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Yahoo, Indeed

Last week, the Associated Press once again proved they are cheerleaders for Obama, rather than honest reporters of fact. This is illustrated in this case by the AP/Yahoo poll released, touted as evidence of Obama's continued dominance in the election, when in fact the numbers from that poll confirm the tightening race as it nears the end. Of course, you have to go looking for the link to the actual poll detail, and then you have to dig through and find the relevant results. But there are some interesting details indeed in this poll, details which should be considered in weighing the claims made by the Associated P.

Starting with the big question, who folks will vote for, the poll in question VOT3B tells us that Obama gets 42% of the support, and McCain gets 39%. Another 4 percent want someone else and 15% say they are undecided, which tracks with what I have been seeing in other polls. This tells us two very important things. First, 42 percent is not going to win, so both Obama and McCain have a lot of work to do, no matter what the media says. And with only 3 points separating them, the 15% undecided pool means that either candidate could reach a clear majority, or fail miserably. If you want to know why Obama is stressing, I bet it's because his own private polls are warning him about similar conditions.

Now, I generally don't like polls which press 'leaners' to pick a candidate, since we cannot say how sure they are about someone if their first statement was 'I don't know'. But the AP/Yahoo poll notes that when pressed, more went to McCain than to Obama (question VOT3BA).

The poll gets hinky when AP/Yahoo asks again who the respondents prefer in question PRES. The response from "all adults" is 44-42 Obama, but the "likely voters" are posted as 49-44 Obama. The problem here, is that nowhere in the poll does the group explain how they defined "likely voters", nor are there any questions which clearly define the sub-group, nor do we even know how many respondents are classified as "likely voters". The top of the poll identifies "1,769 adults; 1,528 registered voters. 873 Democrats; 650 Republicans", but that's it. Since we have seen a 3 point separation in the base question, and we know undecideds broke for McCain, it gets a little weird for AP/Yahoo to go from there to expand Obama's lead to 5, and since they never explain how they got there, the reader would do well to ask why they hid that part of the methodology.

- continued -

LV5 asks if the person is registered to vote. 86% say yes, so that tells you that unless the question was only asked of registered voters, one of every seven answers is irrelevant.

LV6 asks how often the person votes. 74% say always or nearly always, so another one in eight respondents (and one in seven registered voters) are not sure if they will vote this year, on the basis of their admitted practice.

LV31. goes on to ask if the respondent is "certain to vote" using a 10-point scale. Only 66%, about two-thirds of the respondents, say they are certain to vote. So we must be even more skeptical about the quality of this respondent pool.

VOT3BB asks if the respondent might change their mind, and 14% say they may change their mind.

PID1 notes that the party affiliation split for the poll was 40% Democrat, 27% Republican, 21% Independent, and 12% undecided or other, which actually creates a DRI split of 40/27/33, as usual for this year far out of balance with historical norms.

PARTYID goes further, noting that 49% of the respondents consider themselves Democrats, 37% Republicans, and just 14% other or Independent, a contrast to PID1 which is not explained.

Looking at the end-poll demographics, more information is revealed which helps us see the bias. 22% of respondents are identified as 18-29 in age, versus 17% in that age group's actual voting in 2004. In this poll, 13% of the respondents did not complete High School, versus only 4% of voters in 2004 who did not complete High School. 31% of the poll respondents have a High School diploma as their highest education, versus 22% of voters in 2004 in that category. The overweight is obvious.

Whites in the poll made up 69% of the pool, versus 77% of voters in 2004. Hispanics in the pool counted for 13%, versus 7% who voted in 2004.

In the poll, 84% of respondents live in urban areas, versus 30% of actual voters in 2004.

In the poll, a staggering 41% of respondents do not have a job.

And finally, 58% of respondents to the poll make $50,000 a year or less, versus 45% of the actual voters in 2004.

This poll is biased in six distinctly invalid ways relative to known demographics, and even then the AP/Yahoo poll admits the race is close, though they do everything they can to hide that conclusion in the press release.

Critics may claim that this is just one poll, to which I invite you to suggest another poll with complete internal demographic data. I will indeed be looking for just such polls, and you can count on a full dissection and report. For here, I consider this poll to be an intriguing example of how spin and deceit are hiding the true state of the race --- that is, unless you expect all of the behaviors of past elections to be completely abandoned this year.


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Comments (10)

DJ,What are your t... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

DJ,

What are your thoughts about how

1. inclement weather can affect voting on election day (first look at the WAY extended forecast has a significant snow storm for the midwest (OH, MI, PA, WI))

2. state initiatives and referendums can increase the conservative base?
Florida - sanctity of marriage
Missouri - immigration/affirmative action
Colorado - abortion rights
Nevada - property tax cap

Jeff you can add to your #2... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Jeff you can add to your #2, ballot proposals in Michigan:

Embrionic Stem Cell Research & Medical Marijuana

Excellent analysis. Thank ... (Below threshold)
Therese:

Excellent analysis. Thank you!

If Obama was clearly the frontrunner, the AP and Yahoo wouldn't have to do all of this manipulation. The fact that they are doing it says that the race is close or even that McCain is leading.

It all boils down to... (Below threshold)
Larry:


It all boils down to get out the vote. That was the difference in 2004 and it will be the difference now. On the other hand, Obama and his crew will leave nothing to chance.

If they can discourage voters from going to the polls to vote for McCain, they will.

Good analysis DJ. Thank you.

Thanks DJ. I have sent your... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Thanks DJ. I have sent your analysis on polls to so many people I have lost count. They call or e-mail just beside themselves about how bad it looks for McCain in the polls. They scream "They can't all be wrong!" I say yes they can, read this or use the link. I ask one question of them when they are whining. Ask yourself, Obambi has out spent McCain by millions on his campaign. If the country is primed for a change, they should be flocking to Obambi. Shouldn't he be 20 points ahead at this point? After all the economy should be working against McCain, right? Obambi's campaign has to be worried because he is not wiping the floor with McCain. He has not closed the sale and at this point barring a catastrophic event I don't think he will.

The thing that puzzles me, ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

The thing that puzzles me, if Obama's support base is really so wide (as supposedly demonstrated by well over $600 million in donations, supposedly lots and lots of them small ones that fall under the reporting range) then why aren't those incredible numbers of supposed supporters represented in the polls?

On review - what MPR said. If there's supposedly so MANY people willing to shell out for Obama, why isn't he way up in the polls?

So here's my question. If s... (Below threshold)

So here's my question. If so many polling organizations are vastly misrepresenting the weightings of so many polls, then there are only three explanations I can come up with for this:

1. Massive conspiracy to throw the election to one candidate, either for money or for ideological reasons.
2. Systematic methodological errors.
3. Poisoned well: the source for the voter weightings that everyone is relying on is bad data.

The first, massive conspiracy, is unlikely. Not only would such a conspiracy almost certainly be detected (and punished by the markets, because what polling organizations sell is credible data), but it would have to include people and organizations who do not have interests in an Obama victory. It doesn't fit reality in a way that makes sense to me.

Polling is notoriously difficult to do well, and disagreements to large degree (outside the margins of error) sampling the same issue are hardly unknown. And certainly there have been polls in the past that were poor measures of reality (cf, the 2000 election polls). Yet in order for this to throw off so many polls, the methodological flaw would have to be common to all of those polling organizations. Yet they all have somewhat different methodologies, so far as I can tell, including different methods of determining their weightings of party affiliation. This makes a systematic methodological error that affects these polls, but not other polls, quite unlikely, I should think.

The third explanation, bad data, seems to me most likely, and that leads to a question: do the polling organizations figure out the number of total registrations, or the velocity of new registrations, or both, into their party affiliation weightings? If so, is that what ACORN is really doing with its fraudulent registrations, trying to throw the polls to suppress Republican turnout, or at least to set up accusations of an election stolen by Republicans, with actual vote fraud a secondary or tertiary purpose?

I still want to know where ... (Below threshold)
Bamaman:

I still want to know where all the donations are coming from. Hasn't Obama still failed to report the source of more than half of his donations? I fail to believe that all of those donations are from legit sources, especially since that would mean almost every person who voted for a democrat in the last election would have had to give a few bucks.

Could they be just reportin... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Could they be just reporting the results as being close to keep people from being lazy? If Obama is ahead by so much then the huge amounts of people who would not have registered without pressure would not feel inclined to go vote when it counts. Where the polls were working in Obama's favor,could the polls now be done with the correct numbers so as to insure a large voter presence?

Over 50 percent of the resp... (Below threshold)
eaglewingz08:

Over 50 percent of the respondents in the poll wer democrats but Obama doesn't get more than 42 percent favorable? That's disasterous for the dems. A twelve point spread between democrats and republicans show that Obama should be up at least nine or ten points just from party identification in this manufactured poll.
This thing is winnable because party identification difference at most is five points and ninety percent of repubs are solid, whereas it appears that there's a twenty percent spread of democrats not attracted to their candidate, for some reason or other.




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