Tags: 2020 Elections | Polls | gallup | biases | sampling

Time to Face Facts: Polls Biased Towards Democrats

Time to Face Facts: Polls Biased Towards Democrats

By Monday, 06 January 2020 04:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The New York Post came out with it first — proof positive of a Democratic party bias in polls of how Americans view the impeachment issue, and Donald Trump.

In, "Fox News Pollster Braun Research Misrepresented Impeachment poll" (Oct. 12, 2019), the newspaper stated that Republican and Independent voters were underrepresented by the Braun Research firm. The poll cited that 48% of the sample were Democrats. But the electorate, according to Gallup, consists of 31% Democrats, 29%Republicans and 38% Independents. 

The article prompted this columnist to look into this matter further, and found — surprisingly — that Braun Research was not alone in making this oversight bias.

It appears, that all — that’s right, all — of the polls cited in the venerable Real Clear Politics Poll (RCP) average have a bias of at least six points toward Democrats with Independents being underrepresented by at least two percentage points and always leaning more Democratic.

How can this be?

Well, it’s rather simple:

It appears that these esteemed pollsters may be basing their stratified poll sample on this Dec. 4, 2017, Gallup column "Democratic Party Maintains Edge in Party affiliation."

The only problem is that this is no longer the case.

In December’s Gallup Political Party Affiliation poll 28 percent are Democrats; 28 percent Republicans and 41 percent Independents. 

Recently, the well respected and gold standard of poll science, the FiveThirtyEight site, showed a similarly Democratic bias in their sampling.

Their poll findings of Jan. 3, 2020 — "A Majority Of Americans Think The Evidence Supports Trump’s Removal" — indicate the following responses to the poll questions regarding party affiliation:

Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as:

Total

A Democrat

29%

A Republican

23%

An Independent

37%

Something else

9%

Skipped

2%

If you had to choose, would you say you lean towards the…

Think of themselves as an Independent,

Total

Democratic party

49%

Republican party

43%

Skipped

9%

Here, there is a six-point Democratic party bias both over party-affiliated Republicans and Independents. With this data in mind, they conclude, "Fifty-two percent said they think Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine or his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry constitute enough evidence to remove him from office."

How you evaluate the bias factor depends on your point of view.

For those of us more conservatively analytical, a better metric to use describing public sentiment regarding impeachment is 46% (Take the poll’s 52% response and subtract from it the 6% Democratic oversampling error into account.) A more aggressive investigator would also consider the independent bias as well and then use a 40 percent benchmark — (46 percent minus the 6 percent oversampling against independents.)

In either case, both the 46 and 40 percentages are significantly different from the poll’s major headline of 52% favoring the removal of the president from office.

This issue of bias in the polls is not a new one. It was first considered in "The Polls Are Accurate But Don't Predict Anything — Except Biases." Here this columnist conceded that the polls were accurate. Today the good researcher, must be skeptical and ask whether "group think" or sloppy craftsmanship is to blame with this blatant but not necessarily consciously systematic error.

In another column penned by this columnist, "Questionable Polls May Shock the Midterms," poll reliability and validity were discussed – with reliability addressing the polls consistency over time and validity asking whether the poll is measuring what it says it measures. Both are important in generating results when important decisions need to be made regarding campaign strategy.

The current column offers an easy fix for pollsters. Just use the sample of the latest Gallup Party Affiliation Poll in your sample. That will alleviate all political party bias and generate results that will more accurately reflect the opinions and political affiliations of Americans rather than confirming the beliefs of those doing the polling.

Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The current column offers an easy fix for pollsters. Just use the sample of the latest Gallup Party Affiliation Poll in your sample. That will alleviate all political party bias and generate results that will more accurately reflect the opinions and political affiliations of Americans.
gallup, biases, sampling
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2020-03-06
Monday, 06 January 2020 04:03 PM
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