The Polls that Matter (and as Al Gore knows, the ones that don’t)

02Aug08

One may ask why, in the state of despair that America is currently in, that John McCain, member of the party that got us into this mess is now tied in the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll. Believe me, I am one. While Gallup’s poll may show a strong indication that Canada’s population will grow by a couple million by late November, there is also a more accurate poll that shows much more up lifting news. It’s the Pollster.com electoral map, shown here:

Blue= Dem

Red= Rep

Yellow = Tossup

For those of you dumb enough not to know the electoral college’s specific vote totals for each state, that puts the totals at:

Dems: 284

Reps: 144

Tossup: 107

Pollster’s methodology is arguably inconsistent, though it is also arguably the best. They take the average of every major poll taken in every state. Methodology, as you can ask anyone who was in New Hampshire this winter, is key. Let’s take a look at Gallup’s methodology, via their site:

The general-election results are based on combined data from July 29-31, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,680 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup has long been one of the most reliable polls in the country (since the 1930s) so it’s hard to attack their credibility. However, it’s not their credibility that is at stake here, it’s the way their results are being spun. As I’ve said before, every MSM news source were ecstatic about the closeness of the Democratic primary. The idea of it going to the convention would have been news fodder for the summer, and as it stood, networks got three more months of primary coverage than they are used to having.

The MSM are now continuing that close race story, with similar story lines and an inferior candidates. Let’s be honest, they are both inferior. After the recent pseudo-shift on off-shore drilling, among other things, I think it’s fair to call Obama weaker candidate than before. Not just because of his new position (which is disturbing because of his previous strong rhetoric, opposing drilling), but rather the flip-flop narrative is starting to cement itself.

(Blogger’s Note: I know Obama has not said he is actually in favor of drilling, but rather he said it would be on the table for an overall energy solution. Now if the Dems get the majority they expect, it may come off the table, but if they don’t, you can bet Republicans will hold him to these words)

That being said, there is still not much of a reason this race should be that close. And the Pollster map shows that in fact, it is not. However, the Gallup poll is a national sample. We don’t know where these people are that are being polled. Theoretically, the South could be over-represented, skewing the results. Gallup is basically presenting a picture of what the popular vote may look like on that specific day. So when the MSM runs with the Gallup numbers and seemingly hides the Pollster numbers from ever reaching the air, as well as not covering any of McCain’s gaffes, while covering the possibility of an Obama gaffe, they know exactly what they are doing: painting a picture of a close race when there isn’t one.

I don’t know if this is going to have an impact on the election, and I can only hope that we will see how wrong the media is on that fateful Tuesday in November.  If it turns out to be a blow out, as the Pollster results predict, I have to wonder if people are going to put up with the media’s blatant distortions.

That being said, these things tend to work in the media’s favor; the media sets the agenda and mindset for the voters. It’s not a good sign if you have as little optimism about the civic intelligence of the American public as I do.

Anyway, the full interactive Pollster map can be found here.

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