Explainer: "Skewed" Polling

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

RealClearPolitics presidential polling average as of 10/2/12 (RCP)

Republicans say that recent polling data favoring Obama is skewed. Jonathan Bernstein, political scientist who writes A Plain Blog About Politics, fact-checks the claim, and explains the tricky nature of party ID in polls.


Jonathan Bernstein

Comments [18]

K-Paul from Monmouth County

Polls that use random phone numbers to call generally get a good response rate as they will continue to call numbers until they've reached their limit. No self-respecting polling agency would use so-called self-selecting polling, e.g., call-in phone numbers and mass mailings.

Polls that generate and call 10 random digits will get both land-line and cell numbers; polls that pick phone numbers from a directory will skew away people who only have a cell phone: the young (e.g., my daughters) and the lower income (if you can only afford one phone....)

Oct. 02 2012 04:26 PM

Brian, nice job on the polling segmet. Unfortunately you failed to be objective. Both sides have political hacks with polls and historical studies claiming their candidate is going to win.

Oct. 02 2012 10:59 AM

Oct. 02 2012 10:44 AM

You are discussing polls and mentioned that the differences are based on the methods of gathering info. No discussion whatsoever on the actual methods different outfits use. That would be useful information.

Oct. 02 2012 10:44 AM
Joan Rubenstein from Somers, NY

If a Pennsylvania voter needs a photo ID, he or she can call 1-877-868-3772 or go to for information.

Oct. 02 2012 10:43 AM
Eliford Backfro from Astoria

How is polling data collected? Is it mostly via land line telephones? If so, that means that the data is inherently skewed to represent only older people, as many under 30 only have mobile phones.

Oct. 02 2012 10:42 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Caller Edward - That's what the Dems are hoping.....demoralize and decrease the anti-Obama vote.

Oct. 02 2012 10:41 AM

How about some fact checking on Jonathan Bernstein. He calls himself a "political scientist". In the academic and think tank discourse, that usually means a PhD, but Bernstein doesn't answer this question anywhere that I can see. And where is his own stance politically? He evidently wants to come across as non-partisan, but the links on his blog skew to the right.

Oct. 02 2012 10:40 AM

That's like saying Nouri kori is a biased trusted Brian Lehrer source on The Middle East! Wait... Bad example...

Oct. 02 2012 10:37 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The media's obsession with polling has gotten out of hand. Like France, we should ban polls 30-60 days before an election.

Oct. 02 2012 10:35 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I'm Barack Hussein Obama......and I approve this message.

(Love you back, Brian.)

Oct. 02 2012 10:35 AM

Please ask your guest about response rates. I believe that, along with "margin of error," every poll should be published with the response rate. No scientific study would be taken seriously with less than an 80% response rate, but I would be shocked if these political polls get 25%.

Oct. 02 2012 10:33 AM

If the polls were so biased, why does Fox News - the GOP's own media outlet - report that Obama is also leading?

Oct. 02 2012 10:33 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

GOP self-identification was in the low 20's after the 2008 cycle. That is part of the reason why the Tea Party could overrun what used to be the 'rational middle' of the GOP.

Oct. 02 2012 10:32 AM

Christie doesn't even buy the "skewing the polls" birther propaganda.

Oct. 02 2012 10:30 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

...or Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris et al. in Florida 2000.

The only path left for Mitt is to steal it.

Oct. 02 2012 10:28 AM
Joe from nearby

As Wolf Blitzer pointed out the other day, even Fox's OWN POLLS indicate the SAME things as the polls the wingnuts are whining about.

Oct. 02 2012 10:27 AM
oscar from ny

President candidate Romney needs to look into his party and see if he can pull a trick out of a hat like Joseph Smith..

Oct. 02 2012 10:13 AM

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