Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are the Polls Right?

I have been very skeptical of the polls lately showing McCain still leading and showing significant success nationally, but state to state Obama still leads and the electoral map is in his favor. McCain cannot win without both Ohio and Florida - per usual. But, Obama is also fighting for Virginia which is a dead heat. He is leading in New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa (still) all Republican strongholds. So, what is up?

Gallup's tracking poll, USA Today and CBS News all show the Republicans with some kind of lead over the Democratic ticket. But, interestingly, all three polls were also conducted using a higher sampling of Republican voters than in July, raising a question of methodology. Now, I don't think this should make us sit on our hands, but it raises questions about what these polling outlets are doing? For example:

Despite a raft of advantages in the electorate for Democrats, in September's first Gallup tracking poll, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats were surveyed (including "leaners") from Sept. 3-5, compared to a 10-point Democratic identification advantage two weeks ago. That partisan makeup of the polling pool resulted in a 5-point lead for McCain in Sept. 5 tracking poll. Meanwhile, the new CBS poll features a 6-point swing in partisan composition toward Republicans, which plays some role in the poll's two-point lead for McCain. Finally, the latest USA Today poll, which claims a four-point edge for McCain, was arrived at after a 10-point swing in partisan makeup toward GOP respondents.

So, it seems what happened as the Republicans came out of their convention the polling institutions (not all of them) swung the partisan make-up of their polls toward the Republicans. It doesn't take much for a swing to occur. This is also on the heals of Democrats still gaining voter registrants at a record pace (see the chart). Palin certainly revived the base, but how did she all of a sudden get Democrats to go her way and Hillary voters? Come on. I don't buy it. Read the rest of the article.

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