For reader ease, I have linked all the polls and stories herein BOTH in line and at the bottom of the page.
I was having a lively but friendly debate today on twitter with a Liberal. Background: I sent out a link to a CNN Poll that stated that 59% of Americans want Obamacare repealed while only 37% oppose it. (1) We proceeded to debate whether or not this number was valid, because, in this person's opinion, that 59% includes a good amount of people who believe the law doesn't do enough. We then discussed how much could be validly claimed as part of the poll.
At one point the individual who was debating with sent me a link to a Pew Research Poll which was titled "Obama Tests Well at Start of Reelection Run." (2) The poll's results stated that 47% would support President Obama over 37% who would support a Generic Republican Candidate. Ignoring the fact that Person with a Name vs. Unnamed Person polls are quite rarely accurate, I found, buried deep within the poll, a HUGE flaw: the polling sample.
Unfortunately, I was note able to find statistics of the percentages of people who consider themselves Republican, Democrat, and Independent. (This is likely because only 27 states have no such party registration as part of their voter registration.) So I will instead use the numbers for Conservatives, Liberals, and Moderates. These groups won't perfectly translate, but I think it's fair to say that it will be a reasonable comparison.
In December of 2010, a Gallup Poll showed that 40% of Americans considered themselves to be Conservative, 35% considered themselves to be Moderate and 21% considered themselves to be Liberal. I grant you, some Moderates will be Democrats and some Moderates will be Republican, and there are some Conservative Democrats and some Liberal Republicans. So I will grant you an even split for the sake of argument. I think it is reasonable to believe that, at best, the split of registered voters would be approximately even, with about 33% Republican, 33% Democrat and 33% Independent as a safe, reasonable baseline. (For the record, this is the typical baseline for national polling with reputable organizations like Gallup and Rasmussen.)
However in this poll, the numbers were quite skewed. The poll consisted of 1392 registered voters. For starters using registered voters instead of likely voters is a good way to skew polling. According to Politico, in 2010 approximately 60% of registered voters actually voted. (4) That means 40% of the people polled are not likely to show up. (By the way, historically, when you go from registered voters to likely voters, Republicans usually gain 3-5%.) So there's that.
Far more egregious, however, is the skew of the sample of voters. Of the 1392 people polled, 507 identified themselves as Independents (37%), 503 identified themselves as Democrats (32%) and 382 (25%) considered themselves Republicans. That's a full 7% more Democrats than Republicans and 12% more Independents than Republicans!
The skew is absolutely ridiculous. Friends, at best, this is a poor poll and at worst, this is a cooked poll. I urge you strongly to look at the poll samples in every poll you read, if your time allows. Rasmussen and Gallup are usually pretty reliable, and even the much maligned Fox News is pretty good about having a reasonable party split for their polls. But Pew, CNN, and others frequently skew their polling sample Democrat in an effort to obtain the result they want. It's sad, but it's true. As Ronald Reagan would say, facts are stubborn things!
My point is twofold. First, as I've just said, please take the time to read the polling samples on every poll you read. Failure to do so will cause you to fall prey to the Drive-By Media's habit of cooking the polls to make Democrats look better in an effort to dishearten Republicans and Conservatives. Secondly, PLEASE do not buy into this "Obama will be tough to beat in 2012" rhetoric by the media. As I've said before, if the GOP runs a real, Constitutional Conservative, we very well ought to win. So get to your Tea Parties and 912 Projects and keep fighting the good fight. Think we can't beat Obama in 2012? To quote a political adversary, yes we can!
(1) Hot Air: CNN poll shows ObamaCare just as popular as ever one year later
(2) Pew Poll: Obama Tests Well at Start of Reelection Run
(3) Conservatives Continue to Outnumber Moderates, Liberals in 2010
(4) Politico: That huge voter turnout? Didn't happen.