Over a week ago, at the height of the post-Democratic Convention Obama surge, I posed the following question during the nightly Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap:
Is there an active effort to minimize the Obama convention bounce?
That question was inspired by a number of media reports. First, there was the curious decision by Gallup to measure the Obama bounce simply by the change in Obama support, rather than the change in the margin between the two candidates. This had the causal effect of essentially halving the bounce, in Gallup’s assessment. This was followed by ABC’s decision to fixate on the rather small change in the margin of their likely voter screen (which moved three points in Obama’s direction), while totally ignoring the far larger change in the margin of their less restrictive pool of registered voters (which had moved a total of seven points in the direction of the president).
Then, just two days later, CNN upped the ante when they declared Obama leads of five points in the states of Florida and Virginia to be a “tie.” Such a characterization is not only absurd on its face, but it also is counter to how the Associated Press advises polls to be reported. Indeed, the words “tie” or “statistical dead heat” are only supposed to be used when the race is actually … well … tied.
Ironically, this week continued the trend of using (or, more appropriately, misusing) data to paint a picture of a toss-up where the data seems to suggest otherwise. This week’s effort, ironically, was perpetrated by none other than the aforementioned Associated Press, who received an enormous amount of attention for their poll of the presidential race.
In what was a fairly good polling week for Barack Obama, it was the AP that set off Drudge Sirens midweek, and warmed the hearts of Republicans everywhere. They did so by declaring the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney to be merely a one-point race.
That poll result has found its way into countless efforts at analysis of the current state of play of this election. Journalist after journalist has cited the AP poll as a solid piece of evidence that this race is, indeed, far from over.
(Continue reading below the fold.)
Source: Daily Kos