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FiveThirtyEight

Politics

Some pollsters — Rasmussen has recently gotten into this habit — list separate polling results with and without “leaners” included. Where this occurs, our policy will be to include leaners in the tallies.

Why? Because most polls push undecided voters to some degree or another — such as by asking a follow-up question or not providing the ‘undecided’ option for them — meaning that their results already implicitly include leaners. Most of the time, you’ll have no idea that this process occurred; the topline results have the leaners rolled in to them. Other times, as in Rasmussen’s case, you’ll have the data broken out for you with and without leaners included.

But I’ve never seen a case where a pollster pushed leaners and then didn’t include them in their press release. You’ll either get the “with leaners” version in the topline numbers, or you’ll get both versions, but you’ll almost never get only the “without leaners” version and then have to sort through the cross-tabs for the leaner data.

In other words, listing the results with leaners — however the pollster chooses to define them — is generally the default industry standard. It will therefore be our standard as well.

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