The following originally appeared on Human Events on November 1, 2012
On Monday night, CBS News/New York Times issued a new poll that has President Obama up 1 percent nationally. It shows Gov. Romney ahead of the president among Republican voters by 85 percent (91 percent to 6 percent) and ahead among Independent voters by 12 percent (51 percent to 39 percent). That’s an impressive lead among Independents. The poll also shows that 68 percent of Romney voters are very enthusiastic versus 59 percent of Obama voters, a 9 percent enthusiasm gap favoring Gov. Romney. The conclusion from this data: President Obama is ahead in the polls by 1 percent.
How can this be? If you pull up the poll data and go to the very end, it informs you that the poll weighted likely voters 31 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat and 33 percent Independent. Apparently, if you are willing to assume that the less enthusiastic Democrats are going to vote 5 percent more than more enthusiastic Republicans and 3 percent more than Independents, the president’s lead among Democrats (93 percent to 5 percent) gives him a 1 percent lead nationally despite Gov. Romney’s 85 percent lead among Republicans and 12 percent lead among Independents.
Just for a little context, Scott Rasmussen’s polling on party affiliation for September 2012 found that 36.8 percent of voters considered themselves Republicans, 34.2 percent considered themselves Democrats, and 29 percent considered themselves Independents. So how do CBS and the New York Times end up with a 5 percent advantage for the Democrats?
For a little more context, just prior to the last presidential election in October of 2008 when there was a lot of enthusiasm for President Obama, Rasmussen found the party affiliation breakdown 33.4 percent Republican (3.4 percent less than the current polling), 39 percent Democrat (4.8 percent more than the current polling) and 27.6 percent Independent (1.4 percent less than the current polling).
In October of 2004, 37.2 percent considered themselves Republicans, 38.7 percent considered themselves Democrats and 24.1 percent considered themselves Independents. By the way, Republicans won that election.
On Oct. 26, Gallup issued an analysis of the demographics of likely voters based on its October 1-24 daily election tracking. Gallup estimated that this year’s turnout would be 36 percent Republicans, 35 percent Democrats and 29 percent Independents. This compared with 39 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican, and 31 percent Independent in 2008 and 39 percent Republican, 37 percent Democrat and 24 percent Independent in 2004.
So, notwithstanding that: 1. The percentage of people who consider themselves Republicans and Independents have both increased since 2008 and the number who consider themselves Democrats has decreased, 2. More people consider themselves Republicans (36.8 percent) than consider themselves Democrats (34.2 percent), 3. Gallup estimates that the turnout will be 36 percent Republican and 35 percent Democrat, (4) Romney supporters are more enthusiastic than Obama supporters by a 9 percent margin, and (5) Governor Romney is ahead among Republican voters by 85 percent and among Independent voters by 12 percent; the CBS News/New York Times poll nonetheless manages to conclude that Democrats will vote 5 percent more than Republicans and President Obama is, therefore, up in the polling nationally by 1 percent.
The polls CBS News/New York Times also released this week include data for Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
In Florida, the CBS News/New York Times poll shows Romney up 87 percent (93 percent to 6 percent) among Republicans, up 5 percent (49 percent to 44 percent) among Independents but down 81 percent (8 percent to 89 percent) among Democrats. It also shows a 16 percent enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans (63 percent) over Democrats (47 percent). And the conclusion: Obama up 1 percent. Why? It polled Democrats at 7 percent more than Republicans (30 percent to 37 percent) and 8 percent more than Independents (29 percent to 37 percent).
In Ohio, the CBS News/New York Times poll shows Romney up 84 percent (91 percent to 7 percent) among Republicans, up 6 percent (49 percent to 43 percent) among independents but down 86 percent (6 percent to 92 percent) among Democrats. And the conclusion: Obama up 5 percent. Why: It polled Democrats at 8 percent more than Republicans (29 percent to 37 percent) and 7 percent more than Independents (30 percent to 37 percent).
In Virginia, the CBS News/New York Times poll shows Romney up 87 percent (93 percent to 6 percent) among Republicans, up an impressive 21 percent (57 percent to 36 percent) among independents but down 93 percent (3 percent to 96 percent) among Democrats. And the conclusion: Obama up 2 percent. Why: It polled Democrats at 8 percent more than Republicans (27 percent to 35 percent) and equal to Independents (35 percent to 35 percent).
You can take from this approach to polling what you choose and I am neither a pollster nor a mathematician. However, I can add.