Gallup has Romney ahead in their seven-day national tracking poll for likely-voters. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein isn’t too sure if the poll is trustworthy, especially considering every other major poll source has the two candidates neck-to-neck, and especially considering that according to the poll, Obama is only behind in the South – leading to an election “headed for an electoral college/popular vote split.”
HuffPost’s Mark Blumenthal weighs in as well, advising: “The best advice may be what political scientist and blogger Jonathan Bernstein offered his readers: As ‘with every polling number,’ he wrote, ‘ignore it, and look at the polling averages.’”
Nate Silver carefully walks readers through his rules for judging the credibility and accuracy (or lack thereof) of Gallup’s results. First though, Gallup has some credibility out of the other five national tracking polls (Ramussen, Ipsos, RAND, Investors’ Business Daily and United Press International), because it has the largest sample size and calls cell phones. That said, Silver believes Gallup polls should be considered with a grain of salt in context, the context being ”that its most recent results differ substantially from the dozens of other state and national polls about the campaign. It’s much more likely that Gallup is wrong and everyone else is right than the other way around.”
So what all of these different sites and men are saying is that polls have to be considered all together and even then not taken at face value. Given that they are here, and people do like seeing them, how can journalists responsibly show poll data without going into all the background about how they are possibly misleading?
On a side note: out of the summary it was interesting to see that Silver believes state polls often provide “a better estimate of the national popular vote, in addition to the Electoral College.”