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PPP Polling, Minnesota editorial pages nail state election

Who says pollsters are wrong and newspaper editorial pages have no effect?

Marriage amendment opponents reacting to the close contest on Tuesday night. The amendment, which ultimately failed, went almost unanimously opposed by Minnesota's newspapers.
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen

While they weren’t quite Nate Silver, North Carolina-based pollster PPP Polling had quite a night, basically nailing Minnesota’s presidential and amendment contests.

And while they didn’t make predictions, Minnesota’s editorial pages proved a bellwether in the defeat of both the marriage and Photo I.D. amendments.

PPP first: Their final pre-election poll, taken three days before the race, called Minnesota for Obama by 8 percentage points. The voters, as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, made it Obama by 8. PPP showed the marriage amendment losing by 7 (the only pollster show that large a defeat); it lost by 5. And PPP had Photo I.D. down 5; it lost by 7.

So much for oversampling Democrats.

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Minnesota newspapers’ near-unanimity opposing the marriage and I.D. amendments didn’t decide those contests. But papers in deep-red Minnesota were unafraid to oppose “common sense” I.D. and support (often tacitly) culturally uncomfortable gay rights. In this, papers actually led the polls, and may have swelled the “Vote No” margin.

Victory is often unkind to the losers. The Pioneer Press — which disingenuously supported I.D. and scrambled back a Wikipedia-fueled gay marriage screed — now is indelibly stamped on the wrong side of discrimination, a position that may linger among readers in their three core east-metro counties, which all voted no.

On the polling side, critics wondered if FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver had overplayed his statistically modeled hand. That scorn should be heaped on GOP pollsters who lent their names to late-election polls showing 8th District incumbent Chip Cravaack up by 10 points (only off by 20) and Romney winning Minnesota by 1 (a near-double-digit whiff).

Given that they nailed 2010’s low-turnout GOP romp, let’s hope the Republican pollsters’ models were merely terrible. The alternative? They were lying to their clients and the public. In the end, the voters provided the ultimate B.S. check.