In 1936, Literary Digest conducted a poll that predicted that Republican Alf Landon would win a landslide victory over President Franklin Roosevelt in the November election. Of course, as we all know, it was the other way around, with FDR carrying 46 of the then-48 states in the greatest landslide in presidential election history.
What went wrong. It seems that the Literary Digest poll was conducted by telephone and in those Depression-racked days, only affluent people could afford telephones. On Election Day, those without telephones had the last laugh when they turned out overwhelmingly for Democrats in the biggest electoral surprise in history.
Something like that could happen in less that 48 hours, according to a new poll in Newsweek magazine. For weeks the GOPers and the mainstream media have been yapping about how the Republicans are going to run the table on Election Day and take over the House and the Senate. Newsweek just released a poll that calls all that into question. You see, they actually polled those 20 percent of American households that have no landlines — the younger, more urban, more Democratic households that have been totally neglected by the other polls. And you can probably guess how this poll turned out. Technology changes and when pollsters fail to change with it, they can end up making fools of themselves.
Read Tom Ball's column from the online journal Political Cortex at http://www.politicalcortex.com/user/Tom%20Ball
The latest rage - or outrage - on the right is this Newsweek Poll. You know, the Newsweek poll - the one that said that Obama has a 54% approval rating and that 48% of registered voters prefer to vote for a Democrat, while only 42% lean Republican.
That Newsweek Poll.
Seems the Repuglinuts don't like that poll because it doesn't fit their teabag revolution narrative. They slant their brows in angry scowls, slam their hammy fists and declare the poll an outlier, unfit for human consumption!!!
"Look at Real Clear Politics," they insist. "Their totally and completely non-partisan analysis of polling numbers shows that the Newsweek poll is a fake, a lie, a CONSPIRACY - all designed by the VLWC to raise the specter of Republican failure only days before the greatest and most important election of forever."
Oh, what a world!
So what about that Newsweek poll? Was it an outlier? Was it in any way valid? Are we desperate for a sprig of hope? Are we totally delusional?
After all, that Newsweek poll totally disagrees with all those other, much, MUCH more legitimate polls that show Obama with a -0.0% likey-likey rating and a generic ballot that suggests a pickup for the Republicans somewhere between 1.2 million and infinity seats in the House.
The Reality is that these pollsters sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to a thing we all refer to as "Progress". Say it with me Pro-gress.
The progress to which I refer is that of cell phone use, and not just your usual, everyday, annoyance-on-the-bus cell phone use. I'm talking about the hardcore take-your-landline-and-shove-it cell phone use.
That's right. Cell-Phone-only households now account for over 20% of all households in America. That supersedes the amount of landline-only households.
The Newsweek poll includes these cell-phone-only households. ALL of the others do not!
That is VERY significant. The other polling outfits ignore 20% of all Americans in their polling - that's 1 in every 5 people. They effectively don't exist - or at least don't matter to the Gallups, USA Todays, and stinkers like Rasmussen.
Not surprisingly, these cell-phone-only people tend to be overwhelmingly young, urban, and Democrats.
And what about the landline-only households? Surprise!! They tend to be older, rural, and Republicans - so they were sure to be included in the polls!
As you might have guessed, when you poll an electorate that includes the (less than) 20% of high-concentration Republicans, and EXCLUDES the 20% of high-concentration Democrats, then the poll will tend to favor the Republicans - alot. Include those Democrats, and all of a sudden the polls start painting a picture of a whole new world. THAT makes sense.
But wait, there's more...
For the record, you can see the Newsweek poll right here: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/22/poll-obama-approval-jumps-dems-more-fired-up.html