Poll accuracy in the 2008 presidential election: Rasmussen, Pew

Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D.
Department of Political Science
Fordham University

For inquiries: cpanagopoulo@fordham.edu or (917) 405-9069

For all the derision directed toward pre-election polling, the final poll estimates were not
far off from the actual nationwide voteshares for the two candidates. On average, preelection
polls from 23 public polling organizations projected a Democratic advantage of
7.52 percentage points on Election Day, which is only about 1.37 percentage points away
from the current estimate of a 6.15-point Obama margin in the national popular vote.
Following the procedures proposed by Martin, Traugott and Kennedy (see Public Opinion
Quarterly, Fall 2006, pp. 342-369) to assess poll accuracy, I analyze poll estimates from
these 23 polling organizations. Four of these polls appear to have overestimated McCain
support (indicated with a * below), while most polls (17) overestimated Obama strength.
Pre-election projections for two organizations’ final polls—Rasmussen and Pew—were
perfectly in agreement with the actual election result (**).
The following list ranks the 23 organizations by the accuracy of their final, national preelection
polls (as reported on pollster.com).
1. Rasmussen (11/1-3)**
1. Pew (10/29-11/1)**
2. YouGov/Polimetrix (10/18-11/1)
3. Harris Interactive (10/20-27)
4. GWU (Lake/Tarrance) (11/2-3)*
5. Diageo/Hotline (10/31-11/2)*
5. ARG (10/25-27)*
6. CNN (10/30-11/1)
6. Ipsos/McClatchy (10/30-11/1)
7. DailyKos.com (D)/Research 2000 (11/1-3)
8. AP/Yahoo/KN (10/17-27)
9. Democracy Corps (D) (10/30-11/2)
10. FOX (11/1-2)
11. Economist/YouGov (10/25-27)
12. IBD/TIPP (11/1-3)
13. NBC/WSJ (11/1-2)
14. ABC/Post (10/30-11/2)
15. Marist College (11/3)
16. CBS (10/31-11/2)
17. Gallup (10/31-11/2)
18. Reuters/ C-SPAN/ Zogby (10/31-11/3)
19. CBS/Times (10/25-29)
20. Newsweek (10/22-23)

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About Albert N. Milliron 6991 Articles
Albert Milliron is the founder of Politisite. Milliron has been credentialed by most major news networks for Presidential debates and major Political Parties for political event coverage. Albert maintains relationships with the White House and State Department to provide direct reporting from the Administration’s Press team. Albert is the former Public Relations Chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party in Georgia. He is a former Delegate. Milliron is a veteran of the US Army Medical Department and worked for Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Psychiatry.

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