While Nate Silver is reaping the deserved accolades for nailing the election results this morning, the gang over at www.isidewith.com are no less thrilled with their viral quiz. I have been following I Side With for several months. I first covered it in July, while the site was still in it's infancy. After a nice interview with co-creator, Taylor Peck, I returned on September 17, and told you how the results of some 3 million surveys indicated Obama would win with 347 electoral votes.
Many pundits hit me hard on the last article, saying that I was taking too much from the survey results, and that there was no way Obama could win by such a large electoral margin. Looking back at those comments, I am more proud that I stood behind my article than I am that I was right. I didn't back down, and today, I will tell you what we can take from this entire experience.
On November 5, I returned to I Side with to see if there were any significant changes.There were no significant differences from my September look, despite the addition of nearly 2 million more surveys. I took this as confirmation that my data was solid in September, and nothing more needed to be written until after the election.
As you can see, the swing states in question all were won by Obama except North Carolina (yes Florida is Obama's). When comparing those two candidates only, I Side With only missed on North Carolina, which as we know, is traditionally a GOP state. The resulting electoral tally of 332-206 is one North Carolina district away from being 347-191. It looks like I read the data correctly. But is there more that we can take from this? I believe there is.
Gary Johnson has tallied a Libertarian record 1.1 million votes so far, for 1%. There were three main winners on I Side With and a conglomerate of other candidates that we'll call our 4th (including Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, and others). With the surveys on I Side With resulting in nearly even four way splits, we do some division and find that 5.2 million divided by 4 candidates is 1.3 million votes. Did every single Gary Johnson voter visit I Side With? Not likely, but obviously a great number of them did. As has been pointed out repeatedly in my articles and comments, this quiz tends to be used by the youth of America. It should come as no surprise then that Gary Johnson and Barack Obama did well here. They both depend on the youth vote.Obama performed well here and he performed well on Tuesday with this very same base. Duh.
Finally, let's talk about where some other pundits went wrong in their analysis of voter data, specifically polls. Frequently, GOP analysts pointed to the sample of the "pro-Obama" polls and stated that the party proportions were skewed to the Democrats, and that is true.Therefore, they contend, the polls are not reliable. So, they'd use polls where the republicans were given a higher proportion of the sample, sometimes even equal representation. This was where they went wrong. But why? Shouldn't it be more representative if the sample proportions are equal? No. Because since 2000, when the oldest millennials first became eligible to vote, the Democrat turnout for general elections has been 38% at worst, even during the Bush years. The GOP turnout is in the 32-34 range.So when a poll uses D+5 or D+7, it is actually giving you an accurate view of the electorate as it is currently composed and trending.
What's the moral? Do this the right way and you come within 15 elecoral votes of an accurate prediction. Do it the wrong way and you miss it by 100+. It isn't as complex as many people want to make it. I Side With is not going anywhere. The candidates will change and they will change their questions to help you define your best match. Bookmark, I Side With and follow it. Take the quiz and be better prepared for the 2016 election. We have millions more youth ready to vote in 2016, and millions more non-internet users ready to move on. WWW.isidewith.com is only going to become more indicative of voter mentality.