Friday, November 6, 2009

So, who were the best pollsters of 2009?

As if the Democrats didn't have bad enough news this week, it turns out automated polls like Survey USA and Rasmussen were the most accurate of the 2009 cycle.

The below graphic lists the top three polls by average error.

With that said, it's not totally fair to focus solely on results. After all, polls are important beyond just the final results. I'll let Mark Blumenthal explain:
The larger lesson is this: Automated polls have been maligned, unfairly in my view, as inherently "unreliable." Yet when it comes to predicting election outcomes they continue to prove, NY-23 aside, at least as reliable as surveys done by conventional means. In New Jersey this week, they were more accurate in predicting the winner. At the same time, however, it would be wrong to jump to the opposite conclusion and place inherently greater trust in all automated surveys, especially when used for purposes other than predicting election outcomes.
Personally, the past two election cycles have increased my trust in automated polling. Their efficiency, higher sample size, and lack of intimidation of the voter seem to have led to their move to the forefront.

Live polls like Quinnipiac still have clearly proven their worth, but one thing is clear - you have to give SurveyUSA, PPP, and Rasmussen their due.


  1. How in the world does this have anything to do with "bad news for Democrats?"

  2. Rasmussen has been derided among many on the left for being inaccurate.

    Rasmussen has shown a lot of data highlighting positive news for Republicans.

    Thus, bad news for Democrats.

  3. That makes sense, though I think phrasing it as "Rasmussen-style assumptions about electorate composition are more accurate" is more accurate than "Automated surveys are better." I see two inter-related issues getting tied up together here.

  4. Actually, I'd suggest it's the opposite of that.

    2009 showed that IVR polling was more accurate re: final results, as the top three all were IVR polls.

    But what is still up for debate, as is highlighted in the post, is who is better at determining the composition of the electorate.


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