Election: Now that the '08 tally is official, we note that for the second election in a row, the IBD/TIPP Poll not only came closest to the final margin, but was right on the money — tantamount to hitting a bullet with a bullet.
Results certified over the weekend show Barack Obama got 52.9% of the popular vote vs. 45.7% for John McCain. The difference — 7.2 percentage points — is exactly what IBD/TIPP predicted just hours before polls opened Nov. 4.
It can take as long as a month and a half for states to arrive at their final tallies. California, for example, didn't finish its tabulation until Saturday. The spread can change quite a bit over that period. For every million votes counted, the gap was expanding by one-tenth of a percentage point.
The popular vote margin the morning after the election was 6.0 — putting the Rasmussen organization closest at that point. But it widened steadily in the last six weeks.
The table below shows how the other polling organizations did. Tracking polls, such as IBD/TIPP's, poll every day and typically average results over a three-day period. Nontracking polls survey less frequently.
In all, more than 18 national polls followed this year's presidential race, the most ever.
Four years ago, IBD/TIPP was also most accurate in predicting the final margin, pegging it at 2.1 points vs. the 2.4 that actually separated George W. Bush from John F. Kerry.
For obvious reasons, you won't hear other pollsters calling attention to these results. We tout them here not only because we were No. 1 for the second straight election — a remarkable feat — but also because we got tired of hearing partisan bloggers put down our 2004 call as "luck."
Other commentators questioned why we often had the Obama-McCain race tighter than other polls. The fact is, the race was tight right down to the last week, when undecided voters swung to Obama. The final 7.2-point spread was the widest we showed since our polling started Oct. 13.
Rather than challenge our numbers, the critics would better serve the public by questioning the double-digit leads other polls were posting for Obama.
With a week and a half to go, for example, when we had Obama up 3, other reputable polling organizations had him ahead as much as 15. Such outsized margins, in our opinion, can help move voters in a certain direction — creating a bandwagon effect.
Now that the results are official, we want to congratulate our polling partners, Raghavan Mayur and his team at TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence in Ramsey, N.J. They have truly earned their title as "America's Most Accurate Pollster."