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Thursday, October 02, 2008

About a month ago Alex Greenberg left a comment about RealClearPolitics that looks pretty prescient. Alex said:

Does it bother anyone that the number one web resource for poll data is also clearly partisan? The left needs, among other things, to start its own poll-summary site, so that people aren't getting headlines geared to push people toward the right alongside their poll numbers.
Today comes a post at demonstrating that RCP is cherry picking polls to prop up McCain's numbers:
You'll see three polls [for Virginia] -- SurveyUSA, Mason-Dixon, and ABC/Post -- that were conducted at essentially the same time. The ABC/Post poll was in the field from the 18th to the 21st, Mason-Dixon from the 17th to the 22nd, and SurveyUSA from the 19th to the 21st. And yet, the Mason-Dixon and ABC/Post polls are included in its average whereas SurveyUSA is not. Guess which one had the strongest numbers for Obama?

A similar example from Minnesota. The Star-Tribune conducted polling from September 10th through September 12th; SurveyUSA conducted polling from September 10th to September 11th. The Star-Tribune poll, which shows a tie, is included; the SurveyUSA poll, which showed Obama ahead by 2, is not.

As long as we're having fun with this, how about Alaska? Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore had released a poll in July, then showing just a 3-point race between McCain and Obama. We included it, included it, and RCP did not. But then last month, when the same firm released a fresh poll showing the profound effect that Sarah Palin had on the race (McCain +19), RCP decided they were a worthy pollster.

Or how about North Carolina Senate? RCP presently includes two weeks-old polls from SurveyUSA and Research 2000, whch had shown Elizabeth Dole with a solid lead in her race against Kay Hagan. But they didn't bother to include more recent polls from Elon and Civitas, which show the race essentially tied.