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.”