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.