Dems declare war on Rasmussen?

posted at 12:00 pm on January 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

There is a saying in litigation that one argues the facts when the facts are on one’s side, the law when the facts aren’t, and attack the character of witnesses when neither the law nor the facts support one’s case.  Apparently, the same holds true in politics.  Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports that Democrats finding themselves hammered in the polls have decided to blame not their radical agenda or the failure of their economic polices, but the pollster for reporting the findings:

Democrats are turning their fire on Scott Rasmussen, the prolific independent pollster whose surveys on elections, President Obama’s popularity and a host of other issues are surfacing in the media with increasing frequency.

The pointed attacks reflect a hardening conventional wisdom among prominent liberal bloggers and many Democrats that Rasmussen Reports polls are, at best, the result of a flawed polling model and, at worst, designed to undermine Democratic politicians and the party’s national agenda. …

While Scott Rasmussen, the firm’s president, contends that he has no ax to grind — his bio notes that he has been “an independent pollster for more than a decade” and “has never been a campaign pollster or consultant for candidates seeking office” — his opponents on the left insist he is the hand that feeds conservative talkers a daily trove of negative numbers that provides grist for attacks on Obama and the Democratic Party.

Nothing, however, sets off liberal teeth gnashing more than Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking polls, which throughout the year have consistently placed Obama’s approval numbers around 5 percentage points lower than other polling outfits.

“He polls less favorably for Democrats, and that’s why he’s become a lightning rod,” said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political scientist who studies polling. “It’s clear that his results are typically more Republican than the other person’s results.”

None of the critics have any substantive complaints about Rasmussen’s methodology.  The entire article, fueled mainly by complaints from left-wing apologist Media Matters, consists of gripes about the results of Rasmussen polling.  Isenstadt notes that liberal pollster Nate Silver gave Rasmussen the nod as the third-most accurate pollster in predicting outcomes of elections.  They beat most of the pollsters in 2009’s New Jersey gubernatorial election, for instance, and have a long track record of highly accurate predictions.

The complaint comes from the difference in results between Rasmussen and other national pollsters, such as Gallup.  However, they use two different sampling techniques: Rasmussen polls likely voters, while Gallup and others poll adults until the final few weeks before an election.  The former is much more predictive for elections, while polling a general population of adults is the least predictive sampling technique.  And that difference gives Rasmussen an advantage that has already been seen this year.  Rasmussen first detected the erosion of support for Obama and ObamaCare in late June, an erosion that other pollsters corroborated in the fall as discontent spread from the politically aware to the general population.

There are other differences that are less innocent.  Isenstadt notes the difference in Real Clear Politics’ polling index between Rasmussen and the rest of the pollsters RCP tracks.  However, RCP includes in those averages polls conducted by media outlets like the New York Times and CBS, and ABC and the Washington Post, that routinely use double-digit gaps between Democrats and Republicans in their sample.  I have reported on the reliance of samples with gaps between 12 to 16 points favoring Democrats, a ridiculous sample considering Obama won his presidential election by seven points nationwide, and that with significant Republican crossover.  When ABC and the Post reduced their sample gap to six points, arguably an accurate representation of the electorate, Obama’s numbers plunged across the board.

And along those lines, the picture looks like it might get worse anyway:

In December, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to the lowest level recorded in more than seven years of monthly tracking by Rasmussen Reports.

Currently, 35.5% of American adults view themselves as Democrats. That’s down from 36.0 a month ago and from 37.8% in October. Prior to December, the lowest total ever recorded for Democrats was 35.9%, a figure that was reached twice in 2005. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.

The number of Republicans inched up by a point in December to 34.0%. That’s the highest total for Republicans since December 2007, just before the 2008 presidential campaign season began.

However, the number of Republicans in the country is essentially no different today than it was in November 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president.

The change since Obama’s election is that the number of Democrats has fallen by six percentage points and the number of voters not affiliated with either major party has grown by six. The number of adults not affiliated with either party is currently at 30.6%, up from 24.7% in November 2008.

That puts the partisan gap at around 1.5%.  How many of the polls from media outlets will show this kind of gap in the sample?  How many will keep the sample gap to single digits?  Rasmussen has so far been proven correct by subsequent polling, even those desperately seeking massive Democratic imbalances.

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The dems sound like my 13 year old whining, MAHM! it’s not FAIR!

Kristamatic on January 4, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Rasmussen’s data is unfavorable to Obama. He must be stopped, silenced or diminished.

Glad to see the watchdog media is holding our government accountable…

hawksruleva on January 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM

According to the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, Rasmussen has been a paid consultant for the RNC and President Bush’s 2004 campaign. The RNC paid Rasmussen $95,500 between 2003 and 2004 for items listed as “survey,” “survey cost” and “voter data.” Bush’s campaign paid Rasmussen $45,500 for “survey research.”

fastestslug on January 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

fastestslug on January 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

2004? Rasmussen’s polls are all weighted more heavily dem than republican. Despite that the liberal numbers are still cratering because they focus all their attention on low priority pursuits while the nation burns.

Its the economy, stupid. No matter what Bozo and his clown posse says, the American people see that we are in a depression of LIBERAL MAKING.

We are in a war they are desperate to deny.

But hey there is always time for liberals to travel, party, vacation and go on TV!

dogsoldier on January 4, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Gallup at Obama’s job approval today at 49/44.

Rasmussen had it at 47/52.

And by the way Econ/youguv on Jan 1 had it at 45/47

Why is the Obama war room and the Far Left singling our Rasmussen?

In Dec. Quinnpiac, ARG and Marist all had Obama below 50% and even PPP (D) had Obama at 49% last month.

Again why pick of Rasmussen? Is it because he is a contributor to Fox News?

technopeasant on January 4, 2010 at 6:55 PM

I don’t follow polling as much as I did during the campaign up until the first half of the year, but I’d say I take issue with some of his methodology. The most famous example of a lead-question designed for a certain answer was the one poll where he asked people if they trust their own judgment on the economy over Obama’s. This was a period in time when Obama’s polling was low 70’s/ high 60’s on the aggregate sites and any poll showing Obama in a negative light was big news. And with the question framed the way it was, what other answer could he possibly expect to receive other than “My Own”? And well, that’s exactly what he got, over “7/10 people shockingly didn’t side with the president on his judgment of the economy!”, or at least that was how it was framed and he gladly let that story run with that narrative. Obama isn’t polling well now, no one is denying that. It also doesn’t make Rasmussen any less of a hack.

Heck, he isn’t even that good of a pollster either, even just a recent example, he declared the NY house special election a “lock” for the Constitution candidate.

Typhonsentra on January 4, 2010 at 7:35 PM

I never understood why anyone would take the word of mega-lib organs like WAPO, CBS, NYT and CNN when it comes to polling. We know they use their fake conclusions to push public opinion. It’s like asking Allahpundit to take a poll on religious doctrine around the country– he wouldn’t be able to keep his findings free from his own godless bias. But, who can be trusted to report 100% non-partisan results? Choose your source and see if they prove accurate.

leftnomore on January 4, 2010 at 8:07 PM


Didn’t Rasmussen get that memo? No? I guess we’ll have to put his name on the Do-Not-Treat list when Obamacare becomes law.

englishqueen01 on January 4, 2010 at 11:49 PM

This is one argument that won’t particularly matter. If Rasmussen is closer, then Dems will, indeed, lose their shirts in 2010. And that’s all that really matters.

AnninCA on January 5, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Democrats don’t like counting likely voters because they believe in universal suffrage: where everyone – homeless, illegals, children, criminals, foreigners, and the indifferent – get a vote whether they want one or not. The ideal Democrat election would be one where every physical body got a Democrat vote by default, and then those that wanted to could “opt out” and change it to Republican. (Subject to challenge by Democrat lawyers.)

I try to be cynical, but it’s hard to keep up.

Universal Voter Registration

Socratease on January 5, 2010 at 11:50 AM