Last week’s presidential election has widely been seen as a victory for pollsters who, on balance, saw President Obama as the favorite before Election Day. But that wasn’t the case for the esteemed Gallup Organization. Its polling showed Republican Mitt Romney with a significant lead among likely voters 10 days before Nov. 6 and marginally ahead of Obama on the eve of an election that Obama won by about 3 percentage points.
At an event on Thursday at Gallup’s downtown Washington offices, Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport told a gathering of fellow pollsters that the organization was reviewing its methodology in light of these inaccuracies. But its fairly consistent Republican bias in 2012 and its overestimation of the white portion of the electorate raise important questions about sampling and the way Gallup determines which respondents are registered and likely to vote.
“We don’t have a definitive answer,” Newport said.
The day before Election Day, Gallup released data culled from the four previous days, showing Romney with a 1-point lead among likely voters, 49 percent to 48 percent. Before that final survey, Gallup had suspended polling for three days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when nearly 10 million Americans were without electricity.
Immediately before the storm hit, Gallup showed Romney ahead by 5 points, 51 percent to 46 percent, and Romney led by as many as 7 points in mid-October. All the while, most other national polls showed a neck-and-neck race.
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