I saw in passing a bit on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC that there was a story circulating that all the polls are being manipulated (even the Fox News Poll1) to show Obama ahead, when he’s actually not ahead. I wouldn’t always trust Maddow to report a story representing the best possible case from the other side, but what she said was that these conspiracy theorists say that the polls are biased because they polled more Democrats than Republicans, and that they should have polled more representative numbers of each.
Let me give an example. Let’s say that there are 100,000,000 Democrats and 1,000 Republicans, and to simplify matters that all the Democrats are supporting Obama and all the Republicans Romney. In a random poll of 1,000 people (a typical size for such polls) one would get 999 Democrats and 1 Republican, and the polls would show Obama winning with 99.9% of the vote. The objectors say that a fair poll would survey 500 Republicans and 500 Democrats and the poll would show both candidates at 50%. Maybe the objection is a little more sophisticated than that.
You can read it from the horse’s mouth at UnSkewedPolls.com. Here are their assumptions:
The QStarNews poll works with the premise that the partisan makeup of the electorate 34.8 percent Republicans, 35.2 percent Democrats and 30.0 percent independent voters. Additionally, our model is based on the electorate including approximately 41.0 percent conservatives, 20.0 percent moderates and 39.0 percent liberals.
Republicans are 68 percent conservative, 27 percent moderate and 5 percent liberal. Among Democrats, 14 percent are conservative, 36 percent are moderate and 50 percent are liberal. Independents include 39 percent conservatives, 36 percent moderates and 25 percent liberals.
Our polls about (sic) doubly-weighted, to doubly insure the results are most accurate and not skewed, by both party identification and self-identified ideology. For instance, no matter how many Republicans answer our survey, they are weighted at 37.6 percent. If conservatives are over-represented among Republicans in the raw sample, they are still weighted at 68 percent of Republicans regardless. This system of double weighting should insure our survey produces very accurate results, not skewed either way for the Democrats or for the Republicans.
1In the latest UnSkewed Poll, Fox News shows Obama up by +2, the only UnSkewed poll showing Obama ahead.