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July 18 Poll Report

July 18, 2019

July 18 Poll Report


            Good morning everybody.  The Poll Report is being posted early this morning as a result of a series of not-too-unfortunate events.  I always set the polls to run about 24 hours, ending at 7 AM, but Twitter occasionally does weird things with the timing of polls, and, although I typed in 22 hours, it posted as a 15-hour poll anyway, ending about midnight.  This turned out to be OK, as the poll had 2,150 responses before midnight, so. . . don’t really need more than that.   Then I couldn’t sleep, got up about 2 AM, and the poll was already done, so I did my day’s work on that.   It’s all worked out.

            Anyway, the only thing that happened in yesterday’s poll was that Jay Inslee under-performed; otherwise it went according to expectations:






































            The predictions for the day were 90% accurate, oddly enough the third straight day the predictions have hit 90 or better (they average about 80% accurate.) 

            We removed from the poll the data from May 28th, which was Elizabeth Warren (50%), Kamala Harris (25%), Amy Klobuchar (20%) and Stacey Abrams (5%).  Abrams, of course, was already gone, so we removed the entries for Warren, Harris and Klobuchar, the three leading Democratic women.  It’s always interesting when a poll gives results that you could get with a low number of votes.  50%, 25%, 20%; you could have gotten that split with just 20 voters—10 voting for Warren, 5 for Harris, 4 for Klobuchar, 1 for Stacey Abrams.   There weren’t 20 voters in the poll, there were 1,586, but—just the way my mind works—I always look at a poll and wonder what the lowest number of voters is with which I could have gotten those percentages.

            Anyway, the removal of that poll from the data helps Elizabeth Warren, as I stated two or three days ago that it would, and puts her Support Score back closer to where it was a couple of weeks ago, which is the reason I have not drawn the conclusion that she was losing support.   But this is the last poll-removal that will help Warren.   We remove polls that are 50 days old, and by the time we get to the next poll involving Harris, she had reached her peak.   So if she starts slipping now, it’s a real effect. 

            Since yesterday:

            Elizabeth Warren is up 81 points as a result of the removal from the data of the poll of May 28.

            Joe Biden, often polled against Elizabeth Warren, is up 15 points as a secondary effect, drafting off of Warren’s uptick.

            Pete Buttigieg is up 12 points as a result of yesterday’s poll.

            Bernie Sanders is up 8 points as a result of yesterday’s poll.

            Steve Bullock is down 6 points as a secondary adjustment.

            Tulsi Gabbard is down 8 points as a secondary adjustment.

            Julian Castro is down 15 points as a secondary adjustment.

            Jay Inslee is down 31 points as a result of his poor performance in yesterday’s poll.  Inslee has dropped off of the Green List as a result of this poll. 

            Amy Klobuchar is down 32 points as a result of the removal of the May 28 poll from the data.  Klobuchar will be polled today, July 18, so she’ll have a chance to recover, but, being polled against weak competition, she is projected to draw 63% in that poll, so she’ll have to do very well to make much headway. 

            And Kirsten Gillibrand has moved onto the Gray List.   Gillibrand had a boomlet between May 14 and June 20, moving from a Support Score of 210 (May 14) up to 364 (June 20), but I remember somebody commented at that time that he didn’t believe it was a real phenomenon, and it looks like it wasn’t, as she has come back down as fast as she went up. 

            These are the updated standings:























































































de Blasio



















            Responding to the discussion here yesterday, I appreciate the posts, it was very good to hear from you all. 

            I don’t believe in arguing.  I know this is a minority opinion and something close to a minority of one, but argument does not lead toward understanding; it leads most often to misunderstanding.  A false argument will die of its own toxins if left alone; if met with a response, it will feed off of the energy of the debate, and survive.  That’s the reason that the justice system fails as often as it does, leads to injustice as often as it does; a system based on competitive debate inevitably devolves into competitive misconstruction of the facts.  I realize that nobody except me sees the world that way.

            But argument is inevitable regardless of its futility.  Responding to the debate as best I can consistent with that philosophy, I am happy to let the outcomes of the poll speak for themselves over time.   I have drawn only four or five conclusions based on the polling.  I predict that all of those will stand the test of time.   I predicted that Bernie Sanders will never gain traction in this race and will become irrelevant to the race not too long after Vermont.   I am happy to stand by that prediction.   I have stated repeatedly that Joe Biden is not a good candidate and does not in fact enjoy the level of support that the national polls claim that he does.   I said that when he was between 32% and 39% in the national polls.  He’s already lost a third of that or a little bit more.  He will lose the rest. 

            I noted early on, months ago, that there was very strong support for Pete Buttigieg.   He was the leading Democratic fund-raiser in the last quarter.   I argued before anyone else did that Elizabeth Warren had taken control of the race.  Although the Old Fogey polls have not completely caught up with that yet, she has since surged upward in their polls, as well.  I have not argued that she will win the race; I have her at about 19, 20%.   It’s a long way from 51%.   I am happy to stand by every argument that I have made in this series.

            When I was a young baseball writer, Old Fogey baseball writers would read through my stuff, draw idiotic conclusions from it that I had never drawn and would never draw, and use their own idiotic conclusions to argue that I didn’t know what I was talking about.   Our Dear Backstop, who has been commissioning political polls for 30 years, so you would think that he would have some idea how to read them, wants to read my poll to say that Andrew Yang is now. . . .well, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but he seems convinced that Yang is doing far too well in my polls.  I have Yang at 4%, but I have never argued, never suggested and do not believe that he is at 4% of the general public, merely that he is at 4% of my Twitter respondents.   I have always, frequently, even daily acknowledged that there is a disparity between my twitter followers and the general public.  It might be 2%, 2½% of the larger public. The result is not based on the Yang family, dipshit.  

            Another critic doesn’t see what the point is of getting accurate measurements of the difference between the support for Seth Moulton—8/10th of 1%--and the support for John Hickenlooper, currently 2.7%.   I vividly remember when Old Fogey sportswriters didn’t see what the point was of counting stolen bases allowed by catchers, since everybody knew that you don’t steal on the catcher, you steal on the pitcher, so the data couldn’t be accurate.  I vividly remember when sportswriters didn’t see the point in knowing how many games a team could have been expected to win, the Pythagorean projection, when you knew how many games they actually won.  

            And it may turn out, in this case, that it doesn’t matter; it depends on how the race goes.  If Elizabeth Warren charges straight to victory, or if Biden or Bernie somehow staggers across the line, then the standing of the minor candidates will never have mattered very much.   But we have, at the moment, eight candidates who are on the Green List, meaning that their support is growing.  At least six of them will grow for a while and then sink back, as Kirsten Gillibrand has.  But one way that the race COULD turn out is that one of those candidates whose support is growing will just continue to grow, like Jimmy Cahtah in ’76, growing from 2% to 4%, from 4% to 8%, from 8% to 20, and eventually to victory.   If the race goes that way, then seeing it happen in the poll will be the central narrative of the campaign.   It could be that this already happening. 

            Our Dear Factstop says that we need to poll more. . .well, let me quote:

Your twitter following is not a random sample. You saying last week that your sampling is becoming more conservative due to a friend retweeting demonstrates that I am not introducing that concept to you. But you need a few black female friends to do so. And even then it is just a guess.


            As to the twitter polling not being a random sample, yes, I have stated 150 times that it isn’t.   As to saying that a "friend" was retweeting the poll; no, I haven’t said that, I don't think.  He’s a gentleman I have never met and had never heard of until he started retweeting the polls.  

            But as to the point about needing more women, or "white male voters" dominating the vote (a later comment). . . if you would actually look at the data, rather than standing in front of it and making an ass of yourself, you might notice that the actual pattern is exactly the opposite, that ALL of the women candidates are in fact doing far better in my poll than they are in the Old Fogey polls—far better.   All of them.  Without exception.   It is a very, very odd criticism of my polls to suggest that I need more female representation in the vote.   Persons of color are also doing better in my polls than in the Old Fogey polls, with the possible exception of Cory Booker.   Well, no, Booker is doing better, too.   The National Polls now have Booker at 3% of the Democratic split.  I have him at 3.2% of the TOTAL vote, Democrats and ever’body. 

            Two more points:

1)      There is no reason to believe that Massachusetts voters are significantly over-represented in my polls.  When I poll a Red Sox player against a Yankees player of similar caliber, the Yankee player is as likely to win as the Red Sox player.  I’d believe that Boston fans are over-represented in my sample, but by 5%, maybe.  Not more than that.   You would know this if you actually looked at the poll results, rather than ranting about them without making an effort to understand. 

2)     The issue of seeding is completely irrelevant here.  A person polled against Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden will get the same position point from THAT poll as he or she would get from a poll pitting them against Mike Gravel or Pippi Longstocking.   Again, you would know that this is true if you would actually take the trouble to understand what I am doing and look at the results, rather than barking at us like an abused Yorkie. 

Thank you all for reading.   I appreciate your feedback. 



COMMENTS (19 Comments, most recent shown first)

This is starting to remind me of why I hated living in a 'battleground' state.

9:59 AM Jul 19th
P.S. Another aside: Just want to say, I must love this stuff, even when I'm "arguing" or whatever you want to call it. I did that post, and now I see it's 5 f***ing o'clock in the morning. I thought it was about 2. I guess I spent 3 hours on that post. I thought it was about 20 minutes....
4:07 AM Jul 19th
Bill: I, for one at least, wasn't looking for you to argue, just hopefully to address some points, and I appreciate that you are indeed addressing them. And I don't expect you necessarily to address them further, but I am going to point out some issues in what you say about them.

But first, an aside.
When we raise things here, please don't assume we're doing it to force you to comment or defend (or argue). This is a somewhat public forum, and in fact (did y'all know?) these Articles often show up in internet searches. So, in a way we're writing for the whole world, "for the record" so to speak; and, we're also talking to one another, even when we're addressing you. I don't know how many others here view it in this broader way, but I do. Of course I often hope you'll address the points, and I always hope you'll at least glance at them, but rarely am I wishing to aim them directly at you. That's why I usually refer to you in these comments in the 3rd person rather than 2nd, which I hope you've never taken as disrespect; it's just to try to keep my comments from seeming to be aimed at you, which I never intend in a sharp way even when I do phrase it directly to you.

So, I've gathered from these last two installments that you really are doing this exercise very much for just what it is; the cigar is mostly just a cigar. But, the way you're answering us here -- pardon the cliche -- raises more questions than it answers. I recognize that what you say here isn't any attempt at a full answer (or "argument"), which understandably you're not wishing to get into. But all we've got is what you're saying, and so.....several things:

A big part of your answer is that the results so far have shown some successes. BUT:

I don't see that you "argued before anyone else did that Elizabeth Warren had taken control of the race." At least through mid-June, I think there wasn't any such thing, unless you mean that the numbers themselves constituted such an argument, which I don't think could be so, for various reasons including the sampling issues; and in fact you kept saying, at least 2 or 3 times, that not much should be made of how well she was doing.
I think it wasn't until July 3 that you said anything overtly along the lines of the assertion, and it was mild and tentative: "I believe that she is the leader in the race," and even then, you also said you thought her support (in your poll) had plateaued and that Harris was the person who was now picking up support; a couple of days later you said it had become clear that her support had plateaued. Your comments about her in the next few reports continued to be restrained, although you did say, 3 days ago, "She is still, in my opinion, in the lead in this race," which frankly I don't think had been clear about how you were seeing it. So, really, I hope you won't get furious about my saying this, but I don't think you ever said anything real close to thinking that she had taken control of the race.

To the extent that you did start saying in early July that you thought she was the leader (if I'm right that that's when it was; truly my apologies if actually it was much sooner), yes indeed, that was an opinion that pretty much nobody else was saying, not exactly, but hey, her movement was being shown at that time in the regular polls. She had lagged till around mid April, when she started moving up, notably faster in early June, essentially caught up to Sanders by late June and the relative momentum of the two seemed (and "felt") clearly in her favor and against Sanders, not just from poll numbers but also from their appearances and coverage, and of course all these are related. By the time you (I think) started talking about her as the leader, she was already in the group of 3 (with Sanders and Harris) who were essentially tied for 2nd behind Biden, who, despite his still leading in the regular polls, was widely seen as on the decline.

I think there's also an issue in what you say about Buttigieg, because his rise was already widely recognized before you said anything about him, in fact before this poll began. He started clearly rising by early March and at that time started getting his huge media attention, and by early April he had hit what turned out to be his full stride in the major polls. Since then, I think it's fair to say he plateaued and then has somewhat declined; in any event what you noted about him since this polling started didn't presage any further rise by him.

As general thing, there were other ways besides this method to reach impressions that you mention as having been indicated by it, and (as you know) you weren't alone in them. For example, you thought Biden was weak, through your method; I thought he was weak from what I was seeing.

Regarding a point which was raised that you didn't really address:
You don't say why you think it's worthwhile or meaningful to be trying to do these distinctions among the low-tier candidates. I guess what it comes down to is just your own inner belief that it is. My inner belief is that it isn't, and I'll flesh it out a little further. I'm sure you'll feel your inner belief has a better chance to be right, and of course you could be right.

All IMO: It is far from clear, certainly not obvious, that if a bunch of candidates all have support just in the low single digits, there's any predictive value in how they do against one another or which one gets 10% rather than 3% against Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. If any of them are to break out of the low pack, it's far more likely (remember, all IMO) that it will be because of some unexpected kind of bolt -- I don't know, the pet issue of one of them bursting into prominence, or some mega-moment in the debate -- more likely that it would be some such thing rather than anything shown by what you see from putting them under the microscope of this method. And further, as I mentioned in the earlier comment, if any of them were to break out, they'd find themselves under a brighter and different kind of spotlight. Their progress from there would depend greatly on the different ballgame of how they respond to that -- and I don't see any reason to think this would be correlated with the small differences shown by this method prior to that situation.

Anyway: To the greatest extent, the proof will be in the old pudding. If the things shown by the method do turn out to be well predictive of the eventual results, that will be a nice endorsement for the method. However, even then, I would suggest that to a large extent they would be an endorsement for Bill James the person, not clearly for the method, because, just as I noted that there are other ways besides your method to have reached those same impressions, in fact it has seemed that many of the impressions you've indicated reflect a mix of the results of these polls and your general judgment.

As I said, need I say, no need to reply further. Thanks for reading, or even just glancing, whichever you may have done. :-)
3:55 AM Jul 19th
Nobody has been a bigger Bill James fan than me over the years. I started reading the Abstracts from day one and bought everything that had the Bill James name on it. I played in his fantasy baseball and won it all one year. The prize was going to a spring training game with him and I was absolutely thrilled. I listened to the weekly radio show he was on in the 90's. I've been reading this website for years and I expect to continue reading it until my (or his) bitter end.

But over the years I've come to see that Bill James does not take dissent well. When someone questions his work, he tends to devolve into name calling, with replies of them being a jerk or "making an ass of yourself". I find it to be Trumpian.

And a lot of users on this website will suck up with comments like "what a perfect response." I think we need to get away from the idea that Bill is an infallible god and start listening to him as just an interesting person with an interesting opinion.

I'm even nervous making this critical post. Will I become a pariah? Will I get banished from the website? I don't think so, but I'm not totally confident. Let's hope not.
3:31 AM Jul 19th

Bill stated from the beginning that the composition of his followers was a limitation of the project. It's the methodology that is unique and ground-breaking. It's legitimate to point out that the different wording of the posts isn't how a traditional poll is done but I think it's a minor point here. My guess is most people following this project get it and, if they don't vote, they're saying "none of the above."

What we're watching here is the very first iteration of a novel concept of how to poll a large group of candidates. At some point, an established polling organization will start to adopt a version of this methodology and, without the limitations of Twitter, they will be able to do this type of polling in a more scientific way that makes the sample of those polled reflective of the American voter.

Nobody cared about on-base% until a decade (or more) after Bill explained that walks are often earned by the batter and not just a function of the pitcher screwing up. Hopefully this new polling method will catch on much more quickly.

Finally, to stump and play politics for a moment: people, read up on Steve Bullock. If you want to beat Trump, you might want to at least consider a Governor who won a state in 2016 (Montana) where Trump won by 20 points. For him to be so far down in all of the polls (including today's BJOL poll) tells me that people don't know who he is. He's worth looking up.
1:00 AM Jul 19th
OldBackstop you at least concede that language on questions have to be standardized? You change it day-to-day "choose" "like" "if you had to". Often you precede the question with commentary.

This reader today put the stake in the heart of the issue:

Follow Follow @BobReally45
Replying to @billjamesonline
This post confuses me. In previous ones , you say if one of these four HAD to be president, which would you pick. Sometimes I voted, even though I would NEVER “like” to have any of them as president. This time, you say we’d like Biden to be president.

8:38 AM - 15 Jul 2019
2 replies 0 retweets 0 likes
12:17 AM Jul 19th
Old Backstop, some of what you have been told about polling for years, by professional pollsters, is not true. I don't expect you, or them, to accept that it isn't true. But it isn't.
11:09 PM Jul 18th
No, Terry, there is no man behind the curtain, and I know Bill invented Winshares.

He is even phrasing the question differently every day.

Day 1 shit.
8:46 PM Jul 18th
It must be a forest/trees thing with you, Backstop. I've barely paid any attention to this exercise, but I get the gist. Maybe you are too close to it.

But I can tell you -- not that it'll do any good -- that you are seeing it from an angle that doesn't mean anything to the polling exercise. It's as if a guy is taking temperatures in an attempt to invent a more accurate thermometer and you are complaining about the weather.
8:13 PM Jul 18th
About debate vs argument...many years ago, after the Altamont free concert ugliness, Mick Jagger was put in the middle of the controversy, even blamed for everything that happened...but he never responded and the whole thing just faded away. Someone wrote a short bit about Mick, that this was his style, to not feed the energy of controversy. I never forgot that and, in fact, when things get heated in my personal life I just drop it. Of course, that doesn't always work if the other people refuse to.

Some of the worst stuff I've ever been involved in came about because of the political threads here. I really regret some of the stuff I wrote then. Not about the politics or the politicians or the issues or the controversies, but about my own nastiness towards other members at times. Well, to be clear, I'm not sorry about the things I said, only I'm kind of sorry that it was me that said them.
7:13 PM Jul 18th
Let me try this another way. If I told you "Joe Blitzfik's support is up from 6 percent to 8 percent in one twitter guy's regular poll of his followers"....

You wouldn't say "Wow!" You'd say "Whose this twitter guy?" But you wouldn't really care who the guy are really trying to gauge who his followers are likely comprised of....given today's polarized politics and charged racial and nationalist rhetoric.

And if the answer was "Beyonce" or "Clint Eastwood" your reaction would be very different.

You have said many times you are a centrist and I believe your writings are admirably balanced. But this election is all about race.....both sides have comfortably embraced that as the battleground. Couch it as immigration or reparations or simply that the incumbent makes racist statements. Blitzflik is up? Did he denounce Trump? Did he announce a plan for open borders?

And....admirable centrist that you are, you are a white guy from Kansas in his late sixties who has written intellectual highly niched books and been associated with the Red Sox glory. You are a personality, not a poll sample.

Even IF that wasn't true, your model, which I'm sure is brilliant, is being built on twitter sand, as intoxicating and easy as it is. I barely use twitter....but I have three accounts. Some people have a dozen. And the biggest problem is, you are guaranteed to fail, because any attention your analysis will attract instant "fraud" by various rabid candidate supporters trying to load the vote.

If that is the goal, explode your twitter profile by gaining attention and political retweets, then it is.....well, brilliant, now that I think about it.
7:06 PM Jul 18th
Wonder how old Ron Paul would do in this poll.

He always polled real good a year out.

4:55 PM Jul 18th
Bill, I only started up on twitter recently, so you may have done this already, but have you ever done a poll on the makeup of your twitter followers, either by age groups or by geography?

I'm not sure how that could be done. 95% of Twitter followers don't respond to any given poll.
3:07 PM Jul 18th
Bill, I only started up on twitter recently, so you may have done this already, but have you ever done a poll on the makeup of your twitter followers, either by age groups or by geography?
12:51 PM Jul 18th
So....well, of course, first off, thanks for the juvenile name calling, your legend continues. Very presidential.

Do you really think that a sample under representing minorities and females is disproven by some early support parsing candidates still unknown?

Or, more succinctly, do you know, or care, whether your poll responses are anything like the demographics or America?

You haven't drawn 2000 names at random, Bill, you have an opt in poll of your followers who, crime and Kansas aside, are undoubtedly nothing like America. Your Twitter name is this site, which has been ongoing for a decade. I don't remember a female member ever. A poll we did here showed nobody under 40, median age 56. That's your historic core.....did Twitter somehow expend your stardom? In effect, demographically, you are polling the men's lounge at an exclusive country club. A lot of liberals, sure, and your responses May June for awhile. But how about when the issues of the week are abortion? Slave reparations? Sanctuary cities? Is your sampling going to reflect actual attitude changes?

(Spoiler alert: no)

Your project would be valid if you established a study group reflecting voter demographics and polled the same group regularly. Twitter responses are just memoes coming over the transom, different group every day.

Do you know ANYTHING about the makeup of your respondents? Party affiliation, age, gender, race, geography....anything at all?

That is easily polled.....why haven't you?

And, hey, abuse me, but your worst nightmare is going to be success. A national media outlet studying your excited daily analysis will be asking the same questions, and you will be ridiculed. And not the type of ridicule you have basked in and overcome. Tinfoil hat ridiculed.
12:50 PM Jul 18th
I've enjoyed the pools Bill. I try to vote everyday.
11:38 AM Jul 18th
Keep up the good fight!
11:08 AM Jul 18th
I love this whole thing, it's pretty neat to watch day by day and a very cool experiment, both here and the Hall of Fame system.

I do have a question about the methodology, as it pertains to Trump.

Does this methodology pick up that a certain person will get say 25% of the vote no matter who they are up against?

I guess what I'm saying is that Trump will get 20-30% (I may be off by a few percents, just speaking generally) no matter who he is up against.

If we poll him against Warren, Buttigieg, Biden, he'll get 20-30%. If we poll him against Gravel, Moulton, and Williamson, he'd likely be in the same range. But if I understand it correctly, the methodology predicts he'd get 13% vs. the big 3, but 70% against the bottom of the barrel. I don't think it would play out that way (maybe you could run those polls to see?). He'd do better against the Big 3 I'd think and much worse against the bottom 3.

So is there a way for the methodology to account for this? Or I am I missing something here?
11:04 AM Jul 18th
Hi Bill,
What a perfect response.
9:29 AM Jul 18th
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