Gallup - It's Obama

Gallup seems pretty confident.
by Frank James

Gallup has completed it pre-election polling and all indications are that enough voters support Sen. Barack Obama to make him the next president of the U.S.

Here's an excerpt from Gallup's report, based its final Gallup/USA Today tracking poll before Election Day:

PRINCETON, NJ -- The final Gallup 2008 pre-election poll -- based on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 Gallup Poll Daily tracking -- shows Barack Obama with a 53% to 42% advantage over John McCain among likely voters. When undecided voters are allocated proportionately to the two candidates to better approximate the actual vote, the estimate becomes 55% for Obama to 44% for McCain.

Proportionately? Analysts expect most of the undecideds to vote for McCain.

The trend data clearly show Obama ending the campaign with an upward movement in support, with eight to 11 percentage point leads among likely voters in Gallup's last four reports of data extending back to Oct. 28. Obama's final leads among both registered voters and likely voters are the largest of the campaign...

That's the inescapable bad news - while a week ago the polls were moving toward McCain, they stalled in mid-week and started moving the other way.

...It would take an improbable last minute shift in voter preferences or a huge Republican advantage in Election Day turnout for McCain to improve enough upon his predicted share of the vote in Gallup's traditional likely voter model to overcome his deficit to Obama.

What is the chance that the polls are wrong - that they are somehow fundamentally flawed, unable to cope with the new issues present in this election. Here's one possibility:
In a January op-ed in The New York Times, Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, warned that the disparity between polls and the outcome in the New Hampshire Democratic primary--Clinton beat Obama despite polls showing him with an advantageous margin--could have been due, in part, to the fact that less affluent whites are more likely to hang up on pollsters. "These whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews," Kohut wrote.
There are some estimates floating around the 80% of people called are refusing to be polled - a big jump. What if people just don't want to be surveyed about Obama because they don't want to face the PC pressure?

What if the tighter polls are right, and higher turnout goes so far that it starts bringing out McCain's people, not just Barack's.

There are unknowns, the polls can be wrong - especially when the histories they use to guide them don't necessarily apply.