Politics and the Gallup Poll

Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

Unusual. So, what’s going on? Alan Abramowitz of Huffington Post and The Democratic Strategist noticed that Gallup has increased its share of nonwhites from 27 percent the week of the convention to 32 percent last week, a nearly 20 percent boost. In other words, Gallup seemed to have tweaked its methodology with just weeks to go until Election Day to reflect the criticism that has come from the left.

And indeed, in a wonky and elliptical statement, Gallup chief Frank Newport essentially confirms the shift:

As we began this election tracking program on Oct.1, our methodologists also recommended modifying and updating several procedures. We increased the proportion of cell phones in our tracking to 50%, meaning that we now complete interviews with 50% cell phones and 50% landlines each night. This marks a shift from our Gallup Daily tracking, which has previously been 40% cell phones. This means that our weights to various phone targets in the sample can be smaller, given that the actual percentage of cell phones and cell-phone-only respondents in the sample is higher. We have instituted some slight changes in our weighting procedures, including a weight for the density of the population area in which the respondent lives. Although all Gallup surveys are weighted consistently to census targets on demographic parameters, we believe that these improvements provide a more consistent match with weight targets.

So, from the looks of it, the left got what it wanted: Gallup altered its methodology with a month to go until Election Day. And the result – at least on the job approval question – is a shift in Obama’s favor. Whether or not this has altered the Romney-Obama head-to-head numbers among likely and registered voters, I cannot say.

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