Polls Cannot Predict Who Votes On Election Day

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

October 17, 2006

Campaigning is in full force for Senator George Allen, and his challenger Jim Webb, as numbers show the two neck in neck for Virginia's senate seat.

Within the last two weeks, polls show that voters are either directly split between the two, or Allen's lead well within the margin of error.

While these polls have a good reputation for predicting how voters would vote on that day, David Wasserman from UVa's Center for Politics said they cannot predict who will actually show up on election day.

"Polls do their best to guage the intensity of the electorate but we can never be sure from a poll who's going to turn out in an election," he explained.

Typically, Republicans in Virginia can count on their base to get the vote out. Their party is usually more organized than the Democrats', but that may not be case in this pivotal midterm election.

"There is no better turn-out incentive than anger, though," explained Wasserman. "And voters are disproportionately angry with the incumbent president and Congress. And that's bad news for George Allen."

Democrats are angry with the current administration and Republicans may be too.

Recent scandals, such as former congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate emails to underage pages, may hurt the GOP voter base that Virginia Republicans have been so reliant on in past elections.


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