As nearly every major public opinion poll puts President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney, conservative pundits’ new favorite accusation is that the polls are biased because the media is oversampling Democrats. On Thursday, Romney’s senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, repeated this line on Fox News to explain why the polls couldn’t be trusted:
FEHRNSTROM: Some of these polls have been called into question because they assume a higher Democratic turnout in 2012 than we experienced in 2008. I don’t know of any campaign operative or political scientist in the country who thinks Democrats are going to show up in the same number as they did four years ago.
The oversampling of Democrats has become a common complaint in the past week, particularly in reaction to a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll that showed Obama leading significantly in many swing states. But this oversampling, as Business Insider argues, can likely be attributed to the fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the country. Republicans also point to independents favoring Romney, which includes the 40 percent of Tea Party members who identify as independent voters. Even adjusting for this disparity and assuming Democrats, Republicans and independents show up in equal numbers, Obama maintains a lead. Not satisfied with these numbers, a new website has popped up to “unskew” polls’ alleged liberal media bias — which puts Romney ahead in every poll.
Though turnout in 2008 was indeed extraordinarily high, the number of minority voters, who historically lean Democratic, has grown to 29 percent of the electorate. Romney would need 61 percent of the white vote to win the election without these minority voters. However, voter suppression efforts that were not a factor in 2008 — in the form of voter ID laws, voter purges, and poll watchers — could hinder many low-income, minority and elderly voters on Election Day this year.