Alex Pareene of Salon.com links to this website, which changes the demographic weighting of public opinion polls to conclude that Mitt Romney is actually a huge favorite to win the election in November. Unskewedpolls.com is all the rage on the right these days. They take a whole bunch of polls, change the makeup of the polling samples, and declare that Mitt Romney is actually leading by 8 points nationally.
Here’s how this works. The polling companies have to decide how many self-declared Democrats, Republicans and independents to include in their sampling pool, with the goal being to have a pool that is as representative of the American voters as they can make it. They do this by using other polls that ask people which party they identify with and, like it or not, more Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans. But Dean Chambers, the creator of that site, doesn’t believe that.
So he takes those polls and reweights them based on the polling sample used by Rasmussen, a polling company that always skews Republican. But even Scott Rasmussen says that what Chambers is doing is invalid:
Even the founder of Rasmussen Reports, whose surveys often show higher Republican numbers, cast doubt on Chambers’ methods: Scott Rasmussen told BuzzFeed in an e-mail that “you cannot compare partisan weighting from one polling firm to another.”
“Different firms ask about partisan affiliation in different ways,” explained Rasmussen. “Some ask how you are registered. Some ask what you consider yourselves. Some push for leaners, others do not. Some ask it at the beginning of a survey which provides a more stable response while others ask it at the end.”
That’s why it’s important to do what Nate Silver does so well, really dig into the assumptions of these polls to weight them accurately. So I propose that Dean Chambers should make a wager with Nate Silver on which one’s predictions comes closest to the actual results of the election. And make the wager big enough to actually matter. I’m guessing that Silver would be happy to do it. Would Chambers? It depends on whether he actually believes this stuff or if he’s just found a new con.
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