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RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:07 am    Post subject: US poll dispute - polling too many democrats ? Reply with quote

( is this the reason for such high polling numbers for Obama ? or is romney actually that far behind ? )


U.S. poll dispute: more acrimony ahead

By PATRICIA ZENGERLE, Reuters



WASHINGTON - It has become the new battle cry for Republicans: All the polls showing Mitt Romney trailing by big margins are just wrong because pollsters are interviewing too many Democrats.

Surveys showing President Barack Obama leading nationally by 5 to 7 points, and even more in swing states, have come under fire from the Romney campaign and conservatives who accuse polling companies of misjudging their data at best, and deliberately skewing it against Romney at worst.

While pollsters say the Republicans are griping because they are losing, the kernel of the conservatives’ complaints - that pollsters frequently survey more Democrats than Republicans - is true.

But poll companies do not go out of their way to find Democrats - it is just that there are more of them on voter registers than there are Republicans and independents.

Thirty-five percent of registered voters identify with Democrats, 28 percent with Republicans, and 33 percent are independents, according to a Pew study in August.

That make-up of the electorate is reflected in many of the recent polls that show Obama well ahead in the race for the Nov. 6 election.


Even then, Democrats do appear to be over-represented in some of the surveys being criticized by Republicans. The percentage of Democrats interviewed in some polls is a few points higher than the 35 percent found in the Pew study.

“I’m a little uncomfortable at some of the samples, which strike me as surprisingly Democratic,” said Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, which analyzes political races.

But given the number of public - and internal campaign polls - with similar results, Rothenberg said it was clear that Obama had a healthy lead over Romney, 40 days before Election Day.

“If I don’t focus on an individual poll here or there and look at the dynamic of the race, and the broad array of polls, it tells me that the president has a significant lead at this point,” he said.

The debate over polls intensified on Wednesday, when a trend of improving numbers for Obama solidified. A Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS poll in particular drew protests for giving Obama big leads in the swing states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University polling institute, said Quinnipiac’s samples were random.

Quinnipiac, like most pollsters, does not choose who it will interview based on party affiliation.

If a certain percentage of respondents are Democrats, then that is just because it has turned out that way, Brown said.

“Our numbers are based on a random sample,” he said. “We get what we get.”

Some conservatives agree reluctantly that, overall, the polls are not going in Romney’s favor.

“I’ve been in politics long enough to know that the louder one side gets complaining about the polls, the more likely it is that this is the side that, in reality, actually is losing,” conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who runs the RedState blog, wrote on Thursday.

POLLS ’PERFORM QUITE WELL’

Pollsters point to history, noting that surveys often get the races right.

“I don’t want to be making a claim that the polling is infallible, or even that the average of the poll is infallible,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University poll in Wisconsin. “But the more polls we have across more races, meaning different states and nationally across different years ... on average they perform quite well.”

In 2010, when Republicans won huge victories in the midterm elections, Democrats accused polling firms of oversampling Republicans, but the results proved them wrong.

The last presidential election when pollsters were off track was George W. Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2000, when opinion surveys forecast that the Republican would win the popular vote, but he ended up trailing Al Gore.

This year, conservatives began grumbling about alleged Democratic oversampling after the two parties’ conventions, when Obama’s poll numbers began to tick upward.

The complaints got louder as the Democrat’s post-convention “bounce” became a consistent lead in many national polls. Virtually every poll, the critics said, except for the one run by conservative commentator Scott Rasmussen, oversamples Democrats to boost Obama’s election prospects.

Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners the new polls were part of a conspiracy to convince Republicans to give up on winning the White House.

“They are designed to do exactly what I have warned you to be vigilant about, and that is to depress you and suppress your vote,” Limbaugh said on his popular show.

Obama is leading Romney by 7 percentage points in the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking survey, roughly in line with many other polls. Rasmussen has the race tied at 46 percent.

Some conservative outlets, like the website unskewedpolls.com, recast polls to reflect what they say is the true Republican share of the electorate. The website has Romney leading by an average of 7.8 percent nationally.

Top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said some surveys were assuming a higher Democratic turnout in 2012 than was likely.

“They contain some flawed methodology that’s been pointed out by other people that assume a higher Democratic turnout in 2012 than we actually experienced in 2008. I don’t know any political operative or political scientist who believes Democrats are going to turn out in the same numbers that they did four years ago,” he said.

The stakes are high for candidates when polling gets bad. Donors are unlikely to open their wallets for races they see as lost causes, and supporters are less likely to turn out to volunteer or vote for a candidate who seems headed for defeat.

There are also risks to looking too good. A candidate who seems to be cruising to victory might lose donors who decide he does not need their money. Complacent supporters are also more likely to stay home on Election Day.

But pollsters note their stakes are equally high, with solid business reasons to get their calls right.

“Our reputation is based entirely on our ability to accurately call the election,” noted Cliff Young, managing director of Ipsos Public Affairs, which is conducting polls this year for Reuters.

“At the end of the day, calling the election correctly is the key proof point that you are a competent pollster.”

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/US.....41071.html
Bugs





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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been following this closely, in part because Cosmo and I have a hanging disagreement about the accuracy of polls and their real role in campaigns.

It turns out that pollster's practices vary a lot from their professed ideals.

To be fair, it's getting harder and harder to get people to participate in surveys. Even locating them is difficult, now that cell phones are so prevalent ... so that a truly random sample is getting harder and harder to achieve.

What they are doing is effectively finding convenient samples of one demographic group here, another demographic group somewhere else, and then they mathematically construct the whole picture out of these parts. Such surveys aren't so much one random sample as a collection of random sample.

Frankly, I don't know know how this would affect the margin of error, but my bet is that the pollsters ignore these mathematical niceties, and plow on.

They 'construct' their final result by using some model of the participation rate of each demographic group. If they know that US Blacks were 10% of the vote in the last election, they use that figure to guide them. This is where the problem comes in -- in the last election, the participation of some groups soared way above normal. Blacks, for instance, voted a lot more heavily than they usually do. So did young people.

In other words, there is every reason to believe that the participation pattern that occurred in the last election was an outlier. Any poll that used the last election as their demographic model is likely seriously biased for Obama.
Bugs





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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another installment in the growing debate about the games pollsters play ...

Quote:
Drop in Ohio voter registration, especially in Dem strongholds, mirrors nationwide trend


"Don't boo, vote," President Obama often says in his stump speech whenever crowds boo a Romney plan.

The off-hand call to vote may be by design. It comes amid a precipitous decline in Democratic voter registration in key swing states -- nowhere more apparent than in Ohio.

Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from four years ago. Of that reduction, 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

"I think what we're seeing is a lot of spin and hype on the part of the Obama campaign to try to make it appear that they're going to cruise to victory in Ohio," Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost said. "It's not just Cuyahoga County. Nearly 350,000 of those voters are the decrease in the rolls in the three largest counties, Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin."

Frost points out that those three counties all contain urban centers, where the largest Democrat vote traditionally has been.

Ohio is not alone. An August study by the left-leaning think tank Third Way showed that the Democratic voter registration decline in eight key swing states outnumbered the Republican decline by a 10-to-one ratio. In Florida, Democratic registration is down 4.9 percent, in Iowa down 9.5 percent. And in New Hampshire, it's down down 19.7 percent. [....]

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politic.....z27v0g1rSX


It's another kind of poll, and it augers ill for the Democrats.

Comments?
Bugs





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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another contribution ...

This time, from a pollster giving testimony in a serious trial.
Quote:

A pollster under oath

When a pollster or strategist for a struggling political campaign presents what seems like a sugar-coated view of his candidate's chances, do you ever think: I wish I could give that adviser some truth serum, or maybe put him under oath?

Well, truth serum may be pushing it, but the put-him-under-oath part has actually happened. And when a pollster is required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, under penalty of perjury, what emerges is quite a bit different than what you hear in the waning days of a presidential campaign.

In May, the pollster for Al Gore's presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards's in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards's mistress.

Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards's 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

"They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters," Hickman testified on May 14 at the trial in Greensboro, N.C. "We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find."

Hickman testified that when circulating the polls, he didn't much care if they were accurate. "I didn't necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign," the veteran pollster said. [....]
(Emphasis added)

http://www.politico.com/blogs/.....37100.html


Comments?
Dolphin





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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Real Clear Politics average for the last weeks of the Wisconsin Governor Recall race was only 1/10 of a point off. Some individual polls are skewed Dem but others are skewed Republican. But it is safe to say Romney is behind.
With the debate last night things might change, but averaged out the polls are accurate.
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dolphin wrote:
The Real Clear Politics average for the last weeks of the Wisconsin Governor Recall race was only 1/10 of a point off. Some individual polls are skewed Dem but others are skewed Republican. But it is safe to say Romney is behind.
With the debate last night things might change, but averaged out the polls are accurate.


The Romney win in the debate will turn matters around in the short term;
It will be interesting to see what Ohio and Florida look like in a few days.
Bugs





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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dolphin wrote:
The Real Clear Politics average for the last weeks of the Wisconsin Governor Recall race was only 1/10 of a point off. Some individual polls are skewed Dem but others are skewed Republican. But it is safe to say Romney is behind.
With the debate last night things might change, but averaged out the polls are accurate.


One would hope so, but I can't remember a single case of a Republican-skewed poll. Or, in Canada, a Conservative-skewed one. I haven't taken up a systematic study, so if anyone knows of a case that disproves me, please offer it ...

Most of the time, members of the general public can't tell -- and they just look at the 'headline number' anyway.

There is a long record of pollsters underestimating conservative candidates. Famously, they had Jimmy Carter ahead when Reagan got elected. Pollsters have regularly underestimated the Conservative vote in Canada by a few percentage points. The pollsters, themselves, know that their sample regularly overestimates one party's presence by 2-3% -- and allow for that in their private interpretations.

It's not easy to get a truly random sample of the electorate. The difficulties are being compounded because people are growing less and less cooperative with telephone surveys. It gets expensive.

But it doesn't mean that they don't use that to fool the public.
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:

I can't remember a single case of a Republican-skewed poll. Or, in Canada, a Conservative-skewed one. I haven't taken up a systematic study, so if anyone knows of a case that disproves me, please offer it ...


In the case of the CPC;
Its normally COMPAS that tends to give the Tories a much higher level of support then they actually have;

Four days prior to the 2011 Election they had the CPC @ 46%
http://compas.ca/data/110501-F.....l-EPCB.pdf

For the GOP;
Wenzel Strategies have been the only polling agency that seems to imply that Todd Akin is "running away with it" in Missouri as recently as last week,

http://images.politico.com/glo.....012_2.html

Gravis has also been one of the few showing a leaded for Allen in Virginia that just seems to high compared to everyone else:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/1055.....ng-9-11-12

However, the overwhelming majority of off the beaten path pollsters tend to overpoll Dems (IMO) when compared to agencies I would consider to be reputable.


Last edited by cosmostein on Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
Bugs





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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly, COMPAS would make your point.

But with the American polling organizations, it's harder to judge. Wenzel Strategies may be right, for example. Missouri is one of those states where religion is important. Abortion is a big issue. It's also a 'Tea Party' state. McCaskill has been a loyal Democrat, supporting all the bailouts, etc. Let's not judge Akin by the lampoon presented by the media. It was (at worst) a stupid thing to say.

But a lot of Missourians want McCaskill gone, and the Tea Party doesn't play footsie with the media.

I've got to say, though, that the sample doesn't seem to have many black people in it. And the state's population is older and poorer than many areas. It's Bible Belt country.

Who knows? But the skew does generally favour the Democrats and left Canadian parties, don't you agree?
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:
But the skew does generally favour the Democrats and left Canadian parties, don't you agree?


Generally speaking if you look at every poll and take them at face value then absolutely.

In Canada its a little different;
I think the criteria to be a pollster of "note" is a little different, as you in the States Universities and small news agencies have polling data which somehow becomes national news.
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US poll dispute - polling too many democrats ?

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