Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rasmussen Polls - Thumbs On The Scales

Let's say you're a pollster and you want to poll an upcoming election. The best way to get public sentiment for the race would be to ask the ballot question first, before any demographic or issue questions. Rasmussen gives an example of this with the Lee v Granato poll.


Questions - Utah Senate - October 13, 2010

Utah State Survey of 500 Likely Voters Conducted October 13, 2010
By Rasmussen Reports

1* If the 2010 election for United States Senate were held today would you vote for Republican Mike Lee or Democrat Sam Granato? (Please note that we split the survey to rotate the order of the candidate names, so while half will hear the Republican candidate first, the other half hears the Democrat mentioned first.)

61% Mike Lee (R)
28% Sam Granato (D)
4% Some other candidate
8% Not sure

2* I’m going to read you a short list of people in the News. For each, please let me know if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression.
Now if you're a pollster who wants to sway the topline number a little, you might ask a warm up question or two. Perhaps capitalize on someone unpopular, contrast them with someone you want to prop up, and then ask the ballot question. Rasmussen gives us an example of this with the Corroon v Herbert poll.

Questions - Utah Governor - October 13, 2010

Utah State Survey of 500 Likely Voters Conducted August 23, 2010
By Rasmussen Reports

1* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

2* How do you rate the way that Gary Herbert has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

3* If the 2010 Election for Governor of Utah were held today would you vote for Republican Gary Herbert or Democrat Peter Corroon? (Please note that we split the survey to rotate the order of the candidate names, so while half will hear the Republican candidate first, the other half hears the Democrat mentioned first.)

66% Gary Herbert (R)
29% Peter Corroon (D)
2% Some other candidate
3% Not sure
(note - I'm guessing that ras just didn't update the header of the press release, that's why it says conducted on Aug. 23rd, the title and results match the Oct. 13th poll.)

Now for the poll conspiracy theorists out there (and count me in that group), if you'll notice that each set of interviews took place on October 13th, and that each poll had a set of 500 respondents. Now these phone calls cost money to place, and Rasmussen is in the business of being profitable, so it would stand to reason that they only made one set of phone calls, conducting two interviews on each. Assuming that's the case, and assuming you wanted to really have a thumb on the scales for the second interview, you could prime the interviewee for the second interview with the questions in the first interview.
3. A proposal has been made to repeal the health care bill and stop it from going into effect. Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose a proposal to repeal the health care bill?

4* The health care plan passed by Congress requires every American to buy or obtain health insurance. Do you Strongly Favor, Somewhat Favor, Somewhat Oppose, or Strongly Oppose a federal law that requires every American to buy or obtain health insurance?

5* Should individual states have the right to opt out of the entire national health care plan?

6* Do you consider yourself part of the Tea Party Movement?

7* Is The Tea Party movement good for the country or bad for the country?

8* Generally speaking, how would you rate the U.S. economy these days? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

9* Are economic conditions in the country getting better or worse?

10* Last year, Congress and the president enacted a $787 billion economic stimulus plan. So far, has the economic stimulus plan helped the economy, hurt the economy or had no impact on the economy?

11* In reacting to the nation’s current economic problems, what worries you more….that the federal government will do too much or that the federal government will not do enough?

12* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

13* How do you rate the way that Gary Herbert has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?
That's the end of the senate poll, but if you were a pollster who wanted to fluff the Herbert numbers, it would be a very convenient way to end the interview that takes place right before the governor race interview wouldn't it?****

Is there anyone left that thinks Rasmussen is a legit pollster merely polling the sentiment of the people?


****No, I don't have any proof, I said it was a conspiracy theory, I'll prove it when they find bigfoot in area 51.

1 comment:

  1. Polls are complete crap this year, most being used as push polling. Also they don't call cell phones, and the lean D demographic is less likely to respond in a recession.

    Still not sold that the Republicans will retake the house, and the senate.... those races are so interesting and clearly going to the democrats.

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