Gallup released a poll demonstrating that Democrats were favored over Republicans by 51% to 44% margin. Just four days ago, Rasmussen Reports released a similar poll that showed the opposite result.
Gallup also painted the results in a favorable light for Democrats by comparing the new results to those in the last two election cycles.
Gallup’s first measure of the 2012 congressional elections shows Democrats with a slight lead over Republicans, 51% to 44%, among registered voters nationally — better than they generally fared in 2010 but worse than in the prior two congressional cycles.
Rasmussen’s poll report takes uses more balanced and realistic language in sharing their results.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 39% would choose the Democrat instead. The GOP led by four points a week ago.
So why the difference? While some of the polling analysis we’ve done in the past has taken deep dives into the questions asked and perusing table after table of results, this analysis was easy – it’s who they asked that makes the difference.
Gallup chose to poll registered voters. It didn’t matter if they’d ever filled in a ballot in their life, their answer counted. With motor-voter in-place, all one has to do is say “yes” at driver’s license time and they’re registered.
Rasmussen sought to understand what might happen if an election were held now. Their sample came only from “likely voters” – people who would actually go to the polls and mark up a ballot.