Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
If you think President Obama received a commanding bounce from the Democratic National Convention and is now enjoying a solid lead in the race for the presidency, it’s time to brush-up on how the liberal media plays fast and loose with presidential tracking polls in order to make their favorite look like he’s ahead.
Not even members of the mainstream media dispute the fact that their ranks are gunning for an Obama win this November. With less than two months to go in the race for the White House, they’re pulling out all the stops, making sure to portray their candidate in the most favorable light while over-reporting the slightest misstep from his challenger.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the deceptive polling practices that have been blanketing the news since the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention when Obama supposedly won as much as a six point lead over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
However, a simple look behind the numbers reveals a startlingly different picture of where the race really stands.
For instance, a CNN poll released on Monday showed President Obama leading Mitt Romney 52 to 46. The problem is that this survey over-samples Democratic voters and under-samples Independents which are leaning toward Romney by double-digits. Out of 822 registered voters, 441 were Democrat and 397 were Republicans which leaves only 37 independents in the poll!
Examiner.com explains what happens to the same poll when the errors are corrected.
“Unskewing this data to make up for the likely 25 percent under-sampling of independent voters shows the results are quite different. With the weightings of independents, Democrats and Republicans conducted by the Rasmussen numbers, this poll’s data would indicate a Romney lead over Obama of 53 percent to 45 percent. That is almost exactly the reverse of the 52 percent to 46 percent lead it reports in favor of Obama. The sampling skew of this poll actually reverses the result that should be shown by the data.”
In another poll conducted by the Washington Post/ABC, Obama’s lead is smaller – just one point – but in order to get even that much of a lead pollsters had to base their sample on an expected turnout model which is similar to 2008. Because Democrats turned out in higher numbers in 2008, that gives Obama a +7 advantage. The only problem with this methodology is that no one – not even the president – expects the same turnout numbers as he had in 2008. In other words, Obama really doesn’t have a lead in this race.
So why is the press producing and reporting skewed polls to the public?
“The polls aren’t really about accurately reflecting the state of the race,” explains Breitbart’s Mike Flynn. “They are about creating a narrative designed to depress GOP turnout.”
In other words, make an Obama win look inevitable so people won’t bother coming to the polls.
This is important because experts on both sides of the aisle agree that turnout will be the deciding factor in this race.
Fortunately, the New Media is checking into these polls as quickly as they are produced and reporting on some of the astonishing facts about them that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day.
For example, in both of the polls cited above, sampling among independents showed that Mitt Romney has as much as a double-digit lead. The CNN poll has Romney leading by 14 points among independents while the Washington Post/ABC poll has him up by 11. Both media outlets made sure their skewed results made headlines, but neither reported on the commanding lead Romney has among members of this crucial voting bloc.
Another tactic pollsters use is to poll registered voters rather than likely voters. Registered voters are those who say they probably won’t cast ballots as opposed to likely voters who say they probably will. Obama is always ahead in registered voter polls because voter intensity is greater among those who don’t support him than among those who do this time around. For instance, a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that just 20 percent of registered voters said they preferred Romney while 43 percent said if they were to vote, it would be for Obama. Forty-four percent of unlikely voters said they voted for Obama in 2008 so the higher number of people not likely to vote is solidly behind Obama.
This is why the first thing to look for when you hear a poll is what kind of voter the poll was based upon – registered or likely. The “likely” number is always the most accurate.
Another rule of thumb is to check the percentage of Democrats and Republicans polled to determine if the poll is slanted toward one party or the other. If the pollster or media outlet doesn’t release this information, ignore the poll.
Finally, stick to reputable polls. The Houston Chronicle recently published a list of the most accurate polls form 2008. Here are the top five:
4. Harris Interactive
5. GWU (Lake/Tarrance)
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