Yesterday, while discussing the avalanche of bad poll numbers for Democrats with Andrew Malcolm, he warned that the Democrats and the media would eventually find a poll to support the idea that Republican momentum would slow or reverse. That prediction proved wise when, just an hour or so later, Gallup announced its latest results showing Democrats had erased a six-point GOP lead in their generic Congressional ballot poll. Oddly enough, though, the underlying enthusiasm numbers haven’t budged:
Republicans and Democrats are tied at 46% among registered voters in Gallup’s weekly tracking of congressional voting preferences, marking a shift after five consecutive weeks in which the Republicans held the advantage. …
Last week marked the return of President Barack Obama from his 10-day vacation, and included his national address to announce the official end of combat operations in Iraq. The president’s three-day job approval rating rose to 47% for Aug. 29-31 — a level it had reached only once since mid-July. Last week also brought media commentary in the aftermath of conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck’s massive rally in Washington, D.C. It is not clear if these or other factors affected Americans’ voting preferences as measured by the generic ballot.
Actually, it’s not clear anything has changed. The WaPo/ABC and WSJ/NBC polls surveyed registered and likely voters in the same time period and came up with much different numbers. This isn’t the first time this summer that Gallup’s results showed startling and sudden swings, either. They made eyebrows pop in July when two successive polls showed Democrats taking a sudden and substantial lead in the Congressional ballot — the only pollster to find such a swing — and just as suddenly put the Republicans ahead outside of the margin of error.
Even more strangely, the enthusiasm numbers for voters have barely budged. The GOP holds its largest advantage in that for the year:
There has been no change in the advantage Republicans hold over Democrats on motivation to vote in the fall elections. Republicans remain twice as likely as Democrats to be “very enthusiastic” about voting, tied with the previous week’s measure as the largest such advantage of the year.
If the enthusiasm numbers for voters haven’t changed, then how did Democrats erase a six-point deficit in just one week? Something is seriously wrong at Gallup this summer, and I’m not the only one to notice it. NBC’s Chuck Todd tweeted yesterday after this release about the lack of reliability in the Gallup figures:
We specifically advise our colleagues to be leery of Gallup. Most, if not all, NBC news shows avoid.