While many in the media (and Silver himself) openly mock the idea of Republicans’ “unskewing polls” (and I am not a fan of unskewedpolls.com by any means), Silver’s weighting method is just a more subtle way of doing just that. I outlined yesterday why Ohio is closer than the polls seem to indicate by looking at the full results of the polls as opposed to only the topline head-to-head numbers. Romney is up by well over eight points among independents in an average of current Ohio polls, the overall sample of those same polls is more Democratic than the 2008 electorate was, and Obama’s two best recent polls are among the oldest…

In that same post, Silver touts a “SurveyUSA poll showing Mr. Obama with a one-point lead in Florida is really the slightly better result for him.” That SurveyUSA poll indeed had Obama up by one point, but had a Democratic party-ID advantage of nine points. In 2008 Democrats had a three-point advantage, and in 2010 the parties were even. So the SurveyUSA poll is good news only if you believe Democrats will not only improve on their 2008 turnout, but triple their turnout advantage over Republicans.

This is the type of analysis that walks a very thin line between forecasting and cheerleading. When you weight a poll based on what you think of the pollster and the results and not based on what is actually inside the poll (party sampling, changes in favorability, job approval, etc), it can make for forecasts that mirror what you hope will happen rather than what’s most likely to happen. This is also true of Silver’s dismissal of Romney’s lead in Gallup this week. While Romney is likely not up by seven points nationally, as the poll predicted, you can’t dismiss it while at the same time giving a twelve-day-old Marist/NBC Ohio poll a higher weighting than eight newer polls when Marist has leaned Obama this entire cycle.