October 17, 2008

I JUST KNOW THAT THIS TIME THE NON-VOTERS WILL VOTE!:

Some Surveys Indicate Tighter Presidential Race: Differences in Predicting Outcome Result From How Pollsters Gauge Voter Turnout and Weight Party Affiliation (NICK TIMIRAOS, 10/17/08, Wall Street Journal)

Differences over how to accurately gauge party affiliation also help account for the discrepancies. Some pollsters argue polls should be statistically "weighted" so that their results achieve a partisan composition that reflects long-term national averages -- particularly if a poll shows that one party gets an unusually large share among the respondents, compared with past elections.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen, for example, weights current polls so that Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 39.3% to 33% margin, while pollster John Zogby adjusts polls so that Democrats account for around 38% of the electorate and Republicans, 36%. So even if a particular sample of calls shows different ratios, the pollsters adjust to fit that formula.

"What troubles me is when I see some of my colleagues have 27% of the respondents that are Republicans. That's just not America, period," says Mr. Zogby, whose polls have shown Sen. Obama with a lead ranging from two to six points this month. He argues that while party affiliation fluctuates over time, it doesn't change "day-to-day, and it never fluctuates by eight points in a short time period."

Other pollsters argue that polls should use whatever partisan mix results from a particular survey rather than arbitrarily establishing party affiliation weights. "How do you know that's right? I mean, they're making up numbers," says Susan Pinkus, who conducts the Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll, which isn't weighted. In this week's poll, the respondents were 34% Democratic and 26% Republican.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 17, 2008 6:29 PM
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