Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Presidential Polling: What is the Correct Sample?
Wenzel Strategies ^ | 26 Sep 12 | Fritz Wenzel

Posted on 10/15/2012 11:01:33 AM PDT by xzins

by Fritz Wenzel COLUMBUS, Ohio-Sept. 26, 2012-There’s a lot of noice out there right now regarding the polling of the race for President of the United States. Some polls show Democrat Barack Obama up by a few points, while others show it is a really close race. Almost no polls show Republican Mitt Romney with a meaningful lead. That does not necessarily reflect what is really going on.

The reasoon Obama seems to enjoy a lead over Romney is straight-forward, and by now, well-explained: it is because the survey sample includes more Democrats than Republicans.

Simple enough.

The next question is the most important: “What is the correct mixture of partisans in a national poll?”

Different pollsters have different answers. Most, especially national media pollsters, have apparently decided that their baseline partisan mix should be based on the results of the 2008 presidential election exit polls. This is problematic for many reasons – chief among them being that election exit polls today are terribly flawed. Given the growth of vote-by-mail and early voting, it is no longer reasonable to assume that the people who show up to vote in person on Election Day are representative of the voting public as a whole. And then, depending on what time of day an exit poll sampler is gathering data, and at what polls they are gathering data, information can be badly misrepresentative of the electorate they are trying to measure.

Of course, most would agree that the 2008 electorate was not a normal presidential election turnout. The reasons for this are well-documented – the first time an African-American candidate topped a major party ticket and the collapsing economy being the two most obvious. Knowing this, it is also obvious that pollsters should not use 2008 turnout as their model for surveys gauging this year’s presidential race. That some still do is disturbing because it is tantamount to an admission they would rather be politically correct than statistically correct.

The other factor largely ignored by most pollsters is the rise of the TEA Party movement. Even Rasmussen does not include the TEA Party as a factor in his weighting of survey data for the presidential race. Instead, he has said recently that he uses some formula based on an aggregation of 2004 and 2008 election turnout data.

I appreciate that effort, and it brings Rasmussen closer to reality than most other pollsters, but in order to properly gauge election turnout, some calculation of the effect of the TEA Party movement has to be included, For us pollsters, this is where things get dicey, because we don’t have any presidential election experience in the TEA Party era. We have to make our own turnout models based on an aggregation of previous presidential election turnouts and the 2010 midterm elections, which admittedly is very difficult.

It has been said that public opinion research is part science and part art. This process of weighting our survey samples is the artistic part of the process. It’s just that some pollsters are more creative than others.

(September 26) ***This morning’s*** release of new surveys of Ohio and Florida voters shows Obama with huge leads over Romney, but those New York Times/Quinnipiac polls also include a 9 percent Democratic Party advantage over Republicans. This is likely because Quinnipiac no longer weights its surveys for partisan affiliation. It apparently gave up the practice in order to work with the New York Times, whose polling gurus have long eschewed such a step in processing polls. They simply believe it is proper to take whatever sample they get, and they got far too many Democrats in these two key states.

One more point about university-based polls to measure presidential elections: I have no first-hand knowledge that the Quinnipiac callers skew their interviews to help Barack Obama, but you should know that all of those survey interviews are conducted by college kids, the vast majority of which are very likely to support Obama over Romney. It simply introduces another opportunity for error to be injected into the polling process.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: elections; obama; partyaffiliation; romney
This is likely because Quinnipiac no longer weights its surveys for partisan affiliation. It apparently gave up the practice in order to work with the New York Times, whose polling gurus have long eschewed such a step in processing polls. They simply believe it is proper to take whatever sample they get, and they got far too many Democrats in these two key states.

One more point about university-based polls to measure presidential elections: I have no first-hand knowledge that the Quinnipiac callers skew their interviews to help Barack Obama, but you should know that all of those survey interviews are conducted by college kids, the vast majority of which are very likely to support Obama over Romney. It simply introduces another opportunity for error to be injected into the polling process.

Wenzel is saying, if I understand correctly, that some firms, and especially the NYTimes, don't "weight" heavily for democrats. They just use whatever sample they get. So, if they "randomly" call 100 people and 60% of them "randomly" happen to be democrat, then that's just tough.

I wonder if they view it similarly if they just happened to do the same with Republicans? We know they wouldn't. They'd adjust their poll.

AS far as college students being the most likely candidates to be conducting surveys for polling firms, I'd say that makes sense. They're in a politically charged environment, they need part time jobs, they are liberally influenced, and they have some exposure to research classes giving the appearance of qualifications.

And, I do agree that it suggests a danger to the impartiality of the data collection.

1 posted on 10/15/2012 11:01:43 AM PDT by xzins
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: xzins
Liberals live in a dream world where their vaunted leader is the greatest there has ever been and ever will be. And all of the people love him like no other. Only he will bring the world to the bliss of happiness for all, forever and ever. Amen.

Election day, even with bonafide voter fraud, will be one big truth match. None of the weighted polls and no amount of infused foreign money will keep us from the truth.

2 posted on 10/15/2012 11:21:02 AM PDT by Slyfox
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: xzins

If they call 100 people 40-80 of the contactees hang up on them. That is the problem with polls.


3 posted on 10/15/2012 11:32:11 AM PDT by DManA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DManA

I agree. It means that those who answer pollsters are different than those who don’t.

And that difference could influence how they answer political surveys.


4 posted on 10/15/2012 11:36:58 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! True supporters of our troops pray for their victory!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: DManA

Leaving aside the push-poll types of questions we know the NYT will use, based on relative maturity (”Oooh, oooh, pick me! Pick me!) and likelihood of having nothing better to do than answer a pollster’s questions, people who pick up the phone (and don’t want to or actually do tell the caller to go f*** him or herself) will garner a larger percentage of Democrats. They consider such nonsense a “significant” act. Sort of like their belief that wiggling on a street corner with pencils shoved in every available orifice is “performance art”.


5 posted on 10/15/2012 11:46:47 AM PDT by katana (Just my opinions)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: xzins
I don't know what the "right" answer is. But exit polls in 2008 has something like 7 points more Ds than Rs. The Washington Post just released a poll that had Ds outnumbering Rs by 9 points. In 2010, the numbers were fairly close. I find the idea that Obama and the Democrats have not only regained all the popularity they lost between 2008 and 2010, but also increased their 2008 popularity over the R's by 29% (9 is 129% of 7), delusional.
6 posted on 10/15/2012 11:50:36 AM PDT by Pilsner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: xzins
“Voter participation rate” is the critical factor for Conservative success - or failure.

Currently, Conservatives have the highest participation rate.

In terms of raw voting numbers, however, we are dangerously outgunned by the Socialist Left.

Blacks - 90% Democrat

New Immigrant Citizens - 75% Democrat

Non-Cuban Hispanics - 65% Democrat

White Women - 45% Democrat

For the last 5 presidential elections, the voter participation rate for these groups has slowly, but steadily, trended upward.

When their participation rate equals our rate, Conservatives will become a permanent political minority.

7 posted on 10/15/2012 12:05:01 PM PDT by zeestephen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: xzins

Displayed in the title question is the anser to why we the people should ignore polling ... if they can ‘adjust the sample’ they can skew the result to reflect whatever they are paid to produce. [I trust Zogby about as far as the Mooselimb brotherhood can be tossed.]


8 posted on 10/15/2012 12:05:55 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: xzins

I would like to point out that the Quinnipiac poll was NOT in the top 25 most accurate polls in 2008

see
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2936646/posts


9 posted on 10/15/2012 12:23:51 PM PDT by kidd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson