A Corrected Presidential Polling Average: The Baseline Before The First Debate

This is the latest in a series of weekly corrections of presidential horserace polls, reweighting polls with overcounts of Democrat voters and undercounts of GOP and Independent voters with a partisan participation which more closely resembles that of 2004 and 2010, when the GOP was enthusiastic about the election and the Democrats were not. Note: This is only a rough corrective to show approximately what the polls ought to look like with the Democrat bias removed, not a prediction of the election results.

Huffington Post kindly provides a chart showing the Democrat bias in the current polling here.

I am doing this average a couple days early in order to get a baseline before the first debate. The pollsters were also attempting to set a baseline and provided us with 6 likely voter polls for which we have the partisan weighting (excluding Rasmussen and Gallup):

Original Poll Results: Obama 49%, Romney 45%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +6%
Corrected Results: Romney 48%, Obama 46%

ABC News/ Washington Post
Original Poll Results: Obama 49%, Romney 47%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +3%
Corrected Results: Romney 49%, Obama 47%

Original Poll Results: Obama 50%, Romney 47%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +8%
Corrected Results: Romney 51.5%, Obama 46.5%

Original Poll Results: Obama 51%, Romney 44%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +7%
Corrected Results: Romney 47.5%, Obama 47.5%

NBC/Wall Street Journal
Original Poll Results: Obama 49%, Romney 46%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +6%
Corrected Results: Romney 49%, Obama 46%

National Journal
Original Poll Results: Obama 47%, Romney 47%
Percentage Democrats outnumber Republicans: +7%
Corrected Results: Romney 50.5%, Obama 43.5%

Average of Corrected Results: Romney 49.2%, Obama 46.0%

Romney has bounced back and is roughly matching his high of three weeks ago, while Obama has retained his gains of last week. There is some noise in the polling based on to what degree each poll found independent voters were breaking for Romney.

The Democrat media pollsters have abandoned their more outrageous over-counts of Democrats over Republicans of up to 13% and all but ABC/WP have settled into an over-count of around 7% matching the 2008 election. ABC/WP halved their Democrat bias in this poll from their last one a couple weeks back down to 3%.

Unskewedpolls.com is also correcting polls based upon the Rasmussen partisan distribution of registered voters and arriving at more favorable results for Romney than I do.

About Bart DePalma

Bart DePalma is a solo country attorney practicing in the mountain town of Woodland Park, CO. Bart publishes the Citizen Pamphleteer blog and his new book Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste: Barack Obama and the Evolution of American Socialism was released December 2011.
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4 Responses to A Corrected Presidential Polling Average: The Baseline Before The First Debate

  1. shiloh says:

    Bart, here’s your current reality:



    Nate ~ “But here’s the bad news for Mr. Romney: no candidate who trailed by as much he did heading into the first debate went on to win the election. In the two cases where the lead reversed after the debate, 1980 and 2000, the trailing candidate was down only one or two points in the polls. The FiveThirtyEight “now-cast,” conversely, pegs Mr. Romney’s deficit at about 5 points instead. (Other methods put it at between three and four points.)

    More bad news for Mr. Romney: although there has been a tendency for the challenging candidate to gain ground immediately after the first debate, there has not been any tendency for the challenger to gain over the remaining weeks of the election. On average during these years, the challenging candidate trailed by 1.5 percentage points in polls conducted just after the first debate — and the challenger eventually lost the election, on average, by 1.4 percentage points, a nearly identical margin.”


    “For you Romney betters who feel like he destroyed Obama and “revealed him as a fraud” or whatever, you should ask yourself — why is this market still at 66% (or 72%, for BetFair) after Obama conclusively lost the debate with respect to both the media and the polls? Why isn’t Romney at 66% instead of 33%? If you have some historical perspective, and look at the data, you’ll understand. Romney energized his base, and probably stopped the open bloodletting of donor money, but didn’t change the game last night.”

    ie no game change!


    • Bart DePalma says:


      Intrade is a betting market and not reality.

      I laughed when listening to the Boulder, CO progressive talk station offer the Silver argument that, no matter what Obama does, he cannot lose because he is ahead in the media polls. That is like saying the voters elected John Kerry president in 2004 because the exit polling was never wrong before.

      It is widely recognized now that the Edison exit polling has a systemic and substantial Democrat bias and is not worth using to line a bird cage.

      The Democrat media polling (not including Battleground, Rasmussen and Gallup (LV)) fell in the same category through the conventions, but then usually erected reasonable likely voter screens before the actual election to maintain a semblance of credibility. For the first time in my memory, most media polling has not corrected its course and has actually became even more biased after the conventions. ABC/WP is the exception so far and halved its Dem bias over the last week.

      Battleground and Rasmussen both have this as ties with a D+2 to D+3 bias (splitting the difference between 2004 and 2008).

      I see nothing to indicate that there will be any Democrat advantage in turnout in 2012, though. Democrat enthusiasm is far below what it was in either 2004 and 2008, while the GOP is chomping at the bit to vote with higher enthusiasm than both 2004 and 2008.

  2. shiloh says:

    Bart, your bias/enthusiasm gap gobbledygook aside …

    Gallup Obama Job Approval ~ 10/1 – 10/3 ~ 1500 A ~ ((( 54/42 +12 )))

    Bush43 had 48% Gallup Job Approval Oct. 29/31, 2004 and defeated Kerry fairly easily by (3) million votes. And Obama’s “state of the art” GOTV is up and runnin’ in Ohio and several swing states:

    “It is part of a frantic effort by the Romney campaign to catch President Barack Obama on the ground in Ohio, perhaps the most critical of states and a place where retail politicking still works. While Romney has 36 campaign offices in Ohio, Obama has 96. Romney and the state GOP have an estimated 130 staffers. Obama has what his state communications director said were “hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers.” Romney started his general election campaigning in May and opened his first Ohio office in early June (he closed the Dublin Street headquarters after he won the primary). Obama for America has been in the state, basically, for five years.”



    • Bart DePalma says:


      A single poll result is noise and any number of polls of adults – over a third of whom will not vote – is useless as a predictor of elections.

      That is why I offer an average in these posts and even then acknowledge that the average is not a prediction of the outcome of the election. These averages have been bouncing significantly over the three weeks I have been doing them with a substantial number of undecided.

      The race is in flux.

      Finally, the number of campaign offices is not a proxy for a ground campaign. We have a little Obama office here in deep red Woodland Park and the part time hire sits there all alone with her thoughts of The One.

      In fact, Romney has been putting his money into GOTV rather than commercials, where Obama still beats him. The results:

      Mitt Romney’s campaign in Ohio is absolutely crushing its ground game metrics as part of the Republican Party’s Victory effort. Sometime this week the campaign will knock on its one millionth door and make its three millionth phone call since May. More doors have been knocked in Ohio than in any other swing state by the Romney-Ryan Victory effort, and public and private polling continues to show a similar number of Ohioans who say they’ve been personally contacted by the Romney and Obama campaigns. This is a significant achievement considering that Obama’s operators claim to have hundreds of offices and thousands of staffers in Ohio who’ve been prepping their effort for four years. The Romney-Victory effort began in May. This tells us that Obama’s ground game claims are largely made for press release fodder and not actual voter contact.

      Last week, the Romney-Ryan Victory effort in Ohio knocked on 162,506 thousands doors. The week before it was 137,948, leaving the astonished Ohio Democrat Party Chairman exasperated in this Washington Post article. Sorry to ruin your Monday morning, Mr. Chairman. In fact, over 300-thousand Ohio doors were knocked in the last two weeks by thousands of Ohio Republican volunteers hungry for a change in leadership in the White House. These volunteers know that the Romney-Ryan road to victory in November runs through Ohio, and they are doing everything in their power to make that a reality.


      BTW, this does not count the Tea Party GOTV effort which won the Scott Walker recall and several previous elections in formerly blue Wisconsin. Our merry little TP band in tiny Woodland Park knocked on nearly 900 doors last weekend alone.

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