Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thoughts on the Gingrich/ABC Poll

Kind of an amusing little spat yesterday between Newt Gingrich and ABC Polling Director Gary Langer.

The crux of it is this: ABC says only 20% of voters identify as Republicans, Gingrich says that's bunk and that most other pollsters tell a different story.

The problem is that they're really talking about two different things. ABC was polling all adults, and the party identification chart shows that among all adults the average Republican identification is 20.7%. But when you look at party id among registered and likely voters you find 34.3% of voters in the country are Republicans. Those are more the polls Gingrich was referring to. The national poll we're releasing today of registered voters falls close to that number- 33%.

So really they're kind of both right.

The 20% Republican number among all adults is interesting but has no relevance to any future elections because it includes a large number of respondents who don't even vote in Presidential contests, much less midterm elections The 51-39 lead on the generic ballot in that poll is likewise meaningless because you will usually find that less than 40% of the voting age population turns out next year. There's nothing wrong with the poll, but what they chose to measure just doesn't really have any real world implications for the 2010 election. So I guess you can count me as one Democrat who wasn't particularly heartened by that particular survey.

My sense on the generic Congressional ballot right now is that with registered voters you have a single digit Democratic lead (what our poll coming out Friday shows) and that with likely voters you're at about a tie. Just about no one except Rasmussen is polling likely voters yet though so it's hard to say- we're not going to narrow our sample to likely voters more than a year away from a particular election.

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