Skewed Polls: Proof of a Vast Left-wing Conspiracy?

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Polling discrepancies may confuse voters deciding between Romney and Obama. Image courtesy of Voice of America

2012 Election Turnout Predictions

While Democrats may have turned out in greater numbers during the 2008 elections, critics say that is no defense for skewing in the current polls.

Writing for the National Review Online, Jim Geraghty notes that although Democrats had an 8 percent turnout advantage in Ohio in 2008, a September, 2012 New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac poll had a +9 D advantage.

The poll also used a +11 D advantage in its Pennsylvania poll despite the fact Democrats only had 7 percent more voters in 2008 than Republicans.

Meanwhile, a September study from Rasmussen Reports indicates Republicans may have the upper-hand when it comes to sheer numbers in 2012.

The polling firm found, as of August 2012, 37.6 percent of Americans considered themselves Republicans compared to 33.3 percent who self-identified as Democrats.

Perhaps making an even bigger case against polls weighted toward Democrats may be the advantage Republicans have in terms of likely voters. An October poll from the Pew Research Center finds 76 percent of those who are Republican or lean Republican say they are likely to vote in the presidential election. Only 62 percent of those who are Democrat or lean Democrat can say the same.

Are Pollsters Unfairly Skewing Poll Results?

While some may see a blatant liberal conspiracy behind the current practice of weighted polls, it is hard to definitely ascertain pollster intentions.

In 2008, Rasmussen published a defense of the weighting of its daily presidential tracking polls. The firm argued weighting helped smooth out the ‘statistical noise’ that inevitably occurs as a result of daily polling. In addition, Rasmussen reported a review of its June 2008 polling information found the outcome, over the course of the month, would have been the same with or without the weighting.

Regardless of whether the 2012 polls are fairly or unfairly skewed, there is little doubt the race between Obama and Romney will be competitive right to the end. And ultimately, the only poll that matters is the one that occurs on Tuesday.

Resources:

Princeton Survey Research. United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

Unskewed Polls. Romney leads in nine of 11 key swing states by UnSkewed Polls averages. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

United States Election Project. 2008 General Election Voter Registration Statistics. (2009). Accessed November 4, 2012.

Geraghty, J. This Morning’s Polls Project More Heavily Democratic Electorates Than in 2008. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

Rasmussen. Number of Republicans in America Reaches Record High. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

Pew Research Center. Presidential Race Dead Even; Romney Maintains Turnout Edge. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

Rasmussen. The Value of Party Weighting. (2012). Accessed November 4, 2012.

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