Poll Trutherism

Ken AshfordElection 2012, PollsLeave a Comment

I don't know what to say about the new meme in conservative circles, i.e., that all the polls are intentionally skewed for Obama because of liberal media bias.  It's a pretty silly claim when you think about it.  Some of these pollsters have been around a while — like Gallup, for example.  Getting it right is their stock-in-trade, and it would kill their business if they were blatently wrong.

It began with a series of polls from The New York Times, CBS News and Quinnipiac University, released early Wednesday morning, which gave President Obama leads of between 9 and 11 points in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Later in the day, Mr. Romney got polls showing unfavorable numbers for him in Colorado and Iowa.

These conservatives will tell you that the polls are wrong because they overestimate the number of Democrats compared to Republicans.  Helping this narrative along is a new website, Unskewed Polls, which claims, after liberal media bias is removed, Romney is in fact beating Obama by a wide margin in every poll. But Business Insider unpacked how the website is manipulating data to come up with a Romney victory, and explains why Democrats are oversampled to begin with.

Not that polls can't be wrong, but there IS such a thing (with eery legitimate poll) as a margin of error.  And even if polls disagree, the aggregate of them does paint a pretty reliable picture.

And then there's the problem of the Fox News poll, which — like all the others — shows Obama in a commanding lead nationally, as well as the swing states.  Is Fox News biased for Obama?  I hardly think so.

But I get the sense this is all a set-up for post-election whining.  When Romney loses, conservatives will cry that it was because all the polls — the biased ones — discouraged voter turnout among conservatives.  That's why Obama won.

And it reeks of "birtherism" — the sense that Obama isn't really the legitimate president.

I've met conservatives like this: they seem to think that the United States is predominately conservative, and therefore if a conservative (or even Republican moderate) loses, it is because of, well, someone cheating somewhere.  Again, they aren't persuaded by facts or even demographics.  And that's why they just constantly are surprised.  I have a feeling they are in for another surprise this November.