Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
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Mack blasts “media-sponsored skewed public polling” showing Nelson ahead
Posted Oct 12, 2012 by William March
Updated Oct 12, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Another poll showing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson with a large lead over Republican challenger Rep. Connie Mack IV—and also showing President Barack Obama clinging to a razor-thin lead or tie against Mitt Romney in Florida—has reawakened allegations of “skewed polls” from the Mack campaign.
This time, it’s a poll released this week by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, done for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.
It showed Nelson up by a whopping 13 points—52-39 percent among a sample of 988 likely voters, with a 3.1-point error margin—in what was expected to be a close race.
It showed Obama leading Mitt Romney by one point, 48-47 percent.
Mack campaign manager Jeff Cohen called the poll “utter nonsense.”
He said the poll “was weighted to reflect a likely electorate ... of 37 percent Democrats, 33 percent Republicans and 29 percent Independents,” which isn’t a likely reflection of the partisan makeup of the November electorate.
In 2004, he noted, the number of Republicans voting in Florida exceeded the number of Democrats, and minor party or no-party voters were only 21 percent of the electorate, not 29 percent.
The Marist pollsters couldn’t be reached for comment immediately, but several other pollsters have responded to the criticism by saying they don’t weight their samples for party membership at all. Instead, they weight the samples only to get a correct demographic breakdown by race, gender, age and sometimes educational levels.
The party labels in the sample are simply what party the respondents say they consider themselves to be—and that can change with political events.
Other critics, however, noted the Marist poll sample was 20 percent Latino, which exceeds the Latino portion of the 2008 turnout according to exit polls, 14 percent. Latino voters tend to lean Democratic.
At the same time as the Marist poll, another poll came out showing Romney with a signficant lead over Obama—a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey, that showed Romney up 51-44 percent. The Mason-Dixon poll was weighted to match the actual partisan breakdown of Florida’s registered voters.
The Mason-Dixon Senate results haven’t been released yet.