Green Room

An in-depth look at Rasmussen and vintage Democratic whine

posted at 4:49 pm on January 3, 2010 by

Ed Morrissey and DRJ have both covered the Politico’s indulgence of lefty whining about inconvenient polling:

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.

Notably, the weakest quotes in the piece are from actual pollsters. The Politico’s Alex Isenstadt talked to’s Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin, both of whom observed only that Rasmussen’s polling is less favorable for Democrats and is used frequently by Republicans. This is not surprising, as both have addressed the topic at length in the face of the ongoing lefty whining about Rasmussen.

In December 2009, Mark Blumenthal charted the “house effects” of the pollsters charted by in a post about Rasmussen’s results. Blumenthal identified at least three possible reasons why Rasmussen tends to show Obama with lower approval and higher disapproval than most (but not all) pollsters: (1) sampling likely voters; (2) giving them four possible answers (strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove); and (3) the robo-calling method. While Blumenthal thinks the robo-calling is a minor factor, Democratic polling firm PPP uses the same method to reach registered voters and also tends to show lower approval for Pres. Obama. Thus, this part of the Politico story is not surprising, either:

“The way he does polls is that he’s more likely to get high-energy voters,” said Tom Jensen, a pollster for the North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. “I think Rasmussen favors Republicans this year, but I don’t think he inherently favors Republicans.”

Blumenthal’s charts show similarly large “house effects” that inflate Obama’s approval number (CBS/NYT, Ispos/McClatchy, CNN and ABC/WaPo) and deflate his disapproval (CBS/NYT, Pew). His colleague Charles Franklin produced charts for each pollster that make the same point in a slightly different way.

These charts demonstrate one of the common righty responses to the Politico story — that the establishment media never does stories about the Right’s complaints against polls like CBS/NYT, ABC/WaPo and CNN. The charts also underscore the degree to which the Politico story appears to have been written simply to advance a lefty narrative. After all, this story could easily have been written to advance the narrative that “lefty bloggers complain about Rasmussen, but pollsters the Politico interviewed do not back their complaints.”

Note: I previously addressed lefty complaints about Rasmussen’s polling on ObamaCare, finding them wanting.

Update: Lefty blogger Nate Silver (because he knows better) adds a new spin — Rasmussen may not be biased, but news outlets that cite Rasmussen too much may be biased. Yet during the 2008 campaign, Silver rated Rasmussen one of the most accurate pollsters.

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The bottom line with polls is the outcome in 2010 and 2012. It helps those who might not get out and vote to get what is going on, but those who know what is going on have already made up their mind, IMO. I love to see the ‘polls’ that show this bho cratering though. I hope to see many many more of them!

letget on January 3, 2010 at 7:02 PM

Well gee, it worked out so well targeting Rush, Beck, FNC, I bet it works out equally swell with Rasmussen.

Democrats have to have their bogey man to function I do believe..

tarpon on January 3, 2010 at 7:38 PM

The beauty of the Rasmussen poll is consistency. He uses the same polling methodology and asks the same questions. Funny how the attacks surface when the results are bad. I don’t remember them finding fault with the poll in early 2009 when the results strongly supported Obama.

Mark30339 on January 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Silly wingnuts.

Polls are only accurate when the show Democrats beating Republicans.

When it flips (as it always has and will), then it’s “bias” and “not fair” and “skewed samples” and “FOX News.” Even if all polls show the same trends.

They ignore the results and clear aggregate trends at their own peril. The GOP did in 2006 and 2008.

Good Lt on January 4, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Soooooo….was Rasmussen biased when the Approval Index had Obama at +30? I don’t recall those complaints.

Pablo on January 4, 2010 at 8:40 AM

I suspect that since Rasmussen also does a voter identification poll, he keeps correction factors somewhat updated. Most of the complaints about the other polls are based on wishful levels of voter identification corrections. In fact, I seem to remember CBS using whatever correction factor would get them the best results for Obama. I thnk that when conservatives questioned other poll results, they questioned methodology. They already knew the bias; that was obvious.

Old Country Boy on January 4, 2010 at 8:41 AM

Polls are used these days in every imaginable way. I can’t count the number of “news” stories that begin with the words: “Polls show that ……….” it’s like news is whatever some pollster asks a question about.

Polls mean nothing. The ballot box means everything.

BierManVA on January 4, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Polls mean nothing. The ballot box means everything.

BierManVA on January 4, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Tell the lefties that. We know.

uknowmorethanme on January 4, 2010 at 9:28 AM

NPR’s take on “TeaBag

J_Crater on January 4, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Well considering how much the left is going to be yelling “vote fraud” if their candidates lose in November, in the same way they yelled it in 2000 and 2004, this is just laying the foundation for dismissing Rasmussen as illegitimate if his final poll numbers in late October mirror the actual election results (i.e — Rasmussen is in cahoots with the GOP, which told him the percentages they were going to rig the votes with in the key national and state races … which sounds absurd on its face, but these are people who thought after 2004 that Dibold was the second most evil company in the world behind Halliburton because they were rigging their vote-counting machines to only tabulate ballots cast for Bush, not Kerry).

jon1979 on January 4, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Proof positive that Democrats appeal to the lowest intellectual denominator of society. People who would acknowledge such whining probably couldn’t pass a first grade math test.

The Dems much more prefer CBS polls that target 65% democrats and 25% Republicans. Now those are polls that we can depend on.

orlandocajun on January 4, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Yes, Obama, your real enemy is the crotch pollster, Rasmussen. You should focus your energies on that, rather than defending the country.

Purple-lipped fool!

EMD on January 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM

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