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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Paul Krugman Weighs in on the Gallup Problem

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.

8 comments on “Paul Krugman Weighs in on the Gallup Problem

  1. Alan S on

    Yes, we have to overwhelm them with a landslide and GOTV will be crucial. But I was getting at what Susan picked up. We need to weigh in on the spin game, and hard. First, we have to shout that Kerry did win, and support all efforts of the Kerry campaign to make sure the votes are counted. And we have to have a good narrative about why Bush lost. We have to create our own facts, starting now.

  2. Gabby Hayes on

    Alan S,
    You are absolutely correct.
    The Bush Machine is all about saying something and making it so by saying it over and over and over.
    Fox News and Gallup are in on it. So is the New York Post, the Washington Times, and Drudge. Likewise Limbaugh.
    They take daily talking points and utilize brainwashing techniques aka marketing techniques.
    They are losing because their product sucks so hard. People try Kerry Cola, and even though the marketing sucks, it tastes better.
    Bush and team already plan to either declare victory or war the night of November 2nd. Unless there is a landslide, this guy is not leaving office without a fight. I can easily see him counting on litigation or legislatures to steal a few key states.
    That is the main reason we need to win by 5 million or more votes. We need a landslide to rid the country of this counterfeit King who stole the presidency once, and will surely do so again if given any chance.

  3. Gabby Hayes on

    Danton wrote:
    “Are there circumstances in which the “50% rule” doesn’t quite hold? Could, say, the majority of undecided voters break for an incumbent in a time of war?”
    What time of war?
    The public doesn’t perceive this as a US war, but as a Bush war, and there has been no indication the undecideds are in any way moved by Bush’s constant pitch that this is a war time.
    If they would buy that dubious proposition, they would have bought it already.
    All polls shows undecideds decidedly anti-war.

  4. Doofus on

    Ruy, echoing “Gabby Hayes,” I was very happy to see you get props from Krugman, who’s one of my idols.
    But I share Alan’s concern about the guerilla campaign that Bush/Cheney are waging. My advice: volunteer NOW to get out the vote and do what you can to help the Dems keep voter fraud at bay.

  5. susan on

    Alan, We certainly made a difference right after each debate when we flooded the polls with votes stating that Kerry won. Hope we can be effectively mobilized to help bring about victory on Nov. 2.
    At the moment, I’m on pins and needles. My DD and Ruy make me feel hopeful, then I read Altercation and Eric reports that things just ain’t that rosy.

  6. Alan S on

    Krugman’s article is important because it says it out loud that we are in an evolving coup d’etat. And it reinforces the picture of Bush’s world painted by Ron Suskind in his important NY Times article
    Krugman’s point about Gallup illustrates perfectly what the Bush advisor meant when he told Suskind that “we create our own reality.” This remark has nothing to do with faith vs secular, it is ad-speak. I’ve been around advertising types for years, and it is how they speak. They do create perceptions, and for them, that is reality.
    Gallup, Fox, and the others are working very hard to create the perception that Bush is winning. They are not obsessed, like those in the reality-based community with analyzing facts as they exist. They are creating perceptions–reality in the world of politics. And as the Bush adviser told Suskind, the rest of us just have to rush to catch up.
    While the rest of us are glued to TV on election night, analyzing the election results, the right wing media machine will be forging ahead, creating the perception that Bush has already won. We’ve all got to do what we can to create the alternative perception, that Bush lost and Kerry won. Let’s not be caught flat-footed this time around.

  7. Danton on

    Are there circumstances in which the “50% rule” doesn’t quite hold? Could, say, the majority of undecided voters break for an incumbent in a time of war? I ask this because lots of blogs seem to take the rule as an article of faith

  8. Gabby Hayes on

    Ruy, you didn’t mention that he gave you a shout out and props by name.
    I was reading Krugman earlier today and saw the tip of the hat he gave you on deconstructing Gallup and others.
    Congrats. I’ve been sending people here for the past 6 weeks to get people educated on polls.


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