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Friday, October 14, 2011
CNS Can't Understand Why Inaccurate Pollster Is Ignored
Topic: CNSNews.com

In an Oct. 13 blog post, CNSNews.com communications director Craig Bannister complains:

Topping all other GOP contenders in a Rassmussen poll won’t help get you into the upcoming CNN GOP presidential debate – but, being a favorite in media polls will.

CNN’s self-described “objective criteria” for participation in its upcoming “Western Republican Presidential Debate” on Oct. 18 requires a candidate to meet a minimum two percent popularity threshold in at least three polls:

“A person must receive an average of at least 2.00 percent in at least three national polls released between September 1st and October 16th that were conducted by the following organization: ABC, AP, Bloomberg, CBS News/New York Times, CNN, FOX, Gallup, Los Angeles Times, Marist, McClatchy, NBC, Newsweek, Pew, Quinnipiac, Reuters, USA Today and Time.”

So, they’ll accept Gallup and Quinnipiac numbers (and, Marist?) – and those of 14 media groups – but, not Rassmussen poll results.

What did Rassmussen ever do to CNN?

Well, they suck. As analyst Nate Silver details about Rasmussen's polling for the November 2010 midterm elections:

The 105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, missed the final margin between the candidates by 5.8 points, a considerably higher figure than that achieved by most other pollsters. Some 13 of its polls missed by 10 or more points, including one in the Hawaii Senate race that missed the final margin between the candidates by 40 points, the largest error ever recorded in a general election in FiveThirtyEight’s database, which includes all polls conducted since 1998.

Moreover, Rasmussen’s polls were quite biased, overestimating the standing of the Republican candidate by almost 4 points on average. In just 12 cases, Rasmussen’s polls overestimated the margin for the Democrat by 3 or more points. But it did so for the Republican candidate in 55 cases — that is, in more than half of the polls that it issued.

[...]

Rasmussen’s polls have come under heavy criticism throughout this election cycle, including from FiveThirtyEight. We have critiqued the firm for its cavalier attitude toward polling convention. Rasmussen, for instance, generally conducts all of its interviews during a single, 4-hour window; speaks with the first person it reaches on the phone rather than using a random selection process; does not call cellphones; does not call back respondents whom it misses initially; and uses a computer script rather than live interviewers to conduct its surveys. These are cost-saving measures which contribute to very low response rates and may lead to biased samples.

Rasmussen also weights their surveys based on preordained assumptions about the party identification of voters in each state, a relatively unusual practice that many polling firms consider dubious since party identification (unlike characteristics like age and gender) is often quite fluid.

Bannister tries to defend Rasmussen by noting that "Rassmussen’s Website boasts about coverage he’s gotten from two media organization’s not listed by CNN." But both of those quotes talk only about company head Scott Rasmussen, not about the accuracy of his polls (or lack thereof).


Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 PM EDT

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