Republicans have taken their complaints about media polls allegedly favoring Democrats a step further this morning, embracing an obscure new polling website that re-engineers public polls to add more Republicans to their samples, and which gives Republican Mitt Romney a wide lead.
Some Romney supporters have long complained that public polls suggest higher Democratic turnout, and lower Republican turnout, than they think is likely this year. Pollsters have replied that their samples are dictated by what poll respondents themselves say. (This exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Lee Miringoff is illustrative of the argument.)
Dean Chambers, a blogger on Examiner.com who writes from his home in Duffield, Virginia, took that complaint a step further — producing wide Romney leads far beyond what the Republican's campaign or Republican pollsters have suggested is the case.
He created the site unskewedpolls.com, retooling national polling data this July after reading an ABC News/Washington Post poll that "just didn't look right." Looking at the internal data, Chambers saw that the polling unit had sampled more Democrats than Republicans.
"There's no way they can justify that sample," Chambers, 44, told BuzzFeed.
Since July, Chambers has re-weighted national polling data from organizations like Gallup, ARG, and the three networks, to fit the Rasmussen Reports partisan trends. Chambers has published 30 "unskewed" polls on his website and on examiner.com, a national network that pays independent bloggers on a wide range of subject by traffic. In the last month, Chambers's tooled polls have Romney up by seven or more points.
Rasmussen's most recent partisan breakdown shows that 37.6 percent of Americans consider themselves Republicans, 33.3 percent Democrats, and 29.2 percent Independents.
"A lot of people have a hard time believing it," said Chambers, "but the simple way to explain it is, if Republicans make up 37 percent, and Democrats make up 33 percent, anyone can see that there's no justification for having a poll with a sample size of 50 percent Democrats."
Chambers also re-weights President Obama's approval rating using the same Rasmussen partisan estimates. By his analyses over the last month, an average of 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's performance.
The website gained attention Sunday night, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry tweeted the link with the note, "Always nice to get unfiltered or in this case 'unskewed' information." A link to the site was later posted on the Drudge Report and the PJ Tatler.
Chambers was unaware that Governor Perry had tweeted about his site, and had been wondering this morning what caused his spike in traffic.
The Unskewed Polling site — an arm of Chambers' network of six other "Q Star News" websites — is an independent "journalistic assignment that I took upon myself," he said.
Chambers said he suspects that big polling shops are intentionally over-sampling Democrats to help get the President re-elected.
"This year, they've been more skewed than in the past. Any poll that says NBC, CBS, or ABC is going to be skewed and invested in trying to get this President re-elected," he said.
But while Chambers' methods may appeal to conservatives, other pollsters say their samples reflect reality — not wishful thinking — and that the higher Democratic numbers are similar to those in the most recent presidential election.
Even the founder of Rasmussen Reports, whose surveys often show higher Republican numbers, cast doubt on Chambers' methods: Scott Rasmussen told BuzzFeed in an e-mail that "you cannot compare partisan weighting from one polling firm to another."
"Different firms ask about partisan affiliation in different ways," explained Rasmussen. "Some ask how you are registered. Some ask what you consider yourselves. Some push for leaners, others do not. Some ask it at the beginning of a survey which provides a more stable response while others ask it at the end."
Ruby Cramer is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ruby Cramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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