The dean on conservative election watching and an authority on all American politics, Michael Barone has probably forgotten more about polling and elections than every TV talking head, blogger and reader combined. In his latest column he lays out the trends and controversy in today’s polling with his usual insights and lucid reasoning. I excerpted the closing portion of his column, but it’s worth reading the whole thing:
I don’t believe that any of the media pollsters have been tilting their results in order to demoralize Republicans, though I do look with suspicion on the work of some partisan pollsters.
But I do have my doubts about whether samples with more Democratic Party identification than in 2008 are accurate representations of the electorate. Many states with party registration have shown big drops in registered Democrats since then.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who weights his robocall results by party identification, adjusted monthly, has shown a much closer race than most pollsters who leave party identification numbers unweighted. So has the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania.
It may be that we’re seeing the phenomenon we’ve seen for years in exit polls, which have consistently skewed Democratic (and toward Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries). Part of that is interviewer error: Exit poll pioneer Warren Mitofsky found the biggest discrepancies between exit polls and actual results were in precincts where the interviewers were female graduate students.
But he also found that Democrats were simply more willing to fill out the exit poll. Which raises the question: Are we seeing the same thing in this month’s polls?