Monday, August 22, 2011

Bad spin can't save a bad poll

Last week in Wisconsin, Democratic state senator Jim Holperin survived a recall attempt, winning the race by a healthy 55-45 margin. Automated pollster We Ask America didn't do such a great job forecasting the race, though, showing Holperin only holding on 51-49. Now, to be fair, it's really hard to forecast these off-year, off-season recall elections -- you never know who's going to show up (although PPP was pretty close). But We Ask America's COO Gregg Durham decided to defend his organization anyway:
It's so hard to tell when you do one poll. One thing you can't judge is what the turnout will be. In this case, unions were heavily involved in turning out Democratic votes. Now, I will stand by the numbers -- this may be what the general electorate wanted, but not what the people who turned out wanted.
A pollster should know that those who turn out to vote are the general electorate. I'm not sure what group We Ask America surveyed, but it wasn't the general electorate.

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