Wexaminer/ Flynn ... CNN is grabbing political headlines with the release of its latest poll. It shows Obama surging to a 6-point lead over Romney, 52-46, among likely. Before the start of the Democrat convention, the candidates had been tied in the poll. Since it purportedly confirms a narrative the media is trying to build, i.e. that Obama is starting to pull away with the race, it is getting wide coverage. However, there are a couple of strange things within the poll that cast doubt on its veracity. And, at least one concern warrants a response from CNN.
First, this being a media poll, it has an obvious skew towards Democrats. The partisan breakdown is (D/R/I) 50/45/5. It perhaps isn't surprising that Obama is leading a D+5 poll by 6 points. Throughout the campaign season, Obama's margin usually is very close to the partisan skew in the sample. It is surprising, though, that Independents make up only 5% of the sample. Tellingly, Romney leads this group by 14 points.
I've seen others suggest that CNN pushes voters to identify with one party or the other, which may account for this. Although, CNN identifies the breakdown of sample numbers as X "registered Democrats" and Y "registered Republicans." Other polls that push Independents to identify show their work. CNN should as well.
There is another, more serious concern, however, The second question of the poll asks Obama and Romney voters whether their vote is "for" their candidate or "against" the other candidate. The sample size for this question is reported to be (top of page 3):
BASED ON 351 LIKELY VOTERS WHO PLAN TO VOTE FOR OBAMA -- SAMPLING ERROR: +/- 5 PERCENTAGE PTAND,
BASED ON 340 LIKELY VOTERS WHO PLAN TO VOTE FOR ROMNEY -- SAMPLING ERROR: +/- 5.5 PERCENTAGE PTSThose numbers didn't look right to me, considering the headline number reported in the poll. There were 709 Likely Voters in the sample. The 351 votes for Obama is 49.5%. The 340 votes for Romney is 47.9%. In other words, a 50-48 match-up.
That's a lot different than the 52-46 reported in the headlines. Consider: the question to Romney supporters samples more Likely Voters than he received in the head-to-head result.