Don't Buy The GOP Spin On The Polls
With the first debate coming up Thursday, several pundits have begun spreading the meme that Kerry needs to do well in order to stay in the race, because of the state of the national and state-by-state polls showing advantages for Bush. But before this meme gets too much traction, it is important to take a close look at these polls to see whether things really are critical for Kerry, or whether this is another replay of 2000 where the media went into Bush’s back pocket too early.
First, with regards to the national polls, it needs to be pointed out that Rasmussen continues to show a 1-2% race, after showing Bush with a 4% lead last week. The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll out today should be automatically disregarded because of the GOP sampling bias that Gallup has built into their polls this season. Also the latest Time Poll, which came out Friday, showed that Bush has lost his big phony lead they gave him earlier in the month. But even this 6% lead is probably suspect since the Time sample is weighted favorably towards the GOP by at least 5%. This means that the Time Poll probably understates Kerry’s support, which the magazine already reports as coming back up. And the Associated Press/Ipsos Poll that showed a large Bush lead with men and an overall 7% lead is suspect since this poll does not weight for party ID.
Wisconsin has gotten much media coverage over the last several weeks as a Democratic state that is allegedly going for Bush. Well, not so fast. Of the recent polls that claimed a Bush lead, it is important to note that one of those polls as I indicated earlier was the flawed Gallup Poll, which you can toss out now. Another poll that showed an increasing Bush lead was the Badger Poll over the weekend. But the Badger Poll upon a closer look can be discredited as well. Why? Because the Badger Poll sample that gave Bush the staggering 52%-38% lead over the weekend contained a sample that was 36% GOP and only 29% Democrat, when the state’s exit polls in 2000 showed a 5% advantage for the Democrats. In truth, this state is not going for Bush in a big way, as ARG shows the state tied and Zogby shows the state with Kerry by 3%.
Minnesota is another state where the media is claiming that Bush is on the verge of stealing a Democratic state. Yet Rasmussen says that Bush and Kerry are tied in the state, unchanged from earlier in the month, while Zogby says that Kerry is ahead outside of the margin of error.
In Ohio, polls over the last several days show that Kerry has pulled back to within the margin of error of Bush, after falling behind earlier in the month.
Recent polls in New Hampshire show the race there to be tied.
Despite the impression from the media, recent polls in Iowa show that Kerry is within the margin of error in all of them.
Florida is also dead even now according to both Rasmussen and ARG, after the discredited Gallup Poll showed a Building Bush lead.
All of this means that the race is close, but that Bush isn’t pulling away, no matter what the Wurlitzer wants you to believe.