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October 31, 2004
Final Gallup Poll A Muddle

Gallup announced the results of its final presidential poll, but its odd report and jumble of state results make it easily the most bizarre and forgettable poll of the bunch. Even its attempt to call the race looks transparently laughable:

Bush gets 49% and Kerry gets 47% among likely voters in the poll, which was conducted Friday-Sunday. Three percent offered no opinion. The poll has a margin of error of 2 percentage points, meaning Bush does not have a clear lead. Ralph Nader failed to break the 1% threshold, as all other candidates as a group drew a single percentage point of support.

The poll used a sample of 2,014 national adults a larger sample than past polls, which reduces the margin of error. In addition, in this final poll, Gallup used a statistical model to allocate undecided voters to the candidates. Using that model, the race is in a 49%-49% tie, with Nader getting 1% and all other candidates also receiving 1%.

We can stop there for a moment. Their poll shows Bush up 49-47, but when they attempt to divvy up the undecideds, Bush gets none of them? How exactly did that methodology work out? Gallup cannot be seriously predicting that almost every single undecided voter will go Democratic. If so, they need a new computer model.

Their state results look equally unusual:

Florida: Kerry with 49%, Bush with 46%.

Ohio: Kerry 50%, Bush 46%.

Pennsylvania: Bush 50%, Kerry 46%.

Iowa: Bush 48%, Kerry 46%.

Minnesota: Kerry leading Bush, 52%-44%.

Wisconsin: Bush leading Kerry, 52%-44%.

Bush has consistently led in Florida and lately by a significant margin. Kerry has led consistently in Pennsylvania, but by a much smaller margin. Ohio has been a tossup, of course, and may wind up in Kerry's column, although I find it unlikely. But even if this falls out exactly as shown, Bush wins the election. All he needs is one of the three big eastern states and a conversion of a significant Midwestern state.

I'd say this is a Hail Mary pass, designed to differentiate itself from other pollsters and gamble on a big scoop. It's a disappointing finish to an otherwise respectable campaign effort by Gallup.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 31, 2004 8:44 PM

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