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Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Who Was Right and Who Was Wrong?

Nope, not going to engage in any self-congratulation here; I'm talking about the pollsters. I have seen some very suspicious results, which almost seem intended to kickstart the conversation, so I thought I'd take a look back at the recent polls and see who was kidding us.

California. The big kahuna of states. On the Republican side, John McCain won by eight percentage points, 42% to 34% for Mitt Romney. In the RCP latest polls, only Suffolk predicted a solid win for McCain. Rasmussen had the state tied, Survey USA had McCain up by a point, and Reuters/CSpan/Zogby did horribly, predicting a seven point Romney win.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton scored a 52% to 42% win over Barack Obama. Survey USA nailed that one on the money. Rasmussen and Suffolk showed Obama winning by one point. And Reuters/CSpan/Zogby were once again predicting a landslide for the person who lost, predicting Obama by 13.

New York. McCain won the Empire State handily, with 51% to Romney's 28%, a 23-point margin. All the pollsters showed McCain winning, with Rasmussen actually coming closest, predicting a 19-point win for the senator. WNBC/Marist and Reuters/CSpan/Zogby did the poorest, predicting 37 and 36-point wins for McCain respectively

On the portside, Hillary won her "home" state by 17 points, 57% to 40%. All of the pollsters did pretty good here, with predicted margins for Mrs. Clinton ranging from 14 points to 21 points.

New Jersey. McCain took the Garden State, by 27 points, 55% to 28%. Most of the pollsters were reasonably in line with this, with the exception of Mason-Dixon, which saw McCain winning by only 15 points.

Among the Democrats, Hillary won by 10, 54% to 44%. All of the pollsters were reasonably in line with this prediction, with Survey USA the closest at 52% to 41%.

Illinois. McCain won handily here with a 47% to 29% bulge over Romney, or 18 points. Rasmussen did poorly here, seeing the race as only 8 points apart, while Survey USA did pretty well, predicting a 46% to 25% blowout.

Obama picked up a big win in his home state, with a 65% to 33% pasting of Hillary, a 32-point margin. All of the pollsters did pretty good on the margin of victory, but Survey USA was closest on the actual percentages for each candidate.

Missouri. John McCain squeaked out a 33%-32% win over Mike Huckabee, with Mitt Romney at 29%. Survey USA called that almost exactly (33-31-28), while Mason Dixon was the most wrong at 37-27-24.

Obama also won narrowly, 49% to Hillary's 48%. Reuters/CSpan/Zogby was the only pollster in the last few days to call Barack's win. Survey USA and Rasmussen did poorly, predicting a Clinton win by 11 and 9 points respectively.

Georgia. Mike Huckabee won narrowly, 34% to 32% for McCain, and 30% for Romney. None of the pollsters picked Huckabee to win, but Mason-Dixon finished worst, with a 6-point predicted win.

Obama swamped Hillary in the Peach State, with a 67% to 31% mauling, a 36-point margin. None of the pollsters were in the same area code, predicting a win of between 15 and 22 points.

Best picks: Suffolk (1), Survey USA (5), Rasmussen (1), Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (1)

Worst picks: Reuters/CSpan/Zogby (3), WNBC/Marist (1), Mason-Dixon (3), Rasmussen (2), Survey USA (1)

Based on this limited sample, Survey USA seems to be doing a very good job, while Mason-Dixon did pretty poorly. Zogby did have one solid poll, but they had clearly the worst performance in California.

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