One of the biggest knocks against this poll in 2012 is their insistence on what is considered old methodology. They are not adopting to any of the new methods such as: calling cell phones, using an enthusiasm gap to determine voter turn out, sprinkling their state polls over a few days, etc. Could their instance on old methodology catch up with them in 2012? Perhaps, but making such a statement is rather risky until more evidence arrives. Nate Silver a professional prognosticator who was very accurate in 2008 is so sure of this assumption that he refuses to weigh their polls as he would other reputable firms. He claims that their methods have to catch up with them soon and assumes it will be in this election. I find this decision to be a major gamble that could create some obvious flaws in his numbers.
However, what everyone must remember is that they are only one poll. Whenever anyone puts too much stock in one poll it leads to terrible misconceptions. While they were one of the most accurate presidential polls in 2008 according to the ARG they also had their share of problems with republican bias. Most of these problems showed up in the important swing states and often with outlier polls. Here is a sampling of their final polls in some of the swing states four years ago and how it compared to the final results.
|State||Final Rasmussen Poll||Final Result||Bias|
|Colorado||Obama by 4||Obama by 8.5||Republican- 4+|
|Florida||McCain by 1||Obama by 2.5||Republican- 3+|
|Nevada||Obama by 4||Obama by 12.4||Republican- 8+|
|New Hampshire||Obama by 7||Obama by 9.5||Republican- 2+|
|Ohio||TIED||Obama by 4||Republican- 4|
|Virginia||Obama by 4||Obama by 6.3||Republican- 2+|
|Wisconsin||Obama by 7||Obama by 13.9||Republican- 6+|
Of course in all fairness 2008 was a very bad year in many of these same states for many pollsters, due to underestimating democrats turn out and overestimating republican turn out. Yet, what is different about Rasmussen is that they are always showing the same bias and gives numerous outlier polls in the process. Rasmussen was far more accurate in many of the other non-swing states.
If the election were held today Rasmussen has Romney pulling out Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, and tied in Wisconsin. This would be plenty enough to make Romney the victor. So why am I 75% confident that Obama would win the election if it were held today?
1.) This is one poll and I consider all reputable polls.
2.) They are the only poll showing Romney in the lead in Ohio and tied in Wisconsin.
3.) Other polls with a known republican bias still has Obama leading in key states like Ohio, New Hampshire, and Colorado.
4.) I adjust their polls one point for being republican biased unless they are an outlier in which I more heavily adjust the number.
It is not that these latest Rasmussen polls are not important, because they are...in proper context. If Romney is to win the election he will need this firm showing good numbers in states like Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia. These polls help compensate for some of the other left-leaning polls showing Obama in front by several points. The key is found in some of the other reputable firms showing similar numbers and at this point they are not.