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Presidential polls: A picture of unreliability

Posted By Les Kinsolving On 10/01/2012 @ 7:07 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

The supporters of the re-election of President Obama appear exhilarated at the fact that he still leads Gov. Romney – barely – in a number of the national polls.

It is, therefore, most important to go back to the 1980 presidential race.

Similar polls reported Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter leading Republican nominee Ronald Reagan by 4 points in late September and by 8 points in October.

Gallup reported that Carter led Reagan by 6 points in the last days of that election.

Final result: Reagan won by 6 points – or 15 points higher than the final Gallup poll, in winning 44 states.

Eight years later, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was, at one poll-report point, leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 17 points. But on Election Day, Bush defeated Dukakis by 7 points.

Earlier in that century came that unforgettable photograph of the Chicago Tribune (“The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” as it proclaimed on Page 1):

“Dewey Defeats Truman”

And in one of American history’s most delightfully memorable photographs, that newspaper is being held aloft by the headlined (but victorious) Harry Truman, with what must be his most memorable smile.

Editor and columnist R. Emmett Tyrell contends that a recent poll from the Pew Research Center suggests that the electorate is growing impatient with pollsters calling them for their view on everything from deodorants to odors. According to Pew, the response rate of a typical telephone (political) survey was 36 percent in 1997 and is just 9 percent today.

Tyrell adds, “My suspicion is that political polling has not been reliable for years. Increasingly, those who sit down with the pollsters are politically committed respondents.”

In a column headlined, “Obama Can Run from the Press, but He Can’t Hide – Even the media [are] getting tired of his evading them,” American Thinker columnist Dan Joppich wrote the following:

  • “Obama … upon returning from a tough day of campaigning in Colorado stumbled humbly through a prepared statement in the White House Rose Garden. The speech was thoughtful with regard to the victims, but lacked any passion or conviction in tone or words when it came to how he is going to deal with the perpetrators.”

  • “When he finished reading, he walked quickly away from the reporters as they shouted questions at him. Rushing off to another fundraiser, no doubt.”
  • “Avoiding the press is nothing new for our commander in chief. Since June, he has allowed spontaneous questions only three times from the press (which, not coincidentally, is about as many security briefings he’s attended).”
  • “We certainly can’t claim that Obama is hiding from the press. He does do interviews with friendly reporters – but recently he has been doing so on the condition that they only ask him questions that he provides them.

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