just issued its “2010 Top Dubious Polling Awards.”
As they explain it, “These awards are intended to mark for posterity some of the most risible and outrageous pronouncements by polling organisations during the previous year.”
Here’s the winners:
- The Fuzzy maths Award goes to Fox News “for its creative presentation of polling numbers, showing what 120 per cent of the public was thinking – and this did not include an additional 15 per cent who weren’t thinking.” Media Matters first noticed the issue with the poll, and the network responded to Politico, which argued there was nothing wrong with their graph.
- The Wishful Thinking Award goes to Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of the Gallup Poll, “for his persistent and admirable faith in the American public’s attention to policy details, all polling evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.” When David Axelrod said most Americans were unaware of the specifics of the proposed health care bill, Newport argued that this was untrue, despite his own Gallup Poll proving that only 58% of Americans understood the healthcare issues.
- The Oops Award goes to The Marist, Quinnipiac, and SurveyUSA polling organisations “for their relentless campaign portrayal of an easy re-election campaign for New York City’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and their final predictions of a double-digit victory for the mayor, who actually won by just 4.4 percentage points.” Politico examined what could have happened if Democrats had known they stood a fighting chance.
- The Fox in Sheep’s Clothing Award goes to Fox News pollster Scott Rasmussen and his polling organisation, Ramussen Reports,”for his consistently more negative evaluation of President Obama compared with other polls, all under the guise of being an “independent” pollster.” Despite claiming to be independent on his web site, Washington, D.C.-based centre for Public Integrity shows “Scott Rasmussen Inc” as a “consultant” for the Republican National Committee, which paid him $95,500 in 2003-2004.
- The Hired Gun Award goes to Peter D. Hart Research Associates and John McLaughlin & Associates “for their wildly contradictory polls on the “Card Check” bill (the Employees Free Choice Act – EFCA), polls which just happened to agree with the positions of the groups who paid for the polls.” Hart, who was working for the AFL-CIO (which supported the bill) found about three-quarters of American adults in support of allowing employees to have a union once a majority of workers signed authorization cards. By contrast, McLaughlin, who was working for Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (which opposed the bill) found three-quarters of American voters opposed.
- The Emperor Has No Clothes Award goes to The Gallup organisation “for its admission that its Six Decade Old Annual ‘Most Admired’ Lists of Living Men and Women do not include the “most admired” people in the world after all.” The latest poll named Glenn Beck number four and The Pope as number five. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post appeared to take Gallup at its word and was not pleased. Gallup’s Frank Newport then agreed that their methodology was not precise.
- The Phantom of the Soap Opera Award goes to Strategic Vision, LLC, “a national, ‘Atlanta-based’ polling firm whose numbers are suspect, whose location is not in Atlanta, and whose actual polling process (the interviewing) may be bogus.” The New York Times reported that the firm was started as a public relations company and Ben Smith of Politico reported that “all of the offices that Strategic Visions listed on its website – its main office in Atlanta, and several other offices in Madison, Seattle, and Tallahassee – all ‘match the location of UPS stores, rather than actual offices.'”
- The Bobblehead Polling Award goes to The CBS News, ABC/Washington Post, CNN, and USA Today/Gallup polls, “for their seemingly random findings on the public’s reaction to President Obama’s health care speech in September.” A CBS poll declared the public approval rating went up 21 points, an ABC/Washington Post poll said the public’s view on health reform failed to improve. A poll by CNN reported a 13-point favourable swing, while a USAToday/Gallup Poll reported Americans disapproved of the policy for the first time ever.
- The Stonewalling/Coverup Award goes to The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of its professors, Dr. Gilbert Burnham, “for stonewalling in the face of serious questions about a flawed survey project, which reported more than 600,000 Iraqi deaths from 2003 to 2006. The head researcher was formally censured by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) for covering up his data collection efforts, but the Bloomberg School refuses to investigate the methodology.” Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway College found these results were anywhere from seven to 14 times as high as other credible estimates, including those made by the non-partisan Iraqi Body Count, a consortium of U.S. and U.K researchers, also concerned about the human toll of the war.
- The Manufactured Out of Whole Cloth Award goes to Zogby, Ipsos/McClatchy, ABC/Washington Post, Associated Press/Stanford University, Pew Research centre and CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, “for their valiant efforts to manufacture a “public opinion” on “cap and trade” legislation, though most people haven’t a clue.” Pew Research let the public guess what “cap and trade” means among three possible answers – healthcare, banking reform, or the energy and environment – and less than one in four could correctly answer.
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