Salt Lake Tribune editors requested reweighted poll based on partisan split?
posted at 1:02 pm on November 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
John Podhoretz is on top of an interesting story involving the Salt Lake Tribune and Mason-Dixon. It seems that the Tribune has admitted requesting that the pollster reweight the results of a poll when the outcome displeased the newspaper, asking to increase the weighting for Democrats, which they felt were undersampled. And this is interesting, because most pollsters dismiss the complaints about partisan splits in their samples from poll critics:
Tribune editor Nancy Conway acknowledged the problem.
“We are as concerned about this as anyone,” she said Monday. “As soon as we understood there was a problem we worked to correct it.
“We had no reason to doubt the poll until we saw others conducted over the same period and could see differences in the numbers. That raised questions,” Conway said. “We contacted our pollster who did additional research on Salt Lake County demographics and found there was indeed a flaw.
“We knew right then that we needed to correct our mistake and that’s what we are doing,” Conway said.
John offers up a stinging indictment:
To recap: A newspaper pays for a poll. It doesn’t like the look of the results. So it asks the pollster to reexamine them and alter them by changing his “weights.” He does so; he may agree with the call (as the Mason Dixon pollster says he does in the story) or he may be simply serving the interests of his paying client.
And it will do so based on the partisan split—the very controversy that is dismissed so cavalierly by media types.
We only know about this one because of the highly unusual circumstances of its revision. The question you have to ask yourself now is: How many times does this happen before a poll is published?
Good question. We may or may not find out today, eh?