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Elections, Politics

Obama campaign is lobbying pollsters to produce favorable results

Posted: October 2, 2012 at 8:15 am   /   by

We have been writing about malfeasant and misleading polling practices for a while now (see the links appended below). Polling almost always underestimates Republicans and overestimates Democrats*, but this year, it’s really egregious.

It is also entirely intentional, and it is being done expressly to depress your vote. Here is John McLaughlin from ten days ago:

What Obama and his allies are doing now: “The Democrats want to convince [these anti-Obama voters] falsely that Romney will lose to discourage them from voting. So they lobby the pollsters to weight their surveys to emulate the 2008 Democrat-heavy models. They are lobbying them now to affect early voting. IVR [Interactive Voice Response] polls are heavily weighted. You can weight to whatever result you want. Some polls have included sizable segments of voters who say they are ‘not enthusiastic’ to vote or non-voters to dilute Republicans. Major pollsters have samples with Republican affiliation in the 20 to 30 percent range, at such low levels not seen since the 1960s in states like Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and which then place Obama ahead. The intended effect is to suppress Republican turnout through media polling bias. We’ll see a lot more of this.

How powerful is this tactic? It almost flipped a presidential election in 2000:

How campaigns try to sway polling results: “In a close race, the operatives are trying to manipulate the turnout through their paid and earned media. The earned media includes lobbying and trying to skew the public polls. Historically the most egregious case was the 2000 Gore campaign’s lobbying the networks’ exit pollsters for an early, and wrong, call in Florida. This suppressed the Florida Panhandle and Western state turnout.” (Polls close at different times in different parts of the state, because the state stretches into two time zones.) “In our post-election Florida poll, we found that thousands of Panhandle Floridians heard the call and although their polls were still open for an hour in a close national race decided not to vote. Panhandle voters went two-to-one for Bush. The CBS early wrong call nearly triggered a national crisis.”

 Early voting has begun. They are attempting to influence early voters, depress Republican enthusiasm, buoy flagging Democrat enthusiasm, and create a bandwagon effect for Obama.

A nation with a free press is not the same thing as a nation with an honest press.




* NB: If polling got things wrong from time to time, but the errors were fairly equally distributed between Democrats and Republicans, one could write it off—after all, polling is an art as much as a science. But when the errors almost always favor one side and work to harm the other, it is hard to write it off as unintentional and a mere consequence of the difficulties of prognostication.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook