In contrast, exit polls showed an even break on party identification in 2004 and 2010. But many September polls and some earlier polls showed Democrats with an even bigger party identification lead than four years before.
That seems implausible. Party identification does change over time, as exit polls indicate. But it usually shifts gradually rather than suddenly, as current polls suggest.
There is evidence that since the Charlotte convention Democrats have become more motivated to vote and have narrowed the advantage in enthusiasm Republicans have had since 2010. In that case, more Democrats may be passing through screening questions and getting polled.
I don't believe that any of the media pollsters have been tilting their results in order to demoralize Republicans, though I do look with suspicion on the work of some partisan pollsters.
But I do have my doubts about whether samples with more Democratic party identification than in 2008 are accurate representations of the actual electorate. Many states with party registration have shown big drops in registered Democrats since then.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who weights his robocall results by party identification, adjusted monthly, has shown a much closer race than most pollsters who leave party identification numbers unweighted. So has the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania.
It may be that we're seeing the phenomenon we've seen for years in exit polls, which have consistently skewed Democratic (and toward Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries). Part of that is interviewer error: Exit poll pioneer Warren Mitofsky found that the biggest discrepancies between exit polls and actual results were in precincts where the interviewers were female graduate students.
But he also found that Democrats were simply more willing to fill out the exit poll. That raises the question: Are we seeing the same thing in this month's polls?
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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