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More on Those (Un)likely Gallup Voters

Another nugget from Alan Abramowitz:

If you assume that Democrats, Republicans, and independents in their LV sample voted about the same way as Dems, Reps, and indies in their RV sample (see their "dissecting the vote" analysis on the Gallup website), which was 90-7 Kerry for Dems, 49-46 Kerry for indies, and 90-7 Bush for Reps, in order to have the overall result come out 52-45 Bush there would have to be about a TEN point Republican advantage in party id among LVs. (If you assume 30 percent Dems, 40 percent Reps, and 30 percent indies, for example, with those Bush and Kerry percentages, you end up with almost exactly a 52-45 Bush lead.) Now that is ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that Republicans are going to have a 10 point advantage among 2004 voters?

I sure don't and you shouldn't either. In 2000, the Democrats had a 4 point advantage over the Republicans. That advantage, in my view, is likely to remain stable in 2004, though it's certainly possible that it might diminish some (or increase!). But turn into a 10 point GOP advantage? No way. The fact must be faced: Gallup likely voters look pretty darn unlikely and give a distorted picture of political reality.

Perhaps it's time for a re-think on this one over at Gallup headquarters.

Comments

You seemed happy to accept the poll a couple months ago that had a large portion of Democrats and wasn't balanced for that. Now that not balancing for party shows Bush doing better, this is obviously bad methodology?

The convention gave a bounce to Bush because of how positively it conveyed his message. This isn't hard to believe. So, the convention gave a bounce to Republicanism because of how positively it conveyed the Republican message.

I get the argument about LV screens giving artificial boosts to Republicans, but why would Gallup and CBS (RVs) and Time and Newsweek all oversample Republicans? Could it be that the horrifying, lie-packed, but apparently effective, GOP convention convinced some previously independent or D respondents to consider themselves Republicans when pollsters called? This would "account" for Republican "oversample" but validate their results. (Maybe when the bounce fades, they'll go back to calling themselves Ds or Is.)


Do you have nothing to say about the latest Post/ABC poll?

In any case: I appreciate your analyses of the polls, which are accurate and teach me how to read them. But don't you get tired of it? WHATEVER the polls say, it's OBVIOUS that Kerry left himself open to the RNC death-fest by not taking clear and compelling positions on terror and security. It's OBVIOUS that he's in trouble--obvious from the way he speaks, from the way Bush speaks, from the scope and tenor of the entire debate between them.

More interesting than the polls are Kerry's recent attempts to take firmer stands and turn his campaign around. Do you think he's going to get traction with his new strategies? Or is it too late to convince people that he represents a real and compelling and heartfelt and angry and focused national security alternative?

If it is too late, he'll lose in the only polls that matter.

Read Ruy's comments until you understand why your premise remains faulty.

Bush did get some kind of bounce, but the way it is being exaggerated by the media, through their choice of this poll versus that poll, and the way it is being treated as conventional wisdom that Kerry has lost because of this, it is all very disturbing.

Whether or not Bush got the kind of huge bounce that Gallup and the media are trying to portray seems less important than the way it is being spun. Bush might actually gain support and Kerry lose support because of the spin that is being put on this.

It would be nice if we could get an alternative view on this into the media, but it doesn't seem to be happening. All we hear is Matt Dowd's spin.

Ruy, thanks for doing what you are doing. Keep it up. Please.

Three polls show it tied, including Fox and a Republican pollster, Rasmussen.

Zogby will show Bush with a 3-4 point lead tomorrow in his.

Gabby's got it right. The key is not letting these polls discourage our voters. I've thought for a long time that the LV sampling is wrong--but how to get it across? I think the best thing is emphasizing how wrong the polls got it last time.

Rob

I think it's kind of funny that Fox/Opinion Dynamics polls have consistently given Bush a smaller-than-average lead in recent horse-race matchups. I suppose you could concoct some switcheroo reverse-psychology conspiracy theory to explain this, but I think it supports Eugene "Pollkatz" Thiel's recent conclusion that while these polls all have systematic biases, most of them are not intentional.

OK, here's a conspiracy theory for you: the media really are on our side, just like the conservatives have been saying all along! They've been spinning the polls heavily in Shrub's favor so as to make the GOP overconfident, and to try to light the fire in JFK's belly. Fox is naturally trying to counteract that.
Any better ones?

Weeell... I don't think so.

And I don't think any polls are heavily rigged. There's just a huge amount of flawed methodology around. And the media are happy to go with big differences and sudden turn-arounds.

Let's just hope they'll soon get tired of the "Bush has already won" story. After all it's still almost two months to go. What do write about within one week, two weeks? "Bush is ahead, and he remains ahead. Isn't it amazing how ahead he is..?" Yawn.

I guess by now they'd happily take any poll measuring some swing to Kerry. I'm actually not that worried if Kerry comes to the first debate as the underdog. Expectation game, expectation game!

Not that I've got any trust in the "liberal" media, of course. But in November 2000 they almost got tangled in their own spin about "loser Gore". Those darn 350 votes in Florida!

I welcome feedback on the following draft letter to the Editor (in my case, to the WashPost), which I will probably send out tomorrow. Thanks in advance.

To the Editors:

What editorial standards does the Post use to decide which polls to report and what background information to provide to readers interested in understanding what they really show and don't show?

It is bewildering as a reader to try to make heads or tails out of all manner of polls the Post reports, showing widely divergent results on where the race stands. Some use likely voters, some use registered voters. Is one a more reliable measure than the other? What assumptions do polling organizations use to determine at this point who is likely to vote, anyway, and are some of these more reasonable than others? What is the track record for different polling organizations in predicting past results, and does that figure into the Post's editorial decisions about which ones to report?

Generally the only background context provided in the reporting of most of these polls is the dates on which they were taken and whether they were drawn from likely voters or registered voters. I'm trying to educate myself on what conclusions can reliably be drawn. But I don't receive any help on this from the Post or, for that matter, most of the major media print and TV outlets. Instead, they seem to act as if they are in a race to see who can "report" first the latest poll--better, worse or worthless.
(end of draft letter)

recognizing everthing said about the polls what i notice is the absolute inalibilty of kerry to make a simple point. listening to the sound bites on NPR today, bush made conscise points(even if they are basically lies) and kerry, even with the new W=wrong cheer, manges to deflate the emotion and add something extraneous,unneccessary, almost a non-sequitor, to each and every statement he makes, thus deadening the whole rhetorical pitch. maybe he ad libs, or the speeches are poorly written, i don't know.

and may i add as a loyal democrat i could not tell you one thing kerry believes in , including his real opinion on iraq.

one more thing: i live on south johnson street, san marcos tx. ring any bells? LBJ lived in the house next door when he taugh school here. after 6 years as governor and 4 years as presidnt i can say with real authrity that bush exhibits all the criteria for a DSM-IV diagnoses of narcissitc and borderline persoanlity disorders.

It would be more effective if you simply wrote one sentence:

"Why is the Washington Post ignoring polls that show the race tied, and why it is using polls with slanted methodology?"

Like Kerry, you say too much and obfuscate your message.

If I'm offensive, I don't mean to be, but I don't have much time right now. I like your intention, but brief things said with PUNCH get printed and/or heard.

My main worry about this is that BCO4 have clearly been following a strategy of "activate the base". I think they think that the swing voters are a lost cause. Maybe that's just what they want us to think, but why else all the fuss about gay marriage? While I'll admit that this poll seems an outlier, just how well IS the base activation plan working?

Normally, it's a loser's strategy, but Karl Rove is well above average when it comes to message.

The premise of the argument you cite from Alan Abramowitz is flawed ("If you assume that Democrats, Republicans, and independents in their LV sample voted about the same way as Dems, Reps, and indies in their RV sample. . . .").

Why assume that? We know that the population of registered voters is wealthier and more educated than the voting age population as a whole, and hence more economically conservative, and I think that it is a reasonable assumption that the same holds true for the difference between a wealthier and more educated group of "Likely Voters" who will eventually vote compared to everyone on the rolls ("Registered Voters").

But this assumption is what Abramowitz's own assumption (i.e. "if you assume") flatly contradicts!

If RV's are "assumed" to be as proportionately partisan as the LV's, well, then the game is up right away. We democrats can then just "assume" that the lower polls figures for LV's don't matter -- and ignore them!

After all, if the partisanship of LV's and RV's is identical, or assumed to be so, then why record the LV's at all? Just do RV's only and "assume" that's such is an accurate measure of the predelictions of who will show up on Election Day!

But no pollster, certainly after Labor Day, would ever dream of doing that! Are we then to believe that concrete differences between RV's and LV's in the data are explained by some other factor than partisanship, and unrelated to it? And what factor might that be?

If the Democrats want the partisanship of those who will vote on Election Day to more closely resemble the partisanship of the population of Registered Voters (RV's) as a whole, not to mention those of voting age as a group, then its candidates will do well to move the focus away from the National Security and more toward kitchen-table economics as we approach that day.

Assuming that RV's and LV's are of similar partisan composition is to blind oneself to the strategy needed for a good democratic turnout, and to guarantee disapppointment at the polls, when the difference between the opinions of Registered Voters and those of actual Voters is decisively and finally measured.