Suffolk Tracking and Election Day in New Hampshire

Suffolk took their tracking poll into the field one last night on Monday, so today we have a final update in New Hampshire.

I wrote yesterday about some differences between the Suffolk tracker and other polls. I’m pleased this morning to see the tracker moving back towards my trend estimates based on other polls. This is exactly what I’d expect if the Suffolk variation was random and today we see a return to the central tendency, reflected in my trend estimate.

On Monday, Suffolk had fallen to 33% for Romney, while my trend estimate based on other polling was holding at 38-39. This was the only major discrepancy, leading me to suspect Suffolk was becoming a bit of an exception. Today, the last night of polling finds Suffolk returning Romney support to 37%, comfortably close to my trend estimate of 39.4. The other Suffolk results are all quite close to my final non-Suffolk trends. This is good news from a polling consistency perspective. At this point there is relatively little disagreement. Of course today’s voters may or may not agree, as we discovered four years ago. But from a pure data perspective, the evidence has converged.

So now, mixing all polls, here is the final Fortnight Review for New Hampshire.

While Romney has clearly been trending down, he looks to end up at 37% regardless of which estimator we use. Ron Paul still looks to be a solid second place at 18% with virtually no trend over the fortnight.

The excitement remains between Huntsman and Santorum. Huntsman has been trending up but still trails Paul at 13.6. Here the more sensitive estimators suggest more of a trend than my standard estimator, putting Huntsman at 16-17, quite close to Paul. One always wants to hedge bets with late surging candidates. But my “standard” estimator is standard for a reason, so I’ll stand by the 13.6 estimate though I won’t hold it against you if you want to believe “ready red” at 16.5.

Santorum’s surge seems to have plateaued in New Hampshire, where he continues to do worse than nationally or in South Carolina. My estimate puts him at 12.3, probably headed for 4th place.

And then there is Newt Gingrich. The last few days suggest he finally stopped falling, which he has been doing steadily for a long while. But at 9% it looks likely to be a 5th place, distant, finish.

Rick Perry? 0.6%. Amazing.

This morning’s political shows include considerable speculation along the lines of “the polls mean nothing” given Mitt’s comments on firings, Huntsman’s eventual snappy response about putting country first, and Gingrich’s attacks on Romney’s record at Bain Capital. As all junkies, I too need to think exciting things are happening here at the end and our “feel” for the last couple of days is a reliable guide to the outcome. But ultimately, I won’t go there. The reason to do polling, and to take the results seriously, is that most of the time we get reliable data that turn out pretty close to election outcomes, and we do this without last second subjective modifications. So what to I expect tonight? I expect the gray standard trend estimator to be my best guess. I’ll stick to the data.

Postscript: I’m getting annoyed at late polling coming in. Every time I think we are “final” another one comes out. Now it is Rasmussen, with a Monday night only sample. The results are consistent with Suffolk and the overall trends above, so makes only modest difference to the trend estimates above. But in the interest of completeness, and with fervent hope this really is the “final” update, here are the trends including Rasmussen.