Opinion

Predicting the wave: How big will Republican gains be?

Photo of Ed Ross
Ed Ross
Contributor
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      Ed Ross

      Ed Ross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of EWRoss International LLC. He is the former Principal Director, Security Cooperation Operations, Defense Security Cooperation Agency; former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs; and former Senior Director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mongolia in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

      As a US Army Officer he served as the Assistant Army Attaché to the People's Republic of China, as a senior political-military analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency, and as the Chief, Counterespionage-Counterintelligence, 500th Military Intelligence Group, Hawaii, where he directed operations in the Asia Pacific theater.

      His military service includes two tours of duty in Vietnam. As an artillery forward and air observer with the 9th Infantry Division's Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta, he flew more than 300 combat and combat support missions in O-1 and H-23 aircraft. As a military intelligence officer, he commanded intelligence-collection detachments of the 525th Military Intelligence Group in Pleiku and Nha Trang.

      Ed Ross’ civilian awards include the rank of Meritorious Senior Executive, conferred by President George W. Bush; three Secretary of Defense Medals for Meritorious Civilian Service, conferred by Secretaries Dick Cheney, William Perry, and Robert Gates; the Order of Resplendent Banner with Yellow Grand Cordon, presented by Republic of China Minister of Defense Lee Tien-yu, and the Outstanding Achievement Medal, presented by Philippine Secretary of National Defense, Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr.

      His military awards include the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with "V" Device with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star, and the Aircraft Crewman’s Badge. Ed Ross was inducted into the Artillery Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in May 1997.

      Ed Ross has completed extensive postgraduate work in International Relations and United States Domestic Politics at The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He received his Master of Arts Degree in National Security Affairs, "With Distinction," from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Quincy College, Quincy, Illinois.

      He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C.; the Defense Language Institute, Washington, DC; and the American Embassy School for Chinese Language and Area Studies, Taichung, Taiwan.

      He has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. He is the author of numerous articles on US-China-Taiwan military relations and other topics. He writes a weekly Internet column posted at EWRoss.com and The DailyCaller.com.

It’s a common reaction during election campaigns. If your candidate is ahead in the polls, the polls are accurate. If he or she is behind, they’re inaccurate. Most polls tell us Republicans will win big on November 2, gaining as many as 50 to 60 House seats, 7 or 8 Senate seats, and 7 governorships. Some Republican political operatives predict that their party will do even better, picking up 70-plus seats in the House and ten or more seats in the Senate. A few pollsters agree that’s within the realm of possibility, but most estimates are more conservative. We’ll soon know who got it right, but if the higher estimates prove correct, here’s the most likely reason why.

Political polling has come a long way since it failed to predict President Harry Truman’s victory in the 1948 election, and Americans woke up to the infamous November 3, 1948, headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman” in the Chicago Tribune. Back then, election polling was still in its infancy and polls were conducted much less frequently than they are today. The last polls before the 1948 election were more than a week old and failed to capture the Truman surge just prior to Election Day.

Now, instead of relying on a few polls taken weeks apart, the news media rely on many polling organizations, including their own, that conduct polls every day. There are so many polls that RealClearPolitics.com averages them. We’re flooded with polls. Still, polls can vary widely. Some pollsters have a better track record than others, and polls that focus on likely voters rather than registered voters tend to more accurately reflect election outcomes.

The least accurate polls have poorly-worded questions, insufficient samples, or are intentionally skewed. Polls conducted by organizations that work for or favor a particular party or candidate often deliberately skew their publicly-released polls to bolster the party or candidate they would like to win. The New York Times and CBS polling organizations are notorious for polls that are weighted to favor Democrats.

Conservative columnist and political satirist Ann Coulter, in her October 15, 2008, column, “Eighty-Four Percent Say They Never Lied to a Pollster,” documents numerous instances between 1984 and 2000 when polls conducted on the eve of presidential elections by left-leaning news organizations, predominantly the New York Times and CBS, deviated widely from other polls and actual election results. That’s why it’s important to look at numerous polls and the Real Clear Politics average and know who conducted the poll and what biases they might have.

It’s not uncommon, however, for the more objective, more accurate polls to predict the outcome of a specific election race by plus or minus one percentage point. Rasmussen Reports predicted President Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 election by just such a margin. Accurately predicting the outcomes of numerous individual races in past nation-wide elections, Rasmussen also has accurately predicting aggregate gains and losses. Understanding why polls like Rasmussen have been so accurate in predicting the past elections is the key to understanding why Rasmussen and other polls might not accurately reflect the results this year.

The short explanation is that even with a sufficiently large random sample, the respondents in a poll might not accurately reflect the distribution of actual voters — party affiliation, sex, race, etc. — that will turn out and vote on Election Day in any given district or state. Pollsters, therefore, use models of past elections and census statistics to determine weighting factors for those groups, and they use them to adjust the poll results. Weighting enables pollsters to more accurately predict likely voter turnout for those groups and, therefore, the outcome of the election.

  • sanjay

    GOP and Dems are part of the same corrupt system. Unless we change the system nothin is gonna happen.

    More debt, more wars, more israeli spying and backstabbing, more islamic immigration, more welfare, more school indoctrination, more propaganda, more big government, more taxes and more regulations.

  • papa1

    It doesn’t really make much difference, this is just the start of what’s to come. We’ve started a marathon here, not a sprint.