A Little Incest, or a LOT?

October 8, 2004

The latest poll sponsored by Ipsos made its’ splash two days before it hit the water, which got me curious. When the full poll finally showed up this morning, I started to look into it, and bells went off. Not the pretty ones, either.

This poll claims Bush gets only 28% of the Independent vote (versus 44% in the average from other polls), while Kerry claims 56% of Independents (versus 45% in the average from other polls). You can throw that part out, because it’s total crap. That’s because Ipsos only interviewed 49 people in the entire country, identified as Independents, or only 5.19% of their unweighted base. even with reweighting, they only work out to 5.70% of the pool. This is out of line with EVERY established weighting used by anyone, anywhere this year. Any agency seriously interested in representative results, would have continued polling to get a more representative sample.

I know why the Ipsos poll only got 49 Indies, though. In their published report, they mention that they were aiming to get a response from people who had seen the debate, and that played heavily to the Left and Right. In other words, their chosen method passed by undecideds as a rule. Sorry to be mean, but that is indescribably stupid. By deliberately leaning to those with an interest in the debates above any other factor, Ipsos invalidated their findings, ab initio. I will demonstrate this when I review the numbers, in just a moment.

As I reviewed the numbers, I was struck by how peculiar they seemed, and I decided to go back and double-check the results from other polls. In doing so, I came across the October 2 Newsweek poll. You know, the one which heavily over-sampled the Mountain and West regions by sampling only there on September 30? As I read through the article again, I came across a graphic showing the Bush/Kerry matchup since July, and in the detail under the graph, what did I see but this comment:

“Source: Newsweek/Ipsos poll”

Oh really? The only two major polls which say Kerry took the lead, and the only polls to have done some very unscientific things in their sampling, happen to be connected to the same sponsor?

Yes. Exactly that.

I went to the Ipsos site to be sure, and there it is. Ipsos is a regular sponsor for Newsweek‘s ‘GENext’ poll, which tracks young voter sentiment, and is directly tied to the AP/Ipsos poll.

The same. They don’t advertise it, but they have been there together all year long.

Well, now, is that important? To find out, I continued double-checking my numbers, and looked up the numbers for poll results, gender preference, race preference, party support, Job Approval, candidate personal favorability, and whether the respondents watched the debates, for the following polls: CBS News, Fox News, CNN/USA Today/Gallup, Pew, ABC News, the LA Times, Newsweek, and AP/Ipsos. The first six polls make up the ‘non-Ipsos’ polls, the last two are the ‘Ipsos’ polls.

The non-Ipsos polls says Bush leads 49.2-45.5. The Ipsos polls say Kerry leads 48.5-45.5.

The non-Ipsos polls say Men prefer Bush, 53.7-41.7. The Ipsos polls say it’s only 47.5-46.5 for Bush.

The non-Ipsos polls say Women prefer Kerry by only 47.0-46.3. The Ipsos polls says women prefer Kerry, 51.0-43.0.

The non-Ipsos polls say Whites prefer Bush 55.0-39.7. The Ipsos polls say it’s only 49.0-47.0.

The non-Ipsos polls and Ipsos polls agree that non-Whites prefer Kerry, by 66 or 67, to 26.5 or 27.

The non-Ipsos polls say Bush gets 93% of the Rep vote, 10% of the Dem vote, and 45% of the Ind vote. The Ipsos polls say Bush only gets 90% of the Rep vote, 8% of the Dem vote, and only 33% of the Ind vote.

The non-Ipsos polls say Kerry gets 4% of the Rep vote, 87% of the Dem vote, and 45% of the Ind vote. The Ipsos polls say Kerry gets 6% of the Rep vote, 89% of the Dem vote, and 49% of the Ind vote.

Non-Ipsos polls say Bush’s Job Approval is at 51%. Ipsos polls say Bush’s Job Approval is only 46%.

Non-Ipsos polls put Bush’s personal favorability at 51%, and Kerry’s at 47%. The Ipsos polls put Bush’s personal favorability at 49%, and Kerry’s at 52%.

In every category, the Ipsos polls are stronger for Kerry, even though six major polls say otherwise. Given the known fact that the Ipsos/Newsweek poll ignored the East, Midwest, and South on the first day of polling, and the inexcusable inbalance in party sampling on the Ipsos/AP poll, the Ipsos results may reasonably be regarded as INVALID.

There is a final point to observe in these details. Non-Ipsos polls reported that about 26% of their respondents watched some or all of the first debate, and had no report for specifically how many of their respondents watched all of the first debate. The Ipsos polls reported that 78% of their respondents watched at least part of the first debate, and 56.5% of their respondents watched all of the first debate. This is such a small demographic, relative to the country as a whole, that the Ipsos numbers must be considered skewed by definition. Networks reported that approximately 55 million people watched some of the debate (approximately 18% of the viewing public), and approximately 19 million watched all of it, for 6.3% of the viewing public. In other words, Ipsos aimed to miss over 90% of the viewing public, and more than two-thirds of registered voters, by the pre-conditions imposed on the Newsweek and AP polls.

The remaining question to be answered, then, is whether this was a little incest, or a lot.

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