It will come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention that Rasmussen and Gallup dominate with a total of 12 polls each since the beginning of October. Running a close 3rd is Reuters/Ipsos - who uses web-based polling - with 11. Next in line would be Rand with 9. But its the 5th place finisher that caught my eye. Beginning just the day before the first presidential debate, IBD/TIPP has weighed in with 5 polls in just 2 weeks - when they had previously been polling once-a-month.
Those are the big players. YouGov has 3 polls in the mix while Clarus and CVoter have 2. Eight organizations have conducted one poll during that time, including Monmouth, Fox, American Research, Zogby, PPP, Pew, Politico, and McLaughlin. But there's not one from the big guns at NBC/WSJ or CNN or ABC/WaPo.
So lets take a look at these pollsters that are contributing to Romney's "bounce." We've all heard enough about Rasmussen, so I'm not going to go there.
Gallup is interesting because during this time period, they switched from polling registered voters to using their screens to try to determine likely voters. As Zandar points out this morning, that accounts for most of the shift in their results. As a matter of fact, Gallup actually has this comparison of their weekly tracking polls with registered voters over the exact time period we're looking at. What you see there is NO CHANGE.
I'm not going to comment on the Retuers/Ipsos results because I don't know enough about web-based polling. But I think its pretty safe to say that - of all the forms of polling - it has to be the least reliable.
I'll come back to Rand in a minute. But first, I want to talk about this explosion of polls from IBD/TIPP. In case you didn't know, IBD stands for Investor's Business Daily and just as the title says, its a newspaper specifically devoted to "detailed information about stocks, mutual funds, commodities, and other financial instruments aimed at individual investors."
Here's what Nate Silver had to say about IBD/TIPP polling:
As we learned during the Presidntial campaign -- when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 -- the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. I mean, literally none...So its important to note that a polling outfit that is "both biased and inept" decided to flood the aggregates with polls over the last 2 weeks.
There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions.
Lets get back to Rand for a minute. Take a look at the trend line of their polling.
I'd suggest that if you get rid of the "noise" created by Rasmussen, Gallup's switch to likely voters, and the infusion of polls from IBD/TIPP, this would be a pretty good look at what is actually happening in this race. Things started tightening a bit by the end of September after the bounce Obama got from the conventions was extended with the release of Romney's video talking about the 47%. But the fundamentals of this race haven't changed.
Oh, and according to Rand, that big bounce Romney got after the first debate? Gone already.