Tag Archives: Slate

Are the polls purposely skewed?

There has been much discussion lately — mostly by Republicans — that polls showing President Obama leading the presidential race are skewed. The answer is no. Here’s a roundup.

CNN— It has the best description of the “discussion.”

“It’s a conspiracy theory of the highest level: media organizations allegedly manipulating data in public opinion polls to try and help President Barack Obama win a second term. Democracy crushed. The accusations are predicated on the idea that some media organizations are interviewing too many Democrats in their surveys, which skew the results in way to benefit Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Washington Post — The best explanation of polling. “What all of the above points to is the reality that polling is equal parts art and science. The best of the best — like the folks at the Post — understand that putting together the sample for any poll involves weighing what we know the electorate looked like in the past with what it looks like today and what it will look like on Nov. 6.”

Gallup — It has the best defense of polling. “Interested observers often opine that when a given poll shows that Candidate X is ahead, it cannot be correct because there is a higher percentage of voters who identify with Candidate X’s party in the sample than there should be, based on comparison to some previous standard. There are several reasons why this is a faulty approach to evaluating a poll’s results.”

Slate — It has an interesting “unskewing” of polls. “Dean Chambers, who runs unskewedpolls.com, quicky worked his usual magic on the Fox data but this time his “unskewing” wasn’t enough to move the numbers in the GOP’s favor.”

— John Robinson

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The presidential horse race in animation

Every day I check the Gallup site to see what it is tracking. I’ve watched the approval rates of President Obama and the Republican candidates ebb and flow day-to-day. I look at them but don’t pay much attention to them. My interest is what’s happening that make people respond one way or the other. I’ve always thought iy unfortunate that the media  focuses on the horse race rather than issues.

Finally, Slate has captured the daily polling just right: as a horse race. Reminds me of being at the State Fair and playing that arcade game in which you shoot water at a target to advance your horse. Check it out for a little midweek fun.

(Hat tip to Jason Husser of Vanderbilt University, soon to be assistant director of polling here.)

— John Robinson