Lap Dog Media Turns To Lap Dog Polls
The phone rings …
Good morning, lap dog media and polling. How may I help you?
Why good morning Mr. President and what can we do for you today?
Yes sir, we can certainly come up with some polling to support our ongoing meme that the race is over and you’re going to easily win.
Oh, don’t worry about that sir, we know you don’t understand numbers and simple math but that’s why you have us in your corner. You just leave everything to us and enjoy your day.
The worst kept secret in the United States is that the media is in the bag for Obama, and their incessant meme of late is the race is for all practical purposes over. However a good story is better with pictures or charts so lately the media has evolved from just being journalistic hacks into mathematical hacks as well.
Much has been written of late about party bias in both national and swing state polling so I won’t regurgitate it here but a quick lesson in simple math and how it affects polling results is in order.
An individual poll is a snapshot in time with little long-term value. Trends formed over a period of time using multiple polls has greater prognosticating value but I digress. Here we just want to look at how the media has used biased polling practices to create inaccurate pictures to support their partisan reporting.
In a perfect world a poll would use a cross-section of people that exactly represented the demographics of the area being polled, the US if national or an individual state, but that’s impossible. However most pollsters try to get the demographics as close as possible to reduce bias in any direction.
For the purpose of this article the demographic we are concerned with is political party affiliation because it can potentially skew poll results more than any other demographic group. Certainly it’s easy to understand the more Democrats you ask who they’re voting for the more Obama answers you’ll get, and vice-versa. Now that doesn’t mean that every Democrat will vote for Obama any more than every Republican will vote for Romney, but you get the general idea.
The following chart represents the party affiliations from the 2004 and 2008 general elections, the 2010 mid-term elections, at the end of 2011 and the most recent available percentages for 2012. See the author’s notes below for the source of the data.
Before we go on let’s address a few things that are important. First, you can forget the 2004 and 2008 numbers because the 2012 race has little correlation to either of those years, despite punditry that would say otherwise, and you can dismiss 2010 because it was not a general election year. Second, the motivation of the voters within each individual party is an important number since a more motivated group of voters are more likely to actually go vote on Election Day.
For our purposes, we do not have to factor in motivation since both parties have a level of voter support that is reasonably close. That leaves us looking at the party affiliations at the end of 2011 and the current 2012 numbers which average 32% for the Democrats, 30% for the Republicans and 38% for Independents and Others. In theory then these are the percentages that any fair-minded and unbiased poll would seek to use as a sampling by party affiliation.
Let’s start with a few recent national polls presented by some media outlets and look at their results, party affiliation percentages and deltas against the real averages:
FOX News on 9/26 had Obama +5 with 41% Democrats (+9) and 38% Republicans (+8)
NBC News on 9/16 had Obama +5 with 32% Democrats (+0) and 25% Republicans (-5)
CBS News on 9/12 had Obama +3 with 35% Democrats (+3) and 22% Republicans (-8)
ABC News on 9/09 had Obama +1 with 32% Democrats (+0) and 26% Republicans (-4)
Therefore the party bias in favor of Obama for these polls respectively is 1%, 5%, 11% and 4%.
However it’s the swing state polls that come to the forefront, given that national polls are of lesser value since we know the Electoral College will come down to a just a handful of states. Looking at some recent media polls at the state level we have:
OH: CBS News on 9/24 had Obama +10 with 35% Democrats (+3) and 26% Republicans (-4)
FL: CBS News on 9/24 had Obama +9 with 36% Democrats (+4) and 27% Republicans (-3)
CO: CBS News on 9/17 had Obama +1 with 30% Democrats (-2) and 31% Republicans (+1)
VA: CBS News on 9/17 had Obama +4 with 35% Democrats (+3) and 24% Republicans (-6)
WI: CBS News on 9/17 had Obama +6 with 35% Democrats (+3) and 27% Republicans (-3)
OH: FOX News on 9/18 had Obama +7 with 42% Democrats (+10) and 36% Republicans (+4)
VA: FOX News on 9/18 had Obama +7 with 38% Democrats (+6) and 33% Republicans (+1)
FL: FOX News on 9/18 had Obama +5 with 42% Democrats (+10) and 37% Republicans (+5)
IA: NBC News on 9/18 had Obama +8 with 36% Democrats (+4) and 31% Republicans (+1)
WI: NBC News on 9/18 had Obama +5 with 33% Democrats (+1) and 28% Republicans (-2)
You can do the individual poll math but the average Democratic bias in these ten polls is 5% including one where there is actually a 1% Republican bias. Also these are only polls taken on behalf of media outlets and do not include some of the most abusive polls where there are biases in favor of the President by more than 10%. Truly a case of lap dog pollsters providing additional cover for the lap dog media and it’s no wonder, given such one-sided sampling, that the recent poll results favor Obama.
It’s no secret that most polling firms have had, and will continue to have, a political bent and tend to favor one party or the other. However, 2012 has seen an increase in the blatancy of such bias and a recent press release that accompanied a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, a known Democratic leaning firm, may be all that is necessary to see just how blatant. Consider the following quote and you be the judge if any faith can be placed in any organizations who would espouse such a statement.
“Barack Obama is starting to pull away in Iowa,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters there just really don’t like Mitt Romney. It would be more competitive if the Republicans had a half decent candidate.”
So what’s it all mean?
First there are few polls that can be taken at face value and Barack Obama is not leading by anywhere near the numbers, nationally or in the swing states, the media is citing.
Taking the last dozen published national polls (not including Gallup or Rasmussen’s Daily Tracking) and adjusting them for party bias, the popular vote stands at Obama with 47.2% and Romney with 46.4%. That’s less than 1% in a group of polls with a margin of error over 3%, while the RCP Average that uses polls at face value says Obama has a 4.1% advantage.
Looking at the swing states the RCP Average for those states that, in my opinion, are the true battlegrounds is up by 4.2%, but again adjusting for party bias the real number is 1.5% in the President’s favor. That’s less than half the margin of error and, to use an abused phrase, a statistical tie.
Despite the lap dog media narrative and their lap dog pollster numbers the reality is not at all what we’re hearing and seeing on a daily basis. In fact, if Obama loses in November, that phone just might ring again with a conversation that includes “Well sir, you should know better than most people using bogus numbers will yield poor results. Please enjoy your retirement.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The 2004, 2008 and 2010 party affiliations were obtained from exit polling conducted by Edison Research for the major media outlets and independent polling conducted by Pew Research. The 2011 and 2012 affiliations are the average of numbers published by Gallup, Pew and Rasmussen Reports.