Friday, August 1, 2008

Pew Has Obama Up by Five

A new poll by The Pew Research Center has been released that shows Obama has a five point lead over John McCain:

Barack Obama 47
John McCain 42

There is much delight among people who do not want Senator Obama to become president that the two daily tracking polls right now show Obama with a one or two point lead. It is important to keep the totality of polling data in mind when we analyze any given result. This Pew poll bears striking resemblance, for instance, to data that CNN released the other night. When we take together the totality of polling results, there is a strong statistical chance that the notion Barack Obama and John McCain are tied is close to ZERO. As Brian Schaffner from observed the other day:
Obama has consistently led in national polls over the past two months. In fact, according to national poll results listed on, Obama had been tied or ahead in 50 consecutive national polls through Sunday. Sure, many polls may show Obama holding a lead within the statistical margin of error, but if Obama and McCain were actually tied, we'd expect as many polls showing McCain ahead as show Obama ahead. Based on some basic calculations, the probability that 50 consecutive national surveys would show Obama tied or ahead if the candidates were actually tied is .0000000000000009. In short, this race is not a "statistical tie," despite what a few scattered surveys (drawing disproportionate attention from the pundits) indicate.


Anonymous said...

I think he's winning, but pollsters can't call a lead within the margin of error a statistically significant lead. It's not an MSM conspiracy theory.

DCDemocrat said...

They're saying that you can't just look at polling that shows a statistically insignificant lead. You also have to consider the fact that if they truly were tied, about half of the polls should show McCain ahead. That is not the case. McCain has been ahead among likely voters, the most questionable measure of all at this point, twice in the last two months. All the other polls have shown Obama ahead by one to nine points during the last two months.

Anonymous said...

I understand. I agree with that argument. In fact, because Obama's supporters are more likely than McCain's not to have landlines, these polls likely UNDERSTATE his numbers.

The point I'm making is that pollsters cannot say that Obama has a lead if his lead is within the margin of error. It's dishonest, and the Republicans would go crazy.

There's been a lot of flap around the our side of the blogosphere about the commentators trying to make it seem closer than it actually is.

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