Wednesday, September 17, 2008

American Research Group Polls: Questionable and Inaccurate

Today American Research Group (ARG) released polls for 26 states. For poll junkies that would seem to be exciting news. Just think of all the data and internals you could pick over. They don't seem to provide a permalink but for the moment find them here under the heading "September 17, 2008 - General Election Ballots".

Here's is my quick summary of these results--hogwash. To see why, just look at the results for two states:

IL: McCain 45%, Obama 51%
OH: McCain 50%, Obama 44%

Almost any sane analyst would agree that Obama is up in Illinois by much more than at 6 points. You should be asking whether they forgot a digit in that spread. Obama wins IL easily or we are talking a Reagan-sized landslide for McCain. Since I think you can agree that isn't going to happen, the IL results is beyond questionable.

Additionally, the Ohio spread for McCain is the same as the Illinois spread for Obama? In what parallel universe? While recent polling has suggested Ohio is going to go to McCain, there is really no way that his lead is as big in Ohio as Obama's is in Illinois.

There are other problems with the numbers (McCain has huge leads in MT, WV but ARG has them close.) The whole list should probably just be discounted. Note that RealClearPolitics doesn't include ARG numbers in their aggregates. You should do the same. So while the numbers, on the whole, are positive for McCain if you are a supporter don't celebrate and if you are a detractor don't panic. Polling will get more interesting as the election draw closer. But as for these particular results, it is best to ignore them and move on.

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