They are at it again. As the front page notes, Gallup shows Romney blasting to a 6 point lead this morning. Congratulations Gallup: you have succeeded in generating absurd tacking poll numbers since 1996!
See if you can answer the following questions:
*What pollster in 2008 found John McCain with a 10 point lead? This was the only pollster to find McCain EVER leading by more than 4.
*Who was the only pollster in October of 2004 to find Bush with an 8 point lead (on October 16th)
*What pollster in 2000 showed Al Gore with a 1 point lead on October 24th, and George Bush with a 13 point lead on october 27th?
*What pollster showed a Clinton lead going from 9 points to 25 points in 1996 in FOUR DAYS?
My favorite quote about Gallup is from a New York Times article in 1996 entitled "the perils of polling".
In this week's episode of the perils of polling, CNN and USA Today found themselves tied to their daily tracking poll, trying to explain why President Clinton led Bob Dole by only 9 points on Saturday and by 25 points on Tuesday.
But really you can't get more absurd than they were in 2000.
of Emory recently highlighted one such example: "On October 24 Gallup had Gore ahead of Bush by one point. Three days later, on October 27, they had Bush ahead by 13".
No other poll during the 2000 campaign showed anything like the volatility of the Gallup tracking poll and so far Gallup's 2008 tracking poll has shown nothing like the volatility of their 2000 tracking poll. That's probably because they haven't started to apply their likely voter screen to the tracking poll.
In 2008 they didn't have on likely voter screen - they had two!!
This fine tradition was extended to 2008, and we now see it with us in 2012.
I don't like cherry picking polls. I think that is prescription for re-enforcing your own prejudices. I would never remove them from the averages. But Gallup's history since 1996 is one of finding swings and large leads that do not exist. Their poll today isn't new.
And neither is the fact that when it is reported no one will bother and look at their history.
1:09 PM PT: How could I have forgotten their 2010 Generic House Ballot number? Their final number was GOP +15, the highest by 3 of any other pollster and off by a whopping 8.2 points!!