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This is a preview version of an article forthcoming in LBO #109, posted on October 1, 2004.

(c) Copyright 2004 Left Business Observer. All rights reserved.

Republican bias at Gallup?

by Doug Henwood

Connoisseurs of polling - a group that includes this newsletter - have been confused by the presidential preference polls of the last few months. Some are portraying a tight race, and others a Bush runaway. Some of the strangest numbers have been coming out of our most famous pollster, Gallup. Recall that Gallup reported a one-point decline in Kerry's popularity after the Democratic convention - a departure from historical precedent, since candidates usually have gotten, according to Gallup, an average of a six–point bounce after their nominating conventions. By contrast, Bush got a more normal bounce; the Gallup poll released right after the convention showed him gaining two points, widening his lead over Kerry to seven. That lead widened over the next few weeks to a peak of thirteen points in mid-September, which fell back to a mere eight at month's end.

Other pollsters have reported a solid Bush lead in recent weeks (though not all - the IBD/TIPP poll has the race as a dead heat). But Gallup was out in front in both speed in size, and their polls showing Kerry's negative bounce followed by Bush's extended surge have contributed mightily to a sense that Bush is now the favorite by a fairly wide margin on November 2. Gallup has also been fairly consistently reporting higher approval ratings for Bush than other pollsters over the last year or two.

What's going on? One clue can be found in looking at their reported party breakdown. In their late-September poll, they have 43% of repondents identifying as Republicans, and 31% as Democra