Tag Archives: polling

The liberal bias of pollsters

In a strained attempt to explain the failure of pollsters to predict the election results yesterday in Great Britain, pollsters and pundits seem unable to see the elephant in the room that explains their problems.

And what is that elephant? Take a look at this list of bad polling predictions provided by Nate Silver, the mainstream media’s big polling guru because he correctly predicted both Obama victories:

  • The final polls showed a close result in the Scottish independence referendum, with the “no” side projected to win by just 2 to 3 percentage points. In fact, “no” won by almost 11 percentage points.
  • Although polls correctly implied that Republicans were favored to win the Senate in the 2014 U.S. midterms, they nevertheless significantlyunderestimated the GOP’s performance. Republicans’ margins over Democrats were about 4 points better than the polls in the average Senate race.
  • Pre-election polls badly underestimated Likud’s performance in the Israeli legislative elections earlier this year, projecting the party to about 22 seats in the Knesset when it in fact won 30. (Exit polls on election night weren’t very good either.)

Does anyone notice a trend? I could also reference other elections that pollsters badly predicted, such as the Sandinista defeat in Nicaragua in 1994, the Republican victory in 1994, Bush’s victory over Kerry in 2004 and practically every vote for or against the European Union. And there are others. For a bunch of so-called intellectuals who claim to be experts in predicting human behavior, they seem very oblivious to the obvious.
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Another set of pro-Obama polls that oversample Democrats.

Living in a dream world: Another set of pro-Obama polls that oversample Democrats.

Why CBS and the New York Times keep doing this mystifies me. It won’t persuade anyone to vote for Obama, and it might even give his supporters the false impression that he is doing better than he is. For example, contrast these results with this new Gallup poll, which found Obama’s popularity below 50 percent in all but 13 states. These are bad numbers for an incumbent, and they are almost certainly more predictive, as Gallup generally samples Democrats and Republicans more accurately, based on recent voting patterns.

The only explanation I can think of for this oversampling is an unwillingness to face the reality that Obama and his leftwing policies are not popular. It is as if CBS and the New York Times are standing there with their fingers in their ears, chanting “la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!” loudly so they don’t have to hear what they don’t like.