Tuesday, October 05, 2004

POLLS - WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?

The Gallup numbers released today indicate that the Presidential race has evened up to a dead heat.

As reported by CNN,

President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, are about even among likely and registered voters in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released Sunday.

The poll showed Kerry and Bush tied at 49 percent each among likely voters interviewed. Among registered voters Bush had 49 percent and Kerry 47 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was favored by 1 percent in each group.


The questions I have are, are these numbers an accurate reflection of the mood of the country, and what does this mean?

I found another site that explains why the numbers have changed, and it seems to be for a biased reason.
it takes only a moment to determine that the October poll sampled 34% Democrats and 29% Republicans, while the September poll sampled 33% Republicans and 31% Democrats. So it's hardly a surprise that Kerry did better in the October survey. If the pollsters sampled only Democrats, they could show that Kerry was sweeping toward an unprecedented victory.


Some questions have to be answered about these polls, and the biases of the pollsters.
It's noteworthy that all of the polls that over-sampled Republicans in September are now over-sampling Democrats in October. Is this a coincidence, or a deliberate effort to manufacture a Kerry "comeback" to generate momentum for the Democrats? One possible explanation, as least as to the Times/CBS poll, is that their September poll was taken on a Monday through Wednesday, while the poll released today was entirely done on the weekend, when pollsters know they will tend to find more Democrats at home. So was the choice of polling dates deliberate, or coincidental?


First, the question is: are the polls with LIKELY voters or REGISTERED voters better indicators of what voters will actually do in the voting booth?

I can't honestly answer that; I've heard excellent arguments on both sides. I would love to read a book about it, analyzing the shifting numbers, after the election. For now, this is one question that can only be answered on faith.

Second, is this a shift in momentum, or a temporary blip? Again, I can't say. I'll be depending on others to provide answers I am not qualified to give.

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