After years of quantifying voter dissent, Scott Rasmussen's independent polling firm is now the object of it—as Democrats protest an avalanche of Rasmussen polling data they say consistently favors the GOP over President Obama and other Democrats. While the Republicans are encouraged by the data, liberals, and even some polling experts, accuse Rasmussen of skewing his results by phrasing questions strategically and relying on "likely" voter samples. Democrats are just "shooting the messenger," says the controversial pollster himself. Is Rasmussen biased, or are Obama and crew in for a bad 2010? (Watch a Fox panel debate a Rasmussen poll about Obama's approval rating)
Rasmussen is in it for the buzz: GOP darling Rasmussen "deserves to be mocked," says Eric Boehlert in Media Matters. Rasmussen's firm "seems to have a patent on asking really dumb, and misleading, polling questions designed solely to generate dubious 'buzz.'" Seriously, what's the value in polling for, say, a hypothetical Nebraska match-up "that may or may not take place 33 months from now"?
"Another awful Rasmussen poll"
Rasmussen's record speaks for itself: Deluded liberals are in for a rude awakening in 2010, says William Kristol in The Weekly Standard. If Rasmussen is less favorable to Democrats, that's because his historically "on the money" polling and likely-voter samples "catch trends earlier — and other polls eventually move toward him." That's why "the serious people in Washington pay attention to Rasmussen's polls."
"The Left vs. Rasmussen"
There's bias, but not (much) in his polls: Rasmussen's consistently GOP-happy polls do sometimes have "a certain kind of bias," says Nate Silver in FiveThirtyEight, especially in how some of the questions are worded. (Note a recent poll that seemed "designed to build a relationship in the respondent's mind between the Democratic [health-care reform] plan and higher premiums.") But in general, Rasmussen is just wagering that more Republicans will vote next election. That said, "if you're running a news organization and you tend to cite Rasmussen's polls disproportionately, it probably means that you are biased," not Rasmussen.
"Is Rasmussen Reports biased?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- 10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2014
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Keira Knightley on Laggies, relationships, and surviving your 20s
- How foreign aid screwed up Liberia's ability to fight Ebola
Subscribe to the Week