May 07, 2007
Bad Poll = Bad Analysis

The P-I's Strange Bedfellows blog has a post up from Politics Editor Chris Grygiel speaking quite earnestly about a recent Newsweek poll. The crux of the swoon is:

A national poll conducted by Newsweek has some disturbing news for the GOP - every one of the top three Democratic presidential candidates beats every one of the main Republican candidates in head-to-head matchups.


Desperate Republicans may soon make a casting call to former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" star Fred Thompson, who sounded very much like a presidential candidate when he spoke to the GOP faithful in California on Friday.

Ah, where to begin.

First, regardless if one accepts the previous thesis here that national polls aren't very instructive at this stage in the contest, the quality of one individual poll should be seriously considered before jumping to significant conclusions about it. Like say if the Newsweek poll in question had a ridiculous sampling of 36% Democrats versus only 24% Republicans. That might make people think this one poll is hooey.

Second, if early national polls on the respective primary contests in each party are of limited value, what to make of hypothetical head-to-head contests? The idea of asking voters in May of 2007 who they may vote for in November of 2008 is a bit like asking me how my son, currently in 4th grade, will fare on his first report card in 6th grade. The time frame is the same and the number of variables involved in the process equally high. It's just silly.

Consequently, this citation was worth a laugh:

How about the man most pundits believe won last week's Republican debate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney? Clinton, Obama and Edwards absolutely destroy him - with Edwards besting Romney 64 percent to 27 percent.

Oh no, you're telling me eighteen months away from a general election that a potential party nominee not well known to the electorate writ large doesn't poll well in hypothetical match-ups? I'm stunned.

Well, not really.

The sheer length alone of this Presidential race means nominees of both parties will be exceptionally well known to voters before Election Day. Thus, the notion that Republicans are soiling their britches in a "desperate" attempt to find a new candidate is a bit much. There are reasons Fred Thompson seems likely to enter the race and that some Republicans would like to see him do so. Craven fear of the current Democratic field isn't one of them.

UPDATE: And here's another takedown of that Newsweek poll.

Posted by Eric Earling at May 07, 2007 07:14 AM | Email This
1. Polls decide nothing; only elections do that. In politics, a week is an eternity. Typically P-I and quite stupid.

The Piper

Posted by: Piper Scott on May 7, 2007 08:21 AM
2. Well done, Eric. Whenever you see a poll at variance with all the others it is either the start of trend shift or a flawed poll. In this case the Newsweek poll is clearly flawed.

For months virtually every poll has shown that although a generic D beats a generic R, Guiliani or McCain beat Clinton or Obama. That is the central fact of the race right now.

Posted by: Chris Vance on May 7, 2007 08:31 AM
3. Nothing like a classic case of bogus polling to remind you that most "statistics" used in politics are little more than lies...

Posted by: H Moul on May 7, 2007 08:32 AM
4. Interesting how the name Fred Thompson has every liberal rushing into rant and vitriol mode, even though he hasn't announced. Could it be he scares them? Don't get too comfortable, folks. This is going to be a long, long roller coaster ride.

Posted by: katomar on May 7, 2007 08:38 AM
5. The press has a long history of 'getting it wrong':

"The report of my death was an exaggeration." -Mark Twain, After reading his own obituary, June 2, 1897

And, PARTICULARLY getting it wrong when they gleefully celebrate the death of conservatism, as evidenced by the huge liberal loss in France.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on May 7, 2007 08:54 AM
6. Newsweek also said that Bush's opinion poll was like 25%.

I checked the history in and Newsweek is consistently 10 points more anti-Republican in its polling than everyone else.

Posted by: John Bailo on May 7, 2007 08:59 AM
7. I happen to like the updates and your takes on these noteworthy (though biased) polls.

In reality, something will come up next summer that will drive the election and the votes of the people.
I couldn't believe how rapidly the Foley thing changed the last election. A couple relatively minor things will decide the presidency.

I am proud of all my guys. I just wish my guys would talk about Iraq a little more even though it isn't popular to talk about it.

The 1000 lb gorilla next year is immigration. France, if you believe yesterday's election, has seen the light. Maybe most of our citizenry will next year.

However, my vote is on the War on Terroism. Period.

Posted by: swatter on May 7, 2007 09:31 AM
8. #7

Agreed. Polls only tell us where things are today. Predicting the future is another matter. Right now it appears that the situation on the ground in Iraq will be the main factor, along with the personal attributes of the candidates.

Posted by: Chris Vance on May 7, 2007 09:55 AM
9. Although you'd never know it by listening to the media, the liberals or the moonbats, the "surge" is working.

Pass it on... and if you know folks in Nevada direct them HERE

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on May 7, 2007 10:16 AM
10. Agreed that this is premature with a long campaign ahead where the GOP field gets better know and the Chicago baggage comes to haunt the patently unqualified Obama--remember 3 years ago he had the same job Eric Oemig has now.

But beyond that, Newsweek Polls are garbage with Republicans always polling worse in them than the final result. It's not predictive of what would happen now. Let's start with its polling of registered voters--much less accurate than likely voters.

Posted by: besquared on May 7, 2007 10:40 AM
11. Fred Thompson? The local GOP poll at the dinner had him a runaway winner in Washington. I know Dems are not saying much, but make sure to check his legal activity between the Senate and the present. The Aristide legal connection is a killer and would be exploited to the max.

Posted by: rocketdog on May 7, 2007 10:48 AM
12. I follow the Rasmussen Poll.....period.
Polls improperly interpreted and over-reacted to can cause tremendous damage.
For example, State R's thought State Legislator Buck was an easy winner. Buck lost by around 9 points.
Too much optimism or pessimism...especially this early in the game can cause more harm than good.
Poll-reacters are like politicians with "rabbit-ears".
Be patient folks.
The issues are still being defined.
The D's will have a record to run against.
The fringe lunatic left will provide the R's with many vote-fertile quotes both Nationally & in Washington State.
The R's biggest problem is they do not know how to effectively use the fodder the D's are providing them on a silver platter. They do not know how to create a groundswell of BOTH:
1) Support for R ideas
2) Contempt for D missteps

R's too often try to win merely on their own merit. It's a kind of arrogance really.
You need votes from 2 sources:
1) Folks that like you.
2) Folks that hate the other guys.

Hopefully the R's can recruit many more fighters to solicit the "hate the other guys" votes that are the difference between winning & losing.

Posted by: aaargh on May 7, 2007 11:36 AM
13. You may as well be rooting for Al Gore to enter the race. Seems to have the same odds as Freddy entering.

The guy has no fund raising base...he'll need to raise a few BILLION dollars in a few short months if he's going to be a serious competition for Romney/Guiliani. Ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Cato on May 7, 2007 11:59 AM
14. I love reading your posts.

Americans wants another Republicon president about as much as cancer.

The Republicons have undeniably been expoosed as the incompetent, dishonest, corrupt, hypocritical animals, they have been for too long. There is nothing they would not do to increase their power, noone they would not sell down the river, including, and especially our troops.

I am not saying the Dems are perfect, far from it, but at least they care about more than holding onto power by any means, including unnecessary wars, and taking from the poor to give to the rich, and corporate Amerika at every turn.

The GOP trainwreck has already went off the cliff. No one knows how far down they will go before the few members of the party that actually believe in good government, honesty, openness, and accountability have any say over the talibangelicals, and the neo-cons stranglehold on power.

Good luck. When your party stands for something other than enriching billionaires, and corporations, warmongerers, and fake christian money grubbers I will want nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Facts on May 7, 2007 12:26 PM
15. Good luck. When your party stands for something other than enriching billionaires, and corporations, warmongerers, and fake christian money grubbers

Trust me, the Dem's are not innocent of this either. Each party has their own pet causes which they dole out money for. Both parties are corrupt and no one will vote to stop them for fear of loosing their party of choices influence on American politics. We started off as a grand experiment, we've become a country of the eternal quest for the quick buck.

Posted by: Cato on May 7, 2007 12:53 PM
16. Somebody ban this ^^^^^ clown already.

He brings nothing to the discussion, and instead goes off on a series of hate-filled rants that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

Ban him.

Posted by: jimg on May 7, 2007 12:53 PM
17. edit - not Cato. He's incorrect at times, but a reasonable poster.

Facts? Clear him outta here.

Posted by: jimg on May 7, 2007 12:55 PM
18. Maybe jimg didn't notice that republicon candidates got slaughtered in the last election, losing both houses, and may do even worse in '08.

What I bring to the conversation is REALITY!

By the way jimg I used to be a Republicon. The party left me. I don't love democrats but at least they try....

Cato, both parties have corruption issues to deal with, but the Abramoff types seen to have total control of one party. Not to mention PHARMA, defense contractors, and energy companies, who care nothing for America's future.

Did you notice your credit card interest rates going down after the bankruptcy bill? Your healthcare bills going down after the tort reform bill?

The people of america are being raped, and it is far more one party's fault than the other one.

Only party represents me. At least I understand the problem.

Back to the topic. There is a reason the GOP candidates are trailing in the polls. It is the fact that Americans are waking up, and getting pissed off.

Just imagine your ass being at the Superdome with Bush doing flyovers pretending you don't exist for days. If it wasn't for CNN the slime in the White House probably wouldn't have known a hurricane even flooded a city..... They only used the disaster to hand off sweetheart contracts to their buddies, and make sure nothing got to the people affected.


Turn on the Ed Schultz show, and listen to them talking about Bush trying to get Mexican Truck Drivers to drive here, and undercut American Truck Drivers wages. Wake up!

Posted by: Facts on May 7, 2007 01:52 PM
19. Princeton Survey Research was founded in 1989 by Andrew Kohut, after 10 years as President of The Gallup Organization. The team he brought to PSRAI first came together as the core of Gallup's public opinion and methodology divisions, including Dr. Diane Colasanto, long recognized as one of the nationís premier survey methodologists.

Posted by: The American on May 7, 2007 02:11 PM
20. By the way jimg I used to be a Republicon.

No, you didn't. You're an immature, one-trick pony who's been filled with a bunch of crap in your community college humanities courses. If even that. Your knowledge of politics consists of what you've learned to hate in the last six years or so.

Read your posts sometime. All you do is spew and spittle at your screen. You make things up. You use childish names. Everything that you don't understand - or don't want to understand - is eeeeeevil to you and worthy of condemnation and hate.

You scream and prattle on about how it's everybody else's fault for what's going on, when in REALITY, you're an insecure little turd who could use a lesson in manners.

Posted by: jimg on May 7, 2007 04:23 PM
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