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Obama Leads By 7, Are Polls Accurate?

First we have from Reuters, the fearless front page above the fold promise that Mr. Obama is going to win in a landslide:

Obama takes 7-point lead on McCain

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama has opened a 7-point lead over Republican rival John McCain with five days left in the race for the White House, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

Obama leads McCain by 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the three-day national tracking poll, building on his 5-point advantage on Wednesday. The telephone poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

It was the second consecutive day Obama’s lead has grown as the two-year presidential battle draws to a close. McCain is struggling to overtake Obama’s lead in every national opinion poll and in many battleground states.

“This is not good news for McCain. The race was tightening for a few days but now it is going back the other way,” pollster John Zogby said.

Support for Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, hit or exceeded the 50 percent mark for the seventh time in the last 10 days. McCain’s support has not reached 46 percent in more than three weeks of polling…

The poll also found Obama was doing a better job of reaching across ideological lines, earning the support of nearly 20 percent of self-described conservatives. McCain wins about 10 percent of liberals

Then we have, also from Reuters, this little cover your bases article, surely intended to be buried in the back pages of a few obscure media outlets.

Are polls accurate in presidential race?

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With the U.S. presidential election less than a week away, Democrat Barack Obama holds a steady lead over rival Republican John McCain in opinion polls, leading many pundits to say McCain is effectively finished.

Could the polls be wrong?

They have misled before. The most famous time came in 1948 when polls showed Republican Thomas Dewey on his way to winning the White House but missed the late surge that carried Democrat Harry Truman to victory.

More recently, polls showed Obama ahead of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the January New Hampshire primary by an average of 8 percentage points. Clinton won.

McCain’s campaign thinks it could happen again on November 4.

“All signs say we are headed to an election that may easily be too close to call by next Tuesday,” McCain pollster Bill McInturff wrote in a memo released on Tuesday.

Pollsters are careful to say their work does not predict a race’s outcome but only captures a snapshot of the electorate at a certain point in time.

And there is always the possibility of error in a discipline that combines science with a certain amount of guesswork.

“We are engaged to some degree in some artwork and assumption,” said pollster John Zogby, whose Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby tracking poll shows Obama leading by 7 percentage points.

Pollsters can’t simply tally up the results of their telephone surveys but must make educated guesses about who will actually show up to vote.

These “likely voter” models vary from poll to poll, leading to results that can vary as well…

Gallup publishes two separate polls based on varying likely-voter models. Its traditional model showed Obama ahead by 2 percentage points on Wednesday, while its “expanded” model, which assumes higher turnout rates among minorities and young people, showed Obama leading by 7 percentage points.

Zogby’s poll and the Pew poll also assume that black voters, inspired by the chance to elect Obama as the first black president, will make up a higher percentage of the electorate this year.

But the McCain campaign argues that turnout will be high among all demographic groups, diluting any impact from black voters.

Another question is the “Bradley Effect” — the notion that white voters fearful of being labeled racist overstate their support of black candidates in polls

But polls might be underweighting any racial backlash because intolerant voters tend to hang up on pollsters, said Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut said.

“That could be a factor in a close election, but it’s probably not a factor in an election that seems as wide open as this,” Kohut said.

The increasing number of people who decline to participate in opinion polls, and the difficulty of reaching cellphone-only households pose challenges as well

Despite these concerns, pollsters say they’re confident in their work. After all, it’s hard to overlook the fact that major polls have lined up closely with the actual vote in every presidential election since 1980.

“We bring a whole lot more science to who’s ahead and who’s behind than a handful of old white men sitting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington having breakfast,” Zogby said.

What media bias?

[A] handful of old white men sitting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington having breakfast…

This is practically hate speech, is it not? And from such an unbiased “pollster.”

From Wikipedia:

James J. Zogby

James J. Zogby (born 1945) is an American academic, political consultant and founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arab American Institute. In 2001, Zogby was elected to the Executive Committee of the United States Democratic National Committee (DNC). He is a senior analyst with the polling firm Zogby International, founded and managed by his brother John Zogby, and is a lecturer and scholar on Middle East issues.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zogby was a founding member and leader of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Save Lebanon, Inc.

As co-president of Builders for Peace, Zogby promoted US-Arab business investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then United States Vice President Al Gore tapped Zogby to help lead the effort in 1993, following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in Washington. The next year, Zogby led a US delegation to the signing of the agreement in Cairo, Egypt, along with his Builders co-president, former US Congressman Mel Levine.

Since 1992, Zogby has written a weekly column on American politics for major Arab newspapers, Washington Watch, and authored a number of books, including What Ethnic Americans Really Think and What Arabs Think: Values, Beliefs and Concerns. He also blogs at The Huffington Post.

In 1995, Zogby was elected as co-convener of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council (NDECC). Zogby also serves on the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee and on the national advisory boards of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Forum, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Alas, most of us here realize that the purpose of polls is solely to drive the media’s agenda. Which, in this case, is to help elect Mr. Obama and other Democrats by suppressing the Republican turnout.

But most of our citizenry don’t realize this.

Consequently, Reuters and the rest of the media and their polling fronts probably do more to undercut the fairness and accuracy of our elections than even ACORN/Project Vote and the ACLU.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 30th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Obama Leads By 7, Are Polls Accurate?”

  1. curvyred says:

    Sure, like they were in 2000 and 2004, I hope and pray we have the same outcome this year.

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    Ditto Red!!

  3. VMAN says:

    Bias of course there is bias. Weight the poles in a certain direction. Call more Democrats because there are more democrats. Hang ups not counted or given any weight. I know I hang up on phone solicitors all the time and many time I don’t even wait to see what they want. Speaking of media bias has any body seen the article on Drudge with Bammy saying he wants to basically bankrupt the coal industry. I hope those voters in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and all other coal producing states are paying attention.

  4. 1sttofight says:

    All energy costs will go up which means the cost of everything else will rise too.
    Here he guarantees you electric rates will go up.

    You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/month?blogid=42&year=2008&month=01


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