Jul
04
2010

Pollster hammers in some nails to the R2000 coffin.

Much as I’d like the dKos/R2000 dustup to be the metaphorical equivalent of this, Mark Blumenthal’s comments here suggest that Research 2000 is, well, toast.

By far the most troubling part of [Research 2000 president Del] Ali’s response comes in these two sentences (left in their original form including typographical errors):

Regardless though. to you so-called polling experts, each sub grouping, gender, race, party ID, etc must equal the top line number or come pretty darn close. Yes we weight heavily and I will, using te margin of error adjust the top line and when adjusted under my discretion as both a pollster and social scientist, therefore all sub groups must be adjusted as well.

“Top line” in this context means the results for the full sample rather than a subgroup, but it still unclear exactly which “top line numbers” Ali is referring to. If he means the results of attitude questions — vote preference horse-race numbers, favorable ratings, issue questions or possibly even the party identification question — he comes close to admitting a practice that every pollster I know would consider deceptive and unethical. “Scientific” political surveys are supposed to provide objective measurements of attitudes and preferences. As such pollsters and social scientists never have the “discretion” to simply “adjust” the substantive results of their surveys, within the margin of error or otherwise. As a pollster friend put it in an email he sent me a few minutes after reading Ali’s statement: “That’s not polling. It’s Jeanne Dixon polling.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing that the VRWC enjoys more than watching the Other Side have a knife fight in an alley. But this is pretty harsh. No documentation, absurdly cheap pricing, lack of a proper contact, a history of legal action, and now the suggestion that a fudge factor was added to the final results… if all of this is true, then the primary reason that R2000 got away with this for so long was because the company was selling its product to a 100%, unalloyed, unmitigatedly stupid goofball* who enjoyed having his preconceived notions fulfilled.

Word of advice for said goofball: go with Rasmussen next time.  Or Public Policy Polling, if you can’t bear backtracking on your crusade against Scott Rasmussen, too.  Neither firm will tell you what you want to hear, and that’s kind of the point.

(Additional snark to this post contributed by various individuals.)

Moe Lane

*One that waited until now to seek legal redress – and not, say, last November.  I mean, really.  14% for a third-party candidate? In New Jersey?

Crossposted to Red State.

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