More Coverage of Faulty Polling Practices

If you’ve been following the Presidential polling numbers, you may wonder how one poll can have Kerry trailing by about 13 points, which another poll shows an exact tier. You’re noth the only one. There has been more noise made lately, and rightly so:

pollsters themselves are facing increasing questions about their methodology and accuracy.

Historically, some companies have even been sued for skewing their results to please their clients.

A Reuters article today, Campaign Puts Polling Methods Under Microscope, looks at the issues involved in todays election numbers. It’s a fine read. Even the independent polling-company-watchers are filling with suspicion and dismay:

Some bad news for the polling business. Strategic Vision (R) has a new poll in Ohio showing Bush ahead 52% to 43% there. However, there is also a Lake Snell Perry (D) poll showing the race there to be an exact tie, with both candidates at 46%. It is becoming increasingly clear that the pollsters are producing the results that the people paying the bills want to hear. Even pollsters who were once thought to be above suspicion are now suspicious. Gallup, for example, is now normalizing its samples to include 40% Republicans, even though the 2000 exit polls showed the partisan distribution to be 39% Democratic, 35% Republican . There is scant evidence that the underlying partisan distribution has changed much since then. Other pollsters also normalize their data, but most don’t say how. Normalizing the sample to ensure the proper number of women, elderly voters, etc. is legitimate provided that the pollster publicly states what has been done.