The Australian newspaper’s selective coverage of American voting intentions

Living in Sydney, Australia, I usually find “The Australian’s” international news coverage to be refreshing and valuable, despite the paper’s adamantly right-wing rhetoric on many topics.

But the paper’s readers are being let down by its North American correspondent Brad Norington’s coverage of the American presidential election (“Obama does the business on jobs”, Monday October 29, 2012, p.12).  Norington continues to quote the Gallup Poll figures, which indicate Romney ahead of Obama by five or more percentage points.  This is seriously misleading, and when Obama wins next week – as he most likely will – readers will wonder why they kept thinking Romney was in the lead.

Both Nate Silver in “The New York Times” and Mark Blumenthal in “The Huffington Post” have comprehensively shown that the Gallup Poll figures have been the most skewed “house effects” towards Romney of any of the many American polls, and are almost certainly incorrect.  Yet Norington persists in quoting the Gallup figures first – and sometimes solely.  This selective quoting indicates either a political (pro-Republican) bias or an ignorance of the real state of the American voting intentions. In either case, it does both the paper and its readers a major disservice.

I attach below two tables taken from Blumenthal’s June 18, 2012 analysis (“Race Matters: Why Gallop Poll Finds Less Support for President Obama”).  The first one shows how the Gallup systematically undercounted Obama’s approval percentage for a full year from May 2011 to June 2012.

The second one shows how Romney’s percentage of voters has been systematically higher in Gallup than almost all other polls during the period August 2011 to June 2012.  (Click on the figures below to expand them.)

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