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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Won’t Real Clear Politics Show Barr’s Numbers?

Kevin Tracy

We had this fight with Real Clear Politics about this time last year when they were refusing to show polling data for Governor Huckabee. They caved when we got his national support up to around 4% in Iowa. Well, now they are neglecting to show polling data collected on Libertarian Party Candidate Bob Barr, who is at 6% nationally, and it makes their numbers absolutely impossible to do any sort of analysis with.

It would be helpful if we could see, side-by-side, the variations in polls that include Bob Barr and those that don’t. That way we can see if he’s pulling votes from the roughly 10-15% of the population that’s undecided or if he’s pulling Republican voters who prefer McCain to Obama but Barr to McCain.

Adding to the polling mayhem are the latest state polls that did include former Congressman Barr’s name. Take a look for your self:

New Hampshire - 10%
Oklahoma - 9%
New Mexico - 9%
Nevada - 9%
Georgia - 8%
Colorado - 8%
Minnesota - 8%
Iowa - 8%
Arizona - 7%
Ohio - 7%
Indiana - 7%
Tennessee - 7%
Texas - 6%
Florida - 6%
Missouri - 6%
Oregon - 6%
Michigan - 6%
Maryland - 6%
South Carolina - 6%
Virginia - 5%
Illinois - 5%
Washington - 5%
California - 5%
Connecticut - 5%
Massachusetts - 5%
Pennsylvania - 5%

That 7% in Ohio is HUGE compared to the RCP average 2% lead Obama has over McCain in the state. In newly battlegrounded states like Georgia, Colorado, Virginia, and (I’m ashamed to say) Indiana, Barr’s are larger than the difference between Obama and McCain, yet Real Clear Politics makes it impossible to analyze the the current situation using their normally life-saving compiled polling data.

I normally rely heavily on the RCP average for polling data. You always have to check the numbers they used for the average since sometimes the fourth poll is more than a month old (which is no longer useful). Being an analyst by profession, albeit not a political analyst, I - ALWAYS - prefer to have too much data than risk having incomplete data. Bob Barr isn’t likely to win in November, but there’s no doubt he’s having an impact on this race.

Therefore, until Real Clear Politics includes Bob Barr in their polling data, we’re going to be stuck with incomplete data and an incomplete picture.

Granted, I could just look at every single poll taken since Barr announced his candidacy, compile those that listed Barr’s name, and then create my own FSCP (Freakin’ Super Clear Politics) average, then do the same with the polls that didn’t include his name, put them side by side to date, make line graphs, and then wonder why the Hell I wasn’t paid by the Bob Barr Campaign for doing this for them. I have better ways to spend my time… like looking up Jim Traficant quotes.

Seriously though, Real Clear Politics provides a great service, but they need to get on the ball with this. Even putting a hyphen by his name for three quarters of the polls is fine as long as we have some sort of data on where he is in the polls so we can better gauge where his support is coming from.

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