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October 21, 2004
Polling Madness Continues

It's Thursday, which means that the normal slew of mid-week polling results have begun to come in. That may be all that's normal, however, as each poll seems to point in wildly different directions. For instance, we have the AP-Ipsos poll which shows Kerry edging ahead of Bush:

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are locked in a tie for the popular vote, according to an Associated Press poll, while a chunk of voters vacillate between their desire for change and their doubts about the alternative. ...

The result is deadlock. In the survey of 976 likely voters, Democrats Kerry and Sen. John Edwards had 49 percent, compared to 46 percent for Republicans Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. That's within the margin of error for the poll conducted Oct. 18-20.

While several bloggers on the port side of the blogosphere trumpet these results, a couple of red flags appear in the data. First, Ipsos reports that the numbers have not changed since after the first debate, which would make it the only such poll to report no movement at all. Looking at the rest of the data, more such anomalies appear, such as a 15-point lead for Kerry among women, the only poll to report anything of the kind. The AP does not give any demographics for its sample, and Ipsos doesn't have the report on line (and I believe it would be for subscribers only). It smells pretty fishy.

On top of this poll, moreover, the Washington Post/ABC daily tracking poll reported its numbers for the past three days, and they tell a significantly different story. The Post tracking poll shows Bush pulling ahead to a lead of 6 points, 51-45. Their polling took the pulse of 1,260 likely voters, a 30% increase over the AP-Ipsos sample, and partially weights the results to match the registration numbers for each party. The relatively transparent methodology and the consistency among other national polls makes me believe that the Ipsos poll is an outlier and the Post poll probably shows more accuracy.

On the other hand, it looks like all of us on the starboard side of the blogosphere are equally skeptical of this Detroit News poll showing Bush ahead of Kerry in Michigan:

In the initial installment of a poll that regularly will track voter sentiment in the final two weeks of the campaign, Bush held a 47 percent to 43 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator. The incumbent presidents lead is well within the surveys margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The statewide poll of 400 likely voters was taken Monday and Tuesday.

Most recent polls have shown Kerry with a narrow lead in Michigan. A Detroit News poll in June had the candidates virtually tied, with Bush at 44 percent and Kerry at 43 percent.

Only 400 voters have been polled in this sample, making the results less than solid, although they intend on increasing the sample in the next few days. The internals to this poll look more accurate than in the Ipsos poll -- Kerry leads women by seven points while most national polls have Bush even or edging him, but in Michigan that could be accurate. But the News poll has Kerry up only seven among union voters, which sounds a bit thin. One factor that may account for the Bush edge is Proposal 2, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, which enjoys overwhelming support in Michigan and may be boosting the numbers for Bush. I'd definitely wait for more results in the Motor State before giving Bush a shot here.

When these polls come out, be sure to check the methodology, sample demographics, and the internal numbers to make sure they meet with reality. Otherwise, you'll pinball all the way to November 2nd.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 21, 2004 5:00 PM

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» Bush Leads Poll by 20 Points! from Cranial Cavity
Yes you read that correctly, 20 percentage points over Kerry. And the people conducting the survey have a track record, they correctly predicted Bush in a squeaker in 2000. Many may be familiar in the Kelly Blue Book, the used car buyers bible for p... [Read More]

Tracked on October 21, 2004 6:36 PM

» Crazy Polls? from Secure Liberty
AP Ipsos, which is not exactly a benchmark, shows Kerry up 49 to 46 percent for Bush. That's within the margin of error. (h/t Captain Ed) This is a notoriously left leaning poll, but the more I hear from inside experts (Like Jay Severin, of Boston's W... [Read More]

Tracked on October 21, 2004 8:18 PM

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