August 2 2004
LIKELY VOTERS, REGISTERED VOTERS & ADULTS:
There seems to be some confusion over which poll numbers
we use in our RCP Polling Averages. Today's
Gallup results are a perfect example. As soon as the
results were posted yesterday, we started to receive dissatisfied
emails wanting to know why we were posting only the Likely
Voters results as opposed to the Registered Voters numbers.
is a lot of emotion among partisans on both sides in the
outcome of this election and naturally each side wants to
see the most favorable poll results pushed for their respective
candidate. Kerry supporters obviously would prefer the press
focus on the Registered Voters result which has Kerry tied
47% - 47% (or even better the National Adult sample that
has Kerry ahead 48% - 45%) instead of the Likely Voters
result we posted that shows Kerry trailing Bush 50% - 46%
in the three way race.
weeks ago, we had Republican partisans emailing us that
we had the wrong FOX News poll numbers posted when, in fact,
we had the correct Likely Voters results. These people were
incorrectly looking at the Registered Voters result which
(in a rarity) had President Bush doing better among Registered
Voters than among Likely Voters.
first thing we try to do
is to be consistent in regards to polling data. We will
always use Likely Voters numbers over Registered Voters,
and Registered Voters numbers over National Adults. The
reason is clear and simple. Likely Voters results are a
better predictor of how an election actually turns out.
In other words, they are more accurate.
on both sides of the aisle usually recognize this fact without
much argument, though you will occasionally hear complaining
from Democrats that this usually tilts the polling results
toward the GOP. But Democratic complaints really shouldn't
be with pollsters who release Likely Voters results, but
rather with the Registered Voters and Adults who respond
in the surveys but don't bother to vote. Again, when a polling
firm releases LV numbers and RV numbers we will always post
the Likely Voters result.
source of confusion is whether we should highlight the three-way
numbers with Nader or just the Bush-Kerry head-to-head results.
Unlike the issue over LVs vs. RVs, this is more debatable
and reasonable people can disagree over which series will
be more accurate. We post both sets of results here at RealClearPolitics,
but when just quoting one number from a poll we will use
the three-way with Nader.
Democrats sometimes will balk at this because usually it
works to Bush's advantage. Now if Nader doesn't end up on
the ballot in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri
and Michigan then perhaps at some point we'll switch to
using the head-to-head number as the one to quote. But given
the results of the 2000 election it seems foolish to ignore
the presence of Nader in the race.
summarize: when we get a poll like the just released CNN/USA
Today/Gallup with six different horse race numbers in the
same poll. (3-way LV, 3-way RV, 3-way NA, head-to-head LV,
head-to-head RV, head-to-head NA), we will always post the
Likely Voters result in our RCP Poll Averages and we will
highlight the three way with Nader as long as Nader remains
in the race and on the ballot in critical states.
50%, KERRY 46%, NADER 2%: It's hard to know what
to make of the Gallup poll showing a negative 'bounce' for
the Kerry/Edwards ticket. My first reaction is that everyone
should take a deep breath before drawing huge conclusions
from this one poll.
the results from the other post-convention poll from Newsweek
doesn't provide much solace for the Kerry campaign when
you read this: "Kerry’s four-point “bounce” is the
smallest in the history of the NEWSWEEK poll."
daily tracking poll shows a similar 2-4 point bounce
poll taken July 26-29 during the Democratic Convention
gives the Kerry/Edwards ticket a three point bump from their
told, the early evidence seems to indicate that Kerry will
not receive much of a bounce, if any, from his convention
in Boston. That in and of itself isn't a killer, because
it is easily possible that given the polarization of the
electorate neither candidate will receive much of a bounce
from their convention. But the negative bounce in the Gallup
poll, will be a serious concern for the Democrats
if the other major polls confirm the same trend.
even if the other polls are more similar to Newsweek and
Rasmussen showing only a small bounce for the Kerry/Edwards
ticket, that isn't necessarily good news for the Democrats.
For while it is possible that people's opinions are so set
there will not be any big bounces from either convention,
it is also entirely possible Kerry gets a meager bump while
Bush still gets the normal big boost from his convention.
while these early polls aren't the end of the world for
Kerry - or even necessarily conclusive evidence as to what
kind of bounce Kerry may ultimately have gotten from his
convention - there is no way the Kerry campaign can spin
them as good news for their candidate. J. McIntyre
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