More on the KCTS/KPLU/Washington Poll

I posted the results earlier today of the Washington Senate race based on KPLU’s news reports. At noon today, the KCTS/KPLU/Washington Poll top lines were released for public consumption.

In that all-important race between the single most powerful mom-in-tennis-shoe in the Senate & nation, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and the single most sought-after motivational speaker on the foreclosure profiteering seminar circuit, Dino Rossi (R), we find Sen. Murray leading 50% to 42%. This makes five polls in a row that has Murray in the lead.

This poll surveyed 500 people from October 5th to the 14th. Hence, it overlaps every one of the other five October polls. Here is summary of all the polls this month:

WA Poll05-Oct14-Oct5004.3 50 42D+8
SurveyUSA11-Oct14-Oct6064.1 50 47D+3
CNN/Time/OR08-Oct12-Oct8503.5 51 43D+8
Elway07-Oct11-Oct4504.6 51 38D+13
Fox09-Oct09-Oct10003.0 47 46D+1
Rasmussen06-Oct06-Oct7504.0 46 49R+3

What does this poll tell us by itself? A Monte Carlo analysis using the observed sample size and percentages gives Murray 902,830 wins to Rossi’s 92,001 out of a million simulated elections. That is, the poll provides evidence that Murray would have a 90.8% probability of beating Rossi in an election held now.


But we can pool the results from all six of the polls shown in the table. This gives us a total of 4,156 “votes”, of which 3,890 of them go to either Rossi or Murray. Murray gets 48.9% to Rossi’s 44.7% (or, if we look at just the votes for Murray and Rossi, Murray is up 52.2% to 47.8%). A simulation analysis finds Murray beating Rossi with 975,049 wins to his 24,332 wins.

The new KCTS/KPLU/Washington Poll has added a bit more certainty to Murray’s lead. Yesterday, this same analysis using all but today’s poll gave Murray a 94.5% chance of winning. Today, with six polls, we find that Murray would have a 97.6% chance of beating Rossi in an election right now.


Finally, let me address a meme about this race that has been quite prevalent in the recent media. There is an idea the the polls are “all over the place.” Maybe. But not really. Let’s look at results of polls taken in September and October:


Since these polls are taken on a sample of the underlying voting population, there is some uncertainty about the results. The vertical bars on the poll results show the plausible range that the voting population could have, given the margin of error inherent in the poll. (Other problems can lead to biased estimates; the margin of error only incorporates uncertainty reflecting the size of the sample.) And even then, by chance, we expect the true value to lie outside of the plausible range in about one in twenty polls.

Looking at the recent polls, it seems the last five polls mostly overlap, suggesting that the truth lies somewhere near a 54% Murray, 46% Rossi result. We also see this in early September. From mid-September to early October, Murray appears to do significantly worse.

Remember the discussion with the Elway poll last Tuesday? Elway was compelled to justify his noticeably higher numbers for Murray, and suggested that there was a difference between robopolls and live-interview polls. (Of course, if we consider the plausible range, the Elway poll fits right in.) The polls released since Tuesday support Elway’s suggestion.

Elway did not offer a hypothesis why robopolls would turn in different results than the live-interview polls, but I did. Via Goldy:

As Darryl suggested the other night at Drinking Liberally, what if the enthusiasm gap we’ve all been hearing about is largely manifested in who is or is not willing to give up ten minutes to interact with an automated poll? I know I’ve hung up on a couple robo-polls this year, but find it harder to do so with a real live person. Interesting hypothesis.

This looks right for all the recent polling. We see that the three live-interview polls (Elway, WA poll, and CNN) all post numbers on the high side and the robopolls (SUSA, Rasmussen and FOX News) all come in on the low side. That big dip in the middle is formed from six robopolls taken in a row. In fact, Rasmussen and FAUX News both use the same company—Pulse Opinion Research–to do their polling. It may not be chance that FOX New and Rasmussen both give Murray her worse performance in this series. And this would explain the question I posed in August, “What the hell happened to Survey USA?”

The robopoll/live interview/enthusiasm gap hypothesis was offered Tuesday before the three most recent polls were released, and I am now pretty confident that this is what is happening in the Murray—Rossi race here in Washington.

I am less confident about other House and Senate races nationally, but if it can happen here, it might well be happening elsewhere. I think there is a fair possibility that robopolls will systematically underestimate the performance of Democrats nationwide, which will make for a pretty darned interesting election night!

(Cross posted at Hominid Views.)


  1. 1

    MikeBoyScout spews:

    Let’s discuss the enthusiasm gap a little more.

    Those in favor of Republicans are strongly motivated to respond to polling. They are aware that it gets their message out, and should build enthusiasm.

    Alternatively, Democrats not so much.

    Additionally, there are other measures of voter enthusiasm on both sides; fund raising.

    As enthused as the Republicans are supposed to be, they have not come close to being as enthusiastic at putting their money were their mouth is.

    DCCC Has More Than $41M To Spend In Final Weeks

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a monster September, bringing in nearly $16 million and ending last month with $41.6 million in the bank for the homestretch of the midterm elections.

    Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee had its own strong month of fundraising, bringing in $11.2 million and showing $19 million in cash-on-hand as of Sept. 30. That was its highest monthly total since 2006 and was thanks in part to more than $5 million in Member donations.

    Republicans have access to more money than Democrats thanks to the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce foreign money laundering machine, but dollars aren’t voters and more Democratic leaning voters have been putting money in to this election cycle than Republicans.

    I don’t think the persistent unemployment rate and the economic conditions will allow for Democrats to not lose seats in this off year election, but I’ve never bought into that the majority of voters in blue (like WA) or purple states were ready to throw in with the whack-a-doodle WINGNUTS or the Bush II candiates (like Rossi).

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    Heard a discusson on the radio this afternoon between a couple of political pundits on a national show. They reviewed the recent debates televised debates.

    Nevada (Reed/Angle): They agreed that the Nevada debates were a dissapointment, Reed was too “wonkish” about policy details which flew over most viewer’s heads, and the upshot was that the debate didn’t give either candidate a good reason to vote for either of them.

    Deleware: They thought it was midly entertaining, but that it didn’t change anyone’s minds. The Democratic encumbent showed he knows his stuff which justifies the 20-point advantage he has over his incumbent, who also pretty much met the already low expectations voters had of her.

    Washington (Murray/Rossi): I was surprised they threw this debate into the discussion. Both pundits were surprised by this debate, saying it was one of the better ones in that it clearly identified the philosophies and differences between the candidates, and the moderators did a good job. Both said this was their first real chance to see Patty Murray in action, and came away impressed by (a) her willingness to stick to her positions and forcefully advocate her support of the health care reform, (b) hit back at Rossi, and (c) take complicated issues and describe them in terms of the issues which are important to the middle-class voter.

    Of course, we’ve got one more debate to go, in more friendly territory to Rossi. But the ballots are already dropping in the mail, so this race may already pretty much be over by the end of next week.

  3. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    Some of the “popularity polls” which have been published on national publications/websites over the past several months have predicted a Republican victory.

    But most of them didn’t take into account the regional differences. Red states might have a greater Republican “enthusiasm factor”, but they were already red. In some cases you just see staunch Bush Republicans being pushed out by the really crazed Tea Party folks (Florida, West Virginia, Delaware, etc.).

    But the real importance is whether important House and Senate seats change hands in the blue states. So far, I don’t see much of that happening.

    So what might be the ultimate affect of this election isn’t so much an overturning of the Democratic majority, but a setting of the stage for a grand internal battle within the GOP for the 2012 presidential nomination. Palin is racking up chits from the Tea Party crazies who, if elected, will get guaranteed seats at the Republican convention. She might well be the Republican nominee in 2012.

  4. 4

    George Clinton spews:


    You guys are killing TeaBagger Tinkerbell!

    You have to believe! You have to!

    You have to believe or poor ol’ TeaBagger Tink will just fade away from the nasty Socialist® poison.

    If all the NASCAR Dads and MILFS in the world who believe in perpetually rising home prices would clap their hands then Teabagger Tinkerbell would live.

    C’mon everybody! Put you hands together and clap for giant tax cuts for the wealthy! Clap for the Wall Street Masters of the Universe! Clap for privatizing Social Security! Clap for “Morning in America”! Clap for selling Yosemite to China! Clap for John Boehner’s tanning bed! Clap for “Good” witches! Clap for Kenyan birth certificates! Don’t let poor ol’ Tink fade away!

  5. 5

    tienle spews:

    @3 RHP6033 I agree, watching the fallout from these elections is definitely going to be interesting, even fun. Palin trying for the Republican nomination alone could be responsible for a popcorn shortage in this country. Watching Lou Dobbs (should he decide to run for President rather than the Senate) and/or Donald Trump trying to court the Teahadists could be a ratings bonanza for the comedy shows. Throw in Newt vying for attention and wow…it could be a full court press freak show for the 24/7 to cover. Poor Rush won’t know who to support.

  6. 6

    Mrs. Rabbit spews:

    Elections Operator Karl Rove founder of American Crossroads are taking secret donations, sometimes creating front groups to put out their views and are doing the work that political parties normally do – from advertising and data base management to getting out the vote – but without the restrictions on the size of donations or the need for transparency. Press reports indicate that American Crossroads is planning to amass and spend at least $52 million to support candidates friendly to Big Business, all without disclosure or accountability.

    Payment to American Crossroads of tens of millions in secret funding from corporate CEO’s, without board or shareholder approval and without disclosure, smacks of possible money laundering as well as campaign finance violations. As you know, Citizens United did not do away with all common sense campaign finance regulations, and the Court specifically mentioned that disclosure regulations and limits on foreign donations are entirely appropriate

    Progressives and Independents: Please don’t be complacent. Get out and Vote.

    The best Democracy money can buy is right now in the hands of Republicans who will be spending $10 million nationally to get-out-the-vote campaign that will include 40 million pieces of political mail and 20 million phone calls to voters in key states. Essentially, Republican Party electoral operations have moved from the Republican Party to American Crossroads. Some have described this as a coup of Michael Steele’s Republican Party.

  7. 7

    proud leftist spews:

    Personally, I have no “enthusiasm gap.” I can’t wait to mark every damned “D” I see on my ballot. As a member of the reality-based community, how could I do anything but happily vote for the members of my community?

  8. 8

    tienle spews:

    @6 I should imagine those will be 20 million ROBOcalls. Also…question: how is it that pieces of mail get out the vote? I can see how they could influence decisions about voting, but how is it that a piece of mail actually motivates someone who might be soft on voting in the mid-terms to actually vote? Can someone explain that to me, please?

  9. 9


    The trolls have been so quiet these last couple of days..

    They must be dazzled by Dino’s smile and floating in dream space through his endless sales pitch dressed in the rosy glow of buying a first home…

  10. 10

    Richard Pope spews:

    the single most sought-after motivational speaker on the foreclosure profiteering seminar circuit, Dino Rossi (R)

    Darryl — you are so WRONG on this one that it isn’t even funny.

    Kirkland real estate artist Kerry Hemmingsen is the single most sought-after motivational speaker on the foreclosure profiteering seminar circuit, NOT Dino Rossi.

    Unfortunately for Hemmingsen, his own $4 million dollar waterfront mansion in Kirkland happens to be in foreclosure right now. Hemmingsen had to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy recently in order to stop the foreclosure sale.

    Maybe Hemmingsen’s star is shining a little less brightly now. If Rossi wasn’t so wrapped up in this Senate race, he could have taken advantage of the vacuum and actually become “the single most sought-after motivational speaker on the foreclosure profiteering seminar circuit”.

  11. 11


    the Popester:

    Maybe Hemmingsen’s star is shining a little less brightly now. If Rossi wasn’t so wrapped up in this Senate race, he could have taken advantage of the vacuum and actually become “the single most sought-after motivational speaker on the foreclosure profiteering seminar circuit”.

    Dino will have every opportunity to fill this void in just a couple of weeks. And plenty of free time too.