October 25, 2014

THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS ALWAYS WRONG:

No, undecided voters don't break for the challenger (Aaron Blake May 9, 2014, Washington Post)

According to a Fix study of 25 competitive U.S. Senate races held over the last four elections, undecideds actually appear to break more for the incumbent than for the challenger. The below chart compares the final Real Clear Politics polling averages for all 25 races to the final results of those same races. Incumbents are in red, and challengers are in green. [...]

A few takeaways:

1) The average incumbent saw his or her share of the vote rise 2.5 points between the late polls and Election Day. For challengers, their share rose just 1.6 points.

2) Even in states that matched the challenger's political lean (Democratic challengers in blue states and Republican challengers in red states), undecided voters weren't any friendlier. Incumbents beat their polling numbers by 2.6 points in these states, while challengers added only 1.5 points.

2) Only nine out of 25 challengers (36 percent) took more undecided voters than the incumbents they faced.

3) Nearly as many -- eight out of 25 -- actually took less of the overall vote than the late polls suggested.

4) Only three out of the 25 incumbents underperformed late polls when it came to their share of the vote. A strong majority (16 out of 25) saw their share of the vote exceed late polls by at least two full points.

And finally...

5) Not one challenger who was trailing heading into Election Day was able to pull off the victory -- even as six of them faced an incumbent who was below 50 percent in the polls. Two incumbents who trailed, meanwhile, were able to pull off the upset.

That makes sense if we assume that for anyone who genuinely hasn't made up their mind that late, name recognition might trump everything else. Of course, in races lower down the ticket no one recognizes either candidate's name...

Posted by at October 25, 2014 8:07 AM
  

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