The Star Tribune’s final pre-election

The Star Tribune’s final pre-election poll shows Mondale leading Coleman 46-41; the final pre-election poll of the St. Paul Pioneer Press shows Coleman leading Mondale 47-41. Both polls were conducted Wedneday through Friday of this week. The Strib story is “Mondale, Coleman in statistical tie.” The Pioneer Press story is “Voters as volatile as race.”
The Strib reports the result as a “statistical dead heat” because of the Minnesota Poll’s margin of error, but here’s the critical paragraph regarding the PP poll: “The St. Paul Pioneer Press/ Minnesota Public Radio also polled 625 active voters at the same time as the Minnesota Poll. It found Coleman with 47 percent of the support and Mondale with 41 percent, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 points. The difference between the polls suggests an electorate in tremendous flux but also could be the result of different polling methods.”
You read it here first: the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll adjusts its survey results according to formulas “verified” in past elections; the Pioneer Press poll is conducted by the Mason-Dixon organization using traditional methods in which it identifies “likely voters” and tabulates their preferences. (The PP Mason-Dixon poll uses a smaller sample than the Minnesota Poll; the PP poll undoubtedly has to contact as many registered voters as the Strib Minnesota Poll, but the PP weeds out unlikely voters.)
One more critical point from the Strib story regarding the aftershocks of the Wellstone death rally: “Poll results show the backlash from the service, which was broadcast live on radio and TV, may make its mark on the election’s outcome. Nearly a quarter of the 929 likely voters said the service made them more likely to vote for Coleman, while 16 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Mondale. An additional 53 percent said the service will make no difference in how they vote.”
Here is the comparable point in the Pioneer Press story: “According to the Pioneer Press-Minnesota Public Radio poll, 17 percent of the sample said their choice in the Senate race was ‘influenced’ by Tuesday night’s memorial service. And most of those voters went to Coleman, a group that could account for some of his lead in the poll, Coker said. ‘I think this memorial service was just a real turning point,’ he said.”
At this point, dear readers, we report, you decide.

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