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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sheppard Misleads on Poll Breakdown
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 10 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard is apoplectic that in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, in his words, "41 percent more Democrats were questioned for this survey than Republicans," claiming that it is "absolutely shameful that any polling organization would do such a poor job of evenly distributing respondents by political affiliation."

But Sheppard fails to note that the poll sample -- in actual numbers, 38 percent Democrats; 27 percent Republicans -- is a lot closer to reality than he depicts it. As we pointed out the last time the MRC attacked a poll for questioning too many Democrats, even Republican strategist (and columnist for the MRC's Rich Galen admits that "[i]n the general population, those who claim to be Democrats outweigh those who claim to be Republicans by 7 to 9 percentage points." It skews the poll to have an even number of Democrats and Republicans, as Sheppard demands.

Sheppard adds:

By contrast, in last month’s poll, the breakdown was 33 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans, and 30 percent Independents.

With this in mind, should it be at all surprising that President Bush’s job approval dropped by 3 percentage points since the September poll? Or that approval for the job Bush is doing in Iraq dropped by six points, and for the war on terror by eight?

But given that the number of Democrats and Republicans sampled in last month's poll is almost even -- contrary to the normal general-population breakdwon -- that makes that poll the outlier, rather than the new poll.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:11 PM EDT

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