The polling partnership of the Associated Press and GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications conducted its final pre-early voting survey of the American electorate during the five days ended September 29.
It would be pretty hard to argue against the idea that the polling effort searched for answers it could use, while avoiding getting — or at least publishing — answers it wouldn't like. The best example of this "cleverness" is embodied in whose approval and disapproval numbers the survey chose to disclose.
In one of several dispatches (related topline is here) pegged to the polling effort, the AP's Jennifer Agiesta made sure readers knew that likely voters disapprove of Republican leaders in Congress more than they disapprove of President Barack Obama.
But something pretty obvious is missing — in the excerpt which follows, from Agiesta's full report, and from the AP-GfK poll's topline:
AP-GFK POLL: DIVIDED VOTERS STILL FOCUS ON ECONOMY
(Note: This headline, found at the AP's national site, differs from Agiesta' original, "As early voters begin casting ballots, economic concerns top those about terror," found at the AP-GfK site. — Ed.)
It's not Obamacare or climate change. It's not yet terrorism or fear of the Islamic State group. Those issues are on the minds of voters as they begin casting ballots in this year's midterm elections, but nothing matters to American voters as much the economy.
In a new Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday, 9 in 10 of those most likely to go to the polls or mail in a ballot in this year's midterm elections call the economy an extremely or very important issue.
... The poll found that concerns about the spate of foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. have grown since July, with 6 in 10 Americans now calling the U.S. role in world affairs an important issue, up from 51 percent in July.
And most people remain dissatisfied with those in power. Just 7 percent of likely voters approve of the way Congress is handling its job, 42 percent approve of President Barack Obama's job performance.
Asked how they feel about his administration, 58 percent are dissatisfied or angry, while 74 percent were dissatisfied or angry with the Republican leadership in Congress.
Excuse me, Jennifer, but where's the question about Democratic leadership in Congress? After all, "Congress" has two chambers: the House, where "Republican leadership" is in control, and the Senate, which Democrats control.
The information presented would appear to make it quite likely that "Democratic leadership" in the Senate would get far lower marks than Republicans in the House. The related questions are framed slightly differently, but that conclusion is still quite reasonable. After all, there must be a reason why 26 percent of likely voters are at least satisfied with Republican leaders in Congress (that's where those not in the 74 percent cited earlier fall), but only 7 percent approve of "Congress's handling of its job." Why wouldn't the answer be that almost every likely voter with a beating heart disapproves of Congress's Democratic Party leaders who just so happen to control the Senate, from Harry Reid on down?
To get to their poll's results, AP-GfK seems to have wildly over-represented Democrats, to the point where, after winnowing out those unlikely to vote, its sample of likely voters is equally weighted. That may seem fair, and the ultimate outcome obviously remains to be seen; but in 2010, Gallup's final two pre-election polls found a 15-point difference (55%-40%) in favor of Republicans. Traditionally, voters in the party out of power turn out more strongly in mid-term elections.
Additionally, on Friday, in its latest"message voting" poll, Gallup reported that voters' overall desire to "send a message" that they oppose President Obama is even stronger than it was in 2010:
The equal weighting of Republicans and Democrats in AP-GfK's likely voter sample would appear to indicate that the actual disapproval of President Obama's performance is far greater than the poll's 58 percent likely-voter result would indicate among those who will actually vote during the coming month. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, did a "nice job" of covering that likelihood up.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.