The truth about 2012 polls
By Douglas E. Schoen
In the 2012 race for the White House President Obama is ahead, but the polls are misleading.
It seems that each new poll brings good news for Obama. He’s up six points nationally according to the latest Bloomberg numbers. Gallup’s weekly tracker has the president up six as well. And it looks like crucial swing states are going for Obama in a big way: the latest Quinnipiac poll gives Obama a nine point edge in Florida, a 10 point advantage in Ohio and a 12 point lead in Pennsylvania.
To be sure, Obama is ahead in this race. But by how much has become a serious point of contention and one that deserves further examination.
Republicans and Democrats alike have honed in on the fact that recent media polls are oversampling Democrats. Indeed, we have seen many polls that are heavily skewed. There was the Washington Post/ABC poll that had a +9 Democrat skew in late August. There was the Marquette poll for Wisconsin from two weeks ago with a D+8 sample. And the newest swing state poll from Quinnipiac gave Obama a spread between Democrats and Republicans that was even greater than the historic Democrat advantage in 2008, a seven point spread between voters identifying themselves as Democrats or Republicans at 39 percent to 32 percent, in each state they polled.
In a recent interview, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse made the argument that these mainstream polls are skewed in favor of Obama. “I don’t think [the polls] reflect the composition of what 2012 is going to look like,” he said.
In order to address this, some conservative outlets have taken matters into their own hands. One website, www.unskewedpolls.com, has begun reweighting mainstream polls to more closely track the demographic assumptions that the conservative leaning Rasmussem Reports uses. The results have been staggering: the re-weighted polls all put Romney ahead of Obama with margins of between 3 and 11 points. If one looks at the Real Clear Politics average Obama is currently up four percent over Romney. But according to UnSkewedPolls.com, Romney has a 7.8 percent edge on Obama.