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Annoying, Misleading Political Ads and Annoying, Misleading Political Polls

by | Jul 26, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

More than a few acquaintances whose political preferences I know nothing about have commented on the annoying truth that President Obama’s ads are virtually inescapable. One told me (and I can vouch for this because it happens to me) that he turns on his AOL account and there is the President’s  smiling face or an assertion about pro-life Mitt Romney’s views on abortion that have been wholly debunked by news sources not known to be sympathetic to Romney or to pro-lifers.

This came up today when I read about a new Obama attack ad–“It’s a scary time to be a woman” ad—part and part of the incessant “war on women” nonsense. I honestly wonder if such patent untruths don’t have a limited shelf life—and that this line of attack may have long since already have seen its better day.

Two other brief items. Business owners (although you’d never know it by a piece in today’s Washington Post) are telling Gallup that they have less and less use for the President. Looking at “Obama job approval by occupation,” when it comes to the president’s performance, 59 percent of business owners disapprove. Just 35 percent approve.  That made them THE most disapproving group, according to Gallup.

“[T]hat’s a drop of 6 percentage points from the first quarter of the year, when 41 percent of business owners gave Obama a positive job approval,” according to Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post. “It was the only group that became significantly less approving of the president over the past three months.”

The other item is one we’ve talked about many times here: the perennial question of why Republicans are under-sampled by pollsters. BTW, that’s important because that if the sample is more [fill in the blank] than is the case in reality, the results are skewed. As Michael Franc writes in National Review Online, “Oversample the adherents of one party or the other, Pew’s research tells us, and you might as well toss the entire poll onto the trash heap.”

Let me offer the primary example Franc offers—in this case from the Washington Post. Premise: since in its June poll Gallup found “the two parties are at absolute parity, with 30 percent of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats, 30 percent as Republicans, and 39 percent as independents,” then the obligation is when you do your surveys to have this kind of ratio in your sample.

Franc points out (as we did at the time) that  the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll had Obama up by 5 points. But the sample consisted of 33% Democrats and only 24% Republicans.

“Reconfiguring the Post poll to reflect Gallup’s findings would dramatically alter the top-line numbers,“ he explains. “Romney’s strength would rise significantly as Obama’s fell. Romney, it turns out, may actually be ahead by as much as four or five points.”

Just a word to the wise: each time one of these polls comes out, take them with an entire salt-shaker’s worth of salt.

Categories: Obama