Thursday, September 09, 2004


PD falls for poll spinning . . .

Bill Sloat piece in today's PD covers Kerry's appearance in Cincinnati Wednesday and his speech on the war. In an otherwise decent story, Sloat stumbles with this:

"Now, most polls have shown Bush with a lead of between seven and 12 percentage points - though a few show the race remaining tight."

I know Sloat and the PD editors have the same access to the Internet and Lexis/Nexis that everyone else does, so this is inexcusable. Sure, Time and Newsweek showed that kind of lead. Some observers have looked at some of their polling methodology and feel there are some problems with these two. But even so, that's only two.

But Sloat is flat out wrong that "most polls have shown . . ." Looking at apples-to-apples (e.g., being consistent about looking at either "registered voters" or "likely voters"), most recent polls, in fact, show a tiny "lead."

A poll conducted September 1-5 by International Communications Research, has a 48-47 lead for Kerry among RVs.

A poll conducted entirely after the RNC by Gallup has a 49-48 lead for Bush among RVs.

Ditto for a polls by Zogby -- Bush 46 percent to Kerry 44 percent and Rasmussen -- Bush 47.6 percent to Kerry 45.5 percent.

Let it be known that the term "lead" is actually wrong in all of these examples since one has to look at the margins of error and state all projections as percentages of certainty.

But unless Sloat is looking at a bunch of secret PD polling data, his statement is flat out wrong. The only truthful comment could have been something to the effect that SOME polls showed a larger lead but more recent surveys indicate that Bush only received the same small convention bounce that Kerry did.

This is a classic example of how some media get stampeded in a certain direction and assume the conventional wisdom is true - without looking for themselves.

UPDATE: New national polls are starting to flood out and show the same problem with Sloat's comment. There simply is no 7-11 point lead and that for every one that shows a probable Bush lead, another shows a probable dead heat.
- Rasmussen Bush +1 (3-day rolling average)
- CBS Bush +7 (Registered voters, Sept 6-8)
- ABC Bush +6 (Registered voters,Sept 6-8)
- Fox Bush +4% (Likely voters, Sept 7-8)
- Gallup Bush +1% (Registered voters,Sept 3-5)
- ICR Kerry +1% (Registered voters,Sept 1-5)


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