In its Iowa poll this week, Public Policy Polling (PPP) skewed its sample to advantage President Barack Obama and also asked respondents questions worded to shade their view of Romney negatively.
PPP is a progressive organization that does polling for Daily Kos and the Service Employees International Union.
This week, PPP’s Iowa poll was comprised of 37% Democrats, 33% Republicans, and 30% independents. Obama led Mitt Romney by seven points, 51% to 44%, in the D+4 poll.
PPP President Dean Debnam proclaimed Obama was “starting to pull away in Iowa” and referenced the organization’s August Iowa poll, which had Obama leading Romney by two points. This week's poll fell in step with the mainstream media narrative that Obama is pulling away from Romney in the country’s most important swing states.
What PPP conveniently did not mention, though, was when PPP polled Iowa in August, its poll was comprised of 38% Republicans, 35% Democrats, and 27% independents. In that R+3 poll, Obama led Romney by two points, 47% to 45%. Debnam noticed Obama’s lead in Iowa was steadily declining last month and said Iowa deserved “its perceived swing state status.”
But after swinging its sample by 7 points this month in favor of Democrats, Debnam ensured Obama would get a boost, even though Romney still received nearly the same percentage of support (Romney got 45% in the R+3 August poll and 44% in the D+4 September poll).
PPP's skewed sample also influenced the narrative by making it seem like Iowans trusted Obama with the economy over Romney.
When PPP asked those it surveyed, “Do you trust Barack Obama or Mitt Romney more on the issue of the economy?” 49% of Iowans said they trusted Obama while 47% trusted Romney.
But consider another poll, commissioned by The Iowa Republican/Voter Consumer Research. This poll, conducted September 23-25, had an R+1 sample and asked the same question about which candidate could “best manage the economy.” Romney led Obama on this question by 8 points in this poll, 51% to 43%.
Even worse, PPP asked its respondents two additional questions intended to damage their perceptions of Romney.
First, PPP essentially replayed Romney’s comments at a fundraiser about the 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax and asked respondents whether Romney’s comments were appropriate:
Mitt Romney recently said, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.... These are people who pay no income tax." Do you think Romney’s comments were appropriate or inappropriate?
Then, PPP asked Iowans if they felt Romney should release 12 years of tax returns even though Romney essentially took this issue off the table by releasing his 2011 tax returns and a summary of his tax liability over a 20-year period:
Do you think Mitt Romney should release his tax returns for the last 12 years, or not?
These questions only serve to continue media-created controversies with little bearing on issues important to the swing voters who will decide which candidate carries Iowa in November.