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Analysis: Unlikely That Polls Are ‘Skewed’ Toward Obama

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

As measured in a series of polls, support for Barack Obama among likely voters, both in terms of the national vote and in swing states, has increased the past couple of weeks. (Though two new polls todaymay offer evidence that the trend is now diminishing nationally.)

As these polls have trickled out, a certain talking point among conservative media has emerged, namely that the polls are “skewed” in favor of Obama voters. The criticism mostly turns on the notion that pollsters are using an “incorrect voter turnout model,” one based on the huge surge of participants in 2008 as opposed to the number of people voting in a more routine presidential election. In fact, a Virginia Republican has even launched a web site called UnSkewed Polls, dedicated to “correcting” the incorrect turnout assumptions in each survey.

Here’s just one example of the incorrect-turnout-model critique, from Fox News contributor Douglas Schoen in an article called “The truth about 2012 polls”

The assumption the pollsters are making that turnout in 2008 will be the same and even better for Obama than in 2008 is flawed. Not only are we looking at a terrible economic situation, but there will be key differences in turnout from 2008 that will affect the results and the accuracy of these polls. Continue reading