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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How to Prep for Polling Anomalies

Jonathan Bernstein warns at WaPo’s ‘PostPartisan’ blog to “Be ready for goofy polls,” which is sage advice at the outset of the general election campaign. As Bernstein explains,

…With Gallup running a daily track, and other pollsters either running daily tracks or frequent polling, that we’re going to see quite a few bad numbers. Gallup, for example, has Obama’s approval spiking up to 50% today, but the odds are good that we’re just seeing a statistical blip, and his slump down to 43% late last month was also a meaningless blip.
Once again: look at the poll-of-polls averages. Mark Blumenthal’s Pollster trend line for approval sits at 47% and has hardly budget for weeks; the average over at Real Clear Politics is just barely higher.

As Bernstein sums it up: “The bottom line is that all the data help us know more about what’s going on, as long as we use it well – which means focusing on the averages, and not individual, anomalous readings. Remind yourself: we’re expecting a lot of those anomalies. In both directions. Just get ready to ignore them.”

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