Why the Q-poll is a qrock — New York Post

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Why the Q-poll is a qrock


Yesterday’s Quinnipiac Poll results were great news for President Obama: The Q-poll has him ahead by substantial margins in three battleground states — up 9 points in Florida, 10 in Ohio and 11 in Pennsylvania. Take a closer look: These numbers seem less like a scientific effort to measure how the campaign is going, and more like a drive to push it in that direction.

Simply put, the Quinnipiac surveys oversample Democrats; they only make sense if we believe that President Obama’s supporters are going to turn out in even greater numbers (relative to Republicans) than they did in 2008. Questions about the partisan makeup of poll samples have been rampant this election season, and Quinnipiac (which recently partnered up with CBS and The New York Times for polling) is at one extreme of that debate.

The 2008 election was a banner year for Obama and Democrats in general. The top of the ticket was a historic candidate (now our nation’s first black president); America had war and Bush fatigue, and the financial meltdown created an anti-Republican wave. Plus, Obama’s opponent, despite a great biography, was a poor candidate — a foreign-affairs and military expert running when the economy was the issue. John McCain’s campaign also had far less cash to spend.

All these factors helped yield to a strong Democratic advantage at the voting booth — where more voters identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans by a remarkable 7 points, 39 percent to 32 percent. This was the best advantage for Democrats in over a generation; in polling shorthand, we refer to it as D +7. For comparison, the 2004 split in party ID was perfectly even at 38 percent apiece (the GOP’s best showing in any recent presidential contest), and the average split in modern elections is D +3.6.

But Obama’s advantages are clearly less strong this year. He’s given us 8-plus percent unemployment for three years, economic growth below 2 percent and 23 million unemployed — and now the American flag is being burned across the Muslim world. Plus, Mitt Romney’s ground game far exceeds McCain’s 2008 effort.

But the Q-poll is having none of it. Like some other polling outfits, it is consistently and systematically insisting that Election Day turnout will favor Democrats as much or more than Obama’s 2008 best-in-a-generation advantage. In the Q-polls released yesterday, the spread between Democrats and Republicans each exceeded Obama’s 2008 advantage.

In Florida, the 2008 actual result was D +3; yesterday’s Q-poll had it at D +9. In Ohio, it was D +8 in 2008, D +9 in the Q-poll. And Quinnipiac gave us D +11 in Pennsylvania, versus a 2008 result of D +7. Mind you, each of these states has seen dramatic changes in party preferences since 2008 — electing Republican governors, flipping the state legislatures to GOP control, etc. Quinnipiac and others have given us polling that reflects a Democratic edge exceeding 2008 all year — including in last week’s Q-polls on Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Doug Schwartz, the director of Quinnipiac Polling, recently addressed these criticisms, citing the change from 2004 to 2008 to justify his sampling: “A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compare it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party-ID gap.” Um, so why is Schwarz assuming that the trend from 2004 to 2008 will continue in 2012?

Again, we have a president mired in a weak economy — with the economy remaining voters’ top issue (no survey even shows a close second). And Obama’s 2008 voting coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012, especially Hispanics and the youth vote.

But Quinnipiac uses 2008 as the norm — and then adds in even more Democrats, because, says Schwartz, there are “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.” Yes, more people identify with Democrats — that’s why national polls should reflect a sample that’s D +2 or D +3, and state polls should reflect a sample between the 2004 and 2008 electorates — not the unusually and likely unrealistically large Democratic advantage that Quinnipiac is awarding President Obama.

Like to The New York Post column: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/why_the_poll_is_qrock_56LUGAzegy7yn9zE8PsymK#ixzz27dv2FZLG


  1. jpcapra1
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    I can tell you firsthand Romney will carry Florida. I live in Pinellas County, which is a major battleground that Bush won in 04 and the empty chair won in 08. We have seen a 250,000 registration swing in our favor since then statewide, which is greater than his margin on 08. McCain was outspent 2-1, this time its even or maybe a slight edge to Romney. I have worked on campaigns since 2000, and can tell you this ground game FAR surpasses anything the GOP has ever done in terms of volunteer manpower, strategy, and technology. I can’t vouch for the other states. But I would be more than happy to keep you up to speed on the sunshine state from time to time.

  2. Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Basically what the pollsters SEEM to be saying (im not a pollster so correct me) is that they go into a poll that randomly selects from across the country or across a state X number of total people (let’s say 1000). They keep making calls, etc until they reach 1000 randomly selected people that answer their questions. They screen for race, age, gender demographics, locational demographics and whether you voted last time, how often you vote, etc to get a likely voter screen. They also ask PARTY ID (self described). At the end of the day the pollsters are saying if the final poll same ends up 41% Democrat responses, 29% republican responses, and 30% independent responses….so be it. We do not adjust the sample for Party ID, it is what they say they are.

    But they do weight to make sure, supposedly, that the race, gender, age, etc demographics are in line with what is considered normal. Such as if African Americans make up 10% of the total US voting elible population…you do not want your national poll to be 40% african america. Or if women make up 51% of the American population you don’t want the poll to only be 2% women, etc. So then the do the math and out pops the numbers.

    But if you know that the single largest DEMOCRAT self decribed ID turnout in more than 40 years was 2008 with 39% of the total vote….doesn’t it at least stand to reason that polling 41% total democrats seems high and could move the needle so to speak? Especially if you know that the REPUBLICAN side has made major registration gains, and their polled enthusiasm is much higher than that of Democrats?

    I know they are saying that you shouldn’t weight for party ID because it is not something that is solid like a persons race or sex, etc. But from a statistical standpoint if the sample size turned out to be 60% self ID democrats and 15% x2 for Repub and Indp wouldn’t that skew your final result, knowing full well that the total turn out will not be that high?

    I understand the arguments on both sides, the one I made above and I understand the pollsters resistence to screen for likely party ID turnout because it is a fluid indicator….but it just seems statistically odd to assume or allow the assumption that the US political split would go from small Democrat advantage in 2000 to split even in 2004 to HUGE democrat advantage in 2008 (2010 republcian advantage) that in 2012 it would suddenly be as big or bigger than 2008?

    There is a reason some floods and events are called 50-100-500 year events….because their liklinhood of occuring again is so rare. Well what is the statistical liklihood with the current split in the country, world and domestic events, that Democrats will turn out againin record numbers. Make the case for me because I truly want to learn

  3. Andy (Boston)
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    8 yrs ago today rcp average was 5 off the final tally. Lib’s point to rcp being right in. 04, but it was only closer to the election.

  4. Mike
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The same over here in NC there are now more REP register than in 2008 and I know a lot of DEM that will vote REP this time around, they really can’t stand that empty chair anymore. Belive me guys, REP are fired up here in NC. DO NOT BELIEVE THE SKEW POLLS!!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] being passed off as credible polls.  Thankfully the Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS alliance who I crushed in print two weeks ago rally to the cause this week with what look to be decent samplings, especially when compared to […]

  2. […] test whether the poll data match up with the poll results.  We found that time after time after time the results unequivocally do not match up with the internal data.  Thanks to Sean Davis, we are […]

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