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Polls favor Obama. A conspiracy by Democrats and the media? (+video)

More voters consider themselves Democrats rather than Republicans, and this is reflected in opinion polls showing Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney. Critics say the results are skewed.

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Gallup puts its question to voters agreeing to be surveyed this way: “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent?”
 
“Note that this question does not ask, ‘What was your party identification in November 2008?’ Nor does it ask, ‘Are you registered with one party or the other in your state?’” says Mr. Newport. “Our question uses the words ‘as of today’ and ‘consider.’ It is designed to measure fluidity in political self-identification.” 

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The key thing for campaigns and those reporting on them is too look at the bigger picture over time. Today’s snapshot – and this includes polls by the relatively conservative Fox News and Rasmussen Reports – shows Obama ahead during this period between the party conventions and the debates.

"If I don't focus on an individual poll here or there and look at the dynamic of the race, and the broad array of polls, it tells me that the president has a significant lead at this point," Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, told Reuters.

A related conservative complaint is that reporters and editors can become too obsessive about opinion polls.

“This produces headlines and TV coverage that seem intentionally designed to demoralize Republicans and persuade undecided ‘swing’ voters – who have a tendency to vote for the candidate they perceive as the likely winner – to support Obama,” writes Robert Stacy McCain at the American Spectator. “That such poll-driven coverage could function as a self-fulfilling prophecy – in fact creating the result it pretends to predict – is an increasing worry for conservatives.”

Not all conservatives are beating up on poll-takers and the media over the string of voter surveys showing Romney trailing in the race.

“I’ve been in politics long enough to know that the louder one side gets complaining about the polls, the more likely it is that this is the side that, in reality, actually is losing,” Erick Erickson, editor of the RedState blog, wrote this week.

“The reality is that Mitt Romney is behind, but that does not mean this thing is over,” Mr. Erickson writes. “It is close and Romney can very much still win this election.”

Why do Election 2012 swing states matter? 5 resources to explain.

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