Early Results Are In! Should You Trust Them?
Even before the (notoriously inaccurate) exit polling comes in, here are some early voting numbers to chew on.
Bloomberg Businessweek's Joshua Green received some early voting/absentee voting data from the micropolling outfit Catalist: "Colorado: 1,853,586 total votes -- 44% Democratic, 43% Republican, 12% Independent ... Ohio: 1,442,536 total votes -- 50% Democratic, 36% Republican, 14% Independent."
- Why to take it seriously: As Green puts it, "smart analysts can draw ideas from the data about where things are headed."
- Why not to take it seriously: Catalist is a Democratic operation headed by former Bill Clinton adviser Harold Ickes; President Barack Obama is supposed to have a big advantage among early voters; the Colorado secretary of state says more MItt Romney ballots have been returned.
According to former Republican strategist Kevin Ruffini, there have been 51,167 "voted Obama" tweets in last day, 28,075 Romney.
- Why to take it seriously: The Internet never lies.
- Why not to take is seriously: The Twitter demographic leans more than a tad to the left.
Dixville Notch, the New Hampshire hamlet where the polls open at midnight, recorded a draw of five votes for Obama, five for Romney.
- Why to take it seriously: An accurate barometer of the last three elections.
- Why not to take it seriously: Not a very accurate barometer before that; today's popular vote very unlikely to end in a tie; simply gives more unnecessary clout to New Hampshire voters.
The New York Observer's Colin Campbell reports that Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter told supporters they should “keep calm,” even if they hear news of strong "turnout in Republican counties or exit polls, particularly early in the day."
- Why to take it seriously: As the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin points out: "Republicans who generally have gotten needlessly freaked out by exit polling, in part, we suspect, because exit pollsters don’t get an accurate sampling and/or Republicans don’t like to talk to them. That Cutter should be warning her troops is, to put it mildly, odd."
- Why not to take it seriously: There haven't been any such reports about Republican turnout; as the campaign has progressed it's been increasingly difficult to take anything Cutter says seriously.
Paddy Power, the Irish online bookmaker, is paying out early to those who wagered on Obama.
- Why to take it seriously: Bookmakers tend to have even more on the line than political pollsters.
- Why not to take it seriously: Too late to get your bet in.
(Tobin Harshaw writes editorials on national security for Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter.)
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