Photo: Rasmussen Reports
It seems like everyone — public pollsters included — underestimated the strength of the Obama campaign’s ground game. Rasmussen Reports, a polling firm run by conservative analyst Scott Rasmussen, took heat throughout the campaign, especially by liberals who claimed the poll was too favourable to Republican Mitt Romney,
Rasmussen dismisses that criticism. In a phone conversation with Business Insider today, he said the firm, like other national polling groups, simply misidentified the electorate.
Rasmussen projected that the electorate would be similar to 2008, when white voters cast 74% of the ballots, with Latinos, African-Americans and other minorities making up the other 26%. The real split turned out to be 72-28.
“The Obama campaign made clear all along that they believed the electorate was going to be 28% minority,” Rasmussen said. “They were right on the money. They nailed it.”
Rasmussen’s identification problem stemmed from its likely voter model, which it used to calculate its projection of the electorate.
Rasmussen uses three components in its likely voter model — asking people questions about their voting history, their certainty of voting and how interested they are in the campaign.
Rasmussen said that the emphasis in determining the likelihood of voting is placed on the interest of voters in the campaign — not how certain they are to vote. Many other pollsters rely on certainty or enthusiasm, not engagement or interest, to determine likelihood.
That’s why the firm thought seniors would turn out in higher rates than they did in 2008, while the share of the youth vote would fall. But exit polls show that voters aged 18-29 actually increased as a share of the electorate, by one percentage point.
Rasmussen said that the firm would make “some modifications” in its likely voter model going forward, as they have in past elections. But he dismissed any notion that he and other pollsters have “lost credibility,” as Dean Chambers, the founder of so-called “Unskewed Polls,” charged on Wednesday.
“There are always comments and criticisms of polls,” Rasmussen said. “It’s even more so this year than others because there’s been so much polling.”
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