Questions about Gallup’s daily tracking poll

The big news in polling today — aside from the daily tracking polls that show President Obama ahead except for where Gov. Romney is ahead — centers on the Gallup Poll.

From The Washington Post:  Gallup’s seven-day tracking poll shows Romney up by seven points — yes, seven — with likely voters. But he’s only up by one point with registered voters. It gets weirder: Dig into the poll, and you’ll find that in the most recent internals they’ve put on their Web site — which track from 10/9-10/15 — Obama is winning the West (+6), the East (+4), and the Midwest (+4). The only region he’s losing is the South. But he’s losing the South, among likely voters, by 22 points.”

From the Huffington Post: “Before examining the Gallup Poll, it may be worth considering some general advice: If one poll produces results that are at odds with nine others — for whatever reason and no matter who produced it — that one poll is probably off. Many find that advice difficult to take given Gallup’s long history and special prominence. So why is the Gallup result so different? The most obvious answer is its likely voter model, which has helped produce large and seemingly inexplicable shifts and differences with other polls in the past.”

From the New York Times: “In early September of this year, after the Democratic convention, Gallup had Mr. Obama’s lead among registered voters going from seven points to zero points over the course of a week — and then reverting to six points just as quickly. Most other polling firms showed a roughly steady race during this time period. Because Gallup’s polls usually take large sample sizes, statistical variance alone probably cannot account these sorts of shifts. It seems to be an endemic issue with their methodology.”

From ABC: “Stu Rothenberg, author of the respected Rothenberg Political Report, said, ‘It seems awful big to me, especially since Gallup has shown Obama’s job approval rising. I would urge real caution on just accepting face value on single survey, no matter who it is. … I’d want to see other polls showing the same thing before I jump to conclusions.”

— John Robinson

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