How Accurate Are the Presidential Polls?

On the news this morning I heard several polls all indicate that President Barack Obama had a lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  I started wondering just how accurate are these polls.  I’ve been involved in taking polls for various issues in the past and one thing that I learned real fast is that the demographic you target can greatly influence your results.

For instance, I once did a quick 4 question poll on evolution versus young earth creation.  I divided the poll into three groups.  The first group was made up of church leaders.  The second group consisted of Christian colleges and universities and the third group was made up of secular college and university professors.  As one would expect, the first group had the largest percentage of supporters for young earth creation and the secular colleges had the largest percentage of supporters for evolution.  What did shock me was see the results of the second group as I found their response were just a few percentage points off from the secular colleges.

But surveying people can easily be swayed by a number of factors.  If the presidential polls are taken primarily in large cities, then they will be skewed towards Obama and the Democrats.  If the poll is taken in more rural areas, it will be skewed towards Romney and the Republicans.

Knowing this, I started doing some research and ran across a very interesting website called UnSkewedPolls.com.  This group looks at the different polls, then takes into account various swaying factors and adjusts them according to what they believe to be a more accurate representation of the polling audience.

When they did this, they found that out of 12 polls, including Reuters, NBC News, NY times, Fox News, Washington Post and others, Romney actually holds a 7.8% lead over Obama (51.8% for Romney and 44.0% for Obama).

Likewise, they reviewed Obama’s approval ratings and used the same method of adjustment.  Interestingly, the approval ratings nearly matched the presidential polls with Obama having a 44.1% approval and 52.9% disapproval.

You’ll never see these corrected figures on any of the news outlets as their job is to help Obama get re-elected.  If they keep telling enough people that Obama is leading in all the polls, there will be a number of people that will vote Obama because of it.  If they came out and told the American people that Mitt Romney holds an average of a 8 point lead over Barack Obama in nearly every poll, it would sway some voters to vote for Romney and instead of Obama and they can’t allow that to happen.

I strongly urge you to bookmark the UnSkewed Polls website and follow their poll analysis going into the election.  It just might help to give you a little more optimism and hope for America.