Democratic pollster Mark Mellman believes this kind of likely-voter screen is counterproductive. Speaking at the event at the Gallup building, Mellman said that pollsters and the media have “overfetishized this whole notion of likely voters.”

“We should not be concerned about finding likely voters,” said Mellman. “We should be concerned about simulating the likely electorate.” Implicit in Mellman’s comments is the idea that the composition of that likely electorate would not have been 78 percent white.

But others say that issues with Gallup’s initial sampling may be to blame. Andrew Kohut, the retiring director of the Pew Research Center who served as president of the Gallup Organization from 1979-1989, pointed to the difference in Gallup’s results for all registered voters versus likely voters in its final preelection poll: Romney led by 1 point among likely voters, but Obama held a 3-point lead among all voters. Kohut compared that to Pew’s final results, which also showed a discrepancy of 4 net points between registered and likely voters.

“I think there’s something very basic going on with their sample. It’s not with their likely-voter scale,” Kohut told National Journal in a telephone interview, adding, “I helped create that likely-voter scale.”