Opinion Brief

Did Daily Kos' 'bogus' polls swing elections?

The liberal politics site is leveling charges of fraud against its hired pollster. Some commentators say the suspect surveys had real-world electoral consequences

Liberal blogging site Daily Kos has filed a lawsuit accusing its former polling firm, Research 2000, of providing "bogus" data — leading observers to wonder what effect the allegedly phony survey results may have had on tight elections and America's broader political discourse: (Watch Rush Limbaugh claim he knew the polls were bogus)

This is serious business — polls can tip elections: Sketchy polls can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, says David Catanese at Politico. Case in point: Arkansas' recent Senate primary, where "Daily Kos/Research 2000 polls were the only public surveys available for consumption." R2K painted moderate Sen. Blanche Lincoln as "a goner," scaring incumbents across the nation and pushing Lincoln's opponent, Bill Halter, from insurgent to perceived favorite — giving him nearly enough momentum to win."Poll scandal shocks campaigns"

Research 2000 also drove Republicans and Democrats farther apart: "Besides skewing election narratives," say Dan Amira at New York magazine, Research 2000 produced polls that helped deepen the rift between conservatives and liberals. In one infamous survey, 73 percent of Republicans said gays shouldn't be allowed to teach in schools, and 31 percent thought contraception should be banned. No news on whether that poll was phony, but if it was liberals can "sleep easier at night.""Does alleged poll fraud mean Republicans aren't quite as scary?"

R2K's downfall is good news for conservatives: "If the numbers really are bogus, it's embarrassing for [Daily Kos founder Markos] Moulitsas," says Alex Pappas at Daily Caller, but it's also good news for conservatives. Moulitsas has used Research 2000's left-leaning stats to bolster his claim that the GOP doesn't represent mainstream Americans. Without R2K to fall back on, he'll have a much harder time doing that."GOPers may fare better with absence of Research2000/Kos polls"

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