%, I am adding the missing one point to the pubs - seems reasonable in light of the totality of the election results since then. So, D37, R27, I36.

The number of registered voters and those actually voting is substantially easier to locate. The US Census Bureau helpfully tells us that as of early 2002, there were 129.5MM registered voters, 110.8MM voted.

Slide rule, please ...

Suggested popular vote for Bullwinkle: (110.8*0.37*0.78)+(110.8*0.27*0.08)+(110.8*0.36*0.50)

Suggested popular vote for W: 110.8 minus what the other guy got.

Outcome: 56,485,840 W v. 54,314,160 Kerry. (Yeah, Nader is just not worth counting.)

But, oh, wait a minute!! Al's right, we don't elect by popular vote. But surely an aggregate of popular vote can give some indication of electoral outcome.

The historical data on presidential elections shows tighter margins in Carter over Ford, and Kennedy over Nixon (I've ignored elections with major third party guys - Perot, Anderson, Wallace). I don't mean to ignore the classic McKinley over Bryan bouts of 1896 and 1900.

Does this mean a nail-biter is in the offing? I doubt it. Review the obvious: W has taken a pounding over the polling period and Kerry is not filling the vacuum; we are at war and want continuity (even Puffy is speaking of not being deterred from our task in Iraq because of executions); the economy is not just stable but growing; dems will get discouraged and vote in lesser numbers, or cast for Nader.

The present 51/49 split will spread farther. Look for a repeat of 1872 Grant over Greeley - except we don't want Kerry to die a few weeks after the election as Greeley did, just to go back to France.

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