News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fact Check: Bad polls released after Comey letter sold as "proof" that letter hurt Hillary were conducted BEFORE Comey letter came out (10/28/16) but released after. Persons polled didn't know of letter. Mass media intervened in US election with false information. Polls show Hillary had bottomed out before Comey letter-NY Times, Nate Cohn, 5/8/17

"The case for a big Comey effect hinges on the large decline in Mrs. Clinton's lead in the polls that followed the letter." Some analysts "have implicitly treated  this [NY Times] Upshot poll, and others conducted before the news but released after, as evidence of a Comey effect. But it can't be; for example, none of the people we polled for our survey knew about the letter." Added: On Sunday, 11/6/16 before the election, Comey cleared Hillary again, said the case was closed. [Ed. note: Tiny text below is courtesy of my google baby sitters.]

5/8/17, "A 2016 Review: There’s Reason to Be Skeptical of a Comey Effect," NY Times, Nate Cohn








"On Friday, Oct. 28, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, sent a letter to Congress about new evidence in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Politicians, analysts and journalists are still debating whether the letter cost Mrs. Clinton the presidency. It’s certainly possible. But I am not at all sure, in part because of the final Upshot [NY Times]/Siena College poll in Florida. [10/30/2016, "Latest Upshot [NY Times] Poll Shows Trump With a Lead in Florida"]

I had learned the results of our survey that morning. It showed Donald J. Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton in the state by four percentage points, 46 percent to 42 percent. 

At the time, the poll looked like a bust. There wasn’t much reason to think the result was even in the ballpark. Mrs. Clinton was ahead by six points in national polls and ahead by a similar margin in states worth 270 electoral votes, suggesting Mrs. Clinton was probably up by a few points in Florida. I can’t say I was thrilled about having to write an article about a poll that looked flat-out wrong. 

But it’s now clear that Mrs. Clinton was weaker heading into Oct. 28 than was understood at the time. Several other polls were conducted over the same period that showed Mr. Trump gaining quickly on Mrs. Clinton in the days ahead of the Comey letter. And the timing of these polls — particularly the gap between when they were taken and when they were released — has probably helped to exaggerate the effect of Mr. Comey’s letter on the presidential race. 

The case for a big Comey effect hinges on the large decline in Mrs. Clinton’s lead in the polls that followed the letter. In the FiveThirtyEight model, for instance, Mrs. Clinton had nearly a six-point lead heading into the Comey letter, but just a three-point lead one week later: an apparent three-percentage-point shift against Mrs. Clinton. 

It seems reasonable, as many have argued, to attribute much of that decline to Mr. Comey’s decision. But the Upshot [NY Times]/Siena poll of Florida is one of several surveys that challenge this interpretation. That poll was completed the night before the Comey letter, but it was not released until Sunday, two days later— a longer lag than usual, since Sunday is seen as a better day for news media coverage than Saturday. 

Some analysts have used poll aggregators or forecasting models to measure the effect of the Comey letter, and they have implicitly treated this Upshot poll, and others conducted before the news but released after, as evidence of a Comey effect. But it can't be; for example, none of the people we polled for our survey knew about the letter. 

Unfortunately, there is not much polling from this narrow period before the Comey letter and well after the third presidential debate. But it was accepted at the time that Mrs. Clinton’s lead was slipping heading into the morning of Oct. 28. The ABC/Washington Post tracking poll conducted over the same period as the Upshot/Siena poll of Florida, for instance, showed Mrs. Clinton’s lead at just two points, down from a double-digit lead after the third debate. That poll was also released after Mr. Comey’s letter. 

Most important, the polls taken before the letter were as bad for Mrs. Clinton as those conducted after it. Again, there aren’t many of these polls, but taken at face value there’s a case that Mrs. Clinton had nearly or even completely bottomed out by the time the Comey letter was released. Even if she had not, the trend line heading into the Comey letter was bad enough that there’s no need to assume that the Comey letter was necessary for any additional erosion in her lead.

These polls are consistent with an alternative election narrative in which the Comey letter had no discernible effect on the outcome. In this telling, Mrs. Clinton had a big lead after the third presidential debate, when the ABC/Washington Post poll opened with her ahead by 12 points and an Upshot/Siena poll of North Carolina gave her a seven-point lead. But her advantage dwindled over the following week, as post-debate coverage faded and Republican-leaning voters belatedly and finally decided to back their traditional party’s nontraditional candidate."... 

[Ed. note: It may be that "Republican leaning voters" made a late difference for Trump but a link to substantiate this isn't provided. Further, post-election data reported by NY Times on March 28, 2017 finds that former Obama voters made the difference for Trump: "The voter file data makes it impossible to avoid this conclusion:"..."The big driver of his gains was persuasion: He flipped millions of white working-class Obama supporters to his side....It’s not just that the electorate looks far too Democratic. In many cases, turnout cannot explain Mrs. Clinton’s losses... 

It’s clear that large numbers of white, working-class voters shifted from the Democrats to Mr. Trump. Over all, almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016, either supporting Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party candidate." 3/28/17, "A 2016 Review: Turnout Wasn’t the Driver of Clinton’s Defeat," NY Times, Nate Cohn; Additional NY Times links on this topic: 12/23/2016, "How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump," How Did Donald Trump Win Over So Many Obama Voters?" Additional link on this topic from NY Post, 4/25/17, "The biggest story of Trump’s first 100 days? His survival." NY Post, Michael Goodwin: "He was scoring a smashing upset by flipping six blue states."...Where were these "traditional Republican voters" or "Republican leaning voters before when it was time to flip 6 states from blue to red? Additional link on this topic from Washington Post, 11/9/2016 "Donald Trump delivered on his promise to flip the Democrats' electoral stronghold on the industrial midwest....Across swing states--and others previously thought to be safe for Democrats--Trump colored dozens of counties red that hadn’t gone Republican in decades." Related on Pennsylvania: NY Times' detailed 3/28/17 analysis wonders how Trump made such big gains in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, beating Hillary 69-26. How could anyone miss this?: "Schuylkill County is located in the heart of the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania." Subhead in article, "The Trump-Obama Vote"]

(continuing): "Even if the Comey letter did affect the race at that point, the effect might have faded in the final days of the campaign. Mrs. Clinton’s national lead in the polls grew over the weekend ahead of the election. 

In retrospect, there is virtually no evidence to support the view that Mrs. Clinton really had a six-point lead by Oct. 28, even if it was a very reasonable interpretation of the polls that had been released to that point. She didn’t have a six-point lead in any of the 16 (sometimes low-quality) national surveys that went into the field on or after Oct. 23 and were completed before the Comey letter, including her steadily shrinking lead in the ABC/Washington Post tracker. 

A new report from the American Association of Public Opinion Research on 2016 polling reached a similar conclusion. 

This doesn’t mean that Mr. Comey didn’t or couldn’t have played a pivotal role. The fairly sparse polling makes it hard to be sure of just how much Mrs. Clinton’s standing fell before the Comey letter. Maybe our Florida poll was a dud after all. Mr. Trump won the state by only a point, [Not so, per Politico and AP, Trump won Florida by 1.3 points, 119,770] although many of the trends evident in our poll — like lower black turnout, a less-than-record-setting showing by Mrs. Clinton among Hispanic voters, and Mr. Trump’s surge among Republican and white working-class voters — held true on election night.

It’s hard to rule out the possibility that Mr. Comey was decisive in such a close election. Mr. Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by less than a percentage point."...

[Ed. note: Not so about Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, per Politico/AP: Trump won Pennsylvania by 1.2 points, 68,236 votes. Trump won Wisconsin by exactly one point, 1.0, 27,257 votes.]
 
(continuing): "Even if there were no evidence to support a shift after Mr. Comey’s letter, there would still be reason to wonder whether his actions were decisive. The story dominated the news for much of the week before the election. One could imagine how Mr. Comey’s letter might have swayed voters who remained undecided heading into Election Day. But in such a close election, anything and everything could have plausibly been decisive."

Related: 10/30/2016, "Latest Upshot Poll Shows Trump With a Lead in Florida," NY Times Upshot

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Comment: "Close" Minnesota certified for Hillary with a margin of only 43,795 votes in Nov. 2016 yet on Jan. 26, 2017, votes were still being verified. "Minnesota is a same day registration state, and more than 500,000 voters register on the day of a presidential election."...The state certified in Nov. 2016 that Hillary won but as of Jan. 26, 2017, no one really knew who won Minnesota. Thousands who registered and voted on the same day had yet to be verified by the state. 1/26/17, "Did Donald Trump Carry Minnesota?" Powerline, John Hinderaker 

Further on Minnesota: "Trump’s coattail effect was big for down-ballot candidates in some Minnesota districts: after all, he came within 1.5 percentage points of Democrat Hillary Clinton in Minnesota, where a Republican hasn’t won electoral votes since 1972." 2/13/17, "Democrats spent more than Republicans on the 2016 legislative election and lost seats. Was it all a waste?" MinnPost.com, Greta Kaul (Data reporter). No recount was demanded of the "close" vote in Minnesota. Recounts were only demanded in "close" states won by Trump such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.]
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NY Times, related: 

How Did Donald Trump Win Over So Many Obama Voters?" NY Times

12/23/2016, "How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump," NY Times




tate polls underestimated Trump in Upper Midwest and Northeast:

Nov. 13, 2016, "Putting the Polling Miss of the 2016 Election in Perspective," NY Times

It was the biggest polling miss in a presidential election in decades. Yet in many ways, it wasn't wholly out of the ordinary."

"But the state polls were a different story. They systematically underestimated Donald J. Trump's standing in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. His strength there was enough to make him the president....  

She (Hillary) barely even campaigned in Maine, Wisconsin or Minnesota, and visited Michigan only in the last week of the race.

Yet in the end, her polling lead proved illusory. 

All of these states have something in common: They have a large number of white voters without a college degree
. Mr. Trump also outperformed the polls in other mostly white and rural states, whether Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri or Indiana. 

The states with a large number of white working-class voters tend to be somewhat less populous than the more diverse and well-educated states along the coasts. A result is that the state polling averages were off by more than usual, even though the national numbers weren’t far off."... 

[Ed. note: Population differences have existed for decades. Why only now are they an excuse for bad polls?]

"State polling errors in 2016 Were the Largest in Decades"...


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Added:

Washington Post, 11/9/2016: Trump won because he flipped former Democrat voters:














"Michigan and New Hampshire could add to this total, but their results were not finalized as of 4 p.m. Wednesday"...."Alaska is not included because it has no counties. Results as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. Source: AP"

11/9/2016, "These former Obama strongholds sealed the election for Trump," Washington Post, by Kevin Uhrmacher, Kevin Schaul and Dan Keating 

"Donald Trump delivered on his promise to flip the Democrats’ electoral hold on the industrial Midwest." 

"Across swing states--and others previously thought to be safe for Democrats--Trump colored dozens of counties red that hadn’t gone Republican in decades. 

Of the nearly 700 counties that twice sent Obama to the White House, a stunning one-third flipped to support Trump. Trump also won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012.

By contrast, of those 2,200 counties that never supported Obama, Clinton was only able to win six. That’s just 0.3 percent crossover to the Democratic side. 

Clinton had more opportunities to peel counties from the Republicans. Historically, Democrats rely on few (but very populous) counties to chart a path to victory. Republicans, by contrast, draw support from a wide swath of many more rural and suburban counties. 

Despite having a smaller field of possible counties to win over, Trump did just that, delivering electoral votes in the Upper Midwest states, as well as in Florida and North Carolina.

Trump secured several Obama counties in upstate New York, though it wasn’t enough to win the state. He also won over counties in Maine’s rural congressional 2nd District, securing a GOP electoral vote in New England for the first time since 2000. 

The Obama-Trump voter 

Who are these voters who picked the nation’s current president twice and now its president-elect, who rocketed to political prominence questioning Obama’s legitimacy? 

On average, the counties that voted for Obama twice and then flipped to support Trump were 81 percent white. Obama strongholds that supported Clinton were just 55 percent white."...

[Ed. note: Here we go. Were they stupid and racist when they voted for Obama?]

(continuing): "Of the counties that split their vote in 2008 and 2012, Trump’s were 86 percent white and Clinton’s were 71 percent white. There was also an education gap, with Trump pulling more support from counties with more voters with a only a high school education. In Trump’s counties, 36 percent of voters had no college education, on average. In the consistently Democratic counties, only 28 percent of voters were not college educated."...

[Ed. note: 70% of Americans don't have a college degree, per Politifact. If you wanted to win an election, wouldn't you want these people? Both major political parties have made clear they have the same disdain for the "non-college educated" as their media pals do. eg, 4/5/17, "Democrats are still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump, Ohio party leaders say," Washington Post, William Wan, Youngstown, Ohio: "Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters....Trump not only flipped the state but also won by the largest margin of any presidential candidate since 1988......“The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,he (Mahoning County Democrat Party Chair Betras) wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty.....They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”" ]

(continuing): "Why it mattered 

The Obama-Trump counties were critical in delivering electoral victories for Trump. Many of them fall in states that supported Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In all, these flipped states accounted for 83 electoral votes. (Michigan and New Hampshire could add to this total, but their results were not finalized as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.) 

Note: Trump also won Maine’s congressional 2nd District, which earned him one electoral vote. Dark gray areas [on above map] did not have enough data. Alaska is not included because it has no counties. Results as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. Source: AP" 
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11/9/16, "CBS News Exit Polls: How Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency," CBS News, by Stanley Feldman and Melissa Herrmann 

"As expected, Trump did best among white voters without a college degree, beating Clinton by the enormous margin of 72 percent to 23 percent. Trump also won among white, non-college women 62 to 34 percent and white college-educated men, 54 to 39 percent. Among white voters, Clinton only won among women with a college degree by a 51 to 45 percent margin. Interestingly, among white voters, there is no evidence in the exit poll that income affected the likelihood that they supported Trump."...
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Added: Misc. states of interest, totals from Politico/AP as of 12/13/2016: 

Trump won Florida by 119,770 votes (1.3 percentage points)
Trump won Iowa by 148,133
Trump won Michigan by 11,612
Trump won North Carolina by 177,529
Trump won Ohio by 454,983 (In both 2008 and 2012, the democrat won Ohio)

Trump won Pennsylvania by 68,236 (1.2 percentage points)
Trump won Wisconsin by 27,257 (1 percentage point)

Electoral College totals: Trump 306, Hillary 232

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