Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama Narrowly Leads McCain????

Over the years, I have developed nothing but disrespect for the seriously politically-biased Associated Press (AP). And, as usual, they didn't fail to measure up to that opinion, again, this time.

Based on a poll that was recently commissioned by the AP, the headline reads: "Obama Narrowly Leads McCain in an AP Poll." If you read on, the story states that Obama leads McCain 48% to 42%. Further, Hillary leads McCain 46% to 45%. Wow! One can only conclude from this poll that either Democratic candidate would beat McCain in a head-to-head match up; especially Obama, who, with a 5 point lead over McCain, clearly exceeds the margin of error (assigned to this poll) of plus or minus 3.1 points.

But is this poll really being honest? Not hardly! And, the devil is in the details!

First, of the 1029 people who were queried in this poll, 520 or 51% of them were declared Democrats. Only, 357 or 34% of them were declared Republicans. That means that nearly 46% more Democrats were surveyed than Republicans. Can anyone guess why two Democrats would beat McCain with a built in, political bias like that? For a national poll to be truly accurate it should reflect, as much as possible, the actual percentages of registered independents and registered members of the two major political parties (Republicans and Democrats). That means that about 42% of the surveyed should have been declared Democrats; not 51%. Also, Republicans represent 32% of the registered voters; not 34%. Further, 25% of the registered voters in this country are declared independents. But, only 15% of the respondents were declared as other or as independents.

Even though the results are definitely skewed in favor of Obama/Clinton, we can still glean some truths out of this poll, by normalizing the number of Democrats in the poll. To do this, we will only focus on Barack Obama's numbers against McCain.

First, with percentages of 48 to 42, Obama over McCain, we know that these numbers fail to add up to 100%. Therefore, 10% didn't respond to this question in that poll; either way. So, we need to adjust the 1029 total respondents that were surveyed down to the 10% less that answered the "head-to-head" question on Obama versus McCain. That adjustment leaves us with 926 that answered the question.

Now, we need to determine the proper amount of Democrats out of that group. That would be 389 if we assume the national average of 42% of the registered voters.

Third, we know that 51% of the total respondents to this survey were declared Democrats. However, Obama only got 48% of the tally when up against McCain. That means, at the very least, 6% (48% divided by 51% of the survey) of the Democrats defected to McCain. Of course, in assuming only 6%, you would have to assume that "all" of the independents and all of the Republicans cast their vote for McCain; which isn't realistic. But it will work for the purpose of the exercise.

Given these facts, we can now determine that an adjusted 365 democrats went for Obama out of 1029 total respondents. Conversely, McCain got the nod from 561; assuming he got those 6% of the Dems, all of the Independents and all the Republicans. Of the total of 1029 respondents, that means McCain beats Obama by 55% to 35%. Even if I'm half wrong and we adjust McCain and Obama by half the value between my numbers and the original numbers, McCain will still win by 49% to 42%.

I know that some will argue that they expect the turnout for the energized Democrats to be high and I am not accounting for that. By all logic, you can't assume that. Further, Ralph Nader has already declared that his will run again this year. Against Gore, he may have stolen enough votes to have cost Gore the election. He may do the same to Obama. I would also point out that the original poll was weak on Independents; and, this is one group (maybe, even more than Republicans) that McCain attracts.

The full story of the Associated Press poll can be read at this link: (See Full Story).

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