Lynn Vavreck: “The science of polling is sound, but if you ask the wrong group of people your poll questions, you can get the wrong answers. Think of it this way: An arrow shot by an expert marksman has some chance of hitting the target depending on the wind, the distance and any number of other things, but if the marksman aims at the wrong target, those other things have nothing to do with why the arrow misses. Saying that 1 out of 20 polls is “wrong,” and therefore polls cannot predict elections conflates the chance that comes from drawing a sample of voters with what happened in Mr. Cantor’s poll — drawing the sample from the wrong set of people.”
GOP pollster John McLaughlin put out a memo attempting to explain how he showed Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) with a huge lead in Virginia’s 7th congressional district over the ultimate GOP primary winner, David Brat (R).
In short, McLaughlin says many voter who don’t normally vote in GOP primaries turned out this year.
Kristen Soltis Anderson: “The last few years have regrettably made the phrase ‘Republican pollster’ less a job title than a punch line. From the 2012 election, where many in the GOP were stunned by the Obama campaign’s victory, to the 2013 closer-than-expected Virginia gubernatorial race, all the way to the present, Republican polling as of late has been a much-maligned sector of the campaign-industrial complex, and not without reason.”
“National Republicans are warning candidates to stay away from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) pollster, who predicted just weeks before Cantor’s loss that he was up by a huge margin,” The Hill reports.
“Veteran GOP pollster John McLaughlin has a recent history of missing the mark by a wide margin in his top races. Now, it seems some Republicans have had enough. Sources close to the National Republican Congressional Committee hear that the House GOP’s campaign arm will encourage their candidates to reassess whether they should be using McLaughlin in several top races.”
Wall Street Journal: “For all the focus on Republican infighting this primary season, one quiet winner has emerged from these intraparty contests: public-opinion polls.”
“Individual survey results have been all over the map in primary after primary, but the averages compiled by Real Clear Politics have predicted the Republican winner in every race so far, save Mississippi, where the aggregate results on Primary Day showed a tie. The contest is now headed to a June 24 runoff because neither candidate eclipsed 50%.”
First Read criticizes news organizations and pollsters that use likely voter models “to describe an election environment before Memorial Day when many Americans haven’t even begun to tune in to the general election.”
“A tip: There is no such thing as a likely voter six months before a general election, and if you think there is one, you’re likely cooking the books. Our rule is to always begin introducing likely voter models after Labor Day.”
“A small group of top Washington Republicans is teaming up to launch a new polling firm, Vox Populi Polling, that will churn out volumes of survey data ahead of the 2014 midterm elections,” Politico reports.
“The firm plans to produce both public and private polling, tracking high-priority 2014 races and issue debates. It will employ a combination of automated polling and live-caller methodology to reach cell phone users, according to strategists involved in the effort.”
One of the partners: Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted Nate Silver’s political forecasts in an interview with the Washington Post.
Said Reid: “He gave me a 16 percent chance of being reelected, he gave Heidi Heitkamp an 8 percent chance of being reelected, he gave Jon Tester a 34 percent chance of being reelected. So all polls are about like Nate Silver’s predictions: good sometimes, bad most of the time.”
Brendan Nyhan: “We’re still almost three years away from November 2016, but political journalists seem to want to fast-forward past the ongoing Washington stalemate to the next presidential election. How else can we explain the recent flurry of coverage for trial heat polls, which pit possible presidential contenders against each other in hypothetical general election matchups?”
“There’s just one problem: These polls–which exist mainly to generate press coverage for pollsters and fill space in the media–have zero predictive power at this point in the election cycle, don’t tell us anything we can’t learn from other metrics, and distract attention from the real action at this stage of the campaign.”
Public Policy Polling: “We did a poll last weekend in Colorado Senate District 3 and found that voters intended to recall Angela Giron by a 12 point margin, 54/42. In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll. It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers becaue she was indeed recalled by 12 points.”
A new Kantar poll finds the vast majority of Americans think polls are biased.
Key findings: 75% said they believe the polls are biased in some way, though they couldn’t agree in which direction, while 17% said they thought polls had a liberal bias and 4% said they were slanted toward conservatives.
Political polling firm Rasmussen Reports announced that
founder Scott Rasmussen left the company last month, in part, over “disagreements over company business strategies.”
National Journal: “A study published Monday reports that campaigns could use Twitter to successfully predict the winner of most races… The key measure, researchers from Indiana University found, was a candidate’s ‘tweet share,’ the percentage of total tweets about a race that mention them. The more often a candidate is mentioned on Twitter relative to their opponent, the study reported, the greater their chance for victory.”
“The findings were comprehensive: An analysis of tweets from the 2010 midterm elections found the data correctly predicted the winner in 404 of the 406 House races.”
Nate Silver: “But be wary of analysts who try to take this complexity argument too far. It’s true that any snapshot of public opinion from a poll is imperfect. It is not true that if you scratch only under poll results deeply enough, you will discover the American people actually take a clear side on abortion. By any objective measure, the country is conflicted.”
The Hill: “Gallup has partnered with the University of Michigan for a top-to-bottom review of its operations. In a written post-mortem, the pollster said it’s not averse to making “major revisions or even a replacement model” if needed to produce more accurate data.”
Joshua Green points out how many have claimed the Obama re-election campaign’s models proved more accurate than traditional tracking polls in the run up before the election.
“A number of Obama vets repeated this claim to me, so I asked them to provide some evidence to back it up, and they did. Here, for the first time, is a chart based on internal data that shows how the Obama campaign’s swing state model performed against the much maligned Gallup poll over the last several months of the race.”
Join the Ipsos Survey Panel and win prizes.
The National Republican Congressional Committee “is moving to reboot its polling operation after a messy 2012 cycle, the first concrete remedy taken by the Republican side since candidates and outside groups were left stunned on Election Day by results that their internal data never came close to predicting,” Politico reports.
The NRCC “is the first GOP entity to take specific steps to try to rectify the party’s widely acknowledged polling debacle. Republican strategists confirmed after the end of the 2012 race that a huge slice of their survey data was based on flawed assumptions, and failed to anticipate the diversity and scale of turnout on the Democratic side.”