I watched speakers from both conventions. And I’ve watched the main stream media narrative about the conventions. It’s interesting, to see the least. Apparently, Obama got a bounce in the polls. Romney did not. Both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls have shown momentum for the president. But the Obama bounce is already fading. This morning, the Washington Post trumpeted “Among likely voters, Obama-Romney close”. In the Post’s latest poll following the two conventions, they have Obama up by one with likely voters, 49-48. They go into great detail explaining how Obama leads on many of the issues.
Not once do they mention the sampling of the two parties in the poll.
One phenomenon I mentioned in my post “Can Obama Win?” is the over sampling of democrats in most of the polls. In 2008, Obama beat McCain by seven points, and democrats outvoted republicans by seven points in the election. But in 2010, an election that resulted in a republican tsunami into the House of Representatives, the two parties were equally represented in the election.
Why are these numbers important to understand? Because in the Post’s most recent poll, they have oversampled democrats by ten points (33-23) compared to republicans. And Obama is only up by one. (See poll results here.)
What should we expect in 2012? I won’t be surprised if the democrats outvote the republicans by a small margin, but there’s little chance that they’ll match their seven point advantage from the 2008 election. Let alone outvote republicans by ten points.
So why are these polls so heavily weighted towards democrats? I have a theory.
Republicans don’t want to be polled.
Assuming that the polls start from a truly representative base of people, either people are lying about their party affiliation, or republicans are refusing to be polled (hanging up on the polling company). I think it’s much more likely that the republicans are hanging up on the pollsters. Why?
I’ve always believed that liberals are much more likely to want to express their opinions than conservatives. They post on blogs. They post on Facebook. The put bumper stickers on their cars. They join politically active organizations. While about twice as many people self-identify as conservatives compared to liberals, it’s been my experience that liberals are much more likely to voice their opinions than conservatives. For the most part, conservatives would like to be left alone.
But I think there’s another issue at play. When conservatives express views in opposition to the president’s agenda, they’re often labeled as racists by liberals and some members of the media. Are there still racists in this country? Absolutely. But it’s incredibly insulting to suggest that fiscal conservatives are only voicing opposition to the administration’s policies because Barrack Obama is black. Some people don’t want to fight that fight.
And lastly, conservatives are skeptical and distrusting of the media. They likely view these polling companies as extensions of the media.
I’ve often made comparisons of this election to the 1980 election between incumbent Jimmy Carter and his challenger Ronald Reagan. As late as October 28th, Gallup had Carter ahead 45-42. And in Gallup’s final poll, they had Reagan with a slim lead of 47-44. Much like the current race, the media said that the Carter-Reagan race was too close to call.
Reagan ultimately won 51-41, with John Anderson getting about 6.6% of the vote. Not very close at all.