Yahoo, Indeed

Last week, the Associated Press once again proved they are cheerleaders for Obama, rather than honest reporters of fact. This is illustrated in this case by the AP/Yahoo poll released, touted as evidence of Obama’s continued dominance in the election, when in fact the numbers from that poll confirm the tightening race as it nears the end. Of course, you have to go looking for the link to the actual poll detail, and then you have to dig through and find the relevant results. But there are some interesting details indeed in this poll, details which should be considered in weighing the claims made by the Associated P.

Starting with the big question, who folks will vote for, the poll in question VOT3B tells us that Obama gets 42% of the support, and McCain gets 39%. Another 4 percent want someone else and 15% say they are undecided, which tracks with what I have been seeing in other polls. This tells us two very important things. First, 42 percent is not going to win, so both Obama and McCain have a lot of work to do, no matter what the media says. And with only 3 points separating them, the 15% undecided pool means that either candidate could reach a clear majority, or fail miserably. If you want to know why Obama is stressing, I bet it’s because his own private polls are warning him about similar conditions.

Now, I generally don’t like polls which press ‘leaners’ to pick a candidate, since we cannot say how sure they are about someone if their first statement was ‘I don’t know’. But the AP/Yahoo poll notes that when pressed, more went to McCain than to Obama (question VOT3BA).

The poll gets hinky when AP/Yahoo asks again who the respondents prefer in question PRES. The response from “all adults” is 44-42 Obama, but the “likely voters” are posted as 49-44 Obama. The problem here, is that nowhere in the poll does the group explain how they defined “likely voters”, nor are there any questions which clearly define the sub-group, nor do we even know how many respondents are classified as “likely voters”. The top of the poll identifies “1,769 adults; 1,528 registered voters. 873 Democrats; 650 Republicans”, but that’s it. Since we have seen a 3 point separation in the base question, and we know undecideds broke for McCain, it gets a little weird for AP/Yahoo to go from there to expand Obama’s lead to 5, and since they never explain how they got there, the reader would do well to ask why they hid that part of the methodology.

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LV5 asks if the person is registered to vote. 86% say yes, so that tells you that unless the question was only asked of registered voters, one of every seven answers is irrelevant.

LV6 asks how often the person votes. 74% say always or nearly always, so another one in eight respondents (and one in seven registered voters) are not sure if they will vote this year, on the basis of their admitted practice.

LV31. goes on to ask if the respondent is “certain to vote” using a 10-point scale. Only 66%, about two-thirds of the respondents, say they are certain to vote. So we must be even more skeptical about the quality of this respondent pool.

VOT3BB asks if the respondent might change their mind, and 14% say they may change their mind.

PID1 notes that the party affiliation split for the poll was 40% Democrat, 27% Republican, 21% Independent, and 12% undecided or other, which actually creates a DRI split of 40/27/33, as usual for this year far out of balance with historical norms.

PARTYID goes further, noting that 49% of the respondents consider themselves Democrats, 37% Republicans, and just 14% other or Independent, a contrast to PID1 which is not explained.

Looking at the end-poll demographics, more information is revealed which helps us see the bias. 22% of respondents are identified as 18-29 in age, versus 17% in that age group’s actual voting in 2004. In this poll, 13% of the respondents did not complete High School, versus only 4% of voters in 2004 who did not complete High School. 31% of the poll respondents have a High School diploma as their highest education, versus 22% of voters in 2004 in that category. The overweight is obvious.

Whites in the poll made up 69% of the pool, versus 77% of voters in 2004. Hispanics in the pool counted for 13%, versus 7% who voted in 2004.

In the poll, 84% of respondents live in urban areas, versus 30% of actual voters in 2004.

In the poll, a staggering 41% of respondents do not have a job.

And finally, 58% of respondents to the poll make $50,000 a year or less, versus 45% of the actual voters in 2004.

This poll is biased in six distinctly invalid ways relative to known demographics, and even then the AP/Yahoo poll admits the race is close, though they do everything they can to hide that conclusion in the press release.

Critics may claim that this is just one poll, to which I invite you to suggest another poll with complete internal demographic data. I will indeed be looking for just such polls, and you can count on a full dissection and report. For here, I consider this poll to be an intriguing example of how spin and deceit are hiding the true state of the race — that is, unless you expect all of the behaviors of past elections to be completely abandoned this year.

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