As a public service, I reproduce the reply (originally in ABC News’ The Note) of Susan Pinkus, Director of the Los Angeles Times Poll, to Matthew Dowd’s allegations. Note her point about not weighting by party ID, as well as the useful time series data on party ID in the LAT poll. And note that the Democrats’ current 13 point lead is not out of line with the previous LAT poll data.
After reading Matthew Dowd’s assessment of the Los Angeles Times Poll in ABC News’ The Note, I feel that I have to respond to his assertion that the poll is a ‘mess.’ His negative spin of this poll is, quite truthfully, not unexpected. The Times makes every effort to use sound methodological techniques that are used by most reputable research and polling organizations. The questionnaire and methodology is available for anyone to see and conforms to the guidelines set forth by the National Council on Public Polls and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Although Dowd does not like the results of the Times poll, I stand behind the poll’s results and the sound statistical methods used.
If Dowd doesn’t like the Times results, did he have a problem with the latest Gallup and CBS/New York Times polls? The horserace numbers are similar to the results of these two latest polls. Gallup had Kerry ahead by 5 points in the two-way race and CBS had Kerry up by 8 points.
The Times does RDD (random digit dialing) sampling which reaches households with listed and unlisted telephone numbers. The poll weights slightly (for minor corrections) based on census data for sex, race, age and education and does not weight for party ID. Party ID is a moving variable that changes from one election to another, and weighting by party registration makes no sense nationally because many states don’t have their voters register by party and some states don’t have voters register to vote until the day of the election.
Here is the breakdown of party affiliation in Times polls going back to September 2001:
As you can see, the numbers are pretty similar to one another (all within the margins of error).
It is also interesting to me that if the poll is ‘a mess,’ why is he reporting data from the poll — results that hopefully make his point? Why doesn’t he report that the job approval ratings are very similar to those that other polling firms are finding? For example, a new Fox poll released today shows Bush’s job approval 48 percent to 45 percent disapproval. Annenberg’s numbers show Bush’s approval to disapproval ratings at 48 percent to 49 percent. The Times poll has Bush’s positive to negative ratings 51 percent to 47 percent. Annenberg also had Bush handling the situation in Iraq at 40 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove; the Times poll shows 44 percent and 55 percent. Annenberg has Bush handling the nation’s economy at 41 percent to 55 percent; the Times had 43 percent to 54 percent.
However, if you look at all the questions, not just the horserace there is uneasiness about what is happening to the country (56 percent think the country would be better off if it moved in a new direction, 58 percent think the country is seriously off on the wrong track — which most polls are showing) and doubts about President Bush’s presidency. On the other hand, Kerry needs to do better than he is about what his proposals are. Which will win stability or change — we’ll know on Nov. 2.