Cooking the Polls for O?

Something has been nagging at me, Save Jerseyans, and I need to share it with you.

The RealClearPolitics or “RCP” average continues to show President Barack Obama with a statistically insignificant but frustratingly persistent lead over presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney. A 0.2% lead to be exact. I’ve begun to ponder the accuracy of this oft-referenced amalgamation of national polling data.

RCP was certainly close in 2008. Obama won by 7.3% nationwide; RCP’s final “average” predicted a 7.6% Obama win. Not bad, right?

But what about now? This time around, there’s good reason to suspect the validity of many of the polls included in their survey.

Consider the following historical information…

In 2004, national exit polling showed a roughly even split between Democrats and Republicans voters – 37% each – participating at the polls on Election Day.

Four years later, in one of the worst cycles for Republicans in modern history, Democrats turned out in slightly yet significantly higher numbers than Republicans – 39% (DEM) to 32% (GOP). And then in 2010, when the wave turned back again Democrats, we returned again to an even split similar to 2004 – 35% (DEM) to 35% (GOP).

So why are opinion pollsters employing super high-end Democrat turnout models for their 2012 surveys?

Take the latest Ipsos/Reuters poll which shows Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by 7-points, 49% to 42%. But look at the sample itself, Save Jerseyans, and you’ll see a pool of 1,131 adults of which 47% self-identify as Democrats and 38% as Republicans. That’s a projected 9-point Democrat advantage for 2012 or, in comparative terms, a full 9-points better than Democrats performed in 2004 when G.W. Bush was reelected and even 2-points better than Democrats did in the infamous Obama “wave” year of 2008 when all factors – economic, demographic, cyclical, etc. – seemed to be clearly in their favor.

2012 will be very different. The economy is an anchor around the Administration’s neck. Even Obama loyalists openly expect a much closer contest this time around. The President is polarized, less-popular and facing a much stronger Republican Party than the deflated ’08 GOP which was still grappling with losing Congress and thousands of down-ballot offices in 2006. For sure, Mitt Romney has some enthusiasm issues of his own. It won’t be easy to beat a well-funded incumbent. It never is.

However, there’s no denying that enthusiasm remains a very real problem for President Obama with key liberal base groups including young voters and Democrat generally – one survey even shows Democrat enthusiasm lagging by as much as 16-points from ’08!

All of this begs the question, doesn’t it: why aren’t pollsters relying on a voter political ID turnout model closer to ’04? Are they simply (1) flush with optimism for the President for completely unforeseeable reasons? Or are these Democrat-heavy surveys (2) intended to buoy their preferred candidate?

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, Save Jerseyans.

 

187 thoughts on “Cooking the Polls for O?

  1. If everything holds right, the President only needs to win Ohio to be re-elected. The polls show him leading in other battleground states as well. You just can't think of this as a nationwide contest. It is state by state.

  2. Richard Mourdock's final margin over Sen. Dick Lugar in the GOP primary was a punishing 61-39 despite polling at a 10 point difference. The Protection of Marriage Amendment in North Carolina was a similar blowout despite polling much closer.

    Remember that when pollsters tell you that Obama and Romney are neck and neck and that the TEA Party is dead.

  3. I don't see this as cooking the polls for Obama. There is a debate within the polling industry whether to adjust for political party affiliation. This is a poll of registered voters. Actually a lead of 7 points among registered voters means that the race could be very close when adjusted for

    What's the big deal? There was a Suffolk University poll showing a 9 point Jon Corzine lead. A Suffolk University poll that was taken about three weeks before the Brown/Coakley election showed Coakley with a 17 point lead.

    Anyway, don't get excited about this poll or that poll.

  4. I don’t see this as cooking the polls for Obama. There is a debate within the polling industry whether to adjust for political party affiliation. This is a poll of registered voters. Actually a lead of 7 points among registered voters means that the race could be very close when adjusted for who is likely to vote.

    What’s the big deal? There was a Suffolk University poll showing a 9 point Jon Corzine lead. A Suffolk University poll that was taken about three weeks before the Brown/Coakley election showed Coakley with a 17 point lead. Did those polls really matter?

    Anyway, don’t get excited about this poll or that poll

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