Meet the Guy Who's Re-Weighting Polls to Show Romney Way Ahead of Obama

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 24 2012 2:41 PM

Meet the Guy Who's Re-Weighting Polls to Show Romney Way Ahead of Obama

Ruby Cramer introduces us to Dean Chambers, whose site Unskewed Polls "has re-weighted national polling data from organizations like Gallup, ARG, and the three networks, to fit the Rasmussen Reports partisan trends."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

What does that mean? At RealClearPolitics, which averages all national polls, Barack Obama is leading Mitt Romney by 3.7 points. At UnskewedPolls, Romney leads Obama by 7.8 points. If that held up, it would be the largest victory for any presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush thrashed Michael Dukakis.


I talked to Chambers this afternoon; he picked up the phone while Fox News played in the background. "Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell are on right now," he said, "and they're making the same point about sampling."

First question: Why use Rasmussen as the basis for the un-skewing, instead of exit polling from the last few elections? According to Rasmussen, there are now more self-identified Republicans in America than Democrats. But even in the GOP landslide year of 2010, Republicans and Democrats were tied; in the good Democratic years of 2006 and 2008, the Ds outnumbered the Rs.

"I've been following Rasmussen's surveys and polls for a while," said Chambers, "and I've found them quite accurate. They were accurate at finding the results in 2010. They were extremely accurate in 2004. Their final poll, the night before the election, put them within one or two-tenths of a point of the result. It was an amazing level of accuracy."

Chambers repeatedly cited 2004's polls to describe what Rasmussen did right and the media got wrong. "The exit polls in 2004 were off," he said, "but I don't think they were doing anything dishonest when they took them. I think more Democrats respond to polls than Republicans." Rasmussen is a robo-pollster; exit polls are conducted by humans outside polling places. "When the networks get numbers from people who are willing to leave the polls and talk to the media, well, they're getting skewed samples. And that's largely a problem with most of the phone surveys."

Maybe people had a problem with the Rasmussen numbers. Well, if Chambers re-weighted the media polls to look like the 2010 exists, "Romney's lead would still be there, only smaller, around 3-7 points." Maybe numbers like those would save the media from embarrassment. "They have to seriously rethink the way they do this, and maybe the rethink will have to happen after the election, when the results prove that they're way off."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.