Is the CBS Poll “Fatally Flawed?”

With a 24 hour news cycle and the constant need for content and spin by all campaigns, polls are red meat to both consultants and pundits, who, if not pleased with results, can wait another day for another poll that will likely say something entirely different.

Odds are, the CBS/New York Times poll released early this week was that “something entirely different.”

The poll offered a lot of fodder for conservative media and Mitt Romney backers.  It showed Romney ahead of President Barack Obama nationally and, in a bizarre twist, claimed that Romney leading among women — when most other polls claim is the complete opposite is true.

But the “women” factor isn’t the only issue with the poll.  There is a long line of internal contradictions that simply don’t make sense, such as how can the President have a 50 percent approval rating, yet have him behind 43 to 46 in a head to head matchup with Romney?

Many wonder if the problem was the way the survey was conducted — those who were surveyed last week had been surveyed already once before in April.  That also made for a fairly small sampling, too, which has to potential to increase errors or make anomalies into trends.

Is the poll too flawed to be useful? Potentially.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t be used extensively to support conservative talking points.



Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi


John D.
John D5 years ago

In the end polls don't matter and are nothing but influence makers themselves. Talking to any random 1000 people and postulating that's what 300 million people think is a big joke as this CBS poll exemplifies! Talk to another 1000 people in selected areas and you will see the opposite result. The second big problem is the pollster can manipulate the results by selective choice of whose opinion to sample. They are balderdash unless you see a repeat frequency over many polls that show the same results and you have increased the number of people talked to beyond these "pop" polls! Confusing questions is another great way to manipulate. In conclusion, treat them as you would any basic rumor you heard about someone!

Susan T.
Susan T5 years ago

Poll results are meaningless unless it's revealed exactly what questions were asked.

BTW take a look at the actual poll

They only polled about 600 people. WTF??? This is supposed to represent some 200 million voters opinions?

Also if you want to get an idea of WHO they polled (and don't try to tell me these polls are not skewed as to who they choose to poll), check out page 7, which asks about gay couples legal rights. The question asked is whether they should be allowed to marry, allowed to form civil unions or not given any legal recognition at all. 33% of this polls respondents say no to any legal recognition at all, with only 38% approving of marriage and 24% of civil uniions. It has been well established through MANY national polls that the current tide of public opinion is in favor of MARRIAGE equality by a majority - but of course you wouldn't think so to read this poll.

Another pertinent question - why are there several questions about gay marriage even in this poll?

Also I note that Repubs don't bring out the statistic from this poll that when asked if they have a favorable / unfavorable view of Romney, even these respondents say 38% unfavorable, compared to 31% favorable.

Georgia L.
Georgia L5 years ago

Poll or no poll this guy is creepy and he lies a lot.

Elsie O.
Elsie O5 years ago

(Part 2) Of course, we also have our home-grown financial disasters, such as the sub-prime mortgage collapse, caused, at least in part, by decades of erosion of the protective regulations that could have prevented such irresponsible practices. Yet the GOP's response to the current economic slump is to blame the President for the bailout (which they all knew was necessary and they all voted for) and to push for even more deregulation and more tax breaks for the rich, implying that this will create more jobs. The fact that it doesn't work gets very little publicity. President Obama did propose a tax break for employers who actually hire American workers, but that wasn't what the GOP wanted. They want tax breaks without any obligation -- for a group of ultra-rich investors who are already taxed at lower rates than the middle class.
Congress (not the President) does have some power to enact influential legislation, but the GOP has blocked every bill that would have created real improvement for the American middle class and the forgotten classes. Why? Because the GOP has enough political experience to know that when election time rolls around, the uninformed (and intentionally misinformed) voters, encouraged by the corporate media, will blame the poor economy on the President.

Elsie O.
Elsie O5 years ago

(Part 1) I saw another infuriating poll result today, this time on ABC: the question was something to the effect of "are you better off or worse off financially than when this President took office?"
It was just one more attempt on the part of the media to create controversy by connecting things that have little or no legitimate connection.
Aren't there any media sources that are willing to address the obvious reality that no matter who is in office; no matter what the economy is doing, NOBODY SHOULD EVER VOTE A PRESIDENT IN OR OUT OF OFFICE BASED ON THE CURRENT STATE OF THE ECONOMY.
Presidents have very little control over the economy, at least in the short run. Oh, they can do a few things, such as encourage the raising or lowering of interest rates, and they can suggest government spending on jobs programs (which Congress often refuses to approve.) Even if these measures are approved, the benefits or detriments may not be seen for several years... if they are seen at all.
I'm not an economist, but I know enough to understand that the economy is influenced by international monetary exchange rates, economic crises in other countries (such as Greece, which almost nobody here in the USA notices), declining oil and gas reserves, and economic development in countries such as China and India, where labor rates remain pitifully low.

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H5 years ago

what a waste af space!

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H5 years ago


Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

Most polls are full of shit anyway.

Gayle R.
Gayle R5 years ago

Several years ago I signed up for the Zogby polls and have been called on quite a few times to take their surveys. By the questions asked, and in particular how they were worded, it quickly became obvious via the last several questions that certain entities were paying for the polls to advance their own agendas. There was nothing unbiased about them.

One has to pay close attention to the wording of the questions because they are all too often extremely leading. Asked a slightly different way, the answer you give to the same question would be the exact opposite of what you proclaimed to be your stance in the last survey.

My advice: If you're asked to take a survey, decline. It doesn't really matter what you tell them today because tomorrow they'll come back and get a different answer from you for whoever has commissioned the survey that particular day. It's all about keeping people/parties off balance for a few minutes.

Arild Warud

The only poll that matters is the election.