Markos has a discussion on the front page of the latest Gallup Poll. Before everyone freaks out, let me remind you of this:
"In the new poll, taken Friday through Sunday, McCain leads Obama by 54%-44% among those seen as most likely to vote. The survey of 1,022 adults, including 959 registered voters, has a margin of error of +/— 3 points for both samples."
How bad was this poll? Pollingreport.com has a list of all of the polls conducted from July 2008 to the election. No other poll showed McCain leading by more than 5 from July 7th to Election Day. Of the three polls taken on the same days, one had McCain up 2 and the other had the race tied.
You might think that this is an aberration. This is Gallup we are talking about, and everyone makes mistakes now and then.
But Gallup has done this before. Consider this from 2000:
On September 21 Gallup had Bush ahead of Gore by 10 points. Four days later, on September 25, Gore was back in the lead by 3. Then on October 5 Gallup had Bush ahead by 11. The next day, on October 6, his lead was down to one, and one day later, on October 7, Gore was ahead by 7.
Here's my favorite. On October 24 Gallup had Gore ahead of Bush by one point. Three days later, on October 27, they had Bush ahead by 13.
In 2010 nothing has changed. This is a link to the generic ballot polling. On July 12th to 18th they had the Democrats ahead by 6 points in the generic ballot. No one else in the entire month had the Democrats up by more than 1. At the same time the Gallup poll was taken CNN and Quinnipiac had the GOP up 5, and Fox had them up 4. So Gallup has seen a 16 point change in the generic ballot since mid-July. No one else has seen a shift of more than 5 points since then.
Their polling is absurd on the face of it.
I don't want to minimize how bad the Generic Ballot looks right now. I have created a model that takes the generic ballot and predicts the makeup of the House based on the extrapolating the swings in the generic ballot to individual districts. Right now I show the Democrats losing 63 seats.(the same models are used in the UK to translate national polls to seats in the House of Commons). This is probably high, since in some of these seats the challengers have either no money, or no intelligence, of both. Nonetheless, we the political situation is bleak, and I am not sure that the White House gets how important it is to address the economy in a far more serious, and to some degree different way, than they are now.
But is we are going to panic, let's at least panic over data that makes some sense.