It is very clear that the polls this election year are wildly out of sync. Consider the four polls which were based on several days of surveys ending on September 16. Pew Research had Obama up by 8%, NBC/Wall Street Journal had Obama up by 5%, Monmouth/Survey USA had Obama up by 3%, and Rasmussen had Romney up by 2%. These polls had margins of error which were significantly smaller than the differences between the polls. Some of the polls are bad science or worse.
Which polls should be trusted, and which should be treated with great suspicion? Some news organizations report self-generated poll results, like the CNN/ORC poll here, which now reports likely voters but before that reported registered voters. The polls are not conducted every day, but rather over periods which seem to be determined by the news organization. Moreover, no one is paying CNN for its polling information.
Compare CNN to Rasmussen, which sells access to its polls and reports results every day. Rasmussen asks the same question each time, it asks the question every day, it provides a rolling average (rather than a snapshot), and people fork out money to see what Scott Rasmussen has found out about America. Rasmussen’s business is polling America and reporting accurate results. Although Scott Rasmussen makes little attempt to conceal his conservatism, he also reports polls which must make us — and him — from time to time go “Ouch!”