The blogosphere is alive with conspiracy theories — that the pollsters, all aligned with the Obama campaign, or succumbing to pressure from its henchmen (e.g. David Axelrod), are spinning out poll results designed to dispirit conservatives and Republicans, and insure Obama’s election by depressing the turnout for Romney.
I have seen many bad polls this year. Quinnipiac, a respected pollster in years past and now aligned with the New York Times and CBS, has had a series of very favorable polls for Obama over the last few months in some key battleground states, including Ohio and Florida. The samples of voters who were polled in both states included a higher number of Democrats than Republicans. More significantly, the samples included voters who stated they voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 by margins 10% greater than Obama received in each state. The Quinnipiac director of polling admitted that he had not adjusted the poll sample in each state to fit a fixed ratio with allegiance to each political party or based on prior presidential voting. This is not evidence of deliberate bias, but suggests these particular polls are not to be believed — the samples are heavily skewed towards favorable results for Obama.
Public Policy Polling (PPP), a polling firm that does work for the hard-left Service Employees International Union, has had a solid bias towards Obama in pretty much every survey this year. However, there was one notable exception. On the day after Todd Akin put his foot in his mouth on the subjects of rape and the female reproductive system (two topics about which he obviously knew not a thing), many Republicans were demanding that Akin bow out of the race so that a more mainstream, sensible Republican could replace him and win the very winnable Missouri Senate seat held by Claire McCaskill, the highly vulnerable incumbent.
On the day after Akin’s interview became big news, PPP released an instant poll that showed Akin ahead by one point. Oddly enough, after oversampling Democrats in pretty much every other state so far this year, PPP polled many more Republicans than Democrats for this poll, making it far more likely the result would be favorable to Akin. Akin decided to stay in the race, and without a doubt the PPP poll firmed up his resolve to fight on. On the other hand, a poll in Florida by a group previously unknown to me showed Romney up by 15%. I think it unlikely that either candidate can win Florida by more than 3%, so this one seems to be off-the-charts wrong.
Given this abbreviated history of bad polls over the last few months, it is not surprising that some on the right are convinced the fix is in with the new numbers out the last few days showing Obama with a 4-5 point lead over Romney following the Democratic National Convention. Sarah Hoyt chides the naysayers on the right who have noticed the Obama poll bump:
And then you look at the polls that caused this “sky is falling” fit. What are those polls? Those polls are, in fact, the same old sh*te. They poll all adults, which you KNOW skews Democrat. They poll registered voters, which you know skews Democrat. They poll with a skew of 4% Democrats over Republicans as though this were still 2008, as if 2010 had never happened.
Much as I am rooting for the poll numbers to turn around and for the Obama poll bump to dissipate, here are the facts to date: