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Because polls can say whatever the pollster want them to and a close race makes better TV. If you go further in the article it states that "For the entire sample, the survey showed Obama ahead 47 percent to 37 percent." So they took a sampling of the polls respondants to make it create the headline they wanted it to.

How is that for a cynical response ;)

The AP poll was through Monday. The RealClearPolitics average of 14 polls ending Sunday through Tuesday shows Obama ahead by an average of 7.0. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_election_mccain_vs_obama-225.html

Only three out of those 14 polls show Obama leading by less than 5 percentage points. The RCP graph of the average poll results do not show the race tightening.

A better question might be "Why does the AP poll show the race tightening, when the other polls do not?"

Dave, I guess I don't know what this poll did. It says:

"The AP-GfK survey included interviews with a nationally representative random sample totaling 1,101 adults, including 800 deemed likely to vote. For the entire sample, the survey showed Obama ahead 47 percent to 37 percent. He was up by five points among all registered voters, including the likely voters.

A significant number of the interviews were conducted by dialing a randomly selected sample of cell phone numbers, and thus this poll had a chance to reach voters who were excluded from some other polls."

I guess I don't understand how they got the 44/43 numbers. Am I missing something?

Steve, I believe the 44/43 was for likely voters. Obama was up by five among registered voters, and by ten among all respondents to the survey. Obviously, it is a well-constructed "likely voter" poll that gives the most relevant result if one is looking for a clue to upcoming election results.

It's all about the electorial and Obama has that wrapped up, for better or worse.

Thanks -- I think that is probably the only way to make sense of their numbers, really. The article isn't very clear on that part.

I would say that Democrats LOVE these kinds of news stories. With Obama clearly leading the polls in registered voters these kinds of results will help the otherwise apathetic Obama supporters to get out and make sure their vote is counted.

An article commenting on the disparity in results in polls released today. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aly2vBIj2Cfk&refer=us

Dave, Dave, Dave,

Look, AP does a different thing with their numbers.

1. For the entire sample, the survey showed Obama ahead 47 percent to 37 percent.

2. He was up by five points among all registered voters, including the likely voters.

and

3. according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows McCain and Barack Obama essentially running even among likely voters in the election homestretch.
The poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent

So among all who they called, the lead was 10 points. Among registered voters it was a five point lead. And "likely" voters (a rather ambiguous term) it was a one point lead.

That should tell you why the AP poll is an outlier among all the others, which show a consistent 6-12 point lead for Obama nationally.

But since you have a bias here, continue living in your bubble. John McCain will make a comeback and win and the world will be saved.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/behind-the-numbers/?hpid=topnews

Let's talk about this poll among "likely" voters. Obama ahead by 11 points. :)

I'm not sure why you put quotes around "likely"; likely voters are the relevant pool to measure if one is talking about the upcoming election.

Since there is variation among the different polls, the best measure of trends is how a given poll (or a set of particular polls considered individually) change over time. The Gallup poll posts data -- alas, little change in the likely voter numbers over the last couple of weeks. One would have thought Palin's SNL appearance would have made an impression on that large contingent of liberal voters who take their political cues from comedy shows.

When 45% of polling respondents identify as born-again/evangelical Christians, you can expect it to lean Republican.

(For reference, born-agains/evangelicals made up 23% of voters in 2004.)

Poll FAIL.

Dave,

"likely" is ambiguous, which is why I wouldn't look at such polls. I'd rather go for "registered" or for "all" who I question in a poll. Forget "likely" because likely is too waify.

As far as Palin on SNL goes, I can't see why you would think that her snore bore appearance there would move actual voters. All she did was appear for a few minutes, not even do her own rap, and leave.

You put quotes around "likely" voters because there is a lot of uncertainty about how to construct a good model of who is "likely" to vote. Here's a good post on the issue:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/10/some-likely-voter-models-are-suspect.html

And for anyone who thinks that polls just show "whatever the pollster wants them to," I wonder if you'd be interested in a friendly wager. Based on the polls, I'll take Obama and happily give you 2-1 odds.

Dave said:

Obviously, it is a well-constructed "likely voter" poll that gives the most relevant result if one is looking for a clue to upcoming election results.

It's really tricky. You have to make certain assumptions about voter behavior based on past elections and hope that it mirrors what happens during this election. Generally that should work out okay, but there are reasons to believe that certain groups will participate in greater numbers this time around (in Obama's favor), which could make the likely voter numbers not reflect reality. But then again this has been predicted in past elections without much change when the actual results where analyzed. We'll have to see.

Ah, here's why this AP poll has such skewed numbers:

http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/10/the_apgfk_poll_evangelical_sur.php

Looks like they grabbed a boatload of evangelical born agains.

"One would have thought Palin's SNL appearance would have made an impression on that large contingent of liberal voters who take their political cues from comedy shows."

Hey, that wouldn't be a reference to, say, The Daily Show, would it?

Update: The latest Gallup daily poll numbers (computed as a three-day moving average) for the traditional pool of likely voters shows Obama's lead shrinking from 7 points to 4 points over the last two days. If this moves still closer tomorrow, we might need another post on this.

Or you could stop cherry picking polls and start looking at aggregators that would give you a better idea of what's really happening...

Nate W. ... like Gallup is some sort of fringe operation. They've been doing polling longer than anyone. Their results can stand on their own.

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