Sunday, November 02, 2008

Funky Gallup

Possible good news.  I have been wondering why the polls have been all over the place.

Funky Gallup (Wizbang)
Now that the election is entering its final days, I had expected the polls to start tightening the race in order to reflect actual demonstrated conditions. For several days this has been happening in a number of major polls, but today Gallup posted a surprising number; they show Obama leading McCain by double-digit margins in all three models of their polling.

I will admit that when I first saw this, I was shocked and a bit dismayed. For all the criticism I have thrown at them, Gallup has always appeared to me to be the most professional of the polling outfits, and it they showed such a strong and consistent Obama surge at the end, then maybe I was wrong and we should expect a rout to conclude on Tuesday.

Then my brain kicked in and said , 'hold on there, wait just a minute'. You see, there are some weird things going on here with Gallup, and yes they are important. First off, Gallup used to be simple enough; they took a poll and announced the results and internals, just as they have for decades. But this year, Gallup is running three different models, one in which they have admitted punching in inflated youth and minority race participation at unprecedented levels (their 'expanded voter' model). They stepped back from that when it became obvious that this model was giving numbers which did not jibe with any reasonable judgment, and tossed out a 'traditional' model which played the numbers with a more nominal weighting. So, for some time now we have seen three models, which have tossed out a range of support in which the 'expanded' model favors Obama more than the 'traditional' model. Yet today we see Gallup claiming 52-41 Obama in its Daily Tracking of all registered voters, 52-42 in the 'expanded voter' model, and 52-42 in the 'traditional voter' model.

Now, stop and think about why that almost has to be bogus. First, Gallup is saying that McCain lost 5 points of support and Obama gained 3 points of support in just 5 days. Does that heavy swing of support make sense? And if it does, why does Fox say McCain gained six points in the last week?

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