The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Poll Dancing
The most recent New York Times/CBS News poll calls the Presidential race a dead heat, with Bush's approval ratings near an all-time low of 44 percent, a level well below where incumbents are typically re-elected. BC04 advisor Matthew Dowd's response:
"If it were true, it would be a problem," he said. "Gallup has our job approval at 51. They're the ones I pay attention to."
Gallup's latest poll also shows Bush with a commanding 52-44 lead. Now, this year Gallup has typically overweighted its polling samples to reflect more Republican respondents than the actual electorate reflects, generating results that usually show Bush with a larger lead than the results seen from just about any other concurrent poll. Steve Soto from The Left Coaster turns in a nice dissection of this point on a smaller scale and other blogs (Daily Kos especially) have been all over this throughout the campaign.

Turns out, Gallup's inaccuracy isn't a recent phenomenon, peep this post on Mathew Gross' blog today. For those too lazy to click on it, polls taken two weeks before the 2000 Presidential election typically showed a Bush lead of anywhere from 0%-5%, pretty much where sentiment was trending, even though all of them overshot the eventual result. Gallup, on the other hand, showed a Bush lead of 10%.

Now, is Dowd just trying to spin a bad story into good? Sure. But hey, if BC04 actually does want to fool itself into relying on the rose-colored Gallup polls as the arbiter of voter sentiment and get complacent in these two most critical weeks, I say let 'em. Me? I prefer looking at tracking polls like Zogby and Rasmussen, both of which have mirrored trends (Bush's post-convention bounce, Kerry's improvement after the debates) to a T and both of which currently show a statistical tie. With undecideds typically breaking for the challenger, I'm feeling just fine if their results hold until Election Day.

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