Conservative critics of mainstream media polling are feeling vindicated today after the left-wing Huffington Post revealed the fact that the Gallup poll likely altered the percentage of non-whites in its sample in the weeks after the Democratic National Convention, likely boosting President Barack Obama's approval rating--and, possibly, his poll margin.
The change is significant due to the large majorities enjoyed by President Obama among black voters in particular and racial minority voting groups more generally.
Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard notes today that "while Gallup on average had found Obama’s job approval around 47 percent with adults through most of 2012, for the last five weeks it has been regularly above 50 percent." He cites the work of Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz, whose analysis in the Huffington Post suggests that Gallup raised the percentage of non-white voters adults in its poll sample from 27 percent to nearly 32 percent--all in the critical weeks at the start of the fall election season.
As Cost notes, the change renders Gallup's tracking poll less reliable, because past numbers have not apparently been adjusted to reflect the new methodology. He notes that "it's problematic to alter one's methodological approach to polling elections just five weeks before the biggest election in a generation....It is even more problematic to make the shift but not spell out in detail the political effect of it."
Cost guesses the effect has been to boost Obama's job approval rating by 3 percent, and says its effect on the head-to-head number is unknown.
Cost and Abramowitz both note that Gallup had come under pressure from the left to change its methodology. Cost concludes that "the left got what it wanted." And the left agrees. The new sample is more in line with the population figures from the 2010 census--which may include non-citizens and non-voters, including both legal and illegal immigrants.
That's not how Gallup explains the change: it mentions an increase in the number of voters with cell phones as opposed to land lines, for instance. But the fact remains that Gallup changed its methodology in the midst of an election season--and while under considerable political and legal pressure.
Recall that President Barack Obama's political strategist, David Axelrod, pressed Gallup to change its poll methodology--and that when it refused, Eric Holder's hyper-politicized Department of Justice slapped it with a lawsuit that is apparently unrelated but likely conveys the message Axelrod wished to send.
Gallup officials described the tactics as a "Godfather situation," according to internal emails obtained by the Daily Caller. More precisely, it was polling the Chicago way: you'll tell everyone we're winning, or else.
Those tactics seem to have worked, as Gallup shifted its methodology after the Democratic National Convention--just in time for the mainstream media to develop its narrative that the election was over and that Mitt Romney was finished.
Conservatives who began questioning the poll numbers and the sample sizes, in Gallup and especially in media polls showing large, unlikely Democrat advantages, were told they were indulging a conspiracy theory.
Today--thanks to HuffPo, which breaks a story in the other direction once every four years--critics of the polls have a smoking gun. And voters should be warned not to trust negative--or positive--news from polling organizations that are manipulable by hacks, would-be Godfathers, and their allies in the mainstream media.
As Cost says: "We absolutely, positively must remember polling in 2012 is politicized as never before, and it is incumbent upon the consumers of political polls not to accept the data naïvely, but to perform due diligence to see what goes into the product."
Or, as Breitbart News' Mike Flynn warned in September:
The overwhelming majority of media polling this election employ such absurd assumptions about turnout this November that they not only misrepresent the presidential race, they are actively distorting it. I also believe it is intentional....
Polls are now being used, not simply to gauge the state of the race, but to impact the race.