08 Aug Media Manipulation and Polling Prevaricators
Did you hear the one about President Obama being way ahead in three key battleground states, according to a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac University (CNQ) poll in July? Three crucial swing states – Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio – are all allegedly firmly in Obama’s camp for reelection, according to this poll.
In Ladies Can We Talk, America Needs our Vote, I talked about how the media and some pollsters use polling to shape, rather than to measure, public opinion. They do this for several reasons including to dis-spirit the candidate they do not like, and to sway voters who would prefer to vote for the likely winner, rather than for the person whose ideas and values they support. Ladies, let’s all agree never to be one of those voters!
So in this CNQ poll, large samples of likely voters in these three swing states were asked to choose between Governor Romney and President Obama as their choice for President in the election this fall. That’s a pretty straightforward question, so one common version of polling manipulation was apparently not used, the kind where they manipulate the question in a way that makes most people feel like they have to give the answer the pollster wants.
But another polling manipulation tactic was apparently used, and that is to skew the sample of people you polled. Like if you asked only your ardent Republican friends who they were going to vote for in the fall, and 100% of them said Romney, you might have a strong sounding poll result but it wouldn’t mean anything.
In the CNQ poll, we learned, thanks to a report on the Powerline blog, that the pollsters, to summarize, polled likely Democrat voters in larger numbers than likely Republican voters. And to be more precise, the spread between the selected Democrat versus Republican voters polled was much higher than the actual spread between the supporters of those two parties in the last election.
One quick example, quoting from Powerline and John Farmer:
—In Florida Democrats outnumber Republicans 36 to 27 = D+9, and these people polled voted in the last election for Mr. Obama by 53 to 40 = D + 13.
—Actual result in 2008: 51.2% to 47.2%, Obama winning + 4.
—Elected Republican senator in 2010.
To the mathematically challenged, this means that although President Obama only won Florida by 4 points in 2008, which they call a +4, the pollsters chose to survey for this poll a group of people who voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 at a +13 rate. Or, simply, they chose to survey Democrat supporters in a higher percentage than was justified by past election data.
Ladies, let’s be savvier than the media, pollsters and Democrat party leaders think that we are. Diving into the data or looking up online to find someone else who did the diving in work for us, will make us too smart to be fooled!