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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Misleading Polls

So, I'm over at Yahoo, reading an article on Obama's softening support among Democrats, which isn't surprising, it's hard to remain in the 70% region forever. Later in the article, it notes that according to the NY Times/CBS Poll, both Obama and Hillary Clinton hold 5 percent leads over John McCain nationally. That sounded suspect to me, since Rassmussen and Zogby both have it the other way around.

Then, in the last paragraph, they explain it:

The nationwide telephone poll was taken March 28 through April 2, with 1,196 registered voters participating, including 510 Democratic primary voters and 323 Republican primary voters.

19% more of the participants in the poll are registered Democrats! Obama had a 47-42% lead over McCain from this poll, but 46% of the respondents were Democrats. That means if he got all of the Democrats polled to say they prefer him, then he only got 64 of the 363 non-aligned voters to say they'd vote for him. If 63% supported him (as they say earlier in the article), then he got about 50% of the non-aligned vote.

Regardless, having that big of a skew in the polled individuals is going to skew the results. Pollsters will tell you they "normalize" numbers to take out the inconsistancies, but a 20% difference is hard to normalize, or justify.

Considering the Times and CBS ran the poll I guess my surprise should be at the fact they released the numbers on who they polled.

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