Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trouble With Numbers

As recently as Monday, I was receiving e-mails like this one from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), regarding the special election in South Carolina's first congressional district:
From: Democrats 2014 <>
To: <Name and address withheld>
Subject: latest reports: (Elizabeth Colbert Busch)
Date: May 6, 2013 3:20 PM

<withheld> -- The math is pretty simple:

Right now, Elizabeth Colbert Busch is down by just 1 point. But 
close isn't good enough. We want to win.

So here's the deal: If we can contact enough voters, fight 
Republican lies with the facts, and run the best damn 
get-out-the-vote operation that South Carolina's ever seen, 
we'll win tomorrow.

If not, we'll lose.

Name: <withheld>
Supporter record: <withheld>
Suggested Support: $8.00

Almost too close to call, as many other e-mails had said earlier. What was the result?

It was a solidly Republican district in South Carolina, and the Republican candidate won. By a wider than expected margin, too - 54% to 45%, with all precincts reporting.

Mark Sanford beats Colbert Busch in South Carolina special election

How did that "too close to call" election turn out to be so easy to call that they called it within an hour or so of the polls closing?

Here's what Real Clear Politics had to say about the polls and the outcome:

RCP: South Carolina 1st District Special Election - Sanford vs. Colbert Busch (screenshot by Cujo359)

What I get from this is that the only polling was done by the Democratic Party's polling firm, and it was, shall we say, very flattering to the Democratic candidate. Assuming that they at least got the trends right, what PPP's results suggest is that Colbert-Busch started out more or less even with Sanford, and went downhill from there. I wonder how they would have spun poll results that reflected reality - "We're going to get our butts handed to us, but send us money anyway"? Hard to think that would have been a good fund raising theme.

On a positive note, at least I'm not out that eight bucks.

Let's just add this to the many reasons I don't trust the Democratic Party further than I can spit into a hurricane.

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