Conservatives' Turn to Bash the Pollsters
A couple weeks ago, Kerry was behind in the polls, and liberal
rushed to attack the pollsters, charging that the Republicans' gain in Party ID proved that the polls' methodology was defective. Even MoveOn joined the chorus, taking out an ad to attack Gallup
. Since this shift showed up in half a dozen of the most respected polls, there seem to be an awful lot of incompetent pollsters out there.
Now Kerry is surging in the polls, and it's the conservatives' turn to denounce the pollsters. Wishful thinker John Fund
, writing in the Wall Street Journal, spouts exactly the same argument as the liberals did a few weeks ago.
If you buy Newsweek's methodology, one out of nine voters has changed their party affiliation in the last month. That might explain why the poll found that one out of eight voters changed their mind on how they will vote too. But how many people do you know who have switched parties and/or changed their mind on the presidential race in the last month? Frankly, the Newsweek poll is more volatile than any electorate could be.
Fund's article comes highly endorsed by Donald Luskin, so it's no surprise that the reasoning is "poor and stupid," with the claim about the volatility of the electorate backed with no evidence at all. Fund just knows better than the data, using the Jimmy Breslin "common sense" technique, I suppose.
In fact, researchers who have actually looked at the data have found that to have 1 in 9 voters change their answer to a Party ID question over the course of a month isn't at all unusual
. Pew researchers on several occasions have re-interviewed poll respondents soon after a presidential election. It turns out that when you ask the same people the same question about party affiliation, between 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 give a different answer than they had a month or two prior to the election.