Rasmussen Fesses to Bad Poll
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 10:49:49 AM EDT
Yesterday I asked why Rasmussen Reports appeared to be skewing the results of its latest Minnesota poll in a way that made Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty look better and made Democratic Senator Al Franken look worse. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com, whose explainer on dueling approval questions I cited in my post (in short, one tends to lead to more favorable results for a politician and one tends to lead to less favorable results -- and you can guess which one Rasmussen used for the Republican and which one they used for the Democrat), picked up the story and got a sheepish response from Rasmussen.
It was a mistake that slipped through the cracks. The matter has been addressed internally with all involved.
We work with a local TV station that provides us with local knowledge. In exchange, they get first look at the data and Scott Rasmussen goes on air to discuss the results. In practical terms, this means they suggest questions and topics that are likely to be of interest in their state.
They do not commission the poll, it's a Rasmussen Reports poll and we are ultimately responsible for the questions.
We work with a standard template that includes the President's Job Approval rating and the Governor's. In this case, the station suggested a variety of topics ranging from politics to the Vikings playoff chances and Bret Favre. The station recommended the questions on the Senators and did so with the excellent, good, fair, poor rating. The person preparing the script noted (correctly) that this was an acceptable format we have used before in other surveys. However, they should have noted the inconsistency with the other approval questions and asked all in the same way. The editor reviewing the process also failed to pick up the inconsistency.
As Blumenthal notes, Rasmussen does deserve some credit for owning up to their mistake (though at least a part of me wonders if their problem here was in the question or in having gotten caught) -- but that they should also add a correction to their original release on the poll explaining their mistake. They haven't done this yet, as of the time of this posting, but we'll let you know if they do...