Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poll Problems

So here's the story: The Daily Kos, a liberal political blog, had contracted with Research 2000, a Maryland-based research firm, to provide polling data. According to a statistical analysis, the polling numbers provided to Daily Kos were bogus. In fact, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas writes, "I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk."

You might be wondering what the big deal is here. Organizations sue one another for fraud and breach of contract all the time, right? Well Research 2000's poll numbers didn't just exist on this one blog. News outlets such as KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WISC-TV in Wisconsin, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal were among Research 2000's clients.

I agree with the Washington Post's Plum Line blog that "this is likely to prompt a serious discussion about whether news orgs should be doing more to vet the polling they commission or publish." I also think it's a shame that it takes a scandal like this to prompt such an important discussion in news...