Radio host and conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt has done fantastic work this season interviewing pollsters and asking the tough questions looking for answers how allegedly reliable polls have such unrealistic internal make-ups. In his Townhall column he lays out numerous arguments to challenge the data including two objective data points that make the Ohio sampling more obviously incorrect:
There are plenty of data points to encourage Republicans, and these are genuine data points as opposed to the junk food offered up by Quinnipiac and Marist, which derived their predictions from samples that included enormous Democratic voter margins in key states, pro-Democratic turnout margins that were even greater than those achieved in Obama’s blowout year of 2008..
Two data points that warm GOP hearts and undermine the junk polls: (1) Absentee requests in Ohio by Democrats are trailing their 2008 totals –often by a lot in key Democratic counties like Cuyahoga County; and (2) overall voter registration for Democrats in the Buckeye State is down dramatically from 2008.
These two bits of info undermine the credibility of the Obama booster polls, as did the interviews I conducted with key leadership from both polls and with other informed observers.
In addition to doing the media’s job actually finding the data to challenge the assumptions, Hewitt has used his radio shows to go right to the sources on polling and how we should interpret the data. After numerous interviews Hewitt provides five major takeaways:
- The pro-Obama pollsters don’t have answers as to why their skewed samples are trustworthy beyond the fact that they think their approach to randomness is a guarantee of fairness, and they seem to resent greatly that the questions are even asked. Like [Convicted fraud Bernie] Madoff would have resented questions about his stunning rate of return.
- Barone notes that percentage turnout by party in a presidential year hasn’t been much greater for the president’s party than it was in the preceding off-year, which makes samples outstripping even the 2008 model of Democratic participation “inherently suspicious.”.
- Cost notes that Romney is winning the independent vote in every poll, which also makes big Obama leads suspect.
- And my conversation with Mr. Shepard, whose employer National Journal has a reputation for the best non-partisan work inside the Beltway, didn’t find any academic, disinterested support for the proposition that party identification cannot be weighted because of the inherent instability of the marker.
- The biggest unanswered question of all: If party ID is so subject to change that it should not be weighted according to an estimate of turnout, why ask about it at all? And if it is for the purpose of detecting big moves, as Mr. Shepard argued, why not report that “big move” in the stories that depend upon the polling?
There are a number of reasons polling organizations could offer for their curious sampling but they offer no defense of these results other than it is consistent with the prior election which fails to take into account that admitted notion that party identification changes every election and the current samplings do not reflect the reality of today’s electorate.