For most of President Obama’s tenure in office, Gallup’s Presidential approval polls have shown the President performing at lower levels than most other pollsters. Their polls were often used by Republicans to support the narrative that the President and his policies were unpopular.
Throughout the summer of 2012 Obama’s approval numbers lingered in the mid-40s as he was locked in a dead heat with Mitt Romney. Despite overestimating Obama’s support by four points in 2008, Gallup came under fire from the left for being biased. When Gallup defied the polling consensus, some polling observers such as Mark Blumenthal complained that Gallup was missing potential Democratic voters because they were not sampling non-telephone households. In other words, Blumenthal thought Gallup’s polls were skewed towards Republicans.
The complaints about Gallup from the left reached a crescendo in August when the Department of Justice joined a former Obama staffer in filing a lawsuit against Gallup for overestimating costs on a government contract. Conservatives complained that this amounted to working over the refs. Coaches rough up the refs for one reason – it works. And sadly it appears that it worked on Gallup as well.
Gallup’s new polling procedures take three steps to further secure the Democratic base.
1. Gallup attempts to account for more minority voters by weighting their samples more heavily toward urban respondents. The logic being that urban areas are more densely populated and current geographic sampling leads to a rural bias. In addition, Mark Blumenthal noted happily that Gallup now appears to be polling non-telephone households, which should boost minority poll participation.
2. Gallup added emphasis to include early voters in their likely voter sample. Although the history of early voting is still limited, the early voting trends thus far have leaned heavily Democratic.
3. Gallup is significantly increasing their cell phone samples. In the past Gallup favored landlines by a 60-40 margin. They will now split calls between landlines and cellphones evenly. Cellphone respondents lean noticeably Democratic.