Paul Krugman’s important column in The New York Times today leads with this:
If the election were held today and the votes were counted fairly, Senator John Kerry would probably win. But the votes won’t be counted fairly, and the disenfranchisement of minority voters may determine the outcome.
Recent national poll results range from a three-percentage-point Kerry lead in the A.P.-Ipsos poll released yesterday to an eight-point Bush lead in the Gallup poll. But if you line up the polls released this week from the most to the least favorable to President Bush, the polls in the middle show a tie at about 47 percent.
This is bad news for Mr. Bush because undecided voters usually break against the incumbent – not always, but we’re talking about probabilities. Those middle-of-the-road polls also show Mr. Bush with job approval around 47 percent, putting him very much in the danger zone.
Electoral College projections based on state polls also show a dead heat. Projections assuming that undecided voters will break for the challenger in typical proportions give Mr. Kerry more than 300 electoral votes.
But he goes on to point out that this picture is not the one you would get from watching cable news, where polls of Gallup and Fox News set the frame for the state of the horse race. And he specifically cites the data reported on DR and other blogs exposing the bias of Gallup’s likely voter samples against minority and young voters.
As Krugman emphasizes, this distorted view of the state of the campaign not only misleads voters and the public, it potentially can be used to cover up actual disenfranchisement of minority and young voters on election day. Perhaps Krugman’s column will finally help get “the Gallup problem” the attention it so richly deserves.