Human Events Blog

Ohio polls, cooked to order

The chief White House correspondent for NBC News, Chuck Todd, declared on CNBC that his network’s polls were far better than those produced by Scott Rasmussen.  Bagging on Rasmussen polls is an important meditative ritual among liberals, because supposedly they’re unreasonably favorable to Republicans.  In reality, Rasmussen is regarded by serious analysts as among the most accurate pollsters, while NBC News… is not.

“We spend a lot more money on polling that Scott Rasmussen does,” growled Todd, as transcribed by Mediaite, in reference to NBC News / Wall Street Journal polls.  “These guys are the gold standard. We spend so much money. So, it is unfair – I hate the idea their polling, which is rigorously done – has to get compared to what is, in some cases, you know, slop.”

You know, spending money on something doesn’t always guarantee results.  Barack Obama spent more money on solar panels than anyone in history, and look where that got us.

The avuncular Scott “Slops” Rasmussen said, when offered a chance to respond on Fox News: “I’m happy to have competition.  Our polls, as you said, we’ve been showing this race to be close for a long time.  As other polls shift to a likely voter model, they’re showing the same thing.”

That’s one of the big differences between Rasmussen and other pollsters: he uses likely voters much earlier.  This tends to track closely with the true state of the race, because likely voters are more likely to vote.  Sorry, I lapsed into a bit of Sesame Street lecturing there.

Let’s have a closer look at the awesome power of NBC News polling, shall we?  Take the state of Ohio.  It’s a crucial battleground state, where Barack Obama’s onetime lead has all but evaporated.  The RealClearPolitics average currently shows a statistical dead heat in the state, with Obama ahead by an insignificant 1.6 points.

But NBC/WSJ/Marist has Obama up by 6 points, even as virtually everyone else calls it a 1-point race, sometimes in Romney’s favor.  That’s a very small improvement for Romney over last week’s NBC Ohio survey, where he was 8 points down.

But during that same period, Romney picked up twelve points among independent voters, according to NBC’s oracles.  He’s now 8 points ahead among independents in Ohio.

So how can Romney still be 6 points behind Obama overall?  Easy: the pollsters simply added a huge pile of Democrats to their sample.  It was tilted by 5 points towards Democrats last week; now it’s biased 11 points toward Democrats.  Obama’s collapsing in Ohio, Romney’s surging among independents, but more people are magically changing into Democrats?

It’s hard to gauge the precise registration advantage for Democrats in Ohio, because voters don’t indicate a party preference when they register there.  However, the New York Times noted earlier this week that Democrat registration in nearly every swing state is lower than it was in 2008… immensely so in Florida, once famed as the land of the dangling chad, where the Democrats lost a cool 155,000 registered voters.  Obama only won Ohio by 4 points in 2008.

Republican registration has perked up a bit, but the big move was toward independent status.  And Romney’s winning indies in Ohio, just as he’s winning them nationwide.

But by all means, Chuck Todd, keep whining about how Scott Rasmussen is “sloppy.”

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