Skip to comments.Which polls are, or arenít, legitimate?
Posted on 09/26/2012 4:29:55 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
I want to hear from commenters on this, as I think all bloggers are dealing with some variation of this problem right now. Standard practice on the site is for Ed and I to post any poll that we think you'll find interesting, whether the numbers are good or bad; normally the readers are fine with that, if only because they can use the thread to goof on me for being a dirty, dirty eeyore. But for two months every four years, the calculus changes for some and they start screeching that posting bad numbers is an act of treason that might actually damage the GOP nominee's chances. And in fairness to those readers, there's a wisp of truth in that, sort of. As pollster John McLaughlin said to Jim Geraghty:
What Obama and his allies are doing now: The Democrats want to convince [these anti-Obama voters] falsely that Romney will lose to discourage them from voting. So they lobby the pollsters to weight their surveys to emulate the 2008 Democrat-heavy models. They are lobbying them now to affect early voting. IVR [Interactive Voice Response] polls are heavily weighted. You can weight to whatever result you want. Some polls have included sizable segments of voters who say they are not enthusiastic to vote or non-voters to dilute Republicans. Major pollsters have samples with Republican affiliation in the 20 to 30 percent range, at such low levels not seen since the 1960s in states like Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and which then place Obama ahead. The intended effect is to suppress Republican turnout through media polling bias. Well see a lot more of this.
The “anti-Obama voters” whom McLaughlin has in mind are swing-state undecideds who either voted for Obama in 2008 or stayed home and are now persuadable by Romney due to their disgruntlement over Hopenchange. They’re low-motivated fence-sitters. People who read partisan blogs every day are not. My guess is that our readership consists of two groups: 99 percent of you would walk barefoot through a snowstorm to get to your polling place to vote for Romney even if I was following you in an Eeyore costume, rattling chains and moaning, “Dooooon’t vooooote.” (I won’t actually do that, except maybe to Ed.) The other one percent are media types and/or liberals who are curious about what righty bloggers are saying on a particular issue. Neither of those groups will be discouraged by poll news, whether good or bad for their guy. Nor should they be: In case there’s any ambiguity as to the point of posting these polls, needless to say it’s not to discourage anyone from voting for Romney. You must vote, and the worse the numbers are, the more determined you should be to get out there because the deficit will have to be made up in higher turnout. Ed and I have spent four years explaining why another four years of Hopenchange dreck would be terrible; why you’d suddenly lose your determination to vote O out now because of bad numbers from the NYT or wherever is utterly beyond me.
The point of posting polls is to track trends in the race and try to get a rough sense of which states will ultimately decide the election, which strategies are working or aren’t, whether one side or the other has momentum, etc. Sometimes, like today, you get some highly dubious samples and you toss them out. Sometimes you don’t. My question is, if for some reason you’re not convinced that partisan blog readerships are essentially immune from being discouraged by polls, what should the rule be on filtering them? There seem to be three schools:
1. The “give us everything” crowd. These are the people who want the good and the bad. They’ll decide for themselves whether a poll is credible or not, but they want the data so that they can make a judgment.
2. The “give us bad news too but make sure you debunk it” crowd. They’ll accept discouraging numbers if a case can be made against the partisan split in the pollster’s sample to debunk it. Ed and I oblige on that whenever we can, but I’m not sure what to do with a poll like, say, today’s Gallup tracker, which has Obama suddenly out to a 50/44 lead among registered voters. Five days ago we were high-fiving over Gallup when they had Romney tied. Is the poll suddenly less credible now than it was then? Rasmussen seems to be the gold standard in credibility on the right, but what should we do if Romney’s numbers tick down there too? And what are we to do with the fact that Romney’s own pollster recently told Guy Benson that he’s expecting a national turnout advantage on election day of something like D+3? Should we be demanding a more even sample from pollsters than even Team Mitt is?
3. The “give us only good news” crowd. They think that posting bad numbers legitimizes those numbers and gives them wider reach, even if there’s an effort to debunk the sample. Essentially, they want a total blackout on downers until election day in the interest of leaving nothing to chance. Question: Does it mitigate the problem if we post a downer poll and post thoughtful analyses like Jay Cost’s and Brandon Gaylord’s that challenge the assumptions of the downer polls lately? If it doesn’t mitigate it, what are we to make of the fact that conservative warriors like Newt Gingrich, Erick Erickson, and Michael Walsh all seem to think that Romney’s campaign is underperforming and that the polls are a reflection of that? (Read Walsh’s conclusion, especially.) Is that higher or lower treason than posting a bad poll in the first place?
Those three schools broadly represent the spectrum of opinion on whether a partisan news site should be more newsy or more partisan. Group one wants to know what’s driving the news, even if it doesn’t trust the underlying data; group three wants victory above all else, even if that means suspending normal operations and ignoring bad news entirely. Group two wants a compromise. I prefer group one, especially since I think the fears of influencing the race by posting glum polls is baseless, but I have a lot of sympathy for group three even though they tend to be the nastiest with their criticism. We all want to win (even Eeyore!), and if you’re a sports fan, you know the special agony of being heavily invested in a contest whose outcome you’re helpless to influence. You’re not helpless in this one, of course — you can vote, and should — but the idea that merely mentioning bad news might sink Romney’s chances when we have fully seven weeks and four debates still to go is like sincerely believing that the Yankees lost because you forgot to wear your rally cap.
Like I say, I’m interested in reading your comments. I’ll leave you with this, from senior Romney advisor Ed Gillespie. Quote: “We have a no-whining rule in Boston about coverage in the media.” Click the image to watch.
My view is that for a long time the media/pollsters were biased toward Dems. But in the last 5 years (the era of Baraq & the journ0lists) they’ve actually become a functional arm of the Democrat campaign machine.
Yep, this election is Romney's to lose..
But do you believe that ALL polls are biased except Rasmussen?
Heck, even Rasmussen does not show Romney moving up at this point in time.
Are people ever drunk when they are polled?
“The anti-Obama voters whom McLaughlin has in mind are swing-state undecideds who either voted for Obama in 2008 or stayed home and are now persuadable by Romney due to their disgruntlement over Hopenchange. Theyre low-motivated fence-sitters.”
Yes, and the CBS news was pimping their biased poll tonight, and decided to try to highlight an undecided voter in Ohio.
Do you know who it was? You’ve guessed it before I even tell you, right?
A supposedly “moderate Republican” female karate instructor, who is leaning toward Obama because Romney hasn’t “moved toward the middle,” and doesn’t understand “regular people.”
WTF?? WTF?? WTF?? WTF??
Are you freaking kidding me? No wonder the country is doomed, if these people are the “undecided”.
And you know CBS went out of their way to find a (phony) Republican dissatisfied with Romney who reinforces the stereotypes about Romney that only the media agree with. The only people who think Mitt is “too extreme” are left-wing media-types.
There’s no way any REAL “Moderate Republican” could possibly think Romney’s too right-wing. Mitt is tailor-made for moderate Repubs and swing-voters.
Yet these scumbags highlight this woman to help Zero, of course.
The Fourth Estate are truly a bunch of bastards - I despise them. The Romney campaign might not want to complain about the media, but I WILL.
Don’t know - but I think they may not tell the truth of what they are going to do, just to mess up the poll. If I got called tonight (and I actually answered the phone), I wouldn’t tell them who I was going to vote for.
One thing for sure, If Obama wins, I will definitely drink more.
Only elections are acurate. Polls are for strippers and cross country skiing
I believe the concept of polls is flawed. Polls are no better than educated guesses and usually aren’t that reliable. Adding in the bias in the pollsters, you see that the best course of action is to ignore the polls. Ignore them even if Romney is shown to be the lead.
RE: Only elections are acurate.
Now that is a truism if I ever heard one.
The question we are all interested in at this point in time is this — ARE THE POLLS TODAY PREDICTIVE OF THE ACTUAL ELECTIONS?
Mind Numbed O-Bots!!!!
Actually Rass with learners shows Romney +2 today.
This is why the phoney media polling is so effective. They follow the Gobbles trick, scream a big lie and keep screaming it because eventually even people who should know better start believing at least some portion of the lie.
Even Fox news is getting more difficult to watch. Maybe we all should just drink and watch a bunch of guys run around on a field, while someone yells in the background.
The LEFT has been in full press mode in the last few weeks since the conventions.. This is about 3 weeks earlier than I can trace from the last 3 Presidential elections.. This kind of critical care “CODE BLUE” technique hasn’t been used since Clinton second term strategy this early..
Gore and Kerrey campaigns were a typical hard nose battles with semi bad candidates on both sides.. They usually hold off the big guns until October..
What makes this election so desperate for the Liberals is that this one could undo the party for a generation, because of the poor Obama performance, and the pitiful condition of the National Economy..
They are afraid that this enormous deficit could allow the GOP to make massive cuts in the establishment Government programs, with a pliant electorate in their corner..
Loss of Government jobs, a reinvention of the Unions contracts, and many folks going back to work with the Democrats in their rear view mirror, as the fall guys..
“One thing for sure, If Obama wins, I will definitely drink more”!......i hope you live in a warm climate. vodka drinkers in the former soviet union, get a snoot full, pass out, & freeze to death.
Great points. Makes a lot of sense.
The average person probably doesn’t know who is running for election in local races.
You are better off to trust your instinct than to rely on polls. I trust no polls, because they are influenced by, or employ liberals, and we all know how they are. My gut feeling is that America has had way beyond enough of Obama and the socialist crowd and will rise up like a massive tsunami come Nov 6. That’s how I honestly feel. We all knew that polls would be inflated to make obama look good. We should just grin and ignore them all the way to the polls.
If Obama wins, hopefully, the Senate and House will be Republican to have some checks and balances. Oh, I forgot, that many not work either.
RE: The average person probably doesnt know who is running for election in local races.
To make matters worse, there are a lot of Americans ( even in the so called sophisticated city of New York, the financial capital of the world ) who don;t even know WHO is running against Romney, or even whether Paul Ryan is a Republican or Democrat.
Watch Howard Sterns recent — MAN ON THE STREET INTERVIEW.
Remember back in 2008 when shock jock Howard Stern had his associates conduct “man on the street” interviews with Obama supporters? We’re sure you do. The results were both hilarious and depressing (depending on your political persuasion, of course).
Why were the results of the 2008 experiment hilarious/depressing? Because it became painfully clear that many of the people interviewed by Stern’s team had absolutely no idea what they were talking about or why they were supporting candidate Obama.
And if you thought it was funny (and/or depressing) in 2008, you’ll really enjoy the 2012 edition. Yes, Stern’s cohort once again descends on Harlem to ask a fistful of Obama supporters about the president, his accomplishments, and his GOP rival Mitt Romney.
What did the Stern crew learn? Well, among other things, they discover Osama Bin Laden isn’t dead, Romney is pro-choice, Obama is pro-life, and Paul Ryan is Obama’s running mate.
Now, it would unfair to say that the folks heard in the following video are representative of all Obama supporters. It’s a small group of very similar people. Even Stern admits they didn’t interview a diverse group. In addition, the interviewer does set up some of the questions in a leading way. So take the results with a grain of salt:
RE: Actually Rass with learners shows Romney +2 today.
What about the Battleground states? Does Rasmussen have similar polls on each of them?
The elections are not going to be decided at the national level but at the electoral college level.
OHIO, FLORIDA, VIRGINIA, COLORADO, IOWA, etc. What does Rasmussen show?
David Axelrod has in the last four years
Eliminated or shut up
Any media outfit on the US that got in his way or polling firm .
He tells the DC what to write and even previews columns .
These push polls are pure Goebbels propaganda dictated by Axelrod .
Fox has even canned Beck due to Axelrod pressure .
The USA media is a Obama media front group now and nothing more .
Allahpundit is a clueless idiot who
Thinks Nate Silver is fair pollster .
Yes the former Daily Koz employee is okay for this clown .
He is a useful idiot of the left .
None of them are to be believed. Tune them out.
“One thing for sure, If Obama wins, I will definitely drink more!......i hope you live in a warm climate. vodka drinkers in the former soviet union, get a snoot full, pass out, & freeze to death.”
Well, I live in a very warm climate.
If Obozo wins, it is unlikely that I would ever return to the USSA, not even to visit.
America will be destroyed if he gets anther term.
Fox was good just now. On O’Reilly Rove just broke down both polls released today for OH and FL and methodically (with the white board) revealed these polls as total BS.
Thanks for your work, SeekAndFind.
I have thought that polls showing us behind are helpful because people will be more motivated to vote. When we are ahead in the polls, it makes me nervous that folks will be lazy and stay home.
No sense in worrying, it is what it is. The more racket we make, the more we turn off the undecideds. I have a friend who is so conservative that she almost makes me want to vote the opposite. She yells at me when I take public transport.
I vote Republican. However, I’m thankful for many things that the liberals have done — e.g. they legislated use of car seats for infants and children, stopped smoking in restaurants, stopped burning of rice fields, have a heart for the alien amongst us as is commanded by our Lord, ..... But the liberals have done a bunch of bad stuff and they are stupidly proud of it and want to legislate more terrible stuff.
“Only elections are acurate.”
That’s right; how did those “registered Dem” voters do in MA and NJ in 2009? A lot of them voted for the Republicans (who went on to win).
How about during the mid-term “shellacking”? Same thing.
Elections are accurate, and Dems have been punished in almost all of them since The Sultan ascended the throne.
Swing state poll has Obama 46% to Romney 45%
Ohio: Obama 47 Romney 46 Poll from 09-13-12 at the height of the Obama bounce.
Fla 0 48, R 46 Poll from 09-13 at the height of the Obama bounce.
VA 0 49 R 48 Poll from 09-14 at the height of the Obama bounce.
CO: R 47, O 45 from 09-18-12
Iowa: R 47 O 44 from 09-20-12
So far from being a run away Obama win the race is very very very close. And that is bad news for an incumbent since the undecided usually swing 2-1 to the challenger.
Even Fox news is getting more difficult to watch. Maybe we all should just drink and watch a bunch of guys run around on a field, while someone yells in the background.
Agree. They are a buying into network polls as being accurate.
Particularly annoying today with AB Stoddard and Kirsten Powers spewing forth today.
Interesting that they never realize that they doubt Obama in their other segments but never stop to wonder why they think he is credible to the general voting population.
FY 2007 is the last year Bush/GOP Congress. Federal deficit $160 billion
FY 2011 Last year of Obama/Democrat Congress Federal Deficit 1.6 Trillion
There is utterly no way to sustain these kind of spending levels. Romney, for all his faults, at least sees this problem. The Obama team are completely blind to it even being a problem.
Polls, polls, POLLS - I am so damn (and I hardly ever swear) sick of hearing about these ten billion polls that are out...UGH!!! Especially when they have The ONE winning by a “substantial margin”...
Based on what you have been showing from Rasmussen’s Polls...
Here’s what is fascinating: over the past four years, Democrats have turned out more of their voters to the polls than Republicans by a 1% margin. You read that right - just 1%.
Yet, as the team at Breitbart.com just discovered, the polls being reported in the media showing Obama with this supposedly big lead do so only because they weighted the poll to have a 6%-10% Democrat turnout advantage.
Based on this, I think the truth is that the race in Ohio is a dead heat, and that’s why the media and the Obama campaign are working so hard to convince conservatives not to contribute, volunteer and vote.
This is all part of their psychological warfare...
This is easy. The polls we like are legitimate and the polls we don't like aren't.
Well yes in your case that is true.
For most people on this board a rational intellectually defensible polling sample is a good poll, an irrational, wild ass guess polling sample is a bad poll.
None of them.
RE: The polls we like are legitimate and the polls we don’t like aren’t.
Well, it looks like that’s another way of saying -— MY FEELINGS DETERMINE REALITY.
Hey, I feel like I can fly today... maybe I should do a Superman from the 30th floor...
Which rapes are legitimate?
RE: Which rapes are legitimate?
I think what Todd Akin is referring to are those sexual contacts that are FORCED on an unwilling woman. That can be legitimately called rape.
There are also those sexual contacts that are consensual where women later cry rape for the money ( especially if the man is rich ).
And then there is Whoopi Goldberg who says what Roman Polanski did to the then 13 year old girl isn’t “rape-rape” ( whatever that means ).
This election is ours to lose.
I think, more than anything, the media likes a horse race, rigged for their horse.
As a tactic, I think this has the chance to backfire on the media, in that, DumBO's constituency is less enthusiastic than they were, and, if they think it is in the bag, they may be less likely to show up.
I don't answer telephone polls at work or at home. Period.
Same thing with any internet based polls asking for personal contact information. No, thanks.
I used to make a little bit of extra money by registering with a company that paid me to come in and give my honest opinion of various product marketing concepts.
Participants were heavily screened prior to being invited to any particular “poll”.
In my short stint as a volunteer at my local Republican Party HQ, I was the one asking the questions. I was not impressed by the quality of the contact lists, nor the attitude of their call center manager. She lied like a Union Boss.
The primary goal was obviously to identify potential financial donors.
After this election, I WILL change my political party affiliation to “Independent”.
Focus groups, yes. I was a regular once, but they haven't been calling lately. You know what I discovered? The market research company was located on the third or fourth floor of a narrow city building. As we, the participants, collected our tax free cash, ate the cookies and chocolates and boarded the elevator down, I was hearing from my fellow opinion givers their true opinions, as often as not contradicting the opinions which they expressed in that room upstairs with a two way mirror wall and the microphones in the ceiling..
Just posted about that too...
They were disgusting in their most pontificating, superior, smug, lib dim mode...
In weaker moments, I dream of meeting them in a bar someday, able to tell them what I REALLY think....
In the Hugh Hewitt show he had a guest come on and explain that pollsters are only getting a fraction of responses that they did in 2008. In particular, Pew had a 9% response rate. I googled 2008 response rates and the first pollster that came up had a 38% response rate. That’s only 1/4th of the total.
Take a look here: http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog
Only Rasmussen’s “likely voter” polls are accurate.
Even Ras should be taken with a grain of salt. There might be a D+1000 advantage in the populace, but Hugh Hewitt pointed out in his show that the response rates are way, way down.
Like, 1/4 of 2008 down with only 9% answering. My gut says that the people who aren’t answering aren’t a representative sample of the overall, thus creating skewed ideologies within the 9% who are answering.
Well .. you can take “Ras” with a grain of salt if you want, but he’s the only one who hits the mark at the end of the election.
I just hope everybody is prepared for the onslaught of polls after the debate on 10/3. I expect the left will taunt us with over-estimates of how well Obama did .. and then try to show Obama ahead by at least 10 points.
Once a liar, always a liar.
I’ve decided I’m going to print out a sign, “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” - and place it just below my TV screen - that way I will always be reminded that Obama always lies.
Yep, that makes sense. I suspect the pollsters are going to be scrambling after this election year to come up with new polling methodologies. Either all the standard political calculations about economics, unemployment, approval ratings etc no longer impact on elections or the pro Obama polling is completely wacked. One way or the other this election is going to teach us a lot about America’s soul.
I didn't stick around to talk to the other participants afterwords, so I can't relate to what you experienced.
It does explain why I only got called in about four times a year.
I was getting paid for an honest opinion, so that is what I provided.