Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Unreliable Polling Data

CNN/Time released new polling data for Indiana's presidential race today. It shows McCain with a 6-point, 51%-45% lead over Obama. Not wanting to lose out on any ad revenues, WTHR followed up with its own poll this evening, which claims Obama holds a 3-point, 47%-44% lead over McCain. The WTHR polls is suspect in that it claims Obama holds a lead among women voters. Other recent polls indicate that McCain has taken a double-digit lead over Obama among white female voters. Given that Indiana is overwhelmingly white, it seems unlikely that Obama would enjoy a lead among female voters. The WTHR poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. during the same period this week that the CNN/Time poll was conducted by Harris Interactive. You may recall that Selzer created a bit of a controversy when it first released poll results in last year's mayoral race and then amended those results after it came under fire for under-sampling minorities.

These two contradictory state polls today are not unique. I've noticed widely varying polls results for battleground states; one poll may show a dead heat race, while another poll taken about the same time shows a near-double digit lead for one of the candidates. I think polls conducted by news media outlets are subject to manipulation. There is an incentive to give the appearance of a tight race in a particular state to drive spending by the candidates in a market. McCain is obviously spending next to nothing here. I've been told that Republican polling shows McCain comfortably ahead in Indiana. I don't know why the GOP's polling would vary so much from these other polls.

2 comments:

Vox Populi said...

Here's the problem, AI:

When a candidate's internals show him "comfortably ahead" while all available public polling shows him trailing or ahead by 6 points (which I don't think is a "comfortable" lead), then their internal numbers aren't that much different than the public numbers.

If they really were "comfortably ahead," they would show their numbers to say "see?

Ann Selzer is widely regarded as one of the best pollsters in the midwest, as seen most recently in the January Des Moines register poll which closely predicted the Iowa Caucus results.

The Palin bubble is busting, and the race is returning to where it was in the summer.

arnie said...

Our "internal poll" for Marion County in House District 87 shows similar to the Selzer poll. We hope to come out of Marion County with a substantial margin to offset Hamilton and Boone county numbers making this race very close. And the percentages in Hamilton and Boone Counties are such that we feel an upset in the making.