Five Reasons There Are Bad Polls

This morning, CBS and the New York Times announced excitedly that their new swing-state poll (conducted by Quinnipiac University) in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey showed a substantial margin for Barack Obama in all three. The problem: The poll’s results are preposterous. We know this not because it shows Obama leading but because its “internals” are hilariously out of whack in relation to vote totals in 2008 and 2010. For example: The poll has the president winning among independent voters in Pennsylvania by 22 points, 58-36. It is difficult to find state-by-state exit poll data from 2008, but in that triumphant year for Obama, he won independent voters nationwide by 6. 2008 exit polls had Obama winning by about the same margin in Pennsylvania—but in 2010, exit-poll data found Republicans winning the independent vote nationwide by 18 points. Could that have simply swung back all the way to 2008 numbers in Pennsylvania? All but impossible.

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Five Reasons There Are Bad Polls

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