Chris Grygiel at Strange Bedfellows reports on a new Elway poll that looks at the Washington state gubernatorial race. I’ll get to Chris’ odd take on the results below, but first I want to examine the poll in some detail.

The poll of 405 people shows Governor Christine Gregoire leading Dino Rossi 43% to 38%. The 5% spread looks to be a small improvement for Gregoire from the 4% spread she had in a mid-April SurveyUSA poll, and definitely better than the 1% spread in the early April SurveyUSA poll and the 1% spread in a late March Rassmussen poll.

The current Elway poll results do fall within its margin of error. Statistically, this means that the probability of Gregoire beating Rossi is something under 95%, based on what we can tell from a relatively small sample.

While it’s easy to dismiss the results as a “statistical tie” (especially when…you know…it’s *your* candidate who is losing) poll results can be more informative than declaring a “statistical tie.” They allow us to estimate probabilities that Gregoire or Rossi would win in an election held now.

The most intuitive way of extracting that information is to use Monte Carlo simulations of elections and simply count the number of Gregoire wins and Rossi wins. I simulated a million gubernatorial elections of 405 voters each election. Each person had a 43% chance of voting for Gregoire, a 38% chance of voting for Rossi, and a 19% chance of voting for neither.

Gregoire won 889,889 of the elections, and Rossi took 100,318. In other words, the poll results suggest that, in an election held right now, Gregoire would have an 89.9% of winning the election and Rossi would have a 10.1% chance of winning the election.

Here is a plot showing the distribution of votes in the million elections:

The area to the right of the red line shows wins for Gregoire and those to the left are wins for Rossi.

Chris Grygiel had an interesting take on this race (“Rossi gains on Gregoire in new poll,” reads the headline). He portrays Gregoire as *losing ground* with this poll, because she did even better in a January Elway poll. But the reality is that numerous polls have been taken since January, and the ground that Gregoire lost happened months ago.

A late February Rasmussen poll showed Rossi with a 61% chance of beating Gregoire. That turned around in late March and Early April when polls released by Rasmussen and SurveyUSA each gave Gregoire a 61% chance of beating Rossi. By mid-April, Gregoire was up to an 87% chance of winning an election. Now, in early May, the Elway poll gives Gregoire a 90% probability of winning.

Gregoire seems to have momentum on her side…at least, that’s what the *recent* polls say.

Proud To Be An Ass spews:

405 voters? Why that number?* Is that 135 of each different ‘leaner’?

*approx. # of gopper votes in cityofSeattle.

Mr. Cynical spews:

Darryl–

Where do you find the time to do this minutia??

I find it interesting…but insignificant.

But then, of course, my candidate is losing!

Perhaps instead of this, you can help Goldy find a real income producing JOB…or help poor will so he doesn’t humiliate himself again by selecting a candidate like Simpson.

Both Goldy & will appear to be in desperate need of some counseling OR

Perhaps you can calculate the statistical probability of:

1) Goldy ever again landing a permanent Radio gig OR any meaningful employment where he can earn simply the average Seattle salary?

2) Probability of will ever landing a gig with an moral candidate??

I’ll help you out Darryl…the answer is mighty, mighty close to ZERO!!

Daniel K spews:

“405 voters” might be a reference to voters who live along I-405 perhaps. ;^)

Daniel K spews:

Cynical @4: Darryl probably took far longer to write his post on this than to “do this minutia” as you put it. Statistics are his thing and these Monte Carlo simulations of elections are probably something he does very quickly these days given the fact he produces them for the presidential election regularly.

As for Goldy’s chances of getting a new radio gig they have to be better than his chances of getting that first one, so I’d put them pretty high since having gotten the first gig he should therefore get a second.

Darryl spews:

Proud @ 1,

I doubt there is any significance to the 405 number. Elway was probably targeting roughly 400 people. That would constitute a smallish sample for a pollster (Rasmussen typically samples 500 individuals each poll).

Darryl spews:

Mr. Cynical,

“Where do you find the time to do this minutia??”Same place you find time to comment on this minutia. Seriously, though, I did the analysis and wrote much of the post while commuting on the bus this morning.

“I find it interesting…but insignificant.”…so says “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Tlazolteotl spews:

@2: Actually, fairly complex statistical analyses can be done in a matter of minutes these days. They have software for it and everything! You can even do some basic stats in Excel.

The trick is knowing how to condition your data set first, understanding what tests to use, and then, what the results actually mean.

michael spews:

Botched the block quote.

michael spews:

That sentence right there pretty much sums up why I flunked out of college (actually, I didn’t flunk out I went fly fishing and never bothered to go back).

The numbers look good for The Good Governor and I’m happy to see that no one is try to say or do more with this poll than can be said or done.

ewp spews:

It’s never a good sign for the incumbent to be under 50%. That said, given that this is essentially a re-do of the 2004 race, Rossi will have to make an even more compelling case to the voters on why they should oust Gregoire than he had to make when both were running for a vacant office. Rossi has a fairly monumental task ahead of him, and his first few steps, the faux think tank, and fantasy transportation plan don’t bode well for him. My prediction, which is worth absolutely nothing, is that Rossi will lose with 47% of the vote.

Daddy Love spews:

2 Cyn

Why don’t you just say tht you don’t like the results and be done with it? Of course you don’t. Ask us who cares.

Daddy Love spews:

SurveyUSA on April 17, 2008 shows it Gregoire 50% – Rossi 46%

http://www.surveyusa. com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=2 5b730de-3dd3-48cb-b719-afecbb9 c5cd3

Daddy Love spews:

How about if we explore the “probability” that Dino Rossi will ever hold elective office in Washington again?

I’m staking out zero.

rhp6033 spews:

Anybody want to hazard a guess as to whether Rossi will get a larger or smaller percentage of the Washington vote than McCain? If so, what rationale would you give for the discrepency?

GS spews:

Anybody want to hazard a guess as to whether the Democrats will have actually decided on a candidate in Washington by election day. If so what rationale would you give for that flat ass dumb guess?

Darryl spews:

GS,

Sober up, Squirt, and then re-ask the question intelligibly.

Thanks.

Tom spews:

Rossi will get more than McCain in WA. Lots of conservative military families will like Rossi’s policies, but McCain’s support of war without end will drive them to stay at home or even vote for Obama.

Mr. Cynical spews:

Gregoire adding 8000 more State Workers and increasing spending 33% while driving us toward a $2.4 BILLION projected future deficit is reason enough to dump her.

Oh, and a $5+ BILLION underfunded State Pension for our kids to worry about.

And a disastrous State Ferry situation.

Transportation–Still a Gridlock.

despite among HIGHEST State Gas Taxes.

Rossi has a smorgasboard of issues.

Gregoire didn’t have a record to run against last time.

This time…he does.

Campaigning hasn’t really started yet.

Voters are too distracted by the Democrats 3-act farcical mini-drama for Presidential nominee starring Rev Wright, William Avery, Tony Rezko and their pal Barrack Hussein O-blah-blah.

Why waste $$ campaigning against that???

Darryl spews:

Mr. Cynical,

Oh brother….not the “33% increase in spending” bullshit again.

Are you really that stupid, or are you intentionally being misleading?

Jim, (a genuine musician) spews:

#18: Please continue to count your chickens, as you are a true genius. In the spirit of President Dukakis, I humbly remind you that at about this time once, Dukakis led Bush 41 by 17. In fact, please quickly mortgage your house again or maybe rob a few banks right quick and donate at least $100k to the state R party.

Bushstink has yet to afflict many Republicans yet, but get ready. It’ll pollute all the way down the ballot. All offices, all locations.

mark spews:

This just in! Martin Luther County tent city

dwellers prefer Gregoire over Rossi by narrow

margin! Brilliant reporting.

Daddy Love spews:

The question is, how will Dino Rossi increase the number of votes he can get. I’m guessing it’s a real uphill battle. I’m also guessing: by lying has ass off about Gregoire.