Observations on the world today.

Friday, June 25, 2004

They Distort, I Deride 

FOXNews.com - FOX News Polls - You Decide 2004 Poll - 06/24/04: Bush Edges Kerry
President Bush currently has an advantage over Democratic candidate John Kerry in both the two-way matchup and three-way matchups. If the election were held today, the poll finds Bush at 48 percent and Kerry at 42 percent. When independent candidate Ralph Nader is included he receives three percent, Bush 47 percent and Kerry 40 percent.
A few weeks ago, the LA Times released a poll that was blasted by the right for skewing too far democratic. When the numbers were examined, it was revealed that:
among the poll respondents was 38 percent Democratic, 25 percent Republican and 24 percent independent
However, this should not be surprising from a random sampling, since nationally democrats are 42% of registered voters, while republicans are 33%. 25% are "other" or independent.

The Fox results seem to be an aberration. Of course, unless I know the party affiliation of the sampling, I am left with only my surmise. So I did a little detective work. This is all that the report tells us about the sampling:
Polling was conducted by telephone June 22-23, 2004 in the evenings. The total national sample is 900 registered voters nationwide, with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters
However, buried at the bottom of the results is this tidbit:
39. Do you think you will read former President Bill Clinton’s book or do you feel like you’ve heard enough about it already from the interviews he’s given?
................All Dem Rep Ind
1. Will read 25% 44% 7% 22%
2. Heard enough 46 35 59 44
3. (Don't care) 24 14 33 27
4. (Not sure) 5 7 2 7
Now I have no reason to dispute this part of the poll, but let's see how it stacks up to the national averages of registered voters in each category. Given our national numbers of 42%d, 33%r and 25%i, of the 900 voters polled, roughly 378 should be democrats, 297 republicans and 225 independents. This would mean that 166 of those who will read Clinton’s book are democrats, 21 are republicans, and 49 are independents; for a total of 236 of the 900 polled. However, 236 is 26% of 900, not 25%.

More drastically, 174 democrats have heard enough, 104 republicans have and 99 independents have for a total of 377 who have heard enough, or almost 42%. But according to the poll, 46% of those polled have heard enough.

But supposing the poll consisted of only 41% democrats and 43% republicans with the remaining 16% independent. Now 369 are democrats, 387 are republicans and 144 are independent.

Under these conditions, 162 democrats will read it, 27 republicans and 32 independents or 221of the 900 which is 24.5% of the total, but is close enough to 25% to round it off. Moreover, it also means that 129 democrats say they have heard enough, while 228 republicans and 63 independents feel the same way. Which totals 420 or 46% - which precisely matches the Fox poll results.

So we can almost definitively state that the sample consists of 369d, 387r and only 144i. The poll is skewed republican, and it dramatically under-represents independents which is where the polls giving Kerry his lead tend to be gaining the most Kerry votes.


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