Mitt Romney--and several GOP Senate candidates--are calling out the media for allegedly manipulating polling data to make President Obama and Senate candidates appear to be winning their elections when they aren't.
"You go look at these polls. How is it poll after poll over-polls 10 percent to 15 percent [more] Democrats? This is not a legitimate poll in 2012," Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan told CNN.
Appearing Tuesday with reporter Joe Johns, she hammered CNN's recent poll that found Obama beating Romney by 6 percent. She accused CNN of deliberately over-polling Democrats. "It's a deliberate attempt to make it look like Barack Obama is strong," she said of "that rotten CNN poll" and other polls giving Obama the edge.
But CNN's polling has been accurate over time and was the only one to nail the 2008 presidential election. What's more, Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist told Secrets that the longstanding CNN poll model under-counts the generally accepted 7 percent national advantage Democrats hold over Republicans.
The GOP claim is that 2008 was an unusual year that attracted tons more Democrats to Obama's inspiring campaign. "They're looking at what happened back in 2008 and how many Democrats came out and voted. That's the basis of what they're doing. So they're over-polling Democrats, overwhelmingly. These polls are just part and parcel of the campaign for Barack Obama to help him stay in this game as long as possible," Buchanan said.
Feist, however, called that "factually wrong" and said of Buchanan's charge: "It is beyond preposterous. It's outrageous and insulting."
At issue is how major pollsters are counting their samples of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. In most, Democrats are oversampled, but in recent elections the numbers have been much closer and pollsters, said Team Romney, haven't adjusted to the new evenly split reality of voters.
One example that screams out is the new Washington Post poll that has Obama beating Romney 52 percent to 44 percent and Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine crushing Republican George Allen 51 percent to 43 percent. That poll sample was 32 percent Democrat, 24 percent Republican and 35 percent independent.
But that sample isn't close to the party turnouts in the last three elections, and it gives extra weight to Democrats, charged Romney officials. According to Virginia Republican officials those results looked like this:
2006 - 39% Republican, 36% Democrats, and 26% Independents.
2008 - 33% Republicans, 39% Democrats, and 27% Independents.
2009 - 37% Republicans, 33% Democrats, and 30% Independents
That's an average of: 36.3% Republicans, 36.0% Democrats, and 27.6% Independents.
The Romney campaign is also expressing concern with pollsters who are polling "registered voters" instead of "likely voters." A recent Gallup poll, for example, had Obama beating Romney among registered voters, but losing to Romney among likely voters. Their complaint: With the election so close, the accurate measure is of likely voters.