June 09, 2010


Where's the Transparency in Pollster Ratings?

Nate Silver's pollster scorecard is an interesting experiment in trying to hold the political polling industry to a higher standard. It's long overdue and could prove very useful to consumers of this information.

In explaining his methodology, Silver found that "the scores of polling firms which have made a public commitment to disclosure and transparency hold up better over time. If they were strong before, they were more likely to remain strong; if they were weak before, they were more likely to improve."

But when I talk with pollsters about the latest scorecard, they're universally puzzled as to why Silver doesn't hold himself to the same level of transparency and release his database of polls. In fact, some even claim he's using faulty data in putting together his rankings.

While Silver's efforts are admirable -- and even caused one of the more controversial firms to vanish from the scene -- it's a point worth considering before giving his pollster rankings too much weight.










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