Sunday, June 29, 2008

Newsweek polls now and in 1984

The WSJ’s John Fund the other day:

…Some Democrats claim new polls by Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times showing Sen. McCain trailing by 15 points in each seal the deal on an Obama presidency. But both polls appear to be outliers. Other polls show the race to be close.

Both surveys polled registered, not likely, voters. Normally, only two-thirds of those end up casting ballots, and nonvoters lean Democratic.

Second, Democrats had a 14-point advantage in Newsweek's sample, and a 17-point advantage in the Times poll, with Republicans making up only 22% of respondents. That's an unusually low number. Most other polls have the party ID gap with a significantly smaller Democratic edge. …
Red State reminds us:
The day the Democratic convention ended in San Francisco in 1984, the Newsweek poll showed Walter Mondale 18 points ahead of President Ronald Reagan.
Some people have used the 1984 Newsweek post-convention poll finding to question the current Newsweek and LAT polls.


From the Sept. 17, 1984 NY Times:
President Reagan and Vice President Bush lead their Democratic opponents, Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine A. Ferraro, by 18 percentage points, a Newsweek magazine poll released Saturday showed.

Among those polled, 57 percent said they will vote for Mr. Reagan compared to 39 percent who prefer Mr. Mondale. (emphasis added)

Some 81 percent of those polled agree with Mr. Mondale that taxes will have to rise next year, but 57 percent say the Republicans will be better able to keep the country prosperous. Only 30 percent believe Mr. Mondale could do the job.

For the Newsweek poll, the Gallup Organization interviewed 1,055 people nationwide by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
And from the actual 1984 presidential popular vote:
Reagan 59 percent – Mondale 41 percent (percentages rounded to the nearest whole number)
So what to make of Newsweek’s and the LAT’s recent poll findings?

I’ll go with what Fund said at the start of his column:
Some pundits claim John McCain has no chance of beating Barack Obama. "The current bundle of economic troubles should doom any Republican hoping to succeed George Bush," says NBC's Chris Matthews. "It's almost impossible to believe that another Republican could get elected," insists Katty Kay, the BBC's Washington-based correspondent.

They need to better understand the rhythms of presidential campaigns and show more humility in a year that's been chock full of political surprises.
What about you?

Fund’s entire column’s here; here’s the Red State post; the NYT article; and the page for the ’84 presidential vote.


Anonymous said...

When the public started questioning the credibility of so many political polls, two of the more reliable pollsters said it is getting increasingly difficult to reach average voters, because cell phones were replacing landlines.

One said he was relying more on a stable call group, or a confirmed online group. When he was asked how he vets these participants, he said I rely on their honesty. When asked why exit polls are often so far off, he said, people lie to you!

As my uncouth friends would say, “Bwahahahahahahahahaha.”