Gallup doesn’t think I’m going to vote, because I’m a flaky young whippersnapper

Oh yea.. you’re gonna vote Mr. “young urban professional?” Fat chance, kid.







According to Gallup, I am not a “Likely Voter.” 










Let’s take a look as to how, and why (my comments in red, Gallup’s stuff in white):


Gallup scores respondents one point for each question they answer in a way consistent with voting (the scoring scheme is detailed in subsequent paragraphs), resulting in overall likelihood of voting scores ranging from zero to seven. Gallup has then used various procedures to set a threshold for the pool of likely voters. The validity of setting a threshold based on a specific estimated turnout among the voting age population (VAP) or voter eligible population (VEP)is less clear than it was in the past, particularly given real-world changes in voting such as early voting and decreases in survey participation rates. For the 2012 election, Gallup currently considers respondents with the highest scores (six or seven) to be likely voters.

Questions Gallup Uses in Its Presidential Election Likely Voter Model

For the seven questions that make up the likely voter scale, respondents get one point on the likely voter scale for each question to which they give the response listed in parentheses (with a maximum of seven points possible). See the full question wording for each question in the “Question Wording” section.

  1. Thought given to election (quite a lot, some)

Obviously a point for me here

  1. Know where people in neighborhood go to vote (yes)

This is an asinine question for the millions of young, (like under 50) urban voters. Me, like most working Americans, has no need to know where my polling place is before election day. Add to that I lived somewhere else in 2008. Why would I need to know and have mapped out a route to where “people in my neighborhood go to vote?” Like pretty much everyone under 60, on election day I will plug the address into my GPS, and go. I don’t need to case the joint before-hand. – no point for me

  1. Voted in election precinct before (yes)

No. Newsflash Gallup. Young people are mobile. They move. Wayyyy more people vote in presidential elections than locals or primaries. Another ridiculous way of screening out shitloads of voters and not calling them “likely” – no point for me here either

  1. How often vote (always, nearly always)

Again, what are they referring to exactly? Municipal races? Local dog catcher? American Idol? Without context I’d have to assume they mean in general, and the answer for me wouldn’t be always or nearly always. Maybe.. kinda often? When I don’t know much about local candidates, I typically don’t vote. And guess what? A shitload of Americans, particularly younger Americans, do the same thing.  – no point for you, jerk-ass

  1. Plan to vote in 2012 election (yes)

Interestingly, my yes here ends up meaning no, according to Gallup.. keep reading. But – at least I get one more point for now

  1. Likelihood of voting on a 10-point scale (7-10)

Yes. 9.999 (barring catastrophic injury/illness/natural disaster – one point

  1. Voted in last presidential election (yes)

Yes – one point

That’s a total of 4, for those of you playing at home.. here are some qualifiers for the very young kiddos listening to Animal Collective and Barry Manilow (ironically): 

Gallup also measures the increasing trend of people voting before Election Day by asking people when they plan to vote and then considers this information when determining if people are likely to vote.

For the raw scores, Gallup makes the following adjustments:

  • Respondents who are not registered to vote receive a score of zero.

At this stage of the game, understandable. Most states are past the deadline now.

  • Respondents who do not say they plan to vote (see item No. 5) receive a score of zero.

Fair enough as well.

  • Respondents who report they already voted receive a score of seven.

Well duh. But I’m betting most people who already voted probably won’t bother with a survey at this point. Just a hunch.

  • Given the rise in voting by mail, respondents who say they do not know where people in their local district go to vote receive credit for that question if they say they plan to vote before Election Day and say they have voted in their precinct in person or by mail in past elections.

In other words, old people who likely answer would yes to both questions anyway. Again, I’m punished because I lived in another district in 2008, and I haven’t cased out my polling place yet. Does that really make me an anomaly? Gallup thinks so.

  • Gallup adjusts younger respondents’ scores to account for their ineligibility to vote in some or all past elections. In other words, even though the model identifies voters based on past voting history, Gallup does not penalize younger voters for not being of voting age in past election years.

Well, that’s good to know. But it also tells me Gallup is again grossly undercounting youth votes. I think plenty of 22-26  year olds who didn’t bother to vote last time around will be more inclined to now.

  • If aged 18 to 19, Gallup converts their scores as follows: 1=2, 2=4, 3=5, 4=7

That seems like a good approximation.

  • If aged 20 to 21, Gallup converts their scores as follows: 1=1, 2=3, 3=4, 4=6, 5=7

Yea ok neat-o.. but that doesn’t affect me. The 30-something who wasn’t in this district 4 years ago and will find my polling place via Google Maps or GPS. (or more likely I’ll know exactly where it is, I just haven’t looked at the address yet, because I’m mobile and am sure I won’t have difficulty getting to it)


So in short, I am not counted as a “Likely Voter” by Gallup. Not even close (I have 4 points, needed 6 or 7) And why?

1)      I’m new to the area and haven’t voted in this precinct before. That’s a point off for just about every single undergrad (and grad) student in the country, actually. Not to mention the millions who have moved in the past 4 years because of the economy and real estate crisis. And forget about me who moved to a new state, this potentially counts you out if you just moved a few miles away in your same town.

2)      The morning I go to vote, I’ll get the address off my voter registration card and head to my precinct to vote. I haven’t mapped out how to get there, or planned my day or week around finding it. I live in a big city, am mobile, and have a GPS on my phone, and an internet connection to use any number of map services. Is this unusual? Are young working people really penalized or considered “unlikely” if they haven’t written out their Election Day plans beforehand?


Bottom line: I vote in presidential elections, and I’m sure as hell not sitting this one out, even though there’s no way my state is going blue (yet.. give us a few more cycles) Yet Gallup doesn’t think so, for the reasons stated above. I bring this up because I just don’t think my situation (new to district, doesn’t always vote in local races, hasn’t yet mapped out where polling place is and only will on or night before Election Day) is all that unique for young professional adults or college students. And that group, as you know, overwhelmingly leans to Obama. This is my theory on why Gallup’s LV model may be fucked.