A long look at possible problems with Gallup’s presidential polling model

In the days leading up to and after the November election, I made a number of posts about Gallup’s obviously flawed presidential polling. All of those posts argued in some way that the esteemed polling firm’s likely voter modeling was probably causing it to understate support for President Obama.

Now there’s an excellent piece in the Huffington Post about that issue and several others that could have contributed to Gallup’s failings: Gallup Presidential Poll: How Did Brand-Name Firm Blow Election?.

From that piece:

Since the election, the Gallup Poll’s editor-in-chief, Frank Newport, has at times downplayed the significance of his firm’s shortcomings. At a panel in November, he characterized Gallup’s final pre-election poll as “in the range of where it ended up” and “within a point or two” of the final forecasts of other polls. But in late January, he announced that the company was conducting a “comprehensive review” of its polling methods.

There is a lot at stake in this review, which is being assisted by University of Michigan political scientist and highly respected survey methodologist Michael Traugott. Polling is a competitive business, and Gallup’s value as a brand is tied directly to the accuracy of its results.

The firm’s reputation had already taken a hit last summer when an investigation by The Huffington Post revealed that the way Gallup accounted for race led to an under-representation of non-whites in its samples and a consistent underestimation of Obama’s job approval rating, prompting the firm to make changes in its methodology. (Since Gallup implemented those changes in October, the “house effect” in its measurement of Obama’s job rating has significantly decreased.)

It’s a really interesting piece that discusses myriad issues that polling companies are facing in the 21st century.

Highly recommended for those who followed the numbers closely last year. Those numbers were pretty clear if one trusted the data. Ironically, Gallup didn’t trust its own data enough. If they had reported their registered voter polling versus their likely voter polling, they would have been considered one of the best performers of the election cycle.