Gallup Ignoring Its Own Big Stories

The Gallup Poll is one of the oldest in polling organizations in America. Its reputation ought to be important. The articles which accompany Gallup's polls, however, seem calculated to hide the real story. Consider an article last August, entitled "Political Ideology: 'Conservative' Label Prevails in the South." That is not exactly earth-shattering news. Anyone who has even casual acquaintance with American politics knows that the South is the most conservative part of our country. 

The subtitle of the article appears to tell more: "Conservatives outnumber liberals in nearly every state, but not in D.C." That subtitle, in much smaller font below the headline, is, in fact, false. The data which Gallup provides in the actual poll reveals this remarkable fact: conservatives outnumber liberals in every single state of our nation, without exception, including such proverbial bastions of leftism as Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island. This is electrifying news, particularly in light of the Tea Party movement and the rebellion within the Republican Party against RINOs. Why would Gallup ignore this fascinating news it discovered? Why would Gallup place a subtitle around this poll which is not true and which understates the poll's importance? 

Six months later, Gallup announced a poll on the same question: the ideology of respondents in each of the fifty states. What was the title of this article? "Ideology: Three Deep South States Most Conservative," although in much smaller print, the subtitle was "Only District of Columbia has More Liberals than Conservatives." This reconfirms the almost unbelievable results of the August 2009 poll, yet Gallup practicably ignores what its own data shows.

On August 18, 2010, Gallup announced that "Voter Enthusiasm Highest Among Conservatives," but don't try reading the online article. Instead, watch and listen to Frank Newport, Editor in Chief, talking to you about the data but only barely showing it. Why not let visitors see the data instead of listening to Dr. Newport tell us what he thinks the data means (conservatives and liberals are the most enthused voters and moderates the least enthused)? Because -- if you are prepared to stop and start the video clip and look for the faded numbers -- the dramatic difference in ideological enthusiasm makes the title of the poll patently milquetoast. It is almost as if Gallup did not want you examining intellectually its data and wanted you, instead, to watch Newport's bobbing head as he speaks on a busy city sidewalk.

Most curious of all is the poll dated August 17, 2010 with the title "GOP Shows Strongest Positioning Yet in 2010 Test Vote." The four graphs in that article show that since January 2010, Republican support in the generic congressional ballot reached a high water mark in mid-August 2010: interesting, but with polls fluctuating all over the place in the last decade, how important is that polling data really? Surely Gallup did not appear to see much historic about the generic ballot data in August.

But the Gallup Poll released also in August 2010, entitled "Gallup Election 2010 Key Indicators," shows something incomparably more interesting. The tables at the top show that Republicans have a seven-point lead in the generic ballot, and the graph immediately below that -- which inexplicably stretches out a five-month period -- seems to show that the lines of congressional ballot support for the two political parties have almost no trend at all. The bottom graph, which is curiously disconnected from the other graph, shows the generic ballot trends from 1950 to 2006. (Why not extend that to 2010?) That graph shows that, except for a brief period in 1994, when Republicans had a five-point lead for a few weeks, and for a briefer period in 2002, when Republicans had a four-point lead, Democrats have always led in the congressional ballot.

Go to yet another Gallup Poll, this one released on April 13, 2010, and the investigative reader would discover that in those periods not shown in the August 2010 article, Democrats led on the generic congressional ballot from 2006 through 2009 -- which is not particularly surprising. Put these three separate articles together, and a genuinely dramatic fact can be deciphered: in August 2010, the Gallup generic ballot showed Republicans stronger against Democrats than in more than sixty years of tracking this data.

So why is the title to this article not "Republican Lead over Democrats Largest in Polling History"? Or why not "Democrat Generic Ballot Weakest in Sixty Years"? Why, since Gallup reports all this data in scattered reports and must have all the figures together in a single database, did someone at Gallup not play with a spreadsheet, push a button, and then say, "Wow! Look at this, guys! Republicans are in the best position on the congressional ballot than they have ever been! What a story!" We all know why, don't we?

Bruce Walker is the author of a new book: Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.