Anywho...yesterday me and a buddy were checking out the MoveOn.org website while on the phone (Gay/Not Gay? I know...) and stumbled upon one of their nefarious claims (Yes, I know all their claims are nefarious, but we need to focus) that the long revered Gallup poll is actually being skewed. The reason? (Get ready to connect the dots.) The reason is the son of the guy (George Gallup, Sr. died in 1984) who founded the poll is a Christian who was quoted as saying that, "The most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God." Sound the bias alarms! Couple of problems, other than the strained logic of the claim, that can be summed up in this quote from the NYtimes, no less:
What the advertisement did not say was that Mr. Gallup, who retired in May, is not involved in the company's political polling and made those comments in reference to his specialty and main interest - polling people on their religious beliefs.
So the ad might have been misleading.
Then I decided to do a little of my own research. I looked at the Gallup poll results from around the first of September to the present. First just look at Bush's numbers from that time:
- 48 52 54 49 48 52.
Nothing from that line seems all that shocking. Now Kerry's:
- 46 45 40 49 49 44.
I think you would agree that the 5 point drop was not as staggering as the 9 point gain. But the 5 point Kerry drop with the very moderate 2 point Bush gain is what drew the ire of the "principled" MoveOn.org. But before we leave the horribly inaccurate attempts of Gallup, let's compare it to another poll. The ABCNews/Washington Post of the same period. They seem to have done one less poll in that time but still...first Bush's numbers:
- 48 52 51 48 51
- 48 43 45 48 45
Hmmmm. They seem somewhat similar to me. You see Bush's support rise, then fall, but the begin to rise. Kerry's seems to fall, spike, but then begin another down tick. Some people might call these trends, but I won't be so bold. My point would be, if Gallup is so flawed, isn't ABC/WashPost? So where's the outrage? Where's the full-page ads in USAToday? Nowhere. Why? Because they were specious and misleading (verging on slanderous) to begin with. It was an example of complainers looking for something to complain about, whether it had merit or not. And this one would seem to find itself safely in the "Not" category. (NOTE: All poll numbers can be found here. If you don't like my research, do your own.)
As a final word, I generally don't like polls. I don't tend to trust them no matter what they say. Plus, there is quite a bit of evidence that polls haven's got a complete grasp on how to represent the modern voter.