After a new poll out today from Gallup and USA Today showed Mitt Romney pulling ahead of President Barack Obama by strengthening his standing with likely female voters in key swing states, the Obama campaign fired back by releasing a memo written by Josh Benenson of the Benenson Strategy Group consulting firm criticizing “deep flaws in Gallup’s likely voter screen.” Tim Miller, deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, told Politicker the Obama campaign’s memo shows they are “panicked” with battleground state polls tightening in the wake of President Obama’s widely panned performance in the first presidential debate.
“Since the president’s disastrous debate performance, the panicked Obama campaign’s message has vacillated from Big Bird to false character attacks on Mitt Romney to now nitpicking the crosstabs of bad polls,” Mr. Miller said. “Litigating polls won’t help the president fix his two central problems: he can’t defend his economic record and he has offered no plan for getting people back to work in a 2nd term.”
Mr. Benenson’s memo described the poll showing President Obama and Mr. Romney tied among likely women voters in swing states at 48 percent as an “extreme outlier.” Mr. Benenson pointed to other recent polls of the battleground states that have shown President Obama with an average 10.3 percent lead over Mr. Romney and Gallup’s data on registered female voters in the battleground states, which shows him leading Mr. Romney 52 percent to 44 percent.
“We believe the problem with Gallup’s outlying data is rooted in their 7 question likely voter screen, which distorts the composition of likely voters, leading to erratic and inaccurate results,” Mr. Benenson wrote. “In Gallup’s current survey, Obama leads women by 53-44 among registered voters in the Battleground States, which is closely aligned with results from other pollsters. It is only when the likely voter screen is applied that their results become so out of step.”
Mr. Benenson attributed the differences between Gallup’s numbers among likely voters and registered voters a bias in the questions asked by the pollsters.
“Several of the likely voter questions create a bias against groups inclined to support Obama,” wrote Mr. Benenson. “For example, Gallup asks voters both whether they have voted in their precinct before and where people in their neighborhood go to vote. This creates a bias against registered voters who more likely to move from time to time, such as young voters, renters, minorities and urban dwellers, all of whom tend to lean toward the President.”
Mr. Benenson concluded his memo by claiming the tie among likely female voters in the battleground states shows the Gallup poll is “questionable.”
“In the past, Gallup’s justification for such outlying numbers is that they are providing a snapshot of voter attitudes during a particular time period, not predicting the outcome of the election. But this implausible result among women appears to not even provide an accurate reflection on the electorate today, making its value questionable,” Mr. Benenson wrote.
Prior to the October 3 debate, President Obama was enjoying a wide lead in many swing state polls. The next presidential debate will take place tomorrow at Hofstra University in Hempstead.